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Red Jasper - The Great and Secret Show CD (album) cover

THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW

Red Jasper

 

Prog Folk

3.78 | 29 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Crossover Prog Team
4 stars A few years back I was thinking about Red Jasper one evening, and decided to google them to see what they were doing. Shortly thereafter I found myself having email conversations with D.C. (David Clifford), and we soon started talking about the potential for reissuing their albums on CD. I suggested that he talk to Peter Purnell at Angel Air, and a short while later I found myself writing the booklets, and the conversations turned to potentially a new album? Well, here it is, released at the beginning of 2015. Original frontman Davey Dodds had decided that he no longer wanted to be involved with the music scene, but in drummer D.C. they already had a replacement as by now he had been making a name for himself as a singer with Clive Nolan's Caamora company, and had one of the lead male role on the incredible 'Alchemy'. The rest of the gang were all on board for the journey, but as D.C. felt he was no longer a drummer they brought in Nick Harradence, who was drummer with Shadowland when the two bands toured together some twenty years earlier! It was obvious that Red Jasper were going to sound very different to how they used to, as D.C. is such a different singer, and Davey also used to provide mandolins and whistles, so could they carry it off?

Thankfully the answer to that is a very strong and emphatic "Yes"!! Musically they are a different beast, and have moved more into a neo-prog area, but it still contains the folkier elements for which they were known. The biggest difference, though, is in the approach and style of the vocals. Not only does D.C. sing in a higher register than Davey, but he is also more used to a theatrical style of singing, where there may or may not be good microphones and there is a need to project. As opposed to someone just using their vocal cords with not much effort, here he is putting his all into each song so that each one becomes much more of a performance. Of course, the Jaspers were also always well-known for the power of Robin Harrison's guitars, and he has lost none of the knack of enthralling listeners with either gentle notes or hard-struck power chords. This is particularly true on "The Time Is Right", where the use of a guest sax also adds an additional element. Interestingly, the sax player is none other than Pat D'Arcy who was in an earlier line-up of the band, and was with them when they released 'Sting In The Tale'. D.C's daughter Sohelia duets with him on "The Time Is Right", just as she did for the original live performances of 'Alchemy', and their voices work well together.

Jon Thornton (bass) and Lloyd George (keyboards) tie in with Nick and Robin in a manner that belies the truth that this is a band that hasn't performed for eighteen years. I mean, really? Somehow, I never saw them play live back in the Nineties, although Davey and I used to catch up every so often, and now they're back playing and I live on the wrong side of the world! But, this comeback album is an incredible statement, the Jaspers are back and long may this continue.

kev rowland | 4/5 |

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