ATOMIC ROOSTER: IN HEARING OF ATOMIC ROOSTER (1971)
1) Breakthrough; 2) Break The Ice; 3) Decision/Indecision; 4) A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Rate Go Down; 5) Black Snake; 6) Head In The Sky; 7) The Rock; 8) The Price.
Some things come together in perfect harmony, others just don't have the luck. Some madmen preserve enough common sense to live and prosper, others do not even begin to operate in terms of living and prospering. Apparently, the happy pairing of Crane and Du Cann just wasn't meant to be: under different conditions, Death Walks Behind You could have been followed by something even more ambitious, innovative, and grandiose, but evolution was thwarted by the differences in approach — essentially, a debate between the two key members over whether it would be the heavy guitar rock thing that should dominate the next record, or the artsy keyboard sound. Although, in this debate, Du Cann was the sane guy, and Crane the mental one, Crane had the advantage of holding the rights to the name of Atomic Rooster — and, in the end, Du Cann had to go, forever squashing the band's chance at advancing to first-rate level.
In Hearing Of... is, therefore, a transitional album, recorded with the same lineup as Death (with the addition of extra temporary member Pete French on vocals), but heavily discriminated in favor of Crane's personal vision. Only two of the tracks are credited to Du Cann: 'Break The Ice', featuring the album's most memorable guitar/organ melody that almost borders on funk, and 'Head In The Sky', the heaviest number on here, although Crane still does everything in his power to obscure Du Cann's guitar work with organ «noodling», making it all sound somewhat like early, «artsy», pre-Gillan Deep Purple.
The bulk of the material is, however, dominated by Crane's keyboards and Crane's songwriting. It is mainly middle-of-the-road, blues-based art-rock that is, at best, pleasant, but rarely exciting. 'Breakthrough', despite the title, does not break through anything — either Vincent refrains from giving it all he's got, or he ain't got all that much: these piano riffs and solos do not even have the passion of a young Elton John murdering his instrument on 'Burn Down The Mission', let alone the fury of a Keith Emerson in his prime.
«Tepid» is the best word to describe his attempts at rocking out — as well as his attempts to seduce us with lyrical balladry ('Decision/Indecision') or «devilish» mid-tempo mood pieces in the blues paradigm ('Black Snake'). With subsequent listens, the material goes down easier, but it is not as if there is anything deeply hidden here — just a question of habit and attitude. And, in my humble opinion, positive proof that Vince Crane, no matter how talented or how psychopathic, is quite unable to do anything outstanding on his own. In Hearing Of... is the closest he ever got to a «solo» album within Atomic Rooster, and the results are discouraging, if not to say catastrophic — denying the band a chance to rank up there with the mighty ones.
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