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Proto-Prog • United Kingdom

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The Gods biography
The GODS are most famous for introducing the world to Ken Hensley, the multi talented, main songwriter of URIAH HEEP's most famous period and an excellent solo career in his own right, but also housing Greg Lake and Mick Taylor in their ranks at some point in their relatively short lived history. However, they were arguably, alongside DEEP PURPLE's earliest work, the closest the UK came to VANILLA FUDGE.

Indeed, the FUDGE influenced The GODS hugely, but where The GODS scored was that they wrote more original material than VANILLA FUDGE did, the bulk of it coming from the pen of the already formidable Hensley, but also the guitarist Joe Konas.

The GODS' first release was a single for Polydor, with the line-up that would remain constant thereafter - Ken Hensley on keyboards and vocals, Lee Kerslake (who later joined URIAH HEEP) on drums and vocals, Joe Konas on guitar and vocals and John Glascock (who later joined JETHRO TULL) on bass and vocals. However, this made little impact. Nonetheless, they'd gained enough impact to be signed by Columbia, for whom The GODS made two albums- 'Genesis' in 1968 and 'To Samuel A Son' in 1970. Both were innovative affairs, with superb musicianship, with heavy guitar work, crunching organ and early mellotron use to the fore, plus bombastic harmonies and a pop sensibility in the mix. However, both albums made next to no impact. The closest they came to success was ironically a cover version of a lesser BEATLES song, 'Hey Bulldog'. However, arguably their finest work was another cover of the West Side Story nugget 'Maria', which was a tastefully elaborate yet melodic reworking of a standard with superb harmonies.

The band were more or less all present on an album released under the pseudonym 'Head Machine' which was called, subtly enough, 'Orgasm', but this sold nothing yet again, and the band's identity was masked under various pseudonyms in any case.

The GODS then dissolved, as Hensley, Kerslake and Glascock moved on to the heavy rock outfit Toe Fat led by 60s soul exponent Cliff Bennett, but Hensley soon had moved on to bigger and better things in one of the world's most loved prog/ heavy rock acts, URIAH HEEP, which at last allowed him full rein to showcase his talents. Kerslake joined him a few years later, and Glascock moved on to the prog act Carmen then JETHRO TULL, before sadly dying in 1979. Ken Hensley left HEEP in 1980 and has worked on albums on a session basis alongside his formidable...
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THE GODS discography

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THE GODS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.80 | 26 ratings
3.31 | 25 ratings
To Samuel A Son

THE GODS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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3.05 | 3 ratings
The Gods Featuring Ken Hensley

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

THE GODS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 To Samuel A Son by GODS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.31 | 25 ratings

To Samuel A Son
The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Surprising how few reviews the two albums by The GODS have received. This band is best known for its members who later became involved in famous bands: keyboardist-guitarist Ken Hensley and drummer Lee Kerslake in Uriah Heep, bassist John Glascock in Jethro Tull. [Also one Greg Lake played in the Gods, but so briefly that he's not featured on the recordings. Furthermore, original guitarists Mick Taylor and Brian Jones found greater fame with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Rolling Stones, respectively.] The fourth man in the recording lineup is Joe Konas (guitar, vocals). Heep's main writer Hensley is naturally the most active song writer here, but also the others are credited on several songs. 14 of them in total, and the fresh Esoteric Recordings edition has both sides of the single 'Maria' as bonus tracks. Yeah, the famous song from West Side Story musical! And it works really nice.

The debut "Genesis" (1968) was quite a modest organ-heavy psych pop album with lousy production, and this album is a clear improvement. Harmony vocals, good keyboard parts (as well as cheesy ones), accessible songs of psychedelic pop or proto-prog, and the conceptual feel that harmfully doesn't function very well til the end. At least the fans of Uriah Heep probably wish for something more edgy and powerful. Some songs (e.g. title track, 'Five to Three', 'Autumn') have a nice, shadowy atmosphere but some others are just boring and outdated.

Not a bad album in the late sixties psych/proto-prog field, but not an essential listening unless you give extra value to the historic side of it. In that case the Esoteric Recordings edition (2013) is recommended. Hensley tells in the liner notes that he can still listen to this without being embarrassed. His songs are genreally better than Konas's or Kerslake's, whose 'Lovely Anita' is irritatingly bad way to end the original album.

