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Gryphon - Raindance CD (album) cover

RAINDANCE

Gryphon

 

Prog Folk

3.26 | 127 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The sound of the krumhorn

I have always looked upon Gryphon as a second division prog band. They are undoubtedly a talented bunch of guys, but for me their albums lack that spark which separates the good from the great. On the face of it, this their fourth album (from 1975) has many of the right ingredients; a tastefully artistic sleeve, a 16 minute opus, a multi-instrumental line up, and so on. What we have though is at best a mixed bag.

The arrival of Malcolm Bennett for this album coincided with a change in the band's style, away from the folk sounds of earlier albums towards rock based music. Whether this was down to the fact that they had toured with Yes (Bennett also worked with Steve Howe) is debatable. It may just have been that the band were seeking a new direction anyway.

The plethora of traditional instruments (including the krumhorn) which distinguish the sound of Gryphon are still present, sitting well along side their more modern peers such as mellotron and synthesiser.

The music is a pleasant blend of CAMEL, MAGNA CARTA and YES. It tends to be reflective rather than aggressive, with a pleasant overriding folk feel. On side one of the LP, "Fontinental Version" is by far the most diverse and progressive offering, with hints of PFM in the tempo changes and acoustic vs. electronic passages. The unusual mixture of synthesiser solo, mellotron backing, and an array of traditional instruments actually works well. The cover version of the Beatles "Mother Nature's son" is an agreeably soft interpretation which brings out the delightful melody of the song.

Side 2 of the album consists of three tracks, but is dominated by the 16 minute "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben". "Wallbanger" is probably the band's most rock orientated composition, while the brief "Don't say go" has the feel of one of CARAVAN's light, whimsical ditties. For me, while "Heldenleben" is well composed and performed, it is not the feature track which might be expected. The rock and classical influences are certainly blended will, with tasteful instrumentation, but the piece leaves me feeling that it could have been considerably more dynamic.

This was effectively the last of the real Gryphon albums, the line up changing substantially before their final album "Treason". It is a fine representation of the point the band had reached in their development, with the rock influences coming more to the fore, balanced effectively with more traditional folk moods.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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