East of Eden

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968)

- Dave Arbus -- violin, woodwinds, sax, bagpipes
- Geoff Britton -- drums, percussion
- Ron Caines -- vocals, sax, keyboards
- Geoff Nicholson -- guitar, vocals
- Andy Sneddon -- bass 

  line up 2 (1968-71)

- Dave Arbus -- violin, woodwinds, sax, bagpipes 
- Ron Caines -- vocals, sax, keyboards 

NEW - Dave Dufort -- drums, percussion (replaced Geoff Britton)
- Geoff Nicholson -- guitar, vocals 
NEW - Steve York -- bass (replaced Andy Sneddon) 


- Geoff Nicholson / guitars, vocals, harmonica, piano, strings
- Ron Caines / piano, saxophones (tenor, soprano and alto electric & acoustic), vocals, stylophone
- Dave Arbus / electric violin, tenor saxophone, flute, trumpet, bagpipes, Indian bells
- Andy Sneddon / bass, strings
- Geoff Britton / drums, percussion (claves, African hand drum)


- A Band Called O (Peter Filleul)

- Angel Witch (Dave Dufort)

- Babe Ruth (Jeff Allen)

- The Beatstalkers (Jeff Allen)

- Geoff Britton and the Spitfires

- Ron Caines (solo efforts)

- Camel (Martin Fisher)

- Centipede (Tony Fennell)

- Champion (Geoff Britton)

- Chicken Shack (Steve York)

- Climax Blues Band (Peter Filleul)

- Colosseum (Jim Roche)

- David and Goliath (Garth Watt-Roy)

- Dr. K's Blues Band (Jeff Allen)

- EF Band (Dave Dufort)

- The Electric Ceildh Band (Joe O'Donald)

- Peter Filleul (solo efforts)

- Fuzzy Duck (Garth Watt-Roy)

- Granny's Intentions (Joe O'Donald)

- The Greatest Show On Earth (Garth Watt-Roy)

- Headstone (Joe O'Donald)

- The Hi-Fis (Davy Jacks and Andy Sneedon)

- The Keys ( Geoff Britton)

- The Kingpins

- Ossie Layne Show (Garth Watt-Roy)

- Lionheart (Dave Dufort)

- Living Daylights (Garth Watt-Roy)

- Ian Lynn (solo efforts)

- Manfred Mann's Chapter 3 (Steve York)

- Manfred Mann's Earth band ( Geoff Britton)

- Marmalade (Garth Watt-Roy)

- Paul McCartney and Wings (Geoff Britton)

- Major Surgery (Jim Roche)

- Motivation (Steve York)

- Mushroom (Joe O'Donald)

- Joe O'Donnell (solo efforts)

- Joe O'Donnell's Shkayla

- The Orange Machine (Joe O'Donald)

- Paper Blitz Tissue (Dave Dufort)

- The Parlour Band (Peter Filleul)

- Keith Pearsons' Right Hand Band (Dave Arbus)

- The Primitives (Martin Fisher)

- Q-Tips (Garth Watt-Roy)

- Riff Raff (Joe O'Donald)

- Rough Diamond ( Geoff Britton)

- The Scenery (Dave Dufort)

- Shoestring Band (Dave Arbus)

- Sniff 'n the Tears (Les Davidson)

- Steamhammer (Garth Watt-Roy)

- Trees (Joe O'Donald)

- Tytan (Dave Dufort)

- Vinegar Joe (Steve York)

- Garth Watt-Roy (solo efforts)

- West Hill Blast Quartet (Ron Caines)

- The Woods Band (Joe O'Donald)

- Snowy White's Blues Agency (Jeff Allen)

- Steve York (solo efforts)






Genre: progressive:

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Mercator Projected By East of Eden

Company: Deram

Catalog: SML 1008

Year: 1969

Country/State: Brighton, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: sticker on front

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5635

Price: SOLD $150.00


Violinist Dave Arbus, drummer Geoff Britton, singer/brass player Ron Caines, guitarist Geoff Nicholson and bassist Andy Sneddon first came together as East of Eden in 1968. Original based in Brighton, the band relocated to London where they quickly became critical favorites on the underground scene. 


