Monday, June 8, 2015

Fusion Orchestra - 1973 - Skeleton In Armour

Fusion Orchestra 
Skeleton In Armour

01. Fanfairy Suite For 1,000 Trampits - Pt. One (0:14)
02. Sonata in Z (11:39)
03. Have I Left the Gas On? (8:35)
04. OK Boys, Now's Our Big Chance (0:45)
05. Skeleton In Armour (5:16)
06. When My Momma's Not at Home (3:33)
07. Don't Be Silly, Jimmy (0:09)
08. Talk to the Man in the Sky (11:50)
09. Fanfairy Suite For 1,000 Trampits - Pt. Two (0:13)

- Jill Saward / flute, vocals, synthesizer
- Dave Bell / drums
- Colin Dawson / guitar
- Dave Cowell / bass, harmonica
- Sten Land / guitar, synthesizer, horns, percussion

FUSION ORCHESTRA was a highly talented progressive rock ensemble from the UK that did tight but not over-worked heavy prog with an honest, classic but unique sound. Singer/flautist/synthist JILL SAWARD, apparently the axis of the group, leads with a high squall and quite good flute, and paralleled the vocal sound the Wilson sisters would cultivate. Though unlike HEART, JILL SAWARD, DAVE BELL (drums), COLIN DAWSON (guitar), DAVE COWELL (bass), and STEN LAND (synth, guitar, horns) did a very complex and multi-layered music with many roads into jazz-fusion, folk, and Celtic.

The album 'Skeleton In Armour', especially for 1973, is a model of Prog Rock successfully integrated as a viable popular medium and though not truly competitive against the likes of bigger peers, is far better than many bands that have become well known. It reflects all the breakthroughs and celebrations that were occurring in British music in the early 1970s including those of JETHRO TULL, COLOSSEUM, YES, GREENSLADE, and BABE RUTH.

One of the very best 'second tier' English prog bands, their album is a little known treasure and except for the commercial track 'When My Momma's Not at Home', is hugely recommended to anyone who loves earlier British prog with all the best aspects of symphonic, Canterbury, prog Folk and hard rock.

For me this is classic progressive music from the time when it was all new and the genre had only really been going for a few years and this album contains those neccesary elements, a real rock feel with time changes and fairly lenghty compositions and it is has quite a heavy rock vibe throughout with the occasional acoustic interlude or as with track 1(Fanfairy Suite for 1,000 Trampits part 1 ) and the last track 9 ( part 2 same title) which are short fanfares used as an introduction and a closing of the album. Track 4 Ok Boys, Nows Our Big Chance is is less than a minute in time and is a great little harmonica led song with a country vibe but moves along nicely as the drummer is right on it as he is throughout the album, (very energetic).

And now for the guts of the album my favourite track is the 2nd Sonata in Z which runs for just under 12 minutes and starts with that drummer belting that kit again with a fairly quick lead solo and then Jill Saward comes in with the vocals, who really is giving this a go and putting all into it as she does throughout the album. She also does the flute throughout the album when required and do not forget that harmonica on track 4 which she plays as well, electric piano,12 string guitar on one track. ( a real talent ). I will add as well that the band has that twin guitar attack vibe at times and throughout this track you get a flute solo, heaps of guitar solos and even harmonica towards the end. Great stuff.

Now as you all know I am a bit of a lazy bugger and I will say track 2 is just as good as is the whole album. As I keep mentioning heaps of great solos on various instruments. Skeleton in Armour, the title track gets moving along right from the start with a driving heavy rock tempo and then quitens down for 2 quick solos and then back to that driving rock that they play. Also the track , When my mommas not at home is basically a a rock number but like it I do as, yep as I said before delevered with that energetic feeling this band has.

Jill Saward released some jazz albums in the eighties and nineties. Why this band is not better known is a mystery when there are albums out there people say are rare classics and not half as good as this little job.



  2. Thanks! By the way: Get the new Anekdoten record. It's holy mother of god awesome...great slabs of mellotron - SLABS - I tell ya! Slabs! Asymmetric meter in and out of common time and through a pile of key changes. Just awesome.

  3. Did not know there was a new one... just got me a copy, should be in my hands tomorrow afternoon... can not wait!