Armageddon - A & M 1975.
Okay, that was kind of a rude joke. As most fans of this underappreciated,
short-lived '70s hard rock band know, the group had to break up because
singer Keith Relf electrocuted himself while playing guitar in his home in
1975. 'Tare a large shame too, because their one album is REALLY good!!!
Keith started life in the mid-60s as the singer for the Yardbirds until they
turned into a Dread Zeppelin tribute band, then he left that dying outfit to
form Renaissance (which was probably not much to be proud of, although their
debut album certainly has some very good art rock tunes on it) and finally
he settled on Armageddon, a "supergroup" featuring guys who had played with
Captain Beyond (!), Steamhammer (??), Johnny Winter (?!?) and Rod Stewart
The album is excellently good! The electric guitars are
EXTREMELY loud in the mix, playing hard rock that's about as hard as, say,
Aerosmith but seems harder because, again, the guitars are REALLY darned
loud in the mix. The songs are all very long (only 5 tunes on the whole
album!), but delightfully diverse, from the punk speed apocalyptic "Buzzard"
to the "Love Hurts"-style shimmer balladry of "Silver Tightrope" to the
proto-thrash "Paths And Planes And Future Gains" to the Funkmaster Jenkins
"Last Stand Before" before closing with the crackly blues hoedown hybrid
"Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun." The songs are certainly
repetitious, but not dull. The riffs are just too cool to seem repetitive!
Very neat vocals from Mr. Relf too - his voice has gotten huskier since his
dorky Yardbirds days and, mixed slightly below the screaming guitars on most
of the album, he sounds like just another instrument.
A dulcimer perhaps!
Or a tubafor!
What's a tubafor?
To go fuck yourself!
I don't think
this album has been released on CD so I need you to buy a $400 turntable
before you can hunt down the self-described "highly sophisticated, tangibly
moody and breathlessly intense" album in a used record store and enjoy it.
Damn. I wish I knew words like "tangibly moody." All
I can ever think of to say is "kickass metal" or "Sit on my face, Senator
Clinton, you two-dollar whore."
Add your thoughts?
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Evan Streb)
Did you know that Keith Relf was electrocuted not just because he was
playing his electric guitar, it was because he was playing his electric
guitar in the BATHTUB of all silly places!!! I mean, you almost have to
TRY to be that stupid. A tragic loss indeed.
- email@example.com (George Starostin)
Come on, Mark, stop all that pissing on deserved artists. What are
you, going to transform all your pages into flame-baits or what? First
you slam Peter Gabriel and Genesis on a Kiss page of all places, now
you're slamming Rod Stewart and Renaissance on a review page for a
band that nobody's ever heard about. So just a couple remarks from
somebody who can't take it:
1) Rod Stewart should be judged by his GREAT late Sixties/early
Seventies output, not by the horrors of the Eighties. FYI (although I
suppose you KNOW it), Rod's first four albums are all classics, and
will be treasured long after all the hardcore crap you've reviewed is
forgotten (okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration - not having heard
all those bands, I couldn't really say. But quit bashing Mr Stewart
2) Renaissance were one of art rock's best successes in the Seventies.
How much Renaissance have you actually heard to make the conclusion
that 'that was probably not much to be proud of'? Yes, their debut
album is pretty good, but their REAL artistic triumph didn't come
until Annie Haslam came on board and Relf was already out. Have you
heard Prologue, Ashes Are Burning or Turn Of The Cards? So
there. Get them first and make your judgement next.
Once again: don't turn your great reviews into flamebaits! They
deserve reader comments that are more up to the point and more
cool-headed than this one. But I can't resist sending it anyway.
As for the Armageddon album, I ain't never heard it, but I'm looking
for it. Keith Relf was indeed far more talented than is usually
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Roland Fratzl)
Well Mark, thanks a lot!
Because of your godamn review page, I've discovered several more bands that
I think are great which I probably never would have heard of if you didn't
give them the time of day. You can add Armageddon to that list now as well.
Know what that means??? It means that because of you, I'll eventually have
to part with another 20 smackeroos to acquire an album I never would have
had to get otherwise...DAMN YOU!
I'm a big fan of 70's hard rock, so judging by your description, it seemed
that Armageddon was another band tailor-made for my tastes...for the last
little while, I sort of kept an eye out for it, but wasn't too serious
because nobody who wasn't already at least a teenager in 1975 seems to
remember them, and online search engines yieled no results. I don't usually
shop for vinyl either, so I didn't think I'd spot it anytime too soon. But
lo and behold, I was at our huge HMV today casually perusing the CD
shelves...I looked for the album in the rock/pop section, but of course they
didn't have it stock...then a while later I spotted another band
divider labelled "Armageddon" in the metal section. I just thought "hey! I guess
there's another band called that...not like it's the most original name
anyway!" and proceeded to flip through the discs in there...indeed, the
albums were all by some really cheesy looking metal band, but then I come to
one with four long haired, bearded dudes in jean bell bottoms sitting on the
ground against a backdrop of the remnants of a destroyed city...the cover
just screamed 1975 to me and I knew instantly that it had to be "that band I
read about on the Prindster's site!". I guess they dropped it into the wrong
section by accident, but hey, I instantly took it to the listening station
for a spin...you're right again! Great album! Solid hard rock with great
riffs and melodies...yup, the songs are a bit too long, but they still sound
good. Nice history of the band in the liner notes too...one former band
member said that Keith Relf likely would have survived the electric shock
had his health been up to par...yeah, if you read between the lines that
basically says that he was a drugged out reefer head...maybe he even
purposely dipped the guitar into the tub to put himself out of his misery.
Apparently the guy was pretty depressed, and the last thing he wanted to do
before Armageddon was formed was play hard rock! From the pop blues of the
Yardbirds and the art folk of Renaissance, he wanted to move in an even
softer direction, but I guess he paired up with the wrong guys! Anyways,
even if he had survived, I read that Armageddon had already dissolved a few
months prior to his death, so in conclusion there never would have been
another album, therefore making his death all the less important!
- email@example.com (John O'Toole)
Checking out your site. Keith Relf did not die playing electric guitar in
his bath tub. That's an erroneous myth with no truth to it. He died playing
an ungrounded electric guitar in his basement studio. His son, Danny, found
him the next morning, too late to be revived.
More info about Keith Relf, the Yardbirds and Armageddon at:
In the Armageddon review their is a ??? next to Johnny Winter reference. Does this mean that the
reviewer doesnt know who Winter is? If so, he shows his lack of knowledge in a BIIIIG way.
I've heard about this group/album over the years, but never thought I'd find it. Thanks
to Ebay, I got it
on CD. As you say, it's a real good guitar rock album. The drummer, Bobby Caldwell,
with a lot of the songwriting here, was also in Captain Beyond. If you like this, you
GOTTA hear their
first album. Again, he's credited with A LOT of the songwriting, and it's also a great
guitar rock album.
The songs are shorter, so there's a lot more different ideas on that album than on
guitar-up-front mix, same energetic drumming pushing the music along, another "hmm, I
I'd see him in this group singer" (This time it's Rod Evans from pre-Gillan Deep Purple,
and he fits the
album perfectly. BTW, I found about these guys from a reader's comment in the Deep
on this site.) And unlike Armageddon, it's easy to find on CD. (Unfortunately, their
second album doesn't
stack up to the debut.) Does anyone know if Bobby Caldwell has done any other thing
worthwhile in his
I love this album I used tohave it but no more and I am desperately seeking a CD version can you help me?
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave McNarie)
As for Armageddon, iggy_70 is correct: Keith was not playing his electric guitar in his bathtub when he was electrocuted. He was, indeed, playing guitar in his basement. Former Yardbirds drummer, Jim McCarty, told me the guitar had a bad ground. Also, Armageddon was not around when Keith died. He was forming a new band, Illusion, based on his old band, Renaissance (his first post-Yardbirds project with McCarty, his sister, Jane Relf, Louis Cennamo (also from both Renaissance AND Armageddon), and John Hawken (also ex-Renaissance). In fact, despite Relf's untimely death, Illusion (named, by the way, after the title of Renaissance's second album, only released in Germany in 1971, before the founders gave the Renaissance name to an entirely separate band) went on to record two highly acclaimed albums for Island Records.
I am a old rock lover now approaching my 50's. I have owned the lone armageddon album since its original release in the 70's. This release sounds like what the second Caption Beyond album should have sounded like. Very rock and roll with loud guitar and heavy drums. Anyone remember Iron Butterfly. I don't agree that any of the past bands with members of Armageddon or associated there of are sorry as to say. And those who don't know of Johnny Winter should seek out anything he did in the seventies and back. What a guitar master he was and also look and listen to Rick Derringer. Bobby Caldwell played drums with both. Looking for a CD copy of Armageddon? Contact email@example.com.
