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TAMARISK

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Tamarisk biography
Coming from the Northeastern part of London, Tamarisk evolved around 1982 from the ashes of Chemical Alice (Mark Kelly of Marillion fame had spent time with this group). Originally founded by Steve Leigh on keyboards, Andy Grant on vocals and Richard Crichton on drums, they secured a solid line-up only when Crichton was replaced by Richard Harris along with Peter Munday on guitars and Mark Orbell on bass. The group went on to produce two very rare cassette E.P.'s, a self-titled in 1982 and ''Lost properties'' ta year later. Shortly after a line-up change occurred with Nick May taking over the bass duties and Brian Roberts being the drummer. In 1985 Tamarisk briefly performed as a trio of Leigh, Grant and May under the name of ''Corrupted by Toys'', before disbanding for good.

Leigh spent some time with Quasar before forming Landmarq, while May had a nice career, initially joining Dagaband, then for a short time Jadis, appeared for a while with The Enid, while his latest collaboration was with Karnataka around 2005. Almost 30 years after Tamarisk's demise the compilation album ''Frozen in time'' was released, containing the material of both the early E.P.'s of the group, thus giving the chance to prog fans to taste the band's unpolished, raw and underground Neo Prog sound.

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TAMARISK Videos (YouTube and more)


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TAMARISK discography


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

3.83 | 14 ratings
Suspended Animation
2021

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

4.13 | 4 ratings
332018Live
2018

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

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

3.78 | 9 ratings
Frozen in Time
2012
4.45 | 19 ratings
Breaking the Chains
2018

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

4.33 | 3 ratings
Tamarisk
1982
4.33 | 3 ratings
Lost Properties
1983

TAMARISK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Suspended Animation by TAMARISK album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.83 | 14 ratings

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Suspended Animation
Tamarisk Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars A while back, Steve Leigh and I got back in touch with each other again. Some 30 years ago we were swapping letters (back in the days before email) about Landmarq, of which he was keyboard player, and I soon discovered his previous band, Quasar, but while I knew he had been in Tamarisk I did not hear any of that material until fairly recently. With the excellent 'Breaking The Chains' compilation being released, there is now a new Tamarisk on the block which features not only Steve but original singer Andy Grant, Steve's Quasar and Landmarq bandmate, drummer Dave Wagstaffe, along with Ed Rome (who had been guitarist on one of their early cassettes) and guitarist Tom Yetton.

What we have here is unabashed neo-prog, and genre which even some progheads look down on, but for those of us who threw ourselves into that scene in the 80's and 90's it contains a wonderful naivety with that mix of rock and prog which is a delight. Unlike some neo-prog acts who have moved onto different pastures since those days, Tamarisk are all about the time when it was possible to find bands playing this type of material in sweaty pubs and venues, totally under the radar of the media who were doing their best to pretend the music did not exist and would hopefully disappear (spoiler alert, it didn't). The new Tamarisk reminds me somewhat of what Credo were like more than 20 years ago (while "The Penetration Gap" has more than a hint of Twelfth Night) but given the history of the bands it is quite possible that Credo were actually influenced by them as opposed to the other way around. Steve has always had a wonderful touch on keyboards, and here he is in his element, while the rhythm section are tight which allows Tom to either noodle or hit the riffs, and then at the front is Andy Grant. He has lost none of the passion or angst over the years, and apart from the recording quality this sounds very much like something their younger selves could have recorded the first time around.

Both Steve and Andy were in Chemical Alice a million years ago, another band who have reached almost mythical status when Steve's replacement, Mark Kelly, was asked to join Marillion. Their time in Tamarisk had a huge impact on the scene, and with this new album they are back, and the result is a neo-prog delight.  

 Suspended Animation by TAMARISK album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.83 | 14 ratings

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Suspended Animation
Tamarisk Neo-Prog

