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CAPABILITY BROWN

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Capability Brown biography
Capability Brown had and still have a cult following in UK music history as a "progressive" band, ultimately based on an outstanding piece from their second album, Voice. But largely their range covered mainstream pop music, treated in an "arty", alternative fashion. The band was a six-piece in which everyone sang and played instruments. The line-up consisted of Tony Ferguson (guitar, bass), Dave Nevin (keyboards, guitar, bass), Kenny Rowe (bass, percussion), Grahame White (guitar, lute, balalaika, keyboards), Joe Williams (percussion) and Roger Willis (drums, keyboards).
Ferguson and Nevin wrote the majority of the band's material, and the band also excelled in covers of obscure material (Rare Bird's Beautiful Scarlet and Redman, Argent's Liar, Affinity's I Am And So Are You and Steely Dan's Midnight Cruiser).
Capability Brown's forte was vocalizing. Together they sounded not unlike The Association: a massed choir of voices, ranging from baritone to high clean falsettos. Their first album, From Scratch, which included Liar, was average and unexceptional. The second album Voice, released in 1973, was their claim to fame, incorporating an over-20-minute richly melodic piece called Circumstances (In Love, Past, Present, Future Meet) - a stunning piece of music incorporating keyboards, a cappela voices, synthesizers and mellotrons, solo vocals, delicate harpsichord-like acoustic guitar sections, powerful electric guitar chords and massed vocal choirs.
The band did not manage to record again after this, and in 1974 Tony, Roger and Graham were recruited by friend and Christie member Roger Flavell to join his group, Christie for a tour of South America. Thus Capability Brown was no more.

