I thought I would share something a bit different with you today. Something that, strictly speaking, doesn't fit in with the vinyl-centric format of my blog, but deserves a wider audience nevertheless.
Back in 1981, a full year before Marillion released their debut single, a Hertfordshire-based progressive rock band who went by the name of As Above...So Below produced a demo tape and secured a session on Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show on BBC Radio 1. When this was later repeated, I recall Tommy Vance commenting that he'd received more requests for a repeat airing of that particular session than any other in the history of the show. It seems a shame then that As Above...So Below weren't able to capitalise on the interest their session garnered and to share in the success that Marillion, Pallas, IQ et al enjoyed as participants in the early 1980s' new wave of progressive rock. I count myself fortunate to have a copy of the aforementioned demo, but my recording of their Friday Rock Show session has long since gone A.W.O.L. I would love a copy if anyone out there has a tape of it lurking in the back of a drawer somewhere.
I am particularly fond of this band as guitarist Robin Hodge, or 'Mr Hodge' as I knew him, was my school teacher when I was nine years old. Undoubtedly he played a role in developing my love of music, introducing me to Harry Nilsson's The Point and playing guitar or classical piano pieces at morning assembly. In the drab 1970s it seemed very cool to have a guitar and piano-playing teacher with long hair, cowboy boots and a side-line in conjuring tricks as a member of the Magic Circle. The band benefited greatly from the experience that Robin's brother, Phil, had acquired as a member of Steve Hillage's band, having played at some of the shows captured on the Live Herald album. To my ears he has a decidedly Tony Banks-like quality to his keyboard playing, whilst Robin's guitar playing is at times reminiscent of Camel's Andy Latimer or Marillion's Steven Rothery.
|Robin Hodge bottom left with brother Phil behind him|
The band would perhaps have benefited from a stronger vocalist, someone with the charisma and lyrical bite of Fish or Peter Gabriel, but that aside, they had everything going for them. If you can find so much as a mention of As Above...So Below elsewhere on the internet, then I take my hat off to you. The brief flurry of interest that their radio session provoked seems to have been erased from the collective memory of Tommy Vance's listeners. Here's Fade Out, the lead off track from the demo. I hope you enjoy what you hear. I would be delighted to post the other tracks if anyone wants to hear more.
UPDATE: 9th August 2012
Seeing as there has been such interest generated by this post, including a response from As Above...So Below's bass player, Charlie Noble, I thought it was about time I posted the band's demo in its entirety. And, for those of you who haven't found it hidden away in the comments section, here's a link to that Friday Rock Show session: