A Brief History
Both Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley are two musicians who in the seventies made a name for themselves working on various albums within the progressive rock as well as the jazz rock sphere. However in 1976 they teamed up to release two albums, with the help of other illustrious names, that have left their mark on the progressive rock world.
The first band that seems to have existed which sees both Lancaster and Lumley together was a studio band called The Soul Searchers which also included within its line-up John Goodsall (guitar), Gary Moore (guitar), Percy Jones (bass) and Bill Bruford (drums). Lancaster and Lumley wrote the two songs that appeared as a single in 1975, Scaramouche / Head Stand (1975, EMI).
Of these two musicians, it was Lancaster who had already made a name for himself playing with Mick Abraham's in Jethro Tull break away band, Blodwyn Pig, releasing two albums that are still considered as progressive rock classics (A future Forgotten Sons tale!). Together Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley formed a team, composing music for TV and playing together in various sessions. However they also set about writing the first of their collaborations which was a rock version of the tale based on Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev's work, Peter And The Wolf.
The album was released on the RSO label and was recorded in five different languages with different narrators, each famous in his respective country. The narrators were Viv Stanshall (English), Pierre Clementi (French), Wilken 'Willem' F. Dincklage (German), Maurizio Arcieri (Italian) and Luis Del Olmo (Spanish). The album also featured an inner sleeve with the words to the narration together with illustrations related to the story by Mike Cosford.
The second project that Lancaster and Lumley would focus their attentions on was a completely different styled album. This time round the album was totally instrumental and based on a loose concept. Released in 1976, it as titled Marscape. However the more important feature of this album, apart from the excellent music, was the names of the musicians involved in the recording of the album. One of the foremost jazz rock bands that progressive rock fans immediately identify themselves with is Brand X. When Marscape was released, Brand X had not yet released their seminal debut Unorthodox Behaviour, though all members of the band also played on Marscape. Thus one could actually consider Marscape as the first release that features the members of Brand X playing together. Of course the music was composed and produced by Lancaster and Lumley.
Robin Lumley plays with Brand X till this very day as well as acts as producer for various artists such as Bill Bruford, Isotope and Curved Air. Jack Lancaster would continue to play and produce for diverse artists such as Anthony Phillips, Kayak, The Deviants and Rick Van Der Linden. Furthermore Lancaster has formed his own record company, Verdant Records, which has re-released on CD both the albums in which he collaborates with Robin Lumley.
Introduction - Gary Moore (acc. guitar), Robin Lumley (elec. piano), Jack Lancaster (lyricon), Julie Tippetts (vocal), Erika Michailenko (chimes)
Peter's Theme - Manfred Mann (synthesizer), Pete Haywood (steel guitar), Percy Jones (bass), Cozy Powell (drums), Robin Lumley (string synthi), Jack Lancaster (saxes)
Bird And Peter (0:38) - Gary Brooker (synthesizer), John Goodsall (guitar), Pete Haywood (steel guitar), Robin Lumley (strings), Percy Jones (bass), Phil Collins (drums)
Duck Theme - Gary Moore (guitars), Robin Lumley (piano), Andy Pyle (bass)
Pond - Keith Tippett (piano), Phil Collins (vibes), Erika Michailenko(chimes)
Duck And Bird - Gary Moore (guitar), Gary Brooker (synthesizer)
Cat Dance - Stephane Grappelli (violin), Alvin Lee (guitar), Dave Marquee (bass)
Cat And Duck - Henry Lowther (violin), Gary Moore (guitars), John Goodsall (guitars), Percy Jones (bass), Robin Lumley (clarinet), Phil Collins (drums)
Grandfather - Jack Lancaster (lyricon, saxes), Robin Lumley (piano), Gary Moore (slide guitar), John Goodsall (guitar), Percy Jones (bass), Phil Collins (drums)
Cat - Stephane Grappelli (violin), Dave Marquee (bass)
Wolf - Brian Eno (synthesizer), Robin Lumley (synthesizer, piano)
Wolf And Duck - Chris Spedding (guitar), Brian Eno (synthesizer), Robin Lumley (piano), Percy Jones (bass), Phil Collins (drums)
Threnody For A Duck - English Chorale (choir), Geoff Leach (arranger)
Wolf Stalks - Brian Eno (synthesizer), Robin Lumley (synthesizer, piano), John Goodsall (guitar), Jack Lancaster (guitar), Percy Jones (bass), Phil Collins (drums)
Cat In Tree - Stephane Grappelli (violin)
Peter's Chase (John Goodsall (guitar), Gary Moore (guitar), Robin Lumley (synthesizer), Percy Jones (bass), Phil Collins (drums)
Capture Of Wolf - Brian Eno (synthesizer), Robin Lumley (synthesizer, piano), Jack Lancaster (lyricon), Phil Collins (percussion)
Hunters - Cozy Powell (bass drum), John Hiseman (snare drums), Bill Bruford (snare drums), Phil Collins (cymbals), Jack Lancaster (lyricon, flutes), Henry Lowther (trumpet)
Rock And Roll Celebration - Bernie Frost (vocals), Gary Moore (guitar), Robin Lumley (piano), Jack Lancaster (lyricon, saxes), Andy Pyle (bass), Phil Collins (drums)
Duck Escape - Gary Moore (guitar)
Final Theme - Julie Tippetts (vocals: solo), Bob Sergeant (choir), Erika Michilenko (choir), Bernie Frost (choir), Jack Lancaster (lyricon, saxes, clarinets), Robin Lumley (piano), Gary Moore (guitars), Percy Jones (bass), Phil Collins (drums), Alvin Lee (solo guitar)
Narrators: Viv Stabshall (English), Pierre Clementi (French), Wilken 'Willem' F. Dincklage (German), Maurizio Arcieri (Italian), Luis Del Olmo (Spanish)
All compositions Lancaster/Lumley except for tracks 2, 7, 10, 11, 17, 20, 21 by Prokofiev/arr. Lancaster/Lumley
Produced by Jack Lancaster, Robin Lumley & Dennis McKay
Recorded at Trident Studios, London
Illustration: Mike Cosford
The original, classical version of Peter And The Wolf was composed by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev in 1936, and premiered on the 2nd May of that year. The original idea behind this creation was to combine the folk tale of Peter And The Wolf with a series of classical instruments, each interpreting a particular character in the tale. The tale is told through the eyes of a narrator who explains the story which is then interpreted by the various cast of musical instruments.
