Julian Leigh-Smith dons a silver cape and wields his golden quill like a wand to fashion arpeggios of appreciation for a genre close to his heart. 


Raise your lighters in the darkened auditorium please for:




UK Prog

UK Prog
UK Prog


Harvest 1970


Pete Brown will always be better known as the co-writer with super group Cream, penning with Jack Bruce worldwide hits such as 'White room', written apparently after moving into a new flat whilst under the influence of one thing or another.


Known also as a beat poet he was given a deal with the Harvest label around the same time as Cream were folding.


The first album released in 1969 entitled A Meal You Can Shake Hands With features The Battered Ornaments who later went onto make an album without Pete named Mantle Piece that same year.


UK Prog

'This first album sounds to these ears like a work in progress and the next record improves upon it. Piblokto are now the backing band and this second LP with an album title very much of its time Things May Come and Things May Go, but the Art School Dance Goes On Forever, moves away from the jazz beat poetry influence and onto a heavier rock sound.


The album track featured here is from the the third album made in little over a year, which is some work rate.


Stretching out songs further with only three tracks per side some may find parts of this album a little long winded but this cannot be said for the track linked here. If this riff doesn't stick in your head for the rest of the day I'll give you your download space back.


Pete Brown & Piblokto: Aeroplane Head Woman


UK Prog

Pete Brown Piblokto
UK Prog


Vertigo 1969

The end of the sixties were littered with frustrated pop bands wanting to make 'serious' music but they were unable to due to their managers or record labels demanding the next big manufactured radio friendly hit ditty.


Perhaps  this was what Manfred Mann and Mike Hugg alluded to when they stated on the sleeve notes this LP represents in general what we personally have been wanting to do for some years' .

Indeed the first album under new band name Manfred Mann Chapter III is far removed from Mighty Garvey, Mann's last record for Fontana released the year previously. A quick flick between the two tracks Ha Ha Said The Clown and the track on offer here will show that and with some humour.



It's obvious from this opening track's smokey room vibe that pop hits were no longer on the musical radar, add to that a horn section made up from some of the top British jazz musicians of the time and it becomes apparent a plan has been neatly laid.

A solid record throughout and hard to fault unless you have a dislike of all things jazz. A follow-up was released entitled Volume 2 which is not as strong but is still worth tracking down.

 I'm guessing the bank manager/wife/mother in law,  inspired a return to the hit parade for Manfred for he returned with another incarnation... Manfred Mann's Earth Band who returned to the Top of the Pops arena once again with Blinded by the Light. The circle is complete; you cannot beat the system.


Manfred Mann Chapter III: Travelling Lady


UK Prog
Spring S/T


RCA Neon 1971

This album should come with a sticker on the front saying 'Contains mellotrons.'


Crammed full of juicy mellotron goodness with no less than  three members of the band being credited on the sleeve with being able to play the eras must have prog instrument. The band achieve an unbeatable prog star rating points total when you check out the tri-fold sleeve which was just about small enough to fit into the picture here.


Spring hail from Leicester and made just the  one album for RCA off-shoot Neon which was set up the same way as the likes of Harvest (EMI)  and Vertigo (Phillips) for those acts considered to be veering from the well-beaten musical mainstream.



In basic terms  more often than not if you bought a record on one of these labels it was going to be odd or jazz related.


Recorded at Trident Studios, producer Gus Dudgeon (he of Elton John related fame) took great pride on albums sleeve blurb stating that Everything on this album is exactly as it on stage -with the exception of some over dubbed acoustic guitar...we just put it on tape as faithfully as possible"


This is exactly where the album gets it's overall natural earthy feel from, something  which is sadly missing from many other genres often over-baked productions.


Sadly on its release the mainstream record buying public preferred to Get It On with T Rex rather than muse,  chin stroke and ponder over an album with a picture of a dead Victorian soldier lying next to a stream. Gah! What is wrong with people ????


Spring folded the following year.