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Buy CAPABILITY BROWN Music


LiarLiar
Charisma
Vinyl$31.00
LIAR 7 INCH (7LIAR 7 INCH (7" VINYL 45) UK CHARISMA 1973
CHARISMA
Vinyl$16.83 (used)
midnite cruiser / mono 45 rpm singlemidnite cruiser / mono 45 rpm single
PASSPORT
Vinyl$8.00 (used)
Scratching The SurfaceScratching The Surface
Buddah
Vinyl$16.98 (used)
VoiceVoice
Original recording
Passport Records
Vinyl$16.00 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
CAPABILITY BROWN VOICE RARE JAPAN LP Promo White UK PROG WLP CHARISMA US $29.98 Buy It Now 2 days
CAPABILITY BROWN Liar DJ COPY 45 M- US $7.99 Buy It Now 2 days
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LP GERMANY PRESS - CAPABILITY BROWN (VOICE)- CHARISMA 6369 940 - Gatefold sleeve US $25.00 Buy It Now 4 days
RISA POTTERS (& Capability Brown) TAKE ME AWAY. Rare 1972 U.S, press LP US $39.52 Buy It Now 4 days
CAPABILITY BROWN From Scratch 1972 Charisma NM prog psych ORIGINAL UK 1st US $99.99 Buy It Now 4 days
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CAPABILITY BROWN Voice CHARISMA UK 1st Press A1U/B1U LP GATEFOLD US $40.33 Buy It Now 5 days
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CAPABILITY BROWN: Midnite Cruiser / Mono 45 (dj, wol) Rock & Pop US $8.00 Buy It Now 7 days
CAPABILITY BROWN "VOICE" ALBUM ADVERT 15X12" US $19.36 Buy It Now 8 days
CAPABILITY BROWN - Liar - '76 UK press Charisma label prog psych LP - NM vinyl US $25.00 Buy It Now 8 days
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CAPABILITY BROWN Liar 7" Double A Sided Demo (cb217) UK Charisma 1973 US $15.26 Buy It Now 14 days
Liar Capability Brown UK vinyl LP album record CS5 CHARISMA 1976 US $54.76 Buy It Now 14 days
Capability Brown - From Scratch LP Psych CAS 1056 Buddah Records 1972 US $19.49 Buy It Now 14 days
Capability Brown Voice UK vinyl LP album record CAS1068 CHARISMA 1973 US $62.83 Buy It Now 14 days
Capability Brown Wake Up Little Sister UK 7" vinyl single record CB.193 US $17.66 Buy It Now 15 days
CAPABILITY BROWN: Voice LP (WLP, gatefold cover, promo tag on cover, small toc, US $18.00 Buy It Now 16 days
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Capability Brown Voice Gatefold WLP PROMO Prog Rock Mellotron 1974 US $45.55 Buy It Now 18 days
Capability Brown Self Titled Charisma Records Folk Psych LP EX+ to NM US $24.99 Buy It Now 18 days
Capability Brown Voice Passport Records Folk Psych LP NM US $24.99 Buy It Now 18 days
SEALED 8-Track CAPABILITY BROWN Voice psych 1973 Passport US $12.98 Buy It Now 19 days
CAPABILITY BROWN, Voice [Charisma] UK 1st pressing A1U matrix EXCELLENT- LP US $39.99 Buy It Now 19 days
? One More Chance (UK) (Capability Brown,Nice,Rare Bird,Van Der Graaf Generator) US $19.99 Buy It Now 19 days
CAPABILITY BROWN LIAR ORIGINAL UK CHARISMA CS 5 US $49.99 Buy It Now 19 days
SEALED CAPABILITY BROWN 8-track VOICE US $12.99 Buy It Now 20 days
CAPABILITY BROWN ~ LIAR ~ RARE UK WHITE LABEL PROMO TEST LP 1976 + PROOF SLEEVE US $241.97 Buy It Now 20 days
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CAPABILITY BROWN - VOICE - FAMOUS CHARISMA LBL - U.K. LP - GATEFOLD COVER - 1973 US $12.95 Buy It Now 21 days
Capability Brown(Vinyl LP)From Scratch-Buddah-CAS 1056-US-Ex/Ex+ US $41.99 Buy It Now 21 days
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Capability Brown - From Scratch CAS 1056 UK LP 1972 Charisma SLEEVE ONLY US $6.44 Buy It Now 25 days
Capability Brown - Voice CAS 1068 UK LP 1973 Charisma SLEEVE ONLY US $14.50 Buy It Now 25 days
Capability Brown-Liar-7" 45-Charisma-CAR 101-Promo-Vinyl Record US $6.49 Buy It Now 25 days
CAPABILITY BROWN Voice Lp US $11.99 Buy It Now 27 days

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CAPABILITY BROWN discography


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

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

2.25 | 10 ratings
From Scratch
1972
3.94 | 27 ratings
Voice
1973

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

CAPABILITY BROWN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.00 | 2 ratings
Liar
1976

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

5.00 | 1 ratings
Liar/ Keep Death off the Road 45rpm
1973

CAPABILITY BROWN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Voice by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 27 ratings

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Voice
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by KhanKhaled

3 stars An average album from an original band. This is their best work and the production was so phantastic. The first side of this album have a very touchable Pop influence. "I Am And So Are You" have a very fresh sound and "Sad Am I" is, with security, the best track on the album: A very urgent song with a beautiful melody sung by gentle voices. Poignant lyrics. About the second side of the album: "Circumstances" and "Keep Death Off The Road" are the most progressive songs of the "Voice" album. A complex, urgent, average, interesting, original and motivated record by Capability Brown.

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 Voice by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 27 ratings

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Voice
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Ah, the satisfaction of finding a diamond in the rough.

Now I will come out saying that Capability Brown was more of a funky R&B type group than a traditional prog outfit, but nevertheless, each and every track on here is fun to listen to, no matter the genre.

"I Am And So Are You" is the most proggy of the first four tracks. It's a very catchy song, and the groove is very.....er......groovy. "Sad Am I" is their version of the typical love song (I'm guessing that's what it's about) while "Midnight Cruiser" is another 70's hit in the making (even though it wasn't) and finally "Keep Death Off The Road" is a blusey, funk rock track that probably has one of the weirdest sung chorus' in history.

