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Music / Quatermass

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Mick Underwood, John Gustafson, Pete Robinson

Quatermass was a progressive hard rock group from London, England. The group consisted of John Gustafsonnote  (bass, vocals), Pete Robinsonnote  (keyboards), and Mick Underwoodnote  (drums), and was active for a considerably brief period of the early 1970s.

Eschewing the seemingly prerequisite guitar in favor of lead bass, and epic organ lines out the wazoo, the group's groundbreaking sound saw them touted by their label, Harvest Records, as a "band of the future," destined for greatness. The group released a Self-Titled Album in 1970, a formative entry in progressive rock; they dissolved shortly thereafter due to a lack of commercial success, rendering them a well-remembered Cult Classic still held in high regard by prog enthusiasts today.

The group was resurrected under the informal name of Quatermass II in The '90s, with Underwood as the sole original member (and Gustafson as a songwriter). They released one album before the group was disbanded for the second and last time at the close of the decade.

Not to be confused with the Quatermass franchise, though the band was indeed named after it.


  • Quatermass (1970)
  • Quatermass II: The Long Road (1997)

Tropes associated with Quatermass:

  • An Aesop: "Post War, Saturday Echo". Aside from the obvious anti-materialistic statements, the title evokes the sort of comparatively trivial societal plagues that were non-issues to those living in wartime, but which have come to flourish in peacetime. Roger Waters would, presumably, very much approve.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Quatermass II, without Gustafson.
  • Black Sheep Hit: Rather fittingly, "Black Sheep of the Family"... not wholly indicative of their first album as it's got a relatively standard rock form, with a relatively mainstream-ish (for Quatermass) chorus, though it's bursting at the seams with their trademark volatility.
  • Book Ends: Quatermass begins and ends with two instrumentals entitled "Entropy". That is, unless you've got the 2013 remaster...
  • Careful with That Axe/Melismatic Vocals: This is Gus's vocal delivery, all the time. This is extremely liable to turn what would in other songs be a simple line into primal scream monsters that take up several more bars than what most federal law courts would allow.
  • Epic Rocking: The rule rather than the exception. Four songs over eight minutes long (with 10 and a half being the longest) should tell ya something.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: John Fucking Gustafson. Robinson, to a lesser extent.
  • In Name Only: Gus considers the Quatermass II project to be this, as it has little to nothing in common with the original Quatermass, and was likely used for the name recognition alone. Why he still helped out with the project by composing songs, however, is unknown.
  • Instrumentals: "Laughin' Tackle" and the "Entropy" cuts. Also, the non-album single B-Side "Punting". Of course, this being prog, their regular songs contain lengthy instrumental passages that could've been separate songs in their own right. And indeed, the 2013 remaster splits the six-minute long instrumental passage from "Make Up Your Mind" into a separate track called "What Was That", after which MUYM is reprised.
  • Lead Bassist: John Gustafson, natch. And with his deep, treble-tastic tone, you'd be forgiven for confusing it with a guitar.
  • Mind Screw: "Laughin' Tackle" doesn't need words to fuck with your head on a massive scale.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Post War, Saturday Echo".
  • One-Woman Wail: The reprise of "Entropy".
  • Split Personality: The basic idea behind "Gemini".
  • Spiritual Successor: As a Power Trio playing very volatile and loud music, they may be considered one to Gustafson's old beat group, The Big Three.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Good Lord Knows". Of course, were this any other album it would hardly qualify, but yes.
  • Vicious Cycle: "Post War, Saturday Echo".
    You've got to run so hard
    Just to stay where you are
    You've got to work
    You've got to earn
    You've got to spend
    The more you have, the more you want
    A spiral without end
  • Word Salad Title: "Laughin' Tackle".