Argent released a live album, Encore, at the end of 1974, which showcased the considerable talents of the original quartet. However, Russ Ballard then would exit for a rewarding career as a songwriter; while the remaining members would draft two guitarists, John Grimaldi and John Verity, as replacements, beginning with their 1975 studio release, Circus. Produced by Zombie alumnus Chris White, the album indeed revolves around the concept of a circus. Mellotrons ablaze, the title track starts the show, revealing a jazzy undertone to Argent's progressive rock.
Along with a host of guests from the French progressive scene, Cyrille Verdeaux recorded a series of albums under the umbrella of Clearlight. The Paris-born keyboardist had a formal musical education at Conservatoire de Paris, and this experience certainly shaped his compositions. Signed to Virgin Records in the wake of Tubular Bells' success, the similarities between Mike Oldfield and Clearlight are purely topical: If Oldfield represented a folksy, hippie vibe, then Clearlight was the opposite—the French sophisticate.
Hailing from Munich, saxophonist Klaus Doldinger (b. 1936) had an illustrious career throughout the 1960s, playing with such jazz luminaries as Don Ellis and Donald Byrd. But in the late 60s, he hooked up with the younger generation to explore psychedelic and jazz-rock terrains. He recorded two albums on the Liberty label with Motherhood, a band that included the yet-to-be-famous Udo Lindenberg on drums and a pre-Amon Düül II's Lothar Meid on bass. Adding Jimmy Jackson on organ and Olaf Kübler on tenor saxophone, they morphed into Passport in 1971.