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QUATERMASS

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Quatermass picture
Quatermass biography
Founded in London, UK in 1969 - Disbanded in 1971 - Reformed as Quatermass II between 1994-1999

Power trio of keyboard, bass and drums. Straddling the line between hard rock and prog, there's a little something here to appease fans of both styles. Keyboards apparently just piano and organ, with the latter being especially hot-wired to make the keyboardist's style resemble FRUMPY keyboardist Jean-Jacques KRAVETZ, or perhaps Dave STEWART at his most maniacal (see "Dreams Wide Awake" for an example). He can lash out at his organ with a recklessness that puts EMERSON to shame, listen to the solo on "Post War, Saturday Echo" if you don't believe me. Bass player John GUSTAFSON (pre-ROXY MUSIC) sings in a uncontrolled, manic voice that can often sound gut-wrenching. A couple of tracks (the ballad "Good Lord Knows" and the lengthy jam-orientated "Laughin' Tackle" include massed strings. In the 90s there suddenly was a QUATERMASS II, but their music seems to have very little to do with the original band. The latest CD is called "The Long Road".

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

3.74 | 183 ratings
Quatermass
1970
2.09 | 14 ratings
Quatermass II: Long Road
1997

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

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

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

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QUATERMASS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars With its immense quality, both in ideas, execution and musicality, a power trio, consisting of drummer, bassist and keyboard player, created a fantastic display of heavy prog in the purest sense.

The album is mainly based upon organ, bass and drums. Occasionally some other keyboards can be heard as well like a clavinet, Fender-Rhodes piano and Mellotron.

This piece is well-rounded, technically competent and complex, but throughout its duration the style does not come out much of the heavy sphere.

The album consists of nine songs and each represents the brilliant musicality of this band, combining elements of hard rock, blues rock, with incredible progressions and great composing possibilities. " Post War Saturday Echo" is the first epic number of the album, clocking in at almost ten minutes and mixing heavy blues with distorted vocals and organ grinding rock break outs, with a relentless that is full of keyboard heaven, the second one is "Laughing Tackle" which throughout its duration gives various mood swings, eclectic / psychedelic and elements of jazz music, all combined in symphonic gold.

There is not a single weak moment, and it still, to this day, sounds as fresh and original.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by JD

3 stars 70's Heavy Prog in the purist sense

Full Disclosure :

I was 12 years old when this 1970 album was released. It was a time when I was just being introduced to the likes of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Iron Butterfly, Grand Funk Railroad, The Moody Blues, ELP and King Crimson. But many artist from around the globe, like Quatermass, eluded exposure here in Canada. Thanks to the advent of the home computer and the internet, these lost gems are now within discovery's reach.

Production :

In 1970, rock, and specifically heavy and progressive rock, raised the bar for production values. Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, ELP, all showed that beyond the fantastic playing there was also a sonic universe to explore. This recording is a better than average production for the time. Not quite at the Eddy Offord level but punchy enough to bare repeated listens and cutting more like a serrated knife than a scalpel, the rawness of the sound only adds to this albums appeal given it release date.

16/20

Song Writing :

The song writing on this album draws more from the 'Jam Band' arena than the more structured songs of Quatermass's contemporaries. That's not so much a criticism as it is a reference to their style. While many 'Jam Bands' leave me bored and unfulfilled, Quatermass at least gives me just enough interest in the compositions to warrant my attention. But to be honest, none of the songs struck me as particularly note worthy and I doubt very much that anyone outside a hard core fan would recognize or remember a melody here. Thankfully there is place in music for these types of songs as well.

13/20

Originality :

A bit of a tough one here since bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep come to mind when listening to Quatermass. But since this is a 1970 release and from a band that didn't get a lot of exposure, in Canada at least, I would have to say they are somewhat original. It would be unfair to say that they were trying to emulate the sound of others in the same genre in the same way Triumvirat is thought of compared to ELP, notwithstanding the Jon Lord'ish organ sound and the obligatory drum solo on "Laughing Tackle" that is reminiscent of Iron Butterfly or ELP albums of the same era.

