Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Prog Related • United Kingdom

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bram Stoker picture
Bram Stoker biography
Founded in Bournemouth, UK in 1969 - Disbanded in 1972 - Reformed in 2009

Edited from biography by Anthony Bronsdon in the Belle Antique reissue from 2014:

The band BRAM STOKER was formed in Brighton, England, UK, in the summer of 1969 by Hammond organist Anthony Bronsdon, guitarist Peter Ballam and drummer Rob Haines who then recruited bass guitarist John Bavin, all of whom were based in their south coast home town of Bournemouth, England.

In writing and composing their own material and experimenting with new musical styles, Bram stoker were choosing their own musical direction. Although the band was heavily influenced by the Gothic image, its music varied, and ultimately the band acquired the "Progressive-Classical-Rock-Gothic-Psychedelic Rock" label it is so famously identified by.

Anthony Bronsdon's classical training is augmented by a formidable technique; his Hammond organ sound is majestic, biting and haunting. His stirring ability to integrate his classical interpretation into musical compositions written by himself and jointly with Pete and John, with drummer Rob Haines' driving rhythms, resulted in a wide variety of unique performances of Bram Stoker songs and instrumentals.

Guitarist Pete Ballam encouraged an original approach and his antics on stage were spontaneous and unpredictable, his legendary "Doppler" (a spinning speaker cabinet) had to be seen - and heard - to be believed.

Drummer Rob Haines and bassist John Bavin also embraced fresh ideas, providing an individual and creative approach to their role as the rhythm section of the band, whilst John's melodic themes and ethereal vocals were integral to the Bram Stoker sound. His musical and dextrous bass lines breathed life and weaved unity through every arrangement. Rob Haines applied his own ideas to Bram Stoker's symphonic style; his inimitable spinning cymbal emphasizes the mood of the song Poltergeist.

Bram Stoker enjoyed a wonderful period of interest in the music industry during the period from 1969 through to 1972, and this is shown in the wake of their only release, Heavy Rock Spectacular, in 1972. (The album's first CD release in 1997 on Alcinous was retitled Schizo-Poltergeist and was given new artwork. Subsequent CD reissues have restored the original name and artwork.)

Bram Stoker reformed in 2009. Original members Anthony Bronsdon and John Bavin were joined by a new guitarist and drummer. The new lineup transformed again...
read more

BRAM STOKER Videos (YouTube and more)

Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to BRAM STOKER


BRAM STOKER discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

BRAM STOKER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 58 ratings
Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist]
3.95 | 29 ratings
Cold Reading
3.00 | 3 ratings
Pete Ballam: Manic Machine
3.75 | 12 ratings
No Reflection

BRAM STOKER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BRAM STOKER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BRAM STOKER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Rock Paranoia

BRAM STOKER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] by BRAM STOKER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 58 ratings

Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist]
Bram Stoker Prog Related

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I first became aware of Bram Stoker around 2000 through a website called Tommy's Forest of Progressive Rock, which later simply became Vintage Prog, which is still online, but hasn't been updated since 2008. That website was awfully useful before the arrival of Prog Archives, along with several other (mostly now defunct) websites like Unger's Wonderful World of Progressive Rock, Frazz Recommends (which focused on Italian prog, Frazz being named after Semiramis' Dedicato a Frazz), The Giant Progweed, and Ground & Sky.

Bram Stoker was long thought of as a mystery band. Many even speculated that employees of Woolworth's were involved in the making of the album (the album was released on Windmill, which was ran by the UK branch of the Woolworth's chain store). That's just plain silly, what would Woolworth's employees know anything about prog rock, even back in 1972 when it was at its peak? As it turns out they were a band lead by keyboardist Tony Bronsdon with Peter Ballum on guitar, John Bavin on bass and drums, and Rob Haines on drums. I own the original Windmill LP and it's clear what an awful label it was. Wooldworth's treated the album like an exploitation album, hence the artwork and title. Plus zero mention of who was in the band. Even more hilarious is Paul Henry (I assumed the band's manager) notice to Windmill Records, which it hilariously starts off, "Dear Sir, As you are in the business of making groups famous". Really? Not a single artist on Windmill got famous! I realize there were Frank Sinatra and various easy listening compilations put out by the label, but they were obviously long famous, thanks to help from reputable labels, many already having decades of fame. It's a safe bet that a good portion of the Windmill discography are now UK charity shop staples. Except for this one.

