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Dark - The Forgotten Years

Artefacts From The Black Museum (1972)

This legendary progressive rock band, which was responsible for the UK's most expensive album, was formed by Steve Giles whilst at school in Northampton in 1968. They met local entrepreneur Alan Bowley who'd recently converted a derelict house into a recording studio, and this led to four acetates of "RC8" and "In The Sky".

They performed at a few local gigs, and as their playing got tighter, decided to go into SIS Studios, Northampton, with engineer Alan Bowley, to record an album. The six tracks, written and arranged by the band were recorded over a weekend in 1972 and consist of melodic progressive rock laced with lots of fuzzy guitar riffs. Only a handful of copies were pressed, and Giles, who had a strong interest in photography, made the first twelve copies into full-colour gatefold sleeves, complete with booklets of photographs stapled together, augmented with handwritten notes. They were handed out to band members and their girlfriends! These are now valued at L1,500 by Record Collector who valued copies which came with a black and white gatefold sleeve at L1,350, and those which came in a single black and white sleeve - at L1,200 in their December 1993 issue. A total of 65 copies were reissued in all and each came with a lyric booklet and sold originally for L3!

The band then split with Clive and Martin going their own ways, and Steve and Ron continuing to record for their own pleasure until 1977 when Ron married and moved to Cornwall.

Kissing Spell traced the band in 1991 to tell them the original album was worth a small fortune, and offering to reissue it on vinyl and CD. A re-issue had been done on vinyl in the States, followed by Kissing Spell's efforts. The members then got back together and decided to see if they could still play. Previously unrecorded tracks were dusted off, more material written, and Dark re-entered the studio world in 1994 at Outrider Studios, Northampton, over twenty years after their first outing. A couple of tracks were laid down before the studio went bust, and Dark moved on to Far Heath Studios in Guilsborough, where the album, "Anonymous Days", was completed in 1996. It was issued on CD in a limited edition of 500, twenty-five years after "Dark Round The Edges". Word got around that the band were playing again and offers of live gigs started to come in. They decided to do just one hail/farewell gig, which turned out to be the Northampton Beer Festival, on May 31st, 1997. The local brewery, Frog Island, brewed a special limited edition bottled beer in the gig's honour, which sold for L2.50. The label being a copy of the CD cover of "Dark Round The Edges". (Vernon Joynson)


As I’m sure we’ve all taken good notice of these past few years, there’s been loads of reissues of obscure 60’s and 70’s rock from the world over. Granted, a good deal of these reissues has been much needed, bringing some superb (and sadly forgotten) classics back to life. Unfortunately, we have to take the good with the bad.

I question the motives behind a lot these reissues. I can imagine a group of guys digging in the vaults, grabbing stuff dusty discarded discs made in ’71 by a group of no-names from Nordlingen, Germany as a shot in the dark hope for making a quick buck off of perpetually curious listeners such as myself. The powers that be don’t actually listen to the stuff they choose to reissue; they just sort of figure, “Hey, these guys were probably on acid when they recorded this. It’ll sell well today at those freaky indie shops.” Plus, it’s just so much cooler to say that you listen to Dark as opposed to, say, The Nice, Jefferson Airplane or Pink Floyd, which is really all Dark is: just another clone of the bands who much better previous success with the same sound – success because, well, they were better. Speaking of Pink Floyd, I think it’s just terrible how often the snobbish folks brush off a masterwork like Piper At The Gates of Dawn simply because they associate Floyd with all of those ueber-boring mid 70’s dinosaur rock LPs. A real shame.

If I had to judge this album by its cover alone, it would most definitely win all sorts of wacky prizes. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Take the x-ray faust (German for fist) on the cover of Faust’s first and move it up to anonymous portrait’s face and you might get something like the hideous rictus on Dark’s Artefacts From The Black Museum. Look at that grimace of horror. I assumed that the music herein would have been lovely freak-out racket, or horrifying proto doom metal ala’ Sabbath’s first, which still manages to predate (tsk tsk, Dark). No. Instead I was inundated with a jam by numbers acid rock played by music shop wankers who spent too much time trying to copy the Airplane, Nice and Floyd and not enough time smoking grass. It’s bad. It’s sub-par. It’s boring.

Every song follows the same pattern: some sort of weird sound, standard fuzz guitar, whiny vocals, windbag pentatonic/Eastern clichéd guitar solos, more vocals, some finale of sorts. Blah. There’s simply nothing appealing about it; no character, no fun, no great visions, no good steady grooves. Nothing. Nada. Nilch. Their vocalist has the bizarro Midas touch in that everything he graces with his abilities turns to shit. Even the three tracks with any sort of good steady rocking feels (I’m Not Sad, Maypole, Maypole #2) are completely laid to waste by his voice (or lack thereof) and very very stupid lyrics. Check out “I’m Not Sad”, where he tells the story of how he successfully begged his girlfriend to stay. It’s horribly pathetic.

I guess I could say that the two guitar players try to save the band, but hey man, it’s a sinking ship. Hitler loved kids. So what?

In closing, fellow reissue fan, you have been warned of Dark. If you like your acid rock formulaic, trite and meandering, you may want to hop on this like flies on shit. Otherwise, stay away. Far away. Most of these yucky reissues further cement classics like Black Sabbath’s first and Vincebus Eruptum. The name and title had such potential too. It’s a pity; a waste of such a cool cover. (giallo)

The Jam (1975)

Renowned for the legendary “Dark Round The Edges” LP ( the worlds rarest record ) this CD features the blistering underground fuzz - guitar - fest recorded in 1975 by the classic line up and previously only available on long - deleted vinyl. It is a special limited edition to mark the launch of the new Kissing Spell label.

Anonymous Days (2002)

Anonymous Days is the second studio album from Dark recorded 23 years after the first, the famous and highly collectable 'Round the Edges' LP. The band's line-up remains the same, Steve Giles, Ron Johnson, Martin Weaver and Clive Thorneycroft. Anonymous Days contains songs written between 1974 and 1995 and is the album we always wanted to make, combining the Dark progressive rock style with the latest recording techniques.

The first album was recorded in about 24 hours, this one took an awful lot longer: that's modern studios for you. The tracks are pure Dark combining complicated twin harmony guitar work with thought provoking lyrics and wide ranging musical structures.

We thoroughly enjoyed getting back together again to write and rehearse after all those years, we even played a live gig in our home town of Northampton. At the start of the project Ron's bass guitar was taken from the dust in his loft where it had lain undisturbed for over 20 years. After the album was finished he put it back in exactly the same place ready for the next one? (Martin Weaver)

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5 komentarzy:

Ankh pisze...


Anonimowy pisze...

Hi Savagesaint

Fantastic !!!



Anonimowy pisze...

Hi Savagesaint

I've got a special request for you. I'm looking for The Novi Singers Torpedo album.

Do you have it ?

Good night


Ankh pisze...

I will try to get it for you Bertrand. Thanks

Anonimowy pisze...


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