T2, along with a few other late ’60s/early ’70s bands, enjoy the kudos of having released an album regarded by many as a gem, but which failed to elevate the band to the heights it was assumed they’d achieve. Few bands in rock history have ever released a debut album as good as T2 did, only to disappear soon afterwards. Many bands have begun their careers with explosive statements of intent, and then gone on to make further albums, which either enhance and fulfil the promise of the debut album, or else fail to capitalise on any early promise with subsequent albums. In the case of T2, the band never managed to capitalise on the momentum generated by their debut, It’ll All Work Out In Boomland and, despite recording tracks for a second album, management disputes, internal dissension within the band plus the departure of their guitarist, combined to derail their momentum. Which was unfortunate because, at the time of Boomland’s release, T2 were riding the crest of a wave, having built a solid rep as a ‘live’ act, plus they were being backed by Decca, who’d advanced them the not-inconsiderable sum, for 1970, of £10,000.
The band, Keith Cross (guitars), Peter Dunton (drums / vocals) and Bernard Jinks (bass & backing vocals), were a guitar-dominated rock band with a surfeit of good riffs. They were an attempt at taking the power trio format of the late ’60s somewhat further, after Hendrix and Cream had shown what could be done inside a three piece band format. Dunton, Cross and Jinks formed T2 in 1970. Dunton and Jinks had previously played in Neon Pearl and Please, and Jinks met Cross later when they played in Bulldog Breed, releasing one album, Made in England, with one track from the album, I Flew, appearing on the 5CD set, The Perfumed Garden. The original name of the band was ‘Morning’, but was changed soon after to T2 upon it being pointed out an American band had the same name, and their debut album, It’ll All Work Out In Boomland, recorded at Morgan studios,was released on July 31st 1970. Peter Dunton; ‘Basically, with Boomland, we were attempting to create something different, something not influenced by other acts. T2 wanted each song to sound different and, on Boomland, I think we achieved this.’ ‘Boomland got to number 20 in the charts’, says Bernard Jinks, ‘but it all went wrong from the outset. The promotion got into full swing, TV, ads in the music papers, being played on the radio, etc, but there were problems in the pressing, and the album came out six weeks later, and the momentum had been lost by then. It would’ve gone higher had this not happened.’ The band had wanted the album to sound like their stage set, but Decca were adamant about using one of their own producers. Despite compromises on both sides, the album came out not sounding as ‘raw’ as the band’d wanted, and it also wasn’t to Decca’s liking either, so they fired the producer!
It’ll All Work Out In Boomland is, for this writer, a classic album of its time, and a follow-up of similar quality would probably have seen the band moving upwards towards the big league. The album contains only four tracks and it’s a purposeful example of the power T2 possessed, an album drenched with frenzied guitar blasts, melodic acoustic playing and also the occasional subtle enhancement of orchestration. Opening track, In Circles’ is a blistering, guitar driven eight minute tune with a great riff. This was followed by J.L.T. (Jolly Little Tune) which begins acoustically and with Keith Cross playing keys. It’s initially laid back and plaintive but with later dramatic development. The standout track, though, is No More White Horses, with its Sabbath-heavy driving riff, explosive guitar work and some pulsating drumwork. This song was covered by Swedish neo-prog band Landberk and also included on Decca’s 3CD set, Legends Of A Mind. Side Two features the 20-minute epic Morning which, for the first few minutes, is all gentle guitar and soft vocals, but then becomes a roller-coaster ride of frenzied hard rock playing and, while it loses its way slightly, it still holds the attention, with the song ultimately ending the way it began. It was this song which helped promote the notion that T2 were somehow part of the nascent prog genre, which clearly they weren’t. They had prog leanings but they were much closer in spirit to Taste and the Groundhogs, rather than Yes or Genesis, albeit with distorted guitars and longer songs. Peter Dunton: ‘I don’t think the term progressive rock had even been coined in 1970. If I were pressed, I’d say T2 were a heavy, psychedelic rock band.’
After the release of Boomland, it seemed everything was in place for T2 to build on the momentum they’d been gathering through constant gigging, playing the Marquee regularly and the university circuit, plus appearing at the Isle of Wight festival and featuring on BBC2’s Disco 2. ‘We were a great ‘live’ act’, says Dunton, but they didn’t capitalise on their momentum. They fell out with their manager, John Morphew, who was believed to have been encouraging Keith Cross to leave the band and pursue a solo career, all of which caused internal dissension inside the band. Peter Dunton said, ‘I don’t remember there being any serious arguments with Keith though, in retrospect, there was an atmosphere of secret plotting’.
Cross leaving the band later in the year caused the planned US tour to be cancelled, and was the catalyst for the band’s loss of momentum. He formed the short-lived Sunburst before teaming up with Peter Ross to record the album Bored Civilians before seemingly leaving music behind as, since 1997, he’s been largely anonymous. David Hughes, who’d been a roadie for T2, initially replaced him on guitar, before Dunton brought in Will Killeen. This line-up recorded one demo, The Gambler, at which point Bernard Jinks also left in January 1971. Jinks claims ‘T2 split because of management problems, and musical choices within the band. The one strong point was onstage, that’s when T2 came to life’.
