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Crossover Prog • United Kingdom

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Janus biography
Defn' :

1) Roman Religion - Animistic spirit of doorways and archways.

2) Roman Mythology - God of all beginnings and endings, Janus saw backwards and forwards.

3) English Rock Band - Formed Krefeld, Germany ca.1970. Disbanded somewhere in England ca. 1974.
Ressurected ca. 1990 Glossopdale, England. Named as such by record company after aforementioned because of split personality nature of far-out music.

There are many one album wonders that emerged from the heady days of the summer of love social phenomenom of the late sixties. Some bands even lost concept of time and prolonged it well into the '70s and to quote a line from This Is Spinal Tap ended up in " the where are they now? file". Janus was one such band and their 1972 album entitled Gravedigger was one of those wonder albums. Though it may not be up there with the Beatle's Butcher Album it has been known to fetch ridiculous prices ( as much as $350 ) at record conventions and internet record trading sites. The early misadventures of Janus even rival the ficticious rock 'n' roll catastrophes of Spinal Tap. So, where are they now? One might ask. 7 albums have come to pass between 1990 and 2006. In 2012 mastermind and guardian of the Janus flame, Colin Orr, regrouped the band once more for another album that revisits the glorious '70s. But in order to understand the Janus story proper it's best to start at the beginning...

The original band had it's origins in the Midlands of England in 1969-70 when 18 year-old Colin Orr was in a nearly-made-it band that had fallen apart as a result of lack of money and creative failure. Disillusioned with the music scene in the UK, Orr packed a suitcase and along with his guitar headed for West Germany where he had found a job with NAAFI, a food supply company that serviced NATO bases. Upon his arrival at a youth hostel in Krefeld he was almost immediately noticed by a long hair freaky guy by the name of Bruno Lord who told him he was a singer looking for a guitarist to form a band. At the time there were other English lads hanging out in Germany and before they knew it they had a band together with Roy Yates on nylon string guitar, another vocalist, Derek Hyatt, Mick Peberdy on bass and Keith Bonthrone on drums. They decided to name the band Bonthrone after their drummer because they thought that it would confuse the Germans who wouldn't be able to pronounce it correctly. While working at his day job Orr started to write or...
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Buy JANUS Music

Red Right ReturnRed Right Return
Realid Records 2009
Audio CD$11.99
$3.42 (used)
Nox AerisNox Aeris
Realid Records 2012
Audio CD$7.90
$4.91 (used)
EMI International 2013
Audio CD$14.48
$21.23 (used)
Gravedigger by JanusGravedigger by Janus
EMI International
Audio CD$45.64
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Whispers A Mother For My Children UK 7" vinyl single record 6146023 JANUS 1973 USD $13.22 Buy It Now 2 days

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JANUS discography

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

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

3.62 | 30 ratings
3.04 | 4 ratings
Out Of Time
4.25 | 4 ratings
3.00 | 3 ratings
3.00 | 3 ratings
4.00 | 2 ratings
Angus Dei 2000
4.50 | 7 ratings
Sea Of Sighs
5.00 | 1 ratings
The ''S'' Album
3.92 | 69 ratings
Under The Shadow Of The Moon
3.00 | 4 ratings
Gravedigger House Calls

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

JANUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

4.33 | 12 ratings
Gravedigger (Remaster & Remix)

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

JANUS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gravedigger by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.62 | 30 ratings

Janus Crossover Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars The debut album in 1972 from British band Janus is an occasionally successful fusion of hard rock with heavy psych, classical and blues elements. It has plenty in common with many proto-prog bands from the same period that were slowly finding their feet developing new sounds that would later resemble proper progressive related styles. `Gradigger' consisted of four shorter pieces on its first side ranging between two and nine minutes, sometimes along the lines of Black Sabbath, Amon Duul 2, heavy metal and blues. Better yet was the lengthy 21 minute floating title track on the reverse, yet it has to be said that the two sides sound like entirely different bands! Perhaps this inconsistency hinders the album and certainly shows a band unsure of their own identity yet, but musical skills were certainly already on display, as well as a gutsy rocking sound with a nice contrast between hard and soft passages.

