Atomic Rooster released their first album in 1970 entitled Atomic Rooster. The band featured Vincent Crane, Nick Graham and Carl Palmer. Vincent Crane and Carl Palmer had formerly been part of the group The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Nick Graham left the band Atomic Rooster during the release of the band’s first album. Guitarist John Du Cann would join the band after the first record was released. Carl Palmer would soon leave to join Keith Emerson and Greg Lake in the formation of Emerson Lake & Palmer. Vincent Crane’s keyboard work and composition skills would become the voice of Atomic Rooster.
Paul Hammond replaced Carl Palmer for the band’s second album Death Walks Behind You. The album featured Vincent Crane on all keyboards, John Du Cann on bass and guitar and Paul Hammond on drums. These three would become know as the Atomic Rooster classic lineup. Rock and roll history is lined with a deep history of classic rock trios such as Cream, Rush, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Stevie Ray Vaughan Band, Grand Funk, Nirvana, Thin Lizzy and so many more. Atomic Rooster is often overlooked when historians write about legendary rock trios.
After the release of Death Walks Behind You the band came roaring back with the great album In Hearing of Atomic Rooster. The album was released in 1971 and featured Paul French on vocals on four of the eight album tracks. The two albums Death Walks Behind You and In Hearing of Atomic Rooster stand as the peak moment in time for Atomic Rooster. Those two albums should be in the collection of every rock and roll fan.
The band Atomic Rooster continued to release a few more great albums. However the sound of the band began to shrift away from its progressive roosts and more towards a funk, blues style sound of play. Nonetheless the band’s progressive rock undertones were still evident with the work of Vincent Crane on keyboards. The addition of Chris Farlowe on the band’s forth album entitled Made In England had a major impact on the new sound of the band. For the band’s fourth album only Vincent Crane remained as both John Du Cann and Paul Hammond left the band.
The band’s fifth album entitled Nice and Greasy was released in 1973. The album continued to feature Vincent Crane and Chris Farlowe. On drums was Ric Parnell, and the guitar duties were held by Johnny Mandella. Nice and Greasy would be the band’s final album of the decade.
In 1980, John Du Cann reunited with Vincent Crane to record the album Atomic Rooster. Preston Heyman who would also work with Kate Bush, Kim Wilde, Paul McCartney and a series of other musicians handled the drumming duties on the 1980 Atomic Rooster album.
The band Atomic Rooster released their final album in 1987 entitled Headline News. The album featured the return of drummer Paul Hammond. Bernie Torme played guitar on the record. The album also featured a guest appearance by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. Headline News was a dramatically different sounding album from the band’s early 1970’s material.
Vincent Crane passed away in 1989 due to an overdose of painkillers. Paul Hammond died in 1992 and John Du Cann passed away in 2011. The band was reformed in 2016 by former Atomic Rooster members Peter French and Steve Bolton. No new recordings have been released as of this writing.
Our Atomic Rooster Songs list takes a look at the band’s material over the course of their entire career. The focus will be mainly on the early 1970’s material, however some of the later Atomic Rooster songs will be presented to define the difference between time periods. We think you will fall in love with this incredible group by the time you get to the end of this list. Give these guys a chance, they are so worth it.
# 11 – Headline New
(You either get the 11 thing or you don’t.) The band that you are hearing on this track sound dramatically different from the group on the legendary Death Walks Behind You album. The impact of early 1980’s European techno is evident on this record. However, the keyboard work of Vincent Crane and the man’s amazing talents still shined on through the big 80’s production techniques. “Headline News,” was the title track from the band’s last album. It is an interesting way to open our Atomic Rooster songs list. This is not the Atomic Rooster we fell in love with, yet it would have been interesting to see the direction the band would have gone in when music changed dramatically in the mid 1980’s and then again in the early 1990’s. That possibility ended with the death of Vincent Crane in 1989
# 10 – Break The Ice
The great track “Break the Ice,” was released on the band’s legendary third album entitled In Hearing of Atomic Rooster. The song “Break The Ice,” was issued as the second track on the album The album was released in 1971. The album featured Vincent Crane on keyboards, John Du Cann on guitars, Pete French on vocals and Paul Hammond on drums.
# 9 – Time Take My Life
While many progressive rock fans prefer the band’s first three albums, the band Atomic Rooster’s fourth album saw a shift in the sound of the band away from progressive rock. Nonetheless, the band was still releasing great music of substance. This list will focus mainly on the first three albums, but we can’t ignore the rest. The very cool track “Time Take My Life,” was released on the band’s fourth album entitled Made In England.
# 8 – Gershatzer
The band’s phenomenal album Death Walks Behind You makes its first appearance on our top 10 Atomic Rooster Songs list with the track “Gershatzer.” The great album featured John Du Cann on guitars, lead vocals, and bass, Vincent Crane: on Hammond organ, backing vocals, and piano, and rounding out the trio was Paul Hammond on drums.
# 7 – Black Snake
We would love to include every track on the band’s first three albums on this top 10 Atomic Rooster Songs list, but then that would be more than 10. The great track “Black Snake,” is one of our favorite songs on the album. The song “Black Snake,” opened up side two of the album.
# 6 – Friday 13th
The song “Friday 13th,” was the opening track on the band’s debut album entitled Atomic Rooster. The album was released in 1970. The album featured the musicians Vincent Crane on keys, Nick Graham on bass guitar, lead vocals, and flute, and the legendary Carl Palmer on drums.
# 5 – A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Rate Go Down
The song “A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Rate Go Down,” was originally released on the album In Hearing of Atomic Rooster. The version here was released on the album Live in London 1972.
# 4 – Breakthrough
The next four tracks on this Atomic Rooster songs list are simply killer. “Breakthrough,” was the opening track on the brilliant In Hearing of Atomic Rooster album. The keyboard work of Vincent Crane is to die for on this track. This album’s lineup included Vincent Crane on keyboards and vocals, John Du Cann on guitars and vocals, and Paul Hammond on drums. The production was handled by Crane and Du Cann
# 3 – Devil’s Answer
For the final time on this Atomic Rooster songs list we present another stunning track from the In Hearing of Atomic Rooster LP. The song “Devil’s Answer,” was originally released as a single in the UK and was not even on the album. It only appeared on the U.S. version. However, in the U.K. the single reached all the way to the number four position.
# 2 – Death Walks Behind You
The track “Death Walks Behind You,” was the title track to the band’s second album released in 1971. The Death Walks Behind You album was the band’s most successful record in terms of radio airplay and commercial chart position. It was a work of art that defined the best of the progressive rock genre of the early 1970’s and cemented the band a place in rock and rock history.
# 1 – Tomorrow Night
If there ever was the need to define the term rock and roll groove, all one has to do is drop the needle on this amazing record. The track “Tomorrow Night,” was the band’s biggest hit. It was a powerhouse single that served as a template for rock bands wishing to garner radio play without sacrificing substance.
“Tomorrow Night” was released in 1971 as a single and also included on their album Death Walks Behind You. The band’s line-up for this album consisted of Vincent Crane on keyboards, John Du Cann on guitar and vocals, and Paul Hammond on drums. The album was produced by Crane and Du Cann, demonstrating their hands-on approach to the music. The song achieved significant chart success in the United Kingdom, peaking at number 11 on the UK Singles Chart.
Updated October 31, 2023
Top 10 Atomic Rooster Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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