In 1975, a rock version of Peter And The Wolf was released with the majority of arrangements done by Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley. The whole album was built around the original classical compositions by Prokofiev, though rock instruments represented the characters this time round. What one gets is actually a who's who of the jazz rock scene participating on this album which is actually more fascinating by the various combos that play on various tracks rather than the whole album itself. The album has been unavailable in recent years on CD, and only lately has it become available once again via Jack Lancaster's own Verdant Records label. The track list given above is from the original vinyl version, which differs slightly from that which is given on the CD version.
As I mentioned the main roles/characters of the fairytale are taken up by various participating musicians and thus the main cast was: Manfred Mann (Peter), Gary Brooker (Bird), Chris Spedding / Gary Moore (Duck), Stéphane Grappelli (Cat), Brian Eno (Wolf), Keith Tippett (Pond), Jack Lancaster (Grandfather), Jon Hiseman, Bill Bruford, Cozy Powell and Phil Collins (all hunters). The album was produced in five different languages. The English version had Viv Stanshall (Bonzo Dog Dada Band) while the Italian version had Maurizio Arcieri as narrator. Arcieri would play with rock band Krisma, whose 1981 album, Cathode Mama would be produced by Jack Lancaster.
Phil Collins needs no introduction to the progressive rock audience due to his work with both Genesis and Brand X, though he is not the only drummer to have played on the album. Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson), Cozy Powell (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck) and Jon Hiseman (Colosseum, Greenslade, Tempest) all contribute to the percussive element on the album. Indeed there is one particular track, Hunters, which sees all four playing together!
Guitar work seems to have been entrusted mainly to the able hands of Gary Moore, who at the time of recording was still within the Thin Lizzy fold, but was about to rejoin Jon Hiseman in Colosseum II. John Godsall (Brand X) also makes appearances on the album as does Chris Spedding (Sharks), one of Britain's most underrated guitarists, and bluesman Alvin Lee (Ten Years After).
Most of the bass playing on the album is by Percy Jones (Brand X), though there are contributions from Andy Pyle (Blodwyn Pig, Savoy Brown, Gary Moore) and Dave Marquee. On the other hand the synthesizers, when not played by Lumley were taken over by Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Brian Eno, who had just left Roxy Music, and Manfred Mann.
The late Stephane Grappelli needs no introduction, being one of the greatest jazz violinists to have graced the stage as does Henry Lowther, one of the best session players in British rock, having played with Caravan and CCS amongst others. Julie Tippet (Centipede) contributes female vocals while Bernie Frost sings on the only track that is not predominantly instrumental.
Since both the music and narration of Peter And The Wolf were already available, albeit in a classical version, the music and narration on this album are relatively similar to what one finds on Prokofiev's version. Thus the introductory theme as well as that for the various animals, especially the main character Peter is similar to the classical mode, but is obviously played out on a different instrument.
Though most of the tracks are relatively short, the album not only proves to be entertaining from a sonoric point of view but also a means of comparing various musicians. Rarely does one come across an album in which, for example, solos of guitarists such as Keith Tippett and Gary Moore are played back to back. A guitar solo is usually synonymous with Peter's Theme which is also the dominant sound to the album, and is the piece of music with which the album starts off.
Gary Brooker's shrill pitched synthesizer, complete with bird effects, introduces the first animal character to the story. The duck, on the other hand is also played out by a guitar, though the main difference to Peter, apart from the theme itself, is the use of the wah-wah pedal, which practically gives away the presence of the duck throughout the story.
