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QUATERMASS

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Quatermass biography
Founded in London, UK in 1969 - Disbanded in 1971 - Reformed as Quatermass II between 1994-1999

Power trio of keyboard, bass and drums. Straddling the line between hard rock and prog, there's a little something here to appease fans of both styles. Keyboards apparently just piano and organ, with the latter being especially hot-wired to make the keyboardist's style resemble FRUMPY keyboardist Jean-Jacques KRAVETZ, or perhaps Dave STEWART at his most maniacal (see "Dreams Wide Awake" for an example). He can lash out at his organ with a recklessness that puts EMERSON to shame, listen to the solo on "Post War, Saturday Echo" if you don't believe me. Bass player John GUSTAFSON (pre-ROXY MUSIC) sings in a uncontrolled, manic voice that can often sound gut-wrenching. A couple of tracks (the ballad "Good Lord Knows" and the lengthy jam-orientated "Laughin' Tackle" include massed strings. In the 90s there suddenly was a QUATERMASS II, but their music seems to have very little to do with the original band. The latest CD is called "The Long Road".

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Esoteric 2013
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$17.93 (used)
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Music on Vinyl 2019
$25.09
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Quatermass (Japanese Mini LP Sleeve SHM-CD)Quatermass (Japanese Mini LP Sleeve SHM-CD)
Belle Antique
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Belle 2019
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Akarma 2005
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Extra tracks · Limited Edition
Airmail Japan 2005
$58.40
$34.49 (used)

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QUATERMASS discography


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

3.74 | 164 ratings
Quatermass
1970
1.79 | 10 ratings
Quatermass II: Long Road
1997

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

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

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QUATERMASS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Who founded heavy prog? Difficult to say, but among the first stand out Quatermass, even if they are a trio without a guitar. Quatermass, formed by bassist John Gustafson (future Roxy Music), keyboardist (piano, Hammond, harpsichord, sinths and strings arrangement) Peter Robinson and percussionist Mick Underwood, three players from various backgrounds which tried a fusion between prog and hard rock. The name "Quatermass" was inspired by the famous television and film character of Professor Quatermass, protagonist of a successful saga.

Qautermass released only one album (Harvest, 1970), on which appears the "Laughin Tackle" suite (ten and a half minutes, composed by the factotum Peter Robinson), their maximum effort, accompanied by other masterpieces of 7-9 minutes. After an intro played by the organ, starts "Black Sheep In The Family" (written by Steve Hammond, who plays in two songs as session man), very good and powerful song (vote 8). "Post War Saturday Echo" (almost ten minutes, written by the whole group), is a mid-tempo ballad based on Robinson's great work on keyboards (organ, piano), and that has sudden accelerations that make it almost a suite. Excellent singing (Gustafson). Masterpiece (vote 8,5/9). The shorter "Good Lord Knows", orchestrated in Baroque style with a Strings ensemble (Paul Buckmaster on cello) and the harpsichord (Robinson), is a little jewel (vote 7,5/8). "Up On The Ground" (seven minutes, written by Gustafson), with the synth instead of the heavy guitar, is another remarkable song, very enthralling, with great work on drums by Mick Underwood (vote 8+).

Side B opens with "Gemini" (six minutes, written by Hammond, vote 7,5): this song in a certain sense blends Nice with Deep Purple, seen the initial classic rock, with pounding rhythm (Underwood), and the classical breaks on the keyboards. "Make Up Your Mind" (almost 9 minutes) begins with a coarse repetition strophe-refrain, then follows a long digression on the keyboards by Robinson, which challenges Emerson; at the end the singing returns (vote 7,5/8). The excellent instrumental suite "Laughing Tackle" (vote 8,5) starts with a bass solo, to which are added the keyboards and the drums in the background (played in jazz style); after four and a half minutes this impressionist instrumental beginning gives rise to a rock solo of Underwood, followed by the return of the bass; then arrives a part orchestrated with the Strings ensemble which climbs into an orchestral sound on the verge of dissonance, then dissolves slowly together with the bass, plus another 40 seconds of "Entropy". It could be compared to Valentyne Suite by Colosseum.

In my opinion, Quatermass is a masterpiece of the first progressive: it is sensational that in 1970 this record has such a progressive attitude, able to make a perfect synthesis of Keith Emerson's keyboardist rock (and overcome him in ability and talent) and the harpers of hard rock (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple). The pieces are all high class for composition and arrangement; the musicians are technically excellent. Difficult to expect much more from a 1970 album.

Medium quality of the songs: 8,07. Vote album: 9. Masterpiece. Rating: Five stars.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars The marriage between hammond organ and progressive rock is a match made in heaven. There is something celestial about it. The versatile organ is able to produce a noise that is terrifying, a sweet caress that is soothing and a full blown assault on your being. All in one go, at that.

