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Deep cuts: Riches from the rock underground

cover art for Grail - Grail

Grail is one of the most enigmatic underground UK rock albums of its era. It’s ambitious in its use of many different instruments, and it also features a multitude of ethnic influences, such as the Egyptian-tinged flute melodies on Camel Dung, manic Cossack-style riffing on Czechers, and the psychedelic sitar of the excellent title track. Such experimentation in rock would be almost unthinkable these days.

Grail were formed in 1968 by Terry Spencer, lead guitarist of London freakbeat legends The Game. However, by the time this, their sole album was recorded, Spencer had already departed, although he is credited as a co-writer.

The album is notable due to the mysterious involvement of Rod Stewart as producer. Apparently Rod was close friends with Grail manager Bob Pearce, and was thus roped in. It’s hard to see him being a fan of what Grail were doing!

Opening track Power will be the one of main interest to headbangers here, with it’s hard-hitting, doomy power chords, pounding drums, occult lyrics, wild soloing and the snarling vocals of Chris Williams. Elsewhere there are heavy moments interspersed with mellower folky moods and general weirdness.

Recorded at London’s Tangerine Studios in 1969, the album didn’t receive a UK release. It was first issued in France by Barclay in 1970 (with strikingly different artwork), then by Germany’s Metronome in 1971, by which time Grail had unfortunately ceased to exist.

Deep cuts: Riches from the rock underground

Deep Cuts: Riches from the rock underground

Deep cuts: Riches from the rock underground