Bram Stoker – Heavy Rock Spectacular (1972)

FrontCover1Bram Stoker was formed in the summer of 1969 by Hammond organist Tony Bronsdon, guitarist Pete Ballam and drummer Rob Haines who, as the founding members of Bram Stoker, then recruited bass guitarist John Bavin, all of whom were based in their south coast home town of Bournemouth, England, UK.

Bram Stoker 1969Guitarist Pete Ballam and drummer Rob Haines had previously been working together in their own local band for two years prior to Bram Stoker being formed and had already formed a tight bond, and in meeting Hammond organist Tony Bronsdon they found a kindred spirit – young, enthusiastic and inspired by the progressive trend of the time.

Bass guitarist John Bavin (who has worked as a recording engineer on projects with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame, Kiki Dee, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Darryl Hall (of Hall & Oates), Rita Coolidge, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave fame)) brought not only his unique vocals and guitar playing to Bram Stoker but also his abilities at songwriting and composing original material, which complimented the songwriting and composing talents of the other members of Bram Stoker’s classically trained Hammond organist, Tony Bronsdon, and guitarist Peter Ballam. Combined with this chemistry the Bram Stoker line up was complete and history was in the making.

In composing their own material and experimenting with new musical styles, Bram Soker were choosing their own musical direction, although the band was influenced by the Gothic image, its music varied, and inevitably the band acquired the “progressive classical Rock – Gothic Rock” label tag it is so famously identified by.

BramStoker1Before setting out on the road they rehearsed throughout that summer in a dis-used nightclub in Poole. It was to be the start of a busy schedule. One of the early gigs was as support act for the Who at Bournemouth Pavilion. Roger Daltry front man of the Who, asked for details of the band and invited them to record a demo album at his home in Berkshire. A few months later Bram Stoker was signed up to an independent label owned by Rolling Stones manager Tony Calder. From the vast circuit of clubs, colleges, universities and festivals (booked to play at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 with Jimi Hendrix and others) throughout the UK the band developed the loyal following as cult artistes they are today.

BramStoker2Although Bram Stoker was influenced by the Gothic image, its music varied. inevitably the band acquired the “progressive classical Rock” label but strived and succeeded in creating its own identity. Tony Bronsdon’s classical training is augmented by a formidable technique; his Hammond organ sound is majestic, biting and haunting. His stirring ability to integrate his classical interpretation into musical compositions written by himself and jointly with Pete and John, with drummer Rob Haines’ driving rhythms, resulted in a wide variety of unique performances of Bram Stoker songs and instrumentals. Guitarist Pete Ballam encouraged an original approach and his antics on stage were spontaneous and unpredictable, his legendary “Doppler” (a spinning speaker cabinet) had to be seen – and heard – to be believed.

Bram Stoker TodayDrummer Rob Haines and bassist John Bavin also embrace fresh ideas, providing an individual and creative approach to their role as rhythm section. While John’s melodic themes and ethereal vocals are integral to Bram Stoker, his musical and dextrous bass lines breathe life and weave unity through every arrangement. Rob Haines applies his own ideas to Bram Stoker’s symphonic style; his inimitable spinning cymbal emphasises the mood of the song Poltergeist.

Bram Stoker enjoyed a wonderful period of interest in the music industry during the period from 1969 through to 1972 and this is shown in the wake of the Heavy Rock Spectacular album and its original 12″ vinyl release on the Windmill Records label in 1972.

The fan following on the Internet grows daily with fresh blood. Bram Stoker re-formed in 2004. Original members Tony Bronsdon (Hammond organ) and John Bavin (bass guitar/vocals) have been joined by Pat Flynn (guitar) and Pete Rumble (drums)

Bram Stoker’s Tony Bronsdon (Hammond organ), Pete Ballam (guitar) and John Bavin (bass guitar) are introducing more previously unreleased material for their second album later this year (2007). In September the official CD release of the Rock Paranoia album will also be available from all Internet download stores worldwide.

BramStoker3Bram Stoker today

The eight melodic and dynamic compositions are Hammond organ drenched, the electric guitar is often distorted (fuzz) delivering some fiery soli but in general it is on the background. Bram Stoker their sound has elements from Atomic Rooster (Born to be free), ELP (Fast decay) and often Beggar’s Opera, mainly due to the classical organ sound (for example Bach’s Toccata In D-Fuga in Fast Decay and the long Fingal’s Cave) and the pleasant vocals. The track Blitz has some Spanish flavored guitar undertones and sounds a bit dark. The final, horror-like song Poltergeist features floods of classical inspired organ.

Brought to the forefront of publicity was musical atmosphere dark and foreboding – you can thank Sabbath, Black Widow, Lucifer’s Friend, Atomic Rooster, Buffalo and a few others for that – and in all respects was the death bell of summers of love. The minds behind Heavy Rock Spectacular are as forgotten as their sole offering, for it offers no insight as to whom or how many created it, and a source names T. Bronson one culprit, but if he did anything afterward, it’s just as undiscovered.

Pete Ballam (guitar, vocals)
Jon Bavin (bass, vocals)
Tony (Anthony) Bronsdon (organ, vocals)
Rob Haines (drums)

AlternateFrontCoverAlternate frontcover

01. Born To Be Free (Bronsdon)  3.42
02. Ants (Bronsdon) 3.46
03. Fast Decay (Bronsdon) 3.45
04. Blitz (Bronsdon) 5.31
05. Idiot (Bronson) 4.26
06. Fingals Cave (Bronsdon) – 7:40
07. Extensive Corrosion (Bronsdon) 4.16
08. Poltergeist (Bronsdon) 4,31