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DARK

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Dark biography
Founded in Northampton, UK in 1968 - Split in 1973 - Regrouped from 1994 to 1997 - Reformed in 2011

Crafting a musical skeleton that has as much in common with British folk as it does with West Coast jam bands, DARK wouldn't be unlike a lot of other psychedelic bands in the late sixties/early seventies. What made them different was one thing: a solid understanding of fuzzy guitar. Rather than merely using the fuzzbox to show off, DARK incorporated it into the build of their songs, laying it across moody, heavy tracks that approached sprawling.
It all began in 1968, when guitarist Steve Giles grabbed other guitarist Martin Weaver, drummer Clive Thorneycroft and bassist Ronald Johnson, and formed Dark at a school in Northhampton. Local touring followed for several years, until, in 1972, the band only produced their first album, the not-quite-as-scary-as-you'd-think "Round the Edges" (occasionally featuring Colin Bush on bass. Go figure).

Only about sixty copies were issued, and original albums remain a collector's item to this day (it has been re-released several times since '72. Obviously, or else I wouldn't have heard it), and has been hailed as the UK's most expensive album. Soon after the album was released, the band broke up, and its members were scattered to the four winds (aka other bands and failed solo projects).

An effort was made at a revival in the early Nineties, which resulted in more local live shows; however, no new album was produced. Despite a couple of records of outtakes, the only true album by this intelligent jam band remains "Round the Edges".

The Whistler - February 2009

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

3.08 | 51 ratings
Round the Edges
1972
3.75 | 12 ratings
Teenage Angst (The Early Sessions)
1994

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

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

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DARK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.08 | 51 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

3 stars More known for its status as having released one of the most expensive collectible records of the rock music era, DARK was a psychedelic rock band that was a bit late to the prog party by the time it delivered its debut ROUND THE EDGES in 1972 but nevertheless garnered praise for its innovative use of fuzz guitar that went beyond the usual one-trick pony wankery of the late 60s and used it in clever ways in its compositional fortitude. Formed in 1968 Northampton, DARK by guitarist Steve Giles who met guitarist Martin Weaver, drummer Clive Thorneycroft and bassist Ronald Johnson at their local school and set off to imitate American West Coast jam bands.

During its initial run from 1968-1973, DARK released only this one LP with a total release number of 64 copies recorded at S.I.S. Studios as a private release, many of which were given to friends and family thus making the album one of the rarest British releases of all time. Original copies have commanded hefty prices upward of 25,000 depending on the version and in 2016 was declared the 17th most valuable record of all time by New Musical Express (NME), a British music, film, gaming, and culture website. Although the original pressing has garnered a huge reputation with collectors of all things original vinyl, the album itself has been re-released several times and recently in 2022 with four distinct album covers (as well as numerous variations) including remastered versions.

Collectibility aside ROUND THE EDGES sounds more like an album that would have emerged in the late 1968, early 1969 timeline and to my ears sounds like that these tracks were written, performed and possibly recorded before 1970 and not released until the band saved enough money to do a proper release. For 1972 this jamming psychedelic rock is hopelessly outdated as it sounds more like Quicksilver Messenger Service than anything the year 1972 offered when progressive rock was at his peak of creative complexity. The original album features six tracks, three on each vinyl record side with the longest, "Live For Today" extending past the 8-minute mark. Compared to bands like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, DARK really doesn't sound like any other band i can think of as its a strange mix of jam band, hard acid rock and early proto-prog moments.

Very much the baby of Steve Giles who provides vocals and guitar as well as sitting in as producer, the description as the album being a vehicle to display angsty fuzzy hard rock soloing is fairly accurate. The vocals are fairly awful with a limited range and lower the enjoyability factor for my ears however the musical performances are satisfying with stellar instrumental interplay that finds a very talented drummer tearing it up behind a stellar fuzzed out heavy psych experience offered by the guitars and bass. The album itself offered extensive gatefold sleeves in full color, handwritten notes and an overall ambitious presentation seemingly more fussed over than the music itself. Although the band is primarily known for this one album, it has released numerous archival albums as well as reforming in 2011.

This is no nonsense heavy psych without any true prog bells and whistles. A few time signature deviations from time to time but basically this music takes you back to the late 60s and the band would've been perfect as an opening act for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer or Iron Butterfly. This band is surely only still relevant today due to its collectibility status but there is a world of difference between investors in previous goods and those who simply want to hear innovative music. There is no doubt that this is a decent record that is by no means as bad as some make it out to be but likewise there is really nothing on this album that truly stands out as original other than the fact that fuzz guitar was extended in its role which is significant but doesn't change the overall feel of the album. Certainly one for the history book and a decent spin but as a music lover hardly qualifies to shell out massive amounts of cash. A nice anomaly for 1972 but nothing more than a good side note.

