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Gryphon - Midnight Mushrumps CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.69 | 205 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Gryphon's second album strikes a fine balance between the unplugged whimsy of their 1973 debut and the more calculated Prog Rock of later LPs. The addition of an electric bass guitarist didn't alter the band's unique medieval sound too drastically (not yet, anyway), and David Oberlé's modest drum kit still sounded like something played while sitting cross-legged in a garden.

The album also marked a quantum leap forward in compositional maturity, even on some of the less distinguished shorter tracks, like "Gulland Rock" (which doesn't, alas). Standouts among these include the cautionary fable of "The Ploughboy's Dream", and the energetic Elizabethan dance "Ethelion", cued by Brian Gulland's maniacal laughter. Both songs show a canny knack for updating traditional melodies without sacrificing any of their original antique charm.

And then there's the side-long title track, adapted from the band's own score to a National Theatre staging of "The Tempest", and in retrospect a career highlight. This is textbook classical rock, beautifully arranged and performed, although it needed digital technology to finally be heard as intended: on vinyl the more subtle harmonium and pipe organ grace notes were hard to discern amidst even the slightest analog pop and dust scratch.

The 19-minute suite is an unassuming epic, to be sure. But unlike the disjointed cut-and- paste exercise of their more popular "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" it flows easily and organically from theme to climax to resolution.

The siren song of commercial success would soon lure the group into troubled musical waters. But before hitching their fortunes to the back of the Prog Rock bandwagon Gryphon was able to enjoy a brief moment of comfortable equilibrium, one foot planted firmly in Olde English soil and the other resting lightly on the pulse of the post-Beatles British music scene. Even an establishment broadsheet like The Times would praise the band as being "stately and discreetly turned on", and I couldn't imagine a better, more economical description of their sophomore album.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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