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14 Jan 2017

Aardvark “Aardvark” 1970 UK Prog Rock










Aardvark  “Aardvark” 1970 UK Prog Rock
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A one-album band from the UK. The band’s lone album is sort of like an Emerson, Lake & Palmer album (ie. a trio without a guitarist) where the Hammond organ (and on many occasions, the piano) is the lead instrument, only with a Deep Purple-esque/heavy Psych-Rock approach and atmosphere on numerous tracks. 

Do I wish the band had produced more than a single album? Hell yeah! But does it keep me up at night in desperation because the band released only a single album back in 1970? Ah…hell, no. 

Therefore, nothing horribly exciting on offer here, but the band’s lone album is quite good and a nice addition to the overall Prog-Rock genre. This is one for fans of the genre who want to grab anything even remotely “passably cool” related to the genre…………… 

Aardvark was a short-lived proto-progressive group which managed to release only one self-titled album before breaking up. A name with two “a” letters in the beggining, which would always put them first on alphabetically-sorted lists turned out to be not enough to help them make a mark. What brought attention of many to this band is that two future members of Free, Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke played with the band. However, the album was recorded after their departure. The line-up consists of drums, bass and two keyboards. Naturally, the band’s sound is rich in organ sounds as well as some piano touches. 
The quartet’s music is typical of the period. Rooted in psychedelia, Aardvark explores new musical possibilities. The band makes proficient use of newly “invented” distorted organ sound as well as applying distortion on some vocal parts. Even some ambient/electronic parts are to be heard! All of these features, give this creation a fresh and exciting sound. Similarities to Van Der Graaf Generator, Emeson Lake & Palmer or Egg are detectable. 

Aardvark is really a game of two song conventions. Some of the songs like “Many Things To Do”, the main theme of “Outing” or “Copper Sunset” could be best described as a progressive rock extension of psychedelic pop tunes, while some present a truly progressive, jazz-influenced side of the band, strongly based on improvisation. After a rather dull and uninteresting theme, the previously mentioned “Outing” features a very interesting proto-ambient, dark and dissonant organ-driven part with a lot of delay and reverb on the instruments and a silent bass line in the background. It’s connected with “Once Upon A Hill”, which is connected with “Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It” creating an impression mini-epic. To me, that is the most interesting part of the album, showcasing the band’s abilities in the best light. 

All in all, I was sort of skeptical when I put on Aardvark’s self-titled debut. I thought I had already heard all “good” one-and-gone acts. As it soon turned out, I was mistaken. Although flawed in places and not very consistent, this album is a really memorable listening experience with a very distinct and unique sound. This is a really interesting work and is recommended to proto-prog and early prog fans… by ALotOfBottle ………… 

This is undoubtedly one of the most noble and dedicated efforts from the burgeoning prog scene of the early 1970s. Aadrvark is a band that I return to again and again, a staple of the progressive music that originally transformed me into a dedicated fan of prog. The soaring, endless organ lines compelled my infant ear, coaxing me to accept and understand what the word ‘progressive’ actually means. Given, Aadvark could be discarded as an early 70s 60’s influenced group, but their self-titled debut is also is a terribly immediate and driving work. The band take organ work to a very impressive height (Aadrvark are the direct contributers to my own obsession with the Hammond organ), exploring boundaries that are quite dynamic for early 1970. I must give this band the full five stars out of my enduring love, my slavish devotion to their wonderful and perfect and lone EP, and my affection for their earnest musicianship……..by Lozlan………. 

Aardvark were one of those groups like Locomotive and the later period Nice who used no guitar and relied completely on the organ as a lead instrument. Steve Milliner, the organist, would go on to play in Caravan for the Waterloo Lily album and David Skillin, here as a vocalist, wrote the lyrics for Home’s The Alchemist some years later. This is either a record you are going to love or hate, mainly because of the deadpan almost mocking vocals and the relentless pounding yammering organ freak outs. The group are capable musicians and nearly every track works perfectly, so I’d be in the former category. I once owned an original of this 11 years ago, and I still regret the fact that I didn’t keep it. Now all I have is a boot I’ve had for 7 years, but at least I can listen to it when I feel like it. This record has some real high points like the berserk slice of psychedelic progressive mayhem “The Greencap” with distorted vocals and vicious organ. This is a Heavy album, a lot like Deep Purple without the guitar, yet Skillin’s voice is as far from the early metal genre as you can get, sounding more like Justin Hayward, David Bowie, and a relaxed Jim Morrison(!). The Doors influence is there in the organ too. All of side one is brilliant, from the clever opening track “Copper Sunset” to the wild last tune “I Can’t Stop.” Side Two is where Aardvark show no mercy, going for an organ destroying and smashing binge for two long tracks. In fact, the closing “Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It” is nothing but loud organ feedback and noise. My ears find this a bit hard to listen to a lot of the time. When form and structure are cast aside for sheer noise and brutality then I lose interest. However, there’s something fun about this album that makes it impossible not to enjoy most of it. Aardvark have a sense of humour as exhibited on “The Outing- Yes!” which is very entertaining, and they also have some great melodies. “Once Upon A Hill” is a really nice Moody Blues like song in the middle of the storm of Side Two, but it’s Side One that showcases the group at their best. The tracks are shorter, but also more inventive. “Many Things To Do” has some neat phased drums, vocals like Locomotive’s Norman Haines, and a wild organ solo. While I would like to hear a guitar on this album, maybe it just wouldn’t have fit in with the band. If the majority of hard rock bands use all guitar and no keyboards, then why not try it with all keyboards and no guitars? Here it works, and this is a unique and really good album. There is nothing pretentious about Aardvark, and while they may take a bit of time to get into, you will be rewarded. However, if full blown prog is your thing than this album sounds earlier than that, more a product of 60s experimentation than 70s symphonic prog. If you like the proto-prog sound of late 60s bands who used mainly gutiar such as UK Kaliedoscope then you may find this intriguing, and a bit weird too with the all organ no guitar set up. The lyrics, music, and songs are all really fun and very British, so this is a thoroughly enjoyable album if not a total masterpiece….by bristolstc…… 

