From the mid-'60s through the early '70s, Alan Bown's bands had played in a variety of styles that were popular in the U.K. during that period without achieving wide popularity, although they were among the more respected musicians on the scene. This wasn't entirely due to bad luck.
Their songs weren't as impressive as their chops, and their shifting stylistic identity probably also worked against them with the record-buying public. This record found Bown very much in a progressive phase, favoring long, shifting compositions (all written by Alan Bown and Jeff Bannister save for John Anthony Helliwell's "Turning Point" and a cover of Richie Havens' "Up Above My Hobby Horse's Head") that must have been hell in some respects to play by memory.
As the liner notes to the 2010 CD reissue rightly point out, there were some similarities to British progressive rock groups like Traffic and Procol Harum, though these were on the slight side and tended to be found on the more reflective compositions. Some of Frank Zappa's influence could also be heard on the lengthy "Turning Point," particularly in the horn sections.
The horn parts are generally the most distinctive aspects the record, which otherwise is a little on the unmemorable early-'70s progressive rock side, though with a jazzier flavor than usual owing to the horns. The 2010 CD reissue on Esoteric adds a bonus track, "Thru the Night," that appeared on the 1971 Island sampler El Pea; it's punchier and more soul-influenced than the songs on the LP, and was written by Helliwell, who would join Supertramp.by Richie Unterberger
1. The Messenger - 7:56
2. Find a Melody - 5:18
3. Up Above My Hobby Horse's Head (R. Havens) - 4:23
4. Turning Point (The Alan Bown, Antony) - 7:12
5. Build Me a Stage 3:31
6. Stretching out 8:27
7. Through The Night (J. Anthony) - 4:16
All compositions by Alan Bown, Jeff Bannister except where stated.
*Vic Sweeney - Drums, Percussion
*Andy Brown - Bass, Vocals
*Tony Catchpole - Electric, Acoustic Guitar
*Jeff Bannister - Piano, Organ, Flute
*John Anthony - Alto, Tenor Saxophone, Recorder, Clarinet
*John Hemmings - Trombone
*Alan Bown – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Gordon Neville - Vocals