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Topic ClosedOverlooked 70s Band - Morgan

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AlanD View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Overlooked 70s Band - Morgan
    Posted: October 28 2008 at 08:57
Flicking through my gig list of the seventies, the memories come flooding back but for every great Genesis, Yes, ELP, KIng Crimson or Pink Floyd gig I witnessed there were an equal amount of smaller gigs that still burn brightly in my affections, mainly bands that never cracked the mass acceptance barrier that the prog 'standard bearers' breached  (usually after years of hard slog - one of the things that made these bands so enduringly excellent) and this is my first salute to one of the best.
 
Morgan played an unforgettable residency at the Marquee Club in London during 1972. They had evolved from the sixties pop outfit Love Affair, first 'going heavy' in 1970 and changing their name to L.A. before adopting the Morgan moniker. I first saw them at a free gig at the Marquee that summer and was instantly spellbound by their brand of progressive rock, their 'magnum opus', Nova Solis making a particular impression on my 17 year old ears. Opening with an adaption of Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity from Holst's Planets' Suite, this 20 minute epic took the listener on a space journey, set at a time when the Sun is about to go nova and destroy the Earth. Tim Staffell was the singer, a brilliant, moving vocalist who was previously with Smile, who were basically Queen before Freddie Mercury joined, and the central song of Nova Solis was Earth, written by Tim and recorded on a single by Smile a few years earlier. It was cleverly absorbed into this longer composition and is a wonderful song that moves me still.
 
The instrumental sections were reminiscent of ELP, driven by Morgan Fisher's synthesiser bank and given a seductive flow by the liquid basslines of the late Robert Sapsed - the first time I'd ever seen a fretless electric bass played live - and the percussive skills of Mo Bacon. Tim Staffell added occasional acoustic guitar but Morgan were basically keyboard powered, with no lead electric guitar in their arsenal, but could still generate a good deal of power when it was called for. Nova Solis was a great live experience and the whole piece linked together well around Staffell's three songs, Floating, which followed the Holst intro, Earth, the glorious homage to our planet midway through the piece and May I Remember, another impassioned performance by a greatly underrated singer.
 
This and other songs in the set in 1972 were later recorded on the Nova Solis album recorded in Italy in 1973 and released on RCA. These included the memorable ballad Alone that was practically a solo performance by Tim Staffell and his acoustic and really expressed the age old human fear of loneliness in an eloquent way. The other two blockbusters were Samarkhand The Golden and War Games, both featuring the trademark Fisher Synth figures and flowing Sapsed bass, Morgan through and through. After a further album, The Sleeper Wakes that remained unreleased for many years, Morgan disintegrated.
 
I saw Tim Staffell again at the Marquee in 1974 supporting the excellent Fusion Orchestra (who I will no doubt rave on about at some point), he was just solo with acoustic guitar - but he did play Earth and Alone from the Morgan era. Morgan Fisher went on to join Mott the Hoople as keyboard player in the late seventies but I'm not certain what happened to Mo Bacon. Robert Sapsed met an unfortunate end in his thirties when he ran his motorbike into a car door that a driver opened in front of him. A great bass player and a great loss.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 28 2008 at 09:27
Nice read, thanks for sharing those memories.
I have Nova Solis and enjoy it a lot, particularly, as you mentioned, the title track.

You also mention Fusion Orchestra - another great discovery I had a while back (proposed it for PA addition) and they have been reincarnated now (there's a thread about them here: Fusion Orchestra 2 formed by original F.O. member)


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 28 2008 at 11:25
I have the LA album (New day), which in my view was a fine prog related release. I didn't realise they had subsequently become Morgan.

Edited by Easy Livin - October 28 2008 at 11:25
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