Founded in 1970, Horsefeathers was a 1970s progressive rock band specializing in a blend of pyrotechnics and humorous pomposity. Like Gentle Giant, a band they obviously emulated, their material was slavishly arranged. Lead singer Mick Garris had an unusual stage presence: he looked like a Jim Dandy but performed like a Russ Mael. Drummer Andy Robinson was one of the finest, tightest rock percussionists in town. Strangely, when Queen's single "Killer Queen” first hit the air. a number of people commented on its remarkable similarity to Horsefeathers.
By Autumn 1975, the band had taken to producing their own concerts, and were performing Sundays at Fat Fingers.
A new compilation appeared in 2020, Symphony For a Million Mice, featuring that track as well as forgotten classics like "Porcelain Egg Suite," "Holes In Shangri-La," and a live recording of "Satan's Creation." According to Andy Robinson, "In the mid-70s, our friend, Don McLeod, a very talented mine, used to perform Satan's Creation with a band doing an extended piece by that name. Don, using only his body, would tell the story of humankind with an emphasis on the darker side of our nature. All the guys in Horsefeathers were big fans, and when Don‘s group disbanded for whatever reason, he approached us and asked us to write new music for his piece."
The band threw themselves into it in their usual fashion. "We were a prog rock band, so we were used to writing and performing these little mini-symphonies, but this was a great challenge, more involved and longer than anything we’d ever done, roughly 20 minutes, and it was based on someone else’s story. Bill Birney wrote his patently unpredictable music, Mick Garris and I wrote the lyrics, and the entire band worked on the arrangement. It took about a month of very concentrated work and rehearsal. None of us read music so we didn’t use charts. We just memorized everything!"
Horsefeathers performed their version of Satan‘s creation with Don McLeod exactly once, at a concert they produced in 1974. "Horsefeathers later did an edited-down version so we could play it without Don at our regular gigs, but the complete version was only played that one night. Our soundman that evening, Doug Sclar, just happened to record it. We didn’t even know the tape existed until a couple of years ago! It’s a shame there’s no video, because the music is meant to accompany Don’s unbelievably expressive performance, but I’m happy we have the recording because it captures Horsefeathers playing live at our peak. Notably for me, it’s one of the only times I’ve played a drum solo I’ve liked. I’m no Buddy Rich, but I think that solo is fun to listen to."
“'Satan' is also a wonderful testament to the tasteful and versatile playing of our departed friend, Mark Wittenberg, on guitar. The lyrics in the chorus of the main song seem pretty Spinal Tap-ish now - a couple of guys yelling 'Satan!' over and over again. But if you can get past that, the recording shows Horsefeathers performing at the very top of our form. We were unique, and I’m glad this recording exists."