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Pendragon - The Jewel CD (album) cover





3.29 | 284 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A jewel, yet to be wore....

Marillion and IQ had already resurrected Prog with their debuts 2 years prior Pendragon's. So finally in 1985 the last band of the Neo-Prog ''holy trinity'' released their debut, The Jewel, this one in the sense of success and acclamation, could be compared to IQ's debut, Tales from a Lush Attic, while both very promising, dealt with decent production, as well as a bit too much of, sort-of, dated-synths, however The Jewel can easily be differenciated with Tales From the Lush Attic, due to IQ's more prog-headed style already from the straight begining, while The Jewel having very notable Prog influences, the album also shares a fair bit with a bit of straight-forward Rock, with catchy melodies.

Anyways, back to Pendragon specifically, this album does not feature classic-keyboard man, Clive Nolan, which will appear in all of the following albums, as well as contributing in other classic Neo-Prog bands, in this one there's Rik Carter, despite his ''unknown'' status, his role in this album is essential, bringing even Jazz Fusion influences, with highly melodic synths, and fast moog solos. Now to Nick's guitar style, while less Gilmour-ish, you can totally notice his presence, with great guitar solos. Now, the rythm section, like in 'most' Neo-Prog bands, they really don't shine out, however, they're not bad, and don't give the album a amateur feel.

Now to how the album sounds, I must say that you cannot expect this sounding as Progressive like their classic albums, The Masquerade Overture and The Window of Life, and much less in the agressive style of their latest 2. However, still this album shows the roots were Pendragon will stand for a long time, specially with Nick's energetic and, sort-of, sentimental vocals, and the already mentioned good amount of synths and guitar solos, as well as notable melodies which will be done again and again in their following albums.

However, like I mentioned in the very begining, The Jewel is not 100% Prog, with songs like Fly High Fall Far or Higher Circles, with some catchy and simple melodies, as well as chorus'. However, there are some songs that really make you forget of those simple tunes, like the slow-growing Alaska, finally ending with a fantastic moog and guitar solo with the jazz fusion influences I was talking about earlier, as well as with The Black Knight, with great chord progressions and time changes, and finally a stunning guitar solo. Then there are the Proggy tracks, showing what Pendragon were able to do in less than 7 minutes, like the highly cozy Victims of Life, with great warm melodies and great composition, then there's the 2 highly energetic tunes, Leviathan and The Pleasure of Hope, both of them showing great musicianship, as well as the origin of the classic Pendragon cheerful melodies.

All in all, a very strong debut album, musicianship-wise, while the great compositions and song-writing would come later, this album has a lot of potential, and a lot of it which will be recycled for their classic-era. Like I said at the begining, maybe not as solid and ground-breaking as Script, nor as Proggy as Tales from the Lust Attic, still this one showed a excellent begining for the 3rd of the classic Neo-Prog bands.

Great addition to your Neo-Prog collection. Essential if you're a Pendragon fan.

The Quiet One | 4/5 |


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