Chugging opener `Red Sun' plods along trying to capture a Black Sabbath feel, but the slightly forced vocals aren't nearly as good as Ozzy. The middle section is thankfully stronger, when a repetitive Krautrock passage full of Colin Orr's panning feedback drenched electric guitar droning and Mick Peberdy's sludgy bass that brings a nice sleazy dangerous sound. Seeing as the band were operating out of Germany at the time, it's no wonder that hypnotic Krauty sound infiltrated their music a little! `Bubbles' could almost be a cross between the Doors on the verses (plus a dash of psych-pop) with the scuzzy riffing and ranting deranged vocals from an Amon Duul 2 album elsewhere. The stop/start `Watcha' Trying To Do' twists bluesy guitar mangling grooves back and forth. Sadly `I Wanna Scream' is a rubbish heavy metal rocker, but thankfully it's barely over two minutes in length. The album sleeve states that it's actually been re-recorded here due to the master tapes not surviving, but although it still sounds just like it would have from the time, the track is so throwaway that the band may as well have saved the time and not included it at all.

Fortunately it's the second side that offers the most exciting moments. The drifting almost 21 minute `Gravedigger' is highlighted by gentle chiming acoustic guitar and nimble solo runs, sighing wordless harmonies, sweeping orchestral passages and the lightest of Mellotron veils that cover the piece instantly call to mind the Moody Blues. Spanish and classical themes weave throughout the arrangement, a somber lead vocal, delicate piano and very subdued light Hammond organ. It's perhaps a bit overlong and repeats a little too much, but it sure it is a lovely dreamy mellow if melancholic come-down, and if the band were to survive in the 70's from this album, expanding on this direction would have been very advisable, as it's more distinctive and memorable than the hard rock first side of the album.

`Gravedigger' has now been reissued in a lavish double CD set that includes various bonus unreleased tracks, remixes and singles. According the Colin Orr's own admission in the booklet, the studio album sounded very different to how the band sounded live, with most of the the members being unhappy with the finished results. He also mentions that despite coming across like it on the album, the band live were `loud and aggressive, classical, angry and mournful, but never psychedelic." As far as I'm concerned, perhaps this was producer Rainer Pietsch simply trying to do what he could to make the material more imaginative. The band shouldn't be so hard on themselves, it's a decent little album that has developed a nice cult following since its release.

It would take 28 years before Janus recorded a follow-up album, so it's a shame that they didn't really get a chance in their heydey to build on their yet to be fully realised potential. Undemanding heavy rock fans will likely find something to interest them here, as well as forgiving heavy psych fans, but there are so many endless other solid rock albums along these lines from the same period that should be easily recommended over most of what is on offer here.

Three stars.

 Under The Shadow Of The Moon by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 69 ratings

Under The Shadow Of The Moon
Janus Crossover Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars More 2013 releases and now it's time for Janus "Under the Shadow of the Moon". Janus is an English rock band formed in Germany 1970 and they did one high rated record before they disbanded. From 1990 and forward they have done eight records which not seems to have got so much attention. "Under the shadow of the Moon" is Janus' tenth studio record. I look at the picture and it seems to be showing a night scene where a circus is resting. The band consists of Colin Orr(vocals, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards), Rikki Hanson-Orr(vocals, clarinet, keyboards), Thea Hanson-Orr(saxophone), Dean Houston(saxophone), Ben Stafford(keyboards), Rachel Luxon-Robinson and Pam Hodkinson(backing vocals). It's seems it's primarly the first man which is "the band" and the others are guests.

