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Uther Pendragon: San Francisco Earthquake

Some long-lost San Francisco gold finally surfaces.

Uther Pendragon San Francisco Earthquake album artwork

Despite some solid 1967 albums from names such as Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, there was often the feeling that San Francisco’s much trumpeted ‘sound’ had yet to justify the fuss on record.

Nearly 50 years later and the consummate San Fran classic has arrived in the shape of this fabulous set. Uther Pendragon named themselves after King Arthur’s old man in October 1969, continuing until 1978. This two-CD/three-LP collection shows a band bursting with originality, intricate guitars and sublime vocal harmonies. For a long-time San Fran nut, tracks such as the evocative Devil’s Due, scathing You’re A Human Now and optimistic Magical Door are a revelation. The band always lived in the same house and eschewed drugs, which may explain the dextrous synchronicity raging through the likes of Peter Pan Blowup and Lovelock Temperature Drop, which pit MC5 energy against prog-style dynamics. Amazingly, they never released a record – the labels turned their songs down for being too long. Had these been issued at the time, Uther Pendragon would have been ranked among the greats. Half a century later, they show there’s still gold in them there archives.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!