TITUS GROAN – Titus Groan

This UK prog-rock band named themselves after the lead character of Mervyn Peake’s gothic novel - although the music is far from satanic heavy metal - and they issued their sole album in 1970. Based more on jazz influenced rock bands like If and Blood Sweat And Tears, they combined rock rhythms with a horn section comprising sax, flute and oboe, all played by multi-instrumentalist Tony Priestland. All of the tracks clock in at more than five minutes, giving plenty of room to spread out, with the horns taking some good solos, especially the oboe on ‘Hall Of Bright Carvings’. The lengthy instrumental introduction of this twelve minute track is one highlight of this album, with a memorable opening riff around which the band can weave some great solos, and it features some fine guitar work towards the end. ‘I Can’t Change’ is awash with time, tempo and style changes, and doesn’t flow as well as some of the other tracks, but the faster sections are pretty well done, and Priestland’s flute adds to the overall feel of the song. ‘It’s All Up With Us’ and ‘Fuschia’ end the original album with a couple of good rocking tracks, especially the latter with its almost heavy metal rock guitar. The re-issue is augmented with three bonus songs (all of the tracks from their Dawn EP of 1970), which on the vinyl issue are tagged onto the end of each side. ‘Open The Door Homer’ was certainly more commercial than anything else on the album, with a distinct ska feel to the rhythm, while ‘Woman Of The World’ is a pretty straight-forward rock ballad, and ‘Liverpool’ is another stab at the commercial end of the genre. Generally the album tracks are much better, and are a good example of the jazz/rock/prog crossover that was popular in the early 70’s. Worth giving it a listen, although go for the CD re-issue as it took me an awful lot of searching the net to secure my vinyl copy.