Review by aprusso

4 stars 80'S NEOPROG AT ITS BEST .... 40 years later

I'm a sucker for early 1980s neoprog, a magical period in which the British underground 'bounced back' against the dominant musical regime and yielded a great number of bands whose efforts to re-establish the musical language of the previous decade is only partly captured by the official discographies. Aside from the notorious 5 (Marillion, Twelfth Night, Pallas, IQ and Pendragon) a great deal of other bands just published demos, 7", live cassettes while they toured extensively the darkest and grimiest geography of UK's venues. Steering away from the technical dexterity of their forefathers, these bands had passion and power and have thus in part assimilated some of the new blood of the 1980s - they could be taken for postpunkers or new wavers even aesthetically but there is no mistake on where their heart lay, ad those of their audiences. This buried treasure of a scene I have myself briefly participated in when as a sixteener I spend a language school holiday in Cambridge, and every other night could just walk to the local pub and see who was playing that night - Twelfth Night in-between-singer-change, Liaison, Airbridge... Having recently been exposed to Fugazi and fact and Fiction and The Wake I was 'finding my way'. One such bands is Tamarisk, whose legacy is embodied by a couple of unfoundable singles and cassettes, and some CD collections published 30 years later. 'Suspended animation' for what I understand is not exactly new music, and it sounds just like that - and infinite musical enjoyment framed by pinkfloydish guitars, fishy vocals and Orfodian synths. What a joy... since the early minutes into the title track I'm teletransported to some obscure English gig in 1983 and love it. Tracks like PLUS!, The Penetration Gap or Total Coverage (this one I'm sure was played live at the times) are firmly in the Neoprog canon and sound just great. I just wish younger bands, instead of trying to sound reflexively cool and 'contemporary' would stick to this pure passional, never monotonous, fun-DIY sound style. A solid 4 stars for me, veering on 4.5.

 332018Live by TAMARISK album cover Live, 2018
4.13 | 4 ratings

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332018Live
Tamarisk Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars On Saturday 3rd March 2018, at Chinnerys in Southend-On-Sea, a very special event took place, the first Tamarisk gig in more than 30 years. Joining Andy and Steve were Chris Davies (bass), Luke Rayner (guitar) and Marc Cecil (drums), and although I don't think any of them were involved first time around, they certainly sound as if they belong. Of the six songs on offer, five are from the two demo tapes (as would be expected), plus "Bandana In Chains" which is one of the additional songs on the 'Breaking The Chains' album. Andy's vocals and his style remind me a great deal of Mark Colton, which makes me wonder if Mark was inspired by the original Tamarisk at all. I remember him playing me countless tapes in the car on the way to gigs, and distinctly remember Comedy of Errors and Liaison and wonder if Tamarisk was among them as well.

The interaction between Steve and Luke is superb, supporting each other or soloing, intertwining the notes while the rhythm section is rock solid. Listening to this collection reminds me of oh so many gigs I attended more than 25 years ago, where the audience all knew each other, and we would all go from pub venue to pub venue to see whoever was in town that night. The big difference here is the quality of the sound, as the production is superb for a live recording. Andy has lost none of the power and emotion in his vocals, while Steve has always been an incredible keyboard player and here he is relishing visiting older numbers, with some beautiful piano alongside the banks of keyboards. The only real question is what next? The old tapes have been remastered and reissued, at least one gig has been played and recorded with a new line-up. I guess that means only one thing, when do we get the next album guys? Hopefully Tamarisk are back, and neo prog fans can't afford to miss out.

 Breaking the Chains by TAMARISK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2018
4.45 | 19 ratings

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Breaking the Chains
Tamarisk Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars We all have musical regrets in our lives I am sure, and one of mine is not knowing anything about the 80's progressive music scene until after the event. Yes, we all knew about Marillion, and I heard some Pallas, but that really was the sum total of it as far as I was concerned. Years later I became involved with keyboard player Steve Leigh after he formed Landmarq, and then I heard the Quasar album, and did also know he had been in a band called Tamarisk but that was the sum total of my knowledge of that band until now. Record label Cult Metal got in touch with singer Andy Grant and Steve, and the result is a compilation which features both demo tapes (1982's 'Tamarisk' and 1983's 'Lost Properties'), remastered from the original master tapes, along with some bonus numbers (and it is also available on vinyl!).

Andy and Steve had both been members of Chemical Alice prior to Tamarisk, a band now famous for Steve's replacement, Mark Kelly, then joining Marillion. Both demos also featured Richard Harris (drums), Peter Munday (guitar) and Mark Orbell (bass), but I am not sure if they are also on the additional tracks. For some reason the second demo is placed first on the CD, with the four songs in the same order, then the first demo (again same running order) with the additional tracks at the end. To say I was blown away is simply an understatement. If someone asked me to choose between this CD and anything from Marillion in the last 20 or so years then there really is no competition, this is way superior.

This is neo prog, genuine honest to god neo prog, not influenced by Marillion as such as they were very much in the same scene at the same time, but as they had the same influences there are bound to be some similarities. There is a naivety here, of musicians who had already been around and knew what they wanted to achieve but were also still very much at the beginning of their career. The result is a collection of songs which feel incredible genuine and great fun. When asked my favourite period of Marillion I will normally say I prefer the material prior to 'Script', and this is in the same musical ballpark. Great vocals, strong hooks, dynamic rhythm section, a guitarist and keyboard player who intertwine, or support each other, or go off on their own but always staying true to the form and style of the music. As the original tapes were both available and usable, the production is also much better than I expected which is a bonus.

This is a huge discovery for me, and I love it. The only question I guess is now that this album is out, what next? Please let there be a new album in the works, please!!!

Thanks to psarros for the artist addition.

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