ATOMIC ROOSTER Anthology 1969-81 2-CD set, Angel Air SJPCD280 (2009)
Not necessarily a compelling prospect at a glance, but check out the provenance of content on this 29-track 2CD set. A 1970 demo of early hit 'The Devil's Answer' sets a happy precedent for an excursion into these, alternate mixes, rare or unreleased, of some of the best material by this British power trio.
Such outings are fine for fans but such is the quality on offer, 'Anthology 1969-1991' still affirms the Rooster as one of the finest hard/progressive rock acts of its day with nary a barrel scraping in sight.
Disc 1 culls largely from their best early albums ('Death Walks Behind You' and 'In Hearing Of') and every track hits the spot, the band tight and focussed. The trademark eerie, wailing interplay of Vincent Crane's organ and John Du Cann's guitarwork, hitched to an expressive, powerful drummer in Paul Hammond, is at a creative peak on faves such as 'Sleeping For Years' and 'I Can't Take no More'.
Disc 2's later years ebbed in ideas terms but the band nonetheless successfully coupled their sound to commercially hard, period punk stylings on a last album and handful of singles. The set concludes with adrenalin-fuelled live performances of early glories including a revisit to the Devil.
With GRTR Joe Geesin's notes and Du Cann's track analyses weaving through plenty of period publicity pictures to read as you groove, this is a commendable re-route to the heart of a fine band.