Then, of course, there's the end of the album. So, we meet again, "20-or-so-minute long f***ing awesome prog epic". We meet again.

"Circumstances" is an unusual track simply because it's constructed in a progressive rock fashion, even though the four other tracks in the album could've been radio hits. This was not a prog band, but this is a prog song. Of course, it's what most of the current reviews here are about. Hell, the one song alone is worth the purchase of this album. It's even longer than the four other tracks on this album....combined.

In all, if you're able to find this album, get it. You will not be disappointed, especially if you're into those barber shop quartets. Yeah, there's a section like that in "Circumstances".

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 Voice by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 27 ratings

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Voice
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars This is quite an interesting album in a couple of respects. First, I’m just a tad bit surprised the cover wasn’t subjected to any more scrutiny or disapproval than it was, considering the growing prudish backlash toward rock music in conservative circles during this post- Woodstock era. And second, the record is a rather rare example of what’s basically a pop rock band attempting to leverage progressive music to enhance their legitimacy and appeal. In other words – this isn’t a progressive rock band; instead they are a mostly competent group of rock musicians who emulate prog at times combined with heavy doses of cover tunes to create a brief and decent discography, but one that survives mostly because of occasional interest in the band’s cover tunes.

Guitarist Tony Ferguson and bassist Kenny Rowe hailed from the late sixties pop-psych group Harmony Grass and guitarist Grahame White had recently left Fuzzy Duck. Harmony Grass were known for their male vocal harmonies and Fuzzy Duck for driving ‘heavy prog’ and Hammond organ; traces of both groups can be found in Capability Brown’s sound. The thing that bothers me a bit about this band is that for a group of guys who were such good musicians, they certainly didn’t seem to have a knack for strong songwriting. A third of the tracks they recorded on their two studio albums were covers, and even the one song that garnered them the ‘prog’ label in some circles (“Circumstances”) is clearly very, very heavily influenced by Yes circa ‘Close to the Edge’. I seriously doubt the band would have even been able to write that song had Yes not recorded “And You and I” a year prior.

As for the covers they’re decent but not exceptional. In particular Steely Dan’s “Midnight Cruiser” does not benefit from this group’s treatment. I’ve read reviews from folks who feel Capability Brown doesn’t do justice to the song and I think that’s a bit harsh and unfair, but by the same token they also don’t bring anything new to their interpretation. The offering is pretty much what you’d expect from a decent, professional touring band, but one that you’d also generally expect to be an opening act and not the main course.

The other cover here is a bit more obscure with Affinity’s “I Am and So Are You”, another band that was known as much for their cover tunes as for their original material. That one was of course originally sung by a female (Linda Hoyle), so at least with this cover Capability offer a different perspective. Affinity were more of a jazz-influenced band as well, and this rendition is decidedly more rocking with keyboards and guitars replacing the brass sections of the original. Of the two covers on the album I prefer this one, but frankly that’s sort of like saying I prefer bologna given a choice of that or Spam. I nice filet would always be preferable.

The main course here is the 20-minute “Circumstances”, a faux prog number that has all the requisite tempo shifts, indulgent solos and extended keyboard passages prog fans had come to demand of their music by 1973. The problem is that I’m not convinced at all. Like I said earlier, there’s a strong sense that these guys listened to a few Yes and ELP albums and figured they’d better get some of that into their music if they wanted to sell a few records. Keeping in mind this was 1973 I suppose that was still a pretty astute strategy, although in retrospect the grandiose and overblown pomp of the style of prog those bands played was already in decline, and Capability Brown would fold just a few months after recording this themselves due to waning interest in the band, lack of promotion and a paucity of concert engagements.