It's because Bram Stoker was actually very good, wonderful guitar and organ-driven early prog. In fact it still has psychedelic elements as if this was dated 1970, not 1972 (the original LP clearly gives a 1972 copyright on the label). Comparisons to The Nice, Atomic Rooster, and even a bit of ELP are totally valid. "Born to be Free" shows a bit of a bluesy side of the band, but it's Bronsdon's organ playing that gives it it's prog edge. "Fast Decay" includes quotes from classical music so comparisons to The Nice and Act One-era Beggars Opera are validated. "Blitz" has a rather eerie vibe to it, while "Idiot" is more or less like "Born to Be Free". "Poltergeist" is another eerie number, I'm sure the lyrics have a supernatural theme to it. I only wished the LP came with printed lyrics, but given this is Windmill we're talking about, you have to settle with very basic packaging. It's very much a safe bet that this is easily the best thing on the Windmill label. This album comes highly recommended to those who enjoy early guitar and organ-driven prog.

 Cold Reading by BRAM STOKER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.95 | 29 ratings

Cold Reading
Bram Stoker Prog Related

Review by progbaby

4 stars Mr. Bronsdon is back in 2013 with the first album by Bram Stoker in over 40 years. I'm a big fan of their "Heavy Rock Spectacular" with it's hammond riffs and nice guitar work.

With just 3 members in this release (including Mr. Brondson on keys), I did not know what to expect. Is it just another attempt to resurrect something special 40 years ago resulting in a "dry run".

I would highly encourage anyone to go to youtube and search for Cold Reading Bram Stoker and listen to the Promo.

I can't explain why I like this album a lot. I just do. In addition to Mr. Brondson's meticulous keyboards (that delve into the early nostalgic sounds of the 1970's), the guitar work by Tony Lowe is nicely done, melodic and never "annoying". Very "Flower King"-y like (if I can make that phrase up). Lowe's guitar work is very enjoyable to listen to and Bronsdon does a wonderful job taking a backseat during Lowe's solos (but the hammond/keys are always present).

But Bronsdon has many moments to shine too. But at all times, it feels like a "team effort".

And then you have the other strength of the album. The vocals by Will Hack. Although sparse at times (some instrumental tunes), when the vocals come in, they're very pleasant and non-obstrusive. Reminds me a bit of Fruup's "Modern Masquerades" album with the vocals (and even some of the melodic passages).

This is not just a "failed reunion album" where a "once progressive"-group reforms again to do a bunch of forgettable modern pop songs and then disappears.

No, this album is just as progressive as the 1972 "Heavy Rock Spectacular" and the keyboards are just wonderful to listen to. Nice bass guitar passes too.

Nothing outstanding but no wasted tracks either. Just a good album from start to finish.

If you're curious, please go to youtube and search for "Bram Stoker 'Cold Reading'" and check out the 4 minute "Official promo" video. It's about 30 seconds per song. It will give you a great idea of what this album is about.

 Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] by BRAM STOKER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 58 ratings

Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist]
Bram Stoker Prog Related

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Cult British Prog band from the early-70's.There seems to be a confusion about its members, sure thing is their leader was keyboardist Tony Bronsdon and guitarist/bassist Tony Lowe was among the original members.Bram Stoker were found in 1969 and were a live beast of the era, being a regular visitor of legendary live scenes as The Roundhouse, The Marquee, The Greyhound-Croydon and The Speakeasy, they even were supported by Queen once, while they also played quite often in small pubs.By the time of the ''Heavy Rock Spectacular'' album in 1972 Bronsdon was apparently surrounded by a different line-up, including John Bavin on bass, Pete Ballam on guitar and Rob Haines on drums.The album was released originally on the London-based 70's label Windmill.

Heavy Rock it is at some degree, really spectacular it is not, because the music by Bram Stoker was already performed by acts such as ATOMIC ROOSTER, QUATERMASS and E.L.P. with nods also to the style of DEEP PURPLE and THE NICE.But the album is also very far from being uninteresting.Powerful, organ-based Heavy/Psych with some excellent organic jams and lots of energy to capture the listener's attention.The music is typical of the British Psych/Proto-Prog style with impressive influences from Classical sources and endless psychedelic textures in long, non-refined instrumental masturbations.Vocals are also very good, well-fit to the musical content and the rhythm section is extremely solid.Guitar contribution comes at a few moments, but these are also the ones with the more dramatic and progressive sound.''Extensive corrosion'' is possibly the most progressive of all pieces with its organ changing paces and the music being split in different variations, while the outro of ''Poltergeist'' belongs definitely among the most haunting tracks of British organ-led Psychedelic Music.

