Mastered and fully restored from original studio reel transfer
by Patrick W. Engel in April 2022. (www.engel-mastering.com)
Cutting by SST Germany on Neumann machines for optimal quality on all levels ...
Mantis were an highly obscure Canadian hard rock/prog band who released their sole album in December 1973 on Sweet Plum Records, nowadays a highly-priced collector’s item (featuring front cover art by M.C. Escher).
The band was the brainchild of Richard Elger (who contributed vocals) and Martin Swerdlow (who conducted the album and plays keyboards/synthesizers). The pair added Philip Acker on bass and Daniel Hutchinson on drums with Martin Swerdlow’s girlfriend at the time, Christine Williams, supplying additional vocals. The missing piece of the puzzle was Mark Bajona, who replaced original guitarist André Deguire.
The band moved into a cottage near Montreal that Swerdlow’s relatives owned and spent some months living together and writing material: “We were all-out hippies. Drinking, smoking up, trying to get inspired and write songs with a message. It was a unique time and that’s where the songs from the album came from.”
Mark Bajona adds: “I auditioned in Toronto, I was 19 at the time. From there I was flown out to Montreal to practice with the band before recording songs at RCA studios in Toronto, which at that time was on Mutual Street”. Reminiscing about the recordings of the album he says: “We used Moe Koffman and Guido Bassa for our orchestrated parts. Martin conducted the orchestra with his baton just like any big time conductor.”
Mixing various styles of rock, orchestral fusion, blues and even a bit of synth infused and punkish new wave, songs like “Communique”, “Hollywood Eyes” or “Take Me Back” were certainly far ahead of their time, and commercial radio didn’t have a clue what to do with it.
In the end nine tracks ended up on »Mantis«. A tenth song was recorded but did not make the final cut. It was a cover of “Can The Can”, written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, a huge hit for Suzi Quatro in the United Kingdom in the summer of ‘73.
A&M signed on to act as distributor of the album, but promotion was minimal and not much came of the release. Along with the rigours of touring and making minimal money, Mantis folded by early 1974.