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Druid - Toward The Sun CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.47 | 130 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tony Fisher
Prog Reviewer
5 stars In 1975, a trio from Berkhamstead won the Melody Maker folk/rock contest at the London Palladium, and then caused a furore when they refused to go on the revolving stage at the end! Their prize was a recording contract with EMI. They also came to the attention of (whispering) Bob Harris, who championed them and helped with production. This band was Druid, comprising guitarist/singer Dane, bassist Neil Brewer and drummer Cedric Sharpley.

Under Harris' guidance, they decided to broaden their sound and advertised for a keyboards player, eventually recruiting Andy McCrorie-Shand from the Royal College of Music.

Their debut album, Towards the Sun, is often maligned as a rip off of Yes. In fact nothing could be further from the truth as the band, whilst they liked and admired Yes, at no time set out to copy them. Indeed, analysis of their music shows only fleeting similarities, mainly singer Dane's high pitched voice which superficially resembles Jon Anderson, Neil Brewer's bass tone on his Rickenbacker and some slightly ethereal lyrics, especially on Shangri La. Dane often vocalises without words, sometimes reaching extremely high notes. They took the basic Yes style and adapted it and evolved it to produce something distinctly different and worthy.

They are generally slower, much more melodic and less complex than Yes, although they can certainly play to a very high standard. Dane's guitar work is clean and his solos beautifully constructed. Andy McCrorie-Shand has some masterful keyboard solos and some delicious, dreamy mellotron, whilst the rhythm section of Brewer and Cedric Sharpely is tight and dynamic. Some of the vocal harmonies are delightful.

The album has a recurring motif of Dreams. The tracks are uniformly excellent and include an instrumental (Theme) with a glorious interplay between an (uncredited) sax and the keyboards. The first side tends to be more dynamic whilst the second is more soporific. The climax and highlight is Shangri La, one of the great prog tracks.

I took this album out after a long absence to defend Druid against the Yes-clone slur, since when I have totally fallen back in love with it. It's not ground breaking but it is wonderful, melodic and beautifully composed and constructed prog with a distinct folk feel. I actually prefer it to anything Yes have done. It's great music to relax to whilst in no way being wallpaper music; there's lots of stimulation if you look for it.

(Druid cut one more album (Fluid Druid) and wrote another (Newfoundland) which was never released. Punk came along and Druid quietly disbanded; Andy McCrorie-Shand had a successful career as a TV composer and ended up as musical director for The Teletubbies (I joke not). He now runs a company which teaches children music. Neil Brewer is a guitar teacher with him. Cedric Sharpely joined Gary Numan's Tubeway Army and enjoyed chart success. Dane disappeared without trace; such a talented musician was a huge loss.)

I have no hesitation in giving this 5*; I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with an open mind and good taste.

Tony Fisher | 5/5 |


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