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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Titus Groan - Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
    Posted: November 13 2007 at 19:16
TITUS GROAN - Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
 
Some info about the band taken from their myspace - http://www.myspace.com/titusgroan1970
and it can also be found here - http://www.alexgitlin.com/npp/titus.htm
 
The following is taken from the band's Myspace:
 "
Titus Groan, the book, formed the first part of Mervin Peake's imaginative, haunting "Gormenghast" trilogy, one of post-war Britain's finest literary achievements.

Titus Groan, the group, arrived some 20+ years after its first publication, and embraced, in music, some of the novel's gothic atmosphere while adding their own slice of English progressive rock.

By 1970, at least two divisions of underground music had emerged. One included the likes of Family, the Pretty Things and Traffic; groups whose pedigree stretched back into beat and rhythm'n'blues. In their wake came a succession of newer bands whose histories were neither as long nor as detailed but who welcomed the new music as an opportunity to stretch.

In common with several labelmates, Titus Groan first came to prominence at the Hollywood Pop Festival of the weekend beginning May 23rd 1970. Here, the Red Bus Company, a London Agency, masterminded three days of "love, peace and music" on a site near Newcastle Under Lyme with a bill which included Ginger Baker's Airforce and the British concert debut of the Grateful Dead. The happening, however, is better recalled as the launching pad for Mungo Jerry, whose brand of goodtime skiffle was apparently received with wild enthusiasm; so much so that it carried their subsequent single into the charts. From there it soared to No.1 and became a multi-million seller, in turn providing their record label, Dawn, with its biggest success, a fact which was something of a paradox, as it was set up by Pye as an "alternative" outlet, on par with Harvest, Vertigo and RCA's Neon.

Mungo Jerry were handled by Red Bus, as were several of the acts who appeared over the three days including Mike Cooper, Demon Fuzz and Titus Groan, all of whom were either already signed to Dawn, or would be in the post-"Summertime" euphoria. Indeed, the first, most immediate plan was to compile a double set, "Live At Hollywood", which was to feature part of the live sets from each of these groups and Loudmouth (?), but was cancelled, possibly, when permission for inclusion by non-Dawn acts, such as Family, wasn't forthcoming.

Instead they began recording, and in October that year, Dawn announced a major release package with albums and/or maxi-singles by Demon Fuzz, Comus and Heron, as well as the collection in question here, Titus Groan. However, as an added bonus, we've also included the three tracks which made up the Groan's only single, none of which has previously been on an LP. The top-side was "Open The Door, Homer", a Bob Dylan song also known as "Open The Door, Richard", which the Groans may have picked up from the "Great White Wonder" bootleg. They do a nice folksy-cum-rock interpretation, emphasising the chorus in the hope of the hit it deserved to be, while anticipating the kind of feel the group Coulson Dean McGuinness Flint would find on the same kind of interpretation (on their own album, "Lo And Behold"). "Woman Of The World" continued an acoustic-mixed-with-rock perspective, sounding close to something Lindisfarne might have come up with, but the real meat of the single was "Liverpool", a driving slab of pseudo-R&B with a horn and organ passage mirroring that of the Graham Bond Organisation and some "S.F. Sorrow"-styled vocal harmonies thrown in for good measure. It provided the perfect taster for what was one of Dawn's most exciting and eclectic albums.

"Titus Groan" was released the same month as their maxi-single. Consisting of a mere five tracks, it was abundantly clear that the group intended to continue the progressive aspects found on "Liverpool". They were extremely powerful instrumentally, Stuart Cowell's guitar and keyboard work combined perfectly with Tony Priestland's sax, flute, oboe and assorted woodwind, creating, and indeed suggesting, the mock-medieval textures also found in Jethro Tull (albeit, heavier), while John Lee and Jim Toomey provided the supportive bass and drums, particularly on the album's epic, "Hall Of Bright Carvings". Taking its title from the opening chapter of the novel which gave the band its name, it's here Titus Groan come closest to their inspiration as they wage a way through an ambitious, multi-part composition. The repeated theme adds a continuity as the piece shifts in mood, embracing a further Peake reference, "The Burning" on the way. The second side doesn't slouch either, Lee and Priestland offer contrasts on "It Can't Change" and "Fuschia", while "It's All Up With Us" is a collective offering. "An interesting, listening format... effective in live performances... a promising first album" - such remarks contained in the relevant 'NME' album review can only be echoed here.