Still sounds fantastic - I keep this CD "safe", and listen to it quite frequently.
I haven't a clue whether or not it was ever re-released - but it ought to be!
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael K. Kivinen)
I borrowed a friend's copy of Armageddon in 1978 and never really warmed up to the harder cuts, but I remember playing "Silver Tightrope" over and over and over. It just blew me away. I loved the dreamy, ethereal quality and how--like "Stairway to Heaven"--it took its time to build up to the more rocking section. "I thought I saw the candle bearers on their way to the beyond . . ." or something like that. I knew the lyrics had something to do with death and/or an otherworldly or visionary experience. What I didn't realize at the time was that the "Silver Tightrope" is "the silver cord" mentioned in the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes which many people claim to have seen connecting their "astral" body to their physical bodies during near-death or out-of-body expeciences. Too bad "Silver Tightrope" isn't single! Your review makes me want to hear it again, but with generally mellower tastes, I don't think I could handle the rest of the album.
- email@example.com (Donald Schultz)
Armageddon is the most underrated rock group ever. I bought the album in 79. My younger brother tuned me into them in 77. I have been looking for their CD for 15+ years if you know where I can get one I would appreciate it. Thank You
I stumbled onto your site about the Armageddon album.
I too purchased the album if my memory serves, in late
1974. Still have it, in excellent shape. Has no one
mentioned the fabulous group that Martin Pugh was in
previous to Armageddon.....STEAMHAMMER. I have their
It was one of my favorite albums in the 70’s! Kept looking on Napster for it……thought maybe it was just a figment of my mushrooms! Thanks for the reality check on this group….so it doesn’t come on CD…bummer…I think my album warped!
Smoked many a joint to this album! Awesome!! Found a couple of songs on
line and DL'D them. Silver Tightrope and Buzzard. Brings back great
- johnnief@FirstStateKS.com (Johnnie Ferguson)
Just had to send my response about Armageddon. The band was a fantastic band. I bought the album right after it came out and loved it. I was always the type of music listener who got into bands and music that you wouldn't hear on a commercial station. I liked, and still like, to listen to bands like Armageddon, Captain Beyond, and Nectar to name a few. Listening to the music of these bands would send one into a state of mind and to places better than any drug. And to George Starostin who slammed you for your comment about Rod Stewart, well, Armageddon and bands like them are so far above the commercial BS put out by Rod Stewart and others like him.
Thanks so much.
- MLecuona@txgas.com (Mark R. Lecuona)
I stumbled on this review by way of a Google search about Joe Anthony and Lou Roney, the two legendary DJ’s of KISS-FM in San Antonio. Back in the Seventies, these two insane gentlemen played all manner of rock music (one day Joe Anthony smashed the album, in mid-song, The Wall by Pink Floyd to bits on the air, declaring the album to be disco!!!!) and that is where I first heard Armageddon. Anyway, we used to play this album constantly while I was in college at Trinity University. We would sit playing air-drums furiously during Buzzard. It brings back great memories and this album rightfully deserves enshrinement in the underrated hall of fame.
I thought I'd add my two cents here, I have to say
that I'm the biggest Armageddon fan in the world.
Well, I currently weigh 245 pounds, so if there is a
heftier fan, shout out!
I first heard of the Armageddon album as a result of
my collecting Led Zeppelin related stuff. I got it in
1980, LP at some now defunct record shop in berkeley.
It was and has been one of my favorite LPs. I think I
played it, or a tape of it, and now the cd of it
hundreds if not thousands of times. Really loud
through headphones. Great drunk or on weed. My
mother thought buzzard sounded like a swarm of
ferocious bees on the wing. I tried to get all my
high school bands to cover their songs, to no avail,
they prefered to play Journey, Y&T and Night Ranger.
I have always been attracted to the dark end of the
world thing going there in that album. As a somewhat
depressed teenager, I could identify with the lonely
themes. For a kid growing up during the 80s "Cold
War", it was always a thought that the world could
have ended at any moment as a result of nuclear war.