Standard example of the early-70's British Psych/Prog scene.Loads of dense Hammond organ and raw compositions full of extended, instrumental abnormalities.The album has been re-issued several times by a number of labels and it's pretty easy to be found.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] by BRAM STOKER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 58 ratings

Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist]
Bram Stoker Prog Related

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Extensive corrosion, of body and mind...!"

What a terrific lyric to start off this review! The sole Bram Stoker album `Schizo-Poltergeist' (at least that's what it's called on my version) is a wonderful heavy-prog stunner with endless waves of dazzling Hammond organ, fuzzy guitar and a good mix of instrumental virtuosity and varied melodic vocal tracks. The easiest similarity I could offer is along the lines of Atomic Rooster (and like the above quoted line, many of the lyrics have a slightly sinister tone with vague occult references), but with more classical influences like The Nice worked in as well. But anyone who enjoys similar early prog albums from Bodkin, Rare Bird and Beggars Opera will likely find much to enjoy here.

Like the spooky gothic mansion depicted on the front cover, the identity of the players who performed on this album is shrouded in mystery, which just adds to the slight unease of the music. More research on the net offers the player details as Tony Bronsdon - Organ, Pete Ballam - Guitar, Rob Haines - Drums and John Bavin - Bass. Going by the strength of this album, all the players should be immensely proud of what they achieved here, as they have something of an obscure and underground near-classic with this work. So much potential, so it's a shame we only received this one sole release.

Of the vocal tracks, the stomping opener `Born To Be Free' kicks the album off in pure winning Atomic Rooster style, a fuzzy guitar/humming Hammond organ rocker about a girl `born on the wrong side of town, her every word was spit and bile'! With a killer chorus, the track is insanely catchy and gloriously upbeat, which contrasts strangely with the downbeat lyrics - something that Rooster did frequently themselves!

`Blitz' is the most serious and striking of the vocal pieces, a rather somber and unsettling tale that asks `Does anyone know about Mary, does anyone know where Mary is, she went to rescue the children...'. Throughout there's some moody plodding bass that highlights the kind of creeping loneliness and reflective tone of the words, with some dark murky Spanish guitar worked in to stirring effect later on.

`Idiot' has a slightly cheesy chorus, but fans of the first Beggars Opera album `Act One' will enjoy this one, as it shares that same kind of maniacal circus-like loopy energy and charm. The finale `Poltergeist' is all bombastic Hammer-horror drama, but the booming and kitschy repeated chorus is a little lazy.

`Ants' gets the first of three instrumental pieces off to a grand start, with classical ELP/Trace/Nice- style dazzling organ work, by way of a ghost story/horror house setting, plus some nice rapid fire drumming too. `Fast Decay' carries on the same way, while incorporating sections of Bach's Toccata In D-Fuga (sure to either dazzle or infuriate some listeners!), but the relentless bass galloping away throughout is a real highlight. `Fingals Cave', apparently another classical interpretation, works wonderfully too, all spiraling organ, commanding drumming and searing electric guitar runs. There's a lovely jazzy lightness to parts of it as well.

So you've got eight tracks, three superb instrumental pieces overloaded with pure Hammond fire, and five vocal tracks, three of which are terrific, and two that are a little daggy but still very enjoyable. As the album is beautifully produced too, taking all of these things into consideration you have a wonderful LP that is well worth tracking down. Any fans of the above mentioned bands will greatly enjoy this one, and it can proudly be placed alongside those same artists/albums to complement them perfectly.

An easy four stars, please try and track down a copy!

 Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] by BRAM STOKER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 58 ratings

Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist]
Bram Stoker Prog Related

Review by ExittheLemming

4 stars Mischievous Invisible Sprite Spectacularly Lifts Heavy Rock

I have to confess that I was not overly optimistic about this one due in no small measure to the very tacky artwork and the appalling title. Dire premonitions of 'Franck Pourcell plays the music of Black Sabbath' are mercifully unfounded.

Once you have ventured inside and over this twee 'K-Tel Gothic' threshold, the music is a real treat and we can only speculate as to what type of success this band could have attained given proper and sympathetic marketing.

The Hammond dominates throughout and if it is indeed played by the elusive Mr Bronsdon? he is/was surely an ivory tickler of fantastic ability (I cannot help but speculate if this is the work of a now fabulously wealthy and famous keyboard giant who was then in dire need of a paycheck?)

