Blowing Free. Underground & Progressive Sounds of 1972

Recorded 1972. Released 2022

In 1972, the only music to like was progressive music. This was before the subtlety, imagination and creativity of “underground” music from the late 1960’s had transformed into the prog rock excesses of the mid 1970’s. Progressive music was the link from the underground music of Nick Drake to The Sex Pistols, via the progressive music of Help Yourself and the prog rock of Yes which was the catalyst for the punk rock movement of 1976. However, even Yes, ELP and Caravan had started by showing an ingenious approach to developing interesting and enjoyable music.

In 1972, all the major UK record labels had started their own subsidiary labels to host fascinating and unique artists. Island, Chrysalis, Harvest, Deram, Liberty, Vertigo and Charisma were all managed by forward looking executives, keen to support new acts. BBC Radio One had shows by John Peel, Bob Harris and Alan Black who showcased new music, while “The Old Grey Whistle Test” had been first shown in 1971. “Sounds”, “New Musical Express” and “Melody Maker” were the sources of information about new releases and gigs along with “Zigzag”, “International Times” and “Oz”.

This sensational 4-CD set contains 63 tracks, over five hours, of the best British underground and progressive music available at the time. The music reflects the laid back, marijuana influenced haze of happiness that permeated the nation’s youth while the lyrics often described hell on earth. It’s hard to imagine anything more pretentiously soothing than lines like “In the village people gather at the Lamplight Inn drinking liquid sin to keep the cold away”.


Disc One Track 1 Hoedown – EMERSON LAKE & PALMER

In 1937, American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, while travelling through Kentucky, recorded violinist William Hamilton Stepp playing “Bonaparte’s Retreat”. The tune was a wordless melody that existed as various fiddle tunes dating back to at least the late 1800s and probably well before that. The title was a reference to Napoleon Bonaparte’s disastrous retreat from Russia in 1812, which led to his downfall and finally ended the danger that he would invade England. Some 19th-century British folk songs celebrated the event. William Hamilton Stepp’s version of the song was used as a major component of Aaron Copland’s song “Hoe-Down” from the ballet “Rodeo”, which premiered in 1942. Emerson, Lake & Palmer changed the title to “Hoedown” when they included it on their third album, “Trilogy”. The song was also used in the American TV commercial, “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner”.

Disc One Track 2 Time Take My Life – ATOMIC ROOSTEREyes are blinded by tears of pain. Hopes and dreams are shattered into fragments time and time again. Life’s a prison and death’s the key. Time take my life”.

Disc One Track 3 Get Out of Bed / There’s Nobody There / Side by Side – EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND

Disc One Track 4 Medicine Man – BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST

Disc One Track 5 Marie Antoinette – CURVED AIRWe are the people of France we demand that the elegant blue-blooded leeches that bleed us are taught what it means to grow fat and not feed us! We are the people of France, you must heed us!”

Disc One Track 6 Skin Valley Serenade – SKIN ALLEY

Disc One Track 7 Swamp Fever – OPEN ROAD

Disc One Track 8 Don’t Ask Me – LINDISFARNEWell you can push, shove, lose your long time friends. You might make money, but you’ll never quite make amends when you’re drowned in the vacuum of the one-eyed TV lens.

Disc One Track 9 Songs Out of Clay – AL STEWART “Oh I know that you were a sailor” she said, “Till you came too close to the shore and like any shipwrecked sailor now, you live by an open door and when evening sails in the masts of the trees, your feet seem to slip on the ground and you long for the little ship in which you can safely drown”

Disc One Track 10 Sheep Season – MELLOW CANDLEChilling the air with his shady tread, on came the wolf with surprise, filling his eyes with soft sapless creatures soon to be dead

Disc One Track 11 Epic Forest – RARE BIRD “Would you believe that the world is dying? Wounded lying underneath your feet.

Disc One Track 12 My Friend the Sun – FAMILYWell, I know that you’re lonely, come in from the cold. Your shoes they need mending, your clothes they look old.”

