Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Fantasy - Paint A Picture CD (album) cover



Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
5 stars A fantastic Album. Simply first class. The melodies, and musical prowess is simply unbelievable. How this band has not become a great i have no idea, but the album is definately worth a listen to any who love rock or progressive rock music.
Report this review (#27011)
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Somewhat over-rated IMOHO , this is considered as one of the hidden pearls of prog and I must say this is one still I listen to 10 years after discovering it, but rarely go to the end of it. This has all the ingredients a proghead wishes for , and this was much lauded as a real masterpiece until this came back out on CD . I have heard a lot less about it since.
Report this review (#27013)
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
5 stars Before reading my short review of this album, I have to admit being a bit biased. I really love this style of early English progressive rock. Although the musicians are not virtuosos, and the tracks are not terribly complex the music here is so warm, sincere, and melodic that you immediately fall for the colorful sounds coming out of your speakers. 1973's "Paint A Picture" is FANTASY's only official release (the second album, which was rejected by Polydor in the 70s, was released on CD in 1992). Some of the music on "Paint A Picture" reminds me of David BOWIE's "Space Oddity". Not that the tracks here sound like BOWIE's classic song, but the orchestration is very similar. Especially with the use of acoustic guitar, and mellotron. The band also knew when to pick up the pace in a song with an aggressive instrumental section or two, but the overall atmosphere is relaxed. This classic will appeal to fans of SPRING, EARTH AND FIRE, PENTACLE, and PFM's "Per Un Amico".
Report this review (#27014)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Sorry for the low score, but honestly I don't get crazy for this kind of "Pop-progressive", in the vein of band such as SPRING, CRESSIDA, CIRKUS and in some circumstances BEGGAR'S OPERA (despite of these latter being harder) as well...of course there's a lot of Mellotron keyboards, along with some good breaks through reminding me of "Trespass" by GENESIS, but I can't remember any melody or such a memorable moment here!! The song-structured music themes, characterized by a poor harmony, let me be a bit perplex, because this album is regarded as a "progressive album" although it is not so creative nor this is a work in progress!! Make your choice anyway!! Recommended only if you love the bands I have mentioned to you above.
Report this review (#27015)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Paint a Picture" was the debut album release by England's FANTASY and represents a lovely early work of art. This 5 piece English band play a highly symphonic styled melodic progressive rock with some lovely deep mellotron and keyboards. FANTASYy were known as a song based band and this album showcases their lyrical approach to symphonic music. Instrumentally these guys were amazing with some lovely bass, guitar and drum interplay all put to the expressive and flowing vocals. Hard to exactly peg down but one might draw some similarities to the approach of STARCASTEL, Alan PARSONS PROJECT (ie. Politely Insane) GENESIS and even BARCLAY JAMES & HARVEST. Their sound is full and rich with lots of great instrumentation. Recommended for your collection !
Report this review (#70939)
Posted Thursday, March 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fantasy were a group whose history is enough to make even those familiar with record company problems, evil producers, tragic occurences (their original guitarist Bob Vann was killed on his 18th birthday!), and later on an outrageously expensive price tag for a not well promoted album cringe. Still, the group managed to record enough material for two albums, and Paint A Picture was the one officially or semi officially I would say released at the time. This really is a wonderful album, full of song oriented melodic symphonic progressive rock with psychedelic overtones and fine musicianship from all five band members. Centered around the writing team of singer/12 string guitarist Paul Lawrence, keyboard player David Metcalfe, and bassist Dave Read the group also had a really distinctive guitar sound thanks to Pete James so don't expect this to be an all keyboard no guitar affair. I would strongly reccommend this record to anyone who loves or even just likes not just progressive rock, but the British melodic rock early 70s groups too. I will give a song by song analysis here: 1. "Paint A Picture" A great opening track, beginning with a gothic and haunting melody, Bowie esque vocals, and then into gentle soaring harmonies. The song builds up into some impressive instrumental passages and a dream like ancient English quality that is charming. Great. 2, "Circus" Probably my favourite track here. A song that goes through many changes with some astonishing guitar work, very beautiful laid back vocals, and some really rocking passages towards the end where the song seems like the ultimate epic and it's not even that long a track. The surreal lyrics don't seem to deal with a circus of any kind, but instead they are very personal and hint at a deep meaning that is more easily experienced in the music. 3. "The Award" (For Bob) This was written for their tragically killed original guitarist Bob Vann, but again the words are a bit opaque and have a relaxed poetic nature also found in the music which is very similar to David Bowie around the Hunky Dory period. A quite intriguing and surprisingly uplifting number. 4. "Politely Insane" Brass arrangement augments Fantasy on a song they were forced to record. Not a bad song though, in fact pretty good. 5 "Widow" Short, mournful, depressed track with a beautiful haunting cello and lyrics about a war that destroys an entire generation. Side Two is harder to go song by song, maybe because it really comes alive here and becomes a truly brilliant synthesis of progressive, psych, and melodic pop. This album is excellent, full of great songs, vocals, and playing. I would say though to do what I've done and find the old German reissue which sounds miles better than the Korean Si Wan reissue which frankly, sounds terrible.
Report this review (#74941)
Posted Friday, April 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars You'll discover moonshine

