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Pendragon - The Window Of Life CD (album) cover

THE WINDOW OF LIFE

Pendragon

 

Neo-Prog

3.90 | 354 ratings

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huge
5 stars Re visiting the earlier (mid?) catalogue of Pendragon I'd forgotten what stunning music they had been producing. 'The World', 'The Window Of Life' and 'The Masquerade Overture', are three superb albums by anyone's standard, soaring guitar work, tempered by ethereal keys and excellent melodies; though, unsurprisingly some were better than others. Moreover they have withstood the test of time as displayed by their current live set (Concerto Maximo (2008) and more recently Lorley (2009)). I shall review each in turn.

The Window Of Life: 5 stars

Genesis springs to mind, with the skill to transport the listener to other places, the only exception perhaps is that Genesis had developed their sound over their albums, as well as changing personnel; this is no detraction to Pendragon at all who have remained static in that department, currently Nick Barrett 30, Peter Gee 29 and Clive Nolan 25 apiece. Fudge having only recently retired. I think this has actually helped Pendragon immensely, as demonstrated with this album, the knowledge of what each member can achieve has been utilised fully here. The tracks all fit together with remarkable similarity.

Opening with the epic 'Walls of Babylon', which still gets the live treatment (as does the majority of this album), organ chords introduce a guitar sequence, the organ gives way to what I believe are known today as 'phat' keys all over which Nick continues to meander then with the return of the organ the track finally hits tempo. Various ideas and tempos are introduced and developed together with those catchy melodies. 'Ghosts' continues in the same vein, the emphasis placed firmly with Clive (Tony Banks?) on keys. Between the vocal passages Nick adds plenty of melodic licks on the guitar; he is so good at that, (think of Gary Moore at his best ? The Joker). Not afraid to stop and change direction mid song the song is allowed to develop to great satisfaction. There are many nods to Genesis throughout this track, some perhaps a little too close? 'Breaking The Spell' (mostly instrumental) clocking in at over 9 minutes, we are given another lengthy introduction allowing Nick to ramble before a laid back soulful guitar melody is given full rein, together with excellent backing from the others. 'Last Man On Earth' the next epic, containing the album title, this track is broken into interweaving sections again with superb melodies and guitar breaks, returning to the central theme that acts almost like the glue to bind it all together. The backing vocals are reminiscent of perhaps Clannard with the close harmonies. An extended central development before returning to the more laid back beginning section style with the sonorous guitar brings this longer track to an end. 'Nostradamus (Stargazing)' a haunting guitar followed by gentle vocals introduces the listener to what becomes a foot stomping track. Now a staple diet of the live set. (Think of Opus ? Live is Live, BJH ? Life is for living, Mike & The Mechanics ? Word of Mouth, not the same at all but you probably get the idea). 'Am I Really Losing You? A gentle closing to the album starts with gentle vocals before a very catchy but mournful repeating guitar lick that continues over to an extended fade out. 'The Third World In The UK' (originally part of the EP ? Fallen Dreams and Angels) continues in the same vein, gentle vocals leading to an opportunity to develop through soaring guitars. Adequate opportunities are given to each of the members, through variations in both tempo and dynamics the listener is brought to a satisfactory end. 'Dune' (originally part of the Fallen Angels and Dreams EP) perhaps more 'poppy' than the other tracks, but yet with the trademark Pendragon sound and melody. Set over a chuntering rhythm guitar before a catchy chorus with obligatory keyboard fills. Pleasant track, but nothing special. 'Sister Bluebird' (originally part of the Fallen Angels and Dreams EP) has been played extensively during live sets, reminiscent of 'Last Man On Earth'. Pleasant listening with gentle overtones, quite a lengthy track but never seems to really go anywhere apart providing another superb opportunity for Nick and his guitar work though. Layered vocals again are used towards the end of the track as part of the repeated fade out. 'Fallen Dreams and Angels' (completing the original EP listing) excellent track in the vein of the rest of the album, predominantly gentle and relaxing again with the sonorous guitar and well executed keyboard fills. Perhaps with the 'poppy' feel as with 'Dune' but here it is not quite so obvious or blatant.

Fully deserving of the full five stars.

huge | 5/5 |

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