Disc One Track 13 Do You Believe in Magic – NEKTAR

Disc One Track 14 Seven by Seven – HAWKWINDLost am I in this world of timelessness and woe. Can I find the doorway through which I must go?

Disc One Track 15 And You and I – YESSad preacher nailed upon the colored door of time. Insane teacher be there, reminded of the rhyme. There’ll be no mutant enemy we shall certify. Political ends, as sad remains, will die.


Disc Two Track 1 Time Was – WISHBONE ASH “When I had you around – I was a strong man”.

Disc Two Track 2 A Winter’s Tale – JADE WARRIORIn the village people gather at the Lamplight Inn drinking liquid sin to keep the cold away”

Disc Two Track 3 The Love In Your Eye/To Catch Me A Brother/ Subsultus / Debouchment / Tilbury Kecks – CARAVAN “There’s so much time misspent in dreams of wealth and fame”

Disc Two Track 4 Brainstorm – HAWKWINDCan’t get no peace ’til I get into motion. Sign my release from this planet’s erosion. Paranoia police have sussed out my potion. You gotta help me or there’ll be an explosion.”

Disc Two Track 5 Theme One – VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

The first music that was ever played on BBC Radio One was an instrumental called “Theme One” which was composed and arranged by Beatles producer, George Martin. This was followed by “Flowers In The Rain” by The Move. Four years later, Van Der Graaf Generator recorded a version (without vocalist Peter Hamill) in an attempt to reach a wider audience. Despite their record company releasing the single in a sleeve which showed the band giving Nazi salutes, the single reached Number One in Italy. Van Der Graaf Generator had just released their fourth album, “Pawn Hearts”, which did not chart in the U.K. and this recording of a well known tune was later adopted by Radio One in three regular slots: the closing down of the station after the John Peel programme every night, the theme to “Sounds Of The Seventies” and the quiz section of Tommy Vance’s “Rock Show”.

Disc Two Track 6 Reaffirmation – HELP YOURSELF

I first met my musical guru, Peter, in 1961 and we quickly became “best friends” until 1966, at which point, my family moved from North London to Kent. We kept in touch but after we left school to go to University in 1972, we lost touch. However, in 1974 I was in Coventry, staying with a friend of mine called Paul at which point I realised that his family home was less than a quarter of a mile from an address I had for Peter. One afternoon, we knocked on the door of the address that I had, and Peter answered, his hair grown to full length hippy, and his demeanour fully developed by some dynamite weed. He invited us in but we failed to connect. I had become straight but he had turned curved. We had a polite afternoon but my abiding memory of the afternoon was listening to Help Yourself for the first time. Their first album was playing on his record deck and sounded fresh and melodic. They reminded me of a lightweight version of The Band. After Paul and I left Pete’s house, we arranged to meet in the Earlsdon Cottage that evening, for a few pints, and that was the last time I saw Peter for 30 years. Nevertheless, as the years progressed, I became obsessed with finding the Help Yourself album that I had heard that afternoon, and it was only with the CD release of their first two albums in 1998 that I reacquainted myself with their cheery, positive English country-rock.

Help Yourself made six albums.

  • Help Yourself” (1971)
  • Malcolm Morley (guitars/keyboards/vocals),
  • Dave Charles  (drums/percussion/vocals)
  • Richard Treece (guitars/vocals/harmonica)
  • Ken Whaley (bass)

Richard Treece’s father, Henry Treece was a well regarded writer of children’s historical novels. When Richard Treece arrived in London, seeking fame and fortune, he saw an advert for a job in a cosmetics factory which added “also wanted: guitarists and drummers”. It was there that he met Malcolm Morley who had also answered the ad which had been placed by John Eichler, who would go on to manage Help Yourself. John Eichler had somehow managed to run a cosmetics factory in Barnes which was so close to his home that “I could stumble there, still in a stoned state every morning”. After recruiting Malcolm Morley’s next door neighbour, Dave Charles, on drums and Ken Whaley on bass, Help Yourself’s first album was recorded at Olympic Studios in the adjoining studio to where The Rolling Stones were recording “Sticky Fingers”.

