I’ve recently been playing a couple of songs by the early 70s prog-rock band Argent who were formed out of the remnants of 60s group The Zombies who are remembered for the hit single ‘She’s Not There’ and have garnered some critical acclaim recently for their concept album Odyssey and Oracle. Argent had two hit singles – ‘Hold Your Head Up’ and ‘Tragedy’ and both feature some tasty guitar playing by Russ Ballard. Ballard cut a striking figure on TV at the time with black specs and a silver Fender Strat with many holes cut out of the body (I haven’t looked but maybe there are pictures of this guitar on the web by now). ‘Hold Your Head Up’ has a distinctive guitar riff/verse made out of triad shapes on the top 3 strings. Nothing so unusual about that, but it is the tone and the way he plays it – with what in classical music would be called tenuto – a kind of leant-on weight – that makes it sound great. Perhaps the guitar was recorded with compression also. The bridge of the song has an interesting instrumental passage with quite daring harmony where the guitar repeatedly hits a D chord as the organ cycles through a number of chords some of which (like Bb and F) create quite dissonant sounds. The other hit ‘Tragedy’ has some very funky guitar playing on a fifth fret A minor riff, again very well recorded, and not what you would expect from a prog-rock band.