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Greenslade - Spyglass Guest CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.25 | 115 ratings

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3 stars The healthy followup to Bedside Manners (the band's decent but rough and underworked sophomore release), Spyglass Guest restores some of the inspiration shown on the debut from '73 with a better realized and organized sound successfully mixing Bach-tinctured quotes and art-pop eccentricities. There is also something distinctly weird about this record, like some misshaped musical review performed by a group of psychiatric patients on a day's leave, adding some hearty flavor and character to an album easily frowned upon by those who would hold it up against the pedigrees of bigger acts.

'Spirit of the Dance' is charming fugue-rock, a tuplet of 3's led by David Greenslade's organ and the light support of Andrew McCulloch's hi-hat, doubled in the next measure by Clavinet and further layered with the ARP & Fender piano. ELP's presence is comfortably felt like that of an old friend but this quartet always seemed more interested in playing, and this jazzier sensibility is heard on 'Little Red Fry-Up', a thoroughly odd bit with flashes of everyone from Steely Dan to Flash. It transitions smoothly to 'Rainbow' with Dave Lawson's childlike taunts over a creepy visit from Mary Poppins, delicacies of 'Siam Seesaw' featuring Andy Roberts' lovely acoustic guitar phrase, and 8-minute 'Joie de Vivre'; a brilliant construct of abnormal modalities and contrametric divisions, a poetic lyric stringing things together. Shades of early Becker & Fagen are again heard on 'Red Light', 'Melancholic Race's confused mix of dance and symphonic, and lackluster 'Theme for an Imaginary Western'.

Spyglass is most assuredly stuck in its time and Lawson's squeaky vocals may annoy, but when properly considered and digested - Mr. Greenslade's careful compositional approach, keen attention to detail and the easily missed tightness of this outfit - it is a much better offering than recognized and is packed with brave if quiet musical discoveries that must be looked into to be appreciated. An ensemble that doesn't always go for the throat, and who ask for your engagement while you bear with them.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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