There were quite a few groups centered around organ, bass and drums in the very early years of the 70's. Sometimes the result was great (ELP, for instance) and sometimes less so (Aardvark, is one). Quatermass was exactly a group such as that. Organ, bass and drums plus vocals from John Gustafsson (and what a voice!). How do Quatermass fare? Pretty darn good, if you ask me. Unlike Aardvark you get a full sound, great music (including a couple of covers) and a furious delivery. True, there are some ELP-ish moments (perhaps quite a few) but it does not mean that they are clones. Quatermass is an entity of their own. "What was that?" could easily have been on any of the first three ELP albums but there is plenty of sounds that's their own.

The opener "One blind mice" is such a track, as is the great and majestic "Post war saturday echo". I would generally say that Quatermass holds back on the classical influences, unlike ELP, and goes straight for a more hardrock noise (the organ solo makes me shiver and smile like a loon), as in "Up on the ground", and/or adding a slight melodic (pop-ish, if you like) element at times. Such is the case in the cover "Black sheep of the family" or "Gemini". Now, those are pop or rock songs from the beginning but very melodic. The pop/rock elements are, however, played with such fury and energy that it is sometimes breathtaking. One short but amazing track is "Make up your mind". It's 1 minute and 44 seconds of pure delight.

Quatermass indeed play a heavy kind of prog and put forth a staggering amount of brilliant noise. I love it and everytime I put it on it fills me with joy. A great album from a great band. I wish they had made another back in the day but on the other hand one certified album of brilliance is the better deal. And the cover, it is so iconic. That's how you mend a shed. Or however the saying goes.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This debut album by Quatermass epitomises the raw, dirty roots of progressive rock, where the linkages to the underground psychedelic scene were still visible. Emerging before symphonic prog became the dominant mode in progressive rock, the band may have an ELP like drums- bass-keyboards power trio lineup but Peter Robinson is interested less in classical showboating and more in dirty, heavy organ lines which threaten to invade Atomic Rooster territory. Not the most technically flashy of early prog albums, it's still a highly enjoyable album which will give fans of the heavier end of prog - especially the heavy prog practised in the dawn of the genre - plenty to smile about.
 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Tableau

5 stars This is one of the best progressive rock albums of the seventies. There are moments of intricate keyboard work, a solid rhythm section which is never boring, as well as great vocals. Some may wonder at that last contention. Gustafson is not a glamorous singer, but he was motivated here, and sings with the kind of conviction needed to put a song over the top. This is not to say that all of his singing is loud. Indeed, "Good Lord Knows" has a simple almost gentle vocal approach which is perfect for the sentiment expressed: sad acquiescence.

When I first heard this album, it took me a few songs before I realized there was no guitar player. This is due not to my lack of attention, but to the interesting keyboard flourishes (quite a nice tone and similar to Jon Lord of Deep Purple). I had to ask myself whether I needed guitar in progressive rock to enjoy it. The answer in this case is no.

Entropy begins the album with a pleasant molasses atmosphere which then segues into Black Sheep of the Family which features some enjoyable yelping from Gustafson. I won't review each song, but will say all are good, some more than others. The two bonus tracks hold up well, and the string accompaniment is better than found on most rock records.

Despite fitting fairly comfortably in the Prog category, this album mixes a working-class feel with the fancier aspects. Call it an earthbound element, if you will, to balance the soaring musical themes. Listeners with the ability to enjoy a wide range of music should be able to appreciate this piece which is of a period, but transcends being a period piece. The recent Esoteric remaster of this album has improved sound with original masters used where possible. There are also two additional bonus tracks beyond those included on previous CD releases. All but the two new tracks are featured in a 5.1 DVD-A mix on the second disc. An essential progressive rock package.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Briefly hailed as the next Led Zeppelin-sized thing, British power-prog trio Quatermass would unfortunately stall at the first attempt with this ambitious self-titled effort from 1970. Featuring striking cover art in the form of three pterodactyls gliding between two futuristic, glass-and-metal skyscraper-style structures(courtesy of Hipgnosis' Storm Thorgerson) and a bruising, proto-metallic sound undercut with jagged hammond organs and grazing bass riffs, for whatever reason it just wasn't meant to be for the trio, despite producing a memorable album whose reputation lives on right to this day. Featuring the same lead guitar-free set-up as Charisma acts Rare Bird and Van Der Graaf Generator, Quatermass' sound was all about the dynamic keyboards of Peter Robinson and the gruff vocals and throbbing bass-lines of future Roxy Music member John Gustafson, the duo all the while backed by the driving percussion skills of Mick Underwood. The group's sound falls somewhere between the bouncy noodling of ELP and the bluesy rock of the aforementioned Led Zeppelin, though with an experimental and highly progressive edge that sometimes fudges the more rock-orientated moments, the threesome instead content to furrow complex sonic passages that showcase a much more eclectic sound that one might initially expect. Highlights include the album's best-known piece 'Black Sheep Of The Family', a thumping, aggressive rocker that would be covered later on by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, whilst the elegiac 'Good Lord Knows' exhibits Quatermass's softer, more classically-orientated side. However, the group seem to perform best when thrashing out meaty rockers such as the excellent, deep-grooved seven- minute mini-epic 'Up On The Ground', a jazz-tinged piece which finds Robinson dealing out swirls of lightning- fast hammond breaks over Gustafson's rolling bass. The duo also combine effortlessly on the lengthy 'Laughin' Tackle', whilst album finisher 'Punting' adds more jagged blues riffs and strange sound effects to the mix. We might never know the exact reasons for the commercial failure of Quatermass, yet fail they did despite producing an energetic slice of hard-edged progressive rock that should have been ripe for the age. Those who like the more eclectic side of hard early-seventies rock are urged to immediately investigate. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by ibnacio