  • Strange Affair” (1972)
  • Malcolm Morley (guitars/keyboards/vocals),
  • Dave Charles  (drums/percussion/vocals)
  • Richard Treece (bass/guitars/vocals)
  • Paul Burton (bass/guitars/vocals)
  • Ernie Graham (vocals/guitar)
  • Jonathan (Jo-Jo) Glemser (guitar)

During the time that “Strange Affair” was recorded, all of the band were living together at a house called The Grange in Headley which had been recently vacated by Led Zeppelin after they recorded the four symbols album there. Ken Whaley had been sacked after he expressed frustration at the laid back attitude of the band who showed very little inclination to perform live. After the album was recorded, John Eichler went to America to promote the album to United Artists. “When I went over there, I delivered the tape and went back to the hotel and there was a message waiting for me in the hotel from the record company saying, sorry, they didn’t want the album. I’d borrowed the money to get over and I was there with about three quid in my pocket, hoping they were going to pick up the hotel bill once I’d done the business and the deal and I started to panic. I ran from the hotel to the record company and asked ‘what’s wrong with it?’ and they said ‘it’s dreadful, listen’ and put it on, and there had been some kind of mix-up with the tapes and they were playing one side of the stereo spread over the entire stereo spectrum, so you only had one side of the tracks coming through, which led to a ridiculous balance and an absolutely ridiculous sound. I explained that there must be something wrong and when they played the real thing, they loved it.”

  • Beware The Shadow” (1972)
  • Malcolm Morley (guitars/keyboards/bass/vocals),
  • Dave Charles  (drums/percussion/vocals)
  • Richard Treece (lead guitar)
  • Paul Burton (bass/guitars/vocals)

John Eichler recalled that “Ernie Graham got married to a woman who was a bit powerful and mystic and one of those women who has an E-Type Jag and thought Ernie should be the leader and Ernie should do this and do that and thought we were all conspiring against Ernie and it all turned out bad.” This led to Ernie Graham and Jonathan Glesmer leaving the band and being replaced by Paul Burton, who had been Help Yourself’s roadie. During the recording of the album, Malcolm Morley developed depression which was nicknamed ‘The Shadow’. The band did a tour of Switzerland with Man and the two bands got very close “because we had the same sense of humour and drug habits.” When depression kicked in with Malcolm Morley, Deke Leonard of Man carried on with Help Yourself. Also involved in the band at this time was Sean Tyla, who would go on to form Ducks Deluxe.

  • “The Return Of Ken Whaley” (1973)
  • Malcolm Morley (guitars/keyboards/bass/vocals),
  • Dave Charles  (drums/percussion/vocals)
  • Richard Treece (lead guitars)
  • Ken Whaley (bass)

In 1973, the band proposed touring with Roger Ruskin Spear, the Flying Aces and Vivian “Spiv” Morris, in a vaudeville show called “Happy Days”, which was to be held in a circus tent. They started recording material for this in January, but Paul Burton was unhappy with the proposed theatrical tour, so he left. Ken Whaley returned and the band started recording their new album in February, finishing “Happy Days” album in March and “The Return Of Ken Whaley” in April.

  • Happy Days (1973)
  • Malcolm Morley (guitar/piano),
  • Dave Charles  (drums)
  • Richard Treece (guitar/harmonica)
  • Ken Whaley (bass)
  • Vivian Morris (vocals/guitar)
  • Martin Ace (guitars/bass/vocals)
  • George Ace (guitars/vocals)
  • Paul Burton (guitar)

“Happy Days” was given away free with the first 5000 copies of “the Return Of Ken Whaley”

  • 5 (mainly recorded in 1973 but finished in 2004)
  • Malcolm Morley (guitars/piano/keyboards/vocals),
  • Dave Charles  (drums/vocals)
  • Richard Treece (guitars/vocals/harmonica)
  • Ken Whaley (bass/vocals)
  • Kevin Spacey (drums)
  • Deke Leonard (guitar)
  • Sean Tyla (guitar)

Help Yourself broke up during the recording of “5” (which was their fifth album, if you regard “The Return Of Ken Whaley” and “Happy Days” as one album). The album was completed 30 years later.

