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Crossover Prog • United Kingdom

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Argent biography
Heavy Progressive Rock

Eighteen months after keyboard virtuoso Rod ARGENT left the famous sixties band The ZOMBIES, their single "Time Of The Season" from their last album "Odyssey & Oracle" topped the US charts and sold one million copies! There was a hugh demand to re-group The ZOMBIES but Rod ARGENT preferred to form his own band to make more progressive music. He recruted bass player John Rodford, drummer Bob Henritt and guitarist Russ Ballard and called the quartet ARGENT.

Under this name they released the eponymous debut album "Argent" in '70, the song "Liar" became a USA hit and was covered by THREE DOG NIGHT. With the next albums "Ring Of Hands" ('71) and "All Together Now" ('72) ARGENT gained more appreciation and the single "Hold Your Head Up" became a smash hit all over the world. The following album "In Deep" and single "God gave Rock 'N' To You" charted good but the increasing musical problems between Rod ARGENT and Russ Ballard finally escalated after the next album "Nexus" ('74): Russ wasn't pleased at all with Rod's synthesizer escapades, he liked the shorter and more catchy rocksongs. In '74 Russ departure was a fact but without hard feelings. Later that year ARGENT released the double-live record "Encore". Russ was replaced by multi-instrumentalist John Grimaldi and guitarist/vocalist John Verity. Rod was so excited about this new ARGENT that he refused an offer to join YES after WAKEMAN's departure! In '75 ARGENT made the album "Circus" but despite good critics the sales were poor. In '76 ARGENT released the disappointing LP "Counterpoints", ARGENT took his conclusions and broke up his band.

The early ARGENT made catchy heavy progressive rock with powerful organplay by Rod ARGENT. Their most progressive and acclaimed album is "Nexus": the Hammond organ has almost dispappeared in favor of the Fender Rhodes - and Hohner electric piano, the Mellotron, Grand piano and the famous Moog synthesizer. The album shows great sense of dynamics and splendid shifting moods: lush symphonic, slow and dreamy and fluent and powerful with strong electric guitar and tasteful keyboard play. In '95 their was the release of a great live album titled "In Concert" (on the Windsong label) including most of their best songs, superior to the rather excellent live album "Encore" ('74).
- Erik Neuteboom

Not wanting to destroy a good band, but Argent were never groundbreaking and uncovered new areas of musical exploration: they were simply followers of a movement and added to the sheer mass of excellent albums of those years (70's) and had a lot more commercial success than other band who had more talent (Audience, Comus, etc.....) but always remained somewhat of a second-league act (as opposed to the prog giants). Is it normal that Argent had more commercial success at the time than Caravan, Gentle Giant and others? Nowadays, of course, it seems that Caravan and Argent are regarded with more lucidity and to their more proper artistic value.

Russ Ballard's solo career would take a while to develop, but he was also writing songs for other artistes as well. But one would have to wait for 79's Barnett Dog to find a real good reason for his departure: a strong album filled with solid dramatic RnR lyrics and a widely heard single On The Rebound. His next album Into The Night is probably his best album though, with some very good and diverse songwriting.

While John Verity would go on to form his own band for two albums, Rod Argent will return to his side business of music equipment (he can still be seen in his Denmark street shop in Soho, when not touring with the reformed Zombies) and concentrated on studio work (including The Who) before releasing a solo album Moving Home in 79 (with many star friends) then the Masquerade musical in 82, then worked with Closseum's Hiseman and Barb Thompson on the jazzy Siren Song (83), and then movie scores and new age albums (Red House in 88) and production work (Tikaram in the 90's). He tours now and again with the re-formed The Zombies and plays some Argent tunes in the sets, with his cousin Rodford on bass.
- Hugues Chantraine

1970 - Argent (CBS 63781)
1971 - Ring Of Hands (Epic EPC 64190)
1972 - All Together Now (Epic EPC 64962)
1973 - In Deep (Epic EQ 31295/Q 65475)
1974 - Nexus (Epic EPC 65924)
1974 - Encore (dbl) (Epic EPC 88063)
1975 - Circus (Epic EPC 80691)
1975 - Counterpoint (RCA RS 1020)
1978 - Moving Home (MCA MCF2854) - (Rod Argent solo)
1995 - In Concert (Windsong WINDCD 067) - (CD)
1997 - The BBC Sessions 1970-73 (BBC Worldwide Music/Strange Fruit SFRSCD039) - (CD)

1976 - Best Of Argent (Epic EPC 81321)
1978 - Hold Your Head Up (Embassy 31640)
1984 - Anthology: The Best Of Argent (Epic EPC 3257)

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
Fan & official Prog Archives collaborator

ARGENT Videos (YouTube and more)