15/20

Performance :

Quatermass performs admirably on this album functioning as a tight coherent trio. John Gustafson's bass playing is what I would call a moving bass. Fully engaged in the music and with strong melody of its own, these are the kinds of bass players you want in a trio. Likewise for Peter Robinson's Organ playing. Driving and solid Mick Underwood's drumming completes the band

16/20

General Impressions :

An interesting find and a nice addition to the heavy prog sub-genre in what is normally reserved for the better known bands mentioned above. If they had continued to function as band and concentrated on their song writing I have no doubt they would have given us some worthwhile music beyond this first release.

16/20

Total = 76/100 (76% of 5 stars)

3.80

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

5 stars QUATERMASS were a British Hammond organ-driven power trio, specialising in the kind of reckless keyboard abandon heard from such prominent bands as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and The Nice - bands who were just as well-known for their frantic stage antics as their music. The line-up consisted of bass player and vocalist John Gustafson, keyboard player Peter Robinson and drummer Mick Underwood. The original "Quatermass" (1970) album on the Prog-Rock Chrysalis label, was followed 27 years later by the second "Quatermass II: Long Road" (1997) album, when drummer Mick underwood put together a new line- up of the band. The original Quatermass album was reissued on CD in 1990 with two bonus tracks included. Let's dive into the Quatermass pit now and take a trip back in time to that magical proggy year of 1970 when Progressive Rock was just emerging like a phoenix from the ashes of the psychedelic sixties.

It's a very sedate 1-minute opening to the album with "Entropy". It sounds like we're attending a solemn religious occasion in church with the delicate sound of a solo organist introducing us to the album. Don't be fooled though, because this is just a prelude to "Black Sheep of the Family", a rip-roaring, organ-driven rocker. This is a solid-as-a-rock, heavy rocking song with a good pedigree: it was originally recorded by Chris Farlowe in 1970, turned down for Deep Purple's "Stormbringer" album in 1974, and later covered by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow on their first album in 1975. Forget about piano fortes, this is a full- force organ forte, played loudly, played proudly, and played powerfully. This raucous rocker is as rock solid as reinforced concrete! And now we come to the first of the long epic numbers on the album, "Post War Saturday Echo". At nearly 10 minutes in duration, it's a multi-part suite, opening with a moody and magnificent organ piece. There's no peace for the wicked (or the good) though, because this song really explodes into life like a stick of dynamite before we're even halfway through the song. Make no mistake, this is powerful all-guns-blazing rock & roll with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Prepare to be blown away, because this music will make your day! Let's take a look at the impassioned lyrics:- The city is a ravin' neon nightmare, Freudian symbols lay my soul bare, And every way I turn, Electric hoardings burn, And words that mean nothing, Are endlessly rushing, Telling me nothing I really wanna learn." ..... This is invigorating and reverberant music with powerful lyrics to match. "Good Lord Knows" we're onto Song No. 4 now, an altogether mellower number, so you can take it easy, make a cup of tea and put your feet up to this laid-back 3-minute ballad. It's back to some good old-fashioned hard rockin' again for the next song though, the 7-minute barnstormer "Up on the Ground". This powerful organ-driven number has Deep Purple written all over it. It's a riveting, rollicking, rock & rolling number with all of the surging power of a steam locomotive!

Well, after the sonic attack of Side One, what does Side Two have in store for us. Let's find out. Fasten your seat belts and hold on tight because there's no let-up. We're going supersonic up into the stratosphere for "Gemini", a romping, stomping, branstorming song that's positively pulsating with energy. There's enough radiant power here to light up a lighthouse. It's time to "Make Up Your Mind" now for Song No. 7, another multi-part epic, running at nearly 9 minutes long. Well, I've made up MY mind that this song and the album as a whole is very reminiscent of the powerful keyboard-heavy sound of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, which has to be a good thing. This grand-sounding piece of music has all the power and resonance of the Big Ben bell. Next comes the longest song on the album so get your "Laughing Tackle" around this. It's a 10-minute long instrumental number, giving the power trio a chance to flex their musical muscles with some very impressive and superlative soloing. This epic number features the requisite long pounding drum solo, an energetic and pulsating bass guitar riff, and of course, some frantic antics from the omnipresent keyboard player, who could give Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord or Ken Hensley a good keyboard run for their money any time of the day. And so, we end this high-flown, hard as a rhinestone Quatermass album the same way as we began, with a brief gentle reprise of "Entropy". You can stop headbanging and stomping those feet now.