A fairly unknown pop/symphonic band made their debut and is an outfit I associate more with Camel for being a calmer, gentler style of prog, but really only in that respect. The album is very warm sounding, very genuine, and easy to listen to.

The prog found here lacks the virtuoso trapeze acrobatic like skills of others (though it doesn't make this bad). The sounds are lush, serene, and fine tuned more towards aesthetic qualities. It lacks much of the pretentiousness that might be associated with other artists of the genre. The guitars are typically much more back in the mix than many others, with the keys and vocals being primarily at the forefront. Overall there isn't too much going on here, for better or worse, but for those looking for easy listening and pleasant prog this would make an excellent choice.

Report this review (#104052)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is just a classic of early proto prog. I'm always surprised it's not more highly regarded by people. Each song is a miniature masterpiece, with great singing, songwriting, and playing, even though there's not too much complexity going on.
Report this review (#135454)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars I do have a problem with proto-progressive groups plying their trade in 1973, at a time when prog was at its peak. Fantasy's "Paint a Picture" sounds a lot more like 1967 to me. Of course, at the time there was no such style as proto-prog, and indeed even today we debate the merits of this appellation. To me, it sounds like psychedelic music that overstayed its welcome. While I heard great things about a variety of groups in this genre, none has really lived up to the hype of being "like the Moody Blues, only better". Fantasy is no exception.

Nonetheless the vocals are strong, the songs generally do not overextend themselves, the organs and guitars are crisp, and the group knows how to vary its approaches within a fairly standard rock framework. Highlights are the title cut, the feverish "Politely Insane", "Icy River", and the mythological sounding "Gnome Song". Unfortunately, they can also be quite tedious, as in "Circus", which starts off quite promisingly but becomes unfocused and pedestrian, and is marred by overly heavy guitars. "Thank Christ" and "Young Man's Fortune" are also weak and undistinguished, while "Window" in spite of or perhaps because of the cello, just sounds precious.

This Fantasy paints a picture I have seen too many times already, so loses a half star in the process. Like most proto prog, it's pretty dispensable today, although some will enjoy the bare bones approach.

Report this review (#152746)
Posted Sunday, November 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Sounds Good...

This debut offering from Fantasy is impressive.

The first things that grab you are the production and the pristine execution - which is exactly what strikes me first with the genre of Progressive Metal and much modern "Prog".

Actually, the very first thing that grabs you is typical Prog-style keyboards, layered with panned auto-wah guitars, creating an atmosphere not unlike that on Pink Floyd's opus of the next year, "Wish You Were Here". There are other similarities to Floyd, in the chord progressions mainly - the vocals leap out at you like some kind of "Aladdin Sane" Bowie clone, even down to the harmonisation style.

Unlike either Floyd or Bowie, however, there is something missing from the music that's difficult to put your finger on - at first, you think it might be the melodies. However, these are strong and accessible - just not particularly catchy. Then you think it could be the harmonies, as little unconvincing details appear with increasing frequency - but there's nothing that the other notables didn't do.

There are wafts of Mellotron, tempo changes, dynamic lights and shades and a symphonic feel - verging on the Barclay James Harvest and Genesis - but somehow it all feels artificial.

There are some stunning sounds here, though.

Underlying it all is what you might call a pop sensibility - yet there are no individual devices or compositional methods that are purely pop - in fact, there are many that are off the wall, and should sit together nicely to create a great Prog Rock album. The opening tracks, "Paint a Picture" and the first part of "Circus" are in no way as derivative as many other reviews would have you believe - the surface textures are all familiar and staples of Prog Rock, but the compositions - the way all the bits and pieces hang together and flow one from another - are deeply individual pieces.

The guitar solo lets "Circus" down very badly, though - it's a horrible pentatonic mess, which is followed quickly by an unredeeming dirge and faked applause, and the second half of this piece is quite terrible, using all kinds of classic references in a vain attempt to save itself, from the Beatles (Helter Skelter) to the Angular, Gabriel influenced vocal melodies - all buried under a sudden mush in the production.

"The Award" conjures up images of early Genesis - much more strongly than Marillion ever did - and again starts to sound like a David Bowie song - very similarly to "Paint a Picture". There are interesting little details that jump out that belong in neither camp, however - but not enough to make the song itself interesting.

"Politely Insane" is a much more uptempo pop/rocker, with 1970s style wacka-wacka rhythm guitar, and a chord progression and melody line that is "interesting", although not in the literal sense. Even though there are quirky changes and unusual constructions in here, the song washes past like arual wallpaper with the occasional "No!!!" moment, but an odd feeling that this should be a good song. Even though it isn't.

"Window" is a slower, balladic sort of song, with acoustic guitar and cello providing an unusual backdrop to the vocals, which here take on flavours of Roy Harper. The piano joins, providing rich textures - but the instrumentalists seem to ignore what each other are playing for an almighty harmonic splat - which seems all the more bizarre given the return to "pure" diatonic harmony for the rest of the piece (give or take the odd nasty).

Icy River begins like some epic Prog piece, then fizzles out into an unremarkable early Pink Floyd-derived song with blingy textures. Notable features include the keyboard being unaware of when the vocals are using major or minor harmonies, and providing nasty clashes of the minor and major third simultaneously. While it's possible to superimpose major and minor tonalities, here one gets the strongest impression that this is unintentional here - in the context of the rest of the harmonic work, at least, and we end up with moments of uncomfortable messiness that make this song hard to listen to as a whole. Pity, as it has interesting formal constructions.

"Thank Christ" kicks off like a combination of early Floyd, Yes and Genesis, with a pedal bass, trippy keyboard and vocal harmonies. I find this a peculiarly uninteresting and overly repetitive song.

The next three songs are similarly unremarkable, finishing off a collection of well thought out but ultimately flawed pop/rock songs with more than a nod and wink towards the Progressive Rock "movement". Strong flavours of the Moody Blues ring out, the Bowie/Floyd link is underlined with the "Gnome Song", but overall, a perfect illustration of how esimply putting all the ingredients together does not make Progressive Rock - even despite the Mellotrons!


Re-categorise as "Prog-Related", because it's not the real thing - even though it does *sound" like it could be. The overall homogeneity of the songs is the giveaway here - point me to a homogenous-sounding pre-1980s Genesis album!

I wouldn't listen to this again (4 times is quite enough to realise it doesn't offer anything on repeated listens), and would personally award this one star, as I think it very poor. However, it's probably worth two listens - one to enjoy the sonic marvels of the production and thee generally excellent execution and think "Hey, this isn't bad" - and the second to realise that you've heard most of it before, and actually, it's nowhere near as good as you thought it was on first listen.

Therefore, Good - but not essential by any stretch of the imagination.

