Saturday, August 27, 2016

Atomic Rooster - 1972 [1994] "Made In England"

Made in England is the fourth album by British rock band Atomic Rooster. Although previously known for generally having a progressive rock style, this album saw the band moving in more of a funk/soul direction, largely influenced by new singer Chris Farlowe. Apart from founder member Vincent Crane, the album was recorded by an entirely different lineup to that of the band's prior effort, In Hearing of Atomic Rooster. Previous members John Du Cann and Paul Hammond had departed in protest at Crane's intended new musical direction.
In the UK and Germany, original copies of the LP came wrapped in an actual denim sleeve. Later pressings came in a standard art sleeve. In the US, the record was issued on Elektra in the standard sleeve. It was further reissued in Germany in 1977, this time in yet another new sleeve and retitled This is Atomic Rooster.
The only UK single from Made in England was "Stand by Me".

The third incarnation of English prog rockers, Atomic Rooster make their debut on Made in England (1972). The group began as a trio featuring former Crazy World of Arthur Brown member Vincent Crane (organ), Nick Graham (bass), and Carl Palmer (drums). After a few significant shuffles within the lineup, only Crane continued with the name, recruiting Mick Jagger protégé Chris Farlowe (vocals), Rick Parnell (percussion), and Steve Bolton (guitars) as the next generation. They have an edgy and somewhat brooding sound, recalling early Mott the Hoople discs such as the highly underrated Mad Shadows (1970). Much of the material reveals the quartet's slightly funky groove, such as the pulsating "Stand by Me," or the gospel-inflection on the spoken "Introduction," which prefaces the Crane instrumental "Breathless." Somewhat misplaced is the orchestration -- especially on "Time Take My Life" -- which tends to congest the otherwise driving arrangement. Parnell penned a pair of the finest contributions on Made in England, the slinky "Little Bit of Inner Air," as well as the Southern rock-tinged "All in Satan's Name." The latter comes off like a blend of the Allman Brothers and Deep Purple. Bolton supplies the power ballad "Never to Lose," as well as "Space Cowboy," which develops into an electric hoedown following a somewhat off-balance and synth-heavy keyboard intro. Bolton would be the next casualty of the combo, leading to the formation of the criminally underrated Headstone. A successful North American tour resulted in Made in England, which charted briefly in the U.S., and would be the final Atomic Rooster album to do so. The band would successfully continue under Crane's tutelage until the early '80s, when he joined up with a post-"Come on Eileen" Dexys Midnight Runners

I found this album to be a variable mix of three genres of music. First progressive, second hard rock (leaning to heavy metal early in the bands existence), and thirdly avant garde jazz. This is one of the better incarnations of Atomic Rooster (the one heard on 'in the hearing of..' a close second). For any one interested in hearing music that is different, very powerful, yet atmospheric I sincerely recommend this album.

Though I was already well aware the band headed towards a significantly funkier direction for this outing, I'm by no means disappointed by the majority of the songwriting. Made In England proves that Atomic Rooster is honestly very very good at the funk genre.

"Time Is My Life" has an orchestration during the intro (or at least, it definitely sounds like one even though it probably wasn't necessary) and shortly after that, the vocal melody comes in. This song sets the pace for the rest of the album- one catchy vocal melody after another. In this particular track, the vocals remind me of Jack Bruce from Cream fame. "Stand By Me" features vocals that instantly remind me of John Lawton from Lucifer's Friend. This is where the actual funkiness begins, and it doesn't let up for a good portion of the album. As for the song... I love it. Perhaps the chorus repeats a tad too much, but when it's memorable I don't really care.

For those out there who admire the Tommy Bolin period of the James Gang (and especially their Bang classic) "Little Bit of Inner Air" might remind some of a Tommy Bolin-type, slow-moving and eerily quiet blues track. It's highly memorable too, though it took a few close listens to really win me over. "Don't Know What Went Wrong" takes us back to the John Lawton similarities, and I'm thoroughly impressed once again. The piano jam at the end is pretty tasty too. "Never To Lose" is the albums underrated soul ballad I guess you could call it. A VERY effective vocal melody. Honestly, I don't notice Atomic Rooster losing any steam whatsoever, so the lack of popularity concerning this album is sort of mysterious to me.

Brace yourself for the second side. WOW!! "Breathless" in an *extremely* exciting piano-based funk jam with the adrenaline level pushed up dramatically, and "Space Cowboy" continues the theme with a really good vocal melody to boot. No, in case you're wondering, it's not related to the Steve Miller Band song of the same name. This is actually MUCH better. "People You Can't Trust" is probably a Sly & the Family Stone interpretation, and it's a good one. It definitely stands out from the rest of the album. "All In Satan's Name" is... I honestly don't know WHAT this is. It's funky, it's very very heavy, and the vocals are good enough. "Close Your Eyes" is a soulful ballad with piano playing and vocals reminiscent of either the Guess Who or Lee Michaels. Not sure which one exactly. I love it though.

Tracks Listing:
 
1. Time Take My Life (6:02)
2. Stand By Me (3:45)
3. Little Bit Of Inner Air (2:39)
4. Don't Know What Went Wrong (3:59)
5. Never To Lose (3:16)
6. Introduction (0:26)
7. Breathless (instrumental) (4:49)
8. Space Cowboy (3:20)
9. People You Can't Trust (3:52)
10. All In Satan's Name (4:43)
11. Close Your Eyes (3:48)

Musicians:
 
- Chris Farlowe / vocals
- Vincent Crane / Hammond organ, piano, electric pianos, A.R.P. synthesizer
- Steve Bolton / electric guitars, 12-string guitar
- Rick Parnell / drums, congas, timbales and additional percussion, vocals on «Little Bit Of Inner Air»

+ Bill Smith / electric bass on «Stand By Me»
- Doris Troy and Liza Strike / backing vocals on «Stand By Me» and «People You Can't Trust»

3 comments:

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  2. Only have It In old vinyl. Thanks JRB for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like British rock band... Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog with us.

    ReplyDelete