Spring: The Prisoner (Eight by Ten)



Phillips 197?


Imagine putting in the time, commitment and energy to make a record only to find you've been dropped by the label.


Add redemption arriving via a budget release followed by the horror of discovering you have an advert for Val Doonican on your album sleeve.

Gracious made one album for Vertigo but their follow up appeared on the budget Phillips This is... series which was usually comprised of compilations by the likes of Nana Mouskouri and Scott Walker.

Why was a proper studio album released in this way? If any former members of Gracious are reading we would love to know the reason for it.



You can hear from the music attached just why this album is so sought after amongst collectors. Splendid in every aspect; a brooding opening of electronic space noises gives way to crashing drum fills behind a menacing pulse.


When everything comes crashing back down to earth the listener is spoken to by an aggressor with distortion issues who wants to tell you mainly all about the problems he's having with the sky. 


Great record and sadly Gracious' last.


Gracious: Super Nova





Island 1969

This record is worth seeking out for the sleeve alone. Designed by Barney Bubbles, it shows that prog excess is not always a bad thing as the inner booklet runs to several pages and is beautifully laid out.


The designer would later go on to make sleeves for the The Damned, Ian Dury and Generation X amongst others and has published a book of his life's work named Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Most record buying persons of a certain age will remember with a fond smile for forgotten youth the compilation sampler lps different labels put out into the racks at reduced rates to entice further album sales.


The Nice Enough To Eat sampler, originally released at the tail end of 1969 at around half the price of a normal LP, is where many  first heard Quintessence and the glorious Gungamai. 

These samplers' popularity was proven in the early 90s when Island re-released two of them.


Never trust.... Everyone knows in reality hippies often turn out to be a bunch of scrounging freeloaders, but ihere their sincerity comes through in their music. Their heartfelt belief in eastern philosophies brings extra emotional depth to musical proceedings.


Quintessence's holy spirit swings along to the soaring flute playing and also prominent throughout is some niffty guitar work. These drop-outs sure can play and they're not bad for a band put together from a commune in Notting Hill.


I can't seen this type of music ever being made again, especially in the chain store coffee bar world that is Notting Hill these days. If you're reading this from inside an internet cafe there, I apologise.



Quintessence: Manco Capac

UK Prog




Parlophone 1970

A song with lyrics containing the cutting of wrists with a catchy chorus? There are not many of these around and I don't why because it works pretty well. Click on the link and decide for yourselves.

Norman Haines is the main songwriter vocalist and keyboard player. His impressively gutsy confidence and powerful vocals take the whole album up a notch, The melodic bass playing from Mick Hincks makes up for the fact the fact we've no guitar player on the album. The creative, powerful drumming from Bob Lamb is spot on driving the ship full speed ahead throughout..


A three piece band then ?


It doesn't sound like one but that's because their friends, as the sleeve notes call them, are a band of top jazzers from the time such as Henry Lowther, Lynn Dobson and Dick -Heckstall Smith; just three of six friends who assisted on this marvelous record.

UK Prog

All of them made albums under thier own names, which I'll cover in later charts touching on the progressive British Jazz scene.


Topped off with a no expenses spared string section that opens the album before erupting into the pulsating Mr Armageddon and you'll get the picture. It's a full blown prog out.

Lyrically dramatic at times, which could put off some people who take these things at face value, I've personally always seen the humour in this type of thing.


Unfortunately this record isn't a cheapo, but keep going to the boot sales and you never know. Norman Haines made another album under his own name called Den of Iniquity on Parlophone which is even harder to find and has a sleeve which certainly draws attention I'm still looking for one if anyone out there has a spare. (!)



Locomotive: You Must Be Joking



CBS 1970

Here we have the pop band Love Affair changing their name to the snappier and presumably trendier abbrieviated  L.A to make a grown-up genre jumping rock record much like many of the other bands who tried to break from their teeny pop roots.


