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ATOMIC ROOSTER

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Atomic Rooster picture
Atomic Rooster biography
Founded 1969 - Disbanded in 1975 - Reformed from 1980 to 1983 and again since 2016 with new formation

THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN having disintegrated after their sole album and their worldwide hit Fire (I am the god of hellfire) Vincent Crane (responsible for the music of that album) and Carl Palmer founded ATOMIC ROOSTER with Nick Graham on bass and vocals. This line-up soon disintegrated (Palmer abandoning them to join ELP), Crane contacted guitarist John DuCann formerly of psych bands THE ATTACK and ANDROMEDA and Paul Hammond on drums to make a seminal early Heavy Metal masterpiece "Death Walks Behind You" and then they hired Pete French, the incredible voice to make their finest album "In Hearing Of...". Most people would agree that this was the better line-up of ROOSTER but the mood was always stormy between Crane and DuCann so they disbanded at the release of the third album. Vincent Crane, always prone to depressions, had to start from scratch again and hired superb vocalist Chris Farlowe (ex-COLOSSEUM) and other men to make another fine album "Made In England" and finally "Nice and Greasy". Those last album are often over-looked by progheads being categorized as funk but this is hardly the case even if the superb use of a horn section on a third of the tracks add a lot of depth to their music. Their most popular hits (they did not spit at the singles market made often reference to the devil or Satan but the general mood was not Satanist as they have been so often categorized along with BLACK SABBATH and BLACK WIDOW. Crane would re-form his band along the years when his health permitted it until his death in 89.

ATOMIC ROOSTER is highly recommended to everyone looking for Hammond organ-driven rock of the early 70's but to anyone looking for high-energy prog. It is responsible for some of the all-time best hard-rock albums and should figure in all collection (you should hide a copy of "In Hearing Of ...." in your grandma's collection just for kicks.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Live At Paris Theatre 1970Live At Paris Theatre 1970
Sireena Records 2018
$22.59
$23.19 (used)
Sleeping For Years ~ The Studio Recordings 1970-1974: 4 Clamshell Boxset/Atomic RoosterSleeping For Years ~ The Studio Recordings 1970-1974: 4 Clamshell Boxset/Atomic Rooster
ESOTERIC 2018
$30.13
$34.67 (used)
Death Walks Behind YouDeath Walks Behind You
Music on Vinyl 2017
$22.95
$15.09 (used)
In Hearing Of - Atomic RoosterIn Hearing Of - Atomic Rooster
Extra tracks · Remastered
SANCTUARY 2015
$6.86
$5.49 (used)
Live And Raw - 70/71Live And Raw - 70/71
ANGEL AIR 2009
$17.28
$14.09 (used)
Live At The BBC & German TVLive At The BBC & German TV
Repertoire 2018
$31.99
Atomic RoosterAtomic Rooster
Extra tracks
Angel Air 2005
$10.26
$7.99 (used)
Nice & GreasyNice & Greasy
Repertoire 1999
$6.38
$5.95 (used)
AnthologyAnthology
ANGEL AIR 2009
$10.59
$10.58 (used)
The Devil Hits BackThe Devil Hits Back
Abstract Sounds 2008
$2.00
$4.99 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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Devil's Answer Atomic Rooster UK 7" vinyl single record MOON52 MOONCREST 1971 USD $17.44 Buy It Now
Atomic Rooster Save Me French 7" vinyl single record PY.4202 PYE RECORDS 1973 USD $37.66 Buy It Now
Audio CD Tomorrow Night - Atomic Rooster - Free Shipping USD $12.99 Buy It Now 3h 6m
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7h 19m
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1990 Atomic Rooster "Castle Masters Collection" Germany 11-Trk CD USD $4.03 Buy It Now 9h 37m
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10h 46m
Atomic Rooster Best - Dance Of Death 2006 CD Zounds Germany NM USD $17.00 [0 bids]
USD $24.20 Buy It Now
13h 13m
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17h 39m
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21h 15m
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21h 30m
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21h 44m
Rarities by Atomic Rooster (CD, May-2001, Angel Air Records) USD $0.99 [0 bids]
22h 51m
? 20 Star Tracks: Vol. 1 (UK) (Sweet, Atomic Rooster, Tull, Olivia Newton-John) USD $14.99 Buy It Now 23h 2m
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1 day
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ATOMIC ROOSTER Nice 'N' Greasy Mini LP CD JAPAN ARC-7119 (2005) PROMO COVER OBI USD $29.99 [1 bids]
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Land Of Freedom Atomic Rooster USD $24.19 Buy It Now 2 days
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Atomic Rooster Death Walks Behind You LP Original 1970 Vinyl record A-1U B-1U USD $101.06 Buy It Now 2 days
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2 Atomic Rooster 7" Singles 1971/1970 USD $10.11 Buy It Now 2 days
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3 days
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ATOMIC ROOSTER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ATOMIC ROOSTER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 195 ratings
Atomic Roooster
1970
3.84 | 276 ratings
Death Walks Behind You
1970
3.79 | 185 ratings
In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
1971
3.66 | 119 ratings
Made In England
1972
2.74 | 85 ratings
Nice 'n' Greasy [Aka: IV]
1973
3.14 | 48 ratings
Atomic Rooster '80
1980
2.93 | 48 ratings
Headline News
1983

