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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is neo progressive rock. PENDRAGON sounds a bit like MARILLION, but MARILLION is more refined, more subtle. This record is full of good songs and bits. The keyboards of Clive Nolan (ARENA, SHADOWLAND) are very good, when he doesn't eternize for too long time on a specific pattern. Actually, I've rarely seen a keyboard player with so many different patterns and sounds.

The lead vocals are excellent, as always, the electric guitar solos a la Steve Rothery (MARILLION) is excellent too. The rythm of this record is slow, and you have to listen it more than once to discover that this record is really progressive. Just one bad point: Peter GEE's bass is definitely insufficient!

Report this review (#5725)
Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the third Pendragon cd I bought, although the second track, 'The Voyager' was the first song by them I ever heard - through a cassette sampler a friend of mine had. I love this track, and feel there is a big Genesis influence here. In fact, I have often thought this band are closer to Genesis than ever Marillion were, even in their early days. Of course, it was always Fish's voice, and Mark Kelly's keyboards that connected the the two bands, but with Pendragon it is a lot of the songs' structures that bring to mind Genesis. The other band whose influence shows most is Pink Floyd, especially in the guitar solos and the female backing vocals sometimes used. This cd kicks off with the brilliant 'Back In The Spotlight', an excellent and powerful opener. Next comes the aforementioned 'Voyager', a classic. 'Shane' is the shortest song on the cd, but one of the best. I love this track. It has everything. Strong melody, beautiful backing vocals, and an inspirational guitar solo at the end. Tremendous! The next track, 'Prayer' is another strong song, though maybe slightly weaker than the first three. Not much in it though! The epic, 'Queen Of Hearts', is another tremendous piece of composition, alternating between gentle passages, with harp-like interludes, and powerful guitar work. An excellent track! The final song, 'And We'll Go Hunting Deer', is another lovely, gentle piece, which reminds me very much of Anthony Phillips's best work. It sounds like something he could have composed. A nice ending to a lovely and varied album. Essential listening. Whilst I don't believe it to be their best album, it is a must for every serious prog fan, especially those who enjoy Genesis and Marillion. A word of warning though, Nick Barrett's voice takes some getting used to!
Report this review (#5726)
Posted Monday, April 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars PENDRAGON are one of those rare prog bands completely devoid of musical posturing. They simply follow their sweet little hearts, bang their drums, set the music aflame and you can't help but gulp it all down with gusto. Purists don't like them much and I'm the first to admit their material is none too complicated. But if you're looking for a genuinely good time, no strings attached, you'll rarely come across music that so engages the mind, the body and the spirit all at once.

"Back in the Spotlight" is an infectious little rocker and a perfect opener. As for the 12-minute + "The Voyager", I could try and pick it apart, talk about its catchy melodies, appropriate time changes, flowing themes - it wouldn't do justice to it. Let's just say it features the essense of what PENDRAGON is all about. You could skip over two tracks called "Shane" (although this one features some nice guitar play) and "Prayer". The next three, however, are the album's pičce de résistance.

I'm talking about a 3-piece suit made up of "Queen of Hearts / A Man Could Die Out Here / The Last Waltz". The first is a mellow tune with a floydian flavour that introduces the next. "A Man Could Die Out Here" features the most exhilarating piece of instrumental neo-prog I've yet to hear - it's simply intoxicating and has me reeling with delight every time I hear it. Push it to eleven, my pets, 'cause you'll want to play this one LOUD! A real 'kick-ass' of a rock tune! The last of the trilogy, "The Last Waltz", is not a waltz at all but a mid-tempo, almost sing-along number that doesn't owe much to prog, but what an emotional finale to some great music - lovingly simple, simply lovely. The last track, "And We'll Go Hunting Deer" is a little cheesy but nice in its own way.

The musicianship through out the album is exemplary, the keyboards a pure delight and the percussion as tight as can be. Sure, Nick Barrett sings in his usual goofy, whiny voice; but who cares when the music is this good (bring on the cheese, please!!!)

Gosh, what a breath of fresh air these guys are...

Report this review (#5727)
Posted Wednesday, May 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars I'm rounding off to the upper unit here as to avoid too much controversy. This album is the first I will consider as a good Pendragon album but still has flwas in it. I believe it also the first one to plunge into all of the clichés used by neo-prog bands - first exhibit your honour , look at the sleeve artwork, then pull the disc out and put it in your deck and listen and then what ? I rest my case, Case Closed , your honour!!! All kidding aside , if you are into neo , this should please you because this is where Pendragon gets its act toigether and decide to stop their noodlings left , right and center during the previous decade. This is why I rewarde them of the rounding off to the upper unit.
Report this review (#5728)
Posted Thursday, November 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great album. Pendragon has distilled and perfected their previous work into a sound that has all features a good neo-prog act should have. Catchy melodies, great high-pitched guitar work on a frame of symphonised keyboards, with plenty of tempo and mood changes. Not to complex, but with great musical skills, a hallmark band within the neo- progressive rock scene. Sounding somewhat similar to Eloy, Marillion, and IQ.

1. Back in the Spotlight (7:39) A great rock song, with some mood and tempo changes a great energetic show opener. 2. The Voyager (12:15) A ballad like epic, with great keyboards and accoustic guitar creating a pallet for the music to evolve around, with a great (electric) guitar solo. A masterpiece. 3. Shane (4:25) some great guitar parts especially near the end, nice melody lines and very well sung. 4. Prayer (5:21) A keyboard based melody evolves into a more rocking sound, but never reaches above mediocre.