My little world was such, that I kind of hoped it
would happen, and this was my soundtrack. I read the
lyric sheets up and down for meanings...Unfortunatly,
around 1989, I realized that the world would not end,
so I had to get a life...
From 1980 and for the next 15 years, I wondered what
had become of Martin Pugh. He seemed, to have
vanished from the face of the earth and had no other
recordings. I wondered if he was a wizened street
musician somewhere in a london subway....or had given
up music altogether. Then came the internet, where I
found a reference to him. In 1995, I gave him a call
and travelled with a drummer to go jam with his
current band then. Although He wasnt doing the metal
thing any longer, he was no longer playing armageddon
riffs, he sort of settled down with kids and was
playing straight blues..we jammed for about two hours,
his playing was more mature, but still on the money,
it was a GOLDEN moment in my life. He was and
probably still is a very friendly and approachable
We talked a little bit about the armaggedon band:
keith relf was pretty much a sweet guy who could not
control himself sometimes...he said that his live
rehearsal tapes kick the studio versions, that the
band was much better live than in LP. He tried to
reform it in the early 80s, with another singer, but
it didnt work out. I forgot the punch line, but he
told me the story of how a local UK newspaper had run
a comparison between Rod Stewart and Martin
Quittendon, who played guitar with Pugh in the early
70s on the Rod Stewart album (both local from Martin
Pugh's hometown)...something to the effect that
Stewart had plastic surgery and the model wife, versus
Quittendon and his aged true love, missing some teeth,
hehe. Those interested in his recent activities can
point to: www.7thorder.com although it seems that
band is on hiatus right now...
He builds and plays his own
guitars.......I asked him how he got my top favorite
guitar sound on the album, particularly the grand
finale wall of doom and sound crescendo at the end of
Brother Ego, and before the Basking in the White of
the Midnight Sun reprise: He said, it was nothing
more than a trusty Fender Twin Reverb. No Marshall
Stack or Tom Scholz Rockman, this was pre-Tom Scholz
For all you Armageddon
Martin Pugh googlers, this was for you....
I have had this cd for nearly 6 years. It should be available through amazon.com as that it where I found it. It still sounds good even after all the years that have passed since 1975. I'd love to know what the former members, (those still alive), have gone on to. Great music. I'm searching for the lyrics to "Silver Tightrope" if anyone can steer me in the right direction.
Anybody have any tapes of these guys live. I bought the album new in 1974 for Christmas and still listen to it religiosly. Let me know
Amazing what you can find doodling on the internet…. First heard Armageddon thru a friend from Texas in late 70’s.- went on to wear out 2 LP’s, 2 8 tracks ( I know, showing my age), and finally scored the Japanese import version on CD which I think is actually very well remastered, on the A&M masterwork series. The inner notes are Japanese and English, including lyrics. The Cd doesn’t have the usual muffled style of most re-issues- after all, the Japanese love our western music and usually treat it better than American CD releases. Anyway, my vote for the most underrated band of all time- very unique mix of rock/metal/pop, still to this day no one has come close to. Shame they only had one release, had great potential.
I talked to Bobby caldwell two years ago, and he said, Armegedon did about 9 shows before Keith Relfs death,,,it seems they had a very poor manger and the record company did not spend much money on the promotion of their only lp....which was a shame, as this great was really great,,,,,
I had a copy of the album and an ex wife thought it fit to smash it. Its simply the best tuneage i ever heard next to Uriha Heaps Demons and wizards.
If you ever find a tape or CD please let me know.
(12 minutes later)
Barns and Noble has a German import CD of the album I just ordered it my self along with Demonds and wizards.
- MUSGSF@puknet.puk.ac.za (George Fazakas)
All you Armageddon fans out there you can get the remastered cd www.milestone-mailorder.com www.amazon.co.uk orany amazon branch. I got it there and it is an excellent quality with extra information in the booklet and all the lyrics.
Now I wish the missing non-album tracks and Jeff Fenholt Armageddon tracks resurfaced
I wrote before...but
here is some news on Armageddon
One of two out takes are now available on a bootleg
called "KEITH RELF DEMOS 1970-74" which has recently
surfaced on Ebay. It features a very rough and
embreyonic version of "Silver Tightrope" and what
appeares to be an unreleased armageddon instrumental.
