From Bang To Armageddon

Sitting at nearly the lowest level of the Billboard Hot 100 released forty-two years ago today, on April 22, 1972, we find a release titled “Questions” by a Florida trio named Bang. The record is at No. 99. (I was going to start with the record at No. 100, but even after more than four decades, I want nothing to do with Wayne Newton’s “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast.”)

“Questions” thrums along like the early heavy metal it is, bottom-heavy with oddly declaimed vocals. Its debt to Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” is audible. It didn’t do so well in the chart, hanging around for another five weeks and peaking at No. 90. And it was the only thing that Bang ever got into the chart.

So why are we listening to it this morning? Because I needed a jump-off point for some YouTube link exploring, a little journey to find other records not known to me (or to many, one might think, but even Bang’s “Question” spurs pleasant nostalgia among some commenters at YouTube). So having given Bang a listen, what does the website’s algorithm suggest as one of our next stops?

Well, at the bottom of the column of suggestions, we find a link to a track titled “Thousand Days of Yesterdays (Time Since Come and Gone)” from the band Captain Beyond. The band, Wikipedia tells us, was formed in 1971 by singer Rod Evans, a former member of Deep Purple, and drummer Bobby Caldwell, who’d played with, among others, Johnny Winter; they were joined by a couple of former members of Iron Butterfly. In 1972, Capricorn released the quartet’s self-titled Captain Beyond, which was dedicated to the memory of Duane Allman.

The track in the video above is actually the third portion of a three-track suite so the opening is a bit abrupt, but after that, it settles into a groove and approach that to me sounds very similar to what the Minnesota-formed band Gypsy was doing at the time. (There were no doubt a thousand similar-sounding bands out there in those days, but Gypsy came to mind first.) Captain Beyond released two more studio albums, one in 1973 and one in 1977, and a live album was recorded in 1973 but not released until 2002. I like the sound of the track above well enough, but checking this morning, the original album is priced from about $45 to $175 at Ebay, so I doubt I’m going to be in the market for it.

But either way, we must be off, checking the right hand column for a new destination. And we nearly come to a halt, finding lots of suggestions for more Captain Beyond videos and some suggestions for videos of tracks by Grand Funk, Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple and the James Gang, so there’s nothing new there. But we also find a link to a full video of the T.A.M.I. Show of 1964 and single suggestions for tracks by bands called Armageddon and Dark Moor as well as a link to “The Four Horsemen” by the Greek band Aphrodite’s Child. Gloom and apocalyptic visions thus outscore vintage R&B three-to-one, so we’ll go with Armageddon.

And I quickly find the reason for the link: Armageddon’s drummer for its only album, a self-titled 1975 release, was Bobby Caldwell, the one-time member of Captain Beyond. Interestingly, its lead singer was one-time Yardbird Keith Relf. “Buzzard” is the album’s opening track. It’s not quite as dark as the group’s name might suggest or as off-putting as its title might suggest (pending a closer listening to the lyrics), but I don’t find it as interesting as the Captain Beyond track.

Nor, from what I can tell, does the LP command the kind of prices that the Captain Beyond LP does these days. I did get a chuckle, however, at the band’s Wikipedia page, where a wrap-up of the later careers of the band’s members is subtitled “Post Armageddon.”

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One Response to “From Bang To Armageddon”

  1. jb says:

    When I was researching one-hit wonders a few years back, I learned that Bang supposedly crashed a show in Orlando on a dare, playing an audition for the promoter at noon and finding themselves on the bill with Deep Purple and Faces on the same night. Which is a pretty 70s thing to do.

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