Band members Related acts
- Chatty Cooper -- drums, percussion (1971-72)
- Glenn Howard -- vocals, lead and slide guitar (1971-72)
- Craig Massey -- keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals
- Martin Ruddy -- bass, backing vocals (1971-72)
- Christopher Spong -- drums, percussion (1971-72)
- none known
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Without Introduction
Company: Eleventh Hour
Country/State: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+
Comments: cut top right corner; was sealed; opened to hear; still in shrink
GEMM catalog ID: 5366
Probably due to my age and the fact I've lived in Virginia since my late teens, I've developed a long standing affinity for 1960s and 1970s Virginia bands. The funny thing is that there were literally hundreds of them during that timeframe and a surprising number actually recorded material. Witness the growing list of entries in my little website.
So how to best describe this short-lived outfit? Virginia Beach's contribution to the early-1970s progressive wars ...
I can't say I know a great deal about this early 1970s outfit. The liner notes to 1971's "Without Introduction" list the line up as drummers Chatty Cooper and Christopher Spong, singer/guitarist Glenn Howard, keyboardist Craig Massey, and bass player Martin Ruddy. I also know that their label Eleventh Hour was based in Virginia Beach, Virginia so it's probably a pretty good guess that they were from the same area. The liner notes also tell you the album was recorded in Richmond, Virginia's Alpha Audio with Chuck Taylor producing. (Another Virginia Beach-based band Mason also recorded for the Eleventh Hour label.)
So much for bibliographical speculation. What about the music? The first time I slapped this on it struck me as being professional, but largely uninspired progressive rock. Luckily over the years I've become smart enough to usually ignore my initial instincts. Setting this one aside I came back to it a couple of weeks later and discovered that the collection was far better than I initially thought. With Howard and Massey splitting the writing chores, the three extended tracks and the throwaway studio synthesizer experiment '40 Second Thing In 39 Seconds' (which actually clocked in at 1:07) all reflected a distinctive progressive vibe, but the band kept most of the set from degenerating into pompous noise. The opening track 'Juggernaut' started out as a tight rock instrumental before hitting a series of time changes and distinctive Genesis/early ELP-flavored progressive mid-section, adding some Latin influenced moves, and then closing out with a return to a searing guitar-propelled segment. It also served to displayed Howard's dry and likeable voice. His delivery quickly grew on you, leaving you to wonder why it wasn't spotlighted more often. Side 2's 'Ariels Flight' started out with nice melody that repeatedly mutated throughout the 15 minute plus, three section composition. Spotlighting a nice vocal from Howard, it also showcased his tasty guitar and Massey's Keith Emmerson-styled keyboards. The song was also characterized by tight ensemble playing throughout. I'm not even a big progressive fan, but have to admit that I got a kick out the LP, and as an early entry into the American progressive sweepstakes it was damn impressive; in my humble opinion certainly better than the critically acclaimed Cathedral. (By the way, Betty Cherry's cover art was pretty cool ...)
Introduction" track listing:
1.) Juggernaut (Craig Massey) - 14:04
2.) 40 Second
Thing In 39 Seconds (instrumental) (Glen Howard) - 1:07
a.) Gorgons Of The Glade
Probably due to the fact it was listed in one of Hans Pokora's Record Collector Dreams books, before folding, in 2005 the English Radioactive label released a bootleg version of the LP in CD format (Radioactive catalog number RR 117CD). Bet the band never saw a penny from that project !
Howard's apparently remained active in music and has a small website dedicated to the band at:
Cooper also seems to have kept his hand in music, at least briefly playing with Robbin Thompson.
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