4 stars When some say something is missing (or lacking) here, I find it difficult to find out what it may be unless it is time or luck -to have had a longer career and musical evolution and growth.

The musicianship is here. The inspiration for writing or for covering is, too. The ability to rock and to solo is not absent, either... so, what, appart of a personal taste for this or that instrument combination?

Frankly, to discard The Alhambra in Granada (Spain) because it is not made with stone as The Pyramids are, or because it was made by muslims... does not seem to be a strong argument.

Anyway, this astonishing, incredibly unknown - I must admit they are a recent discovery for me, and thanks to the ProgArchives.com- trio made very good prog rock and deserved a second chance or a better management that never came. However, thanks to devoted publishing labels and rescuers, we can still enjoy their music and maybe a few royalties can pay back for the bitter disappointment of failure.

Do not hesitate to try this excellent record. It may be not an "Absolute Masterpiece" but one cannot help thinking that giving it less than four stars (I'd give them four and half - or 9 out of 10- if that could be) sounds a bit ungenerous.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars This is why I come to the archives. Discovering bands and albums that passed me by growing up that I'm now discovering via this website. Yeah, some of the performers I've heard were best left forgotten, but more often I'm hearing some killer groups from back in the day for the first time and they impress the hell out of me. Quatermass, the band, the album, and the remnants of a group that had previously lost Ian Gillian and Roger Glover to Deep Purple, is one of those cool discoveries.

This is another of those bands that earns its prog-cred by being hard rockers without guitars. Hammond led, Peter has to go ape on his keyboards to compensate, and the results musically are something not dissimilar to Atomic Rooster's first album, although I find this effort more adventurous and generally better. The vocals, in particular, are noteworthy due to John Gustafson's impassioned delivery. He's not at Ian Gillian's range or at Steve Winwood's "soul" level, but he has elements of both singers and throws in a raw emotional performance that can be captivating at times.

The 9:42 minute "Post war Saturday echo" starts off like some lost track from ELP's first album before settling into this slow blues jam that's almost reminiscent of Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Lovin' You" but even dirgier. Then a little after the three minute mark, this song soars like pterodactyls through a futuristic grid into the sky with an absolute bomb of a chorus. John puts his heart, soul, and groin on the table here, singing like he's ready to explode. It's awesome, and makes the previous couple of minutes more than worthwhile. Later in the song there's even a full on prog rock break that keeps things unpredictable. I dig this song tremendously and owe the Archives for finding it.

There are plenty of other goodies as well. "Black sheep in the family" is catchy and has a "Deep Purple without guitars" vibe (this song was later covered by Rainbow, Ritchie deduced that tune deserved some six-string wailing), and "Gemini" has a driving rhythm and fun lyrics. Proginess is ensured by the last two long tunes, especially the jazzy instrumental "Laughing tackle" that even boasts a drum solo that's thankfully not too long. I'm discovering that a lot of bands felt the need to have a drum solo in their studio efforts in 1970 releases. The orchestra in a couple of tunes is a nice touch, adding some atmosphere to the trippy "Good Lord knows".

Too bad that this band didn't quite make it and folded soon after, as they had something good going on here. Quatermass fits perfectly in the 1970 realm of exploring some variations of progressive rock to find a signature sound. As that strange year in rock music sandwiched between two iconic years, 1970 has its fair share of gems, as this album proves.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Dark Nazgul

3 stars Robinson, Lake & Purple.

