Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express were an English jazz-rock ensemble that released six studio albums and a two-volume live series on RCA Victor between 1971 and 1976. They were a followup to Trinity, Auger’s late-’60s band with vocalist Julie Driscoll.

Members: Brian Auger (Hammond organ, electric piano, keyboards), Barry Dean (bass, 1970-75), Alex Ligertwood (vocals, guitar, percussion, 1970-72, 1974-77, 2013-present), Jim Mullen (guitar, 1970-72), Robbie McIntosh (drums 1970-72), Jack Mills (guitar, 1972-77), Lennox Laington (congas, 1972-74, 1975-77), Godfrey MacLean (drums 1972-73), Steve Ferrone (drums, 1973-74), André Ceccarelli (drums, 1974), Clive Chaman (bass 1975-77), Dave Dowle (drums, 1975-76), Lenny White (drums, 1977), Ho Young Kim (guitar, 1978-82), Paul Jackson (bass, 1978-79), Mike Clark (drums, 1978-79), Steve Evans (bass, 1980-87), Larry Vann (drums, 1980-87), Rick Hannah (guitar, 1982-87)

Brian Auger (b. 1939) formed Oblivion Express in 1970, having long-established himself as a leader on the Hammond organ.

During the mid-’60s R&B/beat boom, Auger played as a sessionist on “For Your Love” by the Yardbirds and joined Steampacket, an unrecorded blues-rock septet with three vocalists: Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry, and Julie Driscoll. After Stewart and Baldry’s departure, Auger and Driscoll teamed with guitarist Gary Boyle in Trinity, which issued four albums on Marmalade between 1967 and 1970.

For Oblivion Express, Auger enlisted guitarist Jim Mullen, bassist Barry Dean, and Scottish drummer Robbie McIntosh.

Mullen was also a member of Pete Brown & Piblokto!, which issued two albums in 1970: Things May Come and Things May Go, but the Art School Dance Goes on Forever and Thousands on a Raft. Dean played on Second Contribution, the fourth album (and second in 1970) by American singer/songwriter Shawn Phillips.

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express debuted with a self-titled album on RCA Victor in 1971. Side one contains the John McLaughlin composition “Dragon Song” and the 11-minute “Total Eclipse,” written by (future Average White Band) saxophonist Roger Ball, then of the Auger-produced brass-rock band Mogul Thrash. Auger composed “The Light,” “The Sword,” and the thematic “Oblivion Express.” Mullen co-wrote the driving, harmonized “On the Road.” This and the next album were produced by Auger and engineered by Eddie Offord, best known for his work with ELP and Yes.

“Dragon Song” bursts to life with a plunging, jagged riff amid icy/wavy organ and McIntosh’s full-frontal drum assault. “Total Eclipse” is a laidback mid-tempo jam in F, where Dean’s circular ostinato anchors Mullen‘s bending, soaring licks. “The Light” is a jumpy, rolling track with ice-skating organ, bobbing bass, and rapidfire vocals over a galloping beat. Befitting its driving theme, “On the Road” rides ahead on windy licks, rubber-burning organ, and high-velocity precision.

“Sword” plows across six minutes with an unrelenting organ riff over a modulating bass-center; the middle cuts to searing Mullen leads and traveling Auger handwork. “Oblivion Express” begins on a jumpier, push/pull rhythm that breaks to slow, bluesy bars. One minute in, the song cuts to a frenetic gallop with taut vocals and tight, unison fretwork. The middle spotlights lengthy guitar and organ runs. Auger cuts loose as the intensity swells, pulling everyone into a Kraut-like free-fall before the song-proper resumes.

The second Oblivion Express album, A Better Land, appeared in late 1971. In contrast to the brisk, organ-dominated jams of the prior album, the material here stresses soft arrangements, quiet sonorities, and restrained harmonies, often veering between folk and lounge stylings. It features three Auger/Mullen compositions (“Dawn of Another Day,” “Trouble,” “On Thinking It Over”), Auger’s “Tomorrow City,” and Mullen’s arrangement of the traditional “Marai’s Wedding.” Additionally, A Better Land features four Mullen co-writes with outsides: two with then-Forever More/future AWB member Alan Gorrie (“Fill Your Head With Laughter,” “A Better Land”) and two with one John Mackie (“Women of the Seasons,” “All the Time There Is”).

“Dawn of Another Day” is a slow, barren, drummerless, minor-key opener with ghostly harmonies and dark acoustics. The folksy “Marai’s Wedding” shakes along at mid-pace with brisk strumming and barrelhouse piano. “Woman of the Seasons” is a slow, dim-lighted lounge number with shadowy harmonies over a metronomic beat.

“On Thinking It Over” has them harmonize over soft chordal twists, interspersed with jazzy breaks; the windy coda facilitates Auger’s sparkly piano runs. “Tomorrow City” is steered by a tight, jagged guitar line over a tapping beat, flanked with glowing Fender Rhodes and overlaid with persistent harmonies. On “All the Time There Is,” Mullen lays clean, jazzy chords and licks over Auger’s remote layers. “A Better Land,” alternates between windy, stormy instrumental excursions and subdued vocal passages.


  • Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express (1971)
  • A Better Land (1971)
  • Second Wind (1972)
  • Closer To It! (1973)
  • Straight Ahead (1974)
  • Live Oblivion, Volume 1 (1974)
  • Reinforcements (1975)
  • Live Oblivion, Volume 2 (1976)
  • Happiness Heartaches (1977)
  • Keys To The Heart (1987)


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