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Gordon Giltrap

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5 stars One of the best concept albums I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. By far the best album by Gordon Giltrap. It all hangs together very well. Some lovely guitar work, but it is not just Mr Giltrap that stars on this work, the whole band really rock. There is some really nice drumming on the track "morbio gorge" for example. This is symphonic rock at its best. The album has nice pace and a good atmosphere and ambiance about it. To my mind there is not a bad track on it. Listeners may recognise the very catchy and stand out track heartsong which was the theme tune for the holiday program.

On vinyl, both sides build up very nicely track on track until getting to an awesome finish that nicely rounds off the sides and in the case of side 2 the end of the work. This is an album that deserves much more recognition and is a true classic. Perhaps a mistake was made by the label "Electric." Gordon Giltrap at the time was more well known for his solo guitar work and had no band following. Here we have a rock band of the finest quality interacting well but the buyer may have thought they were buying a solo guitar work! This album easily gets to the top of the 5 star category.

Report this review (#252888)
Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Plenty of BPM's.... but too few M's!

Gordon Giltrap consolidated his transformation from singer songwriter to prog composer with this follow up to his superb "Visionary" album. If "Visionary" represented the introduction of the completely revamped Giltrap, "Perilous journey" sees him turning that transition into commercial success and widespread (and deserved) recognition.

In 1977, that commercial success was still to a large extent dependent on finding a hit single, and Giltrap duly obliged with the fine "Heartsong". The song, or more correctly instrumental, was used in the UK by the BBC Television programme "Holiday" for seven years, keeping it in the public mind over that period, and presumably therefore maintaining sales of this album.

The band which Giltrap had put together for "Visionary" is retained here, with a brass section and strings supplementing the sound. In some ways, the album is like an extended adaptation of Mason Williams' "Classical gas", with acoustic guitar and orchestra vying with each other for centre stage. The opening "Quest" is very much in this vain, the music of the band Sky also coming to mind.

The tracks tend to segue together, giving the set an enjoyable continuity, with softer sections such as "Pastoral" forming a bridge between the more complex arrangements on the upbeat passages.

The one major complain about the album as a whole is its brevity. Even in 1977, 32 minutes was somewhat short for an LP. Judged on the music alone though, this is a fine piece of work.

Report this review (#390205)
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Next yer after Visionary , 1977 Giltrap releases his masterpiece in my view, Perilous journy. This is my fav GG album and the most inventiv album I've hered from him. Much more progressive from previous work, not to mention from his folky period, this Prilous journey is an essntial album if anyone wants to listen to grandious arrangements, with blistering guitar parts and top notch keyboards. No weak moments here, each piece show great potential, smooth and elegant passages, like on Pastoral, Heartsong or Cascade, all are superb. The guitar parts are more then excellent, showing how versatile Giltrap was in that period, all instrumental album, mature and complex in same time. I had real enjoyble moments listning to this release. In this time he become very well known and popular amomg prog fans, that's why he had some spectacular and well recived concerts opening for giants such as Renaissance or Cravan. Because the line up was the same as on previous work and aswell on next one, is easy to observe thet all musicians involved here done a strong job, they interlude very well and they play with pleasure each note. One of my fav albums ever not only from him but in general, this is elegant music that every serious prog fan must discover. Recommended for sure, brilliant from start to finish. 5 stars without hesitation
Report this review (#830715)
Posted Sunday, September 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Like many others, the first time I came across Gordon Giltrap was when he appeared on Top of the Pops playing "Heartsong" back in 1977. I was 14 at the time, and spending much of my spare time listening to progressive rock music and trying to learn as much about the scene as possible, and I just hadn't come across anything quite like this. I was blown away with the incredible acoustic guitar which just seemed to lift and take off )I always thought it was 12- string, but according to the booklet this is a common misconception and was in fact multi- tracked six string), and to this day it is still one of my favourite Giltrap numbers. The album on which it appeared, 'Perilous Journey', was a continuation of 'Visionary' with the same production team, and the same rhythm section of Simon Phillips and John G. Perry with keyboard player Rod Edwards. Everyone was accustomed now to how each other worked and they took the ideas even further than they had previously.