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Buy ARGENT Music

Hold Your Head UpHold Your Head Up
Legacy 2000
$6.91 (used)
In DeepIn Deep
Collectables 1999
$15.89 (used)
All Together NowAll Together Now
Esoteric 2012
$74.09 (used)
The Argent Anthology: A Collection Of Greatest HitsThe Argent Anthology: A Collection Of Greatest Hits
Epic 1987
$4.00 (used)
Bgo - Beat Goes on 2003
$10.99 (used)
The Best OfThe Best Of
Sony Music Canada Inc. 2011
$2.11 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
33 RPM LP Record Argent Ring Of Hands Epic Records E 30128 USD $12.99 Buy It Now
1h 19m
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ARGENT In Deep LP Epic EPC65475 UK 1973 VG++ ORIGINAL YELLOW LABEL Prog Rock 01C USD $59.98 Buy It Now 5h 49m
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RUSS BALLARD - The Fire Still Burns 1985 HARD ROCK POWER POP Roullettes Argent USD $2.99 Buy It Now 20h 17m
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ARGENT " IT`S ONLY MONEY " Or. UK EPIC EX+ COND.IN Or.SL. USD $3.54 Buy It Now 23h 18m
Argent (The Zombies), Circus, NM, PE 33422, USA USD $5.00 [0 bids]
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ARGENT, NEXUS 12" Vinyl LP. USD $3.66 [0 bids]
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Argent Hold Your Head Up Vinyl LP SCBS 31640 1978 USD $2.94 [0 bids]
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Russ Ballard self-titled LP - 1984 EMI America - ex-Argent vocalist - Near Mint USD $3.75 Buy It Now 1 day
Russ Ballard - The Fire Still Burns LP 1985 EMI America - ex-Argent vocalist M- USD $3.75 Buy It Now 1 day
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God Gave Rock And Roll To You Argent UK 7" vinyl single record SEPC3954 EPIC USD $13.42 Buy It Now 1 day
Argent Hold Your Head Up - 4prong UK 7" vinyl single record SEPC7786 EPIC 1972 USD $13.42 Buy It Now 1 day
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1974 MINT-EXC+Argent Man For All Reasons/MUSIC FR. ALL SPHERES 11137 45 USD $3.79 Buy It Now 2 days
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ARGENT discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.10 | 71 ratings
3.32 | 73 ratings
Ring Of Hands
3.51 | 82 ratings
All Together Now
3.44 | 76 ratings
In Deep
3.65 | 85 ratings
3.38 | 68 ratings
3.22 | 44 ratings

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

3.51 | 31 ratings
Encore: Live In Concert

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

3.00 | 4 ratings
Inside Argent

ARGENT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.83 | 13 ratings
The Argent Anthology: A Collection Of Greatest Hits
3.17 | 4 ratings
Hold Your Head Up
2.16 | 6 ratings
Argent - The Complete BBC Sessions
3.02 | 7 ratings
Argent/ Ring Of Hands

ARGENT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ARGENT Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Circus by ARGENT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.38 | 68 ratings

Argent Crossover Prog

Review by patrickq

2 stars There are points on Circus, especially on the first two songs, 'Circus' and 'Highwire,' where the album sounds like a clever parody of fancy-pants concept albums. The sometimes histrionic lead vocals, echo-chorus backing vocals, and grandstanding synthesizer leads aping guitar solos - - it almost sounds like someone did too good a job at Spinal Tap.

But in a strange, Poe's-Law way, Circus is, by definition, pretty good: after all, it does mimic 1970s concept albums without plagiarizing any single 1970s concept album.

There are also points on Circus where I wish the album had no vocals, or that the words were sung in some language I didn't understand. Musically, some of the compositions are good. For example, the melancholy 'Clown' might have said the proverbial thousand words without any words other than the title; conversely, the near-funk-fusion of 'Trapeze' is very good, but its 7/4 meter hardly evokes the motion, or any other aspect, of a trapeze. Actually, 'Trapeze' exemplifies a core problem of Circus: the concept has to be force-fit in places.

And then there are points on Circus, specifically on 'Shine on Sunshine' and 'Jester,' where the group seems to be genuinely trying to sound like Queen. Between these two songs is the semi-ambient synthesizer piece 'The Ring' - - go figure.

Circus is not a total calamity; 'Clown' and 'Trapeze' are pretty good when you look past the lyrics, for example. But I can't recommend it to anyone other than Argent enthusiasts, and I have to believe that they already have it. For everyone else, I'd suggest looking into some of the concept albums by Alan Parsons Project or Electric Light Orchestra.

 Argent  by ARGENT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.10 | 71 ratings

Argent Crossover Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

2 stars Argent is a band that really offers a wide variety of music. From the truly progressive to the pop-infused stadium rock'n'roll for which they have earned the most of their reputation. At least in the public eye. When Argent catches the progressive wave they are magnificent but when they crash into the rocky beach of pop'n'roll I am sure to skip to the next track. Unfair? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever you think of Argent as a band you cannot deny their musical abilities. They were truly masterful at handling their instruments. You can blame them for the weak spots in material but never in the execution. So, having said that I will tell you something about this debut by the band known as Argent.

