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Cressida - Asylum CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 153 ratings

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4 stars The departure of guitarist John Heyworth, who wrote half the songs on Cressida's self-titled debut, didn't really affect the style, and one presumes, the fate of this band. Despite greater ambition revealed in the two lengthy tracks Munich and Let Them Come When They Will as well as the thrilling prog-in-a-bottle track that is Asylum, this second album, like its predecessor, is a little too uneven for me to shower it with unequivocal praise.

Now I really love the opening title track. It was the first Cressida track I ever heard and it made me rush out and get the album. But its propulsive organ-driven melody and intriguing lyrics about the plight of Lunatic Larry are in fact the absolute highlight of Cressida's brief existence. The two lengthy tracks are both penned by keyboardist Peter Jennings, who stepped out of the shadows as a songwriter, but despite some stellar segments (the guitar freak-outs in Munich, the scintillating organ solos that pepper Let Them Come When They Will and that song's momentous emotional closing all come to mind), both are occasssionally hampered by the tendency of the band to lapse into 60s pop cliche and light lounge jazz. The heavy orchestration courtesy of Graeme Hall makes the comparison to The Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest quite an obvious one, and during the vocal/organ dominated sections, I am quite often reminded of The Nice, and even Vanilla Fudge.

The shorter songs reveal both a wicked sense of humour (check out Goodbye Post Office Tower Goodbye!) and the afore-mentioned over reliance on pop and jazz cliches (I don't know my Latin beats too well, but I'm pretty sure there's some rhumba and bossa nova here!). Lisa in particular, is a half-baked sort of composition, with some wonderful sweeping moments (not least the flute playing of guest Harold McNair who died soon after this album came out) and the odd dull passage, suggesting that Cressida didn't always know how to build on its strengths.

If you want to hear a pysch/pop band dipping its toes in prog waters, but never quite jumping in, there are a few better places to come than Cressida's second album. Nonetheless despite my fondness for this album's peaks, I have to give this one a qualified recommendation. ... 70% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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