Report this review (#152900)
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best Progressive Rock albums ever made Indeed, such a harsh statement. but is it? Fantasy were a group with very little success, who released this one album in 1973, and did not get much hype for it. They recorded another album the following year but it was not released until the early 90's, for shame really, but that is another story. To me, Fantasy was one of the first progrock bands I've heard (odd way to start ey?), which was 2 years ago from today I believe, and boy it was one of my best musical discoveries. From the 1st track down to the last, ever song here contributes to the mood of the album and fills it richly. Fantasy just knew their stuff.. their melodies are unimagineable, the singing is something you don't get right away, it requiers a few spins but once you do get used to it you see the singer for what he really is, a gentle, fragile and beatuiful vocalist. The guitarist also is one of the major high points in Fantasy, just unbelieveable solos, quirky melodies and freaky guitar playing that sits so right in your head. the keyboardist is also a virtue, hitting just the right keys to create walls of sound that go along great in the background as they do in the foreground. In short, I think Fantasy were just a bunch of geniuses and maybe I'm not sure why it sounds so good to me (nostalgia?) but I'm sure that IT DOES. If your looking for obscure 70's rock album you want to be interesting, THIS IS THE ONE.
Report this review (#152943)
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I got the vinyl reissue of this on Tapestry Records; like the other Tapestry releases I have the sound quality is stunning and the packaging solid. Fantasy is a slightly obscure band that have been somewhat reappraised in the years since this was released to an indifferent public in 1973. This is actually top quality, very classic sounding prog, very sweetly melodic with loads of great hooks and a soft, beguiling production. The singer sounds a bit like he wants to be David Bowie and the style is not particularly original (it sounds very similar to earlier bands such as Spring and Cressida - I guess they should be congratulated for not trying to sound like then-current superstars Yes and Genesis), but the fact is I haven't been able to stop listening to this for weeks, and that's all that matters right? Great album, and essential for anyone into classic 70s symphonic prog.
Report this review (#153513)
Posted Sunday, December 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What can I say about this album, first time I heard it I thought it was David Bowie, some song from Space Oddity that I din´t knew, but it wasn´t. It was Fantasy, an old English band who recorded this album in June 73 and they only recorded two albums. This record is a must for people who likes David Bowie old stuff and Caravan, just soft prog rock who makes you travell to other world, this record is unique and i don´t know any band like this one. Just one word for this style of early english prog rock, WARM! And of corse, one of the best covers ever.
Report this review (#207793)
Posted Thursday, March 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another band from the seventies era that I only knew recently from a friend of mine who knew the band in the seventies. As this was released in 1973, the only connection I can make is that by that time Genesis had already released 'Foxtrot' and at the same time of Fantasy debut, Genesis also released 'Selling England By The Pound'. And talking about Yes, they already released 'Close To The Edge' a year in advance and 'Tales From Topographic Ocean' was released at the same time with Fantasy's debut. Nope! I am not trying to make a connection between Fantasy and Genesis nor Fantasy and Yes in terms of music style as they are NOT alike. My point is pretty simple: what would I think about Fantasy 'Paint A Picture' when I knew it in 1973 and at that time I had already been familiar with Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, ELP? Well of course I would not consider this 'Paint A Picture' at par excellent as 'Selling England By The Pound' or 'Tales From Topographic'. Worse, maybe I was not interested at all with the music as the composition is so simple and nothing as complex as 'Supper's Ready' or 'The Battel of Epping Forest' or 'The Ancient'. See my point?

Well, I need to make that connection because I am afraid if I only make a review of this 1973 album that I knew only in recent years, I would tend to rate it higher to compensate my 'mistake' for not knowing the band for such a long time. I also want to avoid the 'halo effect' because of the feeling of peacefulness enjoying vintage record like this.

Composition-wise, nothing really spells out from this debut album of Fantasy. Each composition revolves around song approach where the music was most likely composed on top of previously written melody as typically pop song. In fact there are many pop elements in the music even though the music is much more to psychedelic prog. I may refer the music is in the vein of Procol Harum even though they are not precisely the same. But don't get me wrong, I do enjoy spinning this album especially with its vintage sound and simple composition. All of the ten tracks provided here have good to excellent melody as this is a song-orientated album.

The opening track 'Paint A Picture' (5:24) lays down the overall tone of the album nicely with an atmospheric opening using long sustain keyboard as background of vocals. It moves in soft to medium tempo. The key of the song is on vocal harmonies backed with long sustain organ / keyboard work. The electric guitar sometimes provide its solo. It's a psychedelic music, really. 'Circus' (6:18) is a nicely composed track with bass guitar providing the role of beet keeper combined with drums. The electric and acoustic guitar become a rhythm section that overlays keyboard sound. The interlude of the song is nice, exploring organ work backed with solid bassline and electric guitar fills. 'The Award' (4:52) brings the music back to mellow style with nice guitar work. The tempo is slow to medium. 'Politely Insane' (3:27) sounds like an unfinished pop song.

'Widow' (2:12) is a nice mellow track with catchy melodies and very nice acoustic guitar work accompanying vocal line. 'Icy River' (5:53) brings the music into much upbeat style at the opening part followed with a break using acoustic guitar work and organ sound. 'Thank Christ' (4:06) sounds like a ballad. 'Young Man's Fortune' (3:41) brings the music in upbeat mode with organ and guitar as main instruments on top of solid basslines. 'Gnome Song' (4:19) is a nicely composed song in dark nuance using a combination of piano and catchy acoustic guitar work accompanying the vocal line. The acoustic guitar work is excellent. The album concludes nicely with an ambient organ work that remarks the intro of 'Silent Mine' (4:39). The concluding track is an organ-driven composition.