Signed by Atlantic they debuted with and instantly obscure single:


1968's 'King of Siam' b/w 'Ballad of Harvey Kaye' (Atlantic catalog number 584198). 


When the single flopped, Atlantic dropped them.  Luckily they were quickly signed by Deram, by which time they'd undergone the first in a series of personnel shakeups, Britton replaced by Dave Dufort and bassist Sneddon replaced by Steve York. 



Before getting into a description of their first album, a little truth in advertising. For a sizable segment of the record collecting circle, the only thing worse than a horn band is one featuring a violin. Liner notes such as the following are likely to send many folks running as if threatened with the black plague ... 

"Take one electric violin which blows rock and Bartok, add one flute from the East, mix in Sumerian saxophones, bass, drums, guitar and liquid work pictures - mark 'East of Eden'.

Add a couple photos showing a bunch of '60s hippy types decked out in ancient Egyptian regalia (shades of Spinal Tap) and you have all the ingredients for what should be an aural disaster. Well guess what? The band's 1969 debut "Mercator Projected By East of Eden" was surprisingly good ! Produced by Noel Walker, the set featured an interesting mix of genres. Not exactly the year's most original offering, the collection was wrapped in a vaguely Eastern flavor, though it included dollops of jazz ('Communion'), blues ('Centaur Woman'), progressive moves ('Waterways'), conventional rock ('Communion') and early stabs at world music ('Isadora'). Starting as a rather conventional rocker before morphing into a full scale freakout, 'Northern Hemisphere was one of the highlights. While the album won't change your life, it's a welcomed (and suitably bizarre) addition to my catalog and one I actually play from time to time. (Anyone understand the joke between the first two songs on side two?) Elsewhere the album was notable for the classic sexy cover courtesy of photographer David Wedgbury.)

"Mercator Projected By East of Eden" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Northern Hemisphere   (Ron Caines) -  rating: **** stars

The liner notes described this one as "decline and fall of Western civilization and Violin pie ..."  For a band that I expected to be working in a jazz-rock genre along the lines of The Soft Machine, the rocking 'Northern Hemisphere' came as a shock to my ears.  Sure, it started out with goofy sound effects and some Dave Arbus electric violin, before ending up with one mega meltdown of a sound collage, but in between Geoff Nicholson's nice voice and crushing guitar chords, gave this one some real punch.  Deram tapped the track as a promotional single:





- 1969's 'Northern Hemisphere' b/w 'Northern Hemisphere' (Deram catalog number DM 242)





2.) Isadora   (Ron Caines) -   rating: *** stars

Sounds like ti was written as a tribute to a band groupie ...  'Isadora' offered up an an Interesting ballad with a touch of an early world music vibe to it.  Nicholson's guitar did more for me than Arbus' extended flute and sax solos.
3.) Waterways   (Ron Caines - Geoff Nicholson - Steve York) -   
rating: *** stars

Over a seven minute span 'Waterways' managed to mix Nicholson's heavily treated vocals, Eastern influences,  psych, musique concrete, progressive, and jazz rock elements into one big aural stew.  Different, but not exactly the most cohesive thing I've ever heard.
4.) Centaur Woman   (Ron Caines) -    
rating: *** stars

The liner notes described this one as "Half-woman, half-beast, half bass guitar ..."  If nothing else, 'Centaur Woman' was interesting to hear their version of English white-boy blues.  The lyrics were certainly over-the-top and yes, bassist York stole the spotlight on this one..

(side 2)

1.) Bathers   (Ron Caines) -   rating: **** stars

The album's prettiest tune, 'Bathers' was a haunting, acid-tinged ballad.  The song was seemingly inspired Hungary's Lake Balaton (the largest fresh water lake in Europe).
2.) Communion   (Dave Arbus - Ron Caines) - 
    rating: *** stars

The liner notes described the song as being "inspired by a Bartok string quartet ..."   I sure didn't hear it.  Instead, what I got out of it was a Serbian influence and an overdose of Arbus' shrill and irritating electric violin.
3.) Moth  (Ron Caines) - 
   rating: *** stars

The martial drumming intro was interesting and then the song went off into a mix of lysergic ballad and Canterbury jazz-rock meadows.
4.) In the Stable of the Sphinx (instrumental)   (Dave Arbus - Ron Caines - Geoff Nicholson - Steve York) 
   rating: ** stars

To my ears the eight minutes plus closer 'In the Stable of the Sphinx' sounded like an in-studio jam intended to fill up some additional time on the album.  There was a melody; at least at the start of the song, but by the midpoint the track collapsed into random noise.  Recorded by French television, YouTube has a live performance of the tune.  The clip is erroneously labeled as a performance of 'Northern Hemisphere' but is actually a mixture of "In the Stable of the Sphinx' and 'Bathers': 


Shortly after the album was released York left to join Manfred Mann (see separate entry). He was replaced by David Jacks.


