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ARC

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Arc biography
After singer GRAHAM BELL joined BRIAN DAVISON'S EVERY WHICH WAY, English foursome ARC emerged from SKIP BIFFERTY [aka HEAVY JELLY] in 1970. They were a lesser but very talented blues-based heavy prog outfit comprised of Michael GALLAGHER's keys, Tom DUFFY's bass, the drums of David MONTGOMERY and guitarist John TURNBULL. Evidently they recorded two studio albums though only one is currently documented, 'At This' from 1971 on Decca.

Occasionally compared to PATTO though they also remind of SUPERTRAMP if that group had been young and hungry, ARC sound not unlike many bands of the era who took from what the Beatles had established but adding a harder, rawer feel mixed with the semi-classical sparks of early YES, making 'At This' a respectable collector's item.

ARC were songwriters at heart and composed surprisingly good material easily overshadowed by the other more well-versed, attention-getting acts. Clearly progressive however, and a fine example of early melodic Prog before things got so involved.


-- Atavachron (David) --



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Typical but distinguished heavy prog band from the early era, and a fine addition to the Archives.



Discography:
At This, studio album (1971)

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ARC discography


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

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

3.49 | 18 ratings
At This
1971
2.96 | 9 ratings
Bell + Arc
1971

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

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ARC Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 At This by ARC album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.49 | 18 ratings

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At This
Arc Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A one-off affair from 1971, 'At This' has been re-released after a 20-year plus hiatus in the rock wilderness by those fantastic purveyor's of lost prog, Esoteric Recordings, the label who have also given us 'Space Shanties' by Khan, 'Glass-Top Coffin' By Ramases and Soft Machine's superb 'Bundles' album, to name just a few. An energetic and accomplished slice of early pop-tinged prog, Arc's debut sounds a bit like Yes, Flash and Queen have all been press-ganged into making an album together, which would probably be no bad thing(!). The music is brisk and inventive without ever being brilliant, but in a couple of tracks, most notably the album-opener 'Let Your Love Run Through', the group show off some seriously-catchy riffs imbued with impressive vocal harmonies. Lyrics wise, let's just say the group won't win any Bob Dylan-size plaudits, but the music is good enough to forgive the occasional literal abberation. All in all, enjoyable, briskly-played prog-rock - with the emphasis on rock - which should please fans of Yes, Supertramp, Babe Ruth and Rush. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010.

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 Bell + Arc by ARC album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.96 | 9 ratings

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Bell + Arc
Arc Heavy Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Missing identity

Following their critically acclaimed debut Arc at this, Arc joined forces with Graham Bell, formerly of Heavy Jelly and Skip Bifferty to form the curiously named Bell + Arc (not Bell and Arc). They release just this self titled album together before the band folded completely a year later, with John Turnbull and Michael Gallagher going on to join Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

The album Bell + Arc did not fare nearly as well as had been hoped in terms of chart success, and copious quantities of the album quickly found their way into the bargain bins of British record shops. Nowadays though, the album has gained belated recognition, and is highly sought after in LP format.

Bell's white soul style vocals are somewhere between Joe Cocker and Paul Rodgers, the opening High priest of Memphis giving him an early chance to stamp his authority on the band's sound. The slightly echoed voice, female backing vocals, and rhythmic piano all contribute to the gospel tinged sound.

During the recording of the album, drummer Rob Tait, who had already replaced the band's founding drummer, was himself replaced by Alan White (later of Yes). White's first appearance here is on the second track Let your love run free, a blues/funk number with a rock and roll rhythm. The track features a Chicago like brass section who drive the repetitive beat forward. Keep a wise mind ventures towards country rock, the simplistic structure and catchy chorus offering little in the way of a challenge.

Side one of the album closes with covers of songs by Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. For both tracks, Ken Craddock moves to organ for the first time on the album, immediately changing the whole atmosphere. Cohen's So long Marianne becomes a soulful ballad emphasising again Bell's proximity style wise to Joe Cocker. Dylan's She belongs to me (from Self portrait) was covered somewhat more radically by the Nice, the version here being a mid-paced blues.

Yat rock is the longest track on the album at a shade over 6 minutes. The title is somewhat misleading, the first part of the song being a melancholy blues of little consequence. Things transform midway as the band ups the pace and bursts into a piano driven jam.

Bell softens things right down for his solo spot Dawn, where his delicate vocal is accompanied only by acoustic guitar. Children of the north prison continues the downbeat mood, acoustic guitar giving way to another orthodox piano based blues. The album closes with Everyday (no relation to other similarly titled songs, this is a Bell + Arc composition), which reverts to the lighter country tinged pop rock style.

Those who were there will recall that 1971 was a wonderful time for music, and especially for prog. If you were going to make it then you not only had to be good, you had to have your own identity. That is where Bell + Arc falls short. While Graeme Bell undoubtedly has a fine voice, the overall sound of the band is undistinguished. The songs and their arrangements simply lack that special ingredient which might have set them apart from their peers. Not a bad album though.

Note that the cover shown here is the original LP cover. The CD re-release uses photos from inside the LP's gatefold sleeve instead.

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 At This by ARC album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.49 | 18 ratings

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At This
Arc Heavy Prog

Review by raleks

5 stars A can only recommend to listen to this album. Very energetic and melodic stuff. This kind of early prog I like very much. It's pity, that Arc's second album Bell and Arc not so good and even poor, I've looked it for a long time... :(

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 At This by ARC album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.49 | 18 ratings

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At This
Arc Heavy Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Arc was a typical but very good quartet that made a go of it during the English post-underground era. They were often hard riff-based but showed Beatles musicality, Stones attitude, and the raised standards pioneered on the early Yes records. Think Supertramp meets Atomic Rooster on a drunken evening in the studio. 'Let Your Love Run Through' is lanky hard blues, relaxed but assertive with a sweet balance between the fuzz twang of John Turnbull's guitar and Michael Gallagher's saloon-style piano. 'Four Times Eight' is almost pure silliness saved by some impressive instrumentation and White Album fun and 'Great Lager Street' is simply great young prog rock, with warm vocal harmonies and delicate keyboard/guitar duets, still with that earthy spirit before things got so convoluted. Just as good and at over seven minutes is 'Hello, Hello Monday', filled with this group's particular style of semi-Baroque hard rock and accomplished playing, a remarkable piece considering the band's almost unknown status. 'Sophie's Cat' is sweet and 'You're in the Garden' is tinctured with acid and CS&N vocal triads.

A real good record that simply didn't stand out in its time, or any time for that matter, and deserves some serious reconsideration from those who like their oldies with a little class.

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