Exposé Online banner

Red Square — Rare and Lost 70s Recordings
(Guerssen Mental Experience MENT003 / , 1978/2016, LP / CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-07-27

Rare and Lost 70s Recordings Cover art

1974 saw the birth of the UK avant-rock band Red Square. Consisting of Ian Staples (guitar), Jon Seagroatt (sax and bass clarinet), and Roger Telford (free-jazz drummer), Red Square shared the stage with the likes of Henry Cow, Lol Coxhill, David Toop, and National Health. As their music and sound was too extreme for audiences and record labels alike, the band imploded in 1978. The only documents of their musical legacy are two ultra-rare privately released cassettes, the source of the music on this LP/CD reissue. Side one contains four raucous tracks from their “Nakamichi” Studio live session in 1978 and Side two contains three tracks from a live performance at Lindisfarne Hall in 1976 where they opened for Henry Cow. Listening to these seven tracks I can easily see why they did not connect with people. They were musical anarchists. Their music sounds like they were just playing for themselves, each pursuing his own path, periodically coming together, and careening off in new directions. The result was a chaotic mix of dissonance, free jazz, and momentary progressive-jazz. At times Ian’s fuzzed guitar and Jon’s sax lines would parallel each other. When the three of them came together, the music worked. But then it degenerated back into chaos. The studio session is difficult to wrap your mind around and may be indicative of the impending meltdown. In contrast, the live performance from two years earlier is more coordinated and accessible. However, I still cannot imagine how they were able to keep the audience interested in what they were doing on stage, though each track ends with polite applause. The press release contains a lot of hype about the band, yet it takes a very special ear to identify the quality and skills of the musicians. The best tracks on the disc are the last two “Circuitry #2” and “Circuitry #3.” These two tracks sound as if some thought had gone into preparing and composing them, rather than free improvisation. This music is not for everyone, not even necessarily the adventurous listener. Approach with caution.


Filed under: Archives, 2016 releases, 1978 recordings

Related artist(s): Red Square

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the ago of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Baku - Sequences of My Bequest – Sequences of My Bequest is a concept album that seems to be about a father and son and life's choices of right/wrong, good/evil, etc. While this may be a worthwhile concept, the neo-prog drudgery of...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues