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Gravy Train - Staircase To The Day CD (album) cover

STAIRCASE TO THE DAY

Gravy Train

 

Heavy Prog

3.64 | 99 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Staircase to heaven

Unbeknown to the band at the time, Gravy Train's fourth album, "Staircase to the day", would be their last. Recording of a fifth album was started, the fruits of which can be heard on the "Strength of a dream" anthology, but the it was never completed.

For this release, George Lynon joins the band as a second lead guitarist. Sadly, Lynon passed away in 2002, but his contribution to this album certainly deserves our recognition. Noted Keyboard player Peter Solley (Paladin etc.) also contributes to the recordings on a guest basis.

This album certainly does not have the feel of a band bidding farewell, indeed it is generally hailed as their best. The Roger Dean gatefold sleeve offer folks from these parts the firm hope that the contents will be of a similar quality, and the opening "Starbright starlight" immediately reassures us that this will be the case. There are distinct echoes of Uriah Heep in the high vocal harmonies, and while the synthesiser sounds may now sound a little dated, they add some fine colours to a superb opening song.

Things get even better on the following power ballad "Bring my life on back to me", a song full of emotion and strength, with delightful guitar and gospel style choruses. The 7 minute title track retains the softer, more melodic style, the high vocals alternating with harsher rock ones. The track features some fine lead guitar work and delightful flute playing by JD Hughes. This song above all others really is a delight, with high harmonies uplifting us towards its conclusion.

The relatively brief "Evening of my life" is a soft piano ballad featuring a superbly emotional vocal. It leads into the final song "Busted in Schenectady", an 8 minute burst of blues rock.

There are a few more prosaic numbers, such as the blues rock "Never wanted you", but even here we find some decent mellotron phases and Arthur Brown like screams. Likewise, the non-band composition "Going for a quick one" reflects its rather tacky title.

Overall, it is difficult to argue with those who cite "Staircase to the day" as the band's best album. Yes, things can occasionally dip, but by and large the songs here are of a high quality, with excellent arrangements and fine execution. The album does indeed warrant the "forgotten gem" tag it so often carries.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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