Drummer Roger Willis, Ferguson and White formed Krazy Kat following Ferguson and Willis’s stint on a South American tour backing a Jeff Christie-led group that ended up including some Capability material in their repertoire. I’m not sure what happened to keyboardist Dave Nevin, percussionist Joe Williams or Rowe.

This is an okay album but not anything great or even memorable. Technically I suppose it should be considered for collectors only, but I can’t quite bring myself to go there simply because these are decent musicians and their multipart vocal harmonies are quite good on this as well as their debut album. So I’ll say this is a three star record, but will also point out you aren’t going to here anything groundbreaking or awe-inspiring here; just pretty good music that well fits the time period in which it was recorded.

peace

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 Liar/ Keep Death off the Road 45rpm by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1973
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Liar/ Keep Death off the Road 45rpm
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by The Runaway

— First review of this album —
5 stars Liar is originally 7 minutes long, but was cut down to fit in the single form, for commercial success. Sadly, Capability Brown had no commercial success, even after the release of this EP, and many years following.

Liar is originally a song written by Russ Ballard for his then-band Argent. The song was later covered by Three Dog Night, who's version is considered the original a lot of the times, and finally, Capability Brown. Brown's version has rocky riffs, distorted guitars, and amazing harmonies, a lot like most of the other Capability Brown songs.

Keep Death off the Road is a track originally featured on Capability Brown's album, Voice. It features bluesy elements, yet complicated prog chord progressions, and fuzzy guitars.

This EP is recommended! You have to buy it, as it features amazing songs, and amazing playing. Capability Brown has done it once again.

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 Voice by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 27 ratings

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Voice
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by The Runaway

5 stars A brilliant album, very well Voiced, very poorly heard *angry

Voice is a terrific album, one of the better albums of the 70's featuring excellent covers of songs by Affinity and Steely Dan, yet including the masterpiece Circumstances. The album starts with an excellently performed cover of I Am and So Are You by Affinity, blending the bands' harmonies into the Affinity song, and performing it much better overall. Nothing against Affinity here, actually, you Affinity fans should really consider buying this album.

The song then moves on to an original song, acoustic, called Sad Am I. This song is the weak part of the album, mostly recommended to the fans of the folk-trilogy days of Jethro Tull.

Then comes a brilliant cover of Midnight Cruiser by Steely Dan. Very rocky with excellent guitar lines in the chorus. I can't say this is better than Steely Dan's version, but I can say it's "different", in the best way different can be.

This next song, and also the final song of the first side is Keep Death off the Road (Drive on the Pavement). Keep Death off the Road is a bluesy song, with heavily distorted, and very fuzzy guitars.

Then comes the masterpiece of this album, Circumstances. Circumstances is a 20 minute song, with a different style for every one of it's parts, In Love, Past, Present, and Future Meet. The song starts sort of quiet, with a weird buzuki-sounding riff, adding istruments until fading into the guitar solo of Dave Nevin (I think), based on the same buzuki riff as before. The song then transforms into an a capella, featuring all 6 members of the band singing in harmony, making it sound like a choir. The song then continues into this folky acoustic part, pretty low-volumed, but still extremely cool. This part comes back after a few other parts, which aren't as good as the previous parts.

Voice will be very enjoyable by fans of Queen, using many harmonies in their songs, especially Circumstances. Jethro Tull fans, as there are a lot of Prog Folk influences throughout the album, and last but not least, the genre of this album, Crossover Prog fans.

5/5, amazing album!

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 Voice by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 27 ratings

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Voice
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by clarke2001
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars This one deserves a little 'wow'. From anyone's lips.

Great album, although almost absolutely divided between sides - A side consists of bunch of pop rock tunes with some light prog overtones, mostly in vocal department, and in some guitar melodies. Even if not the highest desire for a prog rock enthusiast, they're pleasurable to say the least: I can't say a single bad thing about these songs - they're attractive, well played, catchy, great in technique and even original in lyrics department. The only complaint I'm addressing to this bunch of the songs is the fact they're almost pale in comparison with a sidelong suite on B side, unforgettable 'Circumstances'.

