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ROOM

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Room biography
Formed by friends in 1968, ROOM was a very good quintet from Blandford Forum, Dorset that made one album for Decca after winning second prize at a Melody Maker talent contest in '69. The unit included guitarist Steve EDGE and featured the unique voice of Jane KEVERN, Roy PUTT's bass, Bob JENKINS's percussion and the lead guitar of Chris WILLIAMS. The five achieved a large, booming sound by merging heavy psychedelic rock, progressive jazz and full orchestration.

'Pre-Flight' was released in 1970 sporting an antique triplane on the cover and though mostly ignored, proved to be a more than worthy contribution to the growing progressive art scene, the group taking inspiration from artists as Julie DRISCOLL, John MAYALL, Mick ABRAHAMS, and FAIRPORT CONVENTION. The strings and brass were arranged at 'Tin Pan Alley' by Steve EDGE and the album was recorded at Decca's West Hampstead studios in one or two days. Keyboardist John HUTCHISON who'd been in GINGER MAN with drummer JENKINS joined later.

Adventurous and rather accomplished for their time, ROOM were a cut above the average band taking advantage of rock's new voice, and 'Pre-Flight' is a little treasure now re-released in 2008 by Esoteric/Cherry Red. Worth a listen.


-- Atavachron (David) --

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ROOM discography


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3.75 | 27 ratings
Pre-Flight
1970

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ROOM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pre-Flight by ROOM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.75 | 27 ratings

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Pre-Flight
Room Heavy Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Room - Pre-Flight (1970)

* This record needs more reviews *

The Akarma reprint of this very obscure English record (the rarest of Deram) had been lying in my favorite vinyl- shop in Nijmegen for a year until another collector turned in on in the shop. We were both amazed by how advanced and original it sounded, moreover it contained some melodies that were unforgettable. He had first pick so eventually I had to wait for months before I could get my hand on the new stock of Room's Pre-Flight.

It was worth the wait. Room is a female-led early progressive rock group with minor orchestrations, simple jazzy vocals, heavy guitars and extended tracks. Like most early progressive rock-groups there's also some blues-rock and jazz-rock. The mix of genres works great for variety and is a good example of its time. The use of a small orchestra (violins, violas, cellos, bass, trumpets, horn, trombone) is always risky business for progressive rock-groups, but Room excels in its limited and effective use. Way better integrated then, for example, the silly orchestrations on Salisbury. Another key-element of the listening experience is the recording quality, which is remarkably good for such an unknown record - especially when it comes to the spacious feeling. The instruments are well spread in the musical landscape.

The vocals of Jane Kevern, that showcase and interest in the great female jazz-vocalists of the fifties, sound a bit frail, but repeated listening somehow did a lot of good for me. Some of her lines are just so adorable and she really sounds like a person in the moment. Because of the vocals some will be reminded of the Affinity record. The electric guitars sound fine throughout the record, heavy rock (almost proto-metal at times) with original melodies and an almost jazz-rock like control. The real star of Room is the drummer; Bob Jenkins. Always finding a way to interpret the riffs as being jazzy, he's rolls and cymbals are a delight to listen to.

Whilst the first side has a fifty/fifty approach when it comes to blues-rock and progressive rock, the second side is full-blown progressive rock with three epic tracks. In its approach to experimental rock composition the band is utterly original. Both Andromada and War have melodies that are elegant and catchy has hell, whilst having unpredictable instrumental sections with great (but timid) use of the classical instruments.

Conclusion. This has quickly become one of my favorite records of 1970. It captures the experimental mood in its finest moment without exposing us to over-indulgence and avant-garde noodling. I can recommend it to listeners of eclectic prog, symphonic prog, jazz-rock, proto-prog and collectors of English rarities in general. Rating? Five stars.

 Pre-Flight by ROOM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.75 | 27 ratings

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Pre-Flight
Room Heavy Prog

Review by Vibrationbaby

4 stars With a very mysterious "English" allure one-album-wonder Room recorded this avant garde psychedelic blues rooted album on the DECCA subsidiary label DERAM after winning second place in a NME battle-of-the-bands competition in 1969. Active in and around the Bournemouth popular music scene between 1968 and 1971 they faded into virtual obscurity after the record company failed to market them adequately. These days a mint original vinyl specimen can fetch ridiculous prices on record trading websites that are responsible for resurrections of such bands, elevating them from the " where are they now file" to the more prestigious "lost classic" status.

At risk of employing that annoying " ahead of their time " cliché term, it is fair to say that Room was as experimental and adventurous as it got back in the late 60s and early seventies and could hold it's own with any British art rock band of the day with the possible exception of King Crimson. While the music heard on the 7 tracks on the LP ranged from straight forward ( but solid ) guitar led folky blues/rock to more complex extended compositions that leaned more towards progressive rock, they astonishingly featured audacious string and brass arrangements in lieu of keyboards! Classically trained musicians were recruited conducted by Richard Hartley who would go on to become involved with numerous theatrical, television and film musical projects and is probably best known for his arrangements for the 1975 film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as well as work with such diverse artists as Meat Loaf & Bananarama! Although Room are to be commended for their ambitious employment of the string and brass sections they sometimes become discordant with the 4 piece rock band they are accompanying which might turn some tastes unless one is into the esoterics of bands like Gentle Giant, Gnidrolog or Egg. Occasionally, I noticed that they can sound like some of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Jesus Christ Superstar orchestrations, veering into 19th century classical from time-to-time. But it is really the mezmerising jazzy alto intonations of singer Jane Kevern with her almost deadpan lyrical deliveries that provide Room with their unique mood and atmosphere that can sometimes be as depressing as Black Sabbath's first three albums. This is best sampled on the title track with it's introductory cappella harmonies as well as the other two extended tracks "Andromena" and "War". On the ethereal "No Warmth In My Life" she really shines with a flugel horn playing clever counterpoint melodies while the two bluesy tracks, "Big John Blues" and "Where Did I go Wrong " are run-of-the-mill Britsh blues of the day. There were several other tracks that didn't make the final cut that are still locked up in the vaults somewhere in England that guitarist Steve Edge claims could have given the album less of a doomy and gloomy ambience .