This grandiose and spectacular album of relentless, pile-driving British Rock is sure to appeal to fans of the sonorous keyboard-heavy sound of bands such as Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Uriah Heep. This stupendous 50-year-old album has all the power and hard driving energy of a pneumatic drill. Quatermass are a supersonic blast from the past!

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Who founded heavy prog? Difficult to say, but among the first stand out Quatermass, even if they are a trio without a guitar. Quatermass, formed by bassist John Gustafson (future Roxy Music), keyboardist (piano, Hammond, harpsichord, sinths and strings arrangement) Peter Robinson and percussionist Mick Underwood, three players from various backgrounds which tried a fusion between prog and hard rock. The name "Quatermass" was inspired by the famous television and film character of Professor Quatermass, protagonist of a successful saga.

Qautermass released only one album (Harvest, 1970), on which appears the "Laughin Tackle" suite (ten and a half minutes, composed by the factotum Peter Robinson), their maximum effort, accompanied by other masterpieces of 7-9 minutes. After an intro played by the organ, starts "Black Sheep In The Family" (written by Steve Hammond, who plays in two songs as session man), very good and powerful song (vote 8). "Post War Saturday Echo" (almost ten minutes, written by the whole group), is a mid-tempo ballad based on Robinson's great work on keyboards (organ, piano), and that has sudden accelerations that make it almost a suite. Excellent singing (Gustafson). Masterpiece (vote 8,5/9). The shorter "Good Lord Knows", orchestrated in Baroque style with a Strings ensemble (Paul Buckmaster on cello) and the harpsichord (Robinson), is a little jewel (vote 7,5/8). "Up On The Ground" (seven minutes, written by Gustafson), with the synth instead of the heavy guitar, is another remarkable song, very enthralling, with great work on drums by Mick Underwood (vote 8+).

Side B opens with "Gemini" (six minutes, written by Hammond, vote 7,5): this song in a certain sense blends Nice with Deep Purple, seen the initial classic rock, with pounding rhythm (Underwood), and the classical breaks on the keyboards. "Make Up Your Mind" (almost 9 minutes) begins with a coarse repetition strophe-refrain, then follows a long digression on the keyboards by Robinson, which challenges Emerson; at the end the singing returns (vote 7,5/8). The excellent instrumental suite "Laughing Tackle" (vote 8,5) starts with a bass solo, to which are added the keyboards and the drums in the background (played in jazz style); after four and a half minutes this impressionist instrumental beginning gives rise to a rock solo of Underwood, followed by the return of the bass; then arrives a part orchestrated with the Strings ensemble which climbs into an orchestral sound on the verge of dissonance, then dissolves slowly together with the bass, plus another 40 seconds of "Entropy". It could be compared to Valentyne Suite by Colosseum.

In my opinion, Quatermass is a masterpiece of the first progressive: it is sensational that in 1970 this record has such a progressive attitude, able to make a perfect synthesis of Keith Emerson's keyboardist rock (and overcome him in ability and talent) and the harpers of hard rock (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple). The pieces are all high class for composition and arrangement; the musicians are technically excellent. Difficult to expect much more from a 1970 album.

Medium quality of the songs: 8,07. Vote album: 9. Masterpiece. Rating: Five stars.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The marriage between hammond organ and progressive rock is a match made in heaven. There is something celestial about it. The versatile organ is able to produce a noise that is terrifying, a sweet caress that is soothing and a full blown assault on your being. All in one go, at that.

There were quite a few groups centered around organ, bass and drums in the very early years of the 70's. Sometimes the result was great (ELP, for instance) and sometimes less so (Aardvark, is one). Quatermass was exactly a group such as that. Organ, bass and drums plus vocals from John Gustafsson (and what a voice!). How do Quatermass fare? Pretty darn good, if you ask me. Unlike Aardvark you get a full sound, great music (including a couple of covers) and a furious delivery. True, there are some ELP-ish moments (perhaps quite a few) but it does not mean that they are clones. Quatermass is an entity of their own. "What was that?" could easily have been on any of the first three ELP albums but there is plenty of sounds that's their own.