ATOMIC ROOSTER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 11 ratings
BBC Radio 1 in Concert
1993
3.00 | 3 ratings
Devil's Answer
1998
3.00 | 8 ratings
Live And Raw 1970 & 71
2000
3.00 | 3 ratings
Live In Germany '83
2000
3.00 | 2 ratings
Live At The Marquee 1980
2002

ATOMIC ROOSTER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.50 | 6 ratings
Atomic Rooster
2003
3.00 | 4 ratings
The Ultimate Anthology
2004
4.00 | 4 ratings
Lost Broadcasts
2011

ATOMIC ROOSTER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 4 ratings
Assortment
1974
3.35 | 6 ratings
Home to Roost
1977
1.00 | 1 ratings
This Is Atomic Rooster
1977
2.05 | 3 ratings
Lose Your Mind
1980
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of Atomic Rooster
1987
3.00 | 5 ratings
The Devil Hits Back
1989
3.28 | 9 ratings
The Best & The Rest Of Atomic Rooster
1989
2.00 | 3 ratings
Space Cowboy
1991
3.51 | 5 ratings
The First 10 Explosive Years
1999
2.33 | 3 ratings
Best of Atomic Rooster, Vol. 1-2
1999
3.04 | 5 ratings
Rarities
2000
3.00 | 3 ratings
First 10 Explosive Years, Vol. 2
2001
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Ultimate Chicken Meltdown
2002
3.69 | 7 ratings
Heavy Soul: Anthology
2002
4.50 | 2 ratings
Resurrection
2002
3.48 | 4 ratings
The Best Of Atomic Rooster
2003
3.83 | 3 ratings
The Devil's Answer
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Rebel With A Clause ("The First 10 Explosive Years"/ "Headline News" remastered
2005
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Essential Atomic Rooster
2006
5.00 | 1 ratings
Devil's Answer - The Singles Collection
2006
2.80 | 5 ratings
Homework
2008
3.50 | 2 ratings
Anthology 1969-81
2009

ATOMIC ROOSTER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.95 | 3 ratings
Tomorrow Night
1970
2.91 | 3 ratings
Friday The 13th
1970
2.95 | 2 ratings
Devil's Answer
1971
2.00 | 1 ratings
Stand By Me
1972
2.00 | 1 ratings
Tell Your Story (Sing Your Song) b/w O.D. 7 single
1974
2.00 | 2 ratings
Do You Know Who's Looking For You ?
1980
2.92 | 6 ratings
Play It Again 12''
1981
4.67 | 3 ratings
End Of The Day (12")
1982
2.00 | 1 ratings
Land Of Freedom
1983
2.00 | 1 ratings
Little Live Rooster
1989

ATOMIC ROOSTER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 185 ratings

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In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by Tonbridge Man

4 stars I kind of missed Atomic Rooster first time round. My pre-teen tastes at that time tended to take me more in the direction of the likes of Slade and T Rex. However I caught the revived Rooster twice on the current festival circuit with Pete French on vocals and Steve Bolton on guitar and was mightily impressed with the music on display where naturally they drew a lot on material taken from this - French's only album with the band. French himself has still got it on vocals in 2017 and his younger characterful slightly bluesy voice works well on most of the tracks on this fine 1971 outing. The only exception strangely is the single Devils Answer that can be found on some CD versions where the doomy deeper Du Cann vocals fitted the song better.

My personal favourite tracks are Break the Ice, Decision/Indecision, a spoonful of Bromide and Head in the Sky but there is no weak song here - indeed this is a good prog related album by any standard. Check it out!

 Space Cowboy by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
2.00 | 3 ratings

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Space Cowboy
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by martindavey87

2 stars I'd certainly never consider myself much of an Atomic Rooster fan, and only bought this album because it was 1 and I thought they'd be worth checking out. With that said, I'm actually surprised at how much I like some of the songs. Often associated with the progressive rock genre, I never figured that Atomic Rooster would sound so funky and jazzy. Very smooth indeed.

While these may not be progressive rock masterpieces, there are a few nice tunes in here which definitely make it worth the pound I spent on it. The main highlight for me being 'Stand By Me', a song which I liked immediately upon hearing it. I've also grown rather fond of 'Don't Know What Went Wrong', 'Can't Find a Reason' and 'Take One Toke'.

With this being my first exposure to Atomic Rooster, I have no idea how well these tracks hold up as representations of the band, but it's a decent enough album for me.

 Atomic Roooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.58 | 195 ratings

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Atomic Roooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by Kingsnake

3 stars Great album but not yet all that great. Somehow I will never be a great fan of Carl's sloppy drumming. That aside the vocals, the bassguitars, the hammond are all really great. Raw, pure and energetic. The songwriting is sometimes really good (Winter, Broken Wings, Friday 13th) but sometimes the band just jams away. But it was the psychedelic era, it's okay.

It's great to hear a hammond-based heavy rock group not sounding like Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. Also I really like the vocals. Really powerful and soulful. Too bad, the singer never really served in a famous band. Another thing I like about this albums is the (sparse) fluteplaying, wich sets this bands apart from other hardrockbands of this age.

 Atomic Roooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.58 | 195 ratings

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Atomic Roooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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

 BBC Radio 1 in Concert by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Live, 1993
3.88 | 11 ratings

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BBC Radio 1 in Concert
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Being a big Atomic Rooster fan, I was naturally very excited to find out about this album. BBC Radio 1 in Concert perfectly presents the live energy that the band had. With a new guitarist, Steve Bolton, and a new vocalist, Chirs Farlowe (previously of Colosseum), Atomic Rooster were ready to conquer new territories. This is actually my favorite period of the band's career - just after In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster, but with Chris Farlowe onboard. Most of the material comes from the previously mentioned album, but one or two songs are from their proto-metal album, Death Walks Behind You. A really great album and highly recommended for any fan of heavy prog! However, if you would wish to get a real feel for Atomic Rooster's live performance, I would recommend their Beat Club recordings from the same year.
 In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 185 ratings

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In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Atomic Rooster always remained a second league act. However, the band has many personel's links to other progressive rock outfits due to various line-up changes. In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster is the group's most representative album at their peek. The organ-driven, bass-less quartet seems to estrange the heavy proto-metal methods of their previous work Death Walks Behind You. Instead, Atomic Rooster incorporates a funkier and jazzier feel to their material.

