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Gowen - Miller - Sinclair - Tomkins - Before A Word Is Said CD (album) cover


Gowen - Miller - Sinclair - Tomkins


Canterbury Scene

3.74 | 51 ratings

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4 stars Alan Gowen was involved in some of my favorite albums. He more or less made them to what they are. He is most known for his decisive influence on the likes of National Health and Gilgamesh. Alan Gowen was diagnosed with leukemia back in 1980. His illness was fatal. But before he passed away, he invited his friends Phil Miller, Richard Sinclair and Trevor Tomkins to a recording session in his own flat. The result was his epitaph and final farewell to a music scene he had served so well. Alan Gowen passed away only weeks after this recording, later released as this album after his death.

The making of this album makes this a very poignant album. Those of us into the Canterbury Scene owes Alan Gowen a huge debt of gratitude. It is therefore not easy to write a 100 % objective review. Well, this review is a failure in that respect. But I am only a human being and it is my right to, in my own way, mourn the passing of a man who died in 1981. People still mourn the passing of Ludwig Van Bethoven when they listen to the symphony which he wrote as his own epitaph. Noone of his mourners attended his funeral of obvious biological reasons. So please forgive my tears......

This album is pretty much dominated by Alan Gowen's keyboards and his playing is flawless. The rest of the musicians do a brilliant job too and this album is a credit to their superb musicianship too. This album was recorded in a flat where a man was dying. So the sound is therefore surprisingly flawless. I cannot find anything wrong with it. But if you have a $ 10 000 sound system, you may find some flaws. I suspect the tapes was heavy doctored in a proper studio.

The music is in the Gilgamesh vein. That means laidback jazz with a quirky Canterbury slant. Some influences from National Health can be detected too. The best song here is the title track and it is a funeral dirge. A very haunting, dark funeral dirge too with some children voices at the end. The symbolism is obvious. Overall, the album does have a dark, sad feeling over it. This is not a happy album. It is what it was meant to be; an epitaph.

Quality wise, this album is very strong at times. The title track has been mentioned and it is among the best songs Alan Gowen ever did. Songs like Umbrellas and Above & Below is very strong too. I have difficulties finding any flaws with this album. It has become one of my favorite Canterbury Scene albums during the last weeks. That is not due to sentimentalism. It is due to the music here makes my heart strings sings. Yes, the music is sad and somber. But this album has it's own identity which I feel the two proper studio albums from Gilgamesh was sadly lacking. The label "dark Canterbury Scene jazz" may apply to this album.

This is an excellent album from the Canterbury Scene. I do not think I am overly sentimental or too influenced by the tears in my eyes when I give it four stars. I honestly think this is a great album. Alan Gowen got his fitting epitaph and we can only be grateful with his decission to invite his three friends into his flat during the final weeks of his life. R.I.P.

4 stars

toroddfuglesteg | 4/5 |


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