5. Queen of Hearts (21:46) A tree part suite, consisting of a) Queen of Hearts, b) ... a Man Could Die Out Here ..., c) The Last Waltz. Queen of Hearts is a keyboard based song with great melodies changing every second, beginning at a slow pace, building up to a more energetic middle and end section. A great song on itself. A man could die out here... The best part of the album, great middle of the road rocker, with a great bass line and ever changing melodie lines, featuring some of Barret's most compelling guitarplay just awsome!! The last Waltz is a fabulous sing-a-long track co-written by Peter Gee (the rest is written by Nick Barret) very energetic with great keyboards, again very melodic. 6. And We'll Go Hunting Deer (7:14) closes the set with some great keyboards by Clive Nolan, though at times cheesy.

Overall a great album, some minor flaws, but that doesn't lessen the experience. It's not consistent enough to be considered a masterpiece, but a very firm 4 stars from me. Recommended to fans of the neoprog subgenre.

Report this review (#5729)
Posted Wednesday, February 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars The album starts off sounding encouraging; a bit like Fish-era Marillion, with the lead-off track Back in the Spotlight. The vocals aren't very strong, so the music weakens a bit from that. The next songs just become weaker still. Later on, Queen of Hearts picks up the pace and energy, but it really doesn't save the album. The album ends on a really bad note with And We'll Go Hunting Deer, which is really just pop music.

Overall, this is watered-down prog. Not anything to get excited about.

Report this review (#41478)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's a very great album, which changed style of Pendragon. It begins with great, rocky "Back In The Spotlight". I like this song, but then we have something really marvelous - "The Voyager". It is one of the best songs of Pendragon, and one of my favourites. After that we have "Shane" - beautiful, and very sentimental song. It has a great climat, and I love that song. Then "Prayer" - also good song. And then... and then... the best song of the album - "Queen of Hearts". Song, which can't be expressed with words. The first part is wonderful. Then it turns into great rock song, with a great guitar. The third part is also great. The whole album ends with a great "And We'll Go Hunting Deer".

5/5 Masterpiece

Report this review (#67071)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.5 stars.

Step by step, chord by chord, Pendragon were working up to their greatest achievement, The Masquerade Overture. They started off pretty advanced with The Jewel, but it was evident from the beginning that they had a few great ideas, but surrounded them with filler and sub-par songwriting. The World is a very clear step in the right direction. There are beautiful melodies throughout the album, and much more advanced songwriting. However, one problem, possibly an enormous one at that, becomes evident after the first few songs: this album can be quite boring. I really want to emphasize the "can" part of that thought. Personally, I find The World to be a rather engaging listen overall, but to one who listens to Taal and Frank Zappa all day, this might as well be a glass of warm milk. But to the more Neo- Progressive fan, The World will be worthy listen.

One thing that I think developed early on in Pendragon's music is the genius keyboard work that Clive Nolan provides. While all of the players would fine-tune their craft over the coming years, Nolan seems to be a step ahead of the game on The World. His playing isn't really a stunning showcase of virtuosity, but he surely knows how to illicit an emotion out of the listener. The ethereal and adventurous synthesizer sound on The World is one of its best aspects. And gladly, Nick Barrett's vocals are also improving. There are some embarrassing moments when he tries to pull off a high or sustained note and his voice creaks and wavers. Despite these occurrences, his voice fits the music well.

That pretty much sums up most of the album, but I feel I have to mention the epic, "Queen of Hearts," in case you're hoping for a piece on par with "Supper's Ready." It doesn't even come close, but that doesn't mean it's worthless. No, there are plenty of great melodies and moments scattered throughout the song. I particularly enjoy the desperate-sounding, minor-key introduction and the catchy ending section. I have a feeling that Pendragon were shooting for their own "Supper's Ready," but at this point, they're simply not able to pull it off. On Believe, however, they would make another attempt which would come much closer to the target.

Now, if you're a fan of Pendragon's more known and, let's be honest, better work such as The Masquerade Overture or Believe, I have no doubt that you'll enjoy The World. There are a fine amount of quality tracks and moments on it, and even if it can't match their later works in terms of complexity or brilliant songwriting, it hints at what's to come.

Report this review (#68814)
Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Welcome to the world of fairytales! The man who tells them is called Nick Barrett. He's an owner of warm, high voice and his guitar play is an ellegant mixture of Davud Gilmour's and Andy Latimer's styles. His songs are based on nice melodies, but there are more melodic fragments here. Every solo of Barret's guitar (THE VOYAGER!!!) or Nolan's keyboard are recognizable. The texts are childish, but it fits this relaxing musoc and Barrett's vocal. Don't miss it!
Report this review (#71586)
Posted Friday, March 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I was basically put into a deep sleep by this below-average release by Pendragon, which surprises me by the number of people that seem to like it. Maybe I'm just strange. My sleep was so deep that I literally merged with my sofa. I realized it was over when I woke up to silence and darkness, which quite disturbed me. Am I dead? But no, fortunately for me, I found my way out from underneath the sofa cushions with most of my brain cells intact and able to write some semblance of a review.