The orchestration is lush, there is much more use of brass (including the appearance of some guys from the Average White Band), and it is as if the whole band has stepped up. Gordon is very much centre stage, and the additional musical elements (if there are any) add to the guitar while never detracting from it. Rod has a more important part to play on this album, and his use of mini-moog is a key part to the overall success. Even in 1977 this was quite a short album, at only 32 minutes long, but that is no longer an issue as this re-mastered reissue now clocks in at 75 minutes. A special mention should really be made of the final song, the new 'bonus' that even now causes Gordon to cringe. "Heartsong" was such a success that the label of course wanted another hit, and for some reason Gordon was convinced to cover "Oh Well". Given that the original is a classic, this was always going to be a hard ask, especially as Gordon is not a strong singer. It's probably best to just note that this is here, and instead go back to the album 'proper'.

If you want to investigate Gordon, then this is probably the album to start with.

Report this review (#1041122)
Posted Saturday, September 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The prog universe is an eternal infinity, as I often wonder when will I ever hit the bottom of the barrel! Well, thankfully that won't ever happen, there is simply so much music and so little time (yeah, and money!). Obviously, I had heard of Gordon Giltrap without ever having had the op to discover his music. Now, what is particularly sordid about this abject failure on my part, is the well-known chronicled fact that I am a devout bass fetishist who has a particular affinity for John G. Perry, former Curved Air, Caravan, Quantum Jump and Ant Phillips man, who also has published two hard to find solo albums that deserve progressive attention. It is only now that I have purchased both 'Visionary' and 'Perilous Journey', non-arguably Giltrap's two most symphonic releases. I guess one has to mellow with age but truth is acoustic guitar maestros have never really banged my gong, as the sadly departed Marc Bolan would say. No Bert Jansch, one John Renbourn (I have a vinyl somewhere), one John Martyn (same situation), no Paco de Lucia, no Steve Tibbets etc'' Boy, do I feel stupid, missing out on this! One of the top rhythm sections in the cosmos with Perry and the legendary Simon Phillips on the kit, and I just now get the thrill?!? Shame on me!

Truth is Giltrap is a master guitarist, a fluid and technical player who has a storied legacy in folk circles til today. This comment from Ritchie Blackmore (who needs little introduction to anyone in this galaxy= 'Anyone who asks me knows, that I think that Gordon Giltrap is one of the best acoustic guitar players in the world. He gave me lots of hints on how to approach the acoustic guitar as opposed to the electric guitar. He was always way ahead of his time. His concerts and playing are breathtaking. He's also very witty, and I love the fact that he has not cut his hair!" Funny Ritchie, and they say you are humourless, pfff! Sadly, I had no prior knowledge of Gordon Giltrap as well as keyboardist Rod Edwards, who adds so much 'symphonicity' to the proceedings. The mid-70s British hit 'Heartsong' did not quite reach the shores of North America, for whatever reason, so I had never heard it before until my recent 2014 purchase! Pity! A tremendous display of acoustic technique and bravado. Well, I am proud to admit that this is a splendid recording, lush with sterling orchestrations, magnificent arrangements, sublime drumming and masterful acoustic guitar playing as well as Perry's resonating tour de force. This will fit in nicely beside Gryphon, Oldfield, Colin Masson and the Morrigan, for example.

Every track is utterly tasty, in terms of technical prowess and artistic merit, earning very high marks for originality, poise, composure and resonance. In fact, some tracks have an immediate appeal, being densely orchestrated and thus staying away from foolhardy schoolmaster tendencies that can choke the juice out of any album. The colossal symphonics on 'Quest' harken back to 'Red Queen to Gryphon Three' days, an album justly considered by a wide variety of prog fans as a top 20 classic! Edwards in particular shines brightly on piano and assorted keys, surprising in both its mellow and exuberant modes , but on the follow-up 'The Deserter', the sensual sax really blows hard and fine, while Perry rumbles, Phillips thumping as only he can while Giltrap does a little electric ditty. Fabulous and world class tracks, a fine One-Two punch! Though 'Pastoral' may evoke some sweet musical panacea, but it actually swoops down with dense orchestrations of churning violins that introduce the gentle acoustic guitar, the spotlight firmly on Gordon's deft fingers, deeply emotive and crushingly masterful. The word 'beautiful' applies succinctly! While 'Mobio Gorge' has Edwards showing off his Moog skills within frantic ensemble and orchestra interface, Phillips steals the show with his Cobham like thunder. It serves as a fine curtsy to 'Heartsong', a fluttering masterpiece that has verve and style, though I am not a big fan of clapping hands in my music, unless it's a flamenco night in Buenos Aires! But that is just a very minor quibble as the piece has exquisite pace. Gordon has technique down big time, wow! Rapid, precise, intense and dexterous. Want proof that Phillips knows his kit intimately? Check out his technique on 'Reflections & Despair', a platform for booming drum rolls that stagger close to John Bonham territory, aided by orchestral violins that scratch mightily up front and center. Not exactly shabby on the follow-up, 'Cascade', a twirling tornado of symphonic splendor, where Perry carves like a slalom skier. Contrast that with the moody and regal 'To the High Throne', another whimsical union of acoustic guitar and orchestra, rhythm section backing nicely. 'Vision' ends the official 1973 release with a piano driven reworking of Quest, or at least a variation on the same lush theme.

