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Greenslade - Spyglass Guest CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.30 | 125 ratings

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4 stars It must be said that I fully understand the sometime dislike and difficulty some people have with the music of Greenslade. I have been there myself. My reltionship with the band have been a long, sometimes ardous, journey. At 21 I got myself "Bedside manners are extra" and failed utterly at understanding what I heard. So, I put the band on hold for a period of five years before buying "Greenslade", the debut. I fell in love with "Feathered friends" but cared less for the remainder of the album. Yet again Greenslade was put on hold and kept outside in the waiting room expecting to be called back in again. This never happened. The re-visitation was always postponed and seemed almost to be an unlikely event. However, after a couple of years something changed. They got called back in for a rendez-vous and chat, this time about their third album "Spyglass guest". Did we click? I dare say we did. Big time. There are those openings in time and space where everything just seems to fall into place. With "Spyglass guest" this window was flung open and yes, there was love in the air. After that I came to love also the first two albums without any reservations.

Greenslade was always a very fullbodied group, soundwise. For the two first albums they had skipped the position as guitarist and instead gone for the straight keyboard approach but on "Spyglass guest" they (at least partially) filled the spot for the six string. Clem Clemson entered and the sound was enlarged, rather than enriched. (Seeing they already filled the soundscape to the max, as I have already stated, just by using keyboards.)

The album is very warm and inviting. Lush and majestic keyboards, gorgeous vocal harmonies and interesting ideas makes this album a very enjoyable experience. It goes through so many genres and nods to musical fancies one stands amazed. The music of Greenslade was always playful and "Spirit of the dance", the opener, is just that. A very playful, almost classical, piece that sets the mode and tone of the album. It is a lovely piece that gallops away and shifts direction and pace through it's five minute duration. The follow up, "Little red fry-up", is a nod to jazz-rock and is quintessentially british in every sense. "Rainbow" is a lovely little thing starting with the presence of thunderous rain and ominous keyboards but is soon transformed into a beautiful ballad-y sort of song. Wonderful vocal harmonies! Brilliant. "Siam seesaw" sees Greenslade rock out a bit and it is a number high in energy and works so well as contrast to "Rainbow" and the next and longest track, "Joie de vivre". This 8 minutes and 30 seconds long opus is the best piece on the album and is quite extraordinary. My only complaint is that the opening chords reminds me a bit too much of "Stand by me", made famous by (among others) the soulsinger Ben E. King. But that is soon over and done with, when a very british sounding melody enters with the whole band adding texture and layers of wonderful music. Just lean back and enjoy. This is masterclass and brilliance in a nutshell. "Red light" is a jazzy, very groovy piece that is followed by "Melancholic race". The latter is a brilliant example of exquisite jazz rock that goes from smooth and soothing to high energy excursions. The last piece is the least interesting and in my opinion the only track that feels out of place. I love "Theme from an imaginary western" but it had and has been done better by others, ironically enough by Colosseum. It's not bad but it's not great either. It's okay and I thank God it comes last, to avoid it crashing the party and disrupting the enormous flow of the album.

I could argue that this album is flawless and I could have held that position come rain or snow, had it not been for "Theme for an imaginary western". It seems out of place. Apparently the band had other material, penned by members of the group, ready for recording but as it all played out they went for this cover song, funnily the only cover the band recorded. But, enough of that. "Spyglass guest" is a wonderful, very british sounding, playful, joyful, adventurous, exciting, fun, highly accomplished, creative, complex, accessible and loving album. One of my favorites, actually, and just as good as the previous efforts. If this sounds thrilling, do treat yourself to a great sitting that lasts a mere 39 minutes but that is a sitting that will keep you amused and leave you with a smile on your face.

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |


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