Three Massively Underrated UK Prog Albums

in Blog, UK Prog by Mike Warth

Now here’s a thing. I was asked – ‘name three prog albums that don’t receive the credit they deserve’. It set me thinking but it wasn’t difficult really. How about these for starters. They are not by bands that are mega obscurities and their albums were not released on small, short-lived or private labels – in fact they all appeared, oddly but by total concidence on Charisma. In fact the bands are well known (sort of) – but these albums are little talked of, written about or more importantly played and to my way of thinking that’s criminal. (For those of you with shelves bulging with albums in alphabetical order I have started with A)

Audience – Friend’s, Friend’s, Friend

Audience - Friend's, Friend's, FriendThink Audience, think House On The Hill, and there is no doubting that is a high quality album but to me this is even better. Sax and flute player Keith Gemmell is the star here and is given great opportunity to excel. Check out the menacing Raid and scary Priestess with Gemmell utilising echo effects to create some extraordinary sounds. Top notch musicianship abounds in this band and add to this Werth’s quirky yet perfect vocals for this material and you have one hell of an album. The final title track is quite magical, wistful, even ghostly but then not one of the eight neatly varied tracks disappoints. A real gem.

Brian Davidson’s Every Which Way

Brian Davidson's Every Which WayOn the demise of The Nice Keith Emerson of course found fame and fortune with ELP, Lee Jackson knocked up a few albums with his outfit Jackson Heights and Brian Davison popped up in this tasty quintet, quietly releasing just the one eponymous album. (interesting those Nice chaps all used their names in their follow-up bands).
Graham Bell was the vocalist and takes writing credit on 5 of the 6 tracks, but the highlight for me is the extended guitar and sax interplay between John Headley and Geoffrey Peach respectively especially on All In Time and The Light. Great vocals from Bell and with the drumming of Davison to the expected high standard but never taking over, ably supported by Alan Cartwright on bass create an album well worth finding or revisiting. Great cover too.

Yes I know the saxophone is not always everyone’s cup of tea in rock music and I’ve chosen two albums including that instrument. Just coincidence again! But no sax in my third choice. How about violin instead!!

String Driven Thing – The Machine That Cried

String Driven Thing - The Machine That CriedA band with a number of albums to their credit of which this to my mind is the most interesting. The writing skills and aching/anguished vocals of Chris Adams complemented by those of his wife Pauline provide the listener with some stunning tracks especially the lengthy Sold Down The River, Heartfeeder and Night Club on side one and People On The Street and the title track on Side 2. With Grahame Smith’s haunting violin and tidy playing from the other members this is another album to dust down and pop on the turntable. You will not be disappointed.

About the Author


Mike Warth – Retired teacher and Education Officer, old rocker, lover of prog, psych and folk – the latter for which I sometimes take some stick. (Why?) Currently having a ball working in The Sound Machine, Reading – independent Record Store par excellence and working with Vernon Joynson on the ultimate update to Tapestry Of Delights to be published October 2014.

2 Responses to “Three Massively Underrated UK Prog Albums”

  1. slowpaw steve t says:

    I got the Audience album , there are many “lost” albums in Prog, still finding them !

  2. Doug Boyne says:

    String Driven Thing. I’m sure I have that and others in my collection. I should know what I have right. I even have some on CD that are probably just as desirable!

    And to top it off I’ve seen them live when I lived in London. amongst a slew of others you have no idea.

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