Some of the previous commentaries have touted reference points like Purple, Heep and Rooster and although there is a vestige of that feel here, it is somewhat tenuous as the music is surprisingly varied and encompasses classical, heavy rock, jazz and symphonic Prog a la Beggars Opera, the Nice, ELP and Colosseum etc

The guitar is never allowed to just bludgeon us with any fuzz-laden riffs here and for the most part, the fretwork is very tastefully done and can give the impression of a vaguely jazzy feel in places. Phasing and tremolo effects are employed and although they serve to date stamp the recording firmly to the early 70's, they do actually lend a sense of space to the proceedings.

I also like the drumming which supports, is sympathetic to and enhances the musical development (unlike the tub thumping school of just plain old vanilla time-keeping. Does Ian Paice ever visit this site?)

The songs, although hardly masterpieces, are strong and the singer (the indefatigable Mr B again?) has a decent voice and patently a sense of humour, as evidenced by Idiot

Bach's down at heel 'Toccata and Fugue' is subjected to further humiliation on one of the tracks in a slightly cringe inducing section but in the main, the instrumental passages are delightful and have been carefully composed with loads of variety of tone, pace and timbre to keep us interested.

Not being familiar with the work of Mendelssohn, I cannot comment on the suitability or otherwise of what purports to be an adaptation of a classical piece Fingal's Cave? I do know that I like the track, and it is here that the music is at it's lightest and jazziest with some excellent piano work helping to provide some relief from the organ assault.

So, don't be discouraged by the crappy cover and title and give this album a fair hearing. Unlike so many other over-hyped 'forgotten' masterpieces that proliferate on these pages, this is a genuine contender, deserving of such an accolade.

(Does Franck Pourcell ever visit this site ?)

 Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] by BRAM STOKER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 58 ratings

Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist]
Bram Stoker Prog Related

Review by leemcl

4 stars The obvious reference points are ELP and the Nice, with a bit of Deep Purple heavyness and Atomic Rooster/Black Sabbath demonic doom thrown in.

As befits a band with their enigmatic name and style not much is known about them. A bit of Googling found that the T Bronsdon credited with the material and excellent keyboards is Tony Bronsdon, and that the band originated from the south coast of England (Bournemouth area). The other members are listed as Pete Ballam - guitars and vocals, Bob Haines - drums and percussion, Jon Bavin - bass and vocals.

The album is often presumed to have been a session man cash-in effort to capitalise on the early 70s prog boom. The fact that it was issued on the cut price Windmill imprint owned by those well known purveyors of prog Woolworths probably contributed to this belief. They never got signed to a major label which is a great shame as they certainly show lots of talent and potential here.

The stand out tracks for me include 'Blitz' which tells the haunting story of a man whose wife dies in a World War Two bombing raid.

'Poltergeist' is also excellent, again managing to conjure up an extremely doomy and oppressive atmosphere.

'Extensive Corrosion' (maybe Mr Bronsdon's car was playing up that week) has a great middle section with a combined piano/organ riff followed by some blazing Hammond soloing that Emerson at his peak would have been proud of.

'Fingal's Cave' is a lengthy classical adaptatation which, while not exactly an adventurous choice, is very well done.

The album does not cover ground that other bands hadn't already, but it's never less than well-performed and imaginatively played. The main reason to get it is the keyboard work, which is of a very high standard throughout.

 Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] by BRAM STOKER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 58 ratings

Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist]
Bram Stoker Prog Related

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Here is a gem from the Early British Progressive Rock Movement, unfortunately it was both a painstaking as a hardly impossible task to find information from this elusive band. Bram Stoker was a one shot band that released their album in 1972 under the title Heavy Rock Spectacular. In 1999 the label Audio Archive released the album with the same tracks but a different cover (to be seen along with this review) as a reissue CD, a year later the label Black Widow released it with the original artwork and in 2003 the label Akarma released it as CD reissue in a mini LP gatefold sleeve.

The eight melodic and dynamic compositions are Hammond organ drenched, the electric guitar is often distorted (fuzz) delivering some fiery soli but in general it is on the background. Bram Stoker their sound has elements from Atomic Rooster (Born to be free), ELP (Fast decay) and often Beggar's Opera, mainly due to the classical organ sound (for example Bach's Toccata In D-Fuga in Fast Decay and the long Fingal's Cave) and the pleasant vocals. The track Blitz has some Spanish flavored guitar undertones and sounds a bit dark. The final, horror-like song Poltergeist features floods of classical inspired organ.


Thanks to Todd for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.