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Andrew Broughton (21.11.2001)
a) Death walks behind you is, in my opinion, one of the two or
three essential albums of its kind, full of energy, musical prowess (the
keyboard and drum solos on 'Gershatzer' are AWESOME) and inventiveness.
NB, your review refers to the familiarity of 'I cant take no more'... perhaps
you recognise it from 'Dont bring me down' by ELO, as it stole the riff
b) In that I have these records on vinyl, it is interesting that 'Play the game' is a bonus track on the first album on CD. Musically / chronologically it does not fit there, it ought to be on Death walks... or In hearing...;
c) You don't think much of Nice and greasy, and I feel you are a tad unfair, but interestingly your tracklist does not include 'Satans wheel', which is on the vinyl original LP, and is a minor classic.
Mike Healy (30.11.2001)
Great to see Atomic Rooster finally make the list! I'll summarize the
rest of the band's history here. In actuality, the reunion of the band
in 1979 was more of John DuCann's doing than Crane's. EMI got word of it
and paid them to make an album, on which the music and album cover were
pretty much rushed (which shows) and it disappeared. The music sounds like
the style of Death Walks Behind You crossed with the Ramones and
AC/DC--very punkish and heavy-metal at the same time.
Preston Heyman was their drummer on it, Ginger Baker took his place for about three weeks, and Paul Hammond eventually returned. But, he'd been in a car accident when he was in the band Hard Stuff with John DuCann and hadn't played the drums since then, and it showed in his playing. The classic lineup recorded a couple of singles on Polydor which did okay on the heavy-metal charts, but didn't do anything elsewhere. DuCann left the band shortly afterwards.
Crane and Hammond made the album Headline News in 1983 with guitar guests John Mizarolli, Bernie Torme and David Gilmour (with Crane singing lead vocals), but the label they made it for went into bankruptcy right afterward, so it also disappeared without a trace. The Crane/Hammond/Torme lineup toured over in parts of Europe and a live CD came out in 2000 called Live In Germany '83, but it's recommended only for completists. The band folded shortly thereafter.
Vincent Crane committed suicide in 1989 after a long battle with manic-depression. Paul Hammond followed suit with an overdose a couple of years later after years of living in pain and poverty.
It's a shame that such a great band had to end this way, but the music (namely the Death Walks Behind You album) is always there. There's been numerous CD collections of live stuff and BBC material released over the last number of years. Highly recommended is the Live and Raw, 1970/71 CD which has some killer performances on it, despite the dodgy sound quality.
Francis Mansell (18.01.2004)
I continue to have a soft spot for Atomic Rooster because their hit
'Devil's Answer' was the first record I ever bought ... however the intervening
decades have taken their toll and like much other music I enjoyed in the
early 1970s (e.g. Deep Purple) their appeal for me has diminished over
the years, and also I find the songs I preferred then are not in all cases
the ones I prefer now ...
I continue to think that Vincent Crane was a very fine keyboard player, and he also had an ear for a drummer: Carl Palmer, Paul Hammond and Ric Parnell were all very fine players. John (Du) Cann's guitar playing, on the other hand, not to mention his vocals and much of his songwriting, does considerably less for me than it used to, and I can barely listen to 'Devil's Answer' now. So for me, the best of Rooster comes entirely from their 2nd, 3rd and 4th albums and runs as follows: 'Tomorrow Night' (the single version, which I haven't heard in decades, without the silly ending added for the album); 'Death Walks Behind You'; 'Vug'; '7 Streets'; 'Breaking The Ice' (I don't understand your comments about this being funky, George, though the rhythm is quite lively); 'Decision/Indecision' (one of the bleakest songs ever, and by far the best on In Hearing Of - after hearing this it's no surprise that Crane committed suicide, only that he left it so long); 'A Spoonful Of Bromide'; 'Black Snake'; 'The Rock'; 'Time Take My Life'; 'Breathless'; 'All In Satan's Name'; 'Close Your Eyes'. I think I can safely live without hearing any of the rest of it again - they were a good band, they had their moments, but they were never great. The important thing they did for me, in retrospect, was turn me on to the wonderful sound of the Hammond organ.
