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Atomic Rooster - Atomic Roooster CD (album) cover

ATOMIC ROOOSTER

Atomic Rooster

 

Heavy Prog

3.55 | 190 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
3 stars The birth pangs of ATOMIC ROOSTER can actually be traced back all the way to the whacky 60s UK phenomenon The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown where two of the members: Vincent Crane and Carl Palmer jumped ship to have a go at their own musical visions. In the beginning they were only a trio after they recruited a third member, Nick Graham to handle bass, lead vocals, flute and additional guitars. Crane would handle organ and keyboards while Palmer cranked out the percussive drive necessary to add the harder rockin' edge. Whereas the Arthur Brown project set out to conquer the flashy entertainment world of psychedelic rock and even had a huge hit with their 1968 single "Fire," the direction of ATOMIC ROOSTER was to take a more soulful approach and desired to take the funk and soul approach of James Brown and Stevie Wonder and marry it with the dynamic instrumental workouts of British progressive rock that was its infancy big bang phase at the time.

The trio didn't waste any time releasing their first album titled ATOMIC ROOOSTER (not eponymous, has 3 o's and also spelled RO-O- OSTER on later CD reissues) in 1970 with that famous ridiculous cover of a green eagle with a rooster head with voluptuous female milkers drooping down in the midst of a cube with a purple shadow next to a chair. The cover art ranks high on my WTF list! Soon after this was released, Nick Graham whose vocals grace this album would jump ship and John Du Cann would replace him and then overdub three tracks for a slightly different US release (bonus tracks on the expanded CD version and quite well done). ATOMIC ROOOSTER, the album kicks things off with the hard rockin' "Friday The Thirteenth" which joins the ranks of a number of harder rockin' bands marry some heaviness with the keyboard rich proto-prog that was oozing out of the late 60s music scene.

While not totally unlike bands like Deep Purple, it is apparent that the ROOSTER was cock-a-doodling some funk and soul in its mix and focuses on heavy grooves, more soulful vocals as well as the Hammond rich organ runs and hard percussive drumming drive that Carl Palmer was delivering quite skillfully even at this stage of his career. Many of the tracks on this album follow suit with the same exact formula that deftly mixes the soulful grooves with the harder edged prog elements which was Crane's main style of songwriting who was the main songwriter for this album. The one track "Broken Wing's" which is a John Mayall cover sounds rather out of place in comparison despite Palmer's best efforts to give it a percussive backbone clearly demonstrating Crane's different approach to songwriting.

Despite the efforts of fusing British prog with American soul and funk, this debut release still sounds a little devoid of a completely successfully fusion of the disparate styles and feels much more firmly rooted in the late 60s psychedelic scene than the progressive 70s. The keyboard rich rhythms are a dead giveaway and make this release sound a bit dated in not only its style but its delivery which has hints of Procol Harum, Deep Purple and of course, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Graham's vocal abilities are a point of contention for me as well. While he successfully gets the job done by hitting the correct notes and emphasizes dramatic phrases that serve to heighten the musical tension, my main problem is that his range is a little limited and the music would have been more animated with a slightly more gifted vox box. While ATOMIC ROOSTER yielded some decent fruit on their freshman effort, it would be eclipsed by the lineup change and release of their second album "Death Walks Behind You." Album number is chock full of nice pleasant late 60s sounding chops, rhythms and keyboard fantasies but doesn't quite make the highly essential list for me.

If you're going get this one you should really be sure to get the 2004 Castle Music CD reissue that contains the three overdubbed versions of "Friday The 13th," "Before Tomorrow" and "S.L.Y." with Du Cann on guitar and vocals. The comparison between the originals and redubs are astounding as it was fortuitous that Graham moved on to let a more talented vocalist take the reins. Also included are two equally better live versions at the BBC Radio Session in 1970. The bonus tracks make this a much better album than it would be otherwise but of course my rating is for the original release.

3.5 rounded down like those mammories on the cover :P

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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