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Gillan is a rock band closely associated with but not directly arising from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, formed in 1978 by Ian Gillan and Colin Towns in the UK.

In 1978 Ian Gillan had become dissatisfied with the jazz fusion style of his band called Ian Gillan Band and dissolved it, retaining only keyboard player Colin Towns, and formed a new band entitled Gillan. He added Steve Byrd on guitar, Liam Glenocky on drums and John McCoy (ex-Zzebra) on bass, and initially pursued a progressive rock direction, releasing their eponymous debut in 1978, although they could only get a record deal in Japan. This recording has subsequently become more widely available as The Japanese Album.

The album was sufficiently successful to attract more attention and in 1979 the band secured a European deal with Acrobat Records. Before a new album was recorded, Byrd was replaced by Bernie
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GILLAN Discography

GILLAN albums / top albums

GILLAN Gillan album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Hard Rock 1978
GILLAN Mr. Universe album cover 3.72 | 6 ratings
Mr. Universe
Hard Rock 1979
GILLAN Glory Road album cover 4.30 | 7 ratings
Glory Road
Hard Rock 1980
GILLAN Future Shock album cover 4.08 | 6 ratings
Future Shock
Hard Rock 1981
GILLAN Double Trouble album cover 4.62 | 4 ratings
Double Trouble
Hard Rock 1981
GILLAN Magic album cover 3.83 | 7 ratings
Hard Rock 1982
GILLAN Toolbox album cover 3.54 | 6 ratings
Hard Rock 1991

GILLAN EPs & splits

GILLAN live albums

GILLAN Live at the BBC 79 / 80 album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Live at the BBC 79 / 80
Hard Rock 2000
GILLAN Live Wembley 17th December 1982 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Live Wembley 17th December 1982
Hard Rock 2004

GILLAN demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

GILLAN re-issues & compilations

GILLAN Higher and Higher album cover 3.09 | 2 ratings
Higher and Higher
Hard Rock 2005

GILLAN singles (1)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
No Easy Way
Hard Rock 2007

GILLAN movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

GILLAN Reviews

GILLAN Future Shock

Album · 1981 · Hard Rock
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I was in a secondhand record shop in downtown Vancouver, sometime around 1986, just looking around for hard and heavy rock albums that were not well known among my generation, and then this really cool hard rock guitar riff came over the speakers. I went and asked the store clerk whose music it was and he said it was Gillan. As a Deep Purple fan, I knew who that was, and fortunately for me, there was a cassette of “Future Shock” in stock, featuring “Night Ride Out of Phoenix”, the song that had first caught my attention.

“Future Shock” is Gillan’s third album and includes the same members that were on the previous two albums: Gillan (vocals), Colin Towns (keyboards), Bernie Tormé (guitars), John McCoy (bass), and Mick Underwood (drums). The album strikes me as being more intense and harder rocking than the previous two albums in that the speed and hard rock approach are more consistent, all the while maintaining a variety that makes each track distinct. The title track is a rousing rocker while the next track “Night Ride Out of Phoenix” is a mid-tempo, heavy rock number. It’s only “If I Sing Softly” where things slow down for a pretty ballad with flute and acoustic guitar, pretty but kind of haunting, and a power ballad-like guitar solo part. The final track “For Your Dreams” combines a lonely and cold piano part with a bass/drum driven verse and a hard rocking chorus.

It may be because I listened to this album in my teens, but after I got the other Gillan studio albums that were re-released with bonus tracks in 2007, I still felt that this album was the most satisfying. The interesting thing for me is that the tracks “(The Ballad of) The Lucitania Express” and “Sacre Bleu” were not on the cassette I had but instead “Trouble”, “Mutually Assured Destruction” and “One for the Road” were on. Also, I’m pretty sure my cassette had a different version of “No Laughing in Heaven”. There are several bonus tracks here which include not only the tracks I knew from the Canadian cassette I had but many others. I often find that bonus tracks that include outtakes and B-sides have a lot of duds mixed in, but in this case the quality is quite consistent with the album. The sound quality dips a little for a couple of tracks but not terribly so. If there’s anything to get on one’s nerves, it might be Gillan’s slowed-down vocals at the conclusion of “The Maelstrom (Longer than the A Side)”. He sounds like Grover from Sesame Street bawling and moaning about not wanting to go down the hole in the middle.