The group Aardvark remains one of those numerous bands who released a single album in the early seventies and subsequently sunk without a trace. However the band still retain a certain amount of interest amongst progressive rock enthusiasts because of their particular heavy styled progressive rock that was completely keyboard based with the band making do without the use of any guitar. 

The band itself was a studio band with most compositions entrusted to the hand of Dave Skillin and were based in the Midlands. Strangely enough, though the band dispensed with any guitars, they had trouble with the recruitment of a keyboardists and one could say that they were mainly a studio band with very little live dates to their name. 

Because of their very brief history, very little can be said about the band and it is their album that speaks volumes for what they were all about. However, there are a couple of interesting anecdotes related to this band and for those musos who try to connect musicians and bands through the ages, Aardvark had a number of musicians who would later go on to make names for themselves with various other outfits. 

The album was released in 1970 on the Deram Nova label in both mono and stereo versions as (S)DN 17 with a value on today’s market of 50.00 British sterling. Though titled Aardvark, it is also known as Put It In Your Pipe And Smoke It. In all probability the title was withdrawn because of its obvious drug references, with the title track reduced to just Put It In You Pipe. 

Steve Milliner previously played keyboards with Black Cat Bones, a London based blues-rock based band who only released one album during their brief tenure together. The band is rather more well-known because both Paul Kossof and Simon Kirke played in the band before leaving to form legendary band, Free.   

Dave Skillin would eventually join prog-band Home, another Forgotten Sons candidate whilst I could not find anything related to Frank Clark. Stan Aldous is also known for the work he had done previously with garage band Odyssey. 

Throughout the brief Aardvark history, the band also went through a number of keyboardists. Amongst these one finds Paddy Coulter, Dave Watts, who would later play with Jackson Heights and Affinity and the late Peter John Wood. Wood would go on to play with Quiver, The Sutherland Brothers, Al Stewart and Natural Gas. 

The band Aardvark are also involved in one of the myths of British psychedelia. The group Tintern Abbey only released one single throughout their recording span, Beeside/Vacuum Cleaner, for Deram (DM 164) in 1967. Considered as one of the most collectable items from this particular musical period, it has long been rumoured that the band had recorded a second single, How Do I Feel Today which was never released yet which was supposedly circulated amongst collectors. 

In fact the single was never recorded and the name of the single was actually an unissued Aardvark single that was meant to be released on independent label as Rubble 12. However the tapes were lost by Deram and the band used the name of the Aardvark title, created a fictitious cover and thus deceived countless numbers of psychedelic fans all over the world! 
by Nigel Camilleri…….. 

Aardvark on the album have a nice piece for the ear, the old progressive play …..certainly falls into the ear for all fans of Hammonda organs. They are omnipresent on the album, but there is no guitar, which resembles in sound the band Emerson, Like & Palmer, Egg and Quatermass. I would add that the works of Aardvark hovers the ghost of Atomic Rooster and Beggars Opera, also echoes Pink Floyd are also present. 
Interesting, dynamic compositions and original solution to the instrumental (on the organ playing Paddy Coulter) make the leg itself rapped the rhythm, and listening to the album “one breath”. 

The album opens with a powerful, rhythmic hard-rock 'Cooper Sunset’ from organ riff driving it played on a hard overdriven Hammond B3 organ and arranged with a piano and ear catching chorus …. you could hear the influence of the band Deep Purple. 
I think a strong party band recordings were calmer, combining aesthetics with subtle progressive jazz influences, such as the lively 'Very Nice Of You To Call’, where the foreground has been advanced jazz piano decorated with lots of rhythmic clapping. Seemingly this is not a particularly complicated, but listening to the delicious, reminds that we are dealing with a racially progressive band, one of many that worked at that time in Britain. 
Full of ideas of spontaneity and structure of delights 'Many Things To Do’ with a fun, party hurdy-gurdy Hammond organs in the middle section and some changes of rhythm …. sounded echoes the achievements of the trio Atomic Rooster. 

