The ARK Appreciation Pages
Long ago, steeped in the myths of time, there stood a collection of minstrels calling themselves Medusa. Their leader, a blonde haired young man, did sing of wing-ed serpents and many more mythical creatures, telling tales beyond the realms of earth bound perception. Twas in these long forgotten days, our hero, Ant, was born.
That was how it began, before the dreams of ARK were even a twinkling in Ant's eye, but what about ARK itself...
ARK came into existence back in 1986, following incarnations as DAMASCUS and briefly KITE. ARK's first line-up consisted of Ant (vocals & flute), Pete Wheatley (lead guitar), Steve Harris (guitar synth), Steve's brother Andy Harris (bass) and Gary Davis (drums).
Gary had been with the band since Damascus, but was soon to be replaced by Dave Robbins. The bands initial output was a series of cassette singles, sold at gigs in order to provide the next day's meal (they spent to much on they're farraris and porsches), before releasing the '87 limited edition (vinyl only) single, Communications.
In '88, the band entered the heats of a Midlands Battle of the Bands competition. However, after the first heat Andy left the band to be replaced by John Jowitt. Having won the first heat, the band practised for the final at Edwards No.8 in Birmingham, which they won. First prize was a chance to record some songs in a professional recording studio, and the result of their visit to Rich Bitch Studioplex was the mini-album, The Dreams of Mr. Jones.
Richard Deane replaced Dave, who quit in early '89, arriving in time to record the New Scientist EP. Gaining a following outside of their native Black Country base, the band launched themselves into dates around the UK, including guest support on IQ's 'Are You Sitting Comfortably' tour during June '89. They then found themselves invited to play a headline date in Paris, and a support to It Bites for a one-off date in Tilburg, Netherlands.
In October '90, John decide to leave the band, later going on to join the ranks of IQ and Jadis. John's successor was the affable Gel Newey. Four months later, February '91, Richard announced his departure, and upon Gel's recommendation, The Red Flash, better known as Paul Rodgers, was initiated into the band.
With the line-up now stabalised, work began on new material. They entered the studio once again in March '91, to record the tracks for the Cover Me With Rain EP. In June '91, they won the opportunity to record a Radio One session, when they scored the highest number of recorded votes in the Friday Rock Show's Rock War.
Cover Me With Rain EP eventually gained it's release in August '92, promoted by an extensive headlining UK tour. During the autumn and Winter months the band settled into pre-production for their first full length album.
Recorded during February '93, the first offerings from the sessions was the album Spiritual Physics, alternative title being The Black Album, which was released in August '93. This release featured a harsher side to ARK than had previously been seen or heard, including new songs Black And White, and Say Goodbye.
A second release was to follow, originally to be titled Spiritual Physics (The White Album), in early '94, but due to the lack of faith in the original session recording in Feb. '93, this was not to be. Most of these unreleased tracks from the sessions were acoustic numbers, that the band had been playing over the past 18 months, such as Travelling Man, The Speaker and the acoustic version of Monkey On A Stick, which has to be the most haunting song they have ever performed.
In June '94 ARK decided to split from their management company, citing disatisfaction with the managements ability to promote the band, and gain them a major record deal. 9 months later on March 13th 1995, ARK played their last ever gig. Paul had quit in January '95, to be replaced by a new drummer, Hugh Edwards, who unfortunately only got to play on their farewell tour.
With no new releases to promote, and the bare minimum of gigs in their last 9 months, it was only a matter of time before the band reached it's final conclusion. The legacy the band has left behind is a fitting tribute to one of the few prog rock bands who tried to be different and had started to suceeded.
There was hope that a collection of some of the unreleased studio tracks, together with some live recordings, would get released some day, this has never materialised.