This record gave me some interesting and pleasant times. I hadn't complained if the record just had been the first track "Under the Shadow of the Moon". That is almost "an epic" and is without competition the best song. That track also made me disappointed of the rest. Here you have wonderful melodic prog rock with great guitar and a very competent vocalist in Rikki Hanson-Orr. Different styles is blended here and the track is like a journey. Both soft and hard moments touches you here(8/10). Then comes "Dark dark", a bland and dark, dark track(5/10) and then "How many times" with a nice rock sound and great guitar(6/10). "Promised land" is the album's second best track(8/10) with a beautiful darkness and something Asian is the melody and the track "Save America" is stripped but not so interesting(6/10). "Feeling" then (6/10) and "Maybe I was the fool"(6/10) are okey soft rock songs. "I'm not made of plastic" turns better(7/10) with some passages I really like and "If I'd listened"(6/10) also is quite nice but not so much "to hang in the christmas tree"(Swedish expression).

Over all Janus' "Under the shadow of the moon" was a disappointment, mostly because the first track was so good. Listen to the title track and perhaps number four and skip the rest. Over all the album was Ok but nothing more.

 Under The Shadow Of The Moon by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 69 ratings

Under The Shadow Of The Moon
Janus Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Wow! Colin Orr of Janus has crafted an incredible addition to the band's legacy with Under the Shadow of the Moon. The epic title track was apparently first conceived in 1973 in the wake of the release of Gravedigger, but it's clear that it has undergone substantial work since then, since the production standards on the album are very modern and Orr shows no hesitation in working much more recent textures, instrumentation, and techniques into the album. The end result is a progressive rock album which at one moment could have emerged from the genre's golden age and within a second can switch on you to show a very different and very modern sound.
 Gravedigger by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.62 | 30 ratings

Janus Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Gravedigger by Janus finds the band playing in a psyche-tinged style of early progressive rock still entangled in the genre's roots in the 1960s underground - and emerged just as that style of prog was going out of fashion in favour of more polished and complex material, to the band's misfortune. It's an enjoyable enough album if you like the early prog style - dramatic opener Red Sun is particularly enjoyable - though I wouldn't say it's solid all the way through; in particular, the brash introduction to Watcha Trying to Do?, aside from being irritating, is also tonally inconsistent with the rest of the album, as is the rest of the song itself - it feels like someone else's song parachuted into the middle of the running order. In fact, with such a weak first side and a side two epic that doesn't really stand up next to the sort of material their peers in Van der Graaf Generator or Genesis was producing, the album isn't so much a neglected classic as it is a second-tier release which got about as much attention as it deserved.
 Under The Shadow Of The Moon by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 69 ratings

Under The Shadow Of The Moon
Janus Crossover Prog

Review by keithp

5 stars Just listened to UTSOTM - what an amazing album..... The title track is a 21 minute masterpiece which on first hearing sounds confusing and erratic - but after 3 or 4 times it starts to make sense and flows beautifully with very dark undertones throughout! Some of the other tracks are worthy of radio promotion - especially track 7 - "Maybe I was the fool" is amazing!!!! Well worth a listen - and then another - and another - and by now you will also agree that this is an album that may be long delayed - but well worth the wait!!!!

Keith Parry OBE

 Under The Shadow Of The Moon by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 69 ratings

Under The Shadow Of The Moon
Janus Crossover Prog

Review by Vibrationbaby

5 stars The Anti- Alice In Wonderland

Janus' music oftentimes has pre-occupied itself with dark ruminations featuring audacious fusions and musical combinations rarely heard by popular audiences ever since it's not-so-humble beginnings in 1971. Latin plainsong and primordial aboriginal rhythms bolted together with wailing Gibsons, ballads with sweet, soft female voicings, hard rock as well as the utterly absurd are among the idiosyncracies that have characterized this brainchild that has never seen any boundaries.

This latest Janus creature, "Under The Shadow Of The Moon ", has it's origins back in the early seventies when prog ruled FM radio waves. When bands would write unmitigated miniature free-form symphonies based on one cerebral idea in unorthodox jazz time signatures spewing out barrages of mind-numbing philisophical lyrical elucidations and, heaven forbid, cultivated learned musical facukty and versatility much to the delight of audiences who wanted to think a little bit. Meanwhile the bands unwittingly threw themselves to the mercy of unimmaginative critics who ate their work alive with horrific reviews as if they had committed appaling and unforgivable atrocities against rock 'n' roll music and everything it stood for..

