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Cressida - Cressida CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.53 | 148 ratings

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3 stars Cressida is one of those groups that fell short of the greatness that was within its reach. Throughout the course of the two albums these guys cut for Vertigo in the early 70s you always get the feeling that a really great blockbuster of a prog track is coming up, but with the odd notable exception (the title track of the second album Asylum is absolutely superb), Cressida doesn't quite deliver often enough on its considerable promise.

Despite being released in 1970, the first album has a distinct 60s proto-prog sound (that isn't entirely absent from its successor either!). The songs, that are largely written by either guitarist John Heyworth or lead vocalist Angus Cullen combine a strong Moody Blues influences and touches of nascent jazz-rock but with a dominant organ sound (the "Moody Blues meets The Nice" description is a dismissive but not altogether innaccurate way of describing Cressida's sound). Keyboardist Peter Jennings and drummer Iain Clark (who would later join Uriah Heep) are probably the most impressive of the band's instrumentalists, but I'm not sure that the compositions always work in their favour.

You should be warned that this album starts off with its least impressive songs. The 60s pop crooning and the faux art feel of To Play Your Little Game and Winter Is Coming Again sound pretty dated, and might tempt you to give up on Cressida ... don't, though! Because there is real quality in the quartet of songs at the centre of this album ... the sprightly pysch-jazz title track, Home And Where I Long To Be (which has Jennings on harpsichord and a lead vocal from Heyworth that sounds rather like Cullen!), the power jams of Depression which will absolutely thrill fans of the likes of Colosseum and One Of A Group which veers from classical organ to psych guitar freak out and jazz-waltz piano in just over three minutes.

Elsewhere, there's nothing to scoff at in the rocky Lights In My Mind (well aside from the moments that recall All Along The Watchtower!), the acoustic guitar jazz of Time For Bed, the mournful reflective folk of Spring '69 and the seemingly aimless, but actually quite subtle Down Down. I still get the feeling that the overpowering 60s vibe will ensure that Cressida actually appeals to psychedelic rock fans more than the hardcore symphonic crowd (not that the two are mutually exclusive, of course!) and I repeat my assessment that these guys should have done more than they did. But despite not being a long lost gem, Cressida is still a very nice proto- prog album. ... 62% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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