Monday, June 11, 2007

QUINTESSENCE - In Blissful Company

Quintessence was among the first true progressive rock outfits signed by Island Records. Led by Australian-born Shiva Shankar Jones (keyboards, vocals) and Raja Ram (flute, violin, percussion), the group also included Alan Mostert (lead guitar), Sambhu Babaji (bass), Maha Dev (guitar), and Jake Milton (drums), all of whom, in addition to a common interest in Indian music, also shared the Hindu faith. The group's roots lay in the hippie community in the Notting Hill area, which was to London roughly what Haight-Ashbury was to San Francisco. Their breakthrough performance took place at a festival called Implosion, where they put on a good enough show to get noticed by Island Records, which signed them and got their debut LP, an elaborately packaged concept album entitled In Blissful Company, out before the end of the year. Its mix of rock, jazz, and Indian elements was popular enough at the time with their core audience, especially one track entitled "Notting Hill Gate," a tribute to the hippie community, which found a slightly wider audience; the band subsequently recut the song in a more pop-oriented rendition as a single. The group had a strong reputation from their live work, and their early recordings seemed to build from this base. Quintessence's career reached its commercial peak with their self-titled second album, which got to number 22 on the U.K. charts. They did one more album for Island and then jumped to RCA's new British progressive rock Neon imprint for two LPs in the early '70s. Jones departed soon after the release of the group's second album for the new label, and they split up not long after that. In 1973, Jones became part of the big-band progressive outfit Kala, which recorded one album for the Bradley's label, and in subsequent decades he restarted his own version of Quintessence.

1 Giants 4:37
2 Manco Capac 5:17
3 Body 3:34
4 Gange Mai 4:00
5 Chant 3:02
6 Pearl and Bird 3:57
7 Notting Hill Gate 4:38
8 Midnight Mode 9:15
9 Notting Hill Gate [bonus] 2:31
10 Move into the Light [bonus] 3:26

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Anonymous said...

Thanks a have a really nice blog , keep going

Vinyl1 said...

I'd never even heard of this band before, yet they are really good, keep up the good work.