Gillan does tend to employ a sense of humour in his song-writing as can been heard in the lyrics to “No Laughing in Heaven” and his exaggerated French accent in “Sacre Bleu”, but you might also get a kick out of the lyrics in “Your Sister’s on My List”: “I’m writing to you / To say that we’re through / You’re boring as shit! / But your sister’s a hit / ‘Cause she’s got BIG TITS”.

“Future Shock” is a fun and solid album. What makes it not like contemporary metal bands is the outstanding keyboard performances (organ/synthesizer/piano) by Colin Towns. He’s not the kind to play atmospherics and rhythm only and gets a noticeable share of solo time. He is a fantastic player, though sometimes the keyboard sound does wet down the metal feel of Bernie Torme’s guitar.

The Wikipedia article states that this album was ranked number 467 in Rock Hard magazine’s book of “The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time” in 2005.

GILLAN Mr. Universe

Album · 1979 · Hard Rock
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This is the first Gillan album after the Ian Gillan Band was folded basically with Ian Gillan firing himself. Well, okay, technically there was one Gillan album before this but it was only ever released in Japan, so this one becomes the real first album.

Ian Gillan had essentially retired from music after he quit Deep Purple and he went and opened a motorcycle garage and a hotel. But he was poor at managing money in a business capacity and soon found himself in trouble. He was saved by a call from Roger Glover who asked him to sing for the live performance of his "Butterfly Ball" production. Ronnie James Dio had sung on the album but as he was now with Rainbow he was not permitted by Ritchie Blackmore to sing outside the band. So Glover called up his old songwriting partner and asked him to sing. When Gillan walked on stage, the applause was deafening. He knew that he needed to get back into singing.

The process was slow. His first project, a kind of children's fantasy in a "Yellow Submarine" style never took off, and so he assembled a new band: the Ian Gillan Band. They played fusion and managed to release three albums before folding. The reason was that keyboard player Colin Towns had come up with a beautiful piano piece that the other band members didn't think suited the band's sound. But Gillan loved it. So he took Towns and left the band, who, without its namesake, curled up in smoke.

The album title track, "Mr. Universe", is a reference to a song Gillan recorded with Episode Six shortly before he and Glover left to join Deep Purple. The Episode Six song is very different, though still shows Gillan's trademark voice developing toward the approach he'd use with Deep Purple. Drummer Mick Underwood also played with Gillan in Episode Six at the time, so two Ep. 6 alumni appear here. Other members include guitarist Bernie Tormé who was not on the original Gillan album, and bassist John McCoy.

The album is a cross of rock, hard rock, and late seventies heavy metal, with some progressive aspects namely due to Colin Towns' influence. I stress late seventies heavy metal here because in the late seventies, heavy metal included a good variety of music as long as it featured loud distorted guitars and powerful long-haired vocalists. I mean, Blue Oyster Cult, April Wine, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and KISS were all being called heavy metal. What makes Gillan (the band) stand apart from those others is the heavy emphasis on keyboards as Colin Towns was a key musician in Gillan's music. Hear his piano and soundtrack composition style in the opening track, "Second Sight", and his piano work in "She Tears Me Down" as well as organ solos in other songs. Then of course there's the album closer "Fighting Man", which features the music he wrote that turned off the other members in the Ian Gillan Band.

The album includes rock styles from the slightly bluesy "Puget Sound" with slide guitar and harmonica, to the piano-dressed and somewhat prog-inspired "She Tears Me Down" to the speedy "Secret of the Dance" and the aggressive, steamroller track, "Roller". "Fighting Man" is a seven and a half minute almost-epic track that, like "Stairway to Heaven", builds slowly and reaches a climax and then concludes with an epilogue. Here Ian Gillan's trademark high-pitched scream-singing is showcased near the end, and I'll say he does a fantastic job.

As a rock/hard rock album, I think this is a pretty solid piece of work. For late seventies metal it often strays a little too far outside of the territory, especially considering that Gillan came on the scene just before the New Wave of British Heavy Metal burst loose. Thinking of bands like Saxon, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, and Raven, Gillan's music was rooted in a time several years earlier.

