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Atomic Rooster: Masters From the Vaults (DVD)

Here it is, the only known footage of legendary British progressive rock/early metal band Atomic Rooster. Featured here in a live in the studio performance from 1972 is Rooster mainstay Vincent Crane on keyboards, singer Chris Farlowe, guitarist Steve Bolton, and drummer Ric Parnell. While for many this is not exactly the quintessential Atomic Rooster line-up (myself included) the band still manages to kick through roughly 30 minutes of vintage material, as always highlighted by the molten Hammond organ riffs and solo passages of Crane.

Songs covered include the gymnastic and proggy "Breakthrough", the atmospheric and meditative "The Black Snake", two rippin' instrumentals "A Spoonful of Bromide Helps the Pulse Rate Go Down" and "The Rock", plus the bluesier "Can't Find a Reason." Crane steals the show, as he churns out monstrous sounds on the Hammond (all with his eyes closed by the way) and shows amazing dexterity playing bass notes with his left hand, and blinding leads with his right. Guitarist Bolton is no John DuCann (former Rooster guitarist) by any means, but he fills the position admirably, although the songs performed here are not really vehicles for his playing other than rhythm and occasional short leads. At times though he is completely drowned out in the mix by Crane. Drummer Parnell does a fine job, adding lots of manic fills to the ensembles sound, as is necessary for any Rooster drummer, considering that they would have to follow in the footsteps of former members Carl Palmer and Paul Hammond. Chris Farlowe for many was an off choice for the vocal spot in Atomic Rooster after the departure of DuCann. The former Collosseum singer has a theatrical yet bluesy style that at times doesn't really fit with the bands sound. I think he just tries too hard-the guy is at his best when he just plain sings. It's when he tries to throw in little screams and warbling, muttering non-lyrical passages that he falls on his face here. It doesn't help that the camera men are so focused on him for most of the set, even when he is not singing ,and standing to the side of the stage eating a sandwich (must we see him stuffing his face, in a close-up, while Crane is tearing it up on the Hammond?)

Picture quality throughout is pretty good considering it is from 1972, and the sound for the most part is not bad, remastered and restored for 5.1 surround sound.

There's tons of promo material on the DVD regarding Classic Rock Productions other releases, which is all fine and dandy, but I would have liked to have seen more Atomic Rooster. Still, considering that this is the only known footage of the band, it is a welcome addition to the DVD collection, and a must for Rooster enthusiasts.

Added: February 1st 2004
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Classic Rock Productions
Hits: 2882
Language: english

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