 Genesis by GODS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.80 | 26 ratings

The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A middling late-sixties proto-prog outfit that would eventually morph into the hugely-successful Uriah Heep several years down the line, The Gods were otherwise most notable for featuring within their ranks an alarming number of talented British musicians during the group's relatively short lifespan. 1968's debut album 'Genesis' would introduce the world to both keyboardist Ken Hensley and drummer Lee Kerslake - two members of Uriah Heep's classic early-seventies line-up - and also feature the future Jethro Tull bassist John Glascock. However, the name-dropping doesn't stop there. Between 1965 and 1969 The Gods rather fluid membership policy would also see early appearances from the likes of guitarist Mick Taylor(The Rolling Stones), bassist Paul Newton(Uriah Heep), vocalist-and-guitarist Greg Lake(King Crimson, ELP), guitarist Alan Shacklock(Babe Ruth) and vocalist Cliff Bennett(Toe Fat), all of whom would go on to join their respective outfits and enjoy various levels of success after their brief-but-seemingly educational tenures with The Gods. Three years after forming and several disposable singles later, the line-up finally had settled down enough to produce an album. This would see Hensley, Kerslake and Glascock augmented by songwriter and guitarist Joe Konas, who would prove to be one of the few Gods not to join a soon-to-be popular progressive rock group despite the fact that he composed the bulk of the material found on 'Genesis'. Issued on Columbia Records during the summer of 1968, 'Genesis' blends flowery psychedelia, poppy melodies and a sprinkling of heavy rock to rather formulaic effect, the foursome sounding not unlike a slightly heavier version of Procol Harum. Listened to now, it's not surprisingly to find that the album has much in common with Uriah Heep's early albums, though with the grinding guitars and power-prog dynamics replaced by a foppish, semi-orchestral style so typical of the era. Very much a curio for hardcore Heep fans and purveyors of orchestral psych-pop, 'Genesis' otherwise proves a distinctly limited sonic experience, made up of simplistic melodies and of interest only because of the group's fascinating membership roster. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
 Genesis by GODS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.80 | 26 ratings

The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by Certif1ed
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars In The Beginning

...back in 1968, man didn't know about the Prog Rock show, and how it would be great...

But several bands had ideas above and beyond the Psychedelic rock formula, and The Gods were among those enlightened few.

On first listen, this album comes across like a prototype Uriah Heep album - all the elements are there; The trademark vocal harmonies, the Brian Auger inspired Hammond+Rock Band setup, the Heavy Rock roots (or even Metal, when you consider the historical context), and the epic approach.

This is an album that emerged from the Progressive Music scene, and it would not be too far amiss to consider it as a Progressive Rock album of its generation, and certainly, it's progressive in spirit.

Kicking off with Towards the Skies, we dive straight into the full texture that the band can throw at us - a bit reminiscent of The Who, putting me in mind of Tommy somehow - and maybe a bit Buffalo Springfield, this is a well structured song with dynamic, tempo and key changes a-plenty, rivalling later Heep albums, the grunty guitar giving a distinct metallic edge, with driving riffs and a searing solo, fully descriptive of the songs title. Dramatic pathos is maintained for the rest of the song, until the seriously weird ending.

Candles Getting Shorter is more in a kind of Psych rock vein, reminding me a bit of Procol Harum. The vocal harmonies don't let up for a second, rivalling those of the Beach Boys, and the song pand out unexpectedly into Moodies territory, becoming washed in Mellotron for the quieter sections. A delightful Hammond counter-melody provides counterpoint interest to what is in essence a simple love song. But you just forget that as the textures unfold - and this song just reminds you how much music was created in the 1960s that has remained essentially unchanged.

More wierdness leads to You're My Life, a Yardbirds inspired mid-tempo rocker, which stays in the same textural ballpark, using the same breakdown structural techniques - and some surprising horns in the chorus, lending an altogether poppier feel. The melodic and modal guitar solo is a pleasant change from the preponderance of pentatonic noodelry so prolific at that time, competing with the best of Jefferson Airplane, and reminding me of Country Joe and the Fish at their best (only better!).

Looking Glass is distinctly familiar - can't quite put my finger on it, but the harmonic progressions are unusual, and the choirs feature those dizzying heights that were typical of Heep. A bit predictable, but immensely enjoyable and a lot of fun, especially the organ lines that hint at both Classical inspiration and Eastern-style modes. The instrumental features some really gorgeous key changes that don't remind me of any band from this time.

Misleading Colours wears its Hendrix influence on its sleeve, and has that typical Auger sound combined with a driving force borrowed again from the Who. Again, not fantastically original - but it really rocks.

Radio Show appears to be an attempt at commercial success - the sound suddenly changes to something with a simple appeal, with an infectious melody, interesting story line and quirky hooks. Then it changes key and style unexpectedly into a refrain of Would you believe me if I said that I was losing my mind, which is followed by another key change - all belied by the continual underpinning rhythm, until the tempo change at 1:36 - there are so many ideas densely packed into this short song that it would be an easy mistake to write it off as something simple. It's insanely catchy too.

