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Looking back at Warhorse

Louder Sound profiles Warhorse’s self-titled debut album for their Album Of The Week series.

In the summer of 1969, Deep Purple’s incoming vocalist Ian Gillan had a devastating caveat. “He made it very clear that he wasn’t joining without Roger [Glover],” then bassist Nick Simper said. “I was definitely peeved.”

Reeling from this de facto sacking, Simper took up with soul belter Marsha Hunt’s backing band, White Trash, and gradually began replacing its sub-par members. When a pregnant Hunt herself stepped away, Warhorse emerged in its own right, with Simper giving vocalist Ashley Holt the run-out he’d almost had with Purple in 1968.

“He was far better than any of the various vocalists who fronted Deep Purple,” Simper told Let It Rock in 2008. Rick Wakeman, too, was briefly in the frame, before the line-up was completed by guitarist Ged Peck, drummer Mac Poole and keyboard player Frank Wilson.

Read more in Louder Sound

19 Comments to “Looking back at Warhorse”:

  1. 1
    Purpledaniel says:

    He was far better than any of the various vocalists who fronted Deep Purple,”

    Poor Nick. He still cannot swallow the sacking. I’d love to see Rod step out from the shadows, he has a real historical rellevance to the DP history, but when you hear him live, you clearly realize he wasn’t suited for
    Purple anymore.

  2. 2
    MacGregor says:

    This Warhorse track reminds me a little of Atomic Rooster (not the Death Walks Behind You album) who also appeared around the same time. Ashley Holt I know from Rick Wakeman’s band later on. Holt’s vocal here I am not fond of & he was much better suited to Wakeman’s band. A good guitarist & keyboardist in this lineup of Warhorse. Cheers.

  3. 3
    Gregster says:


    That’s not a bad tune that’s been posted, rock-on funky Warhorse !!!

    And the cover-art is sublime…( Open the link, look closely, as there’s lots going on ).

    There’s a video featuring Nick where he explains there’s no-hard-feelings re-DP, those were the days, & he suggests they were better-off with the shifts that happened. He still stays in-touch, & apparently it’s water-under-the-bridge, & has been for decades.

    Roger Glover says similar things regarding his “removal from service” back in the 1970’s, to make way for ??? What’s his name.

    Peace !

  4. 4
    Leslie S Hedger says:

    I really like the Warhorse albums. Where I live it seems they were starting to get some recognition and then suddenly that ended.

  5. 5
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I hate to be the contrarian (well, not really!) but Warhorse

    – had an over-dramatic singer,

    – awful lyrics,

    – unremarkable to pedestrian vocal melodies,

    – cheesy backing vocals

    – and an overall band sound that pointed more towards the 60ies (Iron Butterfly & Vanilla Fudge alright!) than to the dawning 70ies.

    They were neither as catchy as Hensley’s Heep (likewise often overtly melodramatic, but at least they had hooks!) nor as refined, elegant + cutting edge as Purple. In Rock opened the door to the 70ies, Warhorse stayed put and looked back. If you want to understand why Paicey deemed Nick’s bass playing old-fashioned, listen to the Warhorse debut.

    In places it even sounds – shock, gulp, horror – like Krautrock, wirklich! Ged Peck was a pocket knife version of Ritchie (if Ritchie is a sabre); I actually found that Warhorse won as a band in originality when longtime Nick cohort Peter Parks joined them as lead guitarist for Red Sea.

    A lot of the arrangements and riffs are carbon copy rip-offs of Mk I material. St Louis, a cover with a decent melody, echoes the Kentucky Woman arrangement. It was all very predictable and had none of the excitement of In Rock.

    I much prefer what Nick did a few years later with Fandango.

    The album cover is good though, but so were (if not more so) the ones of In Rock and of Uriah Heep’s Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble.

  6. 6
    Gregster says:

    @5…That’s why some bands come & go quickly, but sometimes the right combination of artists can out-of-the-blue, raise the bar unexpectedly, & then disappear…eg West Bruce & Laing, awesome 🙂 !

    The DP “In Rock” cover remains a perfect fit for the music, & for other musicians to look up to & respect.

    Peace !

  7. 7
    MidsummerMadman says:

    Sounds a bit like the 1st Captain Beyond album to me, but not as good cause Captain Beyond is an awesome album. Tony Iommi must have certainly thought so, given the riff for ‘Symptom of the Universe’ appears at the 5 min mark!

  8. 8
    MacGregor says:

    Talking of iconic album covers from 1970, yes indeed David Byron all dolled up with cobwebs on the Uriah Heep debut album Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble. Apparently he loathed that & most probably would, all the time it took preparing & then removing it. Some sort of sticking agent was used so that made it an issue from what I have read. We have to admire his dedication to the cause though. Cheers.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Captain Beyond had this US-feel to their music which was a nice contrast to a lead vocalist as quintessentially English as Rod Evans. A good mix. I prefer the second album (Sufficiently Breathless) because it even had a West Coast influence in the music. Captain Beyond were strange, but interesting, Warhorse were incredibly conventional with nothing to make them stand out. Nick’s busy if slightly archaic bass playing was probably their strongest asset.

  10. 10
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “Sounds a bit like the 1st Captain Beyond album to me, but not as good cause Captain Beyond is an awesome album. Tony Iommi must have certainly thought so, given the riff for ‘Symptom of the Universe’ appears at the 5 min mark!”

    You mean ‘Armworth’, right, Midsummer Madman?


    It never occurred to me, but you’re right! And the lyrics about apparently a WWI veteran are noteworthy. Rod, for all his limitations as a non-falsetto hard rock singer, never wrote cheap or inane lyrics:

    “What was my arm worth
    When they took it away ?
    In the spirited rush that set up
    Armistice day

    Where did they push them, fella ?
    Where and which way ?
    Did it stop the mad charge that
    The enemy made?

