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Gracious - Gracious ! CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 182 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The mellotron was supposed to signal a goodbye to silly psychedelia in favour of serious neo classical rock music, at least according to the Moody Blues and King Crimson. But once the genie is out of the bottle anything goes, so bands found themselves with their fingers in too many pies. All this inspiration and no direction. Such is the case with the Gracious! debut, which almost pulls off the impossible only to have the whole house of cards not so much fall down as dissolve in acid.

The group is all over the proverbial map, but the original Side One manages to work very well as a series of movements, the first aptly named "Introduction". It could have also been called "Overture", for it introduces the more coherent aspects of the next few tracks - strong at times angelic vocals, searing lead guitars, and of course mellotrons. But it is also excellent in its own right. It is followed by the beautiful "Heaven", consisting of a sumptuous vocal section borrowing playfully from ROD ARGENT and with a facetious view towards organized religion. The beginning and ending sections provide fine symphonic sequences and dynamics, making this track a standout. "Hell" is a different fish but also effective, fiery in parts and honky tonk in others - do the people in hell know where they are, or are they too busy whooping it up?

What follows is the unraveling, at first slowly, with the disparate ""Fugue in 'D' Minor" that still merits a good listen, but "The Dream" is an almost complete psych morass. With no anchor or glue, it floats aimlessly and takes on plenty of water. Smarmy snippets of various half baked improvisations do not constitute a viable epic or suite unless there is some underlying direction or statement. I get the feeling that what the band might have been trying to say could have been said more concisely, and perhaps was, earlier in the album.

While still worth checking out, and a masterpiece for half its duration, in the end this album falls down several notches due to a lack of...graciousness.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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