It is no different with a great Greencap. Lots of good brings to the song vocals Dave Skillina in zwrotceprzetworzony, deformed voice - probably inspired by the idea of ​​'21st Century Schizoid Man King Crimson, and clean the catchy chorus. Very psychedelic doing in the middle piece, where subtle, multidimensional solo takes us slowly into orbit (a magical moment, you have to listen to). hammond organ improvisations backed by vibraphone sounds. This is one of the strongest parts of the whole disc 

Wildly romantic prelude to “I Can not Stop 'turns into a runaway, again a fairly simple song topped the crazy organ coda. The other thing is that it is the Hammond organ on this CD are a leading instrument, which is probably associated with a complete lack of electric guitar in the composition of the formation. 
It should also pay close attention to the ten-minute 'The Outing-Yes’, which takes us into the world of racial, experimental psychedelia, as if alive, removed from the entry’ A Saucerful Of Secrets "by Pink Floyd. Very psychedelic piece, but very non-genuine. 
Immediately following a track maintained in a fairytale atmosphere, the delicate 'Once Upon A Hill’ is slightly tinged folk ballad appears in this set as a moment of relaxation and tranquility. 
This, in turn, seamlessly connect to the last on the album 'Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It’. The next record is dominated by the sounds of Hammond organs. We must honestly admit that this crazy full of improvisation and played at a fast pace work is impressive. 
Thus, it is not a sin originality plate and can be a bad witness to the fact that bands forgotten, not too much to had offer after the duplication of patents of other performers. 
Despite this, make Aardvark has many unconstrained grace and some great moments, and just because helpful to understand with this music …. it is high time to draw attention to yet another amazing aspect of this CD cover image adorning is genuinely beautiful, it can be concluded that those times were really twisted fairy tale………….. 

Aardvark are very much a band of their time. 1970 was a year of transition for British rock music; sounds were getting heavier, and psychedelia was giving way to the more artistically refined and ‘mature’ efforts of progressive rock. Although this quartet released a single album before fading into obscurity, their self-titled debut finds a comfortable place at the crossroads of these sounds. Psychedelic pop and the fetishized British take on American rhythm and blues are wrapped up in a bundle that only slightly reeks of prog. For what it’s worth, Aardvark were a promising band with a compelling sound, but it sounds terribly dated by contemporary standards. 

Above all else (including the fact that members of Aardvark eventually left to join the hard rock pioneers Free), Aardvark and their self-titled debut are defined by the fact that they are one of the few hard rock bands that spared any used of the guitar. Aardvark manage to touch upon all of the instrumental rock ingredients with the use of a keyboard, bass and drumkit. Even by today’s standards, it’s pretty rare to see a band even attempt this, let alone achieve the same sort of relative heaviness as the guitar-dominated acts. Not unlike the way Deep Purple’s Jon Lord would rival the guitar with thick organ riffage, Aardvark’s Steve Milliner makes the organ sound like it was made for rock music. “Copper Sunset” kicks off the album with a fuzzy organ lick that should immediately dispel any notions that a rock band needs a guitar to function properly. 

In spite of this welcome artistic risk however, most of Aardvark’s songwriting still resorts to a familiar pattern of psychedelic-tinged British R&B, the likes of which had virtually dominated the airwaves during the years leading up to the release of this album. Dave Skillin’s vocals, while tuneful enough, give the anaesthetic feeling of deja-vu that I usually get when hearing something generic. Although an interesting “Interstellar Overdrive”-esque soundscape track (“The Outing”) and a jam-fuelled progathon (“Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It”) make for welcome exceptions, most the songs tend to adhere to a fairly run-of-the-mill pop format. “Very Nice of You to Call” is a finely-crafted tune with some wonderful piano work and a memorable vocal chorus, but many of the tracks come across as fairly bland, and surprisingly tame, given the band’s relatively innovative instrumental approach to rock music. 

Although many of the songs on “Aardvark” sound like the sort of tunes you might hear on a budget 60′s pop-rock compilation, the band’s instrumental capabilities are what give me the impression that they could have gone much farther than they did. Although Steve Milliner’s keyboard work is the shining gem of the album, the band delivers a consistently impressive performance. The basslines are full of groove, the drums are energetic, and though Skillin’s vocals don’t stand out from the crowd, there are many vocal melodies here that you may find yourself humming along to. There’s some fine enjoyment and worth to be explored on Aardvark’s debut, but with only one album to draw upon, they never had the time to realize their potential as an act………….. 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Stan Aldous / bass 
- Frank Clark / drums 
- Steve Milliner / keyboards, recorder, vibraphone 
- Dave Skillin / vocals 
Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Copper Sunset (3:17) 
2. Very Nice Of You To Call (3:39) 
3. Many Things To Do (4:22) 
4. Greencap (6:04) 
5. I Can’t Stop (5:28) 
6. Outing (9:50) 
7. Once Upon A Hill (3:03) 
8. Put That In Your Pipe (7:13) 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..

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