Plastic Horizon opens with the Hammond - really, can you ever tire of hearing it? Then we get more of those vocal harmonies. Here, I'm reminded of the Scorpions later material somehow. But this is the most progressive song so far - the keyboard textures provide a developing journey until the regular beat kicks in - nevertheless, the song breaks down and changes tempo and texture frequently, leaving you uncertain of where you are musically - but in a state of emotional bliss. This truly out-Procols Procol Harum structurally. An epic performance for the time - and better than a lot of the music around now.

Farthing Man ups the tempo, and returns to Who territory, but with added vocal mayhem. A Strawberry Fields-alike breakdown combines with other strong Beatles influences, before the uptempo section is returned to. The instrumental is very disappointing, despite nods towards Airplane style experimentation for the weakest track on the album.

I Never Know brings the tempo right down - and the Mellotron returns (Deep Joy!), a Beatles/Hendrix-inspired riff, and a large number of tempo changes, CSNY-style and floating vocal harmonies in a real mash-up for a somewhat clumsy but unmistakable prototype of Prog Rock. The guitar solo is unusual in the context of its backing, which consists of a military-style snare pattern and thick Mellotron chords, underpinned by a simple, plodding bass - but in itself rather unremarkable.

The album wraps up with Time and Eternity, an uptempo number in much the same vein as the rest of the material, with the same influences - the vocals and overall style reminding me of what Yes would later do - the big difference being Chris Squires remarkable bass. Here, the bassist sits on the back burner the whole way through.

Historically, then, this is an important album in a Prog Collection insofar as it constitutes a good representation of Progressive Music of that time. Of course, you'll be checking out The Nice, The Moody Blues, Procol Harum, Soft Machine and Art first - and I'd recommend Deep Purple's debut and Spooky Tooth's second album too - but this is a hugely enjoyable album of heavy rock music that deserves a place in an informed collection of Progressive Rock.

 Genesis by GODS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.80 | 26 ratings

The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars No, not that Genesis

By the time the Gods recorded their first album, several line up changes had already taken place, including the departure of a certain Greg Lake. Principal songwriting and performing duties are therefore shared between Ken Hensley and Joe Konas.

When assessing this album, it is important to bear in mind that it was recorded in 1968, well before the music of bands such as Yes and Genesis became progressive. Indeed, a better reference point would be Genesis first album "From Genesis to revelation", but without the superfluous orchestration.

There's little by way of even proto prog here. Certainly the tracks generally venture beyond the confines of the three minute pop song, especially in terms of the heaviness of the organ and guitar work, but the each track has a single defined rhythm and pace on which it is built.

Hensley's dominance certainly offers hints of the direction he would follow with Uriah Heep, but his compositional skills would develop rapidly from those on show here, helped in no small part by the other Heep member's ability to fully develop his songs.

While the ironically named "Genesis" (which has nothing to do with the band of that name) is of historical interest, it can safely be passed by, by those seeking prog or even hints as to its source.

 The Gods Featuring Ken Hensley by GODS, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1976
3.05 | 3 ratings

The Gods Featuring Ken Hensley
The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Maria's got heavy

The Gods are best remembered for the bands the members went on to join, rather for their own music. Ken Hensley became the keyboard player and principal song writer with Uriah Heep before joining Blackfoot and pursuing a solo career. Lee Kerslake also joined Uriah Heep whom he remained with until this year (apart from brief spell with Ozzie Osbourne's band). John Glasscock was a stalwart of Jethro Tull. Uriah Heep bassist Paul Newton, Mick Taylor and Greg Lake also featured in the line up, but not on the band's albums.

This compilation takes it tracks from both of the God's studio releases in roughly equal proportions. Also included are several non album singles and B sides.

While the line up may have spawned several prog dignitaries, there is little if any hint of prog here. The songs are heavy for the time, with Hensley's Hammond playing and distinctive vocals much in evidence. Some tracks, such as the Hensley composed "Candlelight" offer hints of the early sound of Uriah Heep, but the compositions rarely stray far from a pop vein. The interpretation of Bernstein and Sondheim's "Maria" sounds distinctly like one of Vanilla Fudge's unique cover versions.

The multi-part vocal harmonies present here would go on to become a Uriah Heep trademark. "Yes I cry" is worth hearing for the early mellotron use, giving the track a distinctive orchestrated feel. The falsetto vocals on "Looking glass" bear a spooky resemblance to those of the late David Byron (of Uriah Heep), especially on the la-la chorus. The intro to the final track "Misleading colours" sound like a Hendrix song, but a more orthodox pop composition lies in wait.

Ironically, if anyone appears to be attempting to push the boundaries, it is Joe Konas. Konas, (who is the principal song writer contributing even more than the prolific Hensley) was the member of the line up whom superstar status eluded, yet it is his guitar work which is the most striking feature of the album. Konas now works in a music shop in Ontario Canada, and teaches guitar technique.