Amazing to read these replys and comments about this band. It would be fair to say without a doubt that Vincent's passion for Atomic Rooster's success and perhaps at times his mental instability made for its ups and downs. Anybody who loves the sound of the hammond organ would have to be throughly impressed by Vincent's talent or they are completely tone deaf . While there are many keyboardists out there. I have so rarely found two other talents and a passion for the instrument that could match Vincent and Deep Purple's Jon Lord. Perhaps I'm biased but the only album I was truely diappointed with was Made In England. As one reviewer pointed out besides Vincent's talent they rarely had a slouch behind the drum kit . Carl Palmer, Paul Hammond and Ric Parnell ( among others ) all very talented drummers . I never fully appreciated Ric's talent till I heard the live sessions that were recently released in the last year ( at least in America ) while it was only I believe 6 songs . I was throughly amazed watching and listening to Ric. I won't take anything away from John DuCann. If you like a straight foward no frills great guitar he's your man . But after reading several opinions by others that it was John's influence that made Rooster great and that I should listen to Andromeda and Hard Stuff ( which I own and have listened to ). I'm rather bewildered as to how people came up with that opinion. I find myself more interested in Rooster's instrumentals that were all written and arranged ( if I am not mistaken ) by Vincent. Those songs never get boring , for me at least . Atomic Rooster may have had one of the most interesting if not chaotic stories and for alot of people only a minor footnote in music history .However, for me they will always remain one my all time favorite bands.
Mike Healy (18.10.2003)
What a lot of people don't know or have long forgotten is that there
are actually two versions of this album. Originally, the album was done
as the Crane/Palmer/Graham lineup, with no guitar on it whatsoever. John
Cann was brought in to replace Nick Graham after the album's release, so
there was a short transitional phase with Carl Palmer still on drums. The
"guitar version" of the album was done a little later to
bring the band's sound up to date, and for a proposed American release,
which unfortunately never happened.
And I gotta tell you, the songs definitely needed some guitar in there where they are. "Friday The Thirteenth" is piano-driven in the original mix, but the organ solo still intact, and Nick Graham taking the vocal (as he did for the whole album). "Before Tomorrow" has just Vincent Crane wailing away on his wah-driven organ through it, and just when you expect the guitar to zip around the speakers, you hear conga drums and two flute overdubs in its place, and gives the song an entire different coat of paint. Lastly, "S.L.Y." crossfades from "Banstead", and you get Graham playing distorted lines on his bass where Cann's guitar fills would later be; and although he could play his instrument, he was definitely no John Entwistle. He also plays a few guitar lines in it, but they're so weak and piddly-sounding that you can hardly hear them. So, Atomic Rooster (both the band and the first album) was definitely given a creative shot in the arm with the addition of some hard-rock! in' guitar in it, otherwise, they might not have gone far musically.
Jay Ehrlich (21.01.2004)
ATOMIC ROOSTER!!! How well I still vividly remember going to Korvettes..( a department store chain that has long since closed it's doors in nanuet, n.y.)...I was a 14 year-old musician looking for some cool hard rock that was not popular or commercial, which in 1971 was a GOOD thing, but of course it had to be full of instrumental prowress.. and I had a theory which worked fairly well..a three piece band was the most likely to be the hardest rock, because that meant the musicians were also the singers and thus there was no singer who might insist on singing when the band could be jamming, thus allowing them to feel free to let the drummer do more stuff, cause singers sometimes want you to be tasteful..i.e..keep it simple and repetitive...I was in Korvettes record department (three aisles big) and I see this record with a metallic looking rooster, and I turn it over...THREE GUYS ONLY IN THIS BAND!!...could I be in luck? let's see...hmmm,,,a drummer, a guitarist that sings, and an organ player that sings..hmmm....and they wrote it all themselves..that's good,cuz I was looking for new, cutting edge music..oh how well I remember thinking.."hmmm I think this is going to be good, so I buy it, take it home and put it on........The album starts out with the most frightening music I've heard to this day..