If we wanted to find the sources from which this work is inspired we need to think of two groups well known to the fans of classic 70's rock: Deep Purple and ELP. In fact' the style of Quatermass is the middle ground between these two giants of rock music. The group formed from the ashes of a previous band in which militated none other than Roger Glover and Ian Gillian, the celebrated bassist and voice of Deep Purple. After the release of Gillian the trio is made up: a classic prog trio with a bassist, a keyboardist and a drummer.

Deep Purple's influence is felt immediately in Black Sheep Of The Family (the first song Entropy is a short introduction), one of the best songs of the album: it's a convincing hard rock with a very catchy riff and the powerful voice of the bassist John Gustafson.

The first section of the following song Post War, Saturday Echo, is very similar to ELP style: it is an organ intro that soon, however, fades into a long, slow and painful progressive blues with filtered voice and long organ solos. This is one of the highlight of the entire album.

Good Lord Knows is a song most delicate and intimate, at times marred, I think, by too bombastic symphonic arrangement that has nothing to do with the general style of the album.

The rest of the album is what best represents the band's style. Up On the Ground has a very distorted organ riff' and very good instrumental part, occasionally played in jazz style in the middle. Gemini is another excellent heavy song, always very close to the style of Deep Purple, with great piano and organ solos by Robinson. Not always, however, the quality of the music satisfies me: Make Up Your Mind has beautiful vocal parts but is not always effective in the instrumental long section in the middle of the song; Laughin Tackle is a long instrumental piece with a bass riff that ends, however, to annoy.

In conclusion, Quatermass is a very good album, very well played, with a excellent rhythm section and good technical performance by Robinson, who compensates for the lack of a guitarist with deliberately distorted organ sounds; But I think it is precisely the lack of guitar that makes Quatermass a little too cold for my taste.

A must for heavy prog fans. Good but maybe not essential for the others.

Rating: 6/10.

Best song: Black Sheep Of The Family

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I like this more than I thought I would. I've always had trouble with Proto-Prog albums and while this is listed under Heavy-Prog it is one of the early ones as it was released in 1970. QUATERMASS were a trio with the focus on the Hammond organ. No guitar here but bass and drums round out the sound. These three guys were previously in a band called EPISODE SIX with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover who would of course go on to join DEEP PURPLE. It was actually right after these two guys left that they changed their name to QUATERMASS.

"Entropy" is an organ filled intro track. "Black Sheep In The Family" is a catchy tune with the organ and vocals standing out. Not a fan of this one. "Post War Saturday Echo" opens with drums and organ before these Blues styled vocals take over with bass after a minute. It kicks in before 3 1/2 minutes. Piano a minute later as it settles. It kicks back in after 5 1/2 minutes as the tempo continues to change. "Good Lord Knows" builds and then settles when the vocals come in. Lots of strings in this one. Very majestic, I like it.

"Up On The Ground" features some nasty organ early. Best part of the album. Vocals a minute in. It settles after 3 minutes with more killer organ. A top three track for me. "Gemni" is catchy with piano, vocals and drums standing out. Not a fan. It settles with organ then it kicks in again as contrasts continue. Lots of organ after 3 1/2 minutes. Not a fan when the vocals return. "Make Up Your Mind" is better. Just a great sounding tune really. Even the vocals sound much better. A top three for sure. "Laughing Tackle" features a string orchestra and is one of the highlights as well. It blends into the short final piece called "Entropy".

3.5 stars. It's very much a mixed bag for me, but this is at times quite impressive. Good album.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.74 | 164 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by presdoug

5 stars Along with my other reviews of obscure, under-rated gems, i could not leave out Quatermass.

I never even knew of this group until 1987, when i bought their self-titled debut. Even though i was not much acquainted with progressive music at the time i discovered it, i knew that this had to be one of the very best. There is an astonishing depth and emotion in this music, and it is complex enough that it takes awhile to understand and appreciate it.

Keyboardist Peter Robinson does an incredible job, and is obviously a natural at organ and piano,meshing both classical music and at times a jazz feel with a rock intensity that pretty well floors most of the competition, and leaves the listener shaking his head and wondering, how wrongly overlooked. John Gustafson's bass playing and singing are the wedding of great technique and real, sincere emotion, there not being many quite like him. You have a great drummer in Mick Underwood, and whether things have vocals, or extend themselves in long instrumental passages, Quatermass leave you breathless, and wanting to hear more.

This album is not an okay record that was overlooked, but a GREAT album that was astonishingly overlooked. I have turned to it many times since i first heard it, and i will continue to do so, when i want to hear a keyboard based power trio do great progressive rock-it will always achieve what it always has for me, for this i am sure. The two additional tracks on the remastered CD-a couple of singles tracks, also bear long term listening, as well. Awesome! Five stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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