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Greenslade - Greenslade CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 209 ratings

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4 stars Evidently the high-quality but sometimes sedate jazzrock of drummer Jon Hiseman's Colosseum wasn't enough for David Greenslade, the extraordinary keyboardist/composer, so after that landmark band dissolved in 1971 he began building a formidable unit of his own; the warm jazz basses of Tony Reeves, Andrew McCulloch's totally freakin' drums, and Dave Lawson's accompaniment on keys and lead vocals. In an amazingly freethinking venture for the time - or perhaps a perfect example of it - David Greenslade succeeded in creating a near-masterpiece of rock theater by balancing what could have been a very unstable meeting of orchestrina fantasy, garage art, and deep lakes of inspired progressive rock. This was prog unmasked, stripped of most of the studio trickery and flash for flash's sake in much music of the period. The real thing, a group that took up the challenge, seized the surely brief moment, put any notions of mass appeal aside and just let go with a brand of symphonic rock that was more raw and personal than their bigger siblings but still retained the intricacy and ridiculousness of prog. Unashamed, childlike but haughty, Greenslade was a special offspring of the era and gave us several jewels, this debut probably their finest.

'Feathered Friends' hits the floor with a mean groove, Lawson's prepubescent falsetto screeches over big chords of organ, the band's soundwall, David Greenslade's mellotron a beauty of another age and the band's production quite good if ancient. Instrumental 'An English Western' absolutely rocks the house with all sorts of blues, gospel-jazz and classical kitsch in a Wakeman vein, and churchly 'Drowning Man' is a somber condolence that jumps up with samba, drowsy acid and bassy late 1960s dance beats. Forgettable 'Temple Song' follows but 7-minute 'Melange' is another good instrumental that inhales deeply of space and jazz as it grows large, kicker 'What Are You Doin' to Me' shows just how appealing this group can be with a successful fusion of pop and symphonette, and David's piano slowly introduces nine-minute sprawler 'Sundance' that varies between soft and magisterial.

Entirely original though doses of everyone from Procol Harum and Morgan to The Nice and Supertramp can be heard, and urgently recommended to anyone who's past their own expectations of what prog is, was or should be.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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