Quintessence were formed in April 1969 by Raja Ram in Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill. They played a hybrid of jazz, progressive rock and Indian Music. The original line-up included Shiva Jones (voice, keys, percussion), Raja Ram (flutes, percussion), Sambhu Baba (bass, guitar), Maha Dev (guitar), Allan Mostert (guitar), and Jake Milton (drums, percussion). Quintessence were tagged a 'spiritual' band and were playing new age rock before the term was born. Although their evangelism in retrospect might seem to be a bit over the top, the music retains its beauty created by some highly individual souls. They rehearsed in All Saints Hall which was a converted church near Portobello Road, and recorded 3 albums for Island Records between 1969 and 1971. two further albums were recorded in 1972 for RCA. The 'Self' entitled first of these was their best with studio material on side one, and the band playing live at Exeter University December 11, 1971 on side two. Their live set was usually mostly improvised as they avoided playing the same riff twice or going into a routine thing. Not unlike the Grateful Dead, they did a lot of collective jamming with an intention to trance out their colourful audiences by a forceful combination of the chanting of mantras with the Krishna flute lines and the lyrical guitar soloing. Often the local Hare Krishna disciples would provide an extra percussion section to the already steamy proceedings. Quintessence had their household guru in Swami Ambikananda who, with his clairvoyant talents and psychic abilities, was known to blow people's minds constantly. They built a reputation on solid club work and were deemed London's Underground Sensation in 1970. Besides appearing at the first two Glastonbury Festivals (then called 'Faires'), in 1970/71, they also were invited to play the Montreux Jazz Festival at a time when jazz was still being played there.The occasion was the Gala de la Rose d'Or and the gig was filmed for Swiss TV. At their peak they sold out the Royal Albert Hall twice.
Although QUINTESSENCE played many hundred concerts and festivals all over Europe, they never made it to the United States. A concert at New York's Carnegie Hall was alredy lined up in early 1972, they didn't make it for various reasons.
For a collection of stills from their festival appearances at KRALINGEN 1970 and GLASTONBURY FAYRE 1971,
Raja Ram and Shiva in 1969
QUINTESSENCE at All Saints Church Hall, London, 1969 (Film)
(Excerpt from the film "Getting It Straight In Notting Hill Gate" from 1970)
Watch it on YoutubeHERE.
All Saints Church Hall, London, 1969
Shiva and the Quintessence!
First single ad
Quintessence at the first Glastonbury Festival 1970:
The second Quintessence album:
Be This Dedicated To Our Lord Jesus: QUINTESSENCE 1970
Swami Sri Ambikananda
1971 Poster and Lyceum flyer
GLASTONBURY PYRAMID STAGE 1971
QUINTESSENCE ON STAGE AT GLASTONBURY 1971
MORE QUINTESSENCE AT GLASTONBURY 1971 PICTURES, click HERE
Watch the Youtube video sequence from the film here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YaKHFQEPD0
Quintessence late 1971
SWEET JESUS/YOU NEVER STAY THE SAME (different mix to album track on SELF). Single 1971
Quintessence 1972 after moving from Island to RCA
Ad in Rolling Stone (June 1972) for Self
Quintessence Indweller line-up 1972/73: Sambhu, Raja Ram, Allan, Jake
Quintessence 1977: Raja Ram, Jake Milton, Sita Devi, Sambhu
Read an interview with Raja Ram from June 1977, when the band was still playing as Quintessence with the above line-up. The Italian reporter wanted to know what had become of that sweet group called Quintessence with the intention of writing a sort of requiem, now that they were being swept away by Punk Rock. If you understand Italian, read it all in Re Nudo, mamma mia!
KALA at the Marquee, March 25 1973
Shiva and Maha Dev left in spring 1972 to form the short-lived outfit Kala. Management wanted Shiv to go from serious singer to glitter star, stuff a banana down his trousers and join the glam rock hierarchy. Shiv refused, of course, and Bradley Records together with ATV Records senior management broke the band up and took the equipment and van back. So Kala quickly folded. Although bereft of some sense of purpose and direction, Quintessence, in 1975, teamed up with German brothers Rolf (synths, vocals) and Klaus Fichter (drums) who were keen to revive the band in Germany as Quintessence II, and The New Quintessence Band. It didn't work out at all and, back in England, Quintessence became victims of the changing times but played on into the eighties, then slowly drifted into limbo.