The reference to an in-concert prowess was indeed pertinent. The Red Bus Company had undertaken an ambitious project to promote, not only "Titus Groan", but the other corresponding Dawn releases. Between November 3rd and 26th, Demon Fuzz, Heron, Comus and the Groan played at ten venues, including the Marquee, for the princely sum of one penny. Dubbed, unsurprisingly, A Penny Concert, it was an ambitious promotion, not just fiscally, but musically, and offered a remarkable sweep of styles; the Afro-rock of the 8-piece Fuzz, Heron's warm country/folk and the imaginative multi-layered rock of the other two participants. Not only that, but it made Decca's "Nova Evening" at the London Lyceum, which showcased their new progressive acts, seem positively expensive. They charged a whole six shillings.

The collective project officially ended on January 3rd 1971 when the four groups performed in-concert on Radio 1. Sadly, however, it was to mark an end to more than this cooperative atmosphere. Of the four, Heron managed to maintain something of a profile, (hear for yourself on SEECD242) but the remaining trio found the going in the New Year somewhat tougher. Titus Groan just seemed to slip from the tentative prominence they'd achieved, despite the obvious potential of the music enclosed here. Of the four members, Jim Toomey cropped up in several groups, and drummed in one of Larry Wallis' post-Pink Fairies exploits, while the rest, unfortunately, appeared to keep up a less active profile. It was an unfortunate and undeserved demise, its suddenness belied the individuality and imagination on offer here.


Dinnes Cruickshank Taken from the CD reissue of "Titus Groan": "Titus Groan… Plus", See For Miles, SEE CD 260, 1989"

 "

 
Reviews:

TITUS GROAN — Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)

Review by bristolstc

4%20stars Not quite a "masterpiece," but almost. Titus Groan were an early (they formed sometime in 1969 and released their only album and single in 1970) art rock/ progressive band who sounded uncannilly like a cross between Czar without the mellotron and The Move circa Message From The Country with a bit of Jethro Tull thrown in for good measure. This means high energy melodic songs with lots of guitars. sax, vocal harmonies, and great percussion work/drumming. There's occaisonal organ and electric piano, but mainly a much earlier guitar battling with flute, sax, and oboe sound. The first song "It Wasn't For You" is very bluesy and grooves along with a restrained hard edge. The vocal sounds eerily like Ian Anderson and this is true for the lead vocals for the whole album. I have no idea which of the four band members took care of lead voice, but he has a great one and if you love Tull (I do) you'll love this. The guitar, which is strong and confident, also brings to mind that group, while the bass and percussion have a jazzier approach like Cream or King Crimson. The hard hitting attack balanced with good melodies always reminded me of Czar on this album, and that can only be good. Every song is excellent, and there is no problem with any of the words or music here. The only problem is a "rushed" quality that leaves me salivating for more. It sounds like Titus Groan were a confident band who hurried into a studio and gave it their very best and suceeded in making a fantastic album, why wasn't there a second one? My favourite tracks here are on Side Two, the dark and ominous turning into light and playful at the end epic "I Can't Change" and Czar soundalike "Fuschia." Play the two albums together and you'll see what I'm talking about. Hey, I prefer Titus Groan to Blodwyn Pig- this is prime period Jethro Tull and NOT the much inferior first album with Mick Abrahams. There's strong melodies here, and even at their most daringly progressive on "Hall Of Bright Carvings" these guys cook and are impressive singers and musicians. If you like early prog with lots of energy this album will knock you out. I don't know why Titus G. have always been slammed by critics and dealers, I think this is a great album, in fact I know it is. The single wasn't too good, though, so skip over that if you get the reissue with the 7 inch tracks. Same scenario as another band wonder who that is... Czar. Surprised? Well I'm not, like I said take out the mellotron and put in saxes and flutes, it's the same great solid sound.

Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2006, 21:04 EST | Permanent link

TITUS GROAN — Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)

Review by sco-bro

4%20stars I first heard this band on a college radio program and was blown away. The thing that struck me was the vocals. Awesome! Strangely, the liner notes to the CD do not credit anyone for singing, and all of the tracks HAVE singing. Anyway, the first song, "It's All Up With Us", is IMO the best song. Second best is the mostly instrumental track, "Hall Of Bright Carvings". The only downer for me really, is the singing on "Woman Of The World", but it's still half decent. Too bad they only produced one album. Excellent. 4 stars.

