Crafting a musical skeleton that has as much in common with British folk as it does with West Coast jam bands, DARK wouldn’t be unlike a lot of other psychedelic bands in the late sixties/early seventies. What made them different was one thing: a solid understanding of fuzzy guitar. Rather than merely using the fuzzbox to show off, DARK incorporated it into the build of their songs, laying it across moody, heavy tracks that approached sprawling.
It all began in 1968, when guitarist Steve Giles grabbed other guitarist Martin Weaver, drummer Clive Thorneycroft and bassist Ronald Johnson, and formed Dark at a school in Northhampton. Local touring followed for several years, until, in 1972, the band only produced their first album, the not-quite-as-scary-as-you’d-think “Round the Edges” (occasionally featuring Colin Bush on bass)
Only about sixty copies were issued, and original albums remain a collector’s item to this day (it has been re-released several times since ’72. Obviously, or else I wouldn’t have heard it), and has been hailed as the UK’s most expensive album. Soon after the album was released, the band broke up, and its members were scattered to the four winds (aka other bands and failed solo projects).
An effort was made at a revival in the early Nineties, which resulted in more local live shows; however, no new album was produced. Despite a couple of records of outtakes, the only true album by this intelligent jam band remains “Round the Edges”. (johnkatsmc5.blogspot.com)
Dark was a British psychedelic rock band which released one album, “Round the Edges” in 1971. This legendary progressive rock band, which was responsible for the UK’s most expensive album, was formed by Steve Giles whilst at school in Northampton in 1968. They met local entrepreneur Alan Bowley who’d recently converted a derelict house into a recording studio, and this led to four acetates of “RC8” and “In The Sky”. They performed at a few local gigs, and as their playing got tighter, decided to go into SIS Studios, Northampton, with engineer Alan Bowley, to record an album.
The six tracks, written and arranged by the band were recorded over a weekend in 1972 and consist of melodic progressive rock laced with lots of fuzzy guitar riffs. Only a handful of copies were pressed, and Giles, who had a strong interest in photography, made the first twelve copies into full-colour gatefold sleeves, complete with booklets of photographs stapled together, augmented with handwritten notes. They were handed out to band members and their girlfriends! The band then split with Clive and Martin going their own ways, and Steve and Ron continuing to record for their own pleasure until 1977 when Ron married and moved to Cornwall. (discogs.com)
Dark in 2018:
Dark’s sole album consists of six long, rather meandering tracks, the songs largely vehicles for some involved, fuzzy hard rock guitar soloing. In the softer parts and the vocal sections, there are faint echoes of the folky psychedelic late-’60s rock of acts like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. You can hear that in the first part of “Live for Today,” in particular, with its bittersweet melody and harmonies.
But, despite this rarity’s high rep in some circles, the songs aren’t too substantial, and the guitar work not so intricate or imaginative that it demands a listen on the merits of the riffs alone. The record has been reissued a few times since the early ’90s, sometimes in editions almost as limited as the original run. Akarma’s LP reissue is the most desirable configuration, not only because of its relative accessibility in terms of managing to acquire a copy, but also because it replicates the gatefold sleeve and lyric pamphlet of the original release (by Richie Unterberger)
The obscure album by Dark, “Dark Round the Edges” has been both praised and maligned by critics over the years since it’s very limited private pressing over 40 years ago. While not all that progressive, it does feature progressive moments, but a more accurate description would be a prog-leaning, 70’s psych-rock band. When first listening to this album, the thing that stood out to me was the great sound of Steve Giles’ guitar work. Dead Meadow must have had this album somewhere in their collection, for that is what came to mind as I listened.
Fat, fuzzed-out, groovy guitar is present in many moments, paired with lighter, cleaner strumming at other times. The vocals are the main weakness here, not bad, but not that good either. However, the songs are well-crafted enough, and the occasional firey guitar stabs of second guitarist Martin Weaver make this album an enjoyable listen. If you are a serious prog-head you may not enjoy this one, but if you like early 70’s heavy psych with prog leanings, this is right up your alley. (by Igor91)
The original backcover:
Steve Giles (guitar, vocals)
Ronald Johnson (bass)
Clive Thorneycroft (drums)
Martin Weaver (guitar)
01. Darkside (Giles/Johnson/Thorneycroft/Bush) 7.26
02. Maypole (Giles) 5.01
03. Live For Today (Giles/Johnson/Thorneycroft/Weaver) 8.05
04. R.C.8 (Giles) 5.03
05. Cat (Giles/Johnson/Thorneycroft) 5.19
06. Zero Time (Giles/Johnson/Thorneycroft) 6.48
07. In The Sky (Giles) 4.15
08. Wasting Your Time (Giles/Johnson/Thorneycroft) 4.57
09. Could Have Sworn (Giles/Johnson/Thorneycroft) 4.54
10. Maypole (Giles) 5.53
Steve Giles about the artwork of this album
If I remember correctly, we took the group shots first on the developing St. James Mill Road industrial estate in Northampton. It was basically just one big building site then. The building we are standing in is now MTS Power Tools. On the gatefold versions, the inside front cover that contains the album information is from the same photo session. I took the photos, either with the help of our roadies, Kenny & Mark, or by setting my Rollei medium format camera on timer. The inside back cover is a montage of shots taking during the recording session by Reg Bason on 9th July. Sometime later I came up with the idea for what is now the ‘famous’ front cover photo. The girl is Frances Hamerton. She was the daughter of a local vicar and I originally met her when we both did paper-rounds. She was a girlfriend for a while, but not at the time I took the photo. She could well have been the inspiration for “The Cat” lyrics. I saw her walking past my parents’ house one day. I was in the front room where I later took the photo, and the idea of the cover photo just sprang to mind. So I dashed out, explained to her about the album and asked if she’d mind posing for the shot. After a bit of thought, she agreed! Funnily enough, that shot was not the front cover on the original album. That was the shot of Clive, Ron & I. The cover wasn’t a gatefold in the traditional sense of the design and on that version – if you imagine a normal single LP sleeve – the ‘Car’ shot, with the album info, would have been the front making the group shot the back. On those ‘gatefold’ versions, I glued a flap which folded over the sleeve opening, so if you opened the album like a book, the group shot was the front and the photo of Frances was the back. On the single sleeve versions the group shot was obviously the front. Over the course of time, the photo of ‘The Girl On The Settee’ became synonymous with the Dark Round The Edges album so most folks assumed that was the front cover. Consequently on the new release, it is.
And you´ll find much material about “Dark” on their facebook site !