Quatermass were a British progressive rock band from London, active between 1969 and 1971. A related band, Quatermass II was active in the mid-1990s.
The trio consisted of bass player and vocalist John Gustafson, keyboardist J. Peter Robinson and Mick Underwood on drums. Underwood had previously played with Ritchie Blackmore in the Outlaws, while Gustafson had been a member of The Big Three and The Merseybeats. Underwood later became drummer with Episode Six, and was joined by Gustafson after Roger Glover left to join Deep Purple. The band took its name from Professor Bernard Quatermass, a fictional scientist who had been the hero of three science fiction serials produced by BBC Television in the 1950s, and were signed to Harvest Records.
The group formed as a power trio with Hammond organ as the main instrument. Their first and only album sold itself through “…compactness, wealth of ideas, forceful lead vocals and complicated arrangements, enriched by pianist Robinson’s tasteful use of classical strings which are on display along with spacious keyboard passages at their height in the mold of The Nice.” One track, “Laughin’ Tackle”, includes 16 violins, 6 violas, 6 cellos, and 3 double bass, arranged by Robinson, and a drum solo by Underwood. Underwood remained in close contact with Blackmore, and visited Deep Purple in the studio while they were recording In Rock.
The group split in early 1971. Gustafson formed a new band, Bullet with ex-members of Atomic Rooster.
The band’s song “Black Sheep of the Family” was the first track to be recorded by Rainbow, having been rejected for the Deep Purple album Stormbringer.
In 1994, Underwood, and founding Deep Purple member Nick Simper joined in a project titled Quatermass II. Gustafson contributed two songs on their album, Long Road (1997), which also involved Gary Davis and Bart Foley on guitars, with Don Airey on keyboards.
Quatermass is the only studio album by English progressive rock band Quatermass, released in May 1970 by Harvest Records.
Despite the album had not performed well on the charts at the time of the release, it started to attract considerable attention in 1975, when guitarist Ritchie Blackmore covered the second track, “Black Sheep of the Family”, for the debut album from Rainbow. As a consequence of the revived interest, Quatermass was re-released and sold further 20,000 copies. Since then, it has gained a cult status and has received favorable retrospective reviews. (by wikipedia)
Quatermass’ only album is a must-have for prog rock enthusiasts, especially lovers of the keyboard-dominated style which flourished in the early ’70s. Although there are only three members of the band, their histories are just as colorful as the music they produced. Keyboard player Pete Robinson and bass man Johnny Gustafson met drummer Mick Underwood and founded Episode Six, a band which included Ian Gillan who later fronted Deep Purple. Underwood was also involved with the Outlaws as well as the Herd, only a few years before Peter Frampton arrived. When the band finally formed Quatermass in 1970, they had set their sights on a power rock format which would use Robinson’s keyboards to shape their sound. Both “Black Sheep” and “One Blind Mice” were released as singles which fell mostly on deaf ears, but the band’s sound was equally as moving as the Nice’s repertoire, for example, at around the same time. Quatermass’ sound is far from sounding hollow, isolated, or directionless, but all of the cuts are rather rock-sturdy and instrumentally voluptuous from all points.
The string work that swoops in is encompassing, Underwood’s drumming exhibits personality, and the keyboard portions are remarkably striking and distinct. Even Gustafson’s robust vocals work well within the music’s structure, subsiding and ascending when called for, and all of the cuts result in worthy examples of well-built progressive rock, in both ballad and power rock form. Following this album, the band broke up, with Gustafson later doing session work for Kevin Ayers, Steve Hackett, and Ian Hunter, among others, while Robinson found new life within the jazz-prog band Brand X. Beautifully packaged with informative liner notes, Quatermass sounds as resounding today as it did in 1970, and upon hearing it, one can only wonder why it was so overlooked during its release. (by Mike DeGagne)
This a very biased review from someone who is a Deep Purple fan. Now that that’s out of the way, it means that I’m a sucker for heavy keyboards a la Jon Lord. Look no further, but Quatermass delivers – big time. As mentioned from other reviewers, this is primarily a heavy rock album with some prog. rock flourishes. You won’t hear ELP here, but you might get a cross between Fields and Le Orme´s _Collage_ LP. Of note is the gut-wrenching vocal delivery of one John Gustafson of Roxy Music-fame. The vocal delivery on the track _Post War Saturday Echo_ rivals that of Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan on “Child In Time”. Not so much in the high decibel range, just the delivery in relation to the build up of the song and the emotion. The emotional despair must have left this man exhausted after it was recorded. “Black Sheep Of The Family” was later covered by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Peter Robinson’s keyboard sounds nothing like his work as a member of Brand X. His sound is strictly in the Atomic Rooster, Graham Field, Jon Lord and Ken Hensley school of prog. rock. Bottom-end heavy duty organ. In the heavy organ category, Quatermass is an undeniable masterpiece which has few rivals. (by Gooner)
John Gustafson (vocals, bass)
Pete Robinson (keyboards)
Mick Underwood (drums)
on “Bluegaloo/Broken Chords-Scales” (live 1974 in Sweden)
John Gustafson (vocals, bass)
Pete Robinson (keyboards)
Janne Schaffer (guitar)
Barry de Souza (drums)
Part 1: Original album:
01. Entropy (Robinson) 1.10
02. Black Sheep Of The Family (Hammond) 3.41
03. Post War Saturday Echo (Robinson/Gustafson/Ross) 9.43
04. Good Lord Knows (Gustafson) 2.54
05. Up On The Ground (Gustafson) 7.11
06. Gemini (Hammond) 5.54
07. Make Up Your Mind (Hammond) 8.44
08. Laughin’ Tackle (Robinson) 10.35
09. Entropy (Reprise) (Robinson) 0.42
Remastered Deluxe Edition (2013):
01. One Blind Mice (single A-side) (Gustafson) 3.27
02. Entropy (Robinson) 1.11
03. Black Sheep Of The Family (Hammond) 3.41
04. Post War Saturday Echo (Robinson/Gustafson/Ross) 9.52
05. Good Lord Knows (Gustafson) 3.12
06. Up On The Ground (Gustafson) 7.09
07. Gemini (Hammond) 5.55
08. Make Up Your Mind (Hammond) 1.44
09. Was What That (Hammond) 5.59
10. Make Up Your Mind (Reprise) (Hammond) 1.03
11. Laughin’ Tackle/Entropy (Reprise) (Robinson) 11.31
12. Punting (single B-side) (Gustafson) 7.21
13. Afraid Not (previously unreleased) (Gustafson) 5.25
14. Bluegaloo (Gustafson)/Broken Chords-Scales (Robinson) (live 1974) 6.30
John Frederick Gustafson (8 August 1942 – 12 September 2014)