Disc Two Track 7 Burlesque – FAMILYI finally lost Rita and Greta went home. I guess that just leaves me and you.

Disc Two Track 8 O Caroline – MATCHING MOLEIf you call this sentimental crap you’ll make me mad, ’cause you know that I would not sing about some passing fad”

Soft Machine were part of the Canterbury scene. Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt were both in the original Soft Machine. Kevin Ayers left after one album and Robert Wyatt was pushed out after four albums. Robert formed a group which he called Matching Mole which was a joke name because ‘machine molle’ is French for ‘soft machine’. In 1973, he fell from a fourth floor window during a party and was paralysed from the waist down. He has used a wheelchair ever since. His accident meant that he could no longer play drums. Robert is possibly most well known for having a minor hit with a version of The Monkees “I’m A Believer” in 1974. He also sung a beautiful version of Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding” in 1982. In 2009 he was the guest editor of the “Today” programme on Radio 4. He rarely performs live but in 2017, Paul Weller persuaded him to perform at a benefit concert in Brighton for the Labour Party. He has made 9 solo records, the last being in 2007. In 2008, he expounded on his political views “On the whole, I feel that the right wing forces have won and the left wing failed or fell into self-contradiction….The fact is that the world is still run by rich investors and the old colonial countries in their guise of super-powers are still screwing the Third World and hiding behind this façade of bringing democracy to the heathen masses, which is obviously really depressing.”

Disc Two Track 9 Conquistador – PROCOL HARUMAnd though your jewel-encrusted blade has not been plundered still the sea has washed across your face and taken of its fill.

Disc Two Track 10 Lost Tribe – BOND & BROWN

Graham Bond was born in Essex and, after spending time in a Dr. Barnardo’s home, he was adopted and educated at a grammar school, where he learned music. When he left school, he briefly joined Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated before forming the Graham Bond Quartet playing Hammond organ alongside Ginger Baker on drums, Jack Bruce on double bass and John McLaughlin on guitar. When Dick Heckstall-Smith joined the group on saxophone, they changed their name to The Graham Bond Organisation and their album “There’s A Bond Between Us” (October 1965) is recognised as the first recording of rock music that used a Mellotron. After Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce left to form Cream, Jon Hiseman joined the band on drums. Substance abuse and Graham Bond’s subsequent deteriorating mental and physical health led to Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith leaving to form Colosseum and so The Graham Bond Organisation dissolved in 1967. Graham Bond spent two years in America, recording two albums before returning to the U.K. to form The Graham Bond Initiation with his new wife Diane Stewart. He was re-united with old band members while playing saxophone in Ginger Baker’s Air Force and he spent a short time in the Jack Bruce Band. In 1972 he teamed up with Cream lyricist, Pete Brown, to record “Two Heads are Better Than One”. After his marriage collapsed, Graham Bond formed Magus with British folk-singer Carolanne Pegg but the failure of this band caused increased drug dependency and depression. He became obsessed with the occult and believed he was Alistair Crowley’s son. On 8 May 1974, Bond took his own life by walking in front of a Piccadilly line train at Finsbury Park station, London, at the age of 36.

Disc Two Track 11 Speed Queen Of Ventura – VINEGAR JOE

Disc Two Track 12 Wishing Well – FREE “Throw down your gun, you might shoot yourself or is that what you’re trying to do?”


Disc Three Track 1 The Wizard – URIAH HEEPWhy don’t we listen to the
Voices in our heart?”