Genre: progressive:

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Snafu

Company: Deram

Catalog: DES 18043

Year: 1969

Country/State: Brighton, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $55.00


Geez, I found their "Mercator Projected By East of Eden" debut challenging, but modestly intriguing.  Accordingly I expected more of the same on the sophomore album.  Let me warn you -  get ready for one of those what-the-hell-happened experiences.  Produced by David Hitchcock and the band, "Snafu" seldom sounded like the same band.  Largely abandoning any effort to sound commercial, their earlier progressive efforts were largely dropped in favor of jazz-rock moves. Multi-part tunes like 'Leaping Beauties for Rudy' / 'Marcus Junior'  and 'Gum Arabic' / 'Confucious' had more in common with hardcore jazz artists like Charles Mingus (they actually covered his 'Better Git It In Your Soul') and Coltrane than  BS&T, or Chicago styled jazz-rock.  Technically the performances were probably stunning with each member bringing their refined chops to the spotlight.  That said, it was likely to be a major challenge for folks not into the jazz-rock genre.  Personally, I found Dave Arbus violin to be a major challenge. The resulting sound was just irritating to me.  The opener 'Have To Whack It Up' was probably the album's most commercial piece, followed by 'Nymphenberger' which actually boasted a folk-melody buried in the jazz moves.  Yeah, this was just one not for me ...


For hardcore fans, the US pressing dropped a couple of tracks found on the UK original - 'In the Snow for a Blow Part II' and the Frippotronics-styled sound collage 'Uno Transito Claponi.'  Having heard both, you're not missing out on much. 

"SNAFU" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Have To Whack It Up   (East of Eden) - 2:20   rating: *** stars

In spite of Dave Arbus' grinding violin (chalk on a blackboard) and the jazzy horns, Geoff Nicholson's screeching electric guitar and  vocals injected enough rock into the song to make it listeable.  Not the case for some of what was to come.

2.a.) Leaping Beauties For Rudy (instrumental)   (East of Eden) - 7:01  rating: ** stars

2.b.) Marcus Junior (instrumental)   (Drummond) -   rating: ** stars

Clocking in at seven minutes, the first two minutes of the instrumentals 'Leaping Beauties For Rudy' and 'Marcus Junior'  found the band completely abandoning rock and roll in favor of free form jazz.  Weird time signatures and Dave Arbus and Ron Caines squawking saxes ruled the day.  Things improved a bit when the rock melody was finally introduced and Nicholson was allowed to cut loose.  It was still pretty jazzy for my tastes.

3.a.) Xhorkon  (instrumental)  (East of Eden) - 7:49   rating:* stars

Backward tapes sounding like a drunken Cosack - reported it's the closer 'Traditional' played backwards.  How clever.

3.b.) Ramahdan  (unknown)  rating: *** stars

Hard to tell where each segment started and stopped, but I think 'Ramahdan' began when Andy Sneddon's pounding bass line kicked in.  Arbus' sax took over the spotlight for awhile, but then Nicholson got to spend a little time in the vocal spotlight, before the song returned to a hard jazz section.  Interesting to see that Deram actually tapped it as a single in the UK, France and Germany.  Gawd only knows how, but the 45 actually hit the French top-5 charts.

  UK pressing

- 1970's 'Ramahdan' b/w 'Have To Whack It Up' (Deram catalog number DM 338)

  French pressing

- 1970's 'Ramahdan' b/w 'Northern Hemisphere' (Deram catalog number 17.041)

3.c..) In The Snow For A Blow   (East of Eden)  rating: *** stars

Again, hard to tell where one segment starts and stops, but I think 'In the Snow for a Blow' introduced the big band segment which proved atypically tuneful.  