Peter Dunton then brought in Andrew Brown, guitar, and John Weir on bass, both ex-members of The Flies, and T2 continued to gig and record demos, but they were unable to get any recording deal and, in the winter of 1972, T2 split up. The reason why no recording deal was forthcoming was, according to Dunton, ‘because record companies at the time were only interested in pop music and glam rock’. He went on, ‘after Keith and Bernie left, it took a while to find a line-up which worked, and we didn’t have the time to fully prepare for the recording session for And Time and Looking Back, etc. The Clown, Seventy Two, Into the Red, etc were more solo efforts. Basically, what we did was a mixed bag of demos. We never recovered from Keith and Bernie leaving. The new line-up toured but, by then, the scene had changed and by this time our momentum had gone’. Dunton then signed a deal with Chrysalis and recorded one single, Taking Time / Still Confused, with the possibility of an album, but one was never recorded. A new line-up of T2 continued into the second half of the 1970s but nothing has been released thus far. Looking back on his time with T2, Bernard Jinks states: ‘My memories of T2 are that it was all so very hectic, we were either gigging, rehearsing or recording. I did a lot of recording in my short time, and I found it frustrating and boring because I could never get the right sound’.
Over the years Boomland has remained on the books and been officially reissued several times, plus there are also bootleg versions on vinyl and CD. But a new generation of fans discovered Boomland when CDs were introduced, and bands who previously might only have been known for one or two tracks on Psych samplers, like Chocolate Soup For Diabetics, now found their album(s) being re-released, or even being released, to a new generation. T2 took the opportunity to reform when Boomland came out on CD in 1992, with the addition of three bonus tracks, Questions & Answers, CD and a slightly longer version of In Circles, all from a session recorded for the BBC. Peter Dunton was then joined by Mike Foster on guitar, and the band gigged and recorded three CD’s between 1992-94, Second Bite, Waiting for the Band and On the Front Line, though none sold in any real quantities. The songs on these releases contain a mixture of Peter Dunton originals and versions of several unreleased T2 songs, plus on Waiting for the Band, ‘live’ versions of No More White Horses, In Circles and CD.
Asked about band activity after he left, Bernard Jinks stated, ‘T2 didn’t really exist after late 1970, when Keith and I both left. Peter was desperate to keep the band going, so he drafted in Andrew (Brown) and Mick (Weir), but this line-up had no resemblance to the original band. Hence, there was a lot of releasing of tracks Keith and I had been on, like Careful Sam and T2, but nothing new of any significance happened after 1970 … I stress new.’ Did you play with any other bands after T2? ‘No, T2 was enough for one lifetime!’
But, despite the lack of any band activity since the mid-1990s, interest in the band has rarely wavered, with original vinyl copies of ‘Boomland’ selling for upwards of £150. And now, slightly over fifty years since the release of Boomland, the album is being released again by Cherry Red, this time as a three CD set. The first disc is the original album, remastered from the original Decca master tapes, though without the bonus tracks which were on the album when first released on CD. This is accompanied by two additional CDs of archive recordings from 1970 and 1971-72.
The second disc is T2/Fantasy, featuring previously unissued 1970s recordings, though each of the three labels previously involved in handling the CD release were unable to make it available for any length of time. Many of these tunes were recorded around the same time as Boomland for a second album. Some of these songs have the feel of being unfinished and needing a little more work but, against this, there’s some quite exciting music on the album and, while it doesn’t hit the listener with the same impact as Boomland, it hinted at what T2 were capable of and what might have accomplished had Keith Cross stayed with the band. At one time in the early seventies, T2 were joined by a keyboard player with a mini moog, Hammond and mellotron. ‘It sounded great’, said Dunton, ‘but as usual we couldn’t get a deal in time. But I have unreleased recordings’. This album showed T2 had the potential to expand their sound and go further, and some re-arranging and tidying up of the tracks might have seen a worthy follow-up to Boomland. Disc three, as Peter Dunton explained, is basically ‘just a collection of demos and, as such, are all unfinished works-in-progress’, thus any kind of judgement wouldn’t be fair as these are in a form never intended for release as they stand.
Peter Dunton says of the reissue, ‘I hope the reissue of T2 albums means people genuinely still like the music. I have been contacted from all over the world, including the hip-hop community in LA, so hopefully we still have some relevance’. Was Dunton happy with Boomland? ‘No-one’s ever 100% happy with an album. In retrospect, though, I’m proud of it, especially as people are still writing about it nearly fifty years later.’
The short-lived career of T2 raises one of the great unanswerable questions… how much might they have achieved had they managed to overcome the management issues and the internal dissension which split the band … twice? A follow-up with the style and power of Boomland could have seen T2 claiming a place in the higher echelons of the rock pantheon. Keith Cross was an amazing guitarist and, at the time, wasn’t even eighteen – how good could he have been? Whatever, it seems T2 have become just an interesting footnote in early seventies rock history, which is a pity as they were a band capable of, and deserving, so much more than just this.
Personal interest declared; I bought Boomland upon its release, and myself and a friend, Gareth, spent the autumn of 1970 playing it to death, along with Jethro Tull’s Benefit. Sadly, my friend died some years later but, even now, listening to certain passages in Boomland reminds me of walking across the park to his house in the autumnal sunshine…
Laurence Todd gratefully acknowledges the help given by Peter Dunton and Bernard Jinks in putting together this article.