Ad in Melody Maker 1975
Shiva (whose mother knew him by the name of Phil) being an original blues singer from Australia with a number one blues hit single back in 1967, continued well into the eighties with rockmusic, until he discovered the didgeridoo back in his native country. After being shown how to use the ancient aboriginal instrument he started developping a method using the didgeridoo for healing and meditation purposes. He has released his new music of a deeply sublime quality on his own. The singing, especially on his album 'Sunrise' is better than ever and you can chant along. There is also some Quintessence material in a new mould. The words for 'Sunrise' were written by Stanley Barr who was manager of the band and a poet contributing words for many Quintessence songs. Shiv's rendering here is dedicated to the remembrance of the late, great Stan.
The album's cover painting 'All-Seeing-Eye' is by Gopal Das who designed some covers for Quintessence in the 70s.
Phil's recording for the Intuitive Sound Label was made in February, 2000 in Atlanta and is called 'Samadhi', featuring a number of fine musicians.There is less didgeridoo here with more diverse ethnical moods and even a rave track called Rama Rave! The'Samadhi' Raga is dedicated to Ramakrishna and a line of Swamis from Vivekananda to Yogananda to Ambikananda and includes a new vocal version of 'Self'. Phil tours extensively through the US doing his interactive workshops called The Yoga of Breath and Sound using the Australian Didgeridoo.
In 2003 and 2005, together with Swiss musician Ralph Beauvert, Phil recorded the SHIVA SHAKTI and SHIVA'S QUINTESSENCE albums. Both albums were released by U.K. labels without much marketing, ripping off the musicians completely. These people do NOT follow ethical concepts and should be boycotted, or still better, ignored. All our future musical endeavours, and there are going to be some, we shall market ourselves over the website, in this way retaining all the rights and hopefully earning some money to refinance further projects.
Swami Ambikananda (1934-1997)
If you can provide further material, please get in touch by email.
Click the OM
The Maha Dev page:
The Allan Mostert page:
The John Barham Interview (2009):
In 2010, Karma brought Shiva back to England to perform with Maha Dev's Quintessence at the 40th Glastonbury Festival.
In a short BBC interview Shiv, Maha Dev and Jake remembered how very different the first festival was in 1970:
Shiv, Maha Dev and Jake at Glastonbury 2010 (BBC 4)
In 1970 there was a lot of hugging, kissing and love-making....
...and everybody was stoned out of their heads...
It's all a bit different today, although still amazing!
Jake relating how he helped with the scaffolding of the original Pyramid stage. He did not perform with Dave's band this year.
Shiva on stage with Maha Dev's Quintessence at Glastonbury 2010
Allan Mostert returns to the stage
Allan Mostert and his wife Moni are living in Spain since 2006
On August 20, 2010 Allan and Moni played a rare concert of world music at the Teatro Casa De La Musica in Carboneras De Guadazaón, Spain. A veritable multi-instrumentalist, besides various guitars and Sitar, Allan also played dobro, oud, lute,flute, sax and violin. Moni gave support on keyboards and tampoura. Their repertoire encompassed Indian ragas, music from Africa and Andalucia, flamenco, jazz and blues, as well as electronic and ambient sounds.
See 4 videos of the performance on Youtube here:
Raga Puriya Dhanashri (Hindustani classical music)
Quintessence at Hyde Park 1969
A real gem has appeared on Youtube: Quintessence playing at the last of the Hyde Park concerts on September 20, 1969. also on the bill were Al Stewart, Soft Machine , the Deviants, and Edgar Broughton Band. This is a 15-minute clip with pretty good sound and bootleg quality visuals but rather enjoyable on the whole. Allan shines in particular with a never-ending guitar solo so typical of the time. This is actually the earliest live sound/visuals of the band around. Videotaped by Jack Moore and Videoheads.
