Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1: (1971)

- Phil Childs -- bass, keyboards

- Ralph Denyer -- vocals, guitar

- George 'Snakes' Lee -- woodwinds, sax 

- James Smith -- drums, percussion 

- Martin Woodward -- keyboards 




- Arrival (George Gee)

Blonde On Blonde (Ralph Denyer)





Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Aquila

Company:  RCA Victor

Catalog: LSP 10307

Year: 1970

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5370

Price: $150.00


Guitarist Ralph Denyer was the front man for this short lived Welsh quintet.   Denyer's initial brush with success had previously come as a member of Blonde On Blonde.  He provided guitar on the band's first two albums, quitting prior to the release of 1970's "Rebirth".  Perhaps unhappy with Blonde On Blonde's musical progression, in 1970 he struck out on his own forming Aquila with bassist Phil Childs, woodwind/sax player George Lee, drummer James Smith and keyboardist Martin Woodward.  Denyer's reputation was apparently enough for RCA to sign the band, teaming them with producer Patrick Campbell-Lyons.


With Denyer handling lead vocals, lead guitar and responsible for writing all the material, 1970's "Aquila" was one of those LPs that took awhile for me to warm up to.  The funny thing is that musically it wasn't all that different from the first two Blonde On Blonde albums.  Powered by Denyer's rugged, but likeable voice, material like 'Change Your Ways' and 'We Can Make It If We Try' offered up a nice hybrid of progressive and more commercial moves. 'While You Were Sleeping' found the band throwing themselves with a passion into psychedelia with a nice nod to The Beatles' 'Tomorrow Never Knows' (check out the vocal chorus).  Elsewhere, the flute embellished 'How Many More Times' sounded like an early Traffic outtake (not a bad thing in my book).  Judging by the first side if there was a difference between the two bands, it was on the musical fringes; Aqulia incorporating occasional jazzy touches (Lee's flute and sax solos) that were less obvious on Blonde On Blonde.  At least on side one the results were every bit as accessible and enjoyable as the Blonde On Blonde catalog.  So what about side's 2 'The Aquila Suite'?   Well, normally any composition taking up an entire side would have me thinking along the lines of ELP-styled pretentious, ponderous, overblown, deadening, self-righteous crap.  This one wasn't a total washout.  The title track was a pretty Moody Blues-styled instrumental, while 'Flight of the Golden Bird' actually rocked out with enough energy to overlook Lee's Ian Anderson-styled flute lines and a needless drum solo.  The song also sported the album's best guitar solo.  The second movement followed a similar pattern with the instrumental 'Circle Cloud' followed by another rocker in the form of 'The Hunter' (perhaps my favorite song), before sliding into the ever more frenetic keyboard and sax-propelled instrumental 'The Kill'.  The final part of the suite slowed things down with 'Where Do I Belong' offering up a pretty ballad (though Lee's sax was an irritation) and brought things to a close with the title track instrumental refrain.  Certainly not the most original LP I've ever heard, but an equal to any of the three Blonde On Blonde albums and an LP that I've kept in my 'to listen to stack for some time.


"Aquila" track listing
(side 1)

1.) Change Your Ways   (Ralph Denyer) - 5:18
2.) How Many More Times   (Ralph Denyer)  - 6:22
3.) While You Were Sleeping   (Ralph Denyer)  - 5:25
4.) We Can Make It If We Try   (Ralph Denyer)  - 4:35

(side 2)
1.) The Aquila Suite   (Ralph Denyer)
     a.) First Movement - 8:29

         - Aquila (Introduction) (instrumental   (Ralph Denyer)

         - Flight of the Golden Bird   (Ralph Denyer)
     b.) Second Movement - 8:52

          - Cloud Circle (instrumental)   (Ralph Denyer)

          - The Hunter   (Ralph Denyer)

          - The Kill (instrumental)  (Ralph Denyer)  
     c.) Third Movement - 8:57

          - Where Do I Belong  (Ralph Denyer)

          - Aquila (Conclusion)   (Ralph Denyer)


Curiously I've never seen a photo of the band, though the inner sleeve of the album featured black and white drawings of the members (shown below for your viewing pleasure).


left to right Ralph Denyer - Phil Childs - George Lee - Martin Woodward - James Smith


Denyer went on to write a couple of guitar instruction books, including The Guitar Handbook (ISBN 0679742751).  




Lee reappeared briefly as a member of Arrival and then as a sessions player.


"Arrival" CBS S 64733 


No idea what happened to the rest of the members.