Because, this is one of the best songs written in history of progressive rock. A multi-part composition, structurally it dares to travel paths GENTLE GIANT were exploring, but it never gets tedious or overbearing. The multiple vocal harmonies are the most beautiful heard in rock: they can stand arm should by shoulder with QUEEN's finest moments. Everything else is here: harpsichords, recorders, acoustic guitars processed with a Leslie rotary speaker, unexpected shifts and turns, furious guitar parts, even a bits of majestic Mellotron thrown in just to spice up things for a while. And, the most important, this is the piece of ultimate songwriting, not forced or stretched for a single second. If there ever was a song that can bring a tear on your eye just for the sake of its greatness, there's one. This is a monument to the joy of life, fulfilling and incredible.

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 Voice by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 27 ratings

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Voice
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This band reminds me some nice souvenirs and it is with a lot of nostalgia that I write this 1,900th review. I remember having seen them on a live broadcast of the Belgian TV. Pop Shop was the name of the programme.

Lots of great bands did appear on this programme and one of the only early Genesis footage available came from it. It has been widely spread over the Internet by now.

This Voice album is truly a dual work.

On the A-side of the vinyl, the four songs available aren't really brilliant. The only one which I could call as a good song is the rocking Keep Death Off The Road.

The B-side is exclusively dedicated to a magnificent symphonic prog epic. Almost twenty-one minutes of pure happiness, magnificent keyboards and superb emotions. The instrumental introduction is really fascinating.

In their debut, the band showed very strong vocal capabilities (all members having vocal duties). We'll finally get these as well on this great track. It opens on some sort of polyphony dear to GG, but with a Yes style (are you following me?). The acoustic part that follows holds pastoral and folk attributes with fine and light fluting. It is so much better than what's available on the first side of this album!

The pace is also catching up, but not for too long. So far, this epic is on the quite and very melodic mood. It is really a beautiful song: full of sweetness, tact, subtleness. Somewhat mellow, I agree, but still so pleasant to listen to.

Some bombastic mellotron moments are also worth the detour my prog friends (maybe just too short though). Circumstances is an extraordinary song. The vocal harmonies are simply brilliant. Some vocal section were certainly a source of inspiration for Queen in their early days.

It is a bit sad that the band didn't release more albums. Three of its members (Fergusson, Willis and Whyte) joined the pop group Christie (who released the smash hit single Yellow River). This marked the end of the Capability Brown story.

Five stars for the epic and two stars for side one. I emotionally upgrade this work to the four stars rating.

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 From Scratch by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.25 | 10 ratings

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From Scratch
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is another of the Charisma gangs. Unfortunately, they won't be as successful as a few other ones and they only produced two albums and then called it quit.

It is a bit sad since Capability Brown was definitely not a bad band and they should have deserved more recognition IMO. This album, only released on vinyl format is a fine mix of covers and own material.

Each song features subtle and very well crafted vocal arrangements, which remind Yes at times (especially during the first two songs). The opener was featured on the debut album from Rare Bird in 1969 and is represented here in a great version (but the original was also excellent). This one is more guitar-oriented while keyboards were of course the characteristics of the RB version. It is a highlight.

In terms of Yes, the second song of this album Do You Believe is probably the one which comes the closest from their sound. This is particularly true during the vocal parts, but the whole band sounds pretty good as well. It might not be an extraordinary song, but one can listen to it with a certain pleasure and nostalgia.

The Band is the first weak number. Some country feeling is not particularly welcome. The Beatles influence surrounds you while listening to Gardens. Again, the attraction are the vocals. These guys were really gifted: the six of them were participating which conveys a superb feeling.

They show again their skills in the excellent Argent cover of Liar. A wonderful re-visited version and another highlight. This album is more rock than prog, but it holds links to some great prog bands. While I listen to No Range, the flute reminds of Tull with no doubt. But the heavy Tull, not the subtle and folk one.

