Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Argus - Argus (1973/77 uk, heavy progressive blues rock)

Argus was formed in 1972 by bass player Mick Pearl and drummer Dave Wagstaffe, both musicians hailing originally from Skegness. They recruited in guitarist Del Watkins, who used to play in the band ‘Julian’s Treatment’, who had had some success with a very original album ‘A Time before This’. Del had also been in the Ska band ‘The Skatalites’ as well as Polydor band ‘Rare Amber’, and as a back up musician for Ben E King. 

A singer was eventually found in Bill McRae from Scotland and the band put together a set of original material, with influences from Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash (who’s third album had inspired the band’s name) and Free. The band soon built up a good reputation on the college circuit, festivals, and rock pubs and clubs such as the Fulham Greyhound, from where one report came to the attention of The Old Grey Whistle Test’s Bob Harris, who gave the band a good review on the show. 

After about a year Bill called it a day and a replacement was found in Ken Lewis who hailed from Greenford. Ken was a more experienced performer with a stronger voice, but musically not perhaps as in step with the band as Bill, but the band continued getting some good support slots with Thin Lizzy, Brinsley Schwartz (with Nick Lowe) Jack The Lad, Pink Fairies, The Equals and others. A demo was recorded at the bands huge flat in Brondesbury Park, engineered by John Dover, bassist from Julian’s Treatment, and the newly formed Rocket Records were set to sign the band but Del’s sudden departure brought things grinding to a halt. 

Amongst potential guitarists answering the ensuing advert in melody Maker was Allan Holdsworth, recently departed from Tempest, but with nothing concrete on the table to temp him with, he declined. A replacement was found in an American guitarist from the band Hookfoot, Ray ? - who’s surname seems to have got lost over the years. He eventually was tempted off back to the States for a tour with Dr Hook, and for some reason, probably being fed up with guitarists, the band decided to get a sax player, and were very pleased to get John ‘Irish’ Earle, the baritone sax player formerly with Gnidrolog, and later on Thin Lizzy, Cliff Richards and many more, who impressed the band hugely, but he didn’t stay around too long before other ventures called. 

The end came when bass player Mick Pearl was invited to join Nicky Moore’s Hackensack. The songs that had been recorded were later released on the ‘Audio Archives’ label – some twenty eight years later! Mick went on to play in 'Street Band' with Paul Young, and then went on to form 'Q Tips'. Dave Wagstaffe later played with 'Anaconda', Gaskin, Quasar, John Wetton, Ken Hensley, Davy O List, and currently with 'Landmarq' and Oliver Wakeman.
by Dave Wagstaffe
1. Friend Of Mine - 5:54
2. Road Of Life - 3:26
3. Tweny-four Hours - 6:08
4. Same Old Story - 4:03
5. Superstition - 3:44
6. Funk Song - 6:05
7. Why Can't They Leave Us Alone? - 4:15
8. Take No Chance - 8:26
9. Drum Thing - 8:23
10.Jubilee Shuffle - 3:09
11.77 St. Thomas' Road Part 1 - 5:15
12.77 St. Thomas' Road Part 2 - 3:25
Tracks 6-12 as Anaconda
Tracks 1-5 recorded in Brondesbury Park, London 1973 
Tracks 6-12 recorded live at The George Robey, Finsbury Pa rk, London 1977 

*Dave Wagstaffe - Drums
*Mick Pearl - Bass
*Del Watkins - Guitar
*Ken Lewis - Vocals
*Dave Wags Taffe - Drums
*Randy Spence - Guitar, Vocals
*Rod Newington - Bass
*'Mad' Reg - Flute

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