The cat, played out by the Stephane Grappelli's violin, moves ever so sinuously and is possibly the closest the album comes to matching it's classical counterpart. In fact when things get more adventurous, and thus have more of a rock tinge, as in Cat And Duck, Grappelli's vilin makes way for that of Henry Lowther. After the sax drenched introduction of Grandfather, the music for both Cat and Wolf moves on very similar lines to the original versions of Prokofiev. In fact only minimal amounts of musicians are used on these tracks, though the closing track to Side One (Wolf And Duck), makes up for by this re-introducing a more rock orientated sound, something which does tend to lack at certain times throughout the record, especially considering the array of musicians on display here. The last moments of the first side show the unmistakable nature of narrator Viv Stanshall as he demonstrates the gulp with which the wolf swallows duck with a less than delicate belch!
Following the English Chorale introduction with Threnody For A Duck, the music takes on a more sinister nature with Brian Eno and his synthesizers taking the part of the wolf. One very interesting instrument that forms an integral part of Jack lancaster's repertoire is the lyricon, an instrument that is not too often used in rock music. Tracks like Capture Of The Wolf are perfect examples of the whole nature of this album, which allows the listener to full appreciate certain instruments within a rock context, though still managing to maintain an amount of individuality for that particualr instrument. As an album, Peter And The Wolf does have a lot of drawbacks as the music does tend to sound slightly disjointed at times. Possibly the main reason for buying this album is the quality and quantity of the musicians playing on this album, a feat that is practically impossible to come by nowadays. Of course there are some very interesting points for collectors such as the inclusion of most Brand X members, much before the creation of Brand X as a recording entity as well as interesting musical pairings such as Gary Moore and Gary Brooker playing together on various tracks. All in all Peter And The Wolf cannot be considered a musical classic (unlike the following Lancaster/Lumley collaboration) and is worthy of inclusion in one's musical collection more on the past merits of the musicians participating on the album.
Lineup: Jack Lancaster (Lyricon, saxophone, Flutes, Watergong), Robin Lumley (Piano, harmonium, Synthesizers, Autoharp, Hammond organ), John Goodsall (Guitars), Percy Jones (Bass, Electronic Percussion, Watergong), Phil Collins (Drums, Percussion), Bernie Frost (Voices), Simon Jeffes (Koto and The Simon Jeffes Sring Quartet),
Recorded at Trident Studios, London 1976
Composed and Produced by Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley
For all intents and purposes this could have easily been an album credited to "Jack Lancaster with Brand X", yet there is one very subtle difference between the work on this album and future Brand X releases, and that is the compositions are by Jack Lancaster. The music on this album has a much more ambient approach than one would find on other release, thus giving this album a touch and class of its own.
From the opening Take Off one can sense that the album is built around a series of sound effects with a gradual build up in in pace and volume. One could almost think of this album as a kind of soundtrack to some documentary or Imax film. This feeling surfaces at occasional moments throughout the album such as on With A Great Feeling. The main theme of the album comes into play with Sail On Solar Winds which shows off what the band is all about as the delicate, simple theme revolves around various instruments backed by an intense complicated rhythm section. Hearing Phil Collins playing with such vibrancy makes one appreciate the talent that has gone to waste in these last years.
Another feature of the album is that the tracks merge with each other in an effortless manner.At times, such as on Sail On Solar Winds, the theme/track is only hinted at and just left in mid-air leaving the listener with a sense of anticipation, yet also a disappointed feeling as the continuation and expansion of the theme never comes about. One cannot say this for all the tracks on this excellent album. For example tracks like Phobos And Deimos, Hopper and Homelight feature all the musicians playing their hearts out giving some fantastic musical renditions along the lines of what would occur on future Brand X albums. However one of the standout features on this album is the utilisation of sound effects to create the atmosphere for certain tracks. For example Homelight, shifts in style half way through the track with the music relegated o the background leaving the front of the mix for the gong and various water-based sound effects.
As a contrast to Phobos And Deimos, one also finds tracks that are completely minimalistic in their approach, such as Olympus Mons, which features sparse piano played to a heartbeat as backing rhythm together with the occasional sound effect. Occasionally we are reminded of the main theme of this album (which was first played out on Sail On Solar Winds) as happens during Homelight.
Possibly the one glitch on the album is the rather "commercial" sounding Hopper, which sounds too easy listening and definitely out of place on this intriguing album. At times during this track one can also make out a faint hint at the theme of Peter And The Wolf, and I wonder if this track was originally composed for that album and somehow did not make it to the final mix, to then be included on this album. However the final tracks on the album make up for this. Dust Storm presents us with a wonderful concoction of percussion and sound effects while as can be expected Blowholes (The Pipes Of Mars) features an array of wind instruments (and possibly keyboards). The album comes to a close with the dreamlike Realization and Release.
Strictly speaking one cannot define this album as a progressive rock one. On the other hand there is a very fine dividing line between much of the progressive rock and the jazz rock of the seventies. Without a shadow of doubt, this album will definitely appeal to progressive rock fans of the prog scene from the early seventies, whose music was very much influenced by the jazz scene that gave rise to bands such as that which performs on this album.
There is no single website dedicated to the two albums in question on this issue of Forgotten Sons. Verdant Records does give an insight into these albums, being the propriety of Jack Lancaster. However, should you have any further information regarding the dual woks of Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley that could be added to the site, do not hesitate to contact me.