The Silver Tightrope song... I can tell for sure that
it does not have Bobby Caldwell, but sounds only like
Pugh, Cennamo and Relf. The instrumental however
Might have caldwell, the drumming sounds very strong
adn possibly him. The instrumental is very very very
Led Zeppelin-ish, like something from Presence or
Physical Graffiti. I am pretty sure it is Martin Pugh
playing....There are No vocals. The CD has no notes
on the origins of these tracks, which would be greatly
appreciated and the seller had no ideas either.
Everything else on this 14 track CD sounds really
weird and is more of interest to Keith Relf fans than
anyone else. But for those who have been waiting
since 1975 for new Armageddon "product" 2006 is the
year it finally came out!
Feel FREE to
write me questions about this CD.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Zac)
After reading all of the reader comments, I noticed that email@example.com mentioned that only 9 shows were done. I saw Armageddon in the late seventies in Hollywood at the now defunct Starwood. I still have the promo clipping from the L.A. Times. They played with Ayres Rock on the 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20th of July. FIVE straight nights!
Bobby Caldwell absolutely blew me away with his drumming. His one-handed drum rolls were unreal! I loved Captain Beyond, and was psyched to find out that he had joined Armageddon. I still have a mint condition of the vinyl.
I feel honored to have seen them.
I have had this on CD for about a year. It comes with all the artwork too. I grew up listening to this album.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Tina)
I love this album like crazy.
I am wanting to hire the Laserium guy in L.A. to do a Laserium show of Armageddon and a little Captain Beyond and Steamhammer. Contact me if you'd be interested in attending (Los Angeles) and sharing the cost.
armageddon comes on CD you dorkfucks. I have had it for 8 years. Only bitches with IQ's over 54 should be able to maintain websites. Go fuck yurself again.
he said bobby caldwell stated that there were only 9 or so gigs BEFORE keith relf died. that was in 1976. if you saw them after that, then you did not see the real armageddon...
jonwalzwer is right that Steamhammer is a tremendous but thoroughly unknown and unappreciated British blues band. I was turned onto them in about '77 or '78 when I was still living in SA and have managed to download some of their music and was surprised to discover they had released so many albums. Unfortunately they are virtually unknown in the states. Pugh was in that band and I wonder how many times he wondered why Steamhammer didn't make it in the US. Was Steamhammer too late for the British blues invasion of the late '60's or simply overshadowed by the quantity of great radio oriented rock released from '70 through the mid-70's? Who knows? Whatever the reason they are still a band worth checking into if you're a British blues freak.
- email@example.com (faith_healer)
I bought this IN '75 and it has haunted me ever since. If you haven't heard this, you are missing a part of music history that will make your head explode and all of your judgements on music are null and void. Maybe you will hate it, (top 40 fans), but if you can manage to grow a set, sit down and be amazed that this is probably older than you...! (And makes Axel Rose piss himself)
Rock is now an old codger, listen to it when it was still young and wild................
- firstname.lastname@example.org (KNOWER OF ALL)
you are so fucking stupid, it figures the lead off comment would perpetuate a myth that was buried about the same time Keith was. hey savage1561 he was not in a bath tub. his amp wasn't grounded, you dumb ass. I am sure you were corrected a zillion times here but just in case you weren't, now you know. you stupid asshole.
all i can say is that this cd i bought, and it took 6 weeks to arrive, was well worth the wait....as a teen, this was the first album i bought.....this has to be one of the best 70"s rockin albums ever.
Picked this up when it was first released and loved it! Just found a very pristine copy on Audiogon; the U.S. release with a very clean jacket and vinyl. Tremendous group at the time with so much potential. Apparently, Bobby Caldwell brought with him a heroin habit that created a division in the group. Coming out of Johnny Winters (who was a self-professed heroin addict) this seems logical.
Anyways, I enjoyed your review. Nice work!!!
I nursed Kieth when he was incapacited by a severe asthma attack in February 1975, at a hospital in Brighton. His wife, April, was being cared for nearby.
A hero of mine from Yardbird days,around 8 weeks of sheer delight as I got to know him really well. We gave him a side room & from there, he was working on Arageddon album. I bought the album as soon as it was released.
My daughter was born in January 1976. Went into complete shock when I learned that he died in May of '76. An underated star ~ I loved that guy so much . R.I.P. Kieth xx
It's available on CD! Click here to buy it on CD! Ignore that other Armageddon band though.
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