The opener "One blind mice" is such a track, as is the great and majestic "Post war saturday echo". I would generally say that Quatermass holds back on the classical influences, unlike ELP, and goes straight for a more hardrock noise (the organ solo makes me shiver and smile like a loon), as in "Up on the ground", and/or adding a slight melodic (pop-ish, if you like) element at times. Such is the case in the cover "Black sheep of the family" or "Gemini". Now, those are pop or rock songs from the beginning but very melodic. The pop/rock elements are, however, played with such fury and energy that it is sometimes breathtaking. One short but amazing track is "Make up your mind". It's 1 minute and 44 seconds of pure delight.

Quatermass indeed play a heavy kind of prog and put forth a staggering amount of brilliant noise. I love it and everytime I put it on it fills me with joy. A great album from a great band. I wish they had made another back in the day but on the other hand one certified album of brilliance is the better deal. And the cover, it is so iconic. That's how you mend a shed. Or however the saying goes.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This debut album by Quatermass epitomises the raw, dirty roots of progressive rock, where the linkages to the underground psychedelic scene were still visible. Emerging before symphonic prog became the dominant mode in progressive rock, the band may have an ELP like drums- bass-keyboards power trio lineup but Peter Robinson is interested less in classical showboating and more in dirty, heavy organ lines which threaten to invade Atomic Rooster territory. Not the most technically flashy of early prog albums, it's still a highly enjoyable album which will give fans of the heavier end of prog - especially the heavy prog practised in the dawn of the genre - plenty to smile about.
 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Tableau

5 stars This is one of the best progressive rock albums of the seventies. There are moments of intricate keyboard work, a solid rhythm section which is never boring, as well as great vocals. Some may wonder at that last contention. Gustafson is not a glamorous singer, but he was motivated here, and sings with the kind of conviction needed to put a song over the top. This is not to say that all of his singing is loud. Indeed, "Good Lord Knows" has a simple almost gentle vocal approach which is perfect for the sentiment expressed: sad acquiescence.

When I first heard this album, it took me a few songs before I realized there was no guitar player. This is due not to my lack of attention, but to the interesting keyboard flourishes (quite a nice tone and similar to Jon Lord of Deep Purple). I had to ask myself whether I needed guitar in progressive rock to enjoy it. The answer in this case is no.

Entropy begins the album with a pleasant molasses atmosphere which then segues into Black Sheep of the Family which features some enjoyable yelping from Gustafson. I won't review each song, but will say all are good, some more than others. The two bonus tracks hold up well, and the string accompaniment is better than found on most rock records.

Despite fitting fairly comfortably in the Prog category, this album mixes a working-class feel with the fancier aspects. Call it an earthbound element, if you will, to balance the soaring musical themes. Listeners with the ability to enjoy a wide range of music should be able to appreciate this piece which is of a period, but transcends being a period piece. The recent Esoteric remaster of this album has improved sound with original masters used where possible. There are also two additional bonus tracks beyond those included on previous CD releases. All but the two new tracks are featured in a 5.1 DVD-A mix on the second disc. An essential progressive rock package.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Briefly hailed as the next Led Zeppelin-sized thing, British power-prog trio Quatermass would unfortunately stall at the first attempt with this ambitious self-titled effort from 1970. Featuring striking cover art in the form of three pterodactyls gliding between two futuristic, glass-and-metal skyscraper-style structures(courtesy of Hipgnosis' Storm Thorgerson) and a bruising, proto-metallic sound undercut with jagged hammond organs and grazing bass riffs, for whatever reason it just wasn't meant to be for the trio, despite producing a memorable album whose reputation lives on right to this day. Featuring the same lead guitar-free set-up as Charisma acts Rare Bird and Van Der Graaf Generator, Quatermass' sound was all about the dynamic keyboards of Peter Robinson and the gruff vocals and throbbing bass-lines of future Roxy Music member John Gustafson, the duo all the while backed by the driving percussion skills of Mick Underwood. The group's sound falls somewhere between the bouncy noodling of ELP and the bluesy rock of the aforementioned Led Zeppelin, though with an experimental and highly progressive edge that sometimes fudges the more rock-orientated moments, the threesome instead content to furrow complex sonic passages that showcase a much more eclectic sound that one might initially expect. Highlights include the album's best-known piece 'Black Sheep Of The Family', a thumping, aggressive rocker that would be covered later on by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, whilst the elegiac 'Good Lord Knows' exhibits Quatermass's softer, more classically-orientated side. However, the group seem to perform best when thrashing out meaty rockers such as the excellent, deep-grooved seven- minute mini-epic 'Up On The Ground', a jazz-tinged piece which finds Robinson dealing out swirls of lightning- fast hammond breaks over Gustafson's rolling bass. The duo also combine effortlessly on the lengthy 'Laughin' Tackle', whilst album finisher 'Punting' adds more jagged blues riffs and strange sound effects to the mix. We might never know the exact reasons for the commercial failure of Quatermass, yet fail they did despite producing an energetic slice of hard-edged progressive rock that should have been ripe for the age. Those who like the more eclectic side of hard early-seventies rock are urged to immediately investigate. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by ibnacio