Overall, this is a good album and will favor you if you really love vintage music. Composition-wise there is no complex track offered here, but I am sure you would enjoy the album. Keep on proggin' .....!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#237030)
Posted Friday, September 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another UK outfit with a style close the likes of early 70's British Prog bands.Formed in 1970 in Kent as ''Chapel Farm'',the original line-up consisted of Paul Lawrence, David Read, David Metcalfe, Bob Vann and Brian Catham.Unfortunately Vann was killed in a car accident and Catham got off the board soon after,but the rest of the band decided to carry on with Peter James on guitars and Jon Webster on drums (both coming from a band called ''Joy''),along with a new name ''Firequeen''.Focusing on original material they were finally signed by Polydor on a three-year contract and released their first album ''Paint a picture'' (original title was ''Virgin on the ridiculuous''),after they were offended to change their name.

A rather unknown and much sought-after album in the past,''Paint a picture'' pays a tribute to the albums which established the early-70's UK Progressive sound,next to the likes of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and, mostly in this case,CRESSIDA.That means that this is carefully-performed well-orchestrated rock music with Pop-Psychedelic elements, but also delicate guitar playing,symph-like keyboards and a heavy amount of vocal arrangements.Similarities with CRESSIDA are undeniable.So,FANTASY deliver mainly song- based tracks with clear and sensitive vocals and tried to mix the British Psychedelic sound with a somewhat Orchestral Rock approach,obviously based on the strong use of keyboards,mainly Hammond organ and mellotron.The album is rather soft and flows nice and easy from track to track,additionally it contains some very good and memorable moments.However, while CRESSIDA belong to the early British Prog movement entering the 70's,FANTASY presented the same thing three years later,when progressive rock had already worn better-sounding clothes.

Totally unoriginal yet undoubtfully pleasant and enjoyable,''Paint a picture'' speaks to fans of the afore-mentioned prog pioneers,along with early CARAVAN or even GENESIS.Recommended.

Report this review (#258788)
Posted Friday, January 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I've heard people say that if you like SPRING you will like this band. Not as much mellotron on this debut by FANTASY when comparing them to SPRING but the focus is on the vocals (lyrics) and they are well done. Every member helps in the vocal department by the way. There's a couple of songs on this album that really do it for me.

"Paint A Picture" opens with soft vocals and organ, then a fuller sound comes in before a minute. Guitar before 3 minutes when the vocals stop. It settles right down with organ to end it. "Circus" is one of those songs I was talking about that just does it for me. It's kind of catchy and vocal-led early as the organ pulses. Guitar around 2 minutes after the vocals have stopped. Great sound when the vocals return after 3 1/2 minutes. Nice organ 5 minutes in followed by guitar.

"The Award" is my favourite tune on here. The vocals almost quiver and we get some vocal melodies too. It moves me for some reason. "Politely Insane" opens with strummed guitar then it kicks in quickly with vocals. "Widow" opens with melancholic guitar as reserved vocals join in. Piano and what sounds like violin too. "Icy River" has a good intro then it settles when the laid back vocals come in and the organ floats. "Thank Christ" slowly builds as strummed guitar and vocal melodies join in. Vocals after a minute. Mellotron in this one too. Nice guitar late. "Young Man's Fortune" kicks in quickly. I like the guitar before 3 minutes. "Gnome Song" is mellow with fragile vocals then mellotron. Drums after a minute. The tempo picks up with guitar. "Silent Mine" opens with organ and drums as reserved vocals join in. A drifting track really.

A good album with some really good songs. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#269230)
Posted Monday, March 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fantasy's Paint a Picture is an album you will enjoy at first listening. Very song-oriented melodic prog rock with decent keyboard arrangements (mostly mellotron and hammond), decent guitar work, good texture and very good vocals. The main problem with this album is that it won't grow on you beyond that, no matter how many times you'll listen to it. Partly this is because of Fantasy's plain songwriting which if on the one hand creates very listenable songs, on the other hand it takes away depth from their music. Partly, this is because of the general lack of originality in Fantasy's music (especially considering this is a 1973 album).