Quintessence playing at the last of the Hyde Park concerts in 1969 - notice Stanley Barr in front of the stage in picture 3
Have a look and enjoy it yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5MUVV3LihY
Quintessence at Heiliggeist-Kirche Heidelberg 1972
At the beginning of the 1970s, the steps at the rear of the Church of the Holy Spirit were popular with the hippies and the Flower Power movement and became a tourist attraction during this time. On November 18, 1972 a rock concert was organised by local hippy Werner Pieper with Quintessence in the church. It was attended by a huge throng of students and hippies alike. Lore has it that the conservatives of the town were, well, not too amused. Known for doing gigs in churches and even English cathedrals, this lovely late gothic church in the very heart of Heidelberg must have been one of the highlights in the career of the band.
Rupert Picken, a longtime Quintessence friend from England, pointed us to a temporary download page where the original taper, a guy called Muck Krieger, made this tape available for download. The sound quality of this so-called Highdelberg Tape is fine indeed, the music however is a bit different - the vocals are pretty weak - but the overall atmosphere is great. Why is the music different, you may ask? Well, by sacking singer Shiva and rhythm guitarist Maha Dev in early summer of that year, Quintessence shot itself in both knees and lost most of what distinguished them from other bands of the time for ever: a great singer and frontman with a unique musical vision and an aura of spirituality about him, and a rhythm player driving along procedures with a sure hand.
The Highdelberg Tape: Quintessence on November 18, 1972
The Lufbra Tape: Quintessence some time in September 1971
This is certainly a great new find - Quintessence playing Loughborough University in the autumn of 1971. What a wonderful and exciting atmosphere the band created that evening with the audience clapping along - this was one of those shows, when audience and band created something extraordinary together. Here we find the raison d'être for the existence of this well-loved group of musicians with their original line-up.
Sent to us by courtesy of Christopher Clifton who saw and recorded the band at the Uni, but he is unable to remember the exact date.
Quintessence on the web:
www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~pardos/GGQuintessence.html Gandalf's Garden November 6, 1969 Interview by 'Legolas'
www.ukrockfestivals.com/quint-glas.html Quintessence at various festivals in the early 70s in the UK.
www.pooterland.com/index2/bandsmenu/bands_q/bands_q.html Quintessence at festivals, some album reviews.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintessence_(English_band) Quintessence on Wikipedia (English)
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintessence Quintessence on Wikipedia (German)
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintessence_(groupe) Quintessence on Wikipedia (French)
Aural Innovations.com: Shiva Jones talks about his work, Quintessence, and the new music with Shiva Shakti and Shiva's Quintessence.
the garage, April 25, 2014: Quintessence in never never land
A well-written online article with, as usuallly, pix/graphics taken from this website without our consent, no link to our website either.
Certainly a nice narration of what Quntessence were all about, not shying away from mentioning the strange and contradictory machinations of its so-called leader concerning money and the sacking of members…
On the psychedelic baby blog, from September 14, 2014: Quintessentially a cosmic trip
In-depth narration of the Quintessence story and a fantastic read throughout! The author is Brian R. Banks
Featuring a great number of graphics and pix from this website, all with our consent, with many links to this website and others.
The Afterword, February 2, 2015: Quintessence: A History by Colin Harper
Originally written for Record Collector magazine in 2014, the article on the band's history is now online and is certainly worth reading.
Entry in ROXIKON (in German), an online encyclopedia of rock and pop music
Factual information, also mentioning follow-up projects like SHIVA SHAKTI or SHIVA'S QUINTESSENCE.
Quintessence fan Mick Riley has a couple of videos up on Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/shadowbanshee
Colin Harper has unearthed videos of the God Rock programme from LWT TV (UK), recorded in June 1971. Look at the stills in the Gallery Section and see the band mime to the songs JESUS, BUDDHA, MOSES, GAURANGA and DIVE DEEP. Shiva's vocals are actually sung live.
