Argent

Following disillusionment over the lack of success and the subsequent 1968 breakup of the great British Invasion band, the Zombies, keyboardist Rod Argent and songwriter/guitarist Russ Ballard teamed up to form the progressive rock group Argent. As luck would have it, the Zombies' final single, "Time of the Season," had just been released in America and became a monumental hit. Reaching sales of nearly two million, and charting at #1 in Cashbox and #2 in Billboard, it soon became an international blockbuster. Naturally, this translated into huge record company pressure to reform the Zombies in order to cash in, but by then the decision had already been made, and all of Rod Argent's efforts were directed toward his new band, Argent.

Argent's self-titled first album received plenty of critical acclaim in 1969, but produced no hits. This situation was repeated when Ring of Hands was released the following year, although "Liar," a song from their first album, was soon covered by Three Dog Night and became a hit. A single of "Sweet Mary" was released from Argent's Ring of Hands album and seemed destined to become a hit, but was soon banned from US radio stations due to supposed drug references, postponing the group's success once again. However, during this time, the band was really jelling and discovering its own identity, with Argent and Ballard's writing styles complementing and strengthening each other. Their vocal and instrumental approaches were innovative and the group was touring successfully and building a loyal following. The group's future took a brighter turn upon the release of an EP which featured a seemingly un-commercial six-minute track titled "Hold Your Head Up," containing an extended organ solo. Alan Freeman, a BBC Radio One DJ, championed the record in spite of its length. Thanks to his relentless airing of this song and its gradually increasing popularity, the band's record label edited the track to three minutes and released it as a single. A 'Top of the Pops' appearance soon followed, which resulted in the song leaping up the charts in the UK, soon to be followed by similar success in the states. Released in long form again on the group's next album, All Together Now, they finally had their first hit album.

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