Janus – Gravedigger (1972)

LPFrontCover1This is the history of JANUS, born as a progressive rock band made up of English musicians in Krefeld in Germany in 1970, retired broke and unknown in 1973, despite being signed to the prestigious EMI “Harvest” label, alongside such bands as Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and Edgar Broughton…
…The original band were COLIN ORR (Guitar/Keyboards), ROY YATES (Classical Guitar), BRUNO LORD (Vocals), DEREK HYETT (Vocals), MICK PEBERDY (Bass) and KEITH BONTHRONE (Drums). Style was truly original, and it has been said that JANUS were the originators of the genre that became “acoustic rock”.


That probably misses the fact, that like the name, the band had two very distinct, schizophrenic, sides. Capable of soft, beautiful melodies, they also cranked out some megadecibel material, which a few years later would have had them tagged as a punk band. Signed to EMI Harvest in 1970, in 1971 they recorded the classic “Gravedigger” album. Remarkably, the whole album, including mixing was put together in 24 hours of studio time…

…For two years, the band lived in Holland, partied on – making the “summer of love” a 36 month event – and managed very few live appearances…
…At the tail of 1973 JANUS came to England, and managed to perform to one or two appreciative university audiences, before becoming the only band in history to be thrown out of the Cavern Club in Liverpool (too heavy…. read loud). By 1974 it was time to call it a day, so that was the first end of Janus…


1989 – A German company re-released the 1971 Gravedigger. The band had no idea until a friend in Germany saw a review in a local magazine and sent it to the now mostly out of contact band members. Colin Orr then contacted the company and they commissioned the next albums – ‘Agnus Dei’ and ‘Out Of Time’.

Colin worked with a variety of guest musicians and met Paul Phoenix through a mutual friend, who he invited to do some vocals on the friends recommendation. Colin was blown away with Paul’s voice and Paul sang most of the vocals across the two albums.

1991 – Agnus Dei charted in Holland and other countries. The next album was commissioned in the style of Agnus Dei – Journey. It was unfortunately, a commercial flop. It was however picked up in the media industry and used a lot across television, and led to more TV/Film music being commissioned.


1993 – ‘Innocence’ was created with rock vocalist, Paul May.

1994 – ‘Free Fall’ was created as a completely instrumental album. It was again popular across the media industry.

1999 – ‘Agnus Dei 2000’ was commissioned and created by major Dutch label CNR. This began to do quite well and sold around 10,000 copies in the first month, however bad luck struck again when CNR was sold to Road Runner Records and they dropped all ties with any dutch relations.Firing both Janus and Golden Earring. Here’s the video for “Agnus Dei 2000.

2002 – ‘Sea Of Sighs’ was commissioned and created.

2005 – ’The S Album’ was created and was uploaded, as a free download in exchange for voluntary donations to a children’s hospice, as a result of Colin Orr’s daughter nagging him to release material only intended for private listening.

2013 – ‘Gravedigger’ re-released. A German journalist got in touch with Colin Orr to talk about the original Gravedigger. It turned out, that ‘Gravedigger’ had been illegally sold on vinyl and CD, plus download, he estimated 250,000 copies over the last few years. EMI commissioned a re-release, but Colin Orr, who had always hated the original production, was asked to re-record and remix some of the tracks, so fans could hear Janus as the band had intended, which wasn’t the way the original “Gravedigger” album had portrayed. The remix was done in the magic Studio B at Mid-Tennessee university in Nashville, with Chris Haseleu.

‘Under The Shadow Of The Moon’ was also commissioned. UTSOTM had been partially written in 1971-1972, during the party period. It had however, never been recorded. But in 2013 some of the original band reunited, with other musicians, and recorded the album, 42 years late. A wonderfully creative and crazy music video was also recorded, and can be seen here.(janus-music.com)


And here´s their legendary debutalbum:

The band hails from the U.K., but did their recording in Germany. Hmmmm…..that’s a common point with another Brit band who had to leave the U.K. to make it: Nektar. There really is no similarity between those two bands other than that.

Janus could have gone on to have a legendary career, based on the music on this album. There are a smattering (not sure…..probably the last 3 or 4 track?) that were added later, like in 1993 or thereabouts.


The original tracks from this gem are mesmerizing, to say the least. They utilize many strong effects such as guitar played and re-played and recorded backwards, tripped out, effects-heavy riffs just brimming with spacey overtones.

I had told myself that I was going to be extremely conservative in ever handing out 5-star reviews ever again, so I will be a little sparing for this, the only effort by Janus. It needs to be heard: by fans of Hendrix, the whole psychodelic genre, the spacerock genre, and progressive rock fans alike. (by beebs)

And I add an interview with Colin Orr about the history of Janus.


Keith Bonthrone (drums, vocals on 08.)
Derek Hyett  (vocals)
Bruno Lord (vocals, harmonica on 08.)
Colin Orr (guitar, keyboards)
Mick Peberdy (bass)
Doug Boyes (cello, synthesizer, percussion on 08. + 10.)
David Harold (bass on 08.)
Bruno Lord (all instruments on 07.)
Paul May (bass, percussion on 06.. guitar on 10. )
Nick O´Connor (keyboards on 08.)
Paul Phoenix (vocals on 08.)
Roy Yates (classical guitar on 05.)


01. Red Sun (Orr) 8.55
02. Bubbles (Orr/Hyett) 3.53
03. Watcha’ Trying To Do? (Orr) 3.54
04. I Wanna’ Scream (Lord/Orr) 2.43
05. Gravedigger (Lord/Orr/Hyett/Bonthrone/Peberdy/Yates) 20.48
06.  Red Sun (studio version, 1980) (Orr) 5.31
07. Napalm (Sticks To Kids) / Watergarden (1984) 6.56
08. War Machines (Single 1990) (
Producer – Janus (5)
09. Yesterday Has Turned To Shapeless Life (Orr/Lord/Harrold/May/Janssen) 5.35
10. Dark Christmas (Single, 1981) (Orr/Boyes/May) 3.52
11. No Idea (live 1969) (unknown) 4.30
10 Yesterday Has Turned To Shapeless Life (Instrumental) (Orr)



The official website:

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