The Gothic drone of Bournemouth band Bram Stoker is singularly England’s most ignored Prog entity. The fundamental core of Bram Stoker was organist Tony Bronsdon who started out with Renaissance Fare in 1968 later fusing with ex Feel guitarist Pete Ballam and ex Feel drummer Rob Haines freshly defected from Freedom Village. A remarkable bassist called John Bavin from the floral village of The Incredible String Band joined the combo, replacing Jet Harris and Tony Lowe after a defunct Harris Tweed basically evolved into Bram Stoker.
In 1972 Bram Stoker launched their Heavy Rock Spectacular which holds more emotive stirrings than any ELP refrain, harking to the tremors of Julian’s Treatment or Dr Z. The Bram Stoker live performances were sensational largely due to Ballam’s legendary "Doppler" (spinning speaker cabinet) and Bronsdon’s stirring organ tones and changing tempos. Bram Stoker stand next to Van Der Graaf as one of the first Gothic Prog groups, often supporting The Who and even booked to play the ‘Isle Of Wight Festival’. Who vocalist Roger Daltrey helped the group to record a home demo which got them a contract with the ‘Woolworth’s budget label ‘Windmill Records’. Bavin’s eerie vox is sheer rupture on the fuzz riffing “Extensive Corrosion” while Bavin’s bass rumbles superbly on “Ants” and the Wakeman styled “Fast Decay”.
Bavin’s production skills later infiltrated Dave Stewart and Kiki Dee. Haines is best heard on the cymbal signatures that embellish “Poltergeist” while Bronsdon’s classical virtues power through Felix Mendelssohn’s “Fingal’s Cave”, severed sensitively by Ballam’s exquisite breaks. Stoker’s post apocalyptic “Blitz” is the epic highlight with Ballam conjuring drone lead that evokes visions of misty bomb shelters and nuclear rain. Bram Stoker re-formed in 2004 with added Pat Flynn (guitar) & Pete Rumble (drums) for Rock Paranoia (includes unreleased material).