If you listen to this album and their next one, "Ring of hands", you will hear a major difference. The follow up is packing a whole other punch and is by all account coloured by a real progressive flair that is great. On the debut they seem uncertain in which direction to go. The material is largely pop or (hard) rock but lacking in power. It's held back, thusly creating a sort of bland concoction of late 60's/ early 70's rock music with a hint of "hey, let's try prog or what do you think? Yes? No?"-attitude. There are songs that could have been more interesting if the band had felt more sure about their direction. "Be free" is such a a song, as is "Dance in the smoke" with the wonderfully warm organ of Rod Argent. But then songs like "Schoolgirl" or "Lonely hard road" harkens back to the shift from 60's blues/soul rock and pop into hard rock or prog of the 70's leaving the songs quite lacklustre an lost in translation.

I suppose it must be a challenge to totally redefine oneself, going from the R&B of The Zombies to explore new realms of music and by doing so be relevant to the new public ear of the early 70's. I see that and I acknowledge it. Considering the massive steps taken by the band on their second album one must view this as the dress rehearsal of the great band Argent. Not fully clothed, not fully in tune with the script or ideas that would emerge later on the fumbled through a set of songs that aren't bad but mostly dull. Sad to say, most of the music on this album fails to draw my attention. Having listened countless times I still find myself puzzled and un-moved by the content of the record. It's interesting mostly as a pre-cursor to what's coming but nothing more. This is like the few scattered huts on the seven hills of Rome, before they built a city and empire of powerful proportions. This is merely a hut but obviously competent and by no means rubbish. It's just not that good. It's not.

 Ring Of Hands by ARGENT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.32 | 73 ratings

Ring Of Hands
Argent Crossover Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Argent is probably mostly known for Rod Argent being one of the driving forces behind The Zombies and a few choice cuts that became hits in the 70's. I'm obviously thinking of "Hold your head up" and "God gave rock'n'roll to you". The latter didn't exactly fade into obscurity after Kiss picked it up and almost made it their own song. I think it's a shame that these stadium rockers somewhat (and in my opinion) overshadow the true legacy of Argent, which is strong and powerful progressive rock. To me they reached their pinnacle on "Circus", which is all about progressive rock but if you go back throgh their past you'll find a lot to cherish in regards to prog.

While their first album may be somewhat lacking in direction they made it all up on this, their second effort. It opens up with two pop oriented pieces that are nice enough but when you've got those out of the way things get quite serious with the powerful "Cast your spell Uranus" which absolutely reeks of early progressively tinged hard rock. This is so good and gets my blood flowing right away. Great and majestic organ, great guitar riff and wonderful vocals and harmonies that recalls some of Uriah Heeps finest. It's really a powerful staement of intent. And if that isn't enough for you, get yourself into gear for "Lothlorien". Just look at the title. How on earth could you not like that? A song about a country from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"-trilogy, that is as prog as it gets to me. And it starts off so well with the organ, the fast paced vocals and complex arrangement. One of my favorites on the album and such a treat. You get a slight classical influence aswell that is tasteful and majestic. At 7.46 minutes it's the longest piece on the album and as such acts as a sort of centre piece or epic. It balances between the outright beautiful to the down right rocking without ever losing sight of the progressive vision.

Side 2 (if you own the thing on vinyl, as I do) opens up with great progressively tinged hard rock in "Chained". The rough guitar riff is wonderful and the organ is to die for. Great lyrics as well. I love this song. "Rejoice" is a quiet piece of the kind that resembles harmony drenched pop/rock of the era. A nice piece that serves as a space for catching your breath after the powerful "Chained". And then it's back to progressive hard rock on "Pleasure", which is great aswell with some complex arrangements. On "Sleep won't help me" Argent visits the jazzy parlour and delivers a great jazz-rock track that is both dreamy and powerful. It all comes to an end with "Where are we going wrong?", which is a hard rock work-out that is good but not the best track on the album.

As a whole "Ring of hands" is typical for many albums of the very early 70's that leans towards progressive rock. It's not at all complex like King Crimson or Gentle Giant but it is certainly very progressive sounding and that comes through so clearly. The keyboards are a treat and shows the massive skills of Rod Argent himself. While I like "Circus" the most I think, at this point in time, I'll place "Ring of hands" as number two in their discography. A wonderful, proto-proggish effort where influences from all walks of like come to life. I mean, that is quite something, isn't it?

 Counterpoints by ARGENT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.22 | 44 ratings

Argent Crossover Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Argent seems to be a band sadly underappreciated in prog rock circles. True, the first two or three albums are sort of lacklustre even by my standards but almost every album holds one or a few progressive gems. "In deep" certainly do and "Nexus is the first of the Argent albums, as I see it, that aims for the progressive rock market. The band hits a high with "Circus" which is by far their most accomplished and most progressive sounding album. Then they released "Counterpoints". Not much loved, as far as the ratings go, but they seemed to launch yet another full on attack of prog rock. Is it as good as "Circus"? Almost.

