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Bram Stoker Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] album cover
3.82 | 42 ratings | 5 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Born to be free (3:43)
2. Ants (3:48)
3. Fast decay (3:49)
4. Blitz (5:33)
5. Idiot (4:28)
6. Fingal's cave (7:42)
7. Extensive corrosion (4:19)
8. Poltergeist (4:35)

Total Time: 37:57

Bonus tracks on 2015 CD reissue:
9. Collusion Illusion (4:51)
10. Scarborough Fair (3:13)
11. Queen Of Sheba (Live) (2:41)
12. Faith Healer (Live) (1:47)

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Ballam / guitar
- Anthony Bronsdon / Hammond organ, keyboards
- John Bavin / bass, vocals
- Rob Haines / drums

Releases information

LP Windmill ‎- WMD 117 (1972, UK)
LP Talking Elephant Records ‎- TELP302 (2016, UK)

CD Audio Archives ‎- AACD 023 (1997, UK) Re-titled "Schizo-Poltergeist" and a different cover
CD Talking Elephant Records ‎- TECD302 (2015, Europe) With 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to Todd for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BRAM STOKER Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] ratings distribution

(42 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(60%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BRAM STOKER Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars Here is a gem from the Early British Progressive Rock Movement, unfortunately it was both a painstaking as a hardly impossible task to find information from this elusive band. Bram Stoker was a one shot band that released their album in 1972 under the title Heavy Rock Spectacular. In 1999 the label Audio Archive released the album with the same tracks but a different cover (to be seen along with this review) as a reissue CD, a year later the label Black Widow released it with the original artwork and in 2003 the label Akarma released it as CD reissue in a mini LP gatefold sleeve.

The eight melodic and dynamic compositions are Hammond organ drenched, the electric guitar is often distorted (fuzz) delivering some fiery soli but in general it is on the background. Bram Stoker their sound has elements from Atomic Rooster (Born to be free), ELP (Fast decay) and often Beggar's Opera, mainly due to the classical organ sound (for example Bach's Toccata In D-Fuga in Fast Decay and the long Fingal's Cave) and the pleasant vocals. The track Blitz has some Spanish flavored guitar undertones and sounds a bit dark. The final, horror-like song Poltergeist features floods of classical inspired organ.


Review by ExittheLemming
4 stars Mischievous Invisible Sprite Spectacularly Lifts Heavy Rock

I have to confess that I was not overly optimistic about this one due in no small measure to the very tacky artwork and the appalling title. Dire premonitions of 'Franck Pourcell plays the music of Black Sabbath' are mercifully unfounded.

Once you have ventured inside and over this twee 'K-Tel Gothic' threshold, the music is a real treat and we can only speculate as to what type of success this band could have attained given proper and sympathetic marketing.

The Hammond dominates throughout and if it is indeed played by the elusive Mr Bronsdon? he is/was surely an ivory tickler of fantastic ability (I cannot help but speculate if this is the work of a now fabulously wealthy and famous keyboard giant who was then in dire need of a paycheck?)

Some of the previous commentaries have touted reference points like Purple, Heep and Rooster and although there is a vestige of that feel here, it is somewhat tenuous as the music is surprisingly varied and encompasses classical, heavy rock, jazz and symphonic Prog a la Beggars Opera, the Nice, ELP and Colosseum etc

The guitar is never allowed to just bludgeon us with any fuzz-laden riffs here and for the most part, the fretwork is very tastefully done and can give the impression of a vaguely jazzy feel in places. Phasing and tremolo effects are employed and although they serve to date stamp the recording firmly to the early 70's, they do actually lend a sense of space to the proceedings.

I also like the drumming which supports, is sympathetic to and enhances the musical development (unlike the tub thumping school of just plain old vanilla time-keeping. Does Ian Paice ever visit this site?)

The songs, although hardly masterpieces, are strong and the singer (the indefatigable Mr B again?) has a decent voice and patently a sense of humour, as evidenced by Idiot

Bach's down at heel 'Toccata and Fugue' is subjected to further humiliation on one of the tracks in a slightly cringe inducing section but in the main, the instrumental passages are delightful and have been carefully composed with loads of variety of tone, pace and timbre to keep us interested.

Not being familiar with the work of Mendelssohn, I cannot comment on the suitability or otherwise of what purports to be an adaptation of a classical piece Fingal's Cave? I do know that I like the track, and it is here that the music is at it's lightest and jazziest with some excellent piano work helping to provide some relief from the organ assault.

So, don't be discouraged by the crappy cover and title and give this album a fair hearing. Unlike so many other over-hyped 'forgotten' masterpieces that proliferate on these pages, this is a genuine contender, deserving of such an accolade.

(Does Franck Pourcell ever visit this site ?)

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars "Extensive corrosion, of body and mind...!"

