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John Greaves - Songs CD (album) cover


John Greaves


Canterbury Scene

4.02 | 18 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars John Greaves is probably most well known for his being part of HENRY COW, although he did play with NATIONAL HEALTH as well. This album evolved out of an idea he had to have a trained soprano sing a couple of his songs, namely "Swelling Valley" and "The Price We Pay". S'Ange turned out to be the perfect choice with her lovely soprano voice. So they did a demo of three tracks and then over the next couple of years the project developed and expanded until he wound up with 48 songs. John also wanted to record existing material with different voices. So this really is a combination of new and old (re-recorded) tracks. Greaves' first choice for a vocalist was Robert Wyatt who he knew already was a big fan of the song "Kew. Rhone." so he got Robert to sing that as well as "Gegenstand" and "Songs" which John says "might as well have been written for him". A marriage made in heaven if there ever was one. Greaves also thought Wyatt's vocals would contrast and compliment S'Ange's angelic voice rather well. He also got Kristoffer Blegvad to sing "Silence" which he had done for years in the eighties with John's band. John said he always enjoyed listening to Kristoffer sing that one. Greaves felt he needed another female voice and Caroline Loeb happened in one day and agreed to do it so John wrote 2 tracks for her to sing "Eccentric Waters" and "L'aise Aux Ex-Sans Trique". John himself sings The Green Fuse" which is my favourite. It's actually a Dylan Thomas poem that John was reading one day, and he said the music just leaped off the page, so he had to record it. Peter Blegvad wrote 5 of the tracks and I have to mention that Elton Dean guests playing sax. This really is a mature and special album that is just a pleasure to listen to.

"Old Kinderhook" is simply a short accordion led instrumental. "The Song" is a beautiful laid back song sung by Wyatt as bass, piano and acoutic guitar support. Kind of melancholic too. "Swelling Valley" gives us our first taste of S'Ange and her angelic voice. Another pastoral tune with Kristoffer adding backing vocals. Just gorgeous as piano and acoustic guitar help out. "The Green Fuse" features strummed guitar and piano with John's vocals. Why is this so emotional ? My favourite. "Kew. Rhone." is where Wyatt returns vocally. Piano, acoustic guitar and vibes early before we get a fuller sound after 1 1/2 minutes. "Eccentric Waters" opens with what sounds like a party with different people talking as accordion plays.Then Caroline comes in vocally as party sounds fade away.

"Silence" is my second favourite. Piano opens as Kristoffer comes in vocally. Another moving track. Acoustic guitar joins in followed by bass. Sax before 3 minutes then it turns dissonant. "The Price We Pay" features S'Ange again with Kristoffer backing up. Great combination. Piano and acoustic guitar help out. "L'aise Aux Ex-Sans Trique" has some enrgy and both Caroline and John singing. Good song with piano and accordion standing out. "Back Where We Began" is a top three track for me. Simply heart rending. S'Ange's vocals with piano are so tender and touching it's difficult to express. "Gegenstand" is experimental to open then Wyatt comes in along with percussion and acoustic guitar. Experimental sounds return as the contrasts continue. "Whatever That Is" is the humerous conclusion to the record. It opens with atmosphere that you can feel. Acoustic guitar and piano come in then sax. The humour comes from the angry rant that follows. Haha, so funny.

A special album that I treasure.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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