(well, most music frightens me not, and,YES, I love the first black sabbath album, but it doesn't approach the atmosphere portrayed here )....single piano notes played in a descending chromatic line,more or less, with organ sounds like hendrix occasionally got out of his guitar..YOU MUST HEAR IT TO BELIEVE IT...so starts the title cut..and at the end, (although it got cut off in the c.d. mastering, ) as it fades out john or vincent say some unintelligible sentence that that is as scary sounding as the intro...one of the coolest moments in hard rock... ...'Vug' is a jammin instrumental demonstrating ( as this whole.album does ) what you said, George...a full force competition in an atmosphere of peace and contention!!!.... .I'm not kissing your ass, George, but that is simply a brilliant description of a musical ethos that unfortunately, I never ran across again....at least, not in hard rock...then comes tomorrow night, a "top tenner" in england, oh so funky , oh so hard rock, and that ending was so cool that channel 11 used it for it's intro for ( "oooo.scary...as joe flaherty did on second city t. v) Chiller theatre...or maybe vince heard it on tour in the states, and used it, but it truly rules..and it's not goofy as fgmansell contends.......... .sleeping for years and 7 streets have great guitar..on this album, John Cann was playing vibrato riffage that still makes me drool,(or maybe it's my lack of manners at the dinner table )...and then the song E.L.O. ripped off for "don't bring me down"..GOD, I DON"T ENJOY THOSE GUYS AT ALL EXCEPT FOR THE COOL ENDING OF ROLL OVER, BEETHOVEN )..called,"can't take no more"..with the KILLER middle part..dada dada dada da!.dada dada dada da! dada dada dada da! .....into drum riff..repeat 4 times..I wish I could make this page play it for you, but I can't..BUY THIS RECORD..!!!!!..and of course in the fade out John is riffing utterly perfect...nobody else is the obligatory "actual song" that all records seemed to require..I guess to prove that HEY, WE can WRITE a REAL song, you know..and they do, and it is...and ,of course, gershatzer, with the drum solo, BUT, HEY, I'm a drummer...no problem here, mate....on my c.d....there is no devil's answer...that shows up on ..in hearing of...their next album, and on my american release album, devil's answer is song by Pete French, who sings it infinitely better than john cann..(sorry, john)...I really cann (sic) not listen to johns singing on this song (and i know he wrote it, but keep your ego out of it, and use your ears john)...any way, I guess I better stop now before I write a friggin' novel about this TRULY essential album for those who love hard rock...one last thing..(until my next e-mail)..as good as this sounds now, in those days in the beginning of hard rock, these sounds were truly brand new,van halen wasn't even dreamed of yet, except maybe by eddie...In 1970-71..this album was tremendously unique, as almost all hard rock was for a couple glorious years....brings a tear to me eyes...peace out, peoples..................................
Jay Ehrlich (15.01.2004)
Hey, George, I can't EVEN believe that I am the first one to comment on your review of one of my top 20 favorite albums of all time..I know, like most of us , the top 20 is more like top 50 favs, but i digress..the hook in 'Breakthrough' is the excellent riff pattern you mentioned, especially the do do do do......do do do do.....do do do do do ....DO DO....played on the piano in unison while paul hammond on the un-hammond organ DRUMS plays that WONDERFUL AND EXTREMELY COOL COWBELL behind it. not to mention the amazing lyrics!..."an invisible prison, I cannot escape...with walls I can't see, and walls I can't break...an invisible prison...how can I be free?.there isn't .a guard,,, for the jailer is me!... I, for one, prefer introspective lyrics over oh baby i want to give you my HUGE greasy one..( erm..huge, yes.. greasy..not usually..yuk ) Now, as far as 'decision/indecision' is concerned, that is a FANTASTIC song, a lovely, but cool enuf, melody, and MORE introspective lyrics...."I'm going to find a way, to become what I am...I'm going to find the way ...back home"..and a extremely cool piano/drum break in the middle, and I luv it...a spoonful of bromide helps the pulse rate go down is perhaps the finest song title ever..and it starts out with the drummer playing eighth notes with one hand, while playing triplets with the other hand...very cool, and my drum teacher had actually taught me that before I had the album...And the song SMOKES!!!...give it a few more tries....Why do some people call this the best Atomic Rooster album ever? Well, it's not ..it's the second best..death walks behind you is obviously one of the top ten albums in history,period..(even before Thomas Alva Edison .invented..um the first phonograph, so you KNOW that's impressive) The third best is made in england, and that hamster killer was actually perfect for that almost perfect funk rock album..(chris farlowe to most of you)...oh yeah, black snake has super cool double bass drums in it, that the song totally depends on....unlike .my depends (brand name of adult diapers in case you don't know) that I now have to change cuz I got so excited writing this review...and ,obviously, the reason you ask so many questions is so you can get total gibberish like this as an answer......Oh yeah..Pete French's vocals are absolutely perfect for this album, and if you disagree with me, then why did vincent hire him??? huh? huh? hmmm??? see i just asked you 4 questions...i'll be waiting ( a long time?) for the answer....peace..........