JESUS, BUDDHA, MOSES, GAURANGA: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z062TDH5lhg
DIVE DEEP: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_whRE3fLck
In Blissful Company (Island 1969)
Quintessence (Island 1970)
Dive Deep (Island 1971)
Self (RCA 1972)
Kala (Bradley 1973)
Kala Single Travelling Home/Still Got Time (Brad302, 1973)
COMPILATION CD's: Epitaph For Tomorrow (Drop Out 1993)
Self+Indweller (Drop Out 1995)
FROM THE PSYCHEDELIC VAULTS: CD Quintessence Live 1972
Notice: The Psychedelic Vaults only contain items of private interest and use
IN 2004 ALL THREE ALBUMS ON ISLAND RECORDS HAVE BEEN RE-RELEASED ON CD WITH BONUS TRACKS BY REPERTOIRE RECORDS, BEAUTIFULLY DONE IN DIGI PACKS WITH NICE BOOKLETS.
Also available is the ISLAND RECORDS compilation album OCEANS OF BLISS,
an introduction to QUINTESSENCE
Two New Releases from HUX RECORDS 2009:
Cosmic Energy - Live At San Pancras 1970
Infinite Love - Live At Queen Elizabeth Hall 1971
These are new releases from Hux Records, comprising 3 ½ hours of previously unreleased material licensed from the Island Records archive.This is the first ever 'new' Quintessence material unearthed - and doubles at one stroke the quantity of vintage Quintessence music available.Sound quality - recorded and preserved on 16-track multitracks - is extraordinary.Mastered by Cormac O'Kane and featuring a 36 page full colour booklets designed by Mark Case, award-winning graphic designer.Includes a comprehensive 18,000 word group history and chronology from music biographer Colin Harper. Released with the blessing and co-operation of former group members Phil 'Shiva' Jones and Dave 'Maha Dev' Codling.
For some reviews of these albums go to the Reviows Page here
In 2010 HUX Records have released the KALA album with bonus tracks:
album featured some titles which were in a similar vein to Quintessence, with
others nodding towards the popular boogie and country-rock of contemporaries
like the Faces. Now exquisitely remastered by Ron Geesin,
with two previously unreleased live tracks and two brand new vocal takes, this
CD debut of Kala's complete works has been compiled with the full co-operation
of Phil and Dave.The accompanying 16 page full colour booklet includes extensive
liner notes by Colin Harper, an interview with the
band, and recollections on each track by Shiva Jones.
1. Travelling Home 2. Sun 3. Thirsty Generation 4. Pearl 5. Meditations 6. Still Got Time 7. Hallelujah 8. Honey Of Love 9. Come On Around To My House 10. Before You Leave 11. Going Down Slow 12. Honey Of Love 13. Meditations (2010 mix) 14. Still Got Time (2010 mix) Tracks 1-8 from the 1973 LP Kala, 9-10 from the 1973 LP Bradley's Roadshow: Live At The Marquee, 11-12 live in 1973 (previously unreleased), 13-14 feature new vocals from Phil 'Shiva' Jones (previously unreleased).
The new Release from HUX RECORDS 2011:
The live performance by Quintessence at the Glade Stage, Glastonbury 2010 from HUX RECORDS:
The new Release from HUX RECORDS 2016:
Archive material by Quintessence taken from 13 multitrack reels, digitised at Abbey Road studios. Unfortunately, the new mixes aren't beyond all blame, here and there the usage of digital delays to a lesser extent would have worked wonders. Allan's guitar, for instance, often sounds as if he were a student of Steve Hillage. Therefore the original sound has been lost and we often perceive clearly a digitised past which to our ears sounds a trifle artificial. Still, there are a few gems to be found here - so this is not just for completists.
The new Release from ESOTERIC RECORDS 2017:
Quintessence - Move Into The Light. New digitally remastered two CD anthology of the three Island albums. Featuring a fine essay by Malcolm Dome and interviews with both Shiva and Maha Dev. The remasters of the three albums IN BLISSFUL COMPANY, QUINTESSENCE and DIVE DEEP done by EROC at the Ranch for REPERTOIRE RECORDS from a few years back sound superior, though.
Tracklists for the albums
The Gallery (some pix by courtesy of Dave Codling)
Some more concert ads
THE QUINTESSENCE CHRONOLOGY
The Guide to Quintessence Listening Pleasure by Professor Cornelius
LOOK - DON'T STEAL
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Last updated September 2019