In all, an album which will be of passing interest to those seeking the roots of Uriah Heep, but there is little here for those seeking the roots of prog.

 To Samuel A Son by GODS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.31 | 25 ratings

To Samuel A Son
The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by Jaws

3 stars The second album of the group is more interesting for me. I felt development after the first one. I could enjoy 4 songs from this album. It's quite a good ratio in comparision with the "Genesis" album. The start of this record is great! The group can be proud of the title song: "To Samuel A Son" Other important movements are: "He's Growing", "Groozy" and "Five To Three". So I think it's really worth to listen to this album once, but Ken Hensley did his best to form the Spice and Uriah Heep. I think the Gods was a good begining for some famous musicians.
 Genesis by GODS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.80 | 26 ratings

The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by Jaws

2 stars Uriah Heep was one of my favourite bands in my teen-age, and nowadays I also like the early period of this band. I am very curious about the works of Ken Hensley. I could listen to the songs of the Spice, and I liked them. I was looking forward to get more from Ken Hensley's early works. When I listened to this album I was very disappointed. To tell the truth I waited more. I could only enjoy the first song: "Toward the Skies". Sorry to say, but in my opinion the other ones are only unimportant pop-songs. But the bonus tracks are the exceptions! "Somwhere in the Street" and "Real Love Guaranteed" are the greatest movements in this album. I wonder why are these songs more fully-fledged. It's a puzzle for me. With a painful heart I can give only two stars to this album.
 To Samuel A Son by GODS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.31 | 25 ratings

To Samuel A Son
The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by bristolstc

5 stars The Gods had a long and complicated history, beginning in Hatfield in the mid 1960s. At one point Greg Lake fronted them, and after his departure the group settled around the line up of Joe Konas, the late John Glascock, Lee Kerslake, and Ken Hensley around 1967. This line up as you may know would later become part of the hard hitting yet melodic group Uriah Heep. Hard hitting yet melodic sums up some of this wonderful album, but The Gods in a bid to go out with a bang and split up having achieved something of worth (their two albums prove that in spades- unfortunately I don't own Genesis yet, but I heard it some time ago) tried for one side devoted to a concept, the other to songs not linked to the concept. The concept side is quite impressive, with much mellotron, Hammond organ, soulful melodic vocal harmonies, and a great lead voice from Ken Hensley. Most impressive of Side One's nine tracks are the opening title track, "Sticking Wings On Flies" (you gotta hear this to believe it!), "He's Growing," and I'd say "Lady Lady." There's a lot of transitional 60s into 70s stuff here, the organ and guitar sounding like a precursor to what would happen only a year later when "progressive rock" was born. I don't consider any track on this record "progressive" instead opting for the term "art rock." You should realize that though linked together sometimes these are very different things. Art rock is more the Moody Blues/Beatles/Kaleidoscope/Koobas kind of proto serious "art" in a rock context and leaning towards the song based and thoughtful. So what is progressive? That's when the longer tracks and heavy classical/jazz influences and the underground vibe come in. The Gods then can be viewed as one of the greatest art rock bands and this one of the greatest soft psychedelic into art rock albums. There's not one thing I'd change about this record, I simply love it and think that they did a great job in pulling off some magic at the tail end of their career. Listen especially to "Momma I Need-" this track is mindblowing! The harmonies and music are first class, and the lyrics- deep and meaningful. If you like the best music of the 1960s and early 1970s you need to own this album, and this band. If you want to know what Uriah Heep started off as, buy it as well, but you may be a bit shocked as not much of this band's output is bludgeoningly heavy. For the time was it? Yes, some tracks definitely were, but it doesn't sound heavy next to Look At Yourself or Salisbury. If you can imagine the early Deep Purple jamming with The Moody Blues and a bit of Asgard/Argent in there, you get it. Anyways, a masterpiece and an album that has stood up brilliantly.
 To Samuel A Son by GODS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.31 | 25 ratings

To Samuel A Son
The Gods Proto-Prog

Review by smile

2 stars Well a few words for an ordinary 60's album.This album does not contain anything new for your ear its a simple 60's pop/psychedelia/proto-prog album.In general this work is feature for his heavy organ, with few good songs and with many ballads, nothing to remember for.Although we can not forget the members that take part here:Ken Hensley,Lee Kerslake[also John Glascock(JETHRO TULL,TOE FAT)] two musicians who later will be meet again in URIAH HEEP. This is the album that Ken Hensley start to show his talent in keyboards and his leading role in a band .I could only recommend this album at fans of URIAH HEEP

P.G You can hear many similaritys between this album and URIAH HEEP firts 2 albums

Thanks to salmacis for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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