The album opener "Breakthrough" is in my book one of the best from the band. What I like is that the main keyboard riff is not used as an opener. Inteligently, the band uses it in the middle of the song as a sort of musical climax, therefore letting the song to build up. Compared to their previous release, John Cann's guitar tone is much mellower and not so heavy. The guitarist's playing seems to be a lot "tastier", even though he doesn't get as many solo parts. "A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Rate Go Down" is another favorite of mine. It's nothing more than a psychedelic vamp on one or two chords, but it has a really interesting and elegant mood to it. "Black Snake" is a slow progressive blues rock number, if you will, which again showcases Vincent Crane's phenomenal virtuosity. Pete French has a fantastic voice and writes great lyrics. Paul Hammond skillfully puts great rhythm foundation for the band with his drumming.

All in all, In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster is an essential heavy prog album and in my opinion Atomic Rooster's strongest effort. Needless to say, In Hearind belongs in every Atomic Rooster fan's collection and is a great way to get into the band's music. Perhaps not a five-star album itself, but I feel like four stars would be a tad too low and a bit inadequate, as it is the best work of the band, which was a great band. Nontheless, highly recommended!

 In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 185 ratings

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In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by PoolmanProgger

4 stars Re-Posting of a review I published as CheapPurple on Sputnik Music, slightly edited:

Review Summary: Atomic Rooster's last great album, the band tapers their sound quite a bit, but still manages to pack a punch and make a dent in the emerging heavy prog scene of the early-70s.

After the success of Death Walks Behind You, an appearance on Top of the Pops, a successful tour, and the following non-album single "Devil's Answer", which charted at #4 in the UK, it was time for emerging stars Atomic Rooster to record their third album. Although guitarist John Du Cann sang vocals on Death Walks Behind You, band leader Vincent Crane was unsatisfied with Du Cann's singing chops, and wanted to hire a singer who could "project" to the audience. After the recording of all the other instruments had taken place and were to Crane's satisfaction, Crane asked Leaf Hound vocalist Pete French to re-record the vocals. At that point, it is unclear whether Du Cann left or Crane fired him, but Crane and Du Cann were already at wit's end with each other over how the previous album was mixed and the resulting infighting during their tour of that album; while Crane wanted the band to lean toward a more progressive sound, Du Cann wanted to create a sound based around aggressive guitar playing. In either case, Du Cann had recruited drummer Paul Hammond to his side, and the two left Atomic Rooster to form the band that would later be known as Hard Stuff. Now with only two members, Crane had complete control of what the new album would sound like. Consequently, he toned John Du Cann's guitar down - way down - and the result is an album which is much more inclined toward funk and soul than John Du Cann ever would have tolerated. Atomic Rooster's third album, In Hearing of Atomic Rooster was released in August of 1971, and the album peaked at #18 in the UK. Vincent Crane, with his new hand-picked group of Pete French on vocals, Steve Bolton on guitar and Ric Parnell on drums, then launched into an extensive international tour.

The first track on In Hearing of Atomic Rooster is Breakthrough, a nice track that starts with a thumping bass line and adds a gentle piano with a textured guitar, which makes for a good sound. Right off the bat, the listener can hear two major departures. First of all, the guitar is very mellow, much unlike the aggressive guitar playing heard on the group's previous album. Second, and probably for the better of your ear drums, Vincent Crane's organ is very subdued. We also hear Pete French's vocals for the first time on this track. While John Du Cann's vocals were very haunting, French's are much more soulful, and more fitting to the softer sound of this album. While "Breakthrough" is a good song, it lacks the spontaneity of the previous album, and that's a trend that is found on most of the album's songs. "Breakthrough"'s lyrics deal with feelings of entrapment and a wanting to break free, and it seems like this track wants to do the same. Alas, it never does.

