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Druid - Toward The Sun CD (album) cover



Symphonic Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars This is the type of album that gives me a real problem of appreciation, In itself , this band has everything to please me in instruments and capabilities, but lacking one major ingredient: personnality . This is a clone band and looking at the date of recording probably the mother of all the clones along with Fruup, and looking at later years in prog one can only be afraid G M O in agriculture just by looking at the damage done by clones in prog . Just kidding, but reallt this proves that even back then , uninspired musicians (although good in many regards) made plagiarism. If Fruup was more of a Genesis clone , this one is scandalously ripping off Yes , and does not even bring anything new to music. If they had taken the music of Yes as a base to do something else and bring it further and expand it , I could have forgiven them (Starcastle is another one of these example) and might even be impressed at their audacity but here , sorry , nothing of the sort. This album is full of Yes images and plans and the second number starts as a rip-off of the Rain Song from Zep. But at least in itself this album does not insult those band , as some of those 90's groups. This is more of a clumsy and mis-inspired album that could have been a good tribute album but certainly not as an Oeuvre of its own. I don't want to be mean , but most of the prog fans should have better dicernement/judgment on these albums and reject them because success of such albums can only encourage plagiarism and laziness of creativity as well as making prog just another industrial product to be copied and "bootlegged " (if you'll allow me the misuse of that last expression).
Report this review (#27789)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars First of all.....yes, i know i reviewed this (and the other album)earlier....but another reviewer recently raved about this group. And i have to say...that dismissing these guys as a YES like comparing oranges to lemons..... first of all this group are foremost an acoustic (basicly)group...(they started in 1970 as a trio called Maggot) and shure there are hints of YES... and several other bands from that era...SO WHAT ?? Since the beginning of Rock´n roll there were always hints'and allegations of camparisons/thieving of songs...whatever. Thruth be told ..there are only so many chords......and in my book ... Druid really does make a worthwhile listening (both albums) The structure of Druid as a band are quite different from that of ...say YES. Druid had an idea build on acousticfolk guitars/vocals......a simple but convincing thought. Building their songs/themes up in the studio. Singer/songwriter style. While ....YES...had the whole "machine"working for them studio/gear/arranger.. producer,recordcompany backing them up,studiotime you name it!! enuff said....every man for himself (now were talking everyday ordinairy listener)... we are all entitled to an opinion....but when you hear a false have to reply!! Druid are (in my opinion) a wonderfull soft prog outing...with beautiful song and vocals.. ditto.......and to all of you ...wondering readers.....YES.. the next one is as good as this one!! If you are looking for great vocal arrangements,beautiful the style of Magna carta,Fruup & a litte Yes. LOOK NO FURTHER !!! DRUID has the remedy!!! the way ..story is, that Druid ,won their 2 album record contract in a contest!!
Report this review (#27790)
Posted Friday, April 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you like Yes at his best (Fragile to Relayer period) this is a compulsory buy! I think these English band hasn t got anything to envy to the Masters, the melodies are fantastic, the arrangements are full of dreamy Mellotron layers, the singer has a pleasant high-pitched voice and uses it in a tasty way, lots of Rickenbacker from the bass player and melodic soli from the guitarist. Sebastian Hardie from Australia or Fruupp from Northern Ireland could be other comparisons, for the beauty of the themes. Highly recommended: in my opinion this is one of the milestones of 70s progressive rock!