What a terrific lyric to start off this review! The sole Bram Stoker album `Schizo-Poltergeist' (at least that's what it's called on my version) is a wonderful heavy-prog stunner with endless waves of dazzling Hammond organ, fuzzy guitar and a good mix of instrumental virtuosity and varied melodic vocal tracks. The easiest similarity I could offer is along the lines of Atomic Rooster (and like the above quoted line, many of the lyrics have a slightly sinister tone with vague occult references), but with more classical influences like The Nice worked in as well. But anyone who enjoys similar early prog albums from Bodkin, Rare Bird and Beggars Opera will likely find much to enjoy here.

Like the spooky gothic mansion depicted on the front cover, the identity of the players who performed on this album is shrouded in mystery, which just adds to the slight unease of the music. More research on the net offers the player details as Tony Bronsdon - Organ, Pete Ballam - Guitar, Rob Haines - Drums and John Bavin - Bass. Going by the strength of this album, all the players should be immensely proud of what they achieved here, as they have something of an obscure and underground near-classic with this work. So much potential, so it's a shame we only received this one sole release.

Of the vocal tracks, the stomping opener `Born To Be Free' kicks the album off in pure winning Atomic Rooster style, a fuzzy guitar/humming Hammond organ rocker about a girl `born on the wrong side of town, her every word was spit and bile'! With a killer chorus, the track is insanely catchy and gloriously upbeat, which contrasts strangely with the downbeat lyrics - something that Rooster did frequently themselves!

`Blitz' is the most serious and striking of the vocal pieces, a rather somber and unsettling tale that asks `Does anyone know about Mary, does anyone know where Mary is, she went to rescue the children...'. Throughout there's some moody plodding bass that highlights the kind of creeping loneliness and reflective tone of the words, with some dark murky Spanish guitar worked in to stirring effect later on.

`Idiot' has a slightly cheesy chorus, but fans of the first Beggars Opera album `Act One' will enjoy this one, as it shares that same kind of maniacal circus-like loopy energy and charm. The finale `Poltergeist' is all bombastic Hammer-horror drama, but the booming and kitschy repeated chorus is a little lazy.

`Ants' gets the first of three instrumental pieces off to a grand start, with classical ELP/Trace/Nice- style dazzling organ work, by way of a ghost story/horror house setting, plus some nice rapid fire drumming too. `Fast Decay' carries on the same way, while incorporating sections of Bach's Toccata In D-Fuga (sure to either dazzle or infuriate some listeners!), but the relentless bass galloping away throughout is a real highlight. `Fingals Cave', apparently another classical interpretation, works wonderfully too, all spiraling organ, commanding drumming and searing electric guitar runs. There's a lovely jazzy lightness to parts of it as well.

So you've got eight tracks, three superb instrumental pieces overloaded with pure Hammond fire, and five vocal tracks, three of which are terrific, and two that are a little daggy but still very enjoyable. As the album is beautifully produced too, taking all of these things into consideration you have a wonderful LP that is well worth tracking down. Any fans of the above mentioned bands will greatly enjoy this one, and it can proudly be placed alongside those same artists/albums to complement them perfectly.

An easy four stars, please try and track down a copy!

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cult British Prog band from the early-70's.There seems to be a confusion about its members, sure thing is their leader was keyboardist Tony Bronsdon and guitarist/bassist Tony Lowe was among the original members.Bram Stoker were found in 1969 and were a live beast of the era, being a regular visitor of legendary live scenes as The Roundhouse, The Marquee, The Greyhound-Croydon and The Speakeasy, they even were supported by Queen once, while they also played quite often in small pubs.By the time of the ''Heavy Rock Spectacular'' album in 1972 Bronsdon was apparently surrounded by a different line-up, including John Bavin on bass, Pete Ballam on guitar and Rob Haines on drums.The album was released originally on the London-based 70's label Windmill.

Heavy Rock it is at some degree, really spectacular it is not, because the music by Bram Stoker was already performed by acts such as ATOMIC ROOSTER, QUATERMASS and E.L.P. with nods also to the style of DEEP PURPLE and THE NICE.But the album is also very far from being uninteresting.Powerful, organ-based Heavy/Psych with some excellent organic jams and lots of energy to capture the listener's attention.The music is typical of the British Psych/Proto-Prog style with impressive influences from Classical sources and endless psychedelic textures in long, non-refined instrumental masturbations.Vocals are also very good, well-fit to the musical content and the rhythm section is extremely solid.Guitar contribution comes at a few moments, but these are also the ones with the more dramatic and progressive sound.''Extensive corrosion'' is possibly the most progressive of all pieces with its organ changing paces and the music being split in different variations, while the outro of ''Poltergeist'' belongs definitely among the most haunting tracks of British organ-led Psychedelic Music.

Standard example of the early-70's British Psych/Prog scene.Loads of dense Hammond organ and raw compositions full of extended, instrumental abnormalities.The album has been re-issued several times by a number of labels and it's pretty easy to be found.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The obvious reference points are ELP and the Nice, with a bit of Deep Purple heavyness and Atomic Rooster/Black Sabbath demonic doom thrown in. As befits a band with their enigmatic name and style not much is known about them. A bit of Googling found that the T Bronsdon credited with the mater ... (read more)

Report this review (#64161) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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