Wednesday, April 28, 2010



Britain was the spawning ground for many of the most innovative rock groups of the sixties, with an impressive list of bands that virtually changed the face of popular music. Contemporary listeners have little difficulty identifying the Beatles, Stones, the Who, Cream and other giants of that era.

Mention The Gods, however, and you will likely be met with a blank stare.

Notable for reasons other than their output, they had a rotating cast of members that would move on to find greater success elsewhere. Mick Taylor and Greg Lake both logged time as Gods, though they were gone well before the initial recording sessions commenced for Genesis.

Interestingly enough, two fourths of the lineup on this album (Ken Hensley and Lee Kerslake) would be later play a major part in Uriah Heep.

We are now getting ahead of the story. Time to blow the dust off of a forgotten disc.

Progressive rock was in its infancy in 1968, though there were many aggregations who were more than prepared to propel mainstream fare into the outer limits. Psychedelia was still very much in vogue, though the free form jams that were a product of lysergic influences began to give way to more traditional formats. The British blues movement brought long improvisations in line with 12 bar structures. The Gods had been playing the blues, though they went in another direction, embraced the spirit of the times and adopted the trippy sounds of the era.

You can hear the beginnings of what would become the signature, Hammond-driven sound of Uriah Heep in the early 70's, due to the dominant instrumental presence of Hensley. He handles lead vocal chores here as well. The end product is decent and well worth listening to, though it is an unremarkable set. Exceptions are the brilliant "I Never Know", which features a dreamlike mellotron part and "Looking Glass" with vocals that threaten to scrape the stratosphere.

Redolent of the sounds that were prevalent in the late 60's, there are few surprises if you are familiar with contemporary music of that period. You can hear stylistic traces of Vanilla Fudge and Steppenwolf in places.

To their credit, no truly horrible songs spoil the proceedings, although the tiresome, random sound effects that link the tracks do not jell with the music that is presented. There is a feverish imagination at work that carries the material and makes it seem more interesting than it actually is. Again, this is a more of a curio for those who want to trace the early flowerings of the prog movement, though it is a respectable effort.


Perplexio said...

When did this album come out? I've long felt that the Moody Blues Days of Future Passed was the first prog album-- in spirit (if not style). Did the Gods album come out in 1967?

Scott Parker said...

I really, really dig the late 60s proto-prog rock and psychedelia. The Gods may not be something special but the sound is special. This might even lead me to discovering some Uriah Heep, a band I know purely by name.

Sean Coleman said...

Perplexio- No, this one came out well after in '68. This set had elements of prog, though the subject matter of the songs and the running times was still rooted in basic rock. Has some cool tracks though.

Scott-Uriah Heep is well worth checking out. Start with Demons and Wizards and The Magician's Birthday albums. Good stuff.

Perplexio said...

Interesting note on Kerslake-- I have an album by another band he was a part of, Living Loud-- it was a one-off album with Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, ex-Deep Purple), Jimmy Barnes (Cold Chisel), and Don Airey (Deep Purple). They do some Black Sabbath covers and a few original tunes. The Sabbath stuff is interesting as Jimmy Barnes voice is closer to Brian Johnson of AC/DC than it is to Ozzy Osbourne, but he still sounds convincing on songs like Crazy Train and Over the Mountain.