Quatermass (album)

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Quatermass
Studio album by Quatermass
Released May 1970
Recorded Abbey Road Studios, London
1970
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 50:37 (original)
61:01 (1990 reissue/Repertoire)
Label Harvest
Producer Anders Henriksson
Quatermass chronology
Quatermass
(1970)
Quatermass II: Long Road
(1997)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
ARTISTdirect 4/4 stars[2]

Quatermass is an album by British progressive rock band, Quatermass, first released in May 1970. It has been described as "a keyboard dominated chunk of heavy progressive rock... a popular part of the eccentric Harvest label."[3] Based around organ, bass and drums, Quatermass is regarded as a quintessential British prog rock album, destined to remain a cult classic and also one of the first albums in the vein of progressive metal.[4] Overall, the album is well-rounded, technically competent and complex, yet retaining a distinctive swing time rhythm as would be expected from a trio that were at their core a strong rhythm section. Throughout, the album flows easily from mid-tempo rock to avant-garde instrumental to bluesy soundscapes.

Impact[edit]

Ritchie Blackmore's departure from Deep Purple has often been linked with this album: during the recording of Purple's Stormbringer in 1974, Blackmore's request to cover "Black Sheep of the Family"

...fell on stony ground [and] he ended up taking a relative back seat in the studio... Blackmore then followed his own muse by recording it on the Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow solo album in early 1975, backed by members of Deep Purple's regular support act Elf."

This is considered the pivotal moment that led to Blackmore's departure.[5]

Track summary[edit]

"Entropy" is a very quiet keyboard-based melody, vaguely cyclic in nature. On vinyl editions of the album it is so quiet it almost gets lost in the groove noise, even on near-mint copies, but on digitally remastered CD copies the track is much clearer and reveals a deep organ-pedal bass underpinning the melody. "Black Sheep of the Family" is the album's first full length piece, beginning with a series of crashing chords, interspersed with powerful drum breaks. The backing tracks are a layered mix of organ and piano, arranged to make a guitar unnecessary. "Post War Saturday Echo" is a slow electric blues number with delayed and double-tracked vocals in stereo, which combine with the multi-layered keyboard tracks to lend an "otherwordly" quality to the piece. The balladic "Good Lord Knows" is performed as a prayer by John Gustafson, backed by harpsichord and strings. The string arrangements were by Peter Robinson. The next track switches the tempo, "Up on the Ground" being a powerful hard rock song with virtuoso bass riffing and rock organ solos. With "Gemini" Peter Robinson again arranges piano and organ to form a texture which leaves no requirement for a guitarist. "Make Up Your Mind" is an example of stop-time instrumental, and also features explorative keyboard riffs in odd time signatures punctuated by drum and bass licks. "Laughing Tackle" is an extended, often exploratory piece, which commences with a pulsating, bounding bass guitar pattern and cymbal work, double tracking by Robinson on electric piano and organ, and a slow-building organ solo culminating in a descending chord break signalling the start of a Mick Underwood drum solo highlighted by extensive rolling. The original vinyl release then closed with the repeat of the intro, "Entropy (Reprise)." Of the bonus tracks which feature on subsequent reissues, "One Blind Mice" is the best known, having been released also as a single, and demonstrates a heavy rock influence and descending chord progression. The organ solo releases into a phasing wash which carries through to the final verse and chorus. "Punting" has solid bass and drum lines textured with exploratory musings by Peter Robinson using the ring-modulator.

Track listing[edit]

# Side 1 Title Songwriters
1. "Entropy" Peter Robinson 1:10
2. "Black Sheep of the Family" Steve Hammond 3:36
3. "Post War, Saturday Echo" Peter Robinson, John Gustafson, Graham Ross 9:42
4. "Good Lord Knows" John Gustafson 2:54
5. "Up on the Ground" John Gustafson 7:08
# Side 2 Title Songwriters
1. "Gemini" Steve Hammond 5:54
2. "Make up Your Mind" Steve Hammond 8:44
3. "Laughin Tackle" Peter Robinson 10:35
4. "Entropy (Reprise)" Peter Robinson 0:40
# (bonus tracks on reissue) Songwriters
5. "One Blind Mice" John Gustafson 3:15
6. "Punting" John Gustafson 7:09

Personnel[edit]

The orchestra[edit]

  • Violins
    • Tony Gilbert (Leader)
    • John Kirkland
    • David Katz
    • Billy Millar
    • Charlie Vorsanger
    • Les Maddox
    • Gerald Enns
    • Harold Parfitt
    • Paul Scherman
    • Homi Kanga
    • Jack Rothstein
    • Henry Datyner
    • Bill Armon
    • Michael Jones
    • Laurie Clay
    • Derek Jacobs
  • Violas
    • Steve Shingle
    • Chris Wellington
    • Henry Myerscough
    • Ian White
    • Bernard Davis
    • John Graham
  • Cellos
    • Paul Buckmaster (Leader)
    • Boris Rickelman
    • Francis Gabarr
    • Peter Wilson
    • Freddy ALexander
    • Chris Green
  • Double bass
    • Frank Clarke
    • Joe Mudele
    • Arthur Watts

Production[edit]

  • Producer — Anders Henriksson
  • Engineers — Jeff Jarratt, Andy Stevens.
  • Cover design and Photographs – Storm Thorgerson/Hipgnosis
  • Reissue cover design and illustration — Steve Newport.

Pressings[edit]

  • 1970 — original release on Harvest label
  • 1975 — reissued on Harvest label with alternative cover
  • 1990 — reissued on Repertoire Records label, with bonus tracks
  • 1996 — reissued on Repertoire Records label, with bonus tracks
  • 2001 — reissued on Akarma Records label, with bonus tracks

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Quatermass's MySpace with "Gemini", "Make Up Your Mind", "One Blind Mice" and "Punting" available in Standalone Player