The album starts off with a mellotron drenched rock song with progressive garnish. You have to remember that Argent from the beginning was little more than a (hard) rock band and though they in 1975 headed down prog avenue they seemed to feel obliged to add one or two simpler songs. Single cuts? A yearning for the charts? Well, maybe. And who can blame them for wanting some cash in their pocket? Anyways, not the most progressive track but good enoug and the mellotron opening is terrific. The song segues into "I can't remeber but yes" which turns out to be the exact opposite to the beginning. High octane progressive jazz-rock with a breathtaking intensity.

The first really outstanding song is "Time" and quite a long piece too, clocking in at 7 minutes. This is really brilliant jazzy progressive. The opening sets the mood and then it hits you. The pop and rock tendencies are gone. You are left with pure prog gold. This is the motherlode of the album.

"Waiting for the yellow one" is a ballad of the sort that prog bands seem to do so well. Soft and gentle with a great organ in the background. "it's fallen off" is a fusion-y thing that could have been on one of the mid 70's Focus albums. The song "Be strong" is another ballad type of thing but with wonderfully arranged odd time structures. Up to now the stage have been set for an almost 100% progressive experience but the spell is broken somewhat by "Rock & roll show". I have a serious problem with bands singing the words "rock-n-roll" over a simple boogie beat as if their trying to create a hymn for the genre. The song in itself isn't bad, really it isn't. Quite catchy and energetic but I just cant stand the chanting of "rock'n'roll". It's just not my cup of tea.

"Road back home" puts most things in order again and a very british sounding intro on flugelhorn(?) precedes the vocal part. Great stuff this. A progressive journey with emotive sections and beautifully arranged. This, the last track, is also the longest with its 10 minutes. Jazzy and smooth without being cheezy this really is a fine way to end an album. And the mellotron is yet again delicious.

I do not understand the high degree of negative criticism this album seems to receive. Given the fact that we all have different taste I still do not understand it. It's a great little album by a (sometimes) great band and being their last album I Think they Went out on a high note. The instrumentation is flawless without being fusion-y sterile, the vocals are terrific (thank you, John Verity) and the mood of the album has everything that makes a prog album great. Apart from two lesser loved tracks ("On my feet again" and "Rock & Roll show") I think it's top class stuff. Give it a go, why don't you?

 Circus by ARGENT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.38 | 68 ratings

Argent Crossover Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars I don't claim to be an expert on Argent. I just want to make that clear. I have followed him, somewhat, through the years, starting with The Zombies and into the stuff he did with his namesake band. However, I do think that I have come to some sort of conclusion and that is that the urge to express himself within the boundaries (or lack there of) supplied by the progressive rock genre came creeping up on him. Right up to "Nexus" (the album prior to "Circus") the music was sort of straight forward and not really all that progressive. However, on "Circus" he finally embraced the genre and made an album of pure prog bliss. At least that is what I surmise.

"Circus" is a concept album concerning different areas of performing within the circus. I love a good concept album. It's so prog. The whole album is tightly played and doesn't let go of me for the duration of the album. 37 minutes of extremely tight playing and joyous spirit. There are three tracks that really do stand out amidst these seven wonderful tracks. "Circus" (fantastic overture and pure brilliance for 3 minutes and 50 seconds), "Highwire" (with playful keyboards that turns into drama and suspense at circa 5.40) and "Trapeze". The latter is the pièce de resistance on the album. Amazing instrumentation and full of jazzy progressive drama. AT 5.06 there is a fantastic 10 seconds long section after which the band heads into an amazing hard rock/jazz rock jamming but only for 40 seconds. Bliss! It is that sort of spicy ingredients that fills my cup. "Trapeze" is wonderful. Jazzy, hard rocking and thumping basslines. Lovely!

There are other tracks well worth hearing, such as the gentle "Clown". Beuatiful! Or "Shine on sunshine", which is the finest song Queen never wrote with a prominent mellotron. "The jester" acts as the finale, rounding up the visit to the circus. A great track in it's own rights.

The inclusion of John Verity is a brilliant move. He has such a great voice and delivers passionate vocals througout. Well worth mentioning is the abundance of keyboards. Mellotron, organ, electric piano and moog. What more could be asked for? The bass is great, as are the drums.

I must mention the striking cover. A man on a highwire, way up in the ceiling of the circus tent. Two or three colors, drama and beauty. Evocative, maybe that's the word? I can look at the cover for hours. Simply beautiful.

The progressive rock provided by Argent on this album is very jazz-rock and very warm. It is a work of love and passion and I find that it is one of a kind in the discography of the band. You will find progressive touches and flourishes on nigh on any album by Argent (especially "Nexus) but not as focused, devoted and full blown as on "Circus". This album holds a very dear place in my heart and for every listen I walk away with a new experience, a titbit I haven't heard before. A great, underappreciated, somewhat forgotten flower in the garden of progressive rock.

 Encore: Live In Concert by ARGENT album cover Live, 1974
3.51 | 31 ratings

Encore: Live In Concert
Argent Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars After reading an excellent review from ExittheLemming, I decided to dust off this celebrated live recording from Argent and give it a fresh spin after being away from it for some 30 years. The two biggest gripes that people had with the proceeding Argent studio albums was their louder than loud production and schizoid musical styles, with Rod Argent penning the proggier songs and the rock and rollers penned by Russ Ballard. The latter aspect of the group's albums never bothered me, and even an album recorded at Abbey Road Studios using former Beatles' recording engineers made it hard for Argent, and co producer Chris White, to completely sabotage it's sound production.