The World starts off with Back in the Spotlight, which has a strong Marillion feel, but pales in comparison to Marillion's worst. Nick Barrett's vocals are way below average. It's an okay song, but a face-squinching (what an adjective!) start that leads me to think we're heading for trouble. The second track, The Voyager, has a promising title and a promising 12+ minute time, but once I got halfway through it, I began to realize that it's just not happening. It's okay, but it's missing the energy needed to make it a good song. It shows some Genesis influences, but the vocals are stale and the mix is just too sterile, too "clean-cut." Shane, the third track, is again okay, but has the same problems. The fourth track, Prayer, is downright sappy with poor vocals.

The fifth track is the three-part suite Queen of Hearts, timing in at almost 22 minutes. Before listening to this, I had the hope that this might lift this album out of mediocrity, but again, it failed. It is better than the other songs on this album, but the vocals are still poor, the digital keys are cold and sappy in places, and it drags on for way too long. The last track, And We'll Go Hunting Deer, is "blah." I don't how else to describe it.

I bought the 2005 re-release by Snapper Music. This featured a bonus track called Sister Bluebird. The funny thing is, the bonus track is better than any other song on the whole album! I've never seen this before. Sister Bluebird is much better produced, has more warmth, nice keys and guitars, and even Barrett's vocals are better. Pendragon would have been better off releasing an album full of bonus tracks. Two stars, only for collectors and fans. All others avoid.

Report this review (#72429)
Posted Monday, March 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I close my eyes and find myself floating somewhere where everything feels so good. I turn the volume more up and feel the extacy rising. It starts as a gentle U2 turning into a pleasant texture made by keyboards and guitar interacting in harmony. The singing and the voice suits the music perfectly. There is something familiar in the melody but I cannot recollect it. There is no agression in this music. This is an adult fairytail. Yo've had your crisis already and just want everything to be nice. I could let this music pet my ears forever. Although this is completely nice this is very imaginative music. Beautiful melodies and very progressive compositions. There are strong moments too. The boys use the whole scale of their instruments but keep the music all the time enjoyable. Some might say that this is too kins music, too lame, that there is not enough edge in it. That is true and I love it! This is like Supertramp gone symphonic.

I must end this review now with a five star rating. I want to go back on the sofa and continue listening...

Report this review (#72605)
Posted Thursday, March 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, I hate to give bad reviews, but since this is the only Pendragon album I've listened to I thought I should put in my comments.

First, I can't think of many more boring albums that this one. The first track seemed somewhat promising, but lacked any real bite or power. And after that, it just gets mellower (more or less). I will give Kudos to the lead guitar work, even if it is a bit derivative of Rothery and Gilmour. The vocals are decent I'd say. But the songs themselves just bore me to sleep. The "epic" is disjointed, uneven, and really just too drawn out.

If I had to categorize this, I'd call it prog muzak. Something you might hear in an elevator or supermarket.........if prog were more popular to the general public (and, I will say, I would certainly prefer to hear this than what they actually do play in those places, but you get the idea). Obviously though, it fits firmly in the neo prog category, which I'm not crazy about in the first place. But I did give this a try, as I had read it was one of their better albums. But I just can't bring myself to give it more than 2 stars (really 1.5, but I'll be generous).

Report this review (#83462)
Posted Tuesday, July 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars The future of progressive music looked quite bleak in 1991: hair bands still ruling, grunge was rising and all major neo prog bands stuck in a rut. They all had either broken up (Pallas, IQ) or gone looking for other markets (Marillion). Jadis was a kind of late comer and really did not count. Bu also it was that time Pendragon resurfaced after a 3 year hiatus. Previously this english band looked like a second rate Marillion in the eyes of many and their previous album, Kowtow, suggested the group might follow others neo prog acts into pop music. Surprisingly Pendragon came back with the first of their truly prog sounding CD. With The World the group not only went back to their prog roots, but actually created a style of their own. The sound was more sophisticated, more focused, more adventurous. Nick Barret had matured his songwriting and the group worked as a truly living thing, it was bigger than the sum of its parts.

Up to 2001's Not Of This World, Pendragon came with better and better sounding albums. They got the recognition they deserved on The Masquerade Overture. Actually Masquerade and Not Of This world were so much acclaimed that fans tend to forget that their previous effords (The World and Windows Of Life) were excelent ones and quite groundbreaking for their time. I myself was one of those fans. Recently I rediscover this CD and I've been hearing it a lot. And although I have The World for quite a while, I never gave it too much attention, something I'm correcting now. After all, it might not have the same development of Masquerade or the bombastic arrangements fo Not Of This World, but the songwriting and the performance are so strong they overcome any limitations they might had at the time. The music still soars convincily and the emotions are the same. It was hailed by critics as a classic in 1991. They were right. Highly recommeded.

Report this review (#89669)
Posted Thursday, September 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars "And then came doubt, then came the fears"

I must admit, I am not a fan of neo-progressive music. I've listened to several highly rated albums from the genre and nearly none of them caught my interest. Unfortunatly, it is the same for this one. This album is leargely keyboard based, the vocals seem like they are merely a background instrument. Overall, after a few listens, I still cannot stand this album. I find it musically weak and lyrically weak...this album seems like more pop than prog. The epic Queen of Hearts is long and dry, it lacks much musical substance. This album is, to be frank, boring. Very boring. However, it's not completely terrible, and I'll give it two stars. I recommend for anyone who likes neo-progressive music, and highly disrecommend it for anyone who does not.

Report this review (#117752)
Posted Monday, April 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars As I have mentioned in previous reviews (and I work chronologically), I like Pendragon a lot.

Their music is of course not complex. But most of the time (if you expect "Kowtow" of course) it is full of emotions, melodic and beautiful music. Actually, the best point of comparison I can think of, since I am also reviewing the entire catalogue for Barclay James Harvest, is the similarity between those bands. Nice music. Beautiful harmonies. Great guitar breaks. This is also how Pendragon sounds.

It is of course easy to say that this studio album is their best one to date (since there were not so many). If you are looking for weird lyrics or incredible and complex pieces of music, you'll have to knock on your neighbour's door. What you'll get here is just wonderful music with lots of feeling. From start to finish.

None of the tracks are weak. There will be some outstanding ones. "Voyager" is a perfect example. Nick is of course not the best lead singer in the world (I have already said this about John Lees), but he is so emotional and sincere... I have seen Pendragon live in May 2006, and this feeling was present during the whole of their (very long) live set. The audience being really passionate. Of course we are not in front of a new Genesis or Floyd. But we all know this.

Pendragon just brings me A LOT of emotion. And I can tell you that this record won't be dissapointing. Of course "Voyager" sounds like a Genesis song, but do you really have too much of these ? I don't, and I never will. I'm just overwelmed with joy when I listen to this track. So beautiful, yet so simple...

It is clear that with "The World", the band reaches full maturity. It will be the first of a wonderful trilogy. The finale of "Voyager" is a pure jewel of prog music... I have never understood (except for "Kowtow" which was rather poor) that this band is categorized in the neo-prog genre. They sound so symphonic and beautiful that there is no hesistation for me : Pendragon is a symphonic band.

"Shane" is very Floydian. So what ? There are poorer references, aren't they ? This is a wonferful and melodic song. I just have the shivers when I listen to it. "Prayer" is at least as good. What a great melody ! Nick 's vocals are just great (but some will say that he can't sing...).

The "piece the resistance" is their epic "Queen of Hearts" divided into three movements. It is a real pleasure to listen to Pendragon. So beautiful music is just fabulous. If you do not like to listen to this type of albums all the way through and are missing some dull improvisations and weird sounds, just put another CD into your multiple CD reader, but be sure to get one spot free to insert "The World" (or a later one of the Trilogy). Just to give you a breathe (in the air).

The middle part ("A Man Could Die Out Here") is my preferred one. All symph and beauty. More rocking as well. A very good track indeed.

Pendragon is of course not an influent band. It does not play in the major league for its global work. But still, they produce a powerful symph-pop-prog. Some blunders in their career (but which one did not produced one ? Remember Yes, Tull, Genesis).

When playing live, they are also great. Nick being a good entertainer and positive person. I just love them. Clive being the cement of their sound as well.

This album is not a masterpiece as such, but it is really close : it holds some pure symph prog gems. Besides, I like it an awful lot. Four stars (but I would have rated 9 / 10 if it was possible).

Report this review (#122444)
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars During the 80s and 90s I wasn't too much concerned about the so-called neo- progressive, even the label was odd for me until years after the genre erupted - those infamous bands like MARILLION, ARENA, IQ, etc, meant few to me and haven't touched my heart. Well, all changed the day I took contact with PENDRAGON and it happened due to "The World".

In fact, all resumed more or less by the beginning of the new century when PENDRAGON existed for more than 20 years and "The World" had completed an entire decade. I don't know what caught me initially, maybe the beautiful cover or the need to explore something different. I cannot even remember if someone gave me a tip about the band or the album - what I'm really sure is that something clicked on me when I first heard it (was I older and more tolerant?).

'Back in the spotlight', the typical neo-prog song that opens the album is powerful enough to grab your attention and make you to wait for new vibrations, which came through the lengthy "The voyager", a fine mini-epic with nice symphonic atmosphere, but anyway here and there it's possible to discern some Floydian tunes and folk spices. 'Shane' and 'Prayer', the next tracks keep the album in a fair mood even not being spectacular - again the same direction heard previously is present for both songs: good vocals and instrumentation, extra-high musicianship - there's a clear line followed steadily by the band in pursuing their goal to show the concept behind the songs.

'Queen of hearts', a piece divided into 3 independent segments, is the ultimate album epic and what an awesome and pleasant moment we are gifted: voices and instruments work in harmony but they still can be spotted individually and it's great. Album closes with the soft 'And we'll go hunting deer', and I cannot think of a better song to end this output.

After "The World" my view about neo-prog changed totally and the genre is now pretty acceptable as part of my personal taste. This is a good album, bordering the masterpiece realm and a recommended work for prog beginners. Final rating: 4.

Report this review (#126562)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Progressing well

Inexplicably, for some reason "The world" was the only Pendragon album missing form my collection up until this year. Released in 1991, some three years after "Kowtow", "The world" is Pendragon's first truly prog album. Following an abortive relationship with EMI records which resulted in the "Kowtow" album, this time the band decided to make the music they really wanted to make, an album for themselves. The result was a highly confident and competent statement of intent, and a first rate album too. By the way, it was around this time that Nick Barrett met his future wife, our very own "Progchick". Coincidence? I think not!

After the upbeat and admirably positive opener "Back in the spotlight", we have one of the albums highlights, "The voyager". Written during what Nick describes as "the most inspiring time of his life, in America", this fantastical tale of adventure is clearly semi-autobiographical, while reflecting the pioneers of yesteryear. Barrett's guitar work here is particularly striking, with Clive Nolan's keyboards laying lush textures of sound on which the track is built.

The two tracks which follow are shorter more standard Pendragon fare. "Shane" would have fitted in well on "Not of this world", while "Prayer" starts out as a softer ballad but builds quickly back to the big sounding stately form which characterises the band's music.

The centrepiece here though is undoubtedly the three part, 22 minute "Queen of hearts". This was the bands first attempt at a prog epic, and by and large it works well. There is perhaps an over dependence on the vocals, which largely suppresses the opportunities for instrumental development. While the lyrics are well written (Barrett is usually the sole composer on the album), a little pruning might have been wise. That said, Nolan does add some fine synthesiser to "A man could die out here" (the middle part). The album concludes with the reflective "And we'll go hunting deer"; a fine, relaxed, slightly softer piece.

The 2005 re-release of the album has a bonus track "Sister bluebird" (nothing to do with "Starship Trooper" by Yes). The track is very much in the same mould as those which precede it, with some fine guitar by Barrett.

In all, a fine album which will appeal to those who enjoy neo-prog. The Steve Hackett/Genesis influences are strong, especially in the guitar work. The band would develop and refine their style on future albums, but "The world" is the album which set them on the right course.

This was the first Pendragon album to feature the artwork of Simon Williams, the superb fantasy images further emphasising the prog direction the band had now firmly set course on.

Report this review (#128185)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is an example of a band that was still finding its sound. Bearing that in mind, I will grudgingly give this three stars, though if they released this material today (as opposed to 1991), it would be an easy two star rating for me. There are plenty of good musical ideas, but they just can't quite pull them off. The strange thing is that I can't easily identify why exactly, and that seems to be the case for a fair amount of other reviewers: this album is just a bit boring, and it just doesn't have enough parts that hold the attention of those whose ears are well attuned to prog. Here are my possible reasons: extended lead-ins containing ambient and atmospheric keyboard/guitar combos, too much repetition (keyboard/synth lines, choruses, etc), and select places where Barrett overextends his vocal range/abilities. Individually, none of these are dealbreakers, but from a Gestalt perspective, the whole is just not quite right.

Back in the Spotlight. A very solid intro, with catchy guitar effects/harmonies, keyboard flourishes, and riff to close the track. Maybe not the best musical moments of the album, but certainly the most cohesive song for me.

The Voyager. 2 minutes before the vocals, and another 1.5 minute before drums. Let's pick up the pace Pendragon. We then hear a nice groove and chorus, but the music dies down again for three minutes to build to the nice guitar bit. There IS good music here, but they really make you work for it (eventually the law of diminishing returns on my listening effort kicks in).

Shane, Prayer. Two singles that take few chances and are quite forgettable. I have to admit that I enjoy Barrett's work on guitar.

Queen of Hearts. I really want to like this epic. There is good guitar, nice keyboard arrangements, and some memorable emotional and upbeat parts (especially the middle sequence), though the ending is a bit cheesy and cliche. Good thing Pendragon worked out the kinks here to produce some very focused and entertaining extended pieces later in their career.

And We'll Go Hunting Deer. This is the prog equivalent of maple syrup: overly sweet, and you certainly don't want to consume too much. At least this ends the album on a happy (if contrived) note.

Given a certain mindset and amount of patience, this could be a worthwhile album for you. That hasn't been my experience, but I do enjoy Pendragon's later work. Decent music, but not recommended.

Report this review (#137257)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have to say I'm a bit amazed about the average score so far for The World. Don't get me wrong, Pendragon is a great band, one of my all time favourites even but this album is not by a long way one of their better efforts. I only really liked it in the beginning and then we are talking about 1992 or so and then I have to add to it that this was one of my very first real prog albums, I was mainly into Saga in that period and in those circumstances you can imagine that a good album by Pendragon is mindblowing.

But as I learned more prog and later on also more Pendragon I also learned that though this album is good it's far from sensational. I already had that in mind before I gave it a last spin recently for the review to check if what was in my mind was really what it is to me now and that I will be giving a justified judgement about it. In fact there is not even one song on the album I got really enthusiastic about, it was just the second part of Queen of hearts that got me somewhat going but the rest was just a bit better than mediocre to me. It shows how music can evolve on you. In 15 years time it has gone from some 4,75 stars to 3,25 now. So I think I have to round this down to 3 stars. Even though this album meant a totally new style for the next decade by this band !

Report this review (#154242)
Posted Wednesday, December 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having refound Pendragon after a gap of 22 years I have found this the hardest album to get into but it has been well worth the wait.

The World is often attributed with defining the modern Pendragon sound and I can appreciate this as it does sound very much of its time but this should be taken as a positive comment.

The opening track Back in the spotlight is a good example of Nick Barrett's good use of effects with a delay basd rhythm track picked out with some nice lead work.

This is followed by the excellent Voyager which starts with some nice slide work and some very good keyboard work by Clive.

I love Nicks vocal performance on Shane and there is some great guitar work here too, to my mind Nick is up there with the best and has a rare knack of not letting his guitar work get in the way of the song.

Prayer features some nice fretless work from Peter Gee and my only complaint is that his bass sound is not as good as it was on other albums and he is one good bass player.

Queen of Hearts is 21 minutes in 3 parts with good work form all of the band and some great guitar and keyboards and in typical Barrett style takes you though many moods concluding with The last waltz.

We finish with And we'll go hunting deer the stangest song on the album but a good track nonethless and this to me is the attraction of Pendragon and Nick Barrett . These guys do what they do best and have stood the test of time and believe in their music.

My all time no 1 Pendragon album is Not of This World but The World is a great album and worth adding to your collection.

Report this review (#158844)
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The thing that surprised me most about this album was the atmospheric passages that come and go throughout. In fact a couple of reviewers on this site compare certain sections to PINK FLOYD. PENDRAGON sounding like PINK FLOYD ? Well it's a good comparison actually. I find this music so uplifting and moving at times, I am definitely a fan of this band. It's kind of cool that beside the title of each track they give the year and the place that each song was written.

"Back In The Spotlight" opens with guitar and synths before keys and drums join in. Nick starts to sing before 2 minutes. Love his voice. It's hard not to smile when he sings "...seize the day" , which is followed by a beautiful guitar solo. "The Voyager" I think is my favourite song on here. An atmospheric intro as you can hear the water flowing. Keys a minute in change the mood but not for long as synths come in and wash repeatedly. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. It gets quite uplifting 4 minutes in. A nice long guitar solo after 8 minutes. Nice. "Shane" opens with some atmosphere before kicking into gear 1 1/2 minutes in. It's still a releaxing song though, very reflective with a tasteful guitar solo after 3 minutes. "Prayer" opens with keys as reserved vocals and synths follow. Marching-like drums as vocals get passionate. A full sound after 2 minutes. This one is fairly melancholic really with a good vocal performance from Barrett.

"Queen Of Hearts" although being almost 22 minutes long, it's divided into 3 parts with each part being written in a different place. The last part is the oldest song(piece) on the album from 1987. The song opens with keys as sad vocals arrive much like the mood. A change 2 1/2 minutes in as a GENESIS flavour comes in making things brighter. Another change after 4 minutes as vocals and acoustic guitar remind me of MARILLION. Some nice background synths during this passage as well. A nice long guitar solo after 7 minutes. This first part queen of hearts is 8 minutes long. The second part "...a man could die out here..." is also around 8 minutes long. It has an uptempo intro before quickly settling down a minute in. Some more atmosphere before it kicks back in 2 1/2 minutes with guitar and drums leading the way. Synths to end it. The final part "the last waltz" isn't as good as the first two sections in my opinion. Kind of catchy though. "And We'll Go Hunting Deer" opens with keys and synths. Atmosphere ! After 2 1/2 minutes we get a change as drums and reserved vocals arrive. Cool song.

I couldn't agree more with Hibou, these guys are a breath of fresh air. What a lineup as well. Nolan shines on the keyboard, while Fudge Smith is his usual solid self. Barrett is brilliant on vocals and lead guitar. Gee is the only one who seems lost in the mix or something.

Report this review (#158845)
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Mid 80´s to 90´s beginning, the time when the art genre was left to ruin, falling down, but some heroes didn't abandon the boat; independent acts resisted - as I mentioned in Iconoclasta "soliloquio" and Coda reviews - now some more history: the 1985 "The Jewel" (4****) by Pendragon was one more vinyl salvation island in low creativity music ocean (popish was "the thing") and the 1991 "The world" (3***) was the reborn from ashes!

Maybe because of the dark ages fame, some 80's prog works don't get the respect they deserve.I consider the tracks of "The Jewel" 1985 vinyl "circus", "oh divineo" and "Alaska" among the best Pendragon ever made, they show more than easy listening neo prog, they have killer keyboards [by Rik Carter, Clive Nolan would join in "kowtow" (2**)] and guitar solo interplay! Harmonies were creative, bombastic and dynamic, at least in these 3 tracks.

Pendragon "The Jewel" with IQ ".lush attic"(1983) and "the Wake"(1985), Pallas and our mainstream saver Marillion projected the foundations for a new prog language. It's curious that even old mainstream got modern language keeping neat prog: ELPowell (1985), quite unexpected good effort. I'm concentrating this review in most famous England bands, I know in many countries prog was resisting as independent acts as I mentioned in Iconoclasta "soliloquio" and Coda reviews.

Anyway Pendragon and IQ succumbed to the popish plague; the first with the 1988 "kowtow" and the last with "Nomzamo" (1987). In this context we must give the credit to Hogarth Marillion 1989 "Season's End" (***) still a neat record [they would succumb with the 1991 "Holidays in eden"(*1/2)].

But it's not easy to kill prog. A peculiar story of going to commercialism for a later return to prog format occurred with Pendragon 1991 "The world". IQ would reborn in 1993 with "Ever" and Marillion in 1994 with "Brave". While "Ever was an outstanding return, "The World" was only a nice and beautiful record, too linear as keyboards were doing only a wall to Nick Barret guitar and vocals fantastic developments, there was no more killer solos like in "The Jewel", but extended beautiful harmonies. Oh yes, Clive Nolan was playing and producing many new bands in early 90´s as Casino, Shadowland, Landmarq, 1995 formed Arena. So the cd era arrived to prolification and here we are still listening prog. Hey I'm Gentle Giant, 70´s, adventurous and innovative music fan, just remembering how was the beginning of cd era.

