Unit 4 + 2 – Unit Four Plus Two (1969): Forgotten Series

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Hertfordshire, England was home to Unit 4 + 2, a band that scored a Top 30 hit in the spring of 1965 with the bossa nova-flavored “Concrete and Clay.” Although the group never duplicated the widespread commercial success of this great single, Unit 4 + 2 proceeded to produce equally interesting efforts and remained active on the live circuit.

Wired tight with densely engineered songs and razor-sharp musicianship, the band’s final studio album Unit Four Plus Two, glows with warmth and lucidity.

Streaked with the ringing timbre of a spinning harpsichord and sheet upon sheet of bouncy and bobbing rhythms, “I Will” binds together kinetic Mod moves with bubblegum a-go go charm, where “Too Fast, Too Slow” and “Booby Trap” are stitched of a similar power-popping fabric.

Resting in the ballad corner, “3:30” and “Butterfly” swell with glistening orchestration, celestial harmonies and massed melodies. Graceful and gorgeous, these Unit 4 + 2 tunes project a hymn-like feel that sears the skull and chills the bones.

Emerging in an age when heavy rock was the happening thing, Unit Four Plus Two (Fontana Records) was unfairly deemed a dated anomaly. The band’s meticulously groomed material, blooming with glossy choruses and snappy hooks may have harkened back to an earlier era, but in hindsight Unit 4 + 2 created a true-blue pop-rock classic and went out with a bang.

On a side note, guitarist Russ Ballard and drummer Bob Henrit from the Roulettes joined Unit 4 + 2 in 1967. Right after the band broke up, the pair contacted ex-Zombies bassist Chris White and formed Argent. Adopting a progressive-rock approach, this new group gleaned hits with “Hold Your Head Up” and “God Gave Rock and Roll to You,” the latter which was covered by Kiss.

Upon exiting Argent in 1974, Russ Ballard launched a solo career. His songs have been rendered by an array of artists, including Three Dog Night, Santana, Head East and Rainbow, and he penned tunes for folks such as Roger Daltrey of the Who and America. Bob Henrit also stayed in the spotlight, with his most notable position occurring in 1984 when he became the Kinks drummer.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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