On the next track, Break the Ice, we finally hear John Du Cann's guitar break out of its shell, if only briefly. Crane's organ also plays a bigger role on this song, but it doesn't dominate the other instruments as it had a tendency to do on the previous album, which is a good thing. The guitar, drums and organ play very well together on this song, and the music is paired with excellent vocals from Mr. French. The guitar solo at the end is a great touch, but the effects of Vincent Crane's meddling with the guitar mix can be heard as this track slowly fades out. The next track, Decision/Indecision is a lovely piano driven ballad with soulful crooning from Mr. French and excellent drumming. If Elton John sang this, it probably would have been a charting single. But there's one thing missing; do you know what it is? John Du Cann's guitar, of course! It seems to me that a great guitar track would have added a little more texture to this otherwise great ballad, and perhaps there was one at one point, only to be axed by Vincent Crane. If there was, we'll never know; dead men tell no tales.

The organ festival that is A Spoonful of Bromide Helps the Pulse Rate Go Down rounds out Side 1, and what a track! The track opens with a drum solo by Paul Hammond, followed by organ and guitar. Unlike the instrumentals on the previous album, the guitar and organ complement each other quite nicely on this track, playing nice instead of going at each other's throats. No wanky drum solos by Mr. Hammond this time around, his drumming is all business and makes for a more consistent instrumental. However, things never get out of control, which is what you always hope for on an instrumental, so this instrumental lacks the excitement of the instrumentals on the previous album. If there's one thing you can take from this track though, it's that your heart rate will definitely not go down!

Side 2 opens with Black Snake, the longest song of the side, and probably the most boring. Driven by a slow drum beat and organ, "Black Snake" never picks up the pace and slows down the album considerably. Vincent Crane himself lends vocals to this one, and his vocal style isn't half bad. It actually adds to the song rather than detracting from it. If you were bored to death with that song, not to worry! The next track, Head in the Sky, is easily the best on the album. Compared with the tightness and lack of spontaneity on most of the album's tracks, "Head in the Sky" really stands out as a fresh breath of creativity. The thumping bass and guitar pair nicely with the excellent drums and Crane's organ solo in the middle of the song. The guitar solo in this song is an album highlight. The most straight-forward rocker on the album, "Head in the Sky" is definitely the gem of this album and one of Atomic Rooster's career highlights.

Although the band's funk influences wouldn't completely creep in until Atomic Rooster's next album, Made In England, they can first be heard on the second instrumental of the album, The Rock. "The Rock" opens with a funky blend of bass, drums and horns - James Brown would be proud. While this funky track is interesting, you realize that it's not what you signed up for, and just when you're about ready to skip - Wham! - you get hit with a guitar solo that breathes life into the song, and then Vincent Crane's organ takes over. An organ solo ensues, but one that's slow and fits the track's funky rhythm, a huge contrast from the 100-mph organ solos of the previous album. This funky track is a precursor to the Rooster's future albums, and the band veered away from its signature heavy prog sound. The album closes out with The Price, a Gentle Giant sounding track with fast drumming and underlying organ work. The lyrics and sound are very dark, as In Hearing of Atomic Rooster ends much like Death Walks Behind You began, and puts a fitting bow on the high point of Atomic Rooster's career.

After the quintessential heavy prog masterpiece of Death Walks Behind You, Atomic Rooster looked to be on the verge of stardom as heavy metal pioneers. However, infighting between Vincent Crane and John Du Cann led to a drastic change in the band's sound, as songs with aggressive guitar and organ playing made way for the more soulful and funky approach that Vincent Crane had always wanted. Although not up to the 'classic' status that its predecessor attained, In Hearing of Atomic Rooster is a very enjoyable album for both prog and hard rock fans, and probably the last Atomic Rooster album to make an impact on the emerging heavy prog scene; up-and-coming bands like Uriah Heep, Hawkwind and Gentle Giant would soon command more attention. However, the influence of In Hearing Of can be heard in those band's music, as well as millenial bands such as Wolfmother. Atomic Rooster will always have a place in the development of heavy metal.

 Death Walks Behind You by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.84 | 276 ratings

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Death Walks Behind You
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by PoolmanProgger

5 stars A re-posting of a review I published as "CheapPurple" on Sputnik Music, slightly edited:

Review Summary: In one's search for the beginnings of prog and heavy metal, your quest will inevitably lead you here.

