Spontaneous Combustion

Spontaneous Combustion were an English hard-rock trio that released two albums on Harvest in 1972, the self-titled first produced by Greg Lake of ELP.

Members: Tony Brock (drums), Gary Margetts (guitar, vocals), Tristian Margetts (bass, vocals)


Spontaneous Combustion began as a Poole, Dorset, combo called Transient Sand. Drummer Tony Brock, guitarist/singer Gary Margetts and his bassist brother Tristian (Tris) Margetts were teens when they were singed to EMI’s Harvest imprint. The trio debuted with the 1971 single “Lonely Singer”/ “200 Lives” (b/w “Leaving”). It was produced by Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer, who imparted some of his own trio’s characteristics — thick/frontal bass, harmonized refrains, contrapuntal runs, drum breaks — onto the young band.

Lake produced the trio’s first album, Spontaneous Combustion, released in early 1972 on Harvest. It contains six songs, including “Speed of Light,” “Down With the Moon,” and the epic “Reminder” (10:26). The album features a comic-style gatefold sleeve designed by Paul May (Rick Wakeman, Strawbs, Babe Ruth, Burlesque). Musically, the trio fuses the counterpoint of ELP with the hard edges of Killing Floor.

Spontaneous Combustion released their heavier second album, Triad, later that same year. The self-produced effort features seven songs, including “Pan,” “Brainstorm,” and the multi-movement “Monolith Parts 1, 2 & 3.” The opening track, “Spaceship,” appears on the flip of the non-album 1972 a-side “Gay Time Night,” a guitar-pop/harmony number with rocket effects.

Two further singles appeared in 1973: “Chessboard” (b/w “Rainy Day”) and a cover of Aram Khatchaturian’s “Sabre Dance.” Spontaneous Combustion folded soon thereafter.

The Margetts brothers subsequently teamed in the 1975 one-off Time. Brock played on the second album by Strider and recorded five albums with The Babys between 1976 and 1980. In 1981, he replaced Carmine Appice in Rod Stewart‘s backing band. Tris resurfaced in the Greg Lake Band, backing the singer/musician on his 1981 debut solo album.

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