Overall, this is still a good album, and I very much enjoy listening to songs such as Paint a picture (average song driven by vocal harmonies over a texture of acoustic guitar and Hammond), Circus (beautifully played all through, with well crafted dynamics, a decent guitar solo about 2mins into the song and great vocals), Politely Insane (Fantasy almost turning hard prog with this little uptempo gem), or The Widow (short sad song with acoustic guitar, cello and piano forming a nice background for the vocals melody). The second half of the album is much more ordinary than the first half, and at parts it gets quite boring (e.g., Thank Christ, Gnome Song).

3 stars, well deserved.

Report this review (#279878)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are hundreds of bands who, for various reasons are not (or did not want to) go down in history. I'll explain better: Fantasy have produced an album in the style of Barclay James Harvest, The Moody Blues, Cressida, Genesis, Spring, Ekseption, Aphrodite's Child, Nirvana, Procol Harum... I.e. POP Prog, but it seems that they not have fired all the cartridges that were in the rifle. The band, in fact, did not have the promotion it deserved, because Polydor did not face adequate production. Listening to "Paint A Picture", however, I hear a beautiful album that not have the power of many other albums. Why do I say this? Because the compositions link the feeling but not present powerful to make a miracle. Certainly listening to Genesis hear music like that but you can breathe a different atmosphere: we perceive magic! Fantasy had probably made ​​an album as honest and good debut album, looking, then, to correct any errors in a second album. The production of "Paint A Picture" accentuates the lack of magic. In fact, the production is very clean. I would say that the production is too POP. Unfortunately I read this defect also with Barclay James Harvest, so I think it is a defect at the time was not seen as such. Technically, the songs are very simple, direct and engaging. The attempt to be personal builds a song like "Politely Insane", an excellent example of Spanish-Rock atmospheres acoustic Hard Rock, with great power and feeling. And also with good magic, thanks to brass and wha-wha effect of guitar (and of vocal parts). In contrast lies "Widow", with a good Folk Song with cello and piano, thoughtful and sad. It is striking, despite the concerns that I mentioned, as the songs are well written and played even better.

Ultimately, "Paint A Picture" is a great album if you like The Moody Blues, Barclay James Harvest, or Genesis: for you will certainly be a masterpiece. But it could be a better album without flaws that I have highlighted.

Report this review (#636974)
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Whilst the top-tier prog bands had become rock aristocracy crafting baroque and finely crafted masterpieces by 1973, the somewhat more freewheeling spirit of the early prog scene - more plugged in to the counter-cultural underground and prog's psychedelic heritage, a little rougher around the edges as far as the production standards went, and a bit less hyped up about classical music - was being kept alive by Fantasy. Their debut album, Paint a Picture, reminds me at points of Pampered Menial by Pavlov's Dog with more accessible vocals (though, consequently, less distinctive vocals) and, at points, a greater influence from funk and other less traditional inspirations for symphonic prog.

Although I think its reputation has been artificially boosted by its long period of unavailability, it's still a charming enough album which fans of the sound of the early prog scene will find delightful. At the same time, you can see why it may have been overlooked at the time - the prog scene had already moved on from the more simplistic early incarnations of the genre that Fantasy harken back to, and there isn't anything here that is so groundbreakingly overwhelming as to point to a distinctive, fresh direction that is uniquely Fantasy.

Report this review (#797467)
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
2 stars 2.5 stars, really. Another obscure album from an even more obscure band from the UK. Unlike their name suggests, the sound is not symphonic prog in the vein of Yes or Genesis (or another not so well known group with a fitting name, Starcastle). Fantasy plays what we can call song oriented prog that was quite already dated by the time their debut album made the shops. It was 1973, symphonic prog was at its peak and this band played basicly what was popular in the 60´s. Their sound reminds me a lot of Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest. Unfortunatly nothing here is original or even in the same league as the aforementioned bands best works.

I´m not saying that the music is bad. Not at all. First of all they are all very good musicians and they had a superb singer in the person of Paul Lawrence. The guy has a great voice. The instrumental parts are very well performed (with good use of the obligatory mellotron. although less than desired), and the production is excellent. There are several good cuts like the heavy MB´s influenced Politely Insane, Unfortunalty there are other not as interesting tracks too, boring even, but none is crap. The overall feeling is that the band was a late arrival in the pop-symphonic-psychedelic bandwagon of the late 60´s.