 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.08 | 51 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

Review by proghaven

1 stars Guess everyone who collects (or collected) vinyl eventually went through the stage of unhealthy interest to obscure LPs. As for me, I had 40-year experience of collecting vinyl, and went through that stage as well. However, believe or not, the original edition of the only studio album by Dark is the only rare/obscure/valuable vinyl that I never wanted to buy. No, not due to its high price. I heard about the band Dark since my youth. Many people told me that owning this megarare ('rarest in the world'!) record is every collector's dream. Judge for yourself. Only 64 copies were made in total. And, despite of the hyper limited quantity, as many as five versions of the original cover exist! Namely, 12 colour gatefolds, 2 'special' colour gatefolds (I even don't know what it means...), 1 white doodle on sleeve (oh this one is familiar to me, no need to say that I never held it in my hands but I saw the photo), 12 black & white gatefolds and 37 black & white single sleeves. (See Discogs.) What a luxury! Just become a millionaire, grab a copy of each one, and pride! Yes. Really the most wanted vinyl on the Globe. (See Discogs again: 62 have, i.e. almost the entire initial run is reported to be owned by collectors, and 1883 want.)

And - on the other hand - probably one of the most boring musical works on the Globe. The album is quite short (about 39 minutes), but it cost me a lot of effort to listen to it to the end. (In early 1990s, a mate bought a copy of the first UK vinyl reissue at Gorbushka, so I was able at last to get acquainted with this legendary record.) Mott The Hoople meets Necromandus and they sadly miss each other because Necromandus gets lost - that's how I would describe the music. Many years ago I heard the gossip that the band experienced serious difficulties with distributing the original vinyl, up to that some copies were offered at gasoline stations as a change. No idea if it's true or not, but as for me (sorry for cynicism), I would better get a copy as a change in a shop than pay even $50 for the Akarma reissue, not to mention $35000 for that 'white doodle' orig (see above). I'd say the only track of interest is Maypole, it's based on a very pleasant musical theme. However, this theme repeats during 5 minutes without any development, so it also finally becomes boring. The album is usually considered heavy prog and/or heavy psych. But how could it be compared to (for example) early Rush if we speak of heavy prog, or (for example!) Lava if we speak of heavy psych?

 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.08 | 51 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Dark was an obscure band that can be categorized as one of the progressive hard-rock hidden gems of the early 70's. Far from commercial melody and straightforward compositional structure, we have a loose jam-like music with distinguished distorted guitars, solid vocals, busy drums and pulsating bass guitar. What a great sound to transfer a couple of decades back! Apart from hard rock, you can hear some mellow passages like in "Maypole" which direct at folk-rock. This song actually has a melody! There are also progressive leanings a la "Blodwyn Pig" - listen to the chord sequence of "R.C.8" or good riffing in "Zero time". The record is quite homogenous so if you don't mind listening to a primarily hard-rock album, this one is worth exploring.
 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.08 | 51 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars DARK were a short-lived British Psychedelic Rock band based in Northampton, who released just one album before splitting up and going their separate ways. Their super-rare "Round the Edges" (1971) album has now become a real collectors item as there were apparently only sixty private pressings made of the original LP album, which were mainly given away to family and friends of the band. According to the New Musical Express, the album has now become one of the rarest and most valuable records of all time, fetching ridiculous prices of anywhere between 5,000 and 25,000. The album was reissued on CD in 2003 with four bonus tracks added to the original six songs on the album. A compilation album titled "Teenage Angst (The Early Sessions)" was issued on CD in 1993. Let's throw some light on the Dark "Round the Edges" album now and give it a listen.

