Long ago and far away, there was a time when musicians ruled the pop world. Those strange beings gifted at playing musical instruments were allowed to make records and even stranger ~ their work was so popular It actually got into the charts! Although this now seems like a far fetched alien concept in an age ruled by computers and *boy bands', there are wise men who can recall those ancient times and swear it is true.
Once such example was the UK musical ensemble known as East Of Eden whose experimental work resulted in them being hailed by critics as pioneers of progressive rock. Yet, such was the open minded and receptive attitude prevailing in the late Sixties, the band's music was eagerly accepted by a wide audience. Teenage girls were seen entering record stores and asking 'May I have the latest waxing by East Of Eden please? I hear they are really fab’. Pipe smoking intellectuals discussed their latest albums and offered profound insights into their lyrics.
Even housewives turned up their wireless sets a notch louder when the band's hit record "Jig A Jag" came on the air. This lively instrumental number, featuring the violin playing of Dave Arbus, got to Number 7 in the UK charts in April 1971. Dave Arbus (violin, saxes, flute) was a founder member of the West Countrygroup, which got together in 1968. The first line up included Ron Gaines (alto sax), Geoff Nicholson (lead guitar), Andy Sneddon (bass) and London born drummer Geoff Britton. A one-off single called 'King Of SianV appeared on the Atlantic label before they were signed to Deram in 1969.
Their first album 'Mercator Projected' was released in 1969 and showcased a mixture of styles, from rock to jazz and Eastern style music. Arbus also played trumpet and flute and was much inspired by the work of jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus. Their next album 'Snafu' was released in 1970. It was a time when exciting new bands like ELP and Deep Purple were developing the progressive rock style and there were scores of clubs and venues where bands could work and earn a living. All this provided a healthy environment for a group that wasn't afraid to blend raga, jazz and folk, all within the space of a few bars.
East Of Eden took a quantum leap forward in terms when “Jig A Jag” was a hit. It stayed on the charts for 12 'weeks and seemed destined to transform their financial fortunes. That same year the band switched from Decca’s Deram to EMI's Harvest label and the 'East Of Eden' album featuring Dave Arbus with David Jack Cvocals, bass, acoustic guitar} Jim Roche (guitars) and Jeff Allen (drums & percussion) - was released in 1971, at the height of the band's commercial popularity Progressive Rock fans suddenly found themselves supporting an act that was apperaring on TV alongside the likes of T.Rex and there was some confusion about the band’s identity and musical direction.
This lead to tension within the ranks, as is often the case when the spotlight is focused on one member of the band. The result was a drastic change of personnel and by 1972! There wasn’t an original member of the group left. This turn over suggests there must have been much recrimination in the dressing rooms after each gig. “Why can't we have a bass solo instead of all that fiddle stuff!" As new members took over they kept the East Of Eden name alive in order to continue recording and touring. The band was later fronted by Joe O'Donnell (violin) backed by Garth Watt-Roy (guitar), Martin Fisher (bass) and Jeff Allen (drums). The group produced such albums as the appropriately titled “Nee Leaf” (1971), 'Another Eden'i(l975), “Here We Go Again” (l976), “It’s the Climate” (1976) and “Silver Park” (1978).
Sadly there were no further hit singles, but it was a remarkable fact that the band 'were able to continue working well into the mid- Seventies, until they hit the buffers of the punk rock era. At this point it was every man for himself and many great 'live9 bands bit the dust. In the intervening years the band's original fiddle player Dave Arbus established a name for himself as a top session player. He contributed to The Who's 'Who's Next' album and was featured on the track 'Baba O'Riley'.
After a spell with The Wild Angels, former Eden drummer Geoff Britton was invited to join Paul McCartney's Wings in the Spring of 1974- He stayed with the band for nine months until he quit to join Champion, with guitarist Dave Clempson. East Of Eden could have been more successful if they'd been more focused in their approach. They were not destined to join bands like Jethro Tull or Yes on the stadium rock circuit. Yet at their best, the group created some rousing, imaginative music. You can hear how they developed their style on such tracks as 'Wonderful Feeling', 'Goodbye' and 'Crazy Daisy' which are among the highlights of this fascinating CD.
by Chris Welch
1. Wonderful Feeling - 6:11
2. Goodbye - 5:48
3. Crazy Daisy - 6:54
4. Here Comes The Day - 4:33
5. Take What You Need - 5:03
6. No Time - 6:03
7. To Mrs. V - 5:18
All songs composed by David Jack.
East Of Eden
*David Jack - Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar
*Jim Roche - Guitars
*Dave Arbus - Violin, Saxes, Flute
*Jeff Allen - Drums, Percussions