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ATOMIC ROOSTER - Atomic Roooster cover
3.55 | 12 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1970

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Friday The Thirteenth (3:31)
2. And So To Bed (4:11)
3. Broken Wings (5:46)
4. Before Tomorrow (5:50)
5. Banstead (3:33)
6. S.L.Y. (4:56)
7. Winter (6:59)
8. Decline And Fall (5:48)

Total Time 40:14


- Vincent Crane / Hammond organ, piano, vocals
- Carl Palmer / drums
- Nick Graham / bass, vocals, flute

- John Du Cann / guitar, vocals (US versions)

About this release

Released by B&C, Fontana.

Reissued In 1990 and 1995 by Repertoire Records with the following bonus track:

9. Play The Game (single b-side, 1971) (4:45)

Reissued in 2004 by Castle Music with the following bonus tracks:

9. Friday The 13th (US Version) (3:28)
10. Before Tomorrow (US Version) (5:47)
11. S.L.Y. (US Version) (4:53)
12. Friday The 13th (BBC Radio Session, 1970) (4:28)
13. Seven Lonely Streets (BBC Radio Session, 1970) (6:15)

Reissued in 2006 by Akarma Records with the following bonus tracks:

9. Play The Game (single b-side, 1971) (4:45)
10. VUG (demo with Carl Palmer, 1970) (4:32)
11. Devil's Answer (demo with Carl Palmer, 1970) (3:59)
12. Friday The 13th (BBC Radio Session, 1970) (4:28)
13. Seven Lonely Streets (BBC Radio Session, 1970) (6:15)

Thanks to cannon, Time Signature, Lynx33 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
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.
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was an amazing band - with no member more amazing than Arthur himself, whose vocal pyrotechnics are a complete joy to behold, providing a range of styles and techniques rarely heard in the world of rock or pop music combined with an instinctive feel for the dramatic. A most undersung hero, I think.

As Warthur notes, at the time, Hammond power trios were ten-a-penny - and it's worth checking out the amazing Atilla, led by none other than piano man, Mr Billy Joel, even though Atilla are, strictly speaking, a Hammond duo rather than a trio. You want wild, metal craziness? It's right there!

Meanwhile, back at the farm, the Rooster's first outing is a so-so affair, and not really of interest to metal fans, hence the low rating.

The opener, Friday The Thirteenth is a slightly out-of-tune mishmash that seems to aim at the heavier side of the Prog market - a dark flavoured organ driven piece, and, if I'm not mistaken, there is an uncredited guitar in there padding out the sound.

The organ solo is deeply inspired by the likes of Mick Weaver and Alan Hawkshaw - the unmistakable funky licks shining through.

There's quite a cool tension/release dramatic structure overall, and the music seems to segue nicely from one song to another - although some of the overdubs are a little instrusive, like the piano interjections layered over the organ.

Carl Palmer drives the rhythm section on very nicely indeed in a swingin' foot-tappin' manner, with walky bass lines and short, repetitive motifs that hint at riffs, without developing into anything interesting. The music really seems to be trying to recreate the sounds of Kingdom Come, but without Brown, this is a mere shadow. A pretty good, shadow, vocals apart - but Crane's playing is rather messy and spoils it a bit for me.

Continuing in the Mansfield/Hawkshaw/Weaver mould, "Broken Wings" is a nice piece of progressive sounding blues, with some great drumming from Palmer - as you might expect. The brass section seems like an afterthought, like a kind of tribute to Atom Heart Mother.

Although it's fair to say that this album sounds pretty much like almost any other organ-driven act of the time, there is overall a nice tightness to it, a consistently dark flavour, and the amazing instinctive and perfectly tight drumming of Palmer to hold it all together.

It's not worth going through the other tracks except to point out highlights, as there is no metal on this album whatsoever, proto or otherwise and, as has been already pointed out, they do tend to blend together with no real identity.

A collector's item only for fans of 1970s Heavy/Hard/organ-based rock - or Carl Palmer afficiandoes!

The first Atomic Rooster album sees the Graham/Crane/Palmer lineup as a band in search of an identity. No longer content to be the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the band don't quite manage to stake out their own territory, producing an album with a sound much like any other Hammond-heavy power trio at the start of the 1970s. Friday the 13th is a perfectly dramatic and exciting opener, but after that the songs all tend to blend together for me and lose their identity. Graham's vocals are also simply not up to belting out the material either, and are something of a weak point on the album. Altogether, a three star debut.

Members reviews

Just to let you know I'm only familiar with the slightly later version that included John Du Cann's involvement. Apparently when Du Cann joined the group, they decided to redo their debut album by including his guitar work, and on "Friday the 13th" his vocals. The true original featured their cover of John Mayall's "Broken Wings" in side two, while this later version had that song on side one (as well as a couple other songs switched). This John Du Cann version was meant for an American release, but that never happened, so instead it ended up as the second pressing on the B&C label. The true original would only have minimal guitar from bassist and vocalist Nick Graham (who would jump ship to Skin Alley), with of course, plenty of organ work from Vincent Crane.

Anyways, for all you ELP fans, this is the Atomic Rooster album with Carl Palmer's involvement. He had played with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (who also featured Vincent Crane) on tour (but never recorded with them). I have to let you know that Nick Graham's vocals are an acquired taste. The album starts off with "Friday the 13th", a great opening piece. With the John Du Cann version, it could have easily belonged on Death Walks Behind You. "And So To Bed" is another favorite of mine, with lyrics regarding the band telling a groupie off ("You don't want me/you don't need me/all you need is sex with fame"). Then they get more bluesy with their cover of John Mayall's "Broken Wings" then come with a killer instrumental piece, "Before Tomorrow". This song made you wished Carl Palmer would have stayed in Atomic Rooster. "Winter" is a rather mellow piece, with (I believe) Vincent Crane handling the vocals. They even go a bit in Jethro Tull territory with flute from Nick Graham.

Although their classic is their next album, Death Walks Behind You, you still want this album as this is a fine example of organ driven proto-metal, the kind Purple, Heep and many others had also done often so well.

Ratings only

  • Unitron
  • progshine
  • Lynx33
  • kllytrrnc
  • acefrehleylead
  • Tlön
  • stefanbedna
  • cannon

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