The Best Prog Bands You’ve Never Heard Of (Part Thirty-Four): Fuzzy Duck

Don’t let the afro and fringed pouch fool you: Fuzzy Duck packs quite a punch. Hailing from England, this rare bird of a band managed to release only one album before falling into obscurity. Like Steppenwolf and Atomic Rooster, Fuzzy Duck produced organ-driven music with an edge to it. Here are some of the highlights:

The opening number “Time Will Be Your Doctor” begins with a groovy bass line and drum beat courtesy of bassist Mick Hawksworth and drummer Paul Francis, who provide a solid foundation throughout the album. Guitarist Graham White and organist Roy Sharland also show off their chops on their respective instruments, and it is the latter two gentlemen who truly carry this album.

“Mrs. Proust,” the following piece, will probably remind many listeners of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride”: Sharland shreds on the organ during a superb solo, but White is never far removed from the scene with his crunchy, distorted guitar providing an extra edge to this song.

White does his best work on “Country Boy,” a dynamic song that has a “rushing through the city” feel to it. Robin Trower’s influence can be heard on this – arguably their heaviest – track.

The album closes with the tongue-in-cheek “A Word from Big D,” an organ-led instrumental punctuated with (somewhat annoying) duck calls. It doesn’t hold up well compared to the other tracks on the album, but it’s not the worst attempt at levity I’ve ever heard.

Aficionados of organ-driven hard rock and prog – especially Vincent Crane’s work in Atomic Rooster and Goldy McJohn’s in Steppenwolf – will appreciate this solid effort. It may not blow anyone away, but as far as early proto-metal bands go, Fuzzy Duck is one of those under-appreciated worth a listen or two.

Stay tuned for number thirty-five!

Rick’s Retroarchy — Procol Harum, Still There’ll Be More: An Anthology, 1967-2017

Take a Dylanesque verbal collage by lyricist Keith Reid; marry it to instantly appealing melody and harmony — passionately sung and played by R&B pianist Gary Brooker, drawing equally on Baroque grandeur (Bach’s “Air on the G String”) and dramatic soul (Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman”).  Then garnish with Matthew Fisher’s Hammond organ counterpoint.  The result: “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Procol Harum’s first single, a defining hit of 1967, and one of progressive rock’s most influential precursors.

You can argue Procol Harum (Brooker, Reid, drummer B.J. Wilson and a shifting supporting cast — notably Fisher and guitarist Robin Trower) never topped their debut, either artistically or commercially.  But they made excellent music for a decade, with reunions every 12-15 years after that — thirteen fine albums that consistently engaged the mind, gut and heart. The latest installment in Procol’s current reissue campaign, Esoteric Recordings’  Still There’ll Be More: An Anthology, 1967-2017 , is the long-overdue box set this band richly deserves.

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