Ark - Wild Untamed Imaginings,
OK, time for a history lesson – so pay attention as I might ask questions later. Ark came into being in 1986 with Ant (vocals & flute), Pete Wheatley (lead guitar), Steve Harris (guitar synth), Steve's brother Andy Harris (bass) and Gary Davis (drums) – note no keyboards, somewhat unusual for a prog band. In 1988 Andy left and was replaced by John Jowitt (yes – that John Jowitt, now known for IQ, Arena, Jadis, Frost* etc). After a mini-album ‘The Dreams Of Mr Jones’ and the ‘New Scientist’ EP (both well worth searching out – they are currently stored with the rest of my vinyl but I do seem to recall a photo of Mr Jowitt with hair on one of them..) they toured with the likes of IQ before John left in 1990. The band kept working and released more material and gigged hard but by 1995 it was all over.
Or was it? In 2009 Steve Harris got in touch with John and the idea came about of a new album highlighting the best of Ark combining old songs and new, and before they knew it there was virtually a full reunion as Tony and Peter jumped at the chance with the line-up completed this time with Darwin’s Radio drummer Tim Churchman. Now, I can hold my head up high and say that I was into Ark before John had joined IQ – and god knows how many years I have had the vinyl, but it is great to hear some of these songs again in a much cleaner setting. The production is all that one would expect from a release of 2010, but the music dates back to the time when neo-prog was covered by fanzines and spread by word of mouth – no internet back then. So is the music still relevant today? Hell yeah, this was a band that never got the acclaim that they deserved even within prog circles. For years they have been remembered not for songs such as “Gaia” and “New Scientist” but as the band that John was in before he became famous. Thankfully that wrong has now been corrected – Ark are back and I for one am truly thankful. Essential.