British band Cirkus have been compared to Spring, Cressida and Fantasy, they were forward thinking and a couple years ahead of the curve, but without success.
ARTIST: Cirkus (UK)
LABEL: RCB Records
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Paul Robson – lead vocals * Dogg – guitar * John Taylor – bass * Derek G. Miller – organ, piano, mellotron * Stuart McDade – drums, percussion, backing vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 You Are * 02 Seasons * 03 April ’73 * 04 Song For Tavish * 05 A Prayer * 06 Brotherly Love * 07 Those Were The Days * 08 Jenny * 09 Title Track a) Breach b) Ad Infinitum
I’m sure Cirkus kicked themselves straight through ’til Sunday for turning down an offer from CBS but unbelievably that’s what this north-east England band did. Once a group starts to believe in their own hype – lookout, but the sadness in the Cirkus story is these Geordies really did have talent, loads of it and why they were not signed to a larger label down the road is a big unknown.
Eventually they drew the attention of Hollies producer Ron Richards who lent his talents for the ‘One’ sessions and settling on the obscure RCB label, 1000 copies of the debut were pressed. Unfortunately distribution was abysmal and despite playing packed clubs, Cirkus found themselves in a musical dead-end.
Over the years the original LP version of ‘One’ has been a big buck collectable among British progressive fans who often compare the music to Spring and Cressida. While I hear a bit of that (Fantasy is probably a closer comparison), Cirkus were considerably forward thinking and a couple years ahead of the curve.
By this I mean this has far more in common with mid-late ’70s rock, ELO in its orchestrations and more importantly Styx in their ability to condense their prog tendencies with a vocalist Paul Robson who oft times sounds very much like less-flamboyant Dennis DeYoung.
‘You Are’ opens the album with lovely Mellotron and a yelping chorus reminiscent of early 1980’s new wave bands. An odd start and a signal to the listener this is not your average ‘golden age’ prog album. In fact many hardcore elitists will tell you Cirkus really aren’t part of their beloved genre as they were too commercial and lacking complexity.
Whatever the naysayers want to think, ‘Seasons’ rings of Wooden Nickel-era Styx and the Nektar ‘Down To Earth’ meets ELO mix of ‘April ’73’ shows. Cirkus didn’t need dreary fifteen minute ‘movements’ or masturbatory keyboard solos to get the job done.
By 1975 Paul Robson left the band although the direction of Cirkus had become even more mainstream. Recording an EP in 1976 ‘Melissa’ found the band sounding very AOR and these tracks can be found as a bonus on the Audio Archive CD reissue ‘One Plus..’
In 1977 the band were involved in a theater project called ‘Future Shock’ and an LP was released but is incredibly rare. In all these years I’ve only heard one track from the record which was available on a now defunct MySpace page.
Enter the 1990’s and Cirkus resurfaced with two CD’s, 1994’s ‘Cirkus 2 – The Global Cut’ and ‘Cirkus III – Pantomyme’ in 1998. Both were of varying quality and without the original line-up, not a patch on the classic debut.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)