In 1969, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was at the peak of its international popularity, largely due to the controversial antics of the group's said front man, Arthur Brown. The attention Brown was getting caused grumblings among the other group members, who felt they weren't receiving enough attention for their musical abilities. Thus, the group splintered, and in late-'69, ex-Arthur Brown bandmates Vincent Crane, Carl Palmer (of later Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame) and Nick Graham formed Atomic Rooster. The group released their first record in February of 1970, but due to Nick Graham's departure soon after it's UK release, guitarist and vocalist John Du Cann was brought in to overdub the album; thus, there wasn't enough room in the budget to release the album in the US. Following the ensuing tour in support of their debut album, Carl Palmer also left the band. The band recruited Paul Hammond as their drummer, and in August of 1970, Atomic Rooster went into the studio to record their second album, and their US debut.

Personnel Vincent Crane: Hammond organ, piano, backing vocals John Du Cann: Guitars, Vocals Paul Hammond: Drums, percussion

Death Walks Behind You opens up with the galloping title track, a spooky track you do not want to be listening to on a cold, rainy night. In 1970, doom metal was in its infancy, and "Death Walks Behind You" was an early classic in the genre, a freakish thing of beauty and a hint that Atomic Rooster was on the verge of creating something dazzling. Although the rest of the album would not match the heaviness and eeriness of the title track, the album would be heavy enough as a whole to inspire future groups who'd become giants of the heavy metal genre, such as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Though the album is more progressive rock in nature - I mean, come on, that organ is deafening at times - the album's beauty lies in its heaviness. Along with Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster became pioneers in heavy prog with the release of this album, forever changing the prog-rock landscape.

The lone single from the album, "Tomorrow Night", got enough recognition to achieve Top 20 radio airplay in the group's native UK, but the album was largely ignored in the US. Another early heavy prog classic, "Tomorrow Night" was one of the scariest love songs unleashed on the British charts at the time, with an extended ending that descends into chaos, a terrifying yet fantastic bridge into "7 Streets", a track which is equally chaotic with Du Cann's blazing guitar competing with Vincent Crane's organ for attention. In fact, Du Cann and Crane seem to be competing throughout the whole album, as also evidenced on "Sleeping For Years" as well as the two instrumental pieces, "Vug" and "Gershatzer". In these two pieces, especially in the latter, drummer Paul Hammond, who does a fantastic job pounding the skins on this album, despite being the third wheel, finally gets his spotlight, and does a passable job, although the organ/percussion duet on "Gershatzer" gets a little painful toward the end, but hey, it's 1970, when annoying drum and organ solos came standard. Other than the final two-and-a-half minutes of "Gershatzer" there is no low point on this album.

If you can't hear the bass on this album, that's because Vincent Crane played all the bass parts on his organ, much like Ray Manzarek. While the bass is pretty mute on this album, probably the song where it plays the biggest role is "I Can't Take No More", a groovy rocker that is probably the least prog-influenced track on the record. "I Can't Take No More" is followed by the fantastic "Nobody Else", which begins with weird irritating chanting, but then introduces a jazzy and relaxed piano theme. The only song on the album that can be called a ballad, "Nobody Else" is a great mood piece that slows down the record, and is definitely the highlight of Side 2 of the record. However, midway through the track, the drums and guitar pick up the pace significantly, creating a powerful rock passage that very nicely picks up the pace of the remainder of the album. In actuality, "Nobody Else" is two songs in one - part relaxing ballad, part uptempo prog-rocker, and a real treat to anybody who listens to it, one of the gems of this fantastic album.

While Death Walks Behind You will not blow you away with its elite musicianship or fairy-tale lyrics, the record definitely holds a place in the prog-rock masterpiece catalog, as well as one of the early pillars of the heavy metal genre. With their unique approach to progressive rock, Atomic Rooster was able to create a satisfying record that truly sounded unique compared to the sounds of their peers. For fans of dark, pessimistic music, as well as fans of raw, vintage organs (trust me, there's a LOT of that on this album), this is a must-have album, as well as a must-listen for those who are interested in the development of heavy prog and heavy metal.

 Nice 'n' Greasy [Aka: IV] by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.74 | 85 ratings

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Nice 'n' Greasy [Aka: IV]
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

2 stars After a change in direction with the previous album `Made in England' for a more white soul/R&B sound, the fifth Atomic Rooster album `Nice N Greasy' saw the band still carrying on in that style, but to sadly diminishing returns. Apparently recorded in something of a hurry, the results only confirm that statement, and it's a noticeable step down in quality from the previous albums. It's a bunch of mostly just decent tunes, with a pretty useless cover of one of their biggest earlier hits and only one or two pieces that offer the classic dark magic of Rooster albums past. New guitarist Johnny Mandela (actually John Goodshall, later of fusion band Brand X) stands out the most, filling the album with smouldering electric bluesy wailing, and of course (as on all their albums) the drumming, from Rick Parnell, is front and centre and full of fire. Vocalist Chris Farlowe is still in decent form, just unfortunately saddled with mostly inferior material, but the biggest letdown of all is unforgivable - piano/organ player Vincent Crane is so low-key and subdued that it's like he's frequently missing altogether. When the `leader' is mostly missing in action, what chance does an Atomic Rooster album have to truly shine?

Album opener `All Across The Country' is a decent start, a well performed bluesy chill-out, driven by Johnny's slow-burn guitar soloing throughout the entire piece. Farlowe croons along confidently, Parnell drums up a busy storm, and Crane plods along on electric piano, but it takes for the more up-tempo second half for the piece to leap to life and for him to make his presence known with some brief soloing. `Save Me' is an uninspired horn driven remake of `Friday the 13th' from the self-titled debut album, with a tiresome histrionic vocal from Chris, only the little snarling electric guitar fills before the `Somebody...please save me' pre-chorus moments lift the track, bringing a little metal danger. `Voodoo In You' is the first standout moment, a slowly grooving classic darker Rooster track full of dark lust with that slight occult tinged unease they're known for. Johhny's simmering guitar leads the way, Chris purrs a seductive echoing vocal, but sadly Vincent is completely swamped by the other players and should have been mixed more upfront. `Goodbye Planet Earth' that follows is a slow funky jam dominated by Chris's hoarse bellow, but it's dull with a repetitive vocal that never really goes anywhere, and worse still, Vincent seems totally absent from the piece altogether.

`Take One To Toke' opens the second side with a heavy jazz/funk jam, with just a little aggressive piano, chugging wah-wah electric guitar and improvised vocals, but the `Do you want it, do you need it' words couldn't be more tired and tedious. You can hear Crane's Hammond straining to emerge at the end, but it retreats back with not even a whimper. Much better is the surprising gospel ballad `Can't Find A Reason', with big orchestration and classy warm piano from Vincent, and it's easily one of the most purely romantic and spiritual moments to appear on a Rooster album. Finally we get one of those infectious killer instrumental workouts that light up all their other albums, and for the first time on the LP Crane's Hammond organ and electric piano roars to life on `Ear In The Snow'. It's ably backed up by scratchy electric guitar and nimble unhinged drumming, and the entire band totally cooks on this one, easily making it the highlight of the disc. Sadly the promisingly titled album closer `Satan's Wheel' doesn't deliver much. Opening with jazz-fusion electric guitar ripples and creeping tip-toeing piano, some dreamy spacier verses are fine, but a boisterous chorus is repeated over and over, never achieving much at all. Damn, with a title like that, it should have been the perfect opportunity for some infernal brimstone-fuelled Hammond organ from Crane, but it never shows.

