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Titus Groan - Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) CD (album) cover

TITUS GROAN & ... PLUS (1989)

Titus Groan

 

Crossover Prog

3.48 | 37 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Here’s some fairly dated-sounding heavy prog from the UK made distinctive mostly thanks to the various wind instruments played by Tony Priestland. You won’t find a whole lot of prog albums that include an oboe, and especially not any where that instrument is featured prominently alongside Priestland’s saxophone and flute blowing as well. In fact, this may be one of the only records fitting that description.

I’ve read the overall impression of the music here described as neo-medieval, which despite being sort of an oxymoron is a pretty depiction. A lot of what leads to that impression is thanks to the flute and oboe playing, but bassist John Lee also contributes with an almost martial sound that isn’t very complex but gives the music a depth that serves to ground it in the sort of timeless setting that many of Jethro Tull’s albums also have. The harmonizing vocals are pure early seventies, particularly on the album’s longest song “Hall of Bright Carvings”. But despite it’s length of more than eleven minutes this isn’t a prog epic or anything; in fact, the band spends quite a bit of time just jamming in the middle and toward the end of the song and I’m left with the impression this was primarily meant as a crowd-pleasing live number.

The “heavy” part of the heavy prog here is due to Stuart Cowell’s intense electric guitar riffs, which along with his organ bleating on tracks like “I Can't Change” make for a hard-rocking sound that was quite popular at the time.

At times the harmonizing vocals serve to date the music even more definitively. “It's All Up With Us” is the best example of this, along with “Woman of the World”, which is one of the bonus tracks not on the original album but included on most of the CD reissues.

Same goes for “Open the Door Homer” (another CD bonus track), but this one is the closest the band would come to a commercially viable work thanks to an ear-friendly and accessible tempo and some BS&T-like saxophone. I don’t know if this one was released as a single, but in 1970 it probably would have charted had it been.

This album (and band) don’t do much for me personally, but their sound would have been quite acceptable at the time this record was released. The biggest knock is on the lyrics, which are sort of petty really and don’t do much to advance the music. A couple of extended instrumentals would have helped considering the fact that the three members of the band were all very decent musicians. I suppose the album deserves a bit more than a collectors-only label, if only because of the decent flute playing and unusual employment of a prominent oboe. So three stars it is, but recommended mostly to folks who have a fondness for pre-synthesizer era prog and don’t mind mediocre production.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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