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Canterbury Glass - Sacred Scenes And Characters CD (album) cover

SACRED SCENES AND CHARACTERS

Canterbury Glass

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.41 | 17 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars British band CANTERBURY GLASS' one and only album "Sacred Scenes and Characters" was due to be released in 1968, but for various reasons, including lack of interest from the record companies, this long-lost album treasure wouldn't see release for nearly 40 years. The album contains four long tracks, and one bonus demo track, with a unique combination of Psychedelic Rock and religiously-inspired choral music, in keeping with the spirit of the band name and album title. The album is notable for featuring Steve Hackett of Genesis fame on Track 4: "Prologue" - an unusual title for the final track on the album. Prepare to Tune In, Turn On, and Drop Out with some devotional, heaven-sent psychedelic music. Unless you're familiar with the two devotional albums released by the Electric Prunes in the same year of 1968, then this music may be quite unlike anything you've ever heard before. It's time to settle down now and take a pew and listen to the hymnal music playing from the pulpit.

On hearing the album opener "Kyrie" for the first time, you might believe you're in church with the sound of a delicate church organ and a choir gently singing. This first impression doesn't last long though when the song bursts into full psychedelic life, with the organist going on a wild keyboard spree and playing his heart out. This is no quiet country church organist playing to his Sunday parishioners - this is a full-on psychedelic jam, hopefully without the aid of any psychedelic substances. The guitarist is no shrinking violet either. Imagine Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane playing in church and you won't be too far off the mark. There's no way he's going to let the parishioners sleep through this rousing number with his pounding guitar riffs. The church choir are in full voice too, which gives the song it's religious devotional feel, as they repeatedly chant "Kyrie Eleison" with no small amount of spiritual passion. The second song "Nunc Dimittis", also known as the Song of Solomon, features the familiar multi-part vocal harmonies of the choir at the forefront with more psychedelic showmanship from the church organist, who sounds like he's auditioning for a place in Deep Purple in the style of keyboard wizard Jon Lord. He's so fast and nimble on the organ keyboard, you can almost picture steam coming out of the organ pipes. If every church organist sounded as good as this, then church congregations would soar. In fact, you'd still want to go to church and listen to this psychedelic five-piece ensemble even if you happen to be an atheist. It's time to open your hymnbooks now to Song No. 3 "Gloria". Be prepared for some more keyboard histrionics and much religious chanting of "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" by the resident choir. If you're not in a religiously devotional mood by now, then you must be a confirmed atheist, although that shouldn't put you off enjoying this powerfully energising number. The song comes with a nice pleasant interlude too, which gently lulls you into a false sense of security before playing out in a rising crescendo of sound for the dramatic finale. On the subject of finales, the curiously titled "Prologue" closes out the album. There are no pretensions of religiosity in this song, as it's a really wild and fast-paced psychedelic jam right from the beginning. This is where Steve Hackett is given the chance to demonstrate his prowess as a psychedelic guitarist, several years before he became famous in Genesis. Imagine the Moody Blues cranked up to eleven, and that'll give you some idea of the tremendous power of this final song.

If you're familiar with the two religiously-inspired albums from the Electric Prunes in 1968, "Mass in F Minor" and Release of an Oath", then this album will resonate with you. Otherwise, this might be like nothing you've ever heard before. It's a religiously-themed psychedelic concept album which should appeal to fans of organ-driven Proto-Prog. This is what Sunday church services SHOULD be like - a religious mass to entertain the masses with massive appeal for all the ageing hippies out there who love a good dose of late-1960's psychedelia with a spiritual twist. You can even picture the Archbishop of Canterbury himself rocking in the aisles to this stunning album from Canterbury Glass.

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |

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