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Gravy Train - (A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man CD (album) cover

(A BALLAD OF) A PEACEFUL MAN

Gravy Train

 

Heavy Prog

3.55 | 90 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A band fuelled by good musicianship and enthusiasm, Gravy Train really reached their pinnacle with their eponymous debut album: none of their subsequent efforts could touch it. Still, "(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man" happens to be a very good album, easily enjoyable for any rock lover who loves something beyond the usual standards of mainstream. The opener 'Alone in Georgia' finds Gravy Train developing a serene melodic sense, mostly based on Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel with a touch of typical late 60s British style (mainly due to the string arrangements). There is a ceremonious set of string layers that segue into the namesake song, which initially portrays a prominently pastoral mood with an extra dose of sophistication. When the interlude arrives, the lead guitar assumes the leading role, the whole ensemble goes rocky and the flute stops being soft and turns aggressive in an Anderson-esque manner. The interlude set up the overall scheme for the sung section, whose slow tempo makes the song preserve a nostalgic mode. It is a pity that the interlude wasn't longer, since it would have helped the track to augment its potential splendor - it remains, all in all, underdeveloped. 'Jule's Delight' returns to a sonic terrain related to American folk-pop. The orchestral arrangements set an attractive amalgam with the flute lines. The album's second half starts with 'Messenger', a song that includes a jazz-flavored bucolic up- tempo section that makes Gravy Train seem an Italian band (the Delirium type, for instance), plus an exciting outro a-la Jethro Tull. Next are three rockers: the straightforward 'Can Anybody Hear Me?'; the R'n'B-inspired 'Old Time Box', which features Hughes' sole sax intervention in the album and a percussive interlude; 'Won't Talk About It', which sounds to me like Traffic-meets-Uriah Heep. All three songs are catchy enough as to deliver a reasonable dose of excitement, but unfortunately they don't receive enough expansive treatments. The closer 'Home Again' brings a mid-tempo excursion of soft rock with an ethnic twist (shades of early Jade Warrior can be referred here). So this is a good album, full of nice ideas that go flowing well, yet devoid of the special mixture of psychedelic hard rock and jazz-rock that had made the "Gravy Train" album so relevant for the maturation of avant-garde rock in the early 70s. "(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man" is the ballad of a band that gave up on their musical power too soon - good but not great, not excellent but nice.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |

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