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Atomic Rooster - Death Walks Behind You CD (album) cover


Atomic Rooster


Heavy Prog

3.86 | 321 ratings

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4 stars This album is so good it's not funny. John Cann's vocals didn't stand up to other major rock singers, nor did his guitar. The beautiful organ playing of Vincent Crane was easily overtaken by the other rising keyboard gods. And Paul Hammond's big, fumbling Keith Moon drums were, well, intense. But these guys could play like demons and didn't rely on the studio to make the magic. At their best, Atomic Rooster in 1970 was a great representative of what the darker side of British rock had achieved to that point and though not the best band in the world, they'd tripped over a very appealing hybrid of hard rock, melodic pop, classical elements and smart prog. Deceptive with their badboy sound and unshaven demeanor, the trio has flashes of greatness far more often than they're remembered for, full of earthy power and intuition and I would wager that in '70 they could have outperformed ELP on more nights than one.

Slow, creepy piano lines and a screech of guitar introduce the title, vintage hard rock showing a bit of finger but also influences going as far back as the Yardbirds and even the Kinks. Addictive riffs, building harmonies, the scurl of bagpipes, and solid timekeeping by Paul Hammond. Crane's swirling organ heads 'Vug' blending soul jazz with quasi-classical and hard blues and will appeal to fans of Keith Emerson's early work. So will foot-tapper 'Tomorrow Night', cool and smooth with Paul Hammond's steady cowbell. At nearly seven minutes 'Seven Lonely Streets' is overextended and doesn't hold much interest, 'Sleeping For Years' is somewhat better, 'I Can't Take No More' is derivative but okay, and genuinely nice 'Nobody Else' is just right, sophisticated for a bunch of mugs like these, a catchy vocal hook and a Traffic-esque vamp. And heavy organ pounder 'Gershatzer' is the big finish showing more of Vincent Crane's skill on the ivories and features a lively drum solo from Hammond.

Undoubtedly a great starter for this group, but this release will be even more gratifying for those who've gotten past most of the prog pretense and are ready to get back to the business of rock. You could say these boys are recommended. The expanded deluxe edition has six extra selections including a B-side, a couple demos and several BBC session takes; 'Tomorrow Night', 'Shabooloo' and 'Death Walks Behind You'.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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