But this live concert recording eliminates the producer's flights of fancy and helps to place the focus solely on the songs and the band's performance. Starting off with the prog infused instrumental "The Coming Of Kohoutek", in which Argent discovered the merits of the Moog synthesizer and jumped squarely on the Emerson/Wakeman train and stole the handle. Not a favorite of mine as it's sounds as derivative as anything concocted by Emerson, including his synth tones. If there was one thing that set seventies synth wizards apart, it was a personally unique synth sound, but that's a minor quibble. "Kohoutek" is the best song you will here on this album until Russ Ballard sings his lovely ballad that he had written especially for former Zombies' front man Colin Blunstone titled "I Don't Believe In Miracles." Ballard's emotive and reserved vocal on this stripped down version of the song, along with Argent providing touching mellotron strings, is absolutely beautiful and far surpasses the myriad versions recorded and re-recorded by Blunstone either solo or with the revamped Zombies. So much for slamming the group for eclectic song styles.

But what of the songs in the middle? Well, Russ Ballard's "It's Only Money" parts 1 and 2 lacks anything like a musical or vocal hook, and his semi celebrated "God Give Rock and Roll Too You" tries too hard to sound like a drunken beer hall sing-a-long. Let's face it, when a group like Kiss can take someone's best song (at the time) and make it sound better, something is desperately wrong. "Thunder And Lightning" somehow keeps me awake while "Music of the Spheres" does just the opposite. And that was real the problem with Argent. Not the loud stereo panning studio album productions or their eclectic song styles. It was simply poor songwriting or poor song arrangements and singing that resulted in a majority of their material just coming up short. And unfortunately, that is also brought into sharp focus on Encore. And what was the reason for the band's lapse in taste? Well, it's not beyond reason to assume that Argent and White were quite confused and baffled by the poor reception to their fantastically produced and recorded Zombies' swansong album Odessey (sic) and Oracle, and that the duo maintained a scattershot approach to both songwriting and song arranging, resulting in the up and down song quality of Argent's output.

But all is not lost. What also works works well on Encore is "I Am The Dance Of Ages" which shakes off it's Spinal Tap vibe found on the studio album All Together Now and really rocks out. What doesn't rock is a sped up version of "Hold You Head Up" with Argent injecting boring improvised (I hope) melodies from his new synthesizer which is no match for his original organ solos. A ragged version of "Time Of the Season" is the album's actual encore and I'm quite glad that they didn't do another. Can you imagine "Tell Her No'" done in 5/4 time with a synth solo? I didn't think so. 3 stars out of 5, which seems quite apropos for a band that was always stuck between extremes.

 Encore: Live In Concert by ARGENT album cover Live, 1974
3.51 | 31 ratings

Encore: Live In Concert
Argent Crossover Prog

Review by ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Brown Dwarfs, Zombies and Holey Guitars

Once Upon a Time in a far and distant land, there were no double live albums available on which simple fisher folk could fritter the pittance they earned from their wearying, malodorous and dispiriting labours. So it came to pass that the sovereign decreed that forever hence, any minstrel capable of selling out the local tavern on a wet Tuesday night when there's footie on the telly, could peddle to his followers, a souvenir of this merriment via the mystical sorcery of the Mobile Recording Unit. The rawk demographic were particularly ripe for exploitation in this regard, seeing as how most Mud and Rubettes fans wouldn't be shelling out just to hear different solos from the ones that appeared on the 45 rpm versions of Lonely this Christmas or Sugar Baby Love

Two years prior to the (frankly baffling) success of Frampton Comes Alive, Argent embarked upon a UK tour in support of their Nexus album. As the latter is maybe the prog friendliest of their entire discography, there is much to embrace and cherish here from a rather unjustly neglected association. The gestation of Argent is a very tidy fit for the lineage of so much 1st Gen Prog in the early 70's: From pale R'n'B standards via gaudy psychedelic chamber Pop to caped armadillos firing flamethrowers through dry ice in less than a decade. All kidding aside, Argent never strayed too far from their roots and this is maybe why they seem considerably more grounded than some of their codpiece donning contemporaries. When inhabiting the boogie piano grunt of something like Keep on Rolling you sense in their palpable revelry that unlike an ELP or a Yes, Argent ain't slumming it to appease a fan base starved of less lofty aesthetics. This was a band who had served their apprenticeships with Adam Faith, The Mike Cotton Sound, the Roulettes, Unit 4 + 2, and the Zombies. Circa '74, Argent appeared to be riding the slipstream created by two hit singles (Hold Your Head Up and God Gave Rock and Roll to You) However, album sales were always modest e.g. their highest charting album was All Together Now at #13 in the UK (#23 in the US) As much as we might wish it otherwise, charting singles have never been testimony to the didactic power of progressive music i.e. most of the punters who bought the singles couldn't be persuaded into taking a punt on an Argent album.

