Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1972-76)
- Tom Crompton -- drums, percussion
- Adrian Hawkins -- vocals
- Richard Houghton -- bass
- Aletta Lohmeyer -- vocals
- Rod Roach -- lead guitar
- Andromeda (Rod Roach)
- Badfinger (Rod Roach)
- Dark Ages (Richard Houghton)
- The Carl King Projection (Rod Roach)
- Horse (Adrian Hawkins and Road Roach)
- Aletta Lohmeyer (solo efforts)
- Ten Years Later (Tom Crompton)
- Wilder (Richard Houghton)
- Edgar Winter Band (Tom Crompton)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Magical Love
Country/State: London, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: no booklet; or holographic center tags
Catalog ID: 1
Saturnalia (the name coming from the Roman holiday honoring the deity Saturn who was known as the god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal, liberation, and time - clearly a busy agenda), featured the talents of drummer Tom Crompton, singer Adrian Hawkins, bassist Richard Houghton, singer Aletta Lohmeyer, and lead guitarist Rod Roach.
Hawkins and Roach had previously recorded a 1970 album as members of the band Horse. Lohmeyer had apparently been featured in a Dutch touring version of "Hair". Living and working in London they found a mentor in the form of manager Mark Hanau. Hanau had been one of the forces behind Curved Air and when that band dropped him as their manager, he latched on to Saturnalia as his next project.
Signed by the small Matrix Records label they were teamed with former Yardbird Keith Relf in the production seat. The band spent late 1972 rehearsing and recording their debut which was released in early 1973. "Magical Love" was apparently intended as a concept piece built around the work of Richard Gardner and Tammo de Jongh - the cosmology concept reiterated by the album's elaborate picture disc design that replicated de Jongh's Magical Circle of the Mind (Wonder if the band members really subscribed to all that stuff ...) While the album may have been released in the mid-'70s, musically this was prime '60s hippy feast. Everything about the set, including the band's look, their sound, and the sometimes goofy lyrics sounded late-'60s (which probably explains why some references show the album with a 1969 release date). Featuring all original material, the nine tunes offered up an odd mixture of English folk, jazz, conventional rock, and even occasional progressive genres. There were certainly resemblances to early Renaissance (which made sense given producer Relf had been a member of that group). At the same time it was more rock oriented than say Fairport Convention, but not exactly something that was going to make Top of the Pops. To be honest, the first couple of plays the collection really didn't make all that much of an impression on me. The characteristic that actually stuck in mind was Lohmeyer's pseudo-operatic voice, which I found quite grating and irritating. Luckily, given an opportunity, it was also an album that slowly, but surely grew on you. To my ears, Saturnalia were at their best on the more conventional rock oriented tunes like 'She Brings Peace', 'Traitor', and 'Step Out of Line' (the latter sounding a bit like an English version of The Jefferson Airplane). Roach and Hawkins wrote most of those numbers. Largely penned by Lohmeyer, the band's more folk-oriented numbers weren't horrible, but just weren't my cup of tea.
The album's also become collectable as one of the first 3-D picture discs. Original copies came with in a clear plastic cover, detachable holographic centers, a booklet on astrology, a paper insert, and a concert ticket. So here's a technical tidbit - the vinyl was pressed by a German firm, but the technology was in its infancy. It shows. A disproportionate number of the original albums suffered from lousy sound quality; particularly side two. Many copies simply didn't track very well. leading to lots of returns. No idea if it's true, but there's a story that guitarist Roach had a couple of thousand copies of the faulty picture disc in storage. Over the years I've owned four or five copies of the album and about half have suffered from sub-par sound quality. The album also generated a bit of attention for the racy artwork. All of the band members were featured in a topless pose. I doubt anyone cared about the four guys, but Ms. Lohmeyer's revealing picture apparently raised some mid-'70s eyebrows.
