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Argent - Live In Concert

Review: 109
Date: 5 Jan 03


Rating: 3 Stars

Russ Ballard – Guitar, piano & vocals
Rod Argent – Organ & vocals
Jim Rodford – Bass
Bob Henritt – Drums

Tracks Listing:
1. Be My Lover, Be My Friend
2. Sweet Mary
3. Tragedy
4. Dance Of Ages
5. The Fakir
6. Hold Your Head Up
7. He’s A Dynamo
8. God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You
9. It’s Only Money
10. Gonna Meet My Maker
11. Music From The Spheres


Rising like a Phoenix from the Ashes, so did Argent arise from the demise of the fabulous Zombies, who split up amongst great acrimony in 1967. Formed in 1969 by Rod Argent, although obviously the focal point of the band with his penchant for throwing his keyboards around, minor keys, haunting organ solos, and unfortunately calf length purple suede boots, did not dominate circumstances just for the sake of it, he pulled around him some of the finest musician at the time. His new recruits rose to the occasion and matched the exacting demands of their leader and justified Argent’s faith in rejecting calls to reform his former band. Bassist John Rodford, with thirteen years experience under his belt in various combos, underpinned Argent’s sound with rich strongly defined rhythms, whilst drummer Bob Henritt hit the bins with remarkable strength and accuracy (for a sticks man). Russ Ballard (the man always with the shades on - very reminiscent of Ian Hunter) had cut his musical teeth as a member of Adam Faiths Roulettes. Ballard was in fact a real find, possessing a strong bluesy voice, a crystal clear, distinctive guitar sound and a commercial flair for song writing (he later went on to write hits for Rainbow, Uriah Heep, etc). It was indeed Ballard who gave the band much needed exposure early on, when his song “Liar” was covered by Three Dog Night and climbed into the U.S. top 10 in 1971.

What you get for your buck - here are eleven tracks in all, covering the band’s commercial successful years from 1972 to their demise in 1974. First up is an entire short concert recorded for the B.B.C. at the Paris Theatre, which has most of the songs from their new album at the time “Altogether Now”. It shows off the many varied talents of Argent from Folk Rock, Jazz Rock, Pop Rock and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Opener “Be My Lover, Be My Friend” is a typical Argent song covering all spectrums of music in six short minutes. Therein was the problem Argent suffered, trying to appeal to all. They became Jack of all trades, but master of none. But saying that, when the band rock out on the final two numbers of this set, hit single “Hold Your Head Up” and “He’s A Dynamo” (in which they blatantly rip off the guitar riff from Nut Bush City limits, Great Riff why not?) the band really cook, blending power with precision.

After this we get two healthy dollops of Russ Ballard Stadium Rock including the gloriously dumb ode to the fans “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You”, which includes the immortal lines “Don’t step on snails, don’t climb in trees, love Cliff Richard, but please don’t Tease”. Kiss later covered this turning it into a huge hit single in the U.S.A., and used to close their live show with it in a blaze of cigarette lighters held aloft by the crowd. Stirring stuff.

Sighting musical differences, Ballard then left the band to concentrate on his writing skills, and by the time the band got to mid 1974 they had gone off in a very Spinal Tap influenced Jazz direction. Two guitarists had been added to replace Ballard (John Grinaldi and John Verity), but it really was a completely different bottle of Mellotrons as the last two tracks show here. Definitely the point to turn off the player. Brilliant at their best, overindulgent and far too twiddly at their worst.

Argent were a good band, but unfortunately other people did it better.


Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew


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