    Or is it with my brother
    Is it with my brother
    In a mean, endless grave ?

    Tell me where?
    Tell me where do I go to find it?

    What had my arm gained
    In the balance of things?
    Are there still birds a-flying
    In a brushing of wings?

    Or do they still see the skies,
    Still see the skies as a terrible thing?
    And spoiling all them singing, babe
    And smashing up their wings?

    Wish I could go with them, brother
    Brother of all things
    It’s only a stub of the original thing
    And it was there when I signed up
    And I saluted my king!

    Where, tell me
    Where do I go to find it?”

  11. 11
    Uwe Hornung says:

    This is interesting, just found it. Nick’s isolated original bass track from Listen, Learn, Read On:


    Most people who are not bassists will have a hard time seeking out what Nick played on a lot of Mk I material, Derek Lawrence’s murky and echo-y production and the (over)arrangements made sure of that. But here you can hear him now in full glory (headphones help indeed). He’s fluid and smooth, even playful, but it’s a bass style very much of its time and he doesn’t lay down a solid driving foundation like Roger did (without ever sounding simplisitc) nor does he “yank the music around” like Glenn did. Nick plays along nicely, but much to himself.

    As a comparison, Roger is “driving the bus” a lot more, a continuous throb:



    And Glenn does all these little funky starts and stops, emphasizing different parts of the beat, very much in control (though with a devil-may-care attitude and not obsessed with perfection, that makes it so lively):


    Mind you, between 1968 and 1975, the role of electric bass and the recording techniques to capture its sound developed in leaps and bounds (it was still a relatively young instrument, even in the late 60ies), so putting these alongside each other is not entirely fair. Purple’s music changed too over time. Still, Nick’s style of bass playing never radically changed (it became a bit simpler and straighter), neither did Roger’s (he would melt even more into the music with Rainbow and reunion DP) nor Glenn’s (he lost the plot a bit in the 80ies, his bass playing with Gary Moore on Run For Cover for instance was ordinary and workmanlike, showing none of his player’s wit). You should get the picture from listening to all three.

    Whose style do you prefer?

  12. 12
    MacGregor says:

    Nice to hear Nick Simper’s bass isolated like that. You can clearly recognise the song melody with his playing & follow it nicely. It is a good track that one as are many others from the MK I era. Which bassist do I prefer, all of them at different times, depending on whatever music they are playing at the time. Simper I have always liked and the same with Glover & Hughes, it depends on the music at the time. Cheers.

  13. 13
    Gregster says:

    @11 asked qt.”Whose style do you prefer”?

    That’s not really a fair comparison, since everyone is playing a different tune, & the recordings themselves ( in some instances ) suffer from age…

    They all did their best, & did well to keep jobs that were easily lost without even knowing.

    This should fair-up the comparison however, as it’s a master work imo, containing, drive, funk, jazz, bass-chords, & the riff, all rolled into one superior performance…


    Peace !

  14. 14
    Uwe Hornung says:

    That isolated No No No bass track is nice, thanks, some lovely and lively playing. You can also distinctly here that Roger played a short scale Fender Mustang for the Fireball sessions


    and not his long scale Fender Precision as on in Rock or his then future Ric 4001 as on Machine Head and WDWTWA. The Mustang has better audibility than the Precision (which is why he switched to it for the Fireball recordings), but it lacks oomph and low-end authority. Roger’s quest wasn’t over until he found the Rickenbacker.

    Roger can play funky too (his 80ies solo album Mask is full of funk bass lines), but he lacks the authority and ebullience Glenn has when doing it. Glenn has real gusto playing funk.

  15. 15
    MacGregor says:

    Hearing the isolated bass & drums of Bloodsucker was wonderful, have to love the rawness of those days, everything sounds so good. It is another sort of forgotten track from that album. So many memories there. Thanks for posting that. Cheers.

  16. 16
    MacGregor says:

    Hearing the isolated bass & drums of No No No, the bass guitar sounds so tame doesn’t it. Also Glover sounds a little hesitant at times, I surely hope he still wasn’t ‘intimidated ‘ by Ian Paice with the ‘I lead you follow’ comment. It sure as hell sounds like it at times, ha ha ha. Cursed drummers eh. Again we have to love the rawness of those days, everything sounds so good. Thanks for posting that. Cheers.

  17. 17
    Gregster says:

    Yes indeed, testing times…

    I do wonder about the sources of these isolated recordings, as the quality is not consistent, but they do offer a more direct voicing, if flawed at times.

    Here are the boys getting it together live on TV, & Roger playing superbly with his wall of sound… There used to be 2 x takes available, with the first having the band stumble & stop whilst trying to get into it after the solos, but they nail it the 2nd time immediately afterwards. RB’s tone is killer vintage Strat-meets-Marshall 🙂 …Quite a tight band indeed, with everyone delivering the goods.


    Peace !

  18. 18
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Roger didn‘t find his trademark overdriven growl in the 70ies until he got his Gaelic paws on a Rickenbacker. A Fender Mustang bass is a different animal, though Alan Lancaster of Quo played one too and sounded rawer and mightier than Roger with it.


    Glenn btw played one with Trapeze too – at least live on their later tours prior to him jumping ship/sailing away for the Purple Sea. He apparently never used it with Purple though. Even Ritchie owned a Mustang bass for demoing purposes in the 70ies among all his Fender Strats.



  19. 19
    MacGregor says:

    That is a wonderful photo of Ritchie in that room with all that gear. Who lifted those Heads up that high on top of those quad boxes. Classic. Cheers.

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