''Under the Shadow Of The Moon " manages to commit just about all those artistic crimes associated with this classic era of progressive rock whithin it's 21 minute running time and what is so interesting about this modern throwback to that ghastly era is that it doesn't sound anything like the modern bands who are adopting and embracing early progrock pardigms. Rather than a relic that was miraculously unearthed in a record company vault and remastered ( think "Mahavishnu Orchestra The Lost Trident Sessions" ) it is more like a lost Mozart concerto that has never been played. Difference here is that the piece was actually composed and rehearsed back in 1973 but never made it onto the record cutting press for some dubious reasons ( think sex, drugs & rock 'n' roll ). Janus mastermind and perpetual architect Colin Orr toyed around with resurrecting Janus as a progrock endeavour back in the late '80s but quickly abandoned it realizing how dated and burnt out progrock musical methodology sounded. Alas, it had run it's course. One track, "How Many Times", is nonetheless re-worked here that dates from those experiments. It has an AOR sound to it with a cool guitar lick towards the end that seems to be sadly wasted here ( sorry to say this ). The Janus entity then went on to record 7 albums in various guises and now over 40 years after it's genesis the title epic '' Under The Shadow Of The Moon " creeps from the womb of time. Unable to escape until....

It was retrieved from Orr's memory by unknown forces. In 2013 " Under The Shadow Of The Moon " turns out to be dark & "Cimmerian", embodying all kinds of 70s progrock hallmarks. Although it is presented as a suite, Orr chooses not to name the individual sections as if to leave it up to the listener. A neo-psychedelic passage forms the main theme but develops into a sureal maelstrom of dreamy Floydian orchestral sections with nylon string guitars, spectral female vocals and nonsensical carnival-like interludes that are reflective of the underlying theme of the protaganist being on the verge of psychosis. Whether the inclusion of transmissions of Neil Armstrong to mission control stepping out into the unknown a represent some sort of consolation or at least a resolution to all the madness that occurs during this eccentric piece of music, one does not knowfor sure. I got a weird feeling after being confronted by the work and after first listen and said to myself, "what the freak was that?" Certainly a great track to listen to blasting on the headphones staring at Edvard Munch's " The Scream ".

At First, I wondered why the shorter, more recently composed tracks were positioned after the first tripped out extended conflagration. They all follow mournful themes that continue to use "darkness" as a unifying metaphorical device.

Dark Dark is sort of an addendum to the main piece. It has a sepulchral ambience achieved by reversed reverberation combined with a spooky bluesy hollow body guitar outro. One of the most beautiful rock ballads I've heard comes in the form of the painful mostly acoustic lament " Maybe I Was The Fool " with lush female counter harmonies and string arrangements. Actually it's something that could have been penned by Fish ( the ex-Marrilion Fish ) and reminds me a bit of " Kaliegh ". Two other tracks, '' I'm Not Made of Plastic " and " Promised Land " are more representative of Janus' ecclectisisms of the 90s, the latter being a metallisque, angry freakout against government greed again using some cool studio effects and showcasing Orr's electric guitar. By far the heaviest excursion on the album. Saving America is a short forlorn "cri de coeur", an unanswered prayer if you like accompanied by piano and voice that addresses the plight of the United States and its role in this crazy spiral-bound planet It is followed by an upbeat bluesy ballad called " Feeling ", the happiest expression that will be experienced here. "If I'd Listened", a re-worked ballad that had appeared on the 1991 Janus album " Journey " concludes the work which in a sense could even be considered a concept album of sorts.

Even though this is Janus at +40 ( and counting ) the music still sounds remarkably fresh and youthful. Colin Orr, along with his technical studio prowess and multi-instrumental skills ( he plays most instruments and did all the production ) with help from his talented daughters and session man Dean Houston on sax and others, seems more like a stoned hippie / madman stuck in a 70s time-warp than a 21st century Derbyshire sheep farmer here. Orr has created something unique here that is not unlike waking the dead.

So, is this the Janus album that never was from 1973? Well, yes and no. Best summation would be : Contemporary progrock with enough nuances, anachronisms and adventurous excitement of the prodigious early seventies to annoy any frustrated 21st century Rolling Stone columnist.