My one gripe with this album is the production. I once owned the 1989 Virgin release and later replaced it with the 2007 remastered version. Neither version sounds as good as I think the music could sound, which I blame on the original production. It sounds a little two-dimensional to me, lacking warmth and depth. Other than that, Ian Gillan delivers a solid vocal performance, and Bernie Tormé exercises his talent well, though the guitar solo (a real solo with no other instruments) in the title track sounds a bit dated now with its delay and dive bombs. Fans of Ian Gillan would do well to hear this if they haven't already.

GILLAN Toolbox

Album · 1991 · Hard Rock
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1967/ 1976
After the second departure from Deep Purple Ian Gillan decided to start a solo career taking up the monicker of "Gillan", as his old heavy metal band, but with new personnel. The end result is a mix between MWoBHM and Deep Purple, so that music is a pure Hard Rock with Heavy Metal structures.

In this album Gillan is a band that plays Hard Rock with Heavy Metal structure and Heavy Metal music. The interesting collaboration with the legendary Leslie West in "Hang Me Out To Dry" produces an interesting song, basically Hard Rock with distorted guitar with modern sound. The best songs, however, be sought in "Candy Horizon" that, and it is strange, knowing of the disputes with Blackmore, is similar (not only in style) to the Rainbow with J. L. Turner! "Candy Horizon" is a great Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal, melodic and catchy but not anonymous, as full of magic. "Don't Hold Me Back" is another Highlight of "Toolbox". "Don't Hold Me Back" is a personal view to Heavy AOR but full of Metal with great chorus, guitar sound similar to distorted slide guitar and great screaming, in a relaxed song. More than the axeman Steve Morris in noticeable the technique and the dynamism of Leonard Haze, a great drummer. "Pictures Of Hell" is, probably, the only full Heavy Metal song of "toolbox" but have the defect of being too similar to many of the songs of Deep Purple of 1980's and 1990's, were it not for the screaming in the vocalizes of Gillan. At the same time "Pictures Of Hell" is a great song because with magic and passion and not arid as the similar Purple's songs, because coinvolgent in vocal lines and guitar structures. For the rest "Toolbox" is a good album of Hard Rock in full Heavy Metal field.

In a good substance "Toolbox" could be an album that could scuttle Deep Purple. But, as we all know, history decided otherwise.

GILLAN Higher and Higher

Boxset / Compilation · 2005 · Hard Rock
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Time Signature

Genre: heavy metal

This is a compilation release, containing mostly B- but also some A-sides from various releases by Gillan in the period 1978-1982.

This being very much a budget release (the usual prices is between £2 and £3 [sometimes less] - so don't buy it if you see it priced at more than £3), there are no liner notes or any other sort of information, and the quality of the music varies. In terms of production, the sound is dated, because the content on this release has not been remastered. Of course, there is an upside to this, as it adds an atmosphere of authenticity, and, frankly, given the usual price of this release, one shouldn't expect anything other than a collection of Gillan tracks.

In terms of the music itself, there are a number of tracks that will probably no interest metalheads, such as the new age pop song "Fiji", the funky "Bad News" and the live jam session "The Festival of Spirits". But other than that, most of the tracks are actually hard rocking metal song, some of which are played at breakneck speed, such as "Maelstrom", the semi-punky "Come Tomorrow", "Purple Sky" and the hardrocking "Running White Faced City Boy" (famously covered by thrash metallers Xentrix). Others are perhaps a bit more polished, but still categorizable as metal tracks, such as "No Easy Way", the magnificent "Restless", "Higher and Higher" which interestingly sounds like Rainbow, and the heavy power ballad "M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction)". And for the Purple Fans, there is a version of "Smoke on the Water", too.

This probably primarily appeals to fans of Gillan, but I think that fans of traditional metal, glam metal and hard rock, and perhaps even fans of more extreme types of metal, will appreciate this compilation of breakneck heavy rocking tunes fronted by Ian Gillan... provided that one can accept the untouched raw production and the lack of any bonus material whatsoever.

GILLAN Movies Reviews

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