An undisputed master of the Hammond organ, Brian Auger was and still is an important part of the British jazz and rock scene.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express
ALBUM: Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express
LABEL: RCA Victor
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Brian Auger – lead vocals, hammond organ, keyboards * Jim Mullen – guitars * Barry Dean – bass * Robbie McIntosh – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Dragon Song * 02 Total Eclipse * 03 The Light * 04 On The Road * 05 The Sword * 06 Oblivion Express
WEBLINKS: Site Link
An undisputed master of the Hammond organ, Brian Auger was and still is an important part of the British jazz and rock scene’s going back to the early 1960’s. Auger had an uncanny ability to spot talent for his various bands and session work that would go on to greater things including John McLaughlin, Rod Stewart and Jimmy Page.
Auger himself found a good deal of success with summer of love hottie Julie Driscoll with the group Trinity. A handful of albums including an instrumental album (without Driscoll) met with critical success and a couple pop hits, but by 1970 Trinity was no more with Auger setting his sights on the rock based project – Oblivion Express. It was a stellar quartet featuring bassist Barry Dean with guitarist Jim Mullen and drummer Robbie McIntosh both of whom would go on to the Average White Band.
According to Auger, critics were not happy with the Express’ debut since it was an obvious nod at the burgeoning progressive rock scene. I often wonder what the scribes were moaning about since this was and is a fiery blend of jazz and rock styles that has few peers.
The John McLaughlin penned ‘Dragon Song’ is the cornerstone of the Oblivion Express sound with Auger’s dazzling Hammond and McIntosh’s burning leads playing musical cat and mouse. It’s all instrumental as is the slow sizzle of ‘Total Eclipse’, although from here on vocal tracks make up the rest of the album.
‘The Light’ is upbeat and jazzy while ‘On The Road’ and ‘The Sword’ lean towards prog rock but without a lot of fuss. Wrapping up the set with ‘Oblivion Express’ gives the band a chance to stretch out while channeling The Nice and a King Crimson-like edginess into their incredible music.
Future Oblivion Express albums would feature a variety of line-ups, this, despite a superficial revolving door vibe. Releases like ‘Second Wind’ and 1975’s brilliant ‘Closer to It!’ would sell remarkably well, especially in America where the band toured frequently with Auger eventually moving to San Francisco. Oblivion Express called it a day in 1978 but left a string of good albums in their wake, yet none better than this solid debut.