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Pendragon - The History 1984-2000 CD (album) cover

THE HISTORY 1984-2000

Pendragon

 

Neo-Prog

3.42 | 25 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

semismart
Prog Reviewer
3 stars In the beginning there was Genesis! Then along came the wonderful Marillion. They were followed by the inscrutable Pendragon!

Through the years I have been surprised, no shocked, actually amazed at how few people have heard of, let alone heard Pendragon. Among those never hearing of Pendragon are many Prog Heads. This is especially surprising because Prog Heads are known for ferreting out obscure or relatively unknown progressive rock, neo prog and canterbury prog acts. Acts such as Camel, Caravan, Ozric Tenticles, Hawkwind.

Oh sure, you may know them. I didn't mean they're unknown. Let's say they are underknown. But how can a band with such a royal name as Pendragon, with a royal lineage rich in the traditions of Prog Rock icons Genesis and Marillion be underknown and under appreciated? Well, let's do something about that, Ok?

About Pendragon

British Neo-Progressive Rock band Pendragon formed in London in the summer of 1986. Band members were songwriter Nick Barrett (vocals, guitar), Peter Gee (Bass), Fudge Smith (drummer) and Clive Nolan (Keyboards). All members except the latter have pretty much worked within the confines of Pendragon while Clive Nolan has been all over the place, forming another very good Neo-Prog band, Arena, guesting on three Ayreon projects, Performing in yet another Neo-Prog band, Shadowland, and guesting on at least another half dozen albums. Additionally he has produced a few albums and was the engineer on a few.

Pendragon has recorded ten studio albums. Two live and two compilations have also been released.

Discography: 1984 Fly High, Fall Far Awareness 1985 The Jewel Awareness 1986 9.15 Awareness 1986 9:15 Live Toff 1988 Kowtow Toff 1991 Rest of Pendragon Toff 1994 World Griffin 1996 Masquerade Overture Griffin Music 1996 Window of Life Griffin Music 1998 Fallen Dreams & Angels Import 2001 Not of This World Pony Canyon 2003 Live in Krakow 1996

1999 Overture, 1984-1996 Outer Music 2001 The History: 1984-2000 Cleopatra

History 1984 - 2000

History is, obvious from the title, a best of album, sorta. While there is definitely some good stuff on here, I do not consider the music within this compendium to be representative of their best but then again, I'm not being fair since Pendragon is a band in ascent. Their star has yet to hit their apex and some of their best music was released subsequent to this compilation. Also I should point out that this particular release was originally put out by Metal Mind Records, a notable Polish record label who geared their song choices to Polish tastes, not that Polish tastes are much different than mine, especially since some of my favorite bands like Artrosis and Delight are Polish bands, which co-incidentally are also stabled on Metal Mind Records.

Song/Track List 1. Walls of Babylon (Barrett) - 10:44 ***** 2. The Shadow (Barrett) - 9:55 ****1/2 3. Total Recall (Barrett/Gee) - 7:05 *** 4. The Voyager (Barrett) - 12:15 ***1/2 5. The Black Knight (Barrett) - 9:58 **** 6. And We'll Go Hunting Deer (Barrett) - 7:14 ****1/2 7. Am I Really Losing You? (Barrett) - 4:47 ****1/2 8. The King of the Castle (Barrett) - 4:43 ****1/2 9. Paintbox (Barrett) - 4:23 **** 10. The Last Waltz [multimedia track] (Barrett/Gee) - 5:18

Killer songs

"Walls of Babylon" Man, they start off with a simply fabulous tune. "Wish You Were Here" anyone? The four minute extraordinary guitar and organ intro is pure Pink Floyd whereupon the organ takes over and Pendragon smoothly and effortlessly eases into the sound of Genesis. Strangely enough singer/guitarist Nick Barrett manages to sound like a combination of Genesis's Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and even Marillion's Fish. This ten plus minute gem is indeed worthy of a best of compilation.

Sorry, that's all the killer song. You want more? Ok!

Semi-Killer songs

After "Walls of Babylon" the songs all become very melodious and mellow and yes, unfortunately boring. Individually they are very good but as a whole and being seventy minutes long, as a unit they become boring. The most interesting of the remaining songs is "The Shadow" which starts out slow but gradually builds up both speed and intensity to absorb my interest. I should mention that all these songs seem to have an ethereal quality and a mildly psychedelic undercurrent with Clive Nolan's fabulous organ/synth work. Another strength of their music is the always pleasant melodies.

Three other very good and similar songs are "And We'll Go Hunting Deer", "Am I Really Losing You?" and "The King of the Castle". They are all blessed with intriguing melodies delivered in a slow to slow medium pace with Barrett's very pleasant and emotional vocals ably assisted by acoustic or electric guitar, organ or synth and the equally able rhythm section. In Hunting Deer, a contributing hook is a placid wood flute and a choir beginning, in Losing You it's a remarkable ending whining guitar solo and on King of the Castle we have Barrett vocally mimicking an instrument at the end.

Sample Lyrics

"Am I Really Losing You ?" "Am I really losing you? Is that Mr. Nobody there? Is it still all for one, and one for all? Standing in an empty castle Or fading into thin air

When I was a boy I dreamt that God lived in ten sun Memories like dusty toys Never needing anyone Am I really losing you, or has life just begun?

Standing on Earth's Court station You can see the ones that have gone The ones that gave up hope long ago The ones that don't belong Sad looking faces shuffling through their lives Just waiting to find out what lies behind the big white door But like a shooting star will you just pass us by? And fade away into the night And race across the sky one freezing night"

Conclusion

To be fair, this album is probably a tad too mellow for my taste but it is very good and I would tend to play it as DO NOT DISTURB background music while I'm doing something immensely important, like writing PROG ARCHIVES reviews or playing chess with Boris Spasky or hosting one of my many Bridge tournaments, plus it's definitely more impressive for my mother in law than say, Megadeth or Cradle of Filth. I guess I can think of all kinds of places where this heavenly non invasive music can be used.

Pendragon doesn't really break any new ground. They may not be innovative enough for that or maybe they're at their comfort level. Whichever, what Pendragon offers is a very well executed extension and elaboration of the great ones that preceded them and there's nothing wrong with that.

Author's Note

If my review seems a little ambivalent to you, that's because I was ambivalent. I even vacillated on my rating. I originally started out thinking I was going to rate it five stars but I wanted to point out to my readers that though I basically consider this album great background music, there are many of you out there that wouldn't and this would fit in very nicely to your everyday musical repertoire.

In hindsight, I probably wasn't the best person to review this album but I didn't see anyone else stepping up to the plate.

semismart | 3/5 |

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