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Atomic Rooster were originally around before my time, although remain a name I've been familiar with over the years. However, for some reason, I’ve never back-tracked and checked out their music. They crop up, from time to time, as an influence cited by current artists and bands, so I've always been intrigued by just what they had to offer the music world. When this triple CD set turned up for review, the time had arrived to finally "discover" this evidently seminal act.

‘A Classic History Of’ is constituted by songs from what blurb suggests is the band's "commercially successful period of 1970 to 1972", as well as from their ephemeral reunion, from 1979 to 1982. And tracks in this collection are detailed as featuring Atomic Rooster's "legendary powerhouse trio" of John Du Cann, Vincent Crane and Paul Hammond. Apparently, they are "considered to be one of the major innovators of the term "Heavy Metal" with their devil/death image." I'm guessing this bold assertion is a judgement based on aesthetic and image alone, as the music is far more aligned towards standard 70s rock and innovative, hard-edged (for the time) prog rock... and with some blues, soul and psychedelic influenced divergences.... and just a touch of British eccentricity.

The quality of the music is hit and miss, to be honest. There are some genuinely great pieces, that’ve most definitely stood the test of time, such as the majority of what’s on the first disc, including a couple of great sounding live performances (of what I gather were their “hit singles” - ‘Devils Answer’ and ‘Tomorrow Night’). The production/mastering job on these old recordings holds up well, too. This first CD was actually a sheer joy. It’s easy to hear their sustained seminality. The same can be said for much of the second disc, too.

However, tracks on the third disc, which are said to be from the band’s reformation period, and from an album that never received an official release, stand out like a sore thumb against much of the other material. This isn’t helped by a very amateurish sounding drum machine that’s been deployed and a subpar, demo-quality production. A little online digging seems to suggest that at least some of these tracks only ever hit the pre-production demo stage. I guess, then, this is one purely for Atomic Rooster completists.

I gather there are way more comprehensive, all-encompassing, Atomic Rooster sets out there, but the first two discs in this new release contain some great music. Timeless? Maybe. Some bands still seem to be mimicking Atomic Rooster’s established aesthetic, so definitely timeless, in this sense. I’ll very happily be revisiting the first two CDs in this set, but can quite confidently assert that the third is one I’ll never spin ever again. As such, ‘A Classic History Of’ is an interesting retrospective that’s dragged down by the inclusion of a subpar and wholly unnecessary “bonus” disc.
Store for Music
Review by Mark Holmes
18th May 2018
DISC ONE: [13 tracks]
DISC TWO: [13 tracks]
DISC THREE: [13 tracks]
"There are some genuinely great pieces, that’ve most definitely stood the test of time..."