Posted Monday, April 30, 2007, 20:51 EST | Permanent link

 
 
 
 
 

1. It Wasn't For You (5:33)
2. Hall Of Bright Carvings (11:37)
a) Theme
b) Dusty High-Value Hall
c) The Burning
d) Theme
3. I Can't Change (5:41)
4. It's All Up With Us (6:07)
5. Fuschia (6:18)

Bonus Tracks on CD Reissue:
6. Open The Door Homer (3:30)
7. Woman Of The World (4:32)

Total Time: 43:18

Line-up/Musicians

- Stuart Cowell / keyboards, guitar, vocals
- John Lee / bass
- Tony Priestland / saxophone, flute, oboe
- Jim Toomey / drums

Releases information

LP Dawn Label DNLS 3012 (1970)
It was reissued in 1989 as Titus Groan… Plus on the See For Miles label (SEE 260/SEE CD 260) and containing three tracks from their single.

 


Edited by avestin - November 13 2007 at 23:11
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 13 2007 at 23:09
Thanks for this info. Avestin.

I was aware of the band and this further info. excites my interest. [ Peake's 'Gormenghast' trilogy is amongst my favourite works of all time].

I also like Fruupp's dedication to the story with their track of the same name on ' Modern Masquerade', another personal fave.
Looking still the same after all these years...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 13 2007 at 23:20
Originally posted by mrgd

Thanks for this info. Avestin.

I was aware of the band and this further info. excites my interest. [ Peake's 'Gormenghast' trilogy is amongst my favourite works of all time].

I also like Fruupp's dedication to the story with their track of the same name on ' Modern Masquerade', another personal fave.
 
I still haven't read that book, but I intend to.
 
I'll also make a thread for Fruup, thanks for reminding me.
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 15 2007 at 02:13
It's some of the most imaginative descriptive writng I've ever read , however, you have to be prepared to persevere in some places as it can get a little heavy.

I was put onto it when visiting a friend at Oxford Uni. in England way back in 76. It was the main work they were studying in the Literature course at Oxford. It's literary cred. cannot be questioned.

The first two parts of the trilogy, being 'Titus Groan' and 'Gormenghast' are by far the best. By the time he was writng the 3rd. part, 'Titus Alone' the illness which evevtually caused his death had overcome him and it fades a little as a result.

He also did some unusual and quirky sketches including for the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and 'Alice in Wonderland ' to name a few . He has also written much in the way of 'nonsense' poetry which is also quite popular [ Wikipedia has a good summary of his life and works].

The BBC did a three part series of the trilogy with an extraordinary cast which works quite well, but I wouldn't see that before reading the books. Happy reading .
Looking still the same after all these years...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 15 2007 at 07:47
Originally posted by mrgd

It's some of the most imaginative descriptive writng I've ever read , however, you have to be prepared to persevere in some places as it can get a little heavy.

I was put onto it when visiting a friend at Oxford Uni. in England way back in 76. It was the main work they were studying in the Literature course at Oxford. It's literary cred. cannot be questioned.

The first two parts of the trilogy, being 'Titus Groan' and 'Gormenghast' are by far the best. By the time he was writng the 3rd. part, 'Titus Alone' the illness which evevtually caused his death had overcome him and it fades a little as a result.

He also did some unusual and quirky sketches including for the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and 'Alice in Wonderland ' to name a few . He has also written much in the way of 'nonsense' poetry which is also quite popular [ Wikipedia has a good summary of his life and works].

The BBC did a three part series of the trilogy with an extraordinary cast which works quite well, but I wouldn't see that before reading the books. Happy reading .
 
 
Thanks for the info. It is on my next books purchase.
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 15 2007 at 23:25
Titus Groan`s Plus is one of so many albums Assaf introduced to me, and of course if he did that is because it has to be a good one, honestly i haven`t listened to it recently, but its really a worth listening, great music!

Follow me on twitter @memowakeman
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 16 2007 at 08:00
^Finally a word about Titus Groan the band, not the book.
 
I heard the album and, unfortunately, found it somewhat disappointing. As I read somewhere, they tried too hard to sound Prog. Undoubtedly, the record has its fine moments, especially instrumental ones, with woodwind instruments, but overall atmosphere was rather non-original, for my taste, at least.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 17 2007 at 10:12

Yeah I have this one somewhere and it's nothing special, IMHO. The best thing on there is the lengthy 'Hall Of Bright Carvings', the rest is fairly average stuff typical of the period- not bad but not that good either. I agree 100% that this is a band trying to make the move to prog and unsuccessfully too, IMHO.

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