3.d.) Better Git It In Your Soul   (Charles Mingus)

4.) Part III    (East of Eden) - 0:13

Country jog?  What the hell?


(side 2)

1.a.) Gum Arabic (instrumental)   (East of Eden) - 8:15   rating: ** stars

If you could survive the first two and a a half minutes of middle eastern and oriental sound effects and then Dave Arbus' aimless wailing flute, the song eventually found a Focus-styled melody.  Things started to look up, but then you got hit with some pompous spoken word narrative and extended discordant sax solos.

1.b.) Confucius (instrumental)    (Drummond)

2.) Nymphenberger    (East of Eden) - 6:14  rating: *** stars

The whole song featured lots of Arbus violin, but there was actually a dark folk melody buried in the middle of the song.  The track improved significantly when Nicholson's guitars (he was multi-tracked on four different instruments) kicked in.

3.a.)  Habibi Baby   (East of Eden) - 6:16   rating: ** stars

Back to the backward tapes ...  the results gave the tune a mild Eastern European flavor.  Personally not something I needed to hear more than once, or twice.

3.b.) Boehm Constrictor (instrumental)    (East of Eden) -   rating: ** stars

I'm guessing 'Boehm Constrictor' kicked in where the tinkling bells started ...  this instrumental section sounded like an orchestra warming up before a performance.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

3.c.) Beast Of Sweden (instrumental)    (East of Eden) -    rating: ** stars

The third section brought Arbus chalk-on-a-blackboard violin back to the forefront. Yeah this one surrounded him with one of the album's more conventional rock arrangements, but it just didn't do much for my commercial ears.

4.) Traditional (arranged by East of Eden) - 1:33    rating: ** stars

I've never bothered to check it out, but this was apparently the previous 'Xhorkon' track played in the right direction.  I'd rather hear it backwards.






Genre: pop

Rating: * (1 star)

Title:  Here We Go Again ...

Company: EMI Electola

Catalog: 1C062-98065

Year: 1976

Country/State: Brighton, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap; German pressing

Available: SOLD 

Catalog ID: SOLD 5636

Price: SOLD $20.00


Co-produced by the band (now made up of percussionist Jeff Allen, lead guitarist Les Davidson, keyboardist Pete Filleue, singer/bassist Davy Jack horn man Don Weller) and Dennis Weinrich, anyone expecting to hear a collection of cutting edge progressive moves was bound to find 1976's "Here We Go Again ..." a thorough and complete mess.  Clearly struggling to find a market niche the result was an album that bounced all over the musical spectrum with little room for crafting any firm group image (which may explain why the set never saw a US or UK release).   Instrumental tracks like 'Like a Plate', 'Merci Merci', and 'Spain' were best described as formulaic and bland supper club jazz - imagine Jay Leno's studio band leading up to a commercial break and you'd have an idea of what to expect.  'Falling Down' and 'Talkin' On the Telephone' offered up pleasant, but forgettable slices of horn-propelled AOR - imagine Chicago if they'd been English.   That said, singer/bassist Davy Jack displayed an unexpected knack for writing catchy pop tunes.  Complete with cooing female backing vocals (think The Three Degrees), a great jazzy guitar break from Les Davidson, and even a light disco touch 'When All Is Said and Done' was a fantastic slice of radio friendly pop !!!   Almost funky, Jack's 'Jack of Diamonds' was equally enjoyable. Totally unexpected, but not enough to salvage this collection.


Standout track - 'When All Is Said and Done' ...

"Here We Go Again" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Like a Plate (instrumental)   (Les Davidson) - 3:23

2.) When All Is Said and Done   (Davy Jack) - 5:05

3.) Jack of Diamonds   (Davy Jack) - 4:45

4.) Falling Down   (Davy Jack) - 4:13

5.) Talkin' On the Telephone   (Pete Filleue) - 2:28

6.) Merci Merci   (Les Davidson) - 1:23

(side 2)

1.) Here We Go Again   (Pete Filleue) - 3:50

2.) Spain (instrumental)   (Les Davidson) - 3:24

3.) Heaven Knows   (Pete Filleue) - 2:58

4.) You Can Find the Star   (Davy Jack) - 6:08

5.) Let's Find Some Time   (Davy Jack) - 2:34