Disc Three Track 2 Prologue – RENAISSANCE

Disc Three Track 3 Chilly Morning Mama – EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND

Disc Three Track 4 American Mother – HELP YOURSELF

Disc Three Track 5 Love Is Good – PRETTY THINGS “She was just the saddest girl
In that sad old American town”

Disc Three Track 6 Turn It All Around – RARE BIRD “I’ve opened up and broken through all my chains and I faint”

Disc Three Track 7 Blowin’ Free – WISHBONE ASH “In my dreams everything was alright”. Taken from Wishbone Ash’s third album, “Argus“. “Blowin’ Free” is sometimes referred to as “The Ash Anthem” by fans. It was written about a Swedish girl whom Martin Turner wanted to keep in touch with, only for her to reply “you can only try”. Ted Turner left Wishbone Ash in 1974 and between then and 1987, when he rejoined the band, he played with George Harrison, Billy Preston, Rod Stewart and Stewart Copeland. Although the song is called “Blowin’ Free”, the name of this compilation is “Blowing Free”.

Disc Three Track 8 Bananas – MANI like to eat bananas ‘cos they got no bones. I like marijuana ‘cos it gets me stoned”

Disc Three Track 9 Blue Angel – DAVE COUSINSThe best of questions have no answers. The best of answers need no questions

Disc Three Track 10 See the World (Through My Eyes) – VINEGAR JOE

Disc Three Track 11 Lady Of The Lake – JADE WARRIOR “Let music from the temple bell complete your sacred summer spell and guide the pilgrim to your throne where first the seed of life was sown”

“Lady Of The Lake” is taken from Jade Warrior’s third album, “Last Autumn’s Dream”. The musicians on the album are Jon Field, Tony Duhig, Glyn Havard, Allan Price and David Duhig. Jon Field and Tony Duhig had met when they were driving forklift trucks. In 1965, they formed a group called Second Thoughts with Patrick Lyons. They went on to form The Tomcats and then changed the band’s name to July. When they group split, Tony Duhig went on to join Unit 4+2 along with Glyn Havard and Allan Price. After a disastrous tour of Persia, Jade Warrior was formed. Glyn Havard said “We all agreed that whatever we called ourselves would need to express the dualistic nature of our music – the ‘soft/hard’ quality if you like. Working along those lines, we sat down in Jon’s living room and drew up two lists, one comprising words we identified with the quieter, meditative side of the band, and the other expressing the heavier, more menacing aspect. The hard list featured a more macho selection such as ‘Spear’ and, of course, ‘Warrior’. Jon’s first wife, Jenny, had made the suggestion that we might select our name from a choice of verbs rather than nouns, but after some deliberation, we ditched this idea as being too outre. In the end we decided on ‘Jade’, from the soft list, and ‘Warrior’ from the hard one. I guess had it gone differently, we might just as easily have been called something like ‘Lotus Spear‘.” In 1970, Jade Warrior signed a deal with Vertigo in a package with Assagai, an Afro-rock band, with whom they shared the same management. Glyn Havard said, “They didn’t want us, but they wanted Assagai because Afro-Rock, courtesy of Osibisa, was perceived to be the next best thing. Our production company, Mother Mistro, basically told them that if they wanted Assagai, then they’d have to take Jade Warrior as well“. This left Jade Warrior a contract with a record company, which had little actual interest in the band, and very little willingness to support or promote them.

Disc Three Track 12 Stranded – KHANOn our island of safety, far from the alien crowd of the city of madness, could we really be sure that the peace would still remain sealed away from insanity. We shall see, we shall see”

Disc Three Track 13 Whiskey In The Jar – THIN LIZZYMusha ring dumb a do dumb a da


Disc Four Track 1 Two Weeks Last Summer – DAVE COUSINS “Promises that mean so much
broken with a single touch”

Disc Four Track 2 Nick’s Seven – SKIN ALLEY

Disc Four Track 3 Choo Choo Mama – TEN YEARS AFTERMy life without you is just misery and pain, come back to me

Disc Four Track 4 Hellbound Train – SAVOY BROWN “I’m going down the road on the Hell-bound train. Take a long look, lady, ’cause you won’t see me again.