The closing number is the most elaborate one. Vocals are very much Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young oriented. I've added Young because it also features great electric guitar parts. It even gets heavy at times (but it is not the only number to feature a heavier sound). This almost ten minutes number is the most interesting one from this debut album. A furious rocking highlight.

This album is a good one. Three stars.

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 From Scratch by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.25 | 10 ratings

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From Scratch
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by debrewguy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

1 stars Having recently seen a review for CB's other album, Voice, it was rather flukey that I happened upon a rather scratched copy of this LP at my local used record shop. Giving it a listen, here's my impression ... of the songs that I went back to after the first few listens. And more than a few bits had me pulling out other albums in my collection for similar melodies. Beautiful Scarlet - Starts off a bit heavy with a nice guitar line. Reminds me of the opening song on Rocky Filj's debut, early Styx. The vocals I would describe as kind of David Byron fronting ITCOTCK Crimson, with Queen/Styx background vocals on the chorus. The chorus also sent me searching my Styx collection. While nowhere near a note for note copy, Styx' What has come between us & Lonely Child are what it brought to mind. Do you believe me - Again, back to my collection due to its' melodic familiarity. This time, I dig out Brinsley Schwarz debut - the song - Shine On. Again, no note for note rip-off, but the general melody is shared. The guitars are more Power Pop than Brinsley's CSNY sound. The mid part departs with a mediocre solo section, then back to the main melody. The Band - early 70s rock n roll , starts of with a steel or slide (?) guitar. Once more, the melody seems familiar, but I can't put my finger on it. Beatle-ish, I can almost see Big Star playing this if they were to go outside of their power pop idiom. Liar - I knew this tune. I thought, I must have heard this on the radio at some point in time. How could an album with a tune this good not have made its' way into the hands of someone at PA ??? Oh Oh ! It's the Argent tune. Good cover. No Range - Twin guitar intro, then some Tull like flute. The verse begins, early Styx comes to mind. But more in sound than lyrically or in musical arrangement. Is this what it would sound like if Ian Anderson had written a song for Styx, or vice versa. Some 10cc moments melodically. A hard early 70s type rocker. Day in Day out - start with the harmonics from beginning of Suite Madame Blue. Then the melody brings to mind a combination of the verses from In the Court of the Crimson King, and Styx' A Day. A touch of ELP's Lucky Man. Sole Survivor - Whew, finally no similar songs pop to mind ! Though that's not to mean it's very original. Average early 70s hard rock . It spends the last 2 minutes on a guitar solo that seems typical of the era - competent, heck the last minute sounds like Status Quo came in and took over. All in all, well I paid 2 bucks for the LP. And while they weren't the only group mining the same melodies at the time, it reminds me of how more willing labels were to sign up bands and let them develop over the course of a few albums. What exactly got them signed, I don't know, as Liar is really the only stand-out track, and it's a cover. If you find it cheap, and you miss the early 70s, it might be of interest to you. But don't expect more than mediocity. And have fun finding progressiveness apart from the comparison and sound-alikes from other groups of the time

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 Voice by CAPABILITY BROWN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 27 ratings

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Voice
Capability Brown Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Finaly i see this band here on PA after many discussions Capability Brown is here where it belongs in the archives of progressive music. One of the classic albums of the '70's. Great band who only released two studio albums in the early '70's and than broke up suddenly. The second one Voice from 1973 is the best from them and why not among the best from the old school of prog with som rock leanings. All pieces are good but the last track and the longest Circumstances is mindblowing, with fine arrangements, grandoius choruses and smooth atmospehere. Something to mention is that Brian May and even Freddy Mercury were big fans of Capability Brown in the early years of Queen. In some of Queen pieces are clear influences from Capability Brown, specialy at the choruses and arangements. So 4 star for this treasure, still underrated by many, and for sure needs attention.

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