The title of the first track, 'Friday 13th', sets the tone for this debut and for Atomic Rooster's total recorded output. Welcome to the bleak world of troubled keyboard player and band leader, Vincent Crane, who fought a permanent struggle with the depression and pessimism that permeated his lyrics. The first line you hear is the repeated phrase, 'Save me'. 'Winter' meanwhile features the comment, 'What is the point of going on?' and 'Banstead' is named after the institution he spent some time in.
All of this distracts from the undoubted talent of the band. The classically-trained Crane lends most of the colour and is particularly expressive on 'Broken Wings' and the fine bonus, 'Seven Lonely Streets'.
With Carl Palmer drumming, the album never lapses into monotony. He's instrumental in the rising and falling of the gentle, stark 'Winter', an outstanding track on which Nick Graham's flute works well in tandem with Crane's piano. 'Banstead' is another fine performence, possessing guts, passion and atmosphere.
The problem, despite the claims of the extensive sleevenotes, is in the writing. The first two tracks are based around mundane three-note riffs. 'S.L.Y.' is fairly ordinary and 'Before Tomorrow' blows up a storm eventually but is no classic. Meanwhile, 'Decline And Fall' seems to serve primarily as a showcase for the dreaded drum solo. All of this, despite the musicianship, is filler. Some gems, then, but subsequent albums are better.