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Quatermass - Quatermass CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.74 | 162 ratings

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4 stars We prog fans are so exacting. If it's too much this or not enough that, doesn't have the things we like or not in the right places, the lyrics wanting or the production doesn't meet our standards, it's usually goodbye Charlie. We don't have the time to further explore a record or artist deemed by us not good enough, we've got other things to obsessively seek out and lay waste to our lives, loved ones and bank accounts over.

Understandable, sacrifices must be made. But if you're one of the few who still have a taste for that old time keyboard prog, don't be too scared off by the grumblings and useless comparisons this trio tends to attract. The smoky goodness of Pete Robinson's keys, John Gustafson's soulful bass/vocal support, and Mick Underwood's seasoned drumming made for a completely hot and heavy art band whose spectacular 1970 debut inexplicably tanked. Okay, alright, sometimes they sound like any number of other English bands of the period - you've read the comparisons - but these guys were good. Really good. A group borne of the fabulously incestuous art scene in Britain, more inline with the progressive rave-up acts like Touch, Shuttah, or Cressida than ELP or Deep Purple. A fine production didn't hurt either and the 2007 Repertoire issue sounds just great.

An almost perfect infusion of blues rhythm, neoclassical power rock, and touches of electronicism, in certain ways the Quatermass album out-shone ELP's own brilliant debut the same year by taking greater risks. 'Tarkus' would trump everyone a year later but in '70, this was one strong leap in a very cool direction, science fiction thematics and all. Soft and contemplative 'Entropy' floats into 'Black Sheep of the Family', a Winwood-like soul/blues stomper. The full regalia of Robinson's Hammond organ opens 'Postwar Saturday Echo', slipping into a slowblues that initially drags but deepens into a composition that is utterly prog for the last half of this 10-minute opus. Dripping romance of 'Good Lord Knows' is revived by grinder 'Up on the Ground' where the Jon Lord associations are fair, Gustafson's yelling distracting but no more than a young Paul Williams or Rob Halford, sweetened by a nifty low-riding jam. Pop excursion 'Gemini' seems geared toward the charts, tailored and partly sabotaged but pulls together for a simmering vamp and showcases the unit's talent for merging the appealing with the intellectual. 'Make Up Your Mind' follows a similar path; starts innocently but soon becomes a prog demon full of surprises and beasties around every corner. Terrific piece at eight minutes and completely missed by those unluckies who dismissed this LP out of hand after just a few cuts. And it just gets better and better; 'Laughin Tackle' is jaw-droppingly good with Robinson's mix of quiet synths, piano and ice-rink organ, Underwood's jazz traps, Gustafson's steady bass and a perfectly recorded orchestra on heavy backup. When was this made? 1970? Absolutely marvelous and worth the price alone. It builds to a spine-tingling crescendo, the whole thing not unlike Herbie Hancock's avant garde adventures. Really, you don't know what you're missing. Two good extras from the 'One Blind Mice' single are included.

If patience is yours and you don't mind some black gospel fire in with your blue-eyed prog, I can't recommend this release enough. A revelation.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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