Report this review (#191964)
Posted Friday, December 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'The world is your oyster, search for your dreams and make them come true'

That's what it says on the inside of the booklet. A bit cheesy, and actually the majority of their lyrics are in this vein. But really, I don't care because the music is FAR from being average. Pendragon can be accused for using somewhat predictable harmonies (some of them sound very classical), but the inventiveness they put INTO that harmonies is great, and enough to keep the listener focused in the music. Take for example the vocal lines, that have a lot of work, oh and an special mention to the AMAZING guitar work: emotional solos, that remind me of Gilmour. Actually, when Barrett doesn't sing so high, he reminds me of Waters; in fact, this is a very floydian work, maybe their most floydian to date. Being from 1991, this album has the classical Pendragon sound (tons of melody, keyboard backgounds, emotional guitar - the guitar does not have a very rhythmic role, since mainly the keys have that role, but guitarist Barrett shines when he solos -, cheesy lyrics, high pitched vocals, and that good production usual in neo progressive albums). It's a bit poppy, but I love the singles right here (Shane (holy god, I love that guitar solo!), Prayer, and that song with an incredibly catchy chorus called The Last Waltz -I still can't get it out of my head-). The opener is very good too, but the real gem (and most progressive song) here is an epic song called The Voyager (it's a voyage really). The 21 minute epic Queen Of Hearts is good, but it can get a bit tiring in the second part. The closer And We'll Go Hunting Deer is a great relaxing song.

Overall, this is fun, easy listening prog rock, a bit poppy, but with a lot of great tunes and melodies, and the complexity in some moments make for a good prog album. Though it's not Pendragon's best (their follower, The Window of Life, is my favorite), I recommended it.

Rating: 3.9/5

Report this review (#194129)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars There's a recurring theme of travel and wanderlust in the lyrics, but for many fans The World is where Pendragon truly came home. No longer the schizophrenic group of the 1980s, Pendragon have stopped trying to mix melodic pop-rock numbers into their act and have increased their emphasis on Nick Barrett's soulful guitar playing.

In the three years since Kowtow Pendragon had mainly focused on consolidating Toff Records, rereleasing their old albums under their new label and producing the Rest of Pendragon compilation. But they clearly weren't idling musically speaking; instead, it seems that they've gone through a period of consolidation there too, finally deciding on what direction they want to take and pursuing it with gusto.

They chose the perfect time to do it. With Marillion and IQ taking a decidedly more commercial direction, and Pallas, Twelfth Night, and Solstice all on hiatus, 1991 was a dark time if you were a fan of the veterans of the Marquee scene and their early 1980s sound, and The World was an excellent alternative, rooted in the neo-prog sound and incorporating influences from Marillion and other big names without compromising Pendragon's own style. Hand on heart, I can't say it's an *essential* neo- prog album, but it's still a great disc which filled a gap at a crucial period in the genre's development. It's preaching to the neo choir a little, but it's a fine fine sermon indeed.

Report this review (#209511)
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the 3rd release of the English Band, Pendragon... Pendragon, after the release of 2 interesting albums, demostrate for the first time their great capacity of composing nice progressive rock.

The World consists of lyrical and melodic, progressive tracks that sound much as Marillion. In fact, the band present its style always reminding some early Marillion albums. Nick Barrett with his beautiful voice (that sometimes reminds Rush's Geddy Lee) and his wonderful guitar playing gives the band its unique character. Clive's Nollan keys are perfectly arranged and played, colouring the whole concept. The rhythm set doesn't present something incredible, but it's always precise, presenting a nice perfomance.

With this album, Pendragon, are going to influence various progressive bands such as Arena and Shadow Gallery (especially at the vocals). Their music, always having this Genesis - Marillion taste, is dressed by a perfectly clear production. Actually, the whole concept's production is marvellous..Pendragon enter in the real prog paths and dimostrate how they're going to be one of the greatest and most influencing bands ever...

A perfect addition for any prog listener...4 stars.

Report this review (#221767)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars The third world in the UK

The World is Pendragon's third full length album overall but it was the first on which the band found their own sound and musical identity. Indeed, the formula established by this 1991 album would then be followed quite closely on subsequent albums up till and including Not Of This World that was released exactly ten years after the present album. Like the music itself, also the fantasy inspired cover pictures of these albums (The Window Of Life, The Masquerade Overture and Not Of This World) follow very closely the form and aesthetic of The World.

The previous two albums were quite immature and contained only traces of the typical Pendragon sound that can be found from this album onwards. This sound has as its essential components the distinctive vocals of Nick Barrett and his slow, sustained guitar play as well as the ever pleasant and lush keyboard work of the great Clive Nolan. Also quite characteristic is Barrett's particular style of song writing and the very high production values. In order to see what makes this music progressive you have to look both at the micro and the macro level. That is, both in the small details and in the larger structures. In between there is not much progression going on to be honest.

Three songs from this album are parts of a 20 plus minute suite called Queen Of Hearts. These songs are Queen Of Hearts, A Man Could Die Out Here and The Last Waltz. These songs would have to be declared the highlights of the album together with the American sounding The Voyager. The latter features harmonica and Country-like, bluesy acoustic guitar licks.