Disc Four Track 5 Peter – PRETTY THINGSFor fifteen long years they waited for children
Then late in 1951, Caesarean birth at the hour of sunset. The couple were blessed with a fair headed son.”

Disc Four Track 6 Rip Off Train – PRETTY THINGS “Work your arses off forever. Midnight highways really bring you down but you’re there and you’re working, so don’t complain, so many miss the train”

Disc Four Track 7 Instant Kitten – MATCHING MOLE

Disc Four Track 8 The Boys In The Band – GENTLE GIANT

Disc Four Track 9 Midnight Moses – SENSATIONAL ALEX HARVEY BANDI had an afternoon fever when I flew off to Geneva. I just took me a notion to fly right across the ocean.

Disc Four Track 10 Walk Don’t Run – PINK FAIRIES

“Walk Don’t Run” was written in 1954 by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith in 1954. The version by The Ventures was listed by Rolling Stone as the 82nd best guitar songs of all time. Joe Walsh claimed that the entire song formed one of the best guitar solos of all time. Lead guitar is played by Bob Bogle, who started his working life at 15, as a bricklayer in California. The Ventures’ version is about two minutes long whereas The Pink Fairies’ version is over nine minutes long and is taken from their second album, “What A Bunch Of Sweeties”. Twink had left the band by the time the album was recorded and Trevor Burton, founding member of The Move plays on two tracks. However, the cacophony of noise that is “Walk Don’t Run” was made by drummer Russell Hunter, bass player Duncan Sanderson and lead guitarist Paul Rudolph, who was born in Vancouver and took up guitar playing as part of his rehabilitation from polio when he was ten years old. His recording career includes spell with The Deviants, Mick Farren, Twink, Brian Eno and Hawkwind.

Disc Four Track 11 Ricochet – JONESY

Disc Four Track 12 When The City Sleeps – BOMBADIL

Disc Four Track 13 Desolation Valley/Waves – NEKTAR “Persecuted eyes, look down on me. I can’t take no more”

“Desolation Valley” and “Waves” are two tracks from Nektar’s second album, titled, “A Tab In The Ocean”. The title track lasts over 16 minutes and takes up the whole of Side One. Their first album, “Journey To The Centre Of The Eye”, consisted of a single song running over 40 minutes, with the last 100 seconds of the first side repeated at the beginning of the second side to maintain continuity. The band formed in Hamburg, West Germany in 1969. The founding members were Englishmen Roye Albrighton on guitars and lead vocals, Allan “Taff” Freeman on keyboards, Derek “Mo” Moore on bass, Ron Howden on drums and artists Mick Brockett and Keith Walters on lights and “special effects”. The idea of non-performing group members was unusual – a third of Nektar’s lineup had no role in performing or writing their music. Nektar reformed in 2000 and after a split in 2018, there are now two groups called Nektar, both of which have a genealogy dating back to the original group which split in 1982. One version is based in the U.S.A. (Mick Brockett and Ron Howden are members) and the other is based in Germany (with Alexander Hoffmeister having replaced Roye Albrighton as lead guitarist and vocalist, after his death in 2016).

Disc Four Track 14 Melinda More Or Less – CURVED AIR “Sleeping, waking, rising, falling, dumb but calling out to deafened friends”

Disc Four Track 15 Hollow Stone – KHAN

For more music like this, listen to Nice Enough To Eat, Taking Some Time On. Underground Sounds of 1970, Breakthrough. Underground Sounds of 1971 and Peephole In My Brain. The British Progressive Pop Sounds Of 1971

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

2 thoughts on “Blowing Free. Underground & Progressive Sounds of 1972

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: