Ramases


Band members               Related acts

- Bob Bertles - sax (1975)

- Kay Garner - backing vocals (1975)

- Sue Glover - backing vocals (1975)

- Roger Harrison - drums, percussion (1975)

- Pete Kingsman - bass (1975)

- Barry Kirsch - piano, synthesizer (1975)

- Sunny Leslie - backing vocals (1975)

- Ramases (aka Barrington Frost) (RIP 1978) - vocals,

  guitar

Jo Romero  - guitars, tablas (1975)

- Sel (aka Dorthy frost)- vocals
- Colin Thurston - bass (1975)

  

 

 

- Brotherhood of Man (Sue Glover and Sunny Leslie)

- Nucleus (Bob Bertles)

 


 

Genre: progressive

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Space Hymns

Company: Vertigo

Catalog: 6300 046

Year: 1971

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG-/VG

Comments: original fold out sleeve, though one corner has stuck and been torn

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: not yet listed

Price: $80.00

 

 

The UK's well known for its lengthy list of musical eccentrics.  That said, the late and little known Ramases (aka Michael Raphael, aka Barrington Frost), probably deserves to be in the all-star bizarro top-10.  The problem here is that Ramases is too obscure for such a list.  By the way, this one's so weird, we'll forgive you if you don't believe that it's actually true.

 

Graduating for the British equivalent of high school, Martin Raphael found himself drafted into the English Army.  Having completed his compulsory duty he spent a couple of years as a physical trainer for the Army, before turning his attention to selling central heating throughout Scotland.  The story goes that in 1968 while driving to see a client, Raphael had a vision wherein he was visited by the Egyptian god Ramases.  Ramases informed Raphael that he was no longer a central heating salesperson, rather Ramases' reincarnation and that his new mission in life was to tell mankind the truths about the universe.  Embracing his new found mission, Raphael legally changed his name to Ramases and set off to get himself a recording contract, intent on using rock and roll as a way to get his message out.    

 

God only knows how, but Ramases and his newly-Egyptianized wife Sel (aka Dorthy Frost), somehow managed to convince CBS to finance a single.  Credited to 'Ramases and Selket', "Crazy One" b/w "Mind's Eye" (CBS catalog number 3717), somehow failed to set the world on fire.  The "A" side was actually entitled "Quasar One", but a misunderstanding at the printing plant saw it released as 'Crazy One'.  It subsequently appeared on their debut LP with the right title.

 

Recorded at Strawberry Studio with support from a pre-hotlegs/10 C.C. lineup of Lol Creme,  Kevin Godley, Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart, 1971's "Space Hymns" is one of those special, if completely forgotten albums.  First, to give you a feel for this set, here are the LP liner notes: 

 

"This album is dedicated to the earth people who are unusual because they have begun to pause, look back, and wonder where they have come from and why, and where they are going to! The earth is a living thing just as we are and has a soul as we do. You look at the heavens through a telescope. Reverse the telescope and you have a microscope through which (if powerful enough), you would see almost the same sight. (Electrons in orbit around their stars.) "In my father's house there are many mansions" (The Bible). We are most probably existing on a molecule inside the material of, perhaps, a living thing in the next size up. The rocket ship shape of churches probably dates back to Moses' visit to speak to God on the mountain and what he saw there."

 

Given their odd story and the bizarre liner notes, we were expecting something along the 'real person' lines.  Were we ever wrong!  With a considerable nod to the pre-10 C.C. crowd, with one or two exceptions, the album's surprisingly commercial and entertaining.  Complete with blazing guitars, the leadoff "Life Child" is probably the most mainstream song, but virtually every one of the 11 tracks has something going for it.  Full of acoustic strumming guitars "And the Whole World" and the mildly psychish "Quasar One" (previously released as the mis-titled single "Confused One") are engaging ballads that would have sounded good on top-40 radio.  Admittedly, Ramses could have done a little more in the lyrics department. Trying to combine his "mission" with third rate sci-fi images, tracks such as "Earth People" and the Gregorian chant "Molecular Delusions" are unintentionally hysterical.  Elsewhere, sporting a mid-eastern vibe "Hey Mister" and the weirdly hypnotic "Your the Only One" are little more than simplistic chants of the title.  To be honest, there's nothing particularly groundbreaking or original here, but the end results are simply weird and sincere enough to be highly attractive.  Interestingly, at least to our ears, it's easy to see how Ramases appears to have had a major impact on both Hotlegs and 10 C.C.  Anyone familiar with Godley and Creme's frequently experimental solo catalog can probably spot the influences as well.