We journey into the "Darkside" for the album opener, which sounds from the title alone, like it might be some dark satanic number, ala Black Sabbath. It all sounds very ominous, like thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening, but it's really about the "Darkside" of the moon, so there's no need to have nightmares. This psychedelic music is more Iron Butterfly than Black Sabbath. It's a heavy, rough-and-ready, seven and a half minute fuzzy-toned psychedelic jam. It begins as a sweet strawberry sundae of laid-back psychedelia but gradually turns into an aggressive stormy Monday of way-out heavy guitar riffing, and very good it is too. It's not quite in the same league as "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida", but the music has the same raw earthiness to it. We're dancing around the "Maypole" now for the second song, but don't worry, it's not some airy-fairy nonsense about ridiculous-looking Morris Men making fools of themselves as they dance around the "Maypole." No, this is another high-powered, flower-power psychedelic freak out. In true psychedelic fashion, the bizarre lyrics make no sense at all, so one wonders if these guys were eating magic mushrooms before they wrote the following enigmatic lyrics:- "The elephants were dancing round a maypole and a tree, The dog in front loves the dog behind, just like you and me, The English pub collapses like a pack of English cards, I thought we'd have to die of thirst, instead we'll have to starve." ..... Far out, man! It's time now to "Live for Today", because tomorrow might never come, although we're still here to listen to this album nearly fifty years on, having survived the Cold War together. "Live for Today" is the longest song on the album at just over eight minutes in duration. It begins as a laid-back mellow groove, but there's ample time for a long instrumental freak-out of fuzzy chainsaw guitar riffing to close out Side One.

There's really not much to add about the three songs on Side Two:- "R.C.8", "The Cat" & "Zero Time", other than to say they're all hard and heavy psychedelic fuzz-guitar freak-outs, just like Side One, which might even begin to sound monotonous and repetitive to some ears. The music is very much in the style of the American psychedelic band Blue Cheer, who also have the same raw earthiness to their sound. There are no gentle romantic ballads to break up this album and give it more variety. The album is one long unadulterated jam session of fuzz-guitar Hard Rock from beginning to end although, if you're in the mood for a good old-fashioned non-stop barrage of raw, wild and frenzied Psychedelic Rock, then this trippy album might be just your cup of tea.

Don't be afraid of the Dark, step into the light and take a rainbow-coloured psychedelic trip back in time with the Dark "Round the Edges" album. It might not have the power to give you a temporary altered state of conciousness, but you can still get high on this great music without the aid of any psychedelic substances. This is raw and earthy, back to basics, foot-stomping Psychedelic Rock with no pretensions of grandeur. The album might not appeal to fans of Progressive Rock generally, but it IS an essential album for lovers of classic British Psychedelic Rock, and the rarity value of this lost album treasure alone means it's well-worth giving the album a listen. The original LP album is said to be the "Holy Grail" for record collectors.

 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.08 | 51 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

Review by Igor91

4 stars The obscure album by Dark, "Dark Round the Edges" has been both praised and maligned by critics over the years since it's very limited private pressing over 40 years ago. While not all that progressive, it does feature progressive moments, but a more accurate description would be a prog-leaning, 70's psych-rock band. When first listening to this album, the thing that stood out to me was the great sound of Steve Giles' guitar work. Dead Meadow must have had this album somewhere in their collection, for that is what came to mind as I listened. Fat, fuzzed-out, groovy guitar is present in many moments, paired with lighter, cleaner strumming at other times. The vocals are the main weakness here, not bad, but not that good either. However, the songs are well-crafted enough, and the occasional firey guitar stabs of second guitarist Martin Weaver make this album an enjoyable listen. If you are a serious prog-head you may not enjoy this one, but if you like early 70's heavy psych with prog leanings, this is right up your alley. 4 stars.
 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.08 | 51 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

2 stars There was a time when all things obscure attracted my mind, due to the fact that albums were mysterious, hailing from the mists of time. There are alot of albums deserving a break, since they never made it in the past, but there are those I find that do serve a purpose of reference point. What do I mean? My point is that some bands made music of progressive nature and poured their ideas into the melting pot and thus created some sort of tapestry. All things may not be great but it can still serve a purpose of being interesting. The only album by Dark is such an example.

I bought "Round the edges" several years ago but the music printed into the CD was not all that great, I found. And still find. It is interesting as a moment in time but not groundbreaking. It is an obscurity whose main value lies in the strife of amateur musicians and the will to produce music. The progress of prog is an equally thrilling thing to examine as listening to all the truly great music of the genre.

The music of Dark is certainly sort of heavy. Do not expect it to be in Sabbath mode. Unfortunately a lot of people throw that comparison around when it comes to describing heavyness. It is true, however, that the music could be described as proto-metal, or something like that, but it has more of a jam feeling to it, a jam performed by less competent musicians than the guys in Sabbath. That however is not te reason as to why I find the music less interesting. The overall feel to the music is one of forced, that the music is really not all that thought through. It is a private pressing, so the sound and time spent on recording certainly contributes to the end result. One has to bear that in mind.

I would not really recommend this album to any one in particular. It is obscure and interesting as an image of a time long gone but it really is too amateurish, I think. That need not mean that the music lacks in true power or worth. In this case, however, it makes the end result poor. Not that good but interesting. Sort of.

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

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