When you consider the relative career paths of both the Zombies and Argent, a telling disparity starts to emerge. Although both bands split due to lack of sustainable success, the Zombies' Oracle and Odessey (sic) continues to gather posthumous critical acclaim which prompted a reunion tour and album in 2015, while Argent have almost disappeared entirely from the popular consciousness. Most critters of a certain vintage can sing along to their two hits but very few can name the band who composed and performed them. Rod and Co are fast becoming the potential subject of a tricky tie breaker in a pub quiz and that's a shame as their music will continue to stand the test of time long after the inebriated contestants have left the tavern. Like Greenslade, Barclay James Harvest, Procul Harum and Camel, Argent seem destined to forever belong among Prog's Brown Dwarfs (not big enough to become stars)

By the time Encore landed on the shelves in 1974 singer, songwriter and guitarist Russ Ballard had already departed which left Argent in something of a quandary. It seems entirely plausible that this release would have bought the band some valuable time to plan their next move and recruit a replacement. They ended up hiring TWO new members but that's another story and maybe indicative of Ballard's unheralded talents. The reasons for Russ leaving are obscure but whether it was a case of him believing not enough of his songs made the albums or he wanted them to move in a more pop direction, there was no way this ensemble were ever going to sanction subsequent material in the vein of Since You Been Gone (Rainbow) or So You Win Again (Hot Chocolate) Russ has gone on to write over 40 hit songs for a variety of artists. The only one I would unreservedly endorse however is I Don't Believe in Miracles for Colin Blunstone which is included here in a tasteful piano setting which builds slowly to a dramatic climax featuring layered harmony vocals and Mellotron strings.

The Coming of Kohoutek is probably my favourite Argent number ever and would be an unflaggingly brilliant opening salvo in anyone's live set. It's an instrumental in three seamless sections based entirely on Lizst's Totentanz (Dance of Death, which is in turn sourced from the Gregorian plainchant melody Dies Irae) That description sounds 'dusty academia nuts' but rest easy padre, it's a riot of rhythm, timbre and unfettered gusto which will have those stifling vestments swishing vigorously in the aisles for years to come. The original unadorned theme is stated on Mellotron at the outset before Rod subsequently manipulates this melodic fragment into all manner of unlikely outcomes with stylistic treatments from shuffle rock, astringent organ dissonance, classical piano and Moog soloing as if performed by an ADD dervish snorting coffee straight from the jar. This seething energy is all the while buttressed by an ingeniously pliant Henrit/Rodford rhythm section that still makes room for Ballard's tasteful guitar interjections in a busy and ever changing arrangement. I wouldn't be surprised if this track could increase any mammal's sperm count all told. BTW The inspiration for the title must have been the comet identified by Lubos Kohoutek which flew very close to the earth in 1973.

God Gave Rock and Roll to You is one of those songs that provokes some pretty extreme reactions irrespective of the listener's religious orientation. From a musical perspective, there is very little not to like about a naggingly addictive tune that carries the faintest sway of a gospel spiritual wedded to a mock bombastic intro which is transparently tongue in cheek and great fun all round. Like their other smasheroonie Hold Your Head Up this also has the type of chorus that I'm surprised more football fans haven't assimilated into a terrace anthem similar to their appropriation of Give Peace a Chance. The lyrics aren't even remotely preachy either:

You don't have money or a fancy car And you're tired of wishin' on a falling star You gotta put your faith in a loud guitar

You can take a stand, or you can compromise You can work real hard or just fantasize But you don't start livin' 'till you realize

Don't step on snails, don't climb in trees, Love Cliff Richard but please don't tease

The foregoing is hardly the stuff of right wing conservative fire and brimstone evangelism now is it? (notwithstanding the bizarre reference to Sir 'Arry which Kiss, being Americans and knowing squat about irony, expunged entirely from their hideous cover version)

To my ears, Ballard's guitar drifts a wee bit out of tune on this number and although discernible it doesn't really spoil an otherwise boisterous version of a very finely crafted song. The cover art would suggest that Russ was using his distinctive 'Holey Emmenthaler Frankenstein' guitar at this time which had a Stratocaster body through which several holes had been drilled and was joined to a Telecaster neck. I'm not a guitar tech by any stretch but wouldn't such an ungodly combination make the instrument susceptible to intonation issues? There are further traces on Encore that this may have been the case but like I said before, it's practically unnoticeable and doesn't impinge on the music. It's also easy to forget that on stage digital tuners weren't a luxury available to anyone in 1974. Russ Ballard is a very underappreciated guitarist who clearly thinks very carefully about note choice, tone and timbre in his understated but unerringly appropriate parts. Listen to how he slyly quotes from the riff to Money (That's What I Want) during It's Only Money. That level of subtlety and wit is all too rare in a realm of head banging idolatry.

