(All Album Reviews by Levgan)
John Swail - lead vocals, guitar
Mart Jenner - lead guitar, pedal steel, vocals
Dave Green - bass guitar, flute, vocals
Derek Elsen - keyboards, vocals
Graham Jarvis - drums, percussion, vocals
Deep Feeling was a short-lived obscure British band, whose only album originally released on DJM label in 1971 is tragically overlooked among the prog fans and collectors.
Being no less than a minor masterpiece, it contains six long songs, most of them falling stylistically somewhere between UK proto-prog groups (Cressida, Beggars Opera, Spring) and the excellent British bands of the first echelon (early Crimson, Marsupilami, Rare Bird). In fact, several tracks are just as complex as "The Court Of The Crimson King" or Rare Bird's suite "Flight".
The album starts with great "Welcome For A Soldier", a complex piece with several tempo shifts and some excellent guitar/keyboard interplay in the middle. The vocal melody is very dreamy and beautiful, evoking parallels with PFM's "River Of Life". But the instrumental parts are far more energetic, full of unexpected rhythmic changes and dazzling solos. Next comes the short acoustic "Old People's Home" - I don't know why but this track sounds very British and draws some references to the works of Greatest Show On Earth or the calm moments of Gravy Train.
"Classical Gas" is another story - the only entirely instrumental track on the album and probably its major highlight. This version is simply irresistible, with beautiful guitar passages (a-la Cressida's John Culley) and excellent harpsichord backing. "Guillotine" sounds much heavier on the contrast, but it's obviously not a hard-rock, but an accomplished full-blown early heavy progressive in the vein of Rare Bird's "Hammerhead" for example.
Two closing tracks can seem not on par with the rest of the album, but in its special context they work brilliantly. First we come across the fine guitar-driven "Country Heir", which could have been well recorded by The Kinks in 1967-1968. Only this song is almost six minutes long and still doesn't get boring! And the ending of this wonderful album is the funny homage to British rock scene of the 1960-1970s - a powerful rendition of rock'n'roll classic "Lucille" done with scorched guitar leads and the obvious drum-solo in the middle.
It is very sad that such a great progressive rock work remains so little-known, but there is a simple reason for that: Deep Feeling's sole album is notably hard to find. The original LP would cost you a small fortune, and the only (bootleg) CD reissue on some obscure Japanese label has been put out in the early 1990s and is obviously long out of print and virtually impossible to get hold of.
However, in terms of songwriting and musicianship, this is a flawless piece of work - which is hardly surprising, though, considering the band's story. Deep Feeling was comprised of highly experienced session musicians, who all had been playing and recording rock music for quite a few years before the band was formed. Certainly it is impossible to put down a full list of Deep Feeling members' appearances after all those years, but it would be safe to say that they played with Chuck Berry, Righteous Brothers, Deep Purple, Cream and Led Zeppelin among others - which might explain the exceptional level of musicianship to be heard on the album. And the level of creativity is incredibly high as well, thanks to the talents of the main songwriters/arrangers Dave Green and Mart Jenner. After releasing a few records as Guy Darrell Syndicate (Guy Darrell was a long-standing stage nom-de-plume of singer John Swail), Deep Feeling moved on to a more progressive style and recorded the eponymous album which still stands as one of the jewels of British proto-prog and of the UK progressive rock in general.
Many thanks to Deep Feeling bassist/flautist Dave Green for the full clarification of the band's story!