 Gravedigger (Remaster & Remix) by JANUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
4.33 | 12 ratings

Gravedigger (Remaster & Remix)
Janus Crossover Prog

Review by Vibrationbaby

5 stars Treating The Dead With Respect : Exuming A Classic

I'm not too crazy about re-masters, re-mixes, anniversary editions, box sets, BBC Sessions etc and it seems that everyone has been doning it since the Elvis gold box sets of the seventies came out followed by Spingsteen in the eighties and then in the nineties when Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin turned it into an epidemic.I see it only as a way to milk, re-hash and scrape a product over the coals for the almighty $.

I'll have to admit, paradoxically, that I was probably one of the first owners of the King Crimson and Gentle Giant CD box sets that started appearing in the late nineties for the very reason that I am sick for the progressive bands of the glorious seventies. But for the most part I am happy with my vinyl originals of which I prudently bought multiple copies back when they were on the wane and plentiful. I originally pulled my copy of Janus' legendary Gravedigger LP out of a second hand shop in Montréal for $2.50 in 1977 on a whim. Even by that time Janus was in the " where are they now?" file but thanks to the internet this unusual album has acquired a mystique being bootlegged over and over both on CD and vinyl and fetching ridiculous prices on collector sites and eBay without anyone even being aware that the band continued on in one incarnation or another between 1989 and 2005!

It seemed that the Gravedigger album was destined to become the band's epitaph until original members Colin Orr and Bruno Lord discovered recently that EMI ( Germany ) still had most of the master tapes in their possession after tearing up Janus' contract 40 years ago amidst dodgy Spinal Tap-like events. Truth be told, that through all the blur they discovered that the final product, engineered by technicians used to recording classical music, wasn't to their satisfaction and not representative of the way they really sounded. But, as a young band were more than happy to get a record out none the less. Unfortunately the engineering flaws would haunt them for 4 decades.

After reconciling with EMI a definite remaster and a complete remixing of the album took place in the summer of 2012 with two tracks ( I Wanna Scream & Suma Manatilly ) being completely re-recorded because the original masters could not be located. For this guitarist Colin Orr used the his original 1962 Gibson SG Junior in order to re-create the tracks how they should have sounded back in 1972 and substituting modern back-up harmony vocals on Suma manatilly courtesy of his two daughters Rikki and Thea along with Ben Stafford.

I was knocked over when I first heard the re-mix. Not only do the heavier tracks have a sharper more mertallic edge but everything has been brought up front right in your face. The 21 minute showpiece doesn't seem plod along as much even though the tempo remains unchanged. The whole album sounds like it has been put under a sonic magnifying glass and to tell the truth, I don't think that I'll ever listen to my vinyl LP edition after hearing this state-of-the-art rework. Also Included are two tracks from the one and only Janus single from 1972, I'm Moving On / I Don't Believe in remastered form making this a definite Gravedigger edition. Everything here ( with the exception of the two re-makes ) is taken from 1972. This certainly makes the deleted 1992 SPM-WWR Gravedigger CD release redundant and excludes it's bonus tracks which were recorded in 1990 and had nothing to do with the 1972 EMI sessions.

Despite my disdain for this sort of package I thought it was a good idea to include a remaster of the original album for comparative purposes or just in case for some weird reason the remix is not to the satisfaction to fanatical analog purists. Also, of course, for fans of the resurgence of progressive rock in many parts of the world. The only nit I would have about this superb project is directed at EMI and not to Janus mastermind Colin Orr who oversaw this brilliant effort. I think EMI could have done a bit more with the iconic artwork. The 1972 image of the skeleton in the top hat crawling through the sand seems to say " I'll be back someday, but bye for now folks".I think some sort of a tongue-in-cheek play-up would have have been cool.

Otherwise a stellar effort in setting the record straight on an unusual classic work of progressive rock from the glorious seventies 40 years after the fact! Pristine job here.

