Atomic Rooster

First 10 Explosive Years, Vol. 2

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Following on, of course, from the first volume of First 10 Explosive Years, this 18-track collection is again devoted to exploring guitarist John du Cann's two stints with Atomic Rooster, between 1970-1972 and 1979-1982. First impressions suggest that it is more heavily weighted toward the latter period than its predecessor -- all but two of the songs from 1980's Atomic Rooster comeback album are included, together with the rare 1982 single "End of the Day," all restating the often-overlooked drama and dynamics of that particular set. "I Can't Stand It" still has "hit single" written all over it. Nine cuts from the early years, meanwhile, remind listeners why it was actually worth the band's while re-forming all those years later. Even at the height of the progressive rock boom, Atomic Rooster packed a punch that utterly belied their adhesion to the then-fashionable guitar/organ/drums lineup and, though they never received the attention that awaited others of that ilk, clearly their efforts were not forgotten -- the late-'70s New Wave of British Heavy Metal adopted Atomic Rooster even before they re-formed, and the brain-damaging likes of "VUG" and "Friday the 13th" prove that such enthusiasm was not misplaced. Elsewhere, "The Rock" (the original B-side to the hit "Devil's Answer" single) packs an almost funky vibe, while the immortally titled "A Spoonful of Bromide Helps the Pulse Rate Go Down," from 1971's In Hearing of Atomic Rooster album, has a virtuoso flair that, pursued to its logical extreme, could have spawned an entire new genre of "death jazz." That neither Atomic Rooster nor anyone else ever bothered pursuing that particular direction is a blessing for which listeners should probably be grateful -- but it is fun in small doses.

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