Everything seemed to be going just fine for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in early 1969. They were touring the United States in support of their huge hit, “Fire,” and had just hired Carl Palmer as their new drummer. The good times and the tour came to an abrupt end, though, when keyboardist Vincent Crane left the band and returned to England with Carl Palmer in tow. He then added vocalist/bassist Nick Graham to the mix, and Atomic Rooster was born.
The band would undergo multiple personnel changes during its lifetime. Carl Palmer quickly left to join Emerson, Lake & Palmer, which in retrospect was one of the better career decisions in music history. Guitarist/vocalist John Du Cann replaced Graham, changing the keyboardist/bass/drum vision of the original line-up.
Atomic Rooster had two distinct periods during their history. Their 1969-1975 period was more experimental than their second incarnation. They were always more popular in the U.K. and Europe than in the States as they had a couple of hit singles and several commercially successful albums.
Their second reunion period, 1980-1983, featured a narrower sound as they emerged as a hard-rocking progressive band. DuCann and Crane recruited session drummer Preston Heyman and recorded their self-titled 1980 comeback album. It is now available again from MVD (Musical Video Distributors).
The 1980 Atomic Rooster was not for the weak of heart. The vocals were gritty and the music had a sledge-hammer quality that attacked the senses and attempted to overwhelm the listener.
The album’s first track, “They Took Control Of You,” sets the tone for what’s to follow. The keyboards are progressive rock while the guitar sound travels in a hard-rock direction. It makes for an interesting mix as the two instruments vie for control with the drums thundering in the background.
“He Did It Again” continues the same approach as the guitar and keyboard renew their duel, while “Where’s The Show” increases the tempo until it becomes an all-out frenetic attack. Best of all is “Do You Know Who’s Looking For You,” which is also the album’s hardest-rocking track.
Atomic Rooster remains a nice piece of hard rock/progressive history. Crane died in 1989; there will be no reunions. So if you want to hear some down-and-dirty, early-’80s rock ‘n’ roll, then this is an album and band for you.
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