I bring to you yet another fine American band that would have been sadly forgotten if not for the saving graces of the Internet. Hailing from New Orleans, Lift released one album in 1974, the curiously titled Caverns of Your Brain. It is probably the best obscure prog album I’ve ever listened to. All five band members are more than capable when it comes to handling the complex rhythms and lengthy compositions that distinguishes progressive rock from other musical genres. Fans of Yes, ELP, Hawkwind, and even Premiata Forneria Marconi will enjoy this album. Lead singer and flautist Courtenay Hilton-Green sounds similar to Jon Anderson (sans Lancashire accent) and Franz di Cioccio (of PFM fame). Cody Kelleher’s bass guitar sounds similar to Greg Lake and, at times, Chris Squire (from his pre-Fragile days). The standout on the album, however, is keyboardist Chip Gremillion. His work on all four songs is comparable to that of Tony Kaye, and he does a superb job on each piece. Guitarist J. Richard Huxen and drummer Chip Grevemberg are excellent on their respective instruments as well. Now to the songs:
Simplicity – excellent opening song; similar in sound to Yes’s debut album; catchy bass and keyboard intro
Caverns – more tranquil and “spacy” song, similar in vein to Hawkwind and Gabriel-era Genesis; piano solo reminiscent of Tony Banks’s finest work; and a superb acid guitar solo (reminds me of Gilmour)
Buttercup Boogie – more frenetic than the others; exceptional keyboard work yet again; fine drum and bass anchor the piece
Trippin’ Over the Rainbow – another great keyboard and bass intro (bass sounds similar to Greg Lake’s best work); excellent synthesizer work gives song a space/acid rock feel; part of the bass line includes the Peter Gunn theme (famously played by ELP in concert)
These are four well executed songs. For those of you who enjoy the symphonic side of prog, this is an album for you.
Hope everyone had an enjoyable beginning to the New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good year for freedom!
Here is the full album:
9 thoughts on “The Best Prog Bands You’ve Never Heard Of (Part Six): Lift”
Really good band. Thanks for posting them!
I am always amazed and delighted at how many people have found our obscure observation of music. Chip Gremillion
Well I certainly appreciate your efforts, Chip. Great music from an under appreciated band. Hope I did your group justice. Thanks for commenting!
You were more than kind… For me this recording caught our youthful excitement and the “fun” of being in the studio. Thanks again…
I’ve posted this message on several Youtube sites that plat the “Caverns” album. At the time we recorded in July of 1974. I had my 20th birthday while in studio. Which is why I remember this… At that time I had begun work on a 20+ minute piece entitled “Inception”. I completed the work in early September roughly two monte after we completed our recording of “Caverns of your Brain” (I have that title…It was to be Simplicity. Don’t get to pick when it’s bootlegged) LIFT performed “Inception” 5 perhaps 6 times. One of those was recorded. Awful quality! Do to the length of “Inception” we typically played it as our final song when the fewest people were around. After the band relocated to Atlanta in October of ’76 it was never performed again. In September of 2014,a gentleman named Marco Bernard, bass player and producer of the Finnish progressive band, The Samurai of Prog” messaged me on Facebook. He asked if there was any music that was played by LIFT that was never recorded. I told him about “Inception” and how it was IMHO my best and last composition with LIFT. He asked for a copy of the song, and after hearing he asked if The Samurai of Prog could record it as part of their next CD titled, “Lost * Found”. The CD would consist largely of old lost and never recorded works by American progressive bands from the 1970’s… there weren’t many of us, so I thought it would be a quick project. I was very wrong. Lost & Found is a double CD with phenomenal packaging, booklet about the bands and musicians who brought this phenomenal music back to life. The CD features, “Preludin” a new composition featuring Steve Scorfina from “Pavlov’s Dog” on guitar, a beautiful 2+ minute sonata by David Meter formally with “The Musical Box” Genesis tribute band… and they are phenomenal. “Inception” composed by me and beautifully realized by Steve Unruh and The “Samurai” with guest guitarist Kamran Alan Shikoh from “Glass Hammer”, two tunes, “She Who Must Be Obeyed” and “Plight of the Swan” by Tom Doncourt of “Cathedral”.
That is CD 1. CD 2 is an epic 57 minute composition from Ken DeLoria of “Quill”. Progressive bands were few and far between and I don’t believe any of us were aware of the existence of the other bands. Tom, Ken and I have jokingly referred to ourselves as the “Holy Trinity” of American Prog Rock. 🙂
This is a masterwork featuring phenomenal talent of over a dozen musicians spread over 6 countries. I definitely had to get the rust out of the old fingers to perform one of the synth solos on “Inception”. Personally, I always felt the “Inception” showed the rapid growth of LIFT as a band and me as a composer. It is a complex piece yet is highly musical. The “Samurai” recreation truly captures the varying dynamics of the piece. I hope anyone who remains a fan with have the opportunity to hear it and all of the works on the double CD. Check it out…
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That sounds like an album worth listening to Chip! Thanks for the heads up. I have reviewed Cathedral’s superb Stained Glass Stories, but I will have to check out Quill’s Sursum Corda at some point.
Any chance we could possibly hear that “awful quality” recording of ‘Inception’? I’ve been hoping for an old recording to surface for years.
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