So, were Argent Christians then? Music from the Spheres has some Spinal Tap panto operatic gravitas re:

All around the world the people trembled 'God, save us from the Devil' - was their prayer But I can't be afraid.

Ballard also now has a son called Christian which is hardly compelling evidence (although a son called Beelzebub would have been a worry for the registrar) Russ also doesn't seem to have aged in the slightest since this recording was made. If you look at him now aged 71 he appears almost untarnished by the ravages of time. What sort of diabolic Faustian pact has he brokered with Mephistopheles to account for this everlasting youth?, Another glance at the cover art reveals Rod Argent wearing a crucifix big enough to invite soft tissue damage but in short: who cares?. The music doesn't suffer either way. For the sake of clarity, your reviewer is a lapsed atheist (READ: pussy agnostic)

Those of you like myself who are older than some forests and mountain ranges will recall that the original vinyl LP version of this album was sullied by the very loud electrical hum from the bands backline amps which intruded on some of the quieter passages e.g. Rod's exquisite piano solo in Kohoutek. Thankfully those clever boffins from BGO Records have used their noise reduction algae ridding thingy on the remastered CD version and the pesky hissy dragon has been banished from the kingdom forever. There is a raw energy and infectious excitement captured here that for me, makes Encore a much more enjoyable listening experience than either Welcome Back My Friends or Yessongs.

Rod Argent could more than hold his own in the company of Emerson, Wakeman, Moraz et al and the compelling evidence is in abundance on this recording where he is as equally supportive as an accompanist as he is virtuosic a soloist on piano, organ, Moog or 'Tron.

Most of the band's best work is included here and what niggles I have are very few and far between. The only blemishes that cause me to shave off a star are as follows:

Hold Your Head Up is played too fast to the point of slapstick. Having gigged in pub bands in my 20's I know that the sinking of a few ales wedded to the adrenaline rush of live performance can give rise to unscheduled hikes in tempo. Here the tune just sounds as rushed and lacking in groove as that of Hoedown from Welcome Back My Friends which also represents another hollow victory for accuracy over feel. We can forgive ingratiating quotations from We'll Keep a Welcome in front of an appreciative Welsh audience from Swansea certainly but at over 10 minutes the lads are guilty of milking their cash cow into the abattoir. Trivia fans: Please note that the intended lyric to the chorus is 'Hold Your head up woman' but this is often obscured by Rod's high organ glissando conjoined with a falsetto scream. A hitherto unknown feminist anthem?

I am the Dance of Ages gets bo-toxed from a modest 4 minutes on the studio original to just not very shy of 10 stamina sapping ones and loses much of its impact as a result. It still retains its knowing strutting pomp but like many successful short stories, doesn't work when stretched into a novel

Although they never had the grandiose breadth of ELP, the sophisticated compositional stretch of Yes or the theatrical allure of Genesis, Argent never put out a single turkey during their 8 album career and avoided entirely disappearing up their own backsides during some orchestral manoeuvres in the dark (Works) or recounting a mystical pilgrimage to your own navel (Topographic Oceans)

Conflicts arising from striking a balance between lyrical hooks and instrumental substance were the battle ground of many Prog bands and the Rod/Russ dichotomy at the heart of Argent was perhaps mirrored by the same pivotal relationship that existed between Keith/Greg in ELP. There was nothing particularly original about Argent, a group whom cynics might say abandoned the Zombies sublime baroque pop of the first 3 albums and jumped aboard Prog's shiny new speeding bandwagon. That seems in retrospect, gratuitously harsh and as someone who adores both the Zombies and Argent, I can heartily recommend the first three albums to lovers of the former and the remainder, to lovers of all music that values the memorable above memorabilia.

 All Together Now by ARGENT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.51 | 82 ratings

All Together Now
Argent Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

2 stars "Man, what a drag!" as I recall my brother's reaction after hearing the album All Together Now by ex Zombie leader Rod Argent's namesake band for first time back in 1972.

Was it really that bad? Let's listen again and see. Mmm...the album starts off with that killer song "Hold Your Head Up" that features a blistering organ solo from Mr. Argent in it's six minute album form. So far, so good, but the second cut "Keep On Rolling" with it's boogie woogie piano sounds like filler. Ok, maybe the third track "Tragedy" will bring the album back into focus as it features more heavy bass and organ. No, it just doesn't quite come together as the vocals are annoying. I think you're starting to get the picture without my having to describe the shortcomings of the following songs "Dance of Ages", "Be My Lover, Be My Friend" and "Dynamo." However, the album does end with a semi prog four song instrumental suite titled "Pure Love", which, while very good, can't save the album. A pity as All Together Now is recorded with a loud live sounding in your face sound mix.

Rod Argent was a hit songwriter and knew a world wide smash when he wrote one. Just as he did when he wrote "Time Of The Season" for the Zombies a few years earlier. And hit songs, or even just one hit song, sells albums. Millions of albums in the seventies, especially in the US.

So, with only one really significant standout song, All Together Now really is a drag.

Amen, brother.

