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Quatermass

Quatermass

Review by Larry Toering

This progressive rock trio took its name from a fictional science-fiction BBC TV character named “Professor Bernard Quatermass.” The band consisted of John Gustufson, Peter Robinson and Mick Underwood, all veterans at the time, who came together and sadly never returned after making one killer album, hailed by critics and prog fans to this day. Often compared to the likes of King Crimson, Atomic Rooster and others like them at the time, Quatermass stand up strongly against them all, even now. The world really could use a few more Quatermass albums, that is one thing I feel strongly about whenever they cross the mind or I listen to this fine recording. Decades later a group was put together with Nick Simper and Don Airey, called “Quatermass II,” but as the review goes on, that version of the band gets explained. They never had a chance to be all they could be, unfortunately, but this was 1970, so they all went on to do a lot more in their careers.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Entropy

This is the first track of this title on the disc, as they open and close with the same title, but two different songs. This one sounds an awful lot like it influenced Don Airey on a track from his first album with Deep Purple. That makes a lot of sense, since Robinson was actually in the running to replace Jon Lord ,over Airey who wound up with the position. Robinson is massively talented, so that apple is one worth picking.

Black Sheep Of The Family

There is a version of a track recorded by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow on the first album they did in 1975. Blackmore loved it, and thought they would do it some justice, having played with Underwood in his early days in Joe Meek produced sessions. I like this version a little better, as it goes to show an original is very hard to top. It's not an easy track to dislike, as it has everything a good rock tune should contain.

Post War Saturday Echo

This has Gustufson singing in a powerful range, and it's a powerful tune as well. He really lets it all hang out here, with a cooking bass line to go with it. There is a lovely piano arrangement mid-way through that also finds him sparring a bit with his bass, and it's all very cool stuff. It starts off less promising than it turns out.

Good Lord Knows

After that, this is a rather refreshing change of tempo and overall delivery, as the vocals shine in a much better light, somehow. It's a ballad of sorts, with a positive vibe.

Up On The Ground

There is a thick organ riff here, sounding much like a guitar, and it works wonders. This is a killer track that you just can't put down, as once you hear it you're hooked. The vocals, although sounding a bit dated now, really are fantastic on this incredibly infectious piece of work. It’s one of my favorites here for sure.

Gemini

This almost starts off like it's going to sound exactly like the previous track, but it turns into a whole different animal altogether. The organ and piano parts are one of it's strengths for sure, but everyone plays like there is a fire lit under their feet. This is progressive rock at its finest in those days, just criminally underated.

Make Up Your Mind

This one starts off right away with the vocals, and it's all over the place from there out. There are a lot of harmony in the vocals as well. I love the underlying organ growl on this one, absolutely groovy.

Laughin' Tackle

This is an instrumental, and it's a moody one at that, yet with a subtle approach to it all. Still Underwoood proceeds to manage a ripping drum solo that takes it in a whole different direction. This is the best work he ever recorded in my opinion, as his energy level was through the roof. When he is done, there is that lovely synth again to take things back to where they started, and a few other tempo changes thrown in for good measure. This is a masterpiece.

Entropy

This involves a bit of energy at first, then lays back until it's over. It's another swift number with no vocals.

One Blind Mice

This and the following track are from Quatermass II, which really had nothing to do with Quatermass, and featured two different Purple players in Nick Simper and Don Airey, who would at least go on the join them. It's a fairly interesting tune that doesn't hurt the rest here, so it's a worthy inclusion.

Punting

There is some tasty organ on this one, the second bonus track by Quatermass II, but it's not that far removed from what they did in 1970. All in all, it's good stuff, as well.

 
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