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Wally - Valley Gardens CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.11 | 50 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I noticed in the synopsis of this band where it says

The band was discovered in 1972 when they reached the finals of a contest organized by the Melody Maker Magazine which was won by another band named DRUID.

My personal tastes prefer Wally much more to Druid due to the emotional compositions and very good vocals. It is indeed strange that a British band would do a synphonic prog album with some country folk leanings here and there. But let me say that this works brilliantly in this Valley Gardens album. The compositions are complex and remind me at times of what Quella Vecchia Locanda would sound like if they sang in english and had some country leanings here and there. Harpsichords are to be found along with emotional guitar solos and layer synths and the "almost always present" electric violen. But as if that is not good enough, the vocals to my ears are very pleasant. The singer reminds me at times of classic Iain Matthews mixed in with John Lees of Barclay James Harvest. There are also even some Crosby,Stills,Nash/Eagles like vocal harmonies. In many prog albums, the vocals usually tend to be the "weak spot". Not with Wally's 2 albums as far as my ears are concerned as the vocals are everybit as nice as the vocally acclaimed Iain Matthews, James Taylor, Don Henly, Glenn Frey, etc...

But don't get the impression that this is a pop album either as they can do the long extended jams and can give Gentle Giant a run for their money too. Just when you think they're sounding country, in comes a jazz fusion tour de force and they know how to stop just before it gets boring and then they'll switch into some nice melancholic CSN like harmonies.

Valley Gardens is a strong album with a very good mixture of rocking and melancholic twists and turns. My only reason for not giving this 5 stars is that the 18+ minute track at the end has a long drawn out section in the middle which is a bunch of noodling much in the same fashion as Crimson's "Moonchild" (with the dull section of sound effects for 8 minutes). It's almost as if they took that section out of the Crimson album and placed it here. Fortunately, the track picks up again almost after 6-7 minutes of the senseless noodling and ends strong again with the melancholic melody.

Imagine elements from the the following bands (Quella Vecchia Locanda, Crosby Stills Nash, Barclay James Harvest, mellow early King Crimson, classic Eagles ala "peaceful easy feeling", early Kansas, Iain Matthews, Esperanto, Darryl Days wolf) all rolled up into one and you will get an idea of what both of Walley's albums are like. I would not call either album as masterpiece but I do believe them to both be excellent. The vocals are never annoying and add nothing but good to the compositions. I'd have to put Wally in my top 10 best prog vocals category :-)

I'm kind of surprised at how good this overlooked british band was.

Definitely worth getting if you see it on vinyl, etc.. but don't expect a masterpiece.

They sort of remind me at times of another obscure Canadian country-folk-prog-like band called Huckle who released a very good album back in 1976.

Both of Wally's albums are quite similar so I can't say one is better than the other. They're both about the same and the songs could have been interchanged across albums. If you come across one of them and like it, you'll like the other one.

progbaby | 4/5 |


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