These include The Marmalade and a stripped-down version of DDDBM & T, just two examples who at the end of the 60s tried a similar thing with some very intriguing results. I plan to cover these very worthy works in further future updates.


As an aside it should be mentioned that whilst rare, when this record does show up it's usually for cheap. I'm not entirely sure why as it's worth every bit of the big hitter values, if not more so.


LA New Day
LA New Day

The track featured here shows well the typical brooding vibe that runs across the whole album.


Shame then that they reverted back to the pop hits when this failed to make an impact as I would have liked to hear more of the same.


LA: Gypsy





Marmalade 1969


A rag and bone man trundling down a cobbled street with a sitar playing guru on the back of his cart.


That's what the opening track The Journey reminds me of. Gordon had previously played in a band with Jim Calpaldi who then  formed Traffic with Steve Winwood and Co.


This connection led to Traffic band members joining in for another lets make a record in the country.


Whilst this is a great and worthy record it shouldn't be considered as the lost Traffic album some reviewers would have you believe.


Gordon Jackson
Gordon Jackson

Much looser in it's overall execution than Traffic's work it can at times sound like a jam performed over some pre-prepared lyrics, rather than song structures which have been worked out over time in a studio or country cottage.


If Gordon is reading this I wonder if, in hindsight, he'd have preferred to have recordeded with session men in order for his work  to be assessed without the comparisons.


Great record nonetheless. 


Gordon Jackson: The Journey


Gordon Jackson



United Artists 1971

Former members of Blossom Toes ably assisted by Julie Driscoll who can be heard on the track here, screeching away to good effect.


This album seems to have slipped under the big money prog records radar, which is a good thing obviously because it's a great record.


Record collecting within this genre is a strange multi coloured beast and I'm convinced it's trendiness factor would be increased if it was on the likes of Vertigo or Harvest rather than the admittedly uninspiring United Artists imprint. Sticky Living is infectious with it's sharpened riff and clattering percussion. 


Sticky Living

BB Blunder


Transatlantic 1969

If you don't like flute run away now. Featuring future King Crimson member Mel Collins, amongst some other very fine musicians, this album is to me an example of where technical ability is present in abundance but the ideas are lacking.


For a start, note the number of cover versions here. However, ripping through the original compositions and wigging-out for the length of a track is one of the trade marks of a good prog lp.


Circus are definitely a good old-fashioned prog band.


Circus: Don't Make Any Promises




B & C 1970

Leaning to the bluesier end of the spectrum, this is what I like to call dirty prog. It has that element of blues grunge throughout which has you reaching for the volume control for that louder guitar solo fix.


It's very similar to other bands from the same era such as Steamhammer, The Groundhogs and Gun.


Carol Grimes' voice is distinctive in the way that Grace Slick's voice screams PSYCH; all wailing and with that eyes rolling round the back of your head and completely lost it kind of way.


As has been said many times before....Play loud! 


Carol Grimes & Delivery: Fight It Out


Carol Grimes

UK Prog

Delivery Carol Grimes

Silently extinguishing the candles we tip-toe gingerly across the prog lp strewn floor of Julian's early 70s hideout towards the exit.


We're lying though. This would have been the case if we'd ever been allowed into this sparkly and fabled Palace of Prog but Julian's the lone gatekeeper: The Hermit of Pink Island Hollow.


Big thanks and love to him for writing this article exclusively for Forumusic.


Julian also snapped all the excellent prog-drizzled photographs and then waited meditatively for the finished article to appear here.


We're delighted to say he'll be back soon minus the silver cape but still stroking his beard but this time ruminating on...


Pearls of Progressive British Jazz

Julian-Leigh Smith




Forumusic Copyright: All aspects of this web site – design, text, graphics, applications, software, underlying source code and all other aspects – are copyright forumusic.co.uk and of its affiliates, members and content providers. In accessing these web pages, you agree that any downloading of content is for personal, non-commercial reference only. No part of this web site may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the Website Owner