This was one of the great albums of the sixties - brilliantly melodic, original and intelligent - but known till now only to a small band of passionate cognoscenti.
ARK 2 was the first 'concept album' - a 'space cantata' (though that makes it sound inaccessible and pretentious, which it is far from being). Written by the UK songwriting team whose success, according to The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, was 'rivalled only by Lennon & McCartney': Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, both from Hampstead, London.
Though brilliantly reviewed in the music and rock press of the time (it was Sunday Times Rock Album of the Year in 1969), the BBC did not know what to make of it: there were no radio or TV slots for an extended rock work at the time. So it remained largely unheard except by those who sought it out.
It is noteworthy for the first appearance on disc of Phil Collins, but (Flash) Gordon Smith, Brian Chatton and Ronnie Caryl each contributed their own fantastic musicianship and vocal power.
As can be seen from the original 'sleeve notes', ARK 2, nearly forty years ago, was extraordinarily prescient, anticipating many of today's private and global dilemmas and anxieties.
"After a while, supporting John Walker of The Walker Brothers, Collins and his guitarist friend Ronnie Caryl formed Hickory who soon found themselves with a concept album, the backing of Phonogram, and a new name, Flaming Youth.
Their album Ark II, was premiered at the London Planetarium and received lots of favourable press, but musical differences and a lack of commercial success soon meant it was time to answer another Melody Maker ad, this time from a struggling young band from Surrey, called Genesis."
1. Guide Me, Orion - 3:16
2. Earthglow - 2:52
3. Weightless - 2:37
4. The Planets - 12:47
.a. Mars - Bringer Of War
.b. Venus - Bringer Of Peace
.c. Mercury - The Winged Messenger
.d. Jupiter - Bringer Of Jollity
.e. Saturn - Bringer Of Old Age
.f. Uranus - The Magician
.g. Neptune - The Mystic
5. Changes - 5:48
6. Pulsar - 3:05
7. Space Child - 5:10
8. In The Light Of Love - 3:26
9. From Now On (Immortal Invisible) - 4:19
10.Man, Woman And Child - 3:14
11.Drifting - 3:52
All songs written by Ken Howard, Alan Blaikley
Bonus Tracks 10-11
The Flaming Youth
*Phil Collins - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Ronnie Caryl - Bass, 12-string Guitar, Vocals
*(Flash) Gordon Smith - Bass, Vocals, Guitars
*Brian Chatton - Organ, Piano, Vocals
the Free Text