It might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Capability Brown – but did you know that the famous landscape architect lent his name to surprisingly successful 1970s prog rock band?
In one of my explorative forays through the internet in search of information about the landscape architect, I was thrilled and somewhat baffled to stumble upon Capability Brown the band.
Enjoying moderate fame during their time, the group got together in 1971 and still enjoy a cult following in British music history. Somewhat artsy and alternative, apparently they really advanced the rock genre into some new progressive territories. They were known for creating electric six-part vocal harmonies, locking together a range of pitches to create a joyously psychedelic chorus.
As well as singing, each member played an instrument. Roger Willis on drums and keyboards, Tony Ferguson on guitar and bass, Dave Nevin on keyboards, guitar and bass, Kenny Rowe on bass and percussion, Grahame White on guitar, lute, balalaika and keyboards and Joe Williams on percussion.
Their most well-regarded song ‘Circumstances (In Love, Past, Present, Future Meet)’ is from their 1973 album Voice. YouTube views attest to this song’s enduring popularity. At over 20 minutes in length, this masterpiece is a mosaic of soundscapes that lead you on a wild musical ride through complex textures and virtuosic, harmonic landscapes. Guitar masquerading as harpsichord, funky bass solos and warmly sonorous vocals blend seamlessly into an enjoyably rollicking track. I can highly recommend you listen to it the whole way through.
The demise of the band was brought about by the poaching of key members of the band into other musical ventures and international tours.
You’ll be pleased to hear that the group’s fan club is called, obviously, the Landscape Gardeners. Perhaps Lancelot 'Capability' Brown’s rocks and rolling hills have inspired rock and roll of a whole different sort?
Although their web presence is somewhat obscure, you can find out more at ProgArchives.com.
About the author: Catherine Hempenstall is a member of the Capability Brown Festival team and enjoys scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel for Brown related puns.