Aardvark

Aardvark was an English post-psych organ rock band from the Midlands that released a self-titled album on Deram in 1970.

Members: Stan Aldous (bass), Frank Clark (drums), Steve Milliner (Hammond, recorder, vibraphone), Dave Skillin (vocals)


Background

Aardvark had its roots in psych-rockers Rusty Sunday, which featured bassist Stan Aldous (ex-Odyssey) and teenage drummer Frank Clark. Through an ad in Melody Maker, they found organist Steve Milliner, a Coventry native who played in numerous R&B/beat groups. Singer Dave Skillin completed the lineup, having once fronted a band with Keith Meehan (brother of original Shadows drummer Tony Meehan).


Aardvark (1970): The Album

Aardvark was released in 1970 on Deram, the underground division of Decca. It features eight originals, including “Many Things to Do,” “Copper Sunset,” “The Greencap,” and “The Outing.” Milliner plays a large arsenal of devices, including organ, piano, celesta, vibraphone, marimba, and recorder. Skillin wrote everything except “Once Upon a Hill,” credited to Aldous. Musically, the album veers between high-velocity organ rock (Deep Purple, Quatermass) and free-form passages in the Krautrock vein.

Aardvark was the last of Deram’s Nova releases (DN 17) issued in both mono and stereo. The album was produced by David Hitchcock (Jan Dukes de Grey, Satisfaction, Walrus, East of Eden, Fuchsia, Nazareth, Caravan, Mellow Candle) and engineered by Peter Rynston (Kathe Green, Harvey Andrews, Room, Henry Lowther, Thin Lizzy, Gilbert O’Sullivan). 


The Songs

“Many Things to Do” (4:22): Rolled toms/pummeling snare intro. Vocals on the opening bar amid thick bass and sparkling piano. Chugging, two-chords, cymbal-sprayed mid-section. Light, sparse piano segue.

“Copper Sunset” (3:39): Distorted organ riff (in F#) over driving tempo, cuts to vocal passage over fluid bassline. Icy, trebly, drum-sprayed Hammond solo. Music box coda in 3/4.

“The Greencap” (6:03): Pounded, arching, stop/start organ riff (in G minor). Distorted vocals. Lengthy, roaming, marimba-drizzled organ solo over nonstop bass ostinato (soupy jam-psych, ala Orange Peel). Tightened cadence signals final go-around of verse.

“The Outing” (9:55): Brisk, pounding organ intro (in C#). Chanted exclamation “We’re going away” alternates with half-sung cockney verses. Rapidfire drum-rolls, sprinting bass, and flexing swirling organ, all swallowed in free-form mist→ foggy organ haze, loosening bass, ruptured/random percussion→ slowed, open cadence, minimal walking bassline, random sounds, echoing vibes→ denser, louder, feedback-laden final moments.

“Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It” (7:35): Stormy organ jam with torrential percussion and velocity bass. Soon becomes a tradeoff of drumrolls and Hammond glissandos.


Later Activity

Milliner concurrently played on the album Barbed Wire Sandwich by blues-rockers Black Cat Bones.

Skillin collaborated with the band Home on their second and third albums, writing the lyrics and liner notes for their 1973 release The Alchemist. In the early 1980s, he cut a single with Pedi and The Lions and produced an EP for punk act Dawn Patrol.

Stan Aldous cut a handful of demos with Crushed Butler alongside future Gorillas-frontman Jesse Hector.

Aardvark was first reissued in 1985 with the title Put That In Your Pipe and Smoke It ‎on See For Miles Records. Since 1990, it has been reissued more than a dozen times, mostly on unofficial eastern specialty labels. Skillin and Milliner resurrected the Aardvark nameplate for the 2016 disc Guitar’d ‘n’ Feathered on self-press Skillmill Record Co.


Discography:

  • Aardvark (1970)

Sources:

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