Personally, I have always found the music of Pendragon to be a little bit too lightweight and light-hearted for my taste, somehow lacking in depth and substance. However, there is no denying the talents of these musicians. This music is not particularly groundbreaking in any sense, but they do have a distinctive sound of their own which is more important. While their next album is slightly stronger than the present one, on The World is where it all began. The World is only the first in a series of good Pendragon albums.

While I find it quite hard to fault this album, I also find it very hard to conjure up much enthusiasm over it. It is a good album, but that's all it is.

Report this review (#223853)
Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Re visiting the earlier (mid?) catalogue of Pendragon I'd forgotten what stunning music they had been producing. 'The World', 'The Window Of Life' and 'The Masquerade Overture', are three superb albums by anyone's standard, soaring guitar work, tempered by ethereal keys and excellent melodies; though, unsurprisingly some were better than others. Moreover they have withstood the test of time as displayed by their current live set (Concerto Maximo (2008) and more recently Lorley (2009)). I shall review each in turn.

The World: 3 stars

The album that I feel that helped to define Pendragon, or perhaps more importantly where Clive began to really flex his fingers, and Nick became a real master of his craft.

'Back In The Spotlight' with a Simple Minds style rhythm section chuntering away in the background, this track eases its way happily throughout to get us off to a pleasing start, nothing special, but nothing offensive. 'The Voyager' after a bluesy introduction, a quiet keyboard chord is brought in with gentle vocals and sonorous guitar fills. Pendragon's ability to create memorable and catchy melodies begin with this track. Plenty of shifting signatures, tempos and dynamics keep the listener completely on board from start to finish. The latter part of the track builds into a glorious wall of sound, fully appreciated by volume and well placed speakers. This track is still on the live play list. 'Shane' great swing rhythm is generated within this track coupled with the off beats of the guitar, the subtle keys follow together with what is now the trademark Barrett sound. Quite a short track. 'Prayer' if the guitar hadn't arrived with its riff half way through this track, this would have been written off as purely filler, once again that guitar has saved the day. 'The Queen Of Hearts' Parts 1 to 3 perhaps the track which defines this album, the whole piece passes the 20 minute mark. Part 1 passes through a number of time signatures and styles never really settling in one, including an acoustic passage, the final section returns to the off beat that pre-empts the main beat as used in 'Shane', much more effective here though. Part 2 flows on immediately, more up tempo, it builds up to an anticlimax heralding a repeated bass line which in turn leads to some noodling interplay before settling in a rhythmic passage based over a repeating bass pattern. Though the middle part of this section includes a vocal with quite backing the whole effect of this section is never lost returning to the sound of the first section. Part 3 is linked by a keyboard section and finally the third part begins with a catchy melody and lyrics 'do you remember, do you recall?', rather repetitive but somehow appropriate. 'And We'll Go Hunting Deer' opening to an atmospheric held chord with piano passage and simulated pipes this anthematic piece builds to include drums and vocal, all the while you feel that it will eventually explode into a guitar driven solo, it never arrives unfortunately? all in all a gentle piece to close the album.

Never reaching the pinnacle of the subsequent album it does however lay the foundation for it, three stars for this Pendragon offering.

Report this review (#228492)
Posted Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars An album that I really enjoy followed by an album that I don't like much at all - what was on the table for this third release 3 years after the last? By the time this was released Marillion had lost Fish (Oh Woe of Woes) although their "Season's End" album was brilliant the forthcoming works from them left a lot to be desired as far as I'm concerned although for the most part I do still like them. IQ were coming out of a weak period after the releases of their two weakest studio albums. Pallas had released no further albums - "Beat the Drum" was still a long way off. Arena was still on the way. Magnum had released their best album "Wings of Heaven" and followed it up with "Goodnight L.A." helping to give me my melody fix.

This album was a breath of fresh air and it fed my love for this kind of music.

"Back in the Spotlight" - Starts off upbeat with keyboard swirls punctuated by lead guitar until it leads into a very Fish era Marillion sound.

"The Voyager" - Steel guitar sound accompanied by water flowing leads into keyboards gently. The vocals come in and things are peaceful with drama of the building sound. At the 8.38 mark the track crescendo's with beautiful lead work. This track is an adventure in melody.

"Shane" - Very Floydish sounding track. A short emotion filled work.

"Prayer" - Nice short melodic track.

"Queen of Hearts" - Monster track divided into three parts. Again a full on adventure in melody. The second part of the epic (A Man could die out Here..) is a stunning trip with some very accomplished musicians. The third part rounds the epic off well.

"And we'll go hunting Deer" - Nice end to a nice (very nice) album. The sun setting on a profound musical melody filled journey.

This is an album that to my ears is worth no less than 5 stars. It alone was the standard bearer when it was released for the "neo-prog" genre. Full of melody that at times reaches achingly beautiful heights. Clive Nolan shows here how valuable a contribution he makes to the band. If you don't enjoy Fish era Marillion, Gabriel era Genesis, melody filled work, dramatic music - then stay well away - If you do and you haven't heard this then hear it, as soon as you possibly can. At first Nick Barrett's voice may be a little off putting but it does grow on you.

Report this review (#1024512)
Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Review Permalink

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