Although it it does not approach the heaviness or pessimism, "War" can also be distantly likened to Black Sabbath's "War Pigs". It even commences with an air raid siren sound effect but overall, is much more subtle and more in flower power mode. It predates the Sabbath piece so there can be no plagarism accusations here and I'm pretty sure that Ozzy & co. didn't copy Room either, but it's interresting to hear similar philosophies being interpreted and expressed by two very different bands from roughly the same era. The album concludes with "Cemetery Junction", a two part instrumental interpretation of a landscape near Bournemouth where the band emanated from. It gives the album a sort of spooky closure, making extensive use of the string and brass sections demonstrating the group's compositional prowess and could be considered the most " progressive" track on the album that definitely invites a repeat listen.

So difficult to categorize is Room's singular effort. I can't help but thinking of Fairport Convention and Pentangle but only a bit more adventurous. Although Preflight features accomplished musicianship and compositional skill it was still obviously a band still trying to find it's groove and this is evident during some of the improvisational sections that sometimes lose direction. If they could have developed further I'm sure that they would have fit in comfortably with some Canterbury scene bands like Caravan, Camel and Curved Air after some tweeking.

Although the album is easily obtained in CD format the quirky hippie triplane and house artwork by bass player Roy Putt can be best appreciated on a 2006 Italian 18 grain vinyl edition. Forget an original DERAM edition unless you are made of money though. In any case, Pre-flight is a jewel from the dawn of the glorious seventies that should not be missed by anyone into that era.

 Pre-Flight by ROOM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.75 | 27 ratings

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Pre-Flight
Room Heavy Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars This is a moderately decent album from the short-lived Room (aka The Room aka The Way), released during those pivotal days after the Summer of Love and Woodstock but before rock music had become completely dominated by slick, commercially-minded types. The band was from some rural area of Britain (Blandford Forum) and the music was mostly blues-based with the occasional foray just inside the lines of heavy progressive rock and even a little modern jazz.

The band Affinity comes to mind immediately when listening to these guys, and maybe Babe Ruth a little as well. All three groups had female lead singers, although Room’s Jane Kevern’s rather sharp alto is much closer to Babe Ruth’s Juanita Hahn than Affinity’s Linda Hoyle. The song arrangements fit her singing style quite well, but I can’t imagine she had the range or depth to have been very successful outside this group like Hoyle was, not does she dominate the music in quite the way Hahn did with Babe Ruth.

Several tracks here (“Pre-Flight”, “No Warmth in my Life”) have that same sort of slightly jazzy groove that made Affinity so appealing, but without the keyboards and with a very heavy reliance on twin guitars (one bluesy lead and the other a sort of tame rock rhythm). Throw in some catchy but mostly unimpressive bass and drums and you’ve got the whole package. The rest are mostly straightforward blues rock, including “Where Did I Go Wrong”, “Big John Blues” and the funky, hard-driving “War”.

I suspect the only thing that earned these guys a ‘prog rock’ label are the slightly psych and shifting “Andromeda”, and the ambitious two-part mini-epic “Cemetery Junction” with its violin-inspired guitar work and various sound effects including brass, strings and some sort of heavy bells. In the end though this one also falls back on traditional blues rock patterns, albeit pretty heavy ones at times.

I’m not overly impressed with this album. I read several reviews that seemed to suggest this was a lost classic ‘finally reissued’ on CD for all to rediscover and enjoy. We progressive rock fans live for albums like that. this isn’t one of them, but it is decent and holds up over time a little better than many of the other one-shot and forgot bands of the same era. Three stars mostly for “Andromeda” and the opening track, and only mildly recommended.

peace

 Pre-Flight by ROOM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.75 | 27 ratings

BUY
Pre-Flight
Room Heavy Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A very worthy ensemble from Dorset, England, Room slipped under the radar in 1970 but made full use of the new possibilities in rock on their only album, utilizing the brass and strings of an orchestra to enhance their already big and booming psycho-symphonic sound. Jane Kevern's unique voice is supported by lead guitarist Steve Edge, Roy Putt's bass, percussionist Bob Jenkins and guitarist Chris Williams. The two-part title cut is unusually sophisticated for a lesser art band in 1970 and is entirely progressive with rock, jazz, symphonic and folk fully integrated and quite compelling, a sound echoing Julie Driscoll and perhaps Affinity . Decent if monotonous slow blues is 'Where Did I Go Wrong?' and at over 5 minutes could've been bumped back a few, but 'No Warmth in My Life' is humid and seductive, highlighting Jane Kevern's airy mezzo-soprano and the well-crafted arrangements of horns, acoustic & electric guitars and voices. 'Big John Blues' is practically an R'nB festival tune and is more a dancer than listener but it passes quickly and we get 'Andromeda', an astral journey of blues, orchestra, acid trance and Kevern's soulful lead. 'War' continues in this vein but gets heavy with notable dual guitar work from Williams & Edge and transitions into 'Cemetery Junction pt. 1&2', a melting pot of epic strings and hot rock-fusion rhythms, and a highpoint of the album.

Perhaps not everyone's cuppa, but a rare antique find lovingly dug-up and reissued by the prog treasure seekers at Cherry Red. Worth looking into.

Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition. and to Snow Dog for the last updates

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