 All Together Now by ARGENT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.51 | 82 ratings

All Together Now
Argent Crossover Prog

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Argent is hardly new to me, although I am way too young to caught them when they existed as I was born in 1972, I first remembered hearing "Hold Your Head Up" in 1988 when I was 15 and loving it, but it took me a year later to get some info on this group (at the same time I knew of the Zombies, so I figured Argent was Rod Argent's post-Zombie project). It took me until quite recently to buy any Argent albums because I knew they had to be very inconsistent, and from listening to All Together Now, which includes the famous hit, I was proven right, it is very inconsistent. A lot of blame goes between the division of Russ Ballard and Rod Argent with Chris White, with the more adventurous and often proggy material going to Argent and White. The album starts off with the famous hit, which isn't Russ Ballard (a couple websites credited this song to Ballard, which is incorrect), but Argent and White, which isn't too surprising, this song is just too proggy for anything Ballard to come up with. A wonderful piece of prog rock that became an FM rock classic. I especially dig those extended organ solos, which was the same way I felt at 15 years old (at that time I didn't know what progressive rock was, but turned out a lot of the music I liked, even then, was progressive rock, just didn't realized that until a little later on).

The rest of the album, well, it's all over the place. "Keep On Rollin'" is just plain awful, '50s style rock and roll boogie is just so out of place on an album, especially since the previous song was a prog rock masterpiece. Strangely it was Argent and White responsible for this disaster, so it's a big surprise that Ballard gives us a great rock piece, "Tragedy". Might not be prog, but still a great rock number. The prog tendencies are kept to a minimum, since this is Ballard's song. A great piece of heavy rock. Argent and White gives us "I Am the Dance of Ages", which is a sorta heavy prog number, but Ballard's "He's a Dynamo" is as bad as it sounds. When people speak of bad Argent songs, Ballard is often to blame, and this song (to me) is one of them (after hearing my share of Argent albums, I've come to the conclusion there are Argent/White songs I like and those I don't, and same goes for Russ Ballard, who gets little love in the prog community). "Pure Love" is a prog suite, which is obvious who wrote it (Argent/White), which is how not to do a prog suite. It starts off actually quite good, with great organ passages, but it seemed they wimped out towards the end when the vocals kick in, instead of doing something grand or simply mindblowing to end it. At least Argent did a much better suite on Nexus with "The Coming of Kohoutek", even if were disguised as three separate songs (and surprisingly, it was a full-blown symphonic prog piece).

Argent has certainly done better albums than this, like their debut (very good, even if it's not particularly progressive) or Nexus ("The Coming of Kohoutek" suite is full-on symphonic prog, something Argent never done before, with lots of great Moog, organ, and Mellotron), so you'd probably should try those albums first. As for All Together Now, it gave them commercial success they never had before, but not a favorite, but still has good material to warrant three stars.

 Nexus by ARGENT album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.65 | 85 ratings

Argent Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Named after keyboardist Rod Argent, this English Rock group from Saint Albans, Hertfordshire came to birth out of the death of the legendary The Zombies, where Argent played along with bassist Chris White, who followed him with songwriting-only credits in this new effort.The original line-up comprised also of Russ Ballard on vocals, guitar and piano, Jim Rodford on bass and vocals and Robert Henrit on drums, piano and vocals.Argent produced four albums for Epic Records between 1970-73 (''Argent'', ''Ring of hands'', ''All together now'' and ''In deep''), the most succesful period of the band with several hits on a pure Rock direction and slight progressive vibes.When Bullard left in order to become a solo artist, John Verity and John Grimaldi entered the picture on guitar and voices and the band shifted towards a more progressive sound, starting with ''Nexus'' in 1974, another release on Epic.

At this point Argent not only flirted with Progressive Rock, but they were definitely among the most versatile bands of the style, throwing Classical, Jazz and Heavy/Psych elements in the mix.I'd dare to say that they were one of the most American-sounding British bands, they sounded closer to STARCASTLE, ETHOS or KANSAS than, to say, Genesis or King Crimson, although they had some evident E.L.P. and YES influences.The 9-min. excellent three-part opener was representative of the direction they had taken, this was a maniftest of keyboard-based Prog Rock with strong symphonic orchestrations, highlighted by a talented Rob Argent and his alternating organ, piano, Mellotron and synth parts, switching tempos and climates and offering one of the best pieces ever written by the quintet.The rest of the album is a bit more diverse, featuring some rockin' themes, the rise of an obvious jazzy influence with lots of electric piano and, still, some dominant symphonic flavors.Plenty of bombastic and dramatic instrumental sections, a combination of Fusion stylings and Classical-drenched keyboard showering and some Hard Rock-in' tunes in the process are all welcome characteristics of Argent's new proposal.Vocals are mostly inspired by YES' pompous lines, but the music comes as a mixture of organ-smashing themes, dark Mellotron and quirky synthesizers for a very dense and convincing sound.

Absolutely satisfying work of Symphonic Rock/Fusion with Argent shining behind an emphatic keyboard palette.Somewhere between YES, KANSAS, PENTWATER and ETHOS.Highly recommended.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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