1973 was something of a banner year for progressive rock. That year, Pink Floyd released their billion selling ‘Dark Side of The Moon’; Genesis released a career best with ‘Selling England By The Pound’; a double whammy from Gong – ‘Flying Teapot’ and ‘Angels Egg’ – cemented their place in the psych-prog underground; both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer released albums that would go on to become fan favourites, and Mike Oldfield became an instant national treasure with his ‘Tubular Bells’, despite his Piltdown Man scaring the shite out of a generation of small children.
Keyboard player Peter Bardens first achieved wide recognition as a member of UK prog band Camel, but prior to their formation in 1971, he had already taken major steps towards a full time musical career. He was first a member of Peter B’s Looners – a blues and soul band that eventually became Shotgun Express and featured future megastars Mick Fleetwood and Rod Stewart – before joining Irish rhythm and blues band Them in time to record their debut album. By 1969, he’d become a member of the short-lived band Village, which also featured future Sutherland Brothers & Quiver bassist Bruce Thomas, later to achieve genuine stardom as a member of Elvis Costello’s Attractions. For anyone with a keen interest in the history of British R&B, these musical ventures would be enough alone to secure Bardens a place within a pantheon of cult musical figures.
For many years, Marillion fans had to make do with the ‘Recital of The Script’ and ‘Grendel/Web’ VHS tapes for their fix of early Marillion live footage. Thanks to the internet, further footage promoting ‘Script For A Jester’s Tear’ later surfaced, including a brief clip from The Marquee, but this footage from the Danish Roskilde Festival might just be the most exciting yet.
It captures Camel drummer Andy Ward’s brief time occupying the drum stool, making this a vital historical document. Ward automatically gives the performance(s) a little more energy than Mick Pointer was able (though still not quite enough if Steve Rothery’s expressions are anything to go by on occasion), but anything lacking musically is more than made up for by a ridiculously boisterous audience being tackled by Fish in a fearless mood.
Given Andrew Latimer’s intermittent approach to work over the past decade or so, a rare sighting of Camel is always something to rejoice. In September 2018, Camel fans have reason to be very excited when the band will embark on a short run of dates and the live set will include their 1976 masterpiece ‘Moonmadness’ played in full. The full list of dates and other details can be found in the press release below.
Maybe as a reaction to the previous year, though maybe just coincidence, 1974 didn’t have the all round focus of it’s forebears. Whereas 1973 had been a home to various albums that have spanned generations, ’74’s best strengths were in the singles market.
Bowie’s escalating drug habit left him with ideas of an unfinished musical and an album that’s arguably his most unfocused of the decade. ‘Rebel Rebel’, however, remains a great and enduring single cut, brimming with the last vestiges of glam. Lulu did an excellent job of covering ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ and ‘Watch That Man’, filling both sides of an essential 7″, Ace’s ‘How Long’ – while easily dismissed as soft radio filler has stood the test of time and now sounds like a near perfect piece of songcraft, while everyone’s favourite ragamuffin, David Essex, topped the UK chart with a smart and disposable single about making disposable pop music.