Love" track listing:
1.) Magical Love (Aletta Lohmeyer) - 4:32
The title track offered up a good example of the band's strengths and weakness. Musically 'Magical Love' was a weird mash-up of English folk, jazz, and rock influences. Kind of a Renaissance-decides-to-rock-out sound, it certainly wasn't going to scratch everyone's itch, but was strange enough to grow on you after awhile.. The biggest drawback was Aletta Lohmeyer's shrill, razor blade of a voice. rating: *** stars
2. She Brings Peace (Rod Roach - Adrian Hawkins) - 4:42
Probably the album's most conventional tune, 'She Brings Peace' also benefited from the fact Hawkins handled the lead vocals. Mind you, he wasn't anything great, but compared to Lohmeyer, was a breath of fresh air. Nice guitar powered rocker with a pretty melody. The song's unsung hero came in the form of Richard Houghton's killer walking bass lines. rating: **** stars
3.) And I Have Loved You (Rod Roach - Adrian Hawkins) - 3:22
Musically 'And I Have Loved You' was a decent dark, mid-tempo ballad, but certainly didn't benefit from Lohmeyer's quivering, pseudo-operatic delivery. Well, at least Roach's guitar solo was nice. rating: *** stars
4.) Winchester Town (Rod Roach - Adrian Hawkins) - 7:55
Featuring some crushing Roach guitar, 'Winchester Town' opened up with the band at their most progress-rock oriented. The tune then headed off in a West Coast jam direction that wasn't the most tuneful composition on the album, but there was lots of Roach lead guitar and thankfully Hawkins handled the brief lead vocals. rating: *** stars
'Traitor' started out as pretty, conventional English folk tune, before picking up steam and morphing into a increasingly heavier rocker. Roach turned in some of the album's best lead guitar on this one, while it was also a highlight for the Crompton - Houghton rhythm section. The song was also one of the few where Hawkins and Lohmeyers voices actually blended well (Hawkins was on lead with Lohmeyer on background). Always wondered about the spoken word segment at the end of the tune "Get your guns and wicked knives ..." One of the album highlights. rating: **** stars
2.) Soul Song (Aletta Lohmeyer - Pilikian) - 2:53
Darn, Lohmeyer returns to the spotlight. Not sure why, but her shrill and rather tuneless voice has always reminded me of Nico. And what was with the blood curdling screams at the end of the song. Even my cat runs away when I play this song. rating: *** stars
3.) Princess and the Peasant Boy (Rod Roach - Adrian Hawkins) - 3:34
'Princess and the Peasant Boy' found the band going back to English folk, but this time around the results were actually mildly enjoyable. rating: *** stars.
4.) Dreaming (Aletta Lohmeyer) - 2:43
So, to be fair, Lohmeyer actually sound pretty good on this Fairport--styled acoustic folk tune. The fact she avoided going off into operatic spasms certainly helped. A sweet pastoral melody certainly didn't hurt. The song was particularly attractive when Lohmeyer and Hawkins blended their voices. rating: **** stars
5.) Step Out of Line (Rod Roach - Adrian Hawkins) - 4:18
With a crunching rock arrangement and some dated counter-culture lyrics, 'Step Out of Time' has always reminded me of an English version of The Jefferson Airplane. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but drenched in some blazing Roach guitar (including some amp static), this one was really good. rating: **** stars
The band did a UK tour in support of the album, but it did little to generate sales and that was basically it for the group.
.As for where are they now -
Crompton joined Alvin Lee in Ten Years Later, followed by an extensive career as a sessions player. I believe he's still playing.
Houghton went on to play with Wilder and is still and active musician playing in the metal band (Dark Ages). He was kind enough to provide a little information on the band:
I'll do my best to provide answers!
Who write the songs? Rod Roach and Adrian Hawkins wrote most of the songs and Aletta wrote Dreaming and Cat song also co wrote Magical Love.
Did the band get any money off the reissues? No money from reissues! (so don't buy the Arkama reissue !!!)
What happened to the rest of the band ? Tom ended up on drums for Alvin Lee and Edgar Winter in USA
Rod had various projects that I'm not sure about
Adrian did his own thing but nowadays works in retail
Loretta did some TV acting
I could tell you lots about myself of course but in short, I still play bass for dance/ party band CoStars (at London Savoy Hotel this Friday Jan 30th!) and noisy rock band DarkAges (www.darkagesrock.co.uk)
Richard Houghton (January, 2015)
Lohmeyer went into the commercial side of the business, doing voiceovers, commercials, etc.
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