Francis Mansell (18.01.2004)
I guess the timing had an impact, given I was 14 when this came out
and just learning about music and stuff ... but I reckon some of this is
pretty good. Though not necessarily the same tracks as you, George.
I can see how Chris Farlowe's voice is an acquired taste, a bit fruity for my taste at times but he's clearly a highly accomplished and soulful singer. But I like the variety on this album, and one thing you can say about Atomic Rooster is, they always had fantastic drummers: Carl Palmer, Paul Hammond, Ric Parnell, all A1 quality drummers. 'Time Take My Life' is a nice sinister opener, with nice orchestral arrangements. 'Stand By Me' was an obvious single, and their most blatant move into soul/funk so far. But this aspect of Rooster has to be seen in context: Vincent Crane's roots are in soul and jazz, and quite clearly his biggest influence as an organist is Jimmy Smith. Before he joined Arthur Brown he led a soul/jazz trio, who became Arthur's backing band in early 1967. Ric Parnell's 'Little Bit Of Inner Air' and both Steve Bolton's songs don't do much for me, 'Don't Know What Went Wrong' as you say is not that interesting. But 'People You Can't Trust' veers towards the funk again, a good song, and Breathless - ah, you mention that it's piano based, but you don't mention the bonkers guitar solo that piles in halfway through with an ear-splitting power chord when you least expect it. 'All In Satan's Name' as you say harks back lyrically to their earlier albums, and while not heavy is I suppose prog rock, with that funky element creeping in on some sections, and features another fab guitar solo from Steve Bolton, this time at a more considered, restrained tempo. One of the best songs on here I would say. I was so impressed with his guitar playing in my youth that I tracked down an album by a band he joined later on called Headstone. Mistake! It was very, very dull!
While the new funky direction is only really overt on a couple of songs, it's clear that the change of direction and vocalist pretty much destroyed their fan-base, which is a shame because this is actually one of their best albums.
Mike Healy (05.12.2001)
There are two different versions of this album, with a different cut
at the end of each album side. The US and UK editions had "Moods"
and "Whatcha Gonna Do" at the end of the album sides, but some
European editions have "Goodbye Planet Earth" and "Satan's
Wheel" in their respective places, as did the US One Way CD issue.
"Satan's Wheel" is the best of the lot, personally.
One little-known footnote to this album is a single that came out in 1974 credited to Vincent Crane's Atomic Rooster, featuring "Tell your Story (Sing Your Song)", which is a straight-ahead pop number with a nice organ solo in the middle. The flip-side, "O.D.", is the most bizarre song you can ever imagine. The lyrics have the singer describe the rush of junk flowing into his veins, apparently too much, the voices and sounds he's hearing in his head, and his demise. If you thought Bloodrock's "D.O.A." had morbid and grisly lyrics, you need to check this out if you can find it!
It came out on Decca in the UK, and on other labels overseas, but no US release.
Jay Ehrlich (15.01.2004)
I only first heard of this album in the 90's, when every thing started getting re-released, and I eagerly bought it, having had the other four ESSENTIAL albums since 1972, but I was in for a sad surprise....This was one of the most disappointing albums I ever bought, the worst moment when Farlowe, the vocalist (or hamster killer..this album makes your description obvious) rips off the first album with that "SAVE ME"..(although that james brownian grunt is perfect )..About all I can say about this album is that the reason some people say this is the best album by A.R. is that the drummer is allowed to go for it...and he does that great (being a reasonably accomplished drummer, I can vouch for that ) but the songs are the most pedestrian ol' Vincent has ever been associated with ...no wonder he committed suicide, he obviously listened to this album again...O-K, I know that was a little uncalled for...BUT I did waste 15 dollars american on this shadow of former glory...oh well, it's still better than a sharp stick in the eye...peace