So, in the end, the feeling is pleasant, but nothing special ou memorable. However, if you like the aforementioned bands, you shold check this CD.

Report this review (#811433)
Posted Monday, August 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Another charter member of the early-seventies one-album prog club, this obscure British five-piece issued the album 'Paint A Picture' on the Decca imprint during 1973 despite both a late change of name(from 'Firequeen') and the tragic death of their original lead-guitarist. Unfortunately though, 'Paint A Picture' failed to catch the moment, and Fantasy subsequently disbanded despite having commenced sessions for a mooted follow-up and producing around half-an-album's worth of material that would only surface over two decades later. However, like many once-forgotten progressive groups, Fantasy's limited repertoire has been re-examined and reissued for the CD age, with 'Paint A Picture' gaining a small cult following in the process. Predictably, the oft- used tag 'Lost Classic' has been added to the equation, though in this instance it's a bit of a misleading description. Featuring an elegant symphonic touch and a whimsical selection of delicate, West Coast-tinged compositions, this is very much a pretty-yet-rather uninspiring experience that blends its collection of familiar ingredients without ever setting the pulse racing. From the earnest strains of the opening title-track to the colourless closer 'Silent Mime', 'Paint A Picture' proves a distinctly dour take on the Moody Blues/Procol Harum school of pop-laced progressive pop. However, that's not to say that the sounds of Fantasy won't appeal to those who enjoy the likes of 'To Our Children's Children's Children' or 'A Salty Dog', though fans of slightly harder and heavier material are advised to stay away. In conclusion then, 'Paint A Picture' is hardly awful, just very mediocre. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Report this review (#874527)
Posted Monday, December 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The five-piece English band Fantasy released their fittingly-titled debut album "Paint a Picture" in 1973. The album displays beautiful symphonic soundscapes of dramatic complexity, featuring charming organ and elaborate Mellotron melodies to make a masterpiece album of the era. The album featured seven bonus tracks in the re-mastered CD version released in 2005. "Paint a Picture" passed by virtually unnoticed at the time of its release, which is a shame, considering it's a beautifully-produced album which deserves far more recognition than it's received. The album is so uplifting and inspirational to listen to that it could almost belong in the religious section of a record store. Fantasy followed it up with an equally good album in 1974 titled "Beyond the Beyond" which wouldn't see general release for another 18 years. Their third and final album "Vivariatum" (1994) was up to a similarly high standard of musicianship and all three albums should appeal greatly to fans of early Genesis.

The album opens in dramatic style with the title track "Paint a Picture". The song features the magnificent distant-sounding rock organ, together with emotionally uplifting vocals and a gently rising crescendo of sound which puts the listener in an ebullient mood and makes a perfect introduction to what is a marvellous album. The second song on the album "Circus" continues in considerable style with some echoey-sounding vocals, intricate guitar playing and powerful drumming backed by the beautiful symphonic sound of the Mellotron. Track 3 "The Award" features plaintive-sounding vocals combined with a gentle melody which gathers in intensity as the song progresses. The song is another memorable addition to a fine album. Track 4 "Politely Insane" is an upbeat and uptempo number which chugs along joyfully at an impressive pace with some strident guitar chords. In a pleasant contrast of style, the next song "Widow" is a brief, gently melodic lament, as the song title implies, and nicely fits into the album as a whole. Track 6 "Icy River" is another memorable number with plenty to keep the listener entertained, including heavenly vocals, the ever-present sound of the powerful rock organ and some skilful and melodic guitar leads. Track 7 "Thank Christ" continues in similar fashion with a feel-good, uplifting sound and featuring some stylish vocal harmonies. Track 8 "Young Man's Fortune" is a real powerhouse of a song, featuring a throbbing rhythm section and sonorous organ playing. The album returns to a mellower mood in the first half of the penultimate number "Goblin Song", coming to life in marvellously-uplifting style for the finale. The final song "Silent Mine" features a religious-sounding organ combined with ethereal vocals to produce a very memorable conclusion to a superb album as a whole.

This melodic masterpiece of an album deserves pride of place in any Prog-Rock enthusiast's music collection. It's an album of contrasting styles which never fail's to maintain the listener's interest. A classic example of early-1970's English Symphonic Prog at its best.

Report this review (#2273085)
Posted Friday, October 25, 2019 | Review Permalink

FANTASY Paint A Picture ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of FANTASY Paint A Picture

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.