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Atomic Rooster - In The Hearing Of

Review No: 242
Added 9th September 2005


Vincent Crane: Piano, Hammond Organ, and Vocals

John Ducann: Guitars, and Vocals

Paul Hammond: Drums

Pete French: Vocals

In 1969 keyboard wizard Vincent Crane and drumming sensation Carl Palmer left mid tour of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's debut American tour citing irreparable differences with the man himself, Arthur Brown, not perhaps the most thought through idea in Rock 'n' Roll, but sometimes a musician has to do what a musician does.

Upon arrival back in England it was decided to put a band together around these two musicians; like minded talents were then sought after, Brian Jones who had just left the Stones was due for a meeting with Vincent Crane the day before he was found drowned in a swimming pool; Rich Gretch was asked but had already hung his star to new supergroup "Blind Faith" with Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Ginger Baker; Jack Bruce was asked as well but was determined to forge out a solo career, and when Bruce turned down the bass position John Paul Jones was singled out, but he was already in another heavy metal flyer Led Zeppelin. But all these names do let your mind wander into all the different possibilities that could have happened.

The newly branded Atomic Rooster was rolled out with its debut album 'Atomic Rooster' (1969) with the relatively unknown Nick Graham completing the trio on bass. The album met with great critical praise but little commercial success. The album is a bluesy affair with not much notice of the heavy rock carnage that was to come. Nick Graham promptly left, and Atomic Rooster never employed a bass player at any time in their following career, Vincent Crane preferring to play the bass notes on his Hammond organ rather than trust another fickle bass man. Followed by Carl Palmer who was lured away to be the “P’’ in another super group, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.



Break The Ice
Decision / Indecision
A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps
The Pulse Rate Go Down
Black Snake
Head In The Sky
The Rock
The Price
Bonus Track; Devil’s Answer

New recruits were sought and two new Roosters were found: John Ducann, on lead guitar, who brought along young skinsman Paul Hammond. Immediate success was to follow with the Rooster taking on the hard heavy metal of the day. In November of 1970 this trio's first album was released "Death Walks Behind You" with its ground breaking Hammond organ sound from Vincent Crane, guitar thunder from Ducann, and powerhouse drumming from Paul Hammond. Further progress was made when the song 'Tomorrow Night' was plucked from the album as a single and reached the Top Ten. 1971 was to prove to be Rooster's year, when they were right at the front of the heavy metal boom, alongside such luminaries as Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. A follow up single 'Devil's Answer' was released and met with even greater success, reaching Number Two.

Whilst in the studio recording this album it was decided to expand the line-up to four with the addition of a vocalist, and the services of ex-Cactus lead singer Peter French were employed, an excellent choice. French' s vocals were laid down so late in the day that the artwork for the album had already been done, so his head had to be painted onto the inside artwork at the last minute.

The album “In The Hearing Of" was released in September 1971 and went straight into the Top Twenty. The music is not quite as heavy as that of its predecessor, but that does not mean it has lost any of its aggression or grit. Vincent Crane's Hammond organ is not so much in evidence with the piano being used to great effect on a lot of the songs. This is spelled out right from moment go when the Rooster strut their stuff on opener 'Breakthrough', with Cranes hammering piano dominating the song as it pushes its way into your subconscious. 'Breakthrough' is the perfect opener for this finely selected collection of hard rockin' classics. Of the nine songs on this album (Hit Single 'Devils Answer' has been tacked on the end of the original eight album tracks as a welcome bonus) two are instrumentals, only five are sung by new vocalist Pete French, Vincent Crane takes lead vocals on the dark and broody 'Black Snake', whilst 'Devil's Answer' features the vocals of John Ducann, having been recorded before Pete French' s arrival. Six songs were written by Vincent Crane, three by John Ducann. One song, 'Decision/Indecision', does not even require the services of Ducann' s guitar work, with Crane supporting French' s emotional vocals on solitary piano, a haunting piece to be sure. Pete French gives a great display as a vocalist on his limited opportunities, but it is perhaps the two rockin' instrumentals, 'A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Rate Go Down' and 'The Rock' that would have most pleased the fans from the previous album. It is the only time during the album that both Vincent Crane and John Ducann actually let go and give it some clout. ‘In The Hearing Of' was a great follow up to 'Death Walks Behind You'. Great development is shown in all parts of the band, but obviously too much development, as each individual wishes to stamp his mark, as is easily seen by the development of each track on this album.

With Vincent Crane insisting upon sole leadership of the band, and his exacting standards, this proved too much for the other musicians in the band and before the end of the year the band had splintered. This left Vincent Crane to keep the Atomic Rooster flag flying, which he did with diminishing results over two more albums 'Made In England' (1972) and 'Nice'n' Greasy' (1973). Both of these albums departed from the Hard Rock of yore, taking a very different Funk/Rock slant with vocalist Chris Farlowe on board, much to the horror of Rooster hard rock fans. Pete French went off and formed Leafhound who recorded 'Grower of Mushrooms' (1972). Pete French was never to get the success his vocal talents clearly deserved. John Ducann and Paul Hammond stayed with their hard rock roots and formed 'Bullet', who changed their name to 'Hard Stuff', with John Gustafason on bass and vocals, recording two impressive albums for Deep Purple' s newly formed own record label under the Hard Stuff banner 'Bulletproof' (1972) and 'Bolex Demention' (1973). Heavy Rock' s waning popularity put paid to any lasting hopes of Rock immortality, though.

In 1980 when Hard Rock made a major comeback The Rooster of 'Death Walks Behind You' fame reunited for another stab at glory, but their day had gone.

The name 'Atomic Rooster' still garners great respect in hard rock circles, but it was really only 'Death Walks Behind You' and 'In The Hearing Of' that were the real thing. The reformation live album from the Marquee (1980), where funnily enough it is John Ducann' s vocals and guitar that are the most dominant, is worth your pleasure if you have an inkling to listen to the live beast. But anything else with the Rooster badge on it is generally advised to be given a wide berth.

The world of Rock 'n' Roll is not an easy or kind one. Vincent Crane, unable to control his inner demons any longer, took his own life on Valentine' s Day 1989. He was sadly followed by Paul Hammond who could not cope with life outside of his beloved Rooster in 1991. A Tragic end to a band that could have been huge, one of the biggest. But they did leave behind two marvellous albums as an epitaph.

Mott the Dog resides at Jameson's the Irish Pub