 Sea Of Sighs by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.50 | 7 ratings

Sea Of Sighs
Janus Crossover Prog

Review by Vibrationbaby

5 stars Those familiar with Janus' legendary 1972 album Gravedigger will be in for a surprise with 2002's Sea Of Sighs 30 years on. Early seventies psychedelia gives way to brooding poetic Celtic rock here and is arguably the finest of the 7 Janus albums released since mastermind Colin Orr reformed the band in the late 80s.

The work showcases the contrasting rich cholral tenor of Paul Phoenix with those of 15 year-old prodigy Nathalie Brown whose ethereal vocals could be compared to those of Maggie Reilly sounding very mature which belies her mere 15 years at the time. The instrumental accampaniement is warm, deep rooted and beyond reproach. As with previous Janus albums Orr has chosen his soloists prudently with session man Dean Houston on saxophone and classically trained Sandy Bartai on the cello.

I have read other reviews of Sea Of Sighs where it is described as a new age album but this could not be a more inaccurate assessment when considering Houston's jazzy sax solo on Myrtle & The Harlequin or when Orr cuts loose with a blistering Floydian guitar solo on Dancing In The Graveyard. The solos nonetheless are kept to a minimum ( no 15 minute self-indulgent freakouts here folks ) and the focus is on graceful melodic soudscapes and backdrops with Orr tripling on keyboards, guitars and percussion. He even gets his kids Julie, Rikki and Matt along with Nathalie Brown to sing backup harmonies throughout this remarkable work.

Although the album opens with two dreary and haunting tracks Sadness Of Love and Requiem that one would expect to hear in a monastery, it becomes gradually more upbeat even though it still reflects the doom & gloom of a English / Celtic past. One of the prettiest and poignant tracks on the album is Great Uncle Joe which is sung passionately by Brown that pays hommage to a forgotten soldier who went to fight for England during the Great War and never returned who is buried in Flanders Field. Cynical lyrics question whether the sacrifice was necessary. The marked English / Celtic aura is maintained on Captain which pays tribute to Edwardian days when England could launch a thousand ships in quest of fortune, treasure and conquest and reminds me of the Roger Wittakker classic The Last Farewell.

A veritable overlooked masterpiece, Sea Of Sighs is an intriguing work that looks down through the years and captures the moods of bygone eras with it's dramatic instrumental textures and virtuoso vocal performances. Do not be misled to some other reviews that make new age references because Sea Of Sighs is much more than that and more. Haunting, meloncholic and forlorn a t times those familiar with the work of Mostly Autumn, Newfoundland Celtic / rock band Figgy Duff or even Mike Oldfield'sd late seventies early eighties work ( QE 2, To France, Crises or five Miles Out ) will definitely glean something from this jewel from Janus. What else? five stars.

 Out Of Time by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.04 | 4 ratings

Out Of Time
Janus Crossover Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars Quite 80's sounding album with simple drumming, vocals and a lot of synths. Of course, when you read their extensive biography, you will both understand whole situation and conditions when this album was being made better.

With doing this, you will for sure see their 20 minutes epic that will attract your attention first for sure. OK, then when we label other songs as "not so good" (as this what Ian call in biography AOR isn't my cup of tea). They're not unpleasant or dissonant, they are just plain.

However some of them are pretty listenable, if not Prog Rock then at least nice songs. Oh, then there is this Punk song, thanks for explanation, otherwise I would be quite surprised. And then blues song, which adds just another flavour to this effort.

And then there is this "epic" song, which is actually quite humble and calm, nothing like Odyssey or Iliad. Latin chamber singing (great performance), textures as strong as ambient music is, you have to listen very closely here to enjoy something. Do you know Twin Peaks title song ? OK, these two are about something completely different, but pattern is similar - minimalistic music, yet strong in impact on me as listener. Somehow.

Not masterpiece by far, but because of last song, this album is worth of listening after all.

3(+) and as I said, last track is of course the best.

