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Gryphon - Raindance CD (album) cover

RAINDANCE

Gryphon

 

Prog Folk

3.25 | 125 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
2 stars If this hadn't been my first Gryphon LP I would never have guessed it was the same band responsible for the delicate medieval folk rock of earlier efforts. That funky clavinet introducing the album opener 'Down the Dog' was a long way from the court of King Henry VIII, and the languid Space Rock of the title track showed a group turning its collective back on the past without even the courtesy of a second glance.

On compact disc the muddy sound of the original vinyl is greatly improved, but it's still an uneven album, to say the least. Most of the shorter songs (the majority of the album, in other words) are little more than incidental filler, including a lovely cover of the otherwise negligible Lennon / McCartney tune 'Mother Nature's Son'. Even the mid- length 'Fontinental Version' is a haphazard medley, awkwardly splicing ideas from at least three separate songs into a single ersatz composition, then and now one of Prog Rock's lazier habits.

The balance of Side Two is reserved for the mini-epic '(Eine Kleine) Heldenleben', the title a riff on the Strauss opus 'A Hero's Life'. It's the only thing here with any real ambition, showing the scope of classical training among the quintet of players, and the extent to which their later style was undermined by the Symphonic Rock influence of YES (I hope Steve Howe was flattered by the outright theft of his guitar style).

Even with a generous sixteen-minute running time there isn't enough meat in the track to carry a side of vinyl, let alone an entire album. But it does present the last great recorder solo by frontman Richard Harvey: seventy seconds of Elizabethan bliss from your local Renaissance Faire, updated with a throbbing electric bass guitar and ominous mini-moog atmospherics.

The rest of the piece is flashy but trivial, to a point where it's hardly surprising when a bit of circus music (a brief quote of the Souza / Fucik chestnut 'Entrance of the Gladiators') pops up in the song's closing moments. Fun stuff, to be sure, but not enough to distract attention away from the album's other deficits, including some truly awful cover art.

I suppose you could argue that Gryphon took their music from the 15th to the 20th century in the span of just a few albums: real progress for a Prog Rock band. But here the group sounded as if they might have been unequipped for the journey, and unsure of their ultimate destination.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |

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