Still Life- s/t (Vertigo Swirl)
The scarcity of this record and mystery surrounding the band seem to overshadow its merits, which are considerable. It is a “one and done,” not unusual for the period, when bands were constantly morphing through different members, band names and styles. The band consisted of Graham Amos and Martin Cure, who had played together in a group called The Sabres. Terry Howells, the keyboard player, was recruited. The band, called Rainbows, became Still Life. They seemed to have difficulty keeping drummers (a problem not confined to fictional bands); UK drummer Alan Savage was pulled in shortly before the recording sessions for this album. Although reputed to have signed a long- term contract, Still Life did not endure for long after the making of this record.
This is a keyboard-centric prog album with great vocal harmonies. It seems to have polarized hard-core prog fans- some who claim it cuts no new ground, while others urge mortgaging the house to secure an original copy.
What seems to be missing in all of this is just how enjoyable a listen the record is—whether it is worth the price for an original copy is a separate (though obviously relevant) question.
When I first dove deep into the Vertigo Swirl catalog several years ago, I missed this album completely. I had some of the better-known rarities—Cressida, Gracious! and Affinity (along with such other oddities as Dr. Strangely Strange’s Heavy Petting and Catapilla’s self-titled album), all in the form of original UK Swirls. This one had somehow eluded me. It was only in the course of a phone call with Ken Golden, savant of all things “prog,” that the subject came up.
Chasing the album these days is a rich man’s game. Like some of the other most desirable Swirls, the price of original pressings can be staggering; reissues on vinyl are often from questionable source material or simply non-existent.
I have occasionally had luck buying ex-UK copies that were released contemporaneously with the more recherché UK Swirl pressings. (My go-to copy of Affinity is a relatively scarce New Zealand pressing, which compares very favorably with my UK copy and is in better playing condition).
I did manage to find a close to mint copy of this album, as originally issued in Canada, for a fraction of the cost of a UK pressing. Though I cannot provide a direct comparison of sonics to a UK copy (yet), the Canadian pressing sounds great—it is immediate, full of life and does not have that “at a remove” quality or weird EQ anomalies that often plague the non-“country of origin” issues. It also has the same, elaborate gatefold cover art that makes the UK Vertigos a collector’s treat. Even the Canadian copy won’t be an easy find, but it will be far less pricey than the UK.
This record seems to be elusive, even within the rarefied circle of Vertigo Swirls. Seek it out, not because of its collector value, but because it is a great listen.
For readers interested in the Vertigo Swirl label, an overview of its history, including an interview with Olav Wyper, the man at Philips responsible for creation of the label and select reviews of specific albums, see VERTIGO SWIRL-Summary of Articles on TheVinylPress.
 I did find a snippet on this band under the rubric of “Coventry” musicians: https://sites.google.com/site/bandsfromcoventry/coventry-bands-a-to-z/coventry-bands-r/rainbows
And, drawing from the same site, various pieces on the history of Martin Cure, which mentions Still Life in passing: http://coventrygigs.blogspot.com/2013/01/martin-cure-from-sabres-peeps-cupids.html
 See, e.g. “Exploding Drummer Syndrome” from “This List Goes to 11,” Rolling Stone, Mar. 6, 2014.
 The most complete source of information I was able to find for the album comes from a Polish Internet site, the “Pearls of Rock” which has two pages dedicated to Still Life dating back to 2002. The author sought out surviving members of the band over the next several years and secured some interesting snippets of information that do not seem to be available elsewhere. See http://pearlsofrock.republika.pl/stilllifeE.html
 This is not always the case. In a number of instances, where I own the UK and a contemporaneous copy from another country, the UK sounds demonstrably better.