MAY 1975 (37 YEARS AGO)
Armageddon: Armageddon is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5 (see TWO CENTS WORTH below)
# allmusic 4.5/5
ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ TWO CENTS WORTH
As everyone that has been here awhile know, a few of my 5/5 rankings includes memories of the “old days.” You also know that I do not write much so, this album was friggin’ great in 1975 – this album is friggin’ great on May 4, 2012 when I played it earlier. A lot of things have changed in my life through the years but listening to Armageddon as loud as my ears will take me has not changed.
This was it though – no second album – no more band. I’m not sure how they would have followed this masterpiece.
Armageddon was the only album released by Armageddon, in May, 1975. It features Keith Relf of Yardbirds and Renaissance fame, Martin Pugh, lead guitarist on Rod Stewart’s “An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down” and with Steamhammer, US-American Bobby Caldwell who was the drummer of Captain Beyond and with Johnny Winter, and Louis Cennamo who was the bass player for Renaissance and Steamhammer. Armageddon sought to create a style unlike any other in rock.
Armageddon was the last band to feature ex-Yardbird Keith Relf. The former lead singer and harmonica player of the band that launched Clapton, Beck and Page, Relf had abandoned his blues-guitar band roots when he founded Renaissance in the late 1960s. Relf left Renaissance after two albums (actually half way through the second album) due to frustrations with the music business and being tired of touring. However, when he created Armageddon, he became involved with one of the best guitar rock albums of the 70’s.
After the dissolution of Steamhammer, Relf, and ex-Steamhammer members, Martin Pugh (guitar) and Louis Cennamo (bass) came to L.A. and hooked up with ex-Captain Beyond and Johnny Winter drummer Bobby Caldwell to form Armageddon.
Although the group’s self-titled album was well-received by critics and fans, the band did not tour extensively, and, consequently, sales suffered. This proved to be the last stand for Relf and Armageddon. Relf returned to England due to poor health shortly after the album was released. Relf’s health and reported drug use among some band members led to Armageddon failing to release any more material. Relf died shortly after returning to England, when he was electrocuted while playing guitar. He did record one more song “All the Falling Angels” that is included on an album by Illusion called Echanted Caress. (Illusion was the name the original members of Renaissance chose when they reunited. This was because Anne Haslam and her crew had become Renaissance).
According to the CD booklet, Frampton recommended Armageddon to A&M Records, and because he was their top selling artist at the time, they listened to him.
by Eduardo Rivadavia, allmusic
Cynics who perceive many super-groups as nothing more than bloated extrapolations of, at times, perfectly mundane musical components, can back up their assumptions with Armageddon’s eponymous debut from 1975. The first and final spawn of the would-be-super-group featuring former Yardbird vocalist Keith Relf, erstwhile Captain Beyond drummer Bobby Caldwell, ex-Steamhammer guitarist Martin Pugh, and Relf’s Renaissance partner, bassist Louis Cennamo, the album contains a meager five tracks — four of which extend beyond the eight-minute barrier due to bouts of arguably unnecessary, self-indulgent waffling. On the other hand, this was the ’70s, people, and of course this sort of excess was par for the course, back then. What’s more, these same dubious qualities actually contributed to the album’s eventual adoption as a precursor to the stoner rock movement by dope fiends everywhere, most of whom rarely heard a lengthy jam session they couldn’t nod approvingly to. Whatever one’s opinion, the quartet’s admirable pedigree unquestionably yielded some inspired songwriting, and even memorable improvisational moments within driving opener “Buzzard,” the gently whimsical post-psych ballad “Silver Tightrope,” and the 11-minute, prog rock smorgasbord of “Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun” (boasting four subtitled movements). Like the LP’s sole conventionally sized offering, the Pugh-dominated “Paths and Planes and Future Gains,” as well as its bluesiest, loosest jam, “Last Stand Before” (where Relf finally whips out his famous harmonica), these songs all fall significantly short of their obvious objective, Led Zeppelin, but fare quite nicely in comparison to more down-to-earth contemporaries like Budgie, Hawkwind, or the interconnected Captain Beyond. Upon release, Armageddon was met with wildly polarized love/hate critical reviews and actually skimmed the lower reaches of the American charts; but very infrequent live shows and Relf’s shocking death by accidental electrocution the following year put an end to the band’s hopes. A few half-assed reunions took place in years to come but, thankfully, none proved serious enough to yield any Relf-less Armageddon recordings, thus guaranteeing the enduring cult status of this far from perfect, but intriguing and understandably one-of-a-kind LP.
1. “Buzzard” 8:16
2. “Silver Tightrope” 8:23
3. “Paths And Planes And Future Gains” 4:30
4. “Last Stand Before” 8:23
5. “Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun 11:30
a) Warning Coming On
b) Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun
c) Brother Ego
d) Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun (Reprise)