This version of the Atomic Rooster band would quickly splinter after this recording, until a new line-up reformed around Vincent Crane in 1980 in more of a heavy metal style. The Castle Music CD reissue adds a few bonus tracks, as well as a detailed booklet with many fascinating anecdotes and quotes from Chris Farlowe, doing what it can to make the album more completely appealing. Half of `Nice N Greasy' is worthwhile, the rest is throwaway if well-performed, but there might just be enough to get stronger fans over the line. Newcomers should check out the first three albums, followed by `Made in England, and only then look into this one. This is really for more forgiving die-hard followers of the band, and they'll definitely find something worthwhile here, even if it's often a pale imitation of the band at their strengths.

Two and a half stars.

 In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 185 ratings

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In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars The final of the holy trinity of the first three classic Atomic Rooster albums, Vincent Crane and his cohorts here delivered another scorching set fuelled by his brimstone powered Hammond organ on 1971's `In Hearing Of'. A winning mix of heavy proto-prog, lightly R&B, blues and funk influenced rockers and some brooding ballads, plus their delicious and borderline wicked occult tinged trademark lyrics all still make an appearance. However, despite still being very heavy, what makes the album stand out is a slightly lighter touch resulting in perhaps their most mellow, even introspective album, especially coming after all the bluster and noise of the Carl Palmer-powered debut or the aggressive stomp of `Death Walks Behind You.' It's a collection of eight piano/organ driven hard-rocking tunes, without a single poor moment on the entire LP.

`Breakthrough' may be one of the most restrained pieces to appear on an Atomic Rooster album, a classy album opener with an unhurried dramatic build delivered by sophisticated piano and Paul Hammond's commanding drumming, Pete French's raspy vocal delivering the necessary emotion to convey the pleading words. `Break The Ice' is a spiky and addictive guitar-driven rocker with call- and-response-like Hammond purrs and aggressive drumming, and Pete gets to let rip with a suitably throat-shredding vocal. Ballad `Decision Indecision' is one of the warmest Rooster moments ever to appear on one of their studios discs, with a moving thoughtful vocal and some lovely restrained piano that lifts into uplifting clouds of bliss in the soaring middle. `A Spoonful of Bromide...' is a snapping rocker, a frantic piano and Hammond organ soaked instrumental with relentless charging drumming and cymbals with wailing electric guitar full of fire from John Cann.

The classic Rooster track `Black Snake' slithers with a murky unease, Vincent Crane taking the lead vocal and asking "What's in the dark that makes you feel so wild...?". Fuelled by deceptively soothing coatings of wavering Hammond that makes you feel like you're levitating in air, the piece is simply dripping with temptation and lust. Knowing the demons the late Mr Crane went through in his life gives the track an even more ominous and unsettling quality, but his playing and his voice are so full of inspiration and passion. The up-tempo dirty rocker `Heads In The Sky' offers scuzzy heavy metal riffing and wild drumming in the style of Black Sabbath, only with more lashings of rippling and spirited Hammond organ soloing over the top. `The Rock' is a sweaty grooving instrumental with horns and feedback-drenched electric guitar eruptions. There's a sly menace to album closer `The Prince' (even more hammered home with more occult themed lyrics), with a maddening repetition to the piano and drums, not to mention some forceful screeching vocals that makes it quite overwhelming. Pay close attention to the contradictory lyrics, the protagonist clearly having made a very bad deal with a Devil and being confronted with his actions. Powerful stuff.

This particular version of Atomic Rooster would split almost as soon as the album was released, making it all the more special, unique and distinctive. You can't go wrong at all with the first three Rooster albums, and the furious spirit present on this album, as on the earlier two as well, is truly infectious. It's further proof what a talent the troubled Vincent Crane was as a musician, his organ and piano workouts positively crackling with energy, and he's ably backed up by a trio of other great musicians here who get plenty of standout moments throughout as well. The occasional lighter flourishes resulted in one of the most varied and easy to enjoy Atomic Rooster albums, and it's more evidence of what a fine band they were, making `In Hearing Of' is an impossibly strong and always consistent collection of hard-rocking organ-driven tunes, and proto/heavy prog lovers will likely already know they need to own this.

Four stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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