Atomic Rooster — Sleeping for Years - The Studio Recordings 1970-1974
(Esoteric Recordings , 1974/2017, 4CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-02-09
Atomic Rooster was one of the most spirited and pioneering progressive rock units of the early 70s in Britain, and this four-disc clamshell box set certainly goes a long way to offer the evidence of that. The band is also pretty much synonymous with the late Vincent Crane, keyboard player and songwriter best known for his bold and aggressive Hammond organ style, brought with him from his previous band, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, that which produced a worldwide hit with “Fire.” Atomic Rooster at its inception was co-founded by Crane and one of the drummers featured in Crazy World, Carl Palmer, after the end of a US tour in 1969. Bassist Nick Graham (doubling on flute and taking on the lead singer role) was recruited to make it a trio and before long they were in the studio recording their eponymus debut album, released in early 1970, which comprises disc one of this set, along with three alternate versions that were recorded for an American release that never happened, featuring incoming guitarist and singer John Cann, two demos, and the single version of “Tomorrow Night” which would be featured on their second album in 1971. That’s right, within weeks of the first album’s release Palmer got the call from Keith Emerson and the rest is history. Crane decided the band needed a guitarist, but wanted to keep it a trio, so Graham was out and guitarist / singer John Cann (ex-Andromeda) was in.
Such tumultuous membership turnover was the constant theme of Atomic Rooster’s existence. So the second album Death Walks behind You, released in late 1970, perhaps the band’s strongest release from this period, features wholesale turnover from their first, with Cann and incoming drummer Paul Hammond joining Crane. Disc two of this set features all of the second album, the single A-side “Devil’s Answer” (from June1971), a single B-side “Play the Game,” and the first half of the band’s third album, In Hearing Of… from August 1971, another masterful creation with all the power of the two previous records. Surprisingly, the same members from the second album survived to the third, along with new lead singer Pete French, but it wouldn’t be long before French left to join Cactus, to be replaced by Chris Farlowe, and Hammond would be replaced by drummer Ric Parnell, and Cann replaced by guitarist Steve Bolton. Disc three of this set contains the remaining songs from the third album plus all of the band’s fourth album, Made in England, from 1972, featuring the aforementioned lineup changes, which amounted to another wholesale band change-out around Crane. Farlowe, who had sung with Colosseum previously, is a gifted singer with a soulful voice, so Crane took the band more in that direction, making Made in England very different from its three predecessors, but nonetheless exceptional. Farlowe and Parnell survived to the fifth album Nice ‘n’ Greasy, released in late 1973, with guitarist John Goodsall replacing the departing Bolton, listed in the credits as Johnny Mandala, and is featured on disc four of this set, along with a couple other tracks included only on the USA and German releases. With Farlowe still behind the mic, the band continued in its more soulful direction, a bit more harder edged than its immediate predecessor. Except for a single “Tell Your Story (Sing Your Song)” / “O.D.” from March 1974 (included here), by which time Parnell, Farlowe, and Goodsall had all left the band, this would be the last new music from Atomic Rooster until they reformed again in 1980, and a good point to close this set.
It’s good to have all these releases together in one set, with all the extra tracks, although the third album being split across two discs is unfortunate. And the 32 page booklet with photos and details of all the band’s workings during this period is invaluable. Esoteric does it again.
Related artist(s): Atomic Rooster
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Alquimia & Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma - Dead Tongues – Alquimia is a vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist who has three previous albums to her credit in the pre-hispanic/new electronic music area, while Fernandez Ledesma is the de-facto leader of... (1996) » Read more