4 stars When some say something is missing (or lacking) here, I find it difficult to find out what it may be unless it is time or luck -to have had a longer career and musical evolution and growth.

The musicianship is here. The inspiration for writing or for covering is, too. The ability to rock and to solo is not absent, either... so, what, appart of a personal taste for this or that instrument combination?

Frankly, to discard The Alhambra in Granada (Spain) because it is not made with stone as The Pyramids are, or because it was made by muslims... does not seem to be a strong argument.

Anyway, this astonishing, incredibly unknown - I must admit they are a recent discovery for me, and thanks to the ProgArchives.com- trio made very good prog rock and deserved a second chance or a better management that never came. However, thanks to devoted publishing labels and rescuers, we can still enjoy their music and maybe a few royalties can pay back for the bitter disappointment of failure.

Do not hesitate to try this excellent record. It may be not an "Absolute Masterpiece" but one cannot help thinking that giving it less than four stars (I'd give them four and half - or 9 out of 10- if that could be) sounds a bit ungenerous.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 183 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars This is why I come to the archives. Discovering bands and albums that passed me by growing up that I'm now discovering via this website. Yeah, some of the performers I've heard were best left forgotten, but more often I'm hearing some killer groups from back in the day for the first time and they impress the hell out of me. Quatermass, the band, the album, and the remnants of a group that had previously lost Ian Gillian and Roger Glover to Deep Purple, is one of those cool discoveries.

This is another of those bands that earns its prog-cred by being hard rockers without guitars. Hammond led, Peter has to go ape on his keyboards to compensate, and the results musically are something not dissimilar to Atomic Rooster's first album, although I find this effort more adventurous and generally better. The vocals, in particular, are noteworthy due to John Gustafson's impassioned delivery. He's not at Ian Gillian's range or at Steve Winwood's "soul" level, but he has elements of both singers and throws in a raw emotional performance that can be captivating at times.

The 9:42 minute "Post war Saturday echo" starts off like some lost track from ELP's first album before settling into this slow blues jam that's almost reminiscent of Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Lovin' You" but even dirgier. Then a little after the three minute mark, this song soars like pterodactyls through a futuristic grid into the sky with an absolute bomb of a chorus. John puts his heart, soul, and groin on the table here, singing like he's ready to explode. It's awesome, and makes the previous couple of minutes more than worthwhile. Later in the song there's even a full on prog rock break that keeps things unpredictable. I dig this song tremendously and owe the Archives for finding it.

There are plenty of other goodies as well. "Black sheep in the family" is catchy and has a "Deep Purple without guitars" vibe (this song was later covered by Rainbow, Ritchie deduced that tune deserved some six-string wailing), and "Gemini" has a driving rhythm and fun lyrics. Proginess is ensured by the last two long tunes, especially the jazzy instrumental "Laughing tackle" that even boasts a drum solo that's thankfully not too long. I'm discovering that a lot of bands felt the need to have a drum solo in their studio efforts in 1970 releases. The orchestra in a couple of tunes is a nice touch, adding some atmosphere to the trippy "Good Lord knows".

Too bad that this band didn't quite make it and folded soon after, as they had something good going on here. Quatermass fits perfectly in the 1970 realm of exploring some variations of progressive rock to find a signature sound. As that strange year in rock music sandwiched between two iconic years, 1970 has its fair share of gems, as this album proves.

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

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