Esoteric Records has in 2013 reissued with a further 4 bonus songs, totaling another 38 minutes plus extended booklet, even though Gordon hates the cover art intensely , probably because it was forced on him by the record company at the time. Great album that has ample merits and really quite original to the discerning prog archivist. Just please do not wait as long as I did!

4 Dangerous treks

Report this review (#1134932)
Posted Friday, February 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The elegant, instrumental sound of ''Visionary'' was good enough to become pretty succesful, forcing Giltrap to form the Gordon Giltrap Band, opening a new chapter in his career.Bassist John G. Perry, drummer Simon Phillips and keyboardist Rob Edwards were of course the stable members, accompanied by a strong wind section.''Perilous journey'' was the next album in the row for Giltrap, recorded at Redan Recorders and released in 1977 on The Electric Record Company. Stan Sultzman joins on sax and Martin Drover on trumpet among the usual participants, Jeff Daly on baritone sax, Tony Carr on percussion, Pat Halling on strings, Chris Pyne on trombone and Henry Lowther on second trumpet.

The early, rural vibes become less and less apparent with each Giltrap release and the sound on ''Perilous journey'' obtains a smooth electric atmosphere with orchestral and symphonic overtones, akin to SKY or even STEVE HACKETT.The music is pretty gentle and elaborate with nice use of electric guitars, injections of classical guitar and plenty of piano and keyboard lines in the process, resulting to dreamy and well-crafted arrangements.The presence of trumpet, trombone, sax and strings do offer this lush, orchestral feeling, similar to MIKE OLDFIELD's works, but Giltrap had now his own, genuine way to blend symphonic moves, light acoustic soundscapes and rhythmic twists into a charming, progressive amalgam with an obvious touch of 70's Prog Rock.Despite the overall delicate style, certain tracks become quite grandiose with full-blown keyboards, emphatic orchestral backgrounds and Giltrap's quirky guitar plays, both in electric and acoustic form.Rob Edwards provides some fantastic keyboard themes and solos on organ and Moog synthesizer and the album ends up to be pretty rich in sounds and sights with the everchanging tempos and climates.

Second attempt of Giltrap along the lines of progressive music.Intense, ethereal instrumental, quasi-Symphonic Rock with some advanced arrangements.Great stuff, strongly recommended.

Report this review (#1262037)
Posted Thursday, August 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Always on the look out for new music, I found out this artist.

This is exactly what I am always on the lookout for: instrumental, progressives, symphonic, folky rock. I never heard of Gordon Giltrap before, except the occasional namedropping.

But this one really caught me by suprise. It reminds me of Mike Oldfield, Camel, Caravan, Sky, and even John Miles, but that's not a surprise, because the musicians have all connections to said artists.

The bassguitarist John G Perry, is known of Caravan and Simon Philips of course plays with Mike Oldfield a lot. The drumming is really heavy on this album, and maybe this is Simon's best drumming, I have heard.

Gordon is guitarist but doesn't overdo it, wich is a great thing. Hey plays mostly acoustic, folky stuff over the heavy music. Wich gives it a folky, pastoral atmosphere. When Gordon has a chance to play solos (acoustic) he really shines.

The guestmusicians add strings and horns to the music, wich is put to good use. As said, the music is fully instrumental, but because the melodies and compositions are never dull or too repetitive the album is constantly interesting. In the world of progressive music, I can honestly say, that this album is rather unique, because of it's focus on acoustic guitar, accompanied by a rock-backing band.

The songlengths displayed on the website are wrong, the album is not 32 minutes long but more like 48 minutes:

Report this review (#1600125)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2016 | Review Permalink

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