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Argus was formed in 1972 by bass player Mick Pearl and drummer Dave Wagstaffe, both musicians hailing originally from Skegness. They recruited in guitarist Del Watkins, who used to play in the band ‘Julian’s Treatment’, who had had some success with a very original album ‘A Time before This’. Del had also been in the Ska band ‘The Skatalites’ as well as Polydor band ‘Rare Amber’, and as a back up musician for Ben E King.

A singer was eventually found in Bill McRae from Scotland and the band put together a set of original material, with influences from Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash (who’s third album had inspired the band’s name) and Free. The band soon built up a good reputation on the college circuit, festivals, and rock pubs and clubs such as the Fulham Greyhound, from where one report came to the attention of The Old Grey Whistle Test’s Bob
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ARGUS Argus album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Proto-Metal 2001

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Split · 2001 · Proto-Metal
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Throughout most of my years of music appreciation (age 11 to 44 now) I was under the impression that bands released albums, toured to promote them, recorded new ones, and toured again. What I have been learning is that there are many more bands who only did the touring part and never released any albums. For some the record deals were nearly signed but something occurred that cancelled the deal. Others only ever recorded demos in small studios or in their homes.

Argus are one of those bands that almost got there but didn't. As their MMA bio points out, they almost had a record deal but lost a crucial member. The five songs on this CD were recorded in a living room and I have to say that for a home job (on good equipment mind you) the recording makes pretty good-sounding demo quality material. The music is what you would expect of the times: a partially blues-based hard rock sound with some heavier parts. Close to early Free or a bit like Trapeze. "Road of Life" is the pick for YouTube proto-metal playlists because it is faster, but I prefer the slower and heavier "Same Old Story".

Vocals, distorted electric guitar, bass and drums. The vocals are pretty good and had this line-up recorded an album I believe it would have sounded rather impressive. It's a pity that these five songs are not the bonus tracks on a CD reissue of the debut album that never came to be.

The rest of the CD consists of a live recording of an outdoor performance in 1977 when the group was called Anaconda. "Good evening. We're called Anaconda. That number was called 'Funk Song'. If you like us, we're called Anaconda." To be very honest here, the music is actually very well played. The drums and bass are really funky and rockin' and the guitar and guitar solos show real talent. There's some flute playing too which is good enough. The music is not metal and not exactly hard rock but the guitar does make the music sound like hard funky rock. The two big problems are the recording quality and the vocals. As an outdoor live recording, this is pretty murky, lo-fi with a lot of tape hiss. At times it's possible for me to ignore the poor sound and just get into the groove of the music. The vocals are deplorable, though. Not in tune a times, lacking vocal talent, and too loud in the microphone, it sounds like a drunken member of the audience was invited to step up and sing.

It is a second pity then that this band did not get into the studio to record their music and get a proper vocalist to sing for them. This music could easily have led to an awesome piece of work.

So sadly, this is all that remains of Argus and Anaconda. You will want to get this CD for any of three reasons: 1) You know someone who was in the band and you want to support them; 2) You were a fan of them back in the day and always wanted a hard copy of their music; 3) You love finding obscure and rare proto-metal and early hard rock music because it makes you happy somehow. I bought it for reason #3.

I would give the music three stars but given that this is demo and live stuff that was not given a proper treatment and is therefore lacking something, I've scaled back a half star.

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