 

"Space Hymns" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Life Child   (Ramases) - 6:25

2.) Oh Mister   (Ramases) - 3:10

3.) And the Whole World   (Ramases - Sel) - 3:44

4.) Quasar One   (Ramases) - 6:40

5.) You're the Only One   (Ramases - Sel) - 2:25

 

(side 2)

1.) Earth People   (Ramases) - 4:45

2.) Molecular Delusions   (Ramases) - 4:05

3.) Balloon   (Ramases) - 4:28

4.) Dying Swan Year 2000   (Ramases) - 0:42

5.) Jesus Come Back   (Ramases) - 5:03

6.) Journey To the Inside   (Ramases) - 6:21

 

Hard as it is to believe, Vertigo's parent company Philips actually released a pair of singles from the LP:

 

- 1971's "Balloon" b/w "Muddy Water" (Philips catalog 6112-001)

- 1971's "Jesus Come Back" b/w "Hello Mister" (Philips catalog 6113-003)

 

 


Genre:  psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Glass Top Coffin

Company: Vertigo

Catalog: 6360 115

Year: 1975

Country/State: UK 

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: die cut, gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4214

Price: $50.00

Cost: $27.00

 

Co-produced by Ramases and keyboardist Barry Kirsch, 1975's "Glass Top Coffin" was equally eclectic, but sported a sound that was quite different from the debut.  Exemplified by material such as the lead off track "Golden Landing", "Children Of The Green Earth" and "Sweet Reason" (where Ramases sounds like Marianne Faithful), the overall feel was far more polished; no doubt reflecting elaborate orchestral arrangements (courtesy of Rob Young) and support from members of the Royal Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra.  Like the debut, there's clearly a concept buried in here, though the apparent references to aliens ("Golden Landing") and religion ("God Voice") were again largely lost on us.  Not that it matters since the set's full of seductive melodies and some wonderful vocal performances, including the intriguing Ramases-Sel duet "Now Mona Lisa".  As much as we like the debut (see our review), this one's even better and while musical comparisons are always fraught with danger, this time around tracks such as the pretty "Long, Long Time" and "Saler Man" found Ramases and Sel pulling off a credible, low-budget take on The Moody Blues (had they been middle aged central heating salesmen).  Interesting, our favorite track is actually the most atypical offering - in this case the hard rocking title track.  Perhaps we're being colored by Ramases' subsequent 1990's suicide, but tracks such as "Mind Island" and the spare "Only The Loneliest Feeling" seem to give the whole album an air of sad and dignified resignation which only makes the album all the more fascinating.  Easily one of our top-50 personal favorites and a crime that it hasn't been heard by more people ...  Designed by Ramases and artist Dave Field, the album also sports one of our favorite covers.

 

"Glass Top Coffin" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) 
Golden Landing   (Ramases - Sel) - 6:05 

2.) Long, Long Time   (Ramases - Sel) - 5:13

3.) Now Mona Lisa   (Ramases - Sel) - 2:54

4.) God Voice   (Ramases - Sel) - 3:21

5.) Mind Island   (Ramases - Sel) - 4:38

6.) Only The Loneliest Feeling   (Ramases - Sel) - 2:54

 

(side 2)
1.) 
Sweet Reason   (Ramases - Sel) - 5:41

2.) Stepping Stones   (Ramases - Sel) - 4:28

3.) Saler Man   (Ramases - Sel) - 4:59

4.) Children Of The Green Earth   (Ramases - Sel) - 3:27

5.) Glass Top Coffin   (Ramases - Sel) - 4:07

6.) Golden Landing   (Ramases - Sel) - 1:58

 

Sadly the album failed to sell, marking the end of Ramses recording career.  Ramases and Sel appear to have slipped back into day-to-day obscurity.  Ramses apparently committed suicide in the late-1970s.  

 

 

 

 

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