(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
When Nick Simper was kicked out of the original Deep Purple in 1969, he must have been pretty upset. Apparently, the reason he was asked to leave was because the band didn't feel that his playing was heavy enough for the style they were trying to go for. Nick set out to do battle and prove his former bandmates were wrong and Warhorse was his vehicle.
After struggling briefly in Marsha Hunt's White Trash (which also featured Rick Wakeman before he joined Yes), Nick found a common musical ground with other members, guitarist Ged Peck and drummer Mac Poole, who all felt that they were going nowhere in that band. Adding to their arsenal, they found an excellent piano/organ player in ex-Velvet Fogg member Frank Wilson and an intensely strong young vocalist, Ashley Holt, who would later play a very big part in Rick Wakeman's solo band. The results of this collaboration are some of the most frightening, viscous, raucous, heavy rock of the early 70's that I have ever heard.
Originally released on the Vertigo label, the music on Warhorse's debut album starts off very eerie. There's a very quiet muffled organ for a few seconds and right when you turn up the volume to get a better listen to what's going on..POW! The whole band comes in and beats you over the head with its sheer power. Folks, this is prime early metal that could have easily given a band like Black Sabbath quite a fight. The album is full of aggressive basslines, powerful drumming, killer guitar and monstrous organ playing. Holt's voice is incredible here as well. He really belts out the heavy vocals with an amazing energy that he didn't get to show off on the Wakeman albums.
The only real downfall of the album is a cover of The Easybeats song "St. Louis" which sticks out like a sore thumb. Apparently, they had their sights on a hit single with this song. Although not bad at all, it's much poppier and doesn't really fit in that well with the gloomy atmosphere of the rest of the album. Warhorse has been released several times onto CD, the version that I picked up on the Akarma label has several bonus live tracks and an early demo song "Miss Jane" that didn't make it to the original album.
Warhorse managed to release one other album, Red Sea, before being put out to pasture. I can't say for sure why this band never became a major force in the rock world. They were an incredibly gifted group that played some very intense music. I have to admit this totally took me by surprise when I first listened to it. I had heard a few good reports about it and after hearing it for the first time, I was conquered. If you're a fan of heavy grinding organ driven boogie rock in the vein of Uriah Heep or Deep Purple, the musical stampede of the mighty Warhorse will trample you!