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Cressida - Asylum CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 153 ratings

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3 stars A really very nice record from these five English lads with a sound endearing if typical of their time and a modest mix of well-crafted art rock, melodious oration, and satisfying jams in the manor of Caravan or Traffic. Always fun, often surprisingly good but well-worn over the years, the album may seem to just sit there. But for those who love what was happening in English rock during the cusp of 69/70, 'Asylum' is an accurate and quality sample of the early authentic prog bands that were emerging from the post-psych landscape.

There is no big highlight here to point to, no new breakthroughs or grab-you-by-the-throat moments. During their brief tenure, Cressida was mostly a bill-sharing band and appeared with Colosseum, Brian Auger, Man, East of Eden and Black Sabbath. The album, with its feet equally in acid and art, will excite few jaded progsters. But it's honest prog by good musicians, humble and unpretentious, and I like it. The bassy title is accompanied by Iain Clark's bongos & Peter Jennings's soulful organ and could be mistaken for simple Woodstock dance rock but the cut-above rhythms and sudden instrumental breaks reveal much more. Singer Angus Cullen pules 'Munich' with a plaintive lyric leading to an organ/bass/drums exploration, an understated classical passage, and a big finish of brass and strings. Very nice, and nearly ten minutes. Rather Canterbury, slightly Latin and entirely weird 'Goodbye Post Office Tower Goodbye', hot organ-rock of anthemic 'Survivor', and tinges of BS&T brass-jazz in 'Reprieved'. Fugue ballad 'Lisa' is what every derivative 60s band tried to do but failed, with real contrast and dynamism between soft acoustic refrains, delicious symphonic psych and a hint of the Moodies. Acoustic folk mourner 'Summer Weekend of a Lifetime' sports a Nice-style middle and is followed by equally folkie 'Let Them Come When They Will', a protest piece with a West Coast jazz break and more unexpected little bits.

Easily washed out by the enormity of what the progressive scene was becoming, Cressida was as good a garden-variety prog band as any of them and duly deserves their tiny spot in art rock history.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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