 Gravedigger by JANUS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.62 | 30 ratings

Janus Crossover Prog

Review by Vibrationbaby

5 stars A Progrock Time Capsule

It is even as if this obscure relic from 1972 was destined to become ressurected. Crucified from the beginning by short-sighted record execs who dubbed the band with the tonque-in-cheek name Janus, after the mythical Roman God of beginnings and endings who is usually represented by two heads facing in opposite directions. The haunting cover of a skeletal frame adorned with a top hat being washed out to sea seems to be saying that's all for now folks but I shall see you again. Like many British bands in the late sixties and early seventies ( remember a band called The Beatles ), Janus found themselves in southern Germany in 1971and somehow manged to come to the attention of the hats at EMI, then cut a record at their Cologne studios in a mere 24 hours and cast out into oblivion forever. Almost.

I found this jewel gathering dust in a second hand record store in the late seventies and picked it up on the merits of it's creepy cover and because it was from Germany. Everything from Germany in the early seventies had the potential to be weird or different in some essential way. After blasting it's way through a fusilade of psychedelic hard rock on side one that sounded like everything from The Who, Led Zeppelin with a little bit of Sabbath-like riffing thrown in for good measure, side two shifts gears and just blows you right away with a 20 minute suite-like piece entitled Gravedigger that sends you completely into another ethereality. After two or three minutes of spectral vocal harmonies accompanied by a nylon string guitar and a sullen electric guitar playing a slow meloncholic counter melody in ostensible classical style the listener gets the feeling of experiencing death itself but not in a blood curdling way. Then orchestrations lumber in. The piece becomes even more desolate as sound effects of the seaside enter and various classical and Spanish motifs are introduced including the interpolation of Grieg's Hall Of The Mountain King as you've never heard it before. The piece seems to be saying that death is inevitable and is soothing in a way suggesting emancipation from the present life to another that is perhaps more promising. Once you've heard this you will have to flip it back over to the start and play it over again to actually believe that this is the same band. At first I actually thought it was a mispressing. seriously!

So why didn't these guys make it? Beats me. I can only offer a possible explanation to win you over to the cause of this lost classic.

First off, how does a record company executive market a band with two guitarists who think they're Jimi Hendrix on one side of their record and Andrés Segovia on the other? No in betweens. I guess you give the band a name that reflects the ambiguous nature of the music and run the gauntlet of the buying public. While the first side sounds a bit generic when compared to some of the freaky sounds emanating from German bands at the time ( Amon Duul II, Gila, Eloy, Epitaph etc.), the Gravedigger suite holds up remakably well by English standards and would give any Canterbury art rock band of the day such as Camel, Audience, Renaissance or early Genesis a run for their money. It's poor sales could have been a combination of sleepy executives who couldn't be bothered with such an uneven record or it could have been their unusual take on the classical rock thing that was less spectacular than the bands who were doing it with the mightier Hammond organ. The songs on the first side were reduced to novelty songs by the sophisticated suite on the second side and vice versa depending on which audience was listening to the record at the time. The CD version of the album becomes even more confusing without the two sides to breach the gap between the split musical personalities displayed on the original record. It even includes some unreleased tracks which were recorded in the 1980s ( one of which is from one of the singer's Solo albums ).

In order to best appreciate Janus' Gravedigger which has been resurrected by the advent of the CD and internet it must be considered in it's original form and context which comprised the first four songs plus the suite that appeared on side two of the 1972 Harvest LP. You might even want to pause about 30 seconds before listening to the main suite in order to simulate flipping over the record time in order to garner the full effect and even then it might take a few listens for it's subtle brilliance to set in. To be honest I hardly bother with the first side blowouts and it is the Gravedigger suite that makes this well worth the CD purchase. Original versions of the LP are highly coveted among colllectors and can fetch up to $300 on eBay with one recently going for $189! Whatever that is an indication of it is nonetheless a worthy lost jewel for fans of the Canterbury scene to check out. Or fans of the aforementioned Krautrock bands. Either way you want to approach this anomaly, when I say five stars here I ain't just whistling dixie. A true lost gemstone that makes one wonder "what If"?

*Not to be confused with the US heavy metal band of the same name!

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition. and to vibrationbaby for the last updates

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