Salamander

Salamander was an English symphonic-rock band that released the album The Ten Commandments on Young Blood in 1971.

Members: A.B. Benson (organ, vocals), Dave Chriss (bass), John Cook (drums), Dave Titley (guitar, lead vocals)


Background

Salamander appeared when guitarist/singer Dave Titley and organist Alistair Benson teamed with bassist Dave Chriss and drummer John Cook.

Titley took up guitar at age ten and played the Midlands clubs from age fifteen onward. After graduating from Wolverhampton College of Arts, he joined the pop-psych band Revolver, which featured Benson and future Fable frontman Peter Mackie. In 1969, they issued the covers single “Frisco Annie” (b/w “Imaginations”), produced by mogul Miki Dallon and released on his newly established Young Blood label.

Benson and Titley commenced a songwriting partnership that necessitated a new band equipped for their more elaborate material. They hired Chriss and Cook and renegotiated with Dallon as Salamander, named after the lizard-like amphibians of the family Salamandridae, native to the Holarctic realm.


The Ten Commandments

Salamander released their singular album, The Ten Commandments, in 1971 on Young Blood. It features ten Benson–Titley originals, each representing one of the ten commandments in the Hebrew Bible.

Dallon produced The Ten Commandments with string conductor Bob Leaper, who also arranged Young Blood recordings by soul-popsters Red Alligator and ex-Sorrows singer Don Fardon. Original copies are housed in a four-fold poster sleeve designed by one Jim Tate.


After Salamander

During 1971, Titley also teamed with Nigel Mazlyn Jones in Mosaic, which issued the Vanda-Young cover “Bluebird” (b/w the Titley original “Bird of Time”) on Parlophone. The single was produced by Phil Pickett (future Kajanus & Pickett, Sailor) with arrangements by Lesley Duncan‘s husband, Tony Cox, who also worked with Yes (Time and a Word), Family (Family Entertainment), Trees, Juliet Lawson, Magna Carta, Mick Softley, Mick Greenwood, and Renaissance (Scheherazade and Other Stories).

In 1973, Titley played bass, electric guitar, and percussion on the album Close To It All by the folk trio Saraband (formerly The Honeydew). In 1975, he penned both sides of the harmony-rock single “You Can Sing With the Band” (b/w “The Singer and His Songs“), released as Taragon on the pub-chained owned Birds Nest Records, which issued one album by hard-rockers Agnes Strange. He later toured with Colin Scot and the Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra.


Reissues

The Ten Commandments first reappeared as a 20th anniversary CD reissue on the US archival label Laser’s Edge, which also reissued the 1971 self-titled album by Spring in addition to post-psych from Canada (Jackal, Spirit of Christmas) and symphonic rock from the US (Atlantis Philharmonic, The Load) and Europe (Dice, Island, Blue Motion, Schicke Führs Fröhling).

During the 2000s, The Ten Commandments reappeared again on Progressive Line (Australia, 2002) and Air Mail Archive (Japan, 2006). A 2007 reissue on HF is simply titled Salamander with a plain bold nameplate across a white sleeve. Further reissues bearing the original title and art have appeared on Guerssen (Spain, 2011) and Belle Antique (Japan, 2017).


Discography:

  • The Ten Commandments (1971)

Sources: