"Devil's Answer" might be the record for which Atomic Rooster are remembered, but it was their second album that posted warning that they were on the verge of creating something dazzling -- simply because the record itself is a thing of almost freakish beauty. With only organist Vincent Crane surviving from the original lineup, and John Du Cann coming in to relieve him of some of the songwriting duties, Death Walks Behind You opens at a gallop and closes with a sprint. The title track is effectively spooky enough for any Hammer horror aficionado, all descending pianos and Psycho-screaming guitars, while "Gershatzer," a duet for organ and percussion, proves that new drummer Paul Hammond is more than a match for the departed Carl Palmer. It's in between these dramatic bookends, however, that Rooster truly peak, with the stately "VUG," the pensive "Nobody Else," and the truly amazing "Tomorrow Night" (one of the scariest love songs ever let loose on the U.K. chart) all impressing. Crane's liner notes, incidentally, remind us that the album packed a different version of the hit, with an extended ending that descends into unimagined chaos -- a shocker for the pop kids, perhaps, but a fabulous bridge into the succeeding "7 Streets." Possibly the best evidence for this being Atomic Rooster's masterpiece, however, comes not simply from what's on the album, but for what has been left off. An excellent repackaging and remastering job restores the original artwork in all its gatefold glory, but you'll search in vain for bonus tracks -- not because there were none to add, but because they simply wouldn't fit. Sit through Death Walks Behind You, after all, and you really won't need any more surprises.
Death Walks Behind You Review
by Dave Thompson