The latest chapter in a musical journey strewn with some of the biggest names in British rock has proved to be a fittingly creative epitaph for the now sadly late, great Pete Ballam of Bram Stoker.
With a resume reading like a madcap caper through one of rock’s richest eras, the prog pioneer’s colourful career encompassed playing with the likes of future Police guitarist Andy Summers, Marc Bolan, Yes and Queen.
His latest release, Manic Machine, traced its lineage directly back to the music created by the guitarist for Bram Stoker’s 1972 debut as sequel of sorts to Heavy Rock Spectacular, now a cult classic for fans delving beyond the biggest names.
Pete might so easily have been one of them – with support from The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Rolling Stones manager Tony Calder, Bram Stoker looked perfectly placed to hit the big time with their mix of psychedelic, gothic-tinged rock – but it was not fated to be.
Spontaneous and unpredictable on stage, Peter remained remarkably creative after leaving Bram Stoker, more recently creating a steampunk stage persona, Doctor Mock, the fabulous effects pedal steampunk blunderbuss, and the weird and wonderful steam-bench.
And, of course, he finally released Manic Machine – extraordinary compositions channelling his revitalised 1970s mojo. Having kept fans waiting 45 years for a worthy sequel to Heavy Rock Spectacular, he had no intention of this being the final chapter from the Bram Stoker Archives – alas, the vault has closed.
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This breathtakingly extraordinary, collection of songs (each with their own unique story) has, at last, been released from the Bram Stoker archives.
Bram Stoker’s album Heavy Rock Spectacular was recorded in 1970, with the help of Rolling Stones manager, Tony Calder.
The band broke up in 1972, leaving a collection of songs that were never recorded from this era.
Many years later, in 2004, Pete reconnected the original band members, with the intention of resurrecting this original material and creating new ideas for a second, more authentic sounding recording.
Despite the enthusiasm from all concerned, other insurmountable life commitments got in the way of producing the album.
This left Pete with a collection of new work, originally written for Bram Stoker, that, alongside works written all those years ago, remained unreleased – until now!
These new tracks were recorded by Pete Ballam alongside special guest musicians and put on a new album Manic Machine, which has just been released.
The Bram Stoker original line-up consisted of Pete Ballam (guitar), Jon Bavin (bass), Tony Bronsdon (Hammond organ) and Rob Haines (drums) and the band soon developed a loyal cult following from their extensive gig circuit of clubs and universities.
Pictured: Freedom Village, formed in 1967, prior to Bram Stoker. From left: Rob Haines, Pete Ballam, Ian Clark,Richard Oliver, Ian (Prof) Prentice.