Report this review (#27791)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This debut album by Druid is per se a classic in Progressive Rock. Released in 1975 with Neil Brewer on bass, Andrew McCrorie-Shand at keyboards, Cedric Sharpley on drums and Dane on guitars and vocals. The album opens with Voices, where the band shows instantly what they came for. Perfect intrinsic moods at the introduction with a powerful bass line backed up by layers of Hammond and Mellotron, fading into beautifully constructed guitar solos still backed by esquisite keyboards, from there into vocals and piano layers. The seduction is complete and the sensible listener is hooked for life ! After the intro track they progress into Remembering, a more mellow tune where vocals prevails on harmonic layers of bass, drumms and keyboards. At the end of the track more skillful guitar solos. The following tracks, Theme leads us into the full skills of the band. Here they show all the clichés that good progressive rock has. Mutating moods, perfectly inserted vocals and vintage keyboard playing, this track leads into the Title track Towards The Sun, a breathtaking masterpiece per sí. Red Carpet For An Autumn, Dawn Of Evening and Shangli- Lá closes the album where we are left with a sensation of fulfillment, the soul has been feeded. Red Carpet has a piano intro of rare beauty. The lyrics are of excellent quality, handcarved into the fine instrumentation. Many critics compared Druid with Yes, and thats ok too, a reference is always a good parameter, but calling this band a Yes-clone is absolutely wrong. Yes has qualities and Druid's Toward The Sun is superior to a lot of Yes material. Neil Brewer's powerful bass-line can resemble Squire's fantastic bass playing. Druid had same aestetic values as Yes once had and making such a fine album is indeed an accomplishment. Now if you like Yes, You gonna love this album. Towards The Sun is a must have in any progressive rock collection and a fine reference from the progressive music scene 30 years ago.
Report this review (#27792)
Posted Friday, October 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This work is A TRUE PLEASURE, full of musicality. This work surpasses and concludes (in my opinion) a lot of Yes' proposals. I´m sure that jazz musicians or classical composers didn't spend any time discussing about imitations or clonings. They always tried to improve the work of their masters, giving their music a step further.. I´m sure these guys know perfectly what they´re doing. They don´t imitate, but improve. There are no filling themes or any distraction in this solid work. The high-pitched voice of their... male? singer flow with absolute naturality, the layers of mellotrons and keyboards provide a full basis to construct solid themes, the complex (and really original) harmonies, voice arrangements and instrumentation are clearly balanced, making their hearing one of the most enjoyable moments I´ve ever heard. Perhaps only the electric guitar doesn´t reach the height of the musical arrangements here, but I´m totally sure to give this one five stars. It's very difficult for a band to mantain that level of quality (specially in those times of pre-punk invasion), so they easily became exhausted on their next effort.. Any resemblance to YES could be a theme for a discussion, (I think their vocal harmonies are totally different to Yes' ones), but in the meantime, ...I think I´ll continue enjoying it!
Report this review (#27793)
Posted Thursday, October 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars Here's another acclaimed YES-oriented progrock band named DRUID. In '75 they released their debut-LP "Towards The Sun" and a year later a second album entitled "Fluid Druid". Their first effort is their best: fluent and melodic songs, layered with Mellotron, often in combination with sensitive electric guitar work. The echoes from YES are obvious: lots of vocal harmonies, a Chris SQUIRE-like bass, WAKEMANesque keyboards and even the high- pitched vocals like Jon ANDERSON. But DRUID plays less complex and virtuosi, their pleasant sound appeals to me, more than the 24-carat YES-clone STARCASTLE. The second LP entitled "Fluid Druid" is in the vein of their first but less mature, as if the band is a bit running out of ideas. So start with their very pleasing debut-album.
Report this review (#27794)
Posted Sunday, October 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars You can only listen to your old YES albums so many times, so I needed something stimulating with a similar outlook. Having sampled FLOWER KINGS, TRANSATLANTIC, etc (with some pleasure I would add), I checked out DRUID, nearly 30 years late. "Towards The Sun" gives the impression of a bunch of songs that didn't quite make it onto "Topographic"; the lyrics are in some places almost lifted direct from the masterpiece, the musical themes and atmosphere are earily familiar, and the distinctive bass is an uncannily accurate replica both in sound and phrasing. Back in the 70's I had no need for this album as I could immerse myself in the real thing, but now, listening to DRUID is a pleasurable experience, like a trip down memory lane with a few surprises thrown in. Most satisfying - 3.5 stars.
Report this review (#27795)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This would have been considered a pretty good album in its own right in the 70's and a typical prog album of the time for one thing, YES . As one of my friends said after hearing this album, and I quote " They sound more like YES than YES do".

To me the album is like something YES might make on an "off-day" by no means bad but not quite up to standard.

Report this review (#27797)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Debut album released in 1975 "Toward The Sun". It is a lock of healing. The ensemble is single-mindedly beautiful. It runs and the sound of Merotoron writes up nostalgia in the whole volume. It is a performance that has the stability and leads the melody. Moreover, the performance never becomes aggressive. The performance only of the middle tempo is monotonous. The style and the chorus of Vocal run directly to YES. Especially, the chorus is YES in splendor. As the work of the follower of YES, it is the wonderful one.
Report this review (#63363)
Posted Friday, January 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Druid have often been accused of being Yes-clones - understandable in many ways, and indeed they were an opening act at a number of Yes concerts, so Jon Anderson obviously didn't feel too threatened...

They won a competition by Melody Maker for the best unsigned band, the prize including new instruments and a recording contract, which they took full advantage of, creating this album.

The result - not a bad effort, though the keyboards and drumming feel a little basic and the guitarist Cedric Sharpley was no Steve Howe. Despite their limitations, they managed to produce a pleasant if ultimately unsatisfying album. Well worth a listen, though hardly an essential addition to your collection .

Report this review (#69181)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Druid is compared mainly with the sounds of Yes. I can understand that with a singer that reaches towards Jon Anderson's vocal range, (at times screeching) and a bass playing obviously influenced by Chris Squire, but thats it for me. They sound more like Starcastle, especially when they harmonize. In fact, they sound more like a cross between Starcastle and Sebastian Hardie, especially on the second half of the album. Very subdued at times with generous amounts of mellotron, they can be pretty mellow. The first half of the album reminds me of "Recycled" era Nektar, until of course Dane starts to sing then you are just reminded of Yes. Nothing stands out on the album, yet its not badly played and the melodies do stick in your head. My only complaint is the cheesy end, you know, when the drum has that BMM, BUMMM, BMM, BUMM then gong type ending. UGH! A good album that at times is very good, but it's hardly essential. 3 stars!
Report this review (#73229)
Posted Monday, March 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars How fickle is Fate. In the hot summer month of July 1975 when Toward The Sun was launched at Shepperton film studios, Druid were a young band on a roll with a new EMI contract in their pockets and the patronage of DJ Bob Harris [who produced the album] and British music paper the Melody Maker [whose competition they had recently won]. Each of these would prove to be barbed blessings, however, as the critics sharpened their quills!

Druid's debut album occupies the kind of AOR space that some of the major Prog bands - I am thinking Yes and Genesis - would turn to during the late 70s, laced with sympathetic instrumentation like acoustic guitars, 'flutes' and lush keyboards, all neatly wrapped in a Symphonic Prog overcoat of more adventurous instrumental passages. In other words, Toward The Sun is a fairly generic example of mainstream Prog from the later 70s with the overt intricacy toned down and without the attendant success factor.

Any melodic rock album must have a solid foundation of good songs, and Toward The Sun's songs are good to excellent. There are a couple of exceptions, but otherwise the songwriting is first class with some lovely tunes and lyrics which 'sound right'. There is even a common theme spread throughout the album - dreams and dreaming: from the "long nights' dreams" of opener Voices; remembering them and "understanding every word they say" in Remembering; disillusioned and asking "whatever happened to the dream, should we still listen to the meaning" in Toward The Sun; finally to "sail away" to Shangri-La "there I'll find my dreams, and some day I'll return when the world has changed".

Aside from an occasional lapse into Howe or Hackett territory, Dane's guitar playing is exemplary without being unduly flashy, producing a number of luscious understated solos. Brewer's Rickenbacker is well to the fore, splattering the songs with that trademark sound. The album is also awash with lush keyboards, including Hammond organ and Mellotron and the odd synth. All instruments meld together quite naturally to produce a full and balanced sound, never sounding forced or out of place. Even better are the arrangements: always interesting and involving; always developing without ever getting too far off the road; full of light and shade.

Shangri-La is the undisputed star of the show, a magnificent ten minute tour-de-force of melodic Prog with everything you could wish for: Mellotron and acoustic guitars; wonderful varied harmonies from Dane; one or two little proggy bridge sections; a change of pace to inject a lift via a short instrumental; a false ending; and a rousing finale complete with choir. All this is based on a majestic multi-segmented song which progresses quite seamlessly before returning to its opening melody. This is one of those songs that worms its way into your head and stays there.

The other stand-out songs, shorter but from the same mold, are the title track Toward The Sun and Remembering. Perhaps leaning more towards the AOR side of their character, both are nevertheless very high quality songs. Remembering is the more Proggy of the two, with some instrumental contrasts, while Toward The Sun relies on a simpler structure which builds to an abrupt ending. Both Voices and Dawn Of An Evening are excellent examples of fundamentally standard soft rock core songs augmented and lifted by inventive arrangements and surrounding instrumental passages, though Voices is the most derivative song here.

Clearly for many, the primary stumbling block is Dane's singing voice: the real origin of those 'Yes clone' accusations. He is compared to Jon Anderson because he, too, sings in a high register, but their voices are not otherwise alike, indeed Dane sounds more like a female than Anderson. Believe me, it does sound quite natural and does not in any way detract from the music: on the contrary, it is one of the album's strengths, especially on some excellent harmonies.

The verdict - Toward The Sun is perhaps a little derivative in places but it deserves to be heard. I like it very much and would recommend it unreservedly to lovers of classic Prog.

Report this review (#82353)
Posted Saturday, July 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Can you tell who it is yet?

Together with STARCASTLE, DRUID's sound ensured they were instantly labelled as derivative, indeed almost a tribute band of YES. In reality, with Druid it is the vocals of the singularly named Dane and to a lesser extent the bass playing of Neil Brewer which encourages the comparisons.

The opening track, "Voices" certainly contains "Close to the edge" like lyrics and structures, but the instrumental passages tend to be more RENAISSANCE than Yes, such is the symphonic feel and quasi-orchestration of the mellotron. Dane can be rather ambitious with the high vocals, occasionally sounding like the already high pitched JON ANDERSON after an intake of helium. The following "Remembering" shows that he is more comfortable when creating multi-tracked harmonies, where he veers in the direction of CROSBY STILLS and NASH. This gentle ballad has a couple of stings in the tail along the way.

The instrumental "Theme" has strong hints of FOCUS during its keyboards drenched 5 minutes. There does however appear to be some uncredited sax prior to the AKKERMAN inspired guitar solo. The title track forms the play-out track of side one of the LP. The "stand on hills.." lyrics and distinct melodies betray once again the band's affection for all things Yes, but in the words of our esteemed member Maani, they could perhaps have made a little effort to "filter" those influences a bit more.

The brief "Red carpet for autumn" dreamily opens side two, moving seamlessly into the 10 minute "Dawn of evening". The opening section here is "I get up I get down" and "heart of the sunrise" rolled into one. Unfortunately, the vocals on this track are the poorest on the album. Another 10 minute piece, "Shangri-la" closes the album. This soft, lyrically intense, piece swims in mellotron but tends to drift along without ever really finding a focus.

It is a pity Druid were tarred with the clone band epithet, as there was far more to them in terms of both creativity and ability than they were given credit for. That they were labelled in that way though is largely attributable to their willingness to borrow heavily from the most distinctive aspects of the music of Yes. Nevertheless this is a fine album, with strong melodies, and proficient performances throughout.

Report this review (#87788)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an album that divides the symphonic prog lovers into two groups. One group of people will consider this a pointless album, too similar to YES and not original, and therefore dismiss it. The other group of people will agree on the matter of originality and YES similarities, but they don't dismiss the album. I belong to the second group. I don't care this album sound a lot like YES, in fact, it is a good thing. YES made excellent music, especially between 1972 and 1976, so sounding like YES during that period is a good thing. I personally believe, YES should have sticked more to their sound after Fragile and CttE, and not drifted of in vague complexity with TFTO and Relayer. Were YES left, this band and also Starcastle, took over. I'm glad they did. Since Druid does not create an original sound that amazed the world, they can never be rated with anything higher than 4 stars, in my opinion. This to mildly please the people in the first group who dismiss Druids music. I give this album 4 stars, because it sounds great overall, considering the time back then. The sound of the album is very prominent and concise. Consequently, no song jumps out. I like that as well. The vocals and harmonies are amazing, allthough very Jon Andersonishly, but still different and perfect in combination with the instruments. Best songs are: Voices, Theme and Remembering and Dawn of Evening.
Report this review (#88319)
Posted Monday, August 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Warning- if you love this band, please don't read this review; I have no inclination to offend anyone. I'm sorry, but I have to submit a review, if only to lower the overall rating. Yes, this band brandishes some respectable musicianship; Yes, this band demonstrates admirable compositional skills; Yes this band plays together in tight unity, but what supersedes all of that is that this band SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE YES! The plagiarism extends to the point where even lyrical phrases are borrowed! There's no mistaking this band's worship of Yes when you hear "a million voices singing" ooze from the lead singer's Jon Anderson clone voice. There is a world of difference between showing influence or employing musical allusion, as Charles Ives did in his symphonies, and slavish imitation. This album is dripping with adoration, deification even, of Yes, as if Yes, brilliant as they were, represented all that was valuable in music, and nothing else remained to be explored. I'm a big fan of Yes, but I don't see the point in trying to create a Yes album unless you are Yes, and even then it is questionable. Bands should never churn out the same material year after year, and Yes didn't. When I think of Druid, I can't help picturing the members of the band licking the feet of the respective musician's of their all too obvious heroes. I almost found the album sickening, it was so lacking in individual personality, and overburdened with fealty to only one band. Musicianship, compositional skill, orchestration etc. are all important factors, but far and above the most important qualities a band can have is creativity and personal expression. This is what makes, as an example from outside the progressive genre, Devo, simple a band as they were, far superior to any generic pop outfit. When you hear a Devo song, you know you are hearing a Devo song. They sound like no one else. It is the same quality that separates a Van Gogh from the endless generic seascapes, landscapes and portraits purchased on the side of the road. It is the distinction between "Art" and "Craft." Sadly, Druid failed miserably on this account, rendering the musicality moot.
Report this review (#88429)
Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tony Fisher
5 stars In 1975, a trio from Berkhamstead won the Melody Maker folk/rock contest at the London Palladium, and then caused a furore when they refused to go on the revolving stage at the end! Their prize was a recording contract with EMI. They also came to the attention of (whispering) Bob Harris, who championed them and helped with production. This band was Druid, comprising guitarist/singer Dane, bassist Neil Brewer and drummer Cedric Sharpley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#89201)
Posted Thursday, September 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars *And someday I'll return - when the world has changed.*

Criminally ignored and too often dismissed as Yes clones, this band only released 2 albums, of which this is marginally the better. Their playing is simpler and less virtuoso-obsessed than Yes, but more melodic and very relaxing. They make excellent use of soaring mellotron to back the tracks and there are some fine guitar and keyboard solos, always well planned and executed. The big question is whether you can cope with Dane's vocals, which are even higher pitched than Anderson's, and the lyrics, which are often as pretentious and nonsensical as those of Yes and are the main reason for the Yes comparisons. However, the words fit the music perfectly.

Voices starts with a lively and dynamic intro before morphing into a drifting, gentle vocal section which is delightful, culminating in some extremely high-pitched vocalisations before a slow and melodic guitar solo fades out the track. Remembering is slow paced and has some more of their trademark high vocals and mellotron drenched keys. Theme is instrumental, driven along by Neil Brewer's Rickenbacker and with a fine sax solo (which may in fact be a synth) alternating with some fine guitar and organ/synth solos. Utterly delightful. Toward the Sun again features Brewer's Rickenbacker prominently in a drifting and soporific track with some fine vocal harmonies and synth runs.

The second side is one of the truly great sides of prog. Red Carpet is slow and features some fine piano work from Andy McCrorie-Shand before the drifting mellotrons enter behind a Dane vocal. Dawn of Evening is again a slow and gentle instrumental at first, gradually building up pace and dynamics. I love the single tubular bells notes which occur at key points. Dane than launches another melodic slow solo with Brewer's bass and Cedric Sharpley's tight drumming pushing the track along until the vocals enter. Dane shows what a fine melodic and tuneful voice he has as the song proceeds its gentle way before a much livelier and dynamic finish with all members in full flow. Shangri La is the album's highlight. Fine lyrics (which sometimes actually make sense for once), driving bass/drums, great interplay between bass, keyboards and guitar - this has it all.

If Yes had never existed, Druid would have been held in very high esteem but then they themselves may never have existed, so obvious is the influence of Yes. They do make music which is full of melody, fine playing and emotion. The second side in particular is perfect to put on late at night to purge the day's stresses, relax the mind and prepare for sleep.

Druid will not return because the world hasn't changed enough to appreciate them. But their fine legacy should be heard by anyone who likes the more melodic side of prog. A very good 4 star album; it nearly makes the masterpiece category in terms of simple aural experience.

Report this review (#131347)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Of course this music is not very original. OK, it sounds as a "Yes" rip-off. BUT "Druid" is far much better in this style than "Starcastle". Their music is bombastic, poignant and emotonal as the one of the masters. These very high-pitched vocals are fine with me. When I listen to a song like "Voices", I am just submerged with pleasure. Even if it is a lot "Yes" oriented but when played with such brio, I can only like it and be positive about it.

It is true to say that the band lacks in personality but the music proposed is far from being worthless. When I want to listen some MORE "Yes" oriented music, I get a little bit of "TFK" ones. And after these, maybe that some "Druid" songs aren't a bad idea. You won't get the complexity, the sophistication of the genuine masters (but "Druid" does not play in the same division). Only a shadow music which reminds me great moments. One of the most personal number is the intrumental "Theme". Jazzy, aerial and powerful.

All songs are a voyage into Yes" repertoire, that's a given fact. But musicianship is very good (especially vocals). "Towards The Sun" has a definite flavour of "Tales" ("The Remembering") but you can play the same game with several tracks from this album. The highlight is "Dawn Of Evening" and the closing "Shangri-La" is well balanced as well.

In those remote days of this release, I had never heard of "Druid". I guess that there were no needs for this. I was more than happy to play endlessly genuine YesMusic. But since 2003, I am looking for more input and even if this album can't compete with any TRUE YesAlbum, it is a pleasant work and if nostalgia is part of you, you might be as indulgent as I am. Three stars.

Report this review (#150102)
Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This one is just a little better than their second album, but the music is still very much a clone of Yes. Unfortunately I gave Fluid Druid 3 stars, so I can´t really rate this one lower even though my personal opinion is that this is only worth 2 stars. Let me tell you why. The music on Toward the Sun is symphonic prog with Chris Squire like bass, lots of mellotron and Yes sounding vocal harmonies. Total clone and nothing else. This band does not own a personality.

This is only for the ones who would like something that sounds like Yes, and doesn´t care that this is an entirely other band. Don´t get me wrong though, the musicians are flawless and the compositions are pretty good. The sound quality is also very good.

I´d say this is very much and aquired taste, and as the quality is as high as it is I can´t give this one less than 3 stars, even though this is not my taste and I find the ripp off concept really lame. Judge for yourself.

Report this review (#157163)
Posted Sunday, December 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Do you like Yes, Camel, Tai Phong, Sebastian Hardie?

The "Yes-clone" debate. I care not to be honest with you. Yes, the vocalist sounds uncannily like Jon Anderson with a very high, gentle voice. Yes, the bassist has a sound that is a bit Squirish. And yes, they have flowery lyrics and a fantasy album cover here. Whether the similarities are intentional or not is for those who care to debate. All I know is I like this album, side 1 is especially good with side 2 not so much. I'll get the criticism out of the way right off the bat: this band has moments of "sweetness" that might be toxic for some. They have the same kind of syrupiness at times that you will find in other 70s 2nd tier bands like Sebastian Hardie, Tai Phong, and Styx. Their composition is not as complex or aggressive as Yes, being more in the gentle modes (usually) somewhere between Moonmadness and Willowglass. So if you bristle at the thought of those kinder, gentler fantasy 70s prog albums you will want to pass. But..

If you like such albums then you will like this one!! I can be awfully cynical myself but if you can swallow the Anderson-like vocals I think this is really good, accessible symphonic. Druid were a band formed by two friends from Berkhamstead who won a Melody Maker contest which awarded them a record deal among other prizes. It would be a blessing and a curse.

The material is very warm and inviting and will pull you right in if you let it. The songs are generally speaking slower and mellower than Yes and less complex than Genesis but are every bit as gorgeous as both. They are very well constructed and focus mainly on being engaging and melodious first, with flash only displayed occasionally. A mellotron lover's dream, the whole album floats on a cloud of 'tron that is used perhaps a bit too much for some. The style is like Sebastian Hardie but a little more varied I think: often the pace is deliberate like SH but I find the payoffs more interesting. I'm never looking at my watch like I do with Hardie who seem so repetitive at times. Druid always has another interesting avenue to pursue around each musical corner. "Voices" begins with an upbeat introduction with Dane and Brewer running riffs off each other. After 3 minutes of rather muscular (by Druid standards) chest beating on the guitars, the lovely mellotron and vocals begin. It then redefines the word you see used a lot to describe this kind of music: lush. The keyboards provide the background along with solid bass guitar for Dane's expressive lead guitar playing, he is quite good in a Latimer way of peeling off emotional leads. "Remembering" builds slowly and beautifully with more amazing, slow leads towards the end. "Theme" sounds very Camelish throughout to me and even throws in a bit of sax and a jazzy e-piano solo. It also features some of Dane's most exciting lead guitar. "Toward the Sun" nicely blends a country vibe into the acoustic opening. The parts are so nicely layered here that you won't care about words like "derivative" if you just love beautiful music. "Red Carpet for an Autumn" is a very nice feather in the cap, just a nice solo piano melody for a bit until the vocal and mellotron pick it up. The first of two 10-minute closing tracks is "Dawn of Evening" and it begins with soft keyboards and gentle wordless vocals until we hear bells being chimed. The band comes in at about two minutes and Dane begins some nice leads. The bass is pretty chunky in the section where the verse begins. The latter section injects some acoustic guitar and a change in the verse structure, plus some nice keyboard effects to spice things up a bit. Dane closes with a nice electric solo. The album ends with "Shangri-La" which is one of the two tracks Druid played in the famous contest that won them their record deal. It's a pleasant and ambitious piece focusing on the journey of one's life and the search for truth, and fulfillment of dreams. While not exactly "The Revealing Science of God" it does showcase the groups obvious talents at nicely arranging their feel-good material with drama and flair.

"Toward the Sun" easily gets 3 stars and I'd go another ˝ star perhaps, worth checking out for fans of sweeter 70s symphonic. Side 1 is solid 4 stars but side 2 drags the overall score down a bit. The group went on the road after this album but faced some backlash from winning the contest and had trouble getting press from other publications as they didn't want to tout Melody Maker's find. Druid would make a second album but fold after that as punk emerged. They are not an essential prog experience by my standards but are an enjoyable find for those who have all the essentials and are looking for some new symphonic to enjoy.

Report this review (#163494)
Posted Saturday, March 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a Yes clone. No doubt about it. There is no originality here at all. The musicians are competent and the songs sound OK, but I am sorry, Yes does it MUCH better. Many other reviews for this album mention Starcastle so I will throw in my 2 cents on that as well. Starcastle is definitely another band that used Yes as their model. But, in my mind, Starcastle imitates Yes and also adds a little something to make it sound their own. Druid is trying so hard to be just like Yes that they have absolutely no identity of their own. I am wavering between 2 and 3 stars, but will round up I guess.
Report this review (#171250)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams
3 stars Toward The Sun...actually this is the song I've ever listened and been so impressed. Mildly and softly instrumental works, beautifully the chorus goes...exactly excellent song. Very naturally, they has an experience to win the first prize in the folk-rock contest by Melody Maker, and with the reputation they producted and released the first work.

In fact, the album has lots of beautiful and terrific songs all around. But, I wonder it is sometimes not so good that all songs are okay in an album. That is, I suggest an album should have a mood or wave which can rise and fall. That's exactly an story. Regretfully, this product is continuously beautiful and then I'm afraid it will get monotonous.

Although some listeners say this band is a mimic of Yes, the point is not a mimic but a monotony I think. I wanna give 3 stars to their beauty of sound.

Report this review (#194641)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars An unimpressive YES clone. That's my opinion about DRUID and this album cement my opinion about them. The first track sounds like a left-over track from Close To The Edge. The rest of the songs here is not even that good. OK then, both Theme and the title track is decent songs. But the rest is pretty forgetable songs.

The vocals is my main gripe with this album. The high-pitch tones which is supposed to be the vocals here gets on my nerves. At least Jon Anderson could sing more than one different tone. Druid's vocalist can't. The instrumentation on this album is not particular impressive either. It is YES without the skills. It is YES without the efforts. Nobody can say that YES was boring. DRUID is pretty boring. There is none of this inventive symphonic prog at this album. It is watered down YES, approaching mainstream rock. The first track, Theme and the title track proves that DRUID had something in them. But that's all. Better Going For The One than this album.

2 stars

Report this review (#218308)
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars I heard this album after their second efford Fluid Druid and I can say Towards The Sun is every bit superior than its follow up. Of course you might have heard of them as one of those Ýes clones´, which is not totally correct, even if the the Jon Anderson & co influences are more than obvious (specially on the bass parts). Originality was not their forte. But still I found those songs here to be quite interesting and entertaining. They sounded like a lightweight version of bands like Yes and Genesis. I mean, nice overall, but fairly inoffensive.

What really got me are the vocals: guitarist Dani is no singer. When he uses his lower registers, it is ok, but the tendency of throwing in a very annoying falsetto ruins many parts of some otherwise quite good tunes. If they wanted to sound like Jon Anderson, why not hiring a singer that could do the job? This is a mystery to me. Anyway, the instrumental parts are really good and the band showed some promises (the keyboards runs and guitar lines are very well done).

If you´re into obscure bands from the 70´s and don´t mind some derivative music and the lousy falsetto, this is an interesting CD to look for. Those guys are good players and they could have made it but somehow didn´t (with a good reason, some cynics would say!). I found the music pleasant, specially the second half of the album. Rating: something between 2,5 to 3 stars.

Report this review (#254648)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Released in 1975, 'Toward The Sun' was the debut release from British group Druid, a symphonic progressive rock act whose quintessentially-English sound bore a strong resemblance to the early-1970s works of their much more famous genre mates Yes, an observation that has seemed to dog that band throughout their sadly rather brief career(just check out the other reviews for this album on this very website). Featuring a singer(called, simply, 'Dane') with a high-pitched, almost boyish Jon Anderson-like vocal style, a bassist(Neil Brewer) who likes a nice, deep twang effect, not unlike a certain Chris Squire, to eminate from his four-string and a dominant keyboard, mellotron and moog player (Andrew McCrorie- Shand), Druid's sound seems rooted in the fabric of 'Fragile', 'Close To The Edge' and 'Tales From Topographic Oceans', just with a less rocky vibe. The music is by no means bad, and on songs such as the maudlin 'Voices' and the achingly ethereal 'Dawn Of Evening', the group even achieve a level of symphonic prog that almost matches their musical overlords. The real pity is that, wherever and whenever Druid are mentioned, whether it be in a print review, a conversation in a pub or song played on a radio station, he name Yes will never be far behind. The reasons become startlingly evident once the first thirty seconds of 'Voices' have been played, but unlike many clone groups there is much merit to the Druid sound. They also aren't the only group accused of taking Yes' music a bit too literally, as Us proggers Starcastle, and another English group, England, have also tried to emulate the quicksilver Yes sound, usually without too much commercial success. However, those fans who have exhausted the Yes discography and are hungry for more symphonic thrills should definitely check out 'Toward The Sun', an album that twinkles with a lightly-ambling and gorgeously-harmonic(though highly unoriginal) album that features excellent production. Druid's second album 'Fluid Druid' would find the group edging towards a less enthralling and more commercially-viable sound, though still with the Yes-isms firmly attached. If you like your progressive rock light-and-airy, and you don't mind a touch of harmless plagiarism, this decent release should be right up your street. But don't expect it to be 'Close To The Edge'. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011
Report this review (#540888)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars There's no doubt about it - Druid are a full-blooded Yes clone and make no bones about it on their debut album. But if you're in the market for a set of songs rooted in Yes' sound circa Yes Album/Fragile and performed by a talented clutch of imitators, Toward the Sun is one of the best clone albums I've heard. Guitarist-singer Dane does a passable Jon Anderson impression and is actually pretty good with that guitar of his, keyboardist Andrew McCrorie- Shand resembles Tony Kaye's style more than Rick Wakeman's (which at least shows a bit of originality in terms of choosing which Yes keyboard to imitate), and Neil Brewer's bass work is uncannily like Chris Squire's. Drummer Cedric Sharpley (who would later take up a post in Gary Numan's band) is no Bill Bruford and so wisely keeps a low profile.

But where the band really excel is in their compositions, nailing the Yes compositional approach from the era they are imitating without imitating any specific Yes song. You can imagine this material being passed off as a long-lost Yes album by a less scrupulous record company. If you absolutely have to be a clone band, Druid do a good job of showing how to do it right.

Report this review (#544722)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Does cloning Yes well make a good album?

Well if we take that "well" part, then you must be. Having the ability to play so similarly to such an eclectic and talented band must mean you have a certain share in that talent. This is the case for the 70's symphonic rock band Druid, and their debut Toward The Sun in 1975.

This album is undoubtedly influenced by Yes, who was a very prominent example of progressive music, especially during the 70's. But no matter how eclectic or dynamic Yes was, they still followed a formula, and that formula could be done by other bands. Many are quick to juxtapose many symphonic prog bands with Yes, but it's really only true in obvious examples. Toward The Sun is one of these examples. Everything from 'Dane''s high pitched, ultra soprano vocals to Neil Brewers thumping Squire-inspired bass. One thing I do have to give to Druid is that their percussionist, Cedric Sharpley, is fantastic. His abilities hold a candle to both Bill Bruford and Alan White with his talents.

Don't simply shrug this off as just a Yes clone just yet, because there's a deluge of other influences Druid takes in other than them. Dane has certain moments where during his self-harmonizations sounds oddly like Crosby Stills Nash and Young of all bands, most prominently on 'Remembering'. With this is an admitted folk undertone, no matter how vague and poorly executed it is. Some jazz influences that hopefully become more prevalent with their followup Fluid Druid (1976) that are done pretty well, as Druid sort of deals with this genre of symphonic jazz rock, a genre so strange that I wouldn't mind seeing more often.

Okay, I have to come clean. This album is not easy to review. At all. If you've heard Yes enough you've come to understand and accept their formula: overly complex drumming, long winded choral-like guitars, and high airy vocals. Many bands did copy this concept, but the worst ones were the ones in the 70's, where there was no newer technology present where they could tinker with the idea in any unique way, and were simply stuck to just playing the same thing. Druid, or rather Toward the Sun is one of these 70's rehash. I'll say it now and in the future; if I want to listen to Yes symphonic prog, I'll listen to Yes. There's no other reason to listen to a practical trudge through the same concepts as the band except with a lack of creativity.

In conclusion, the album isn't the best. I would go so far as to say it's one of the less interesting albums of the 1975 when it comes to symphonic rock, hell, progressive rock in general. Listen if you must.

2.5 rounded to 2.

Report this review (#1617816)
Posted Saturday, October 1, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've just discovered this band, thanks to David Silly Puppy and a YouTube suggestion link. I'm impressed. The Yes similarities are obvious but this album leaves me wondering, "Did every band who ended up sounding like Yes or Genesis intend to come out that way?" Something here makes me answer, "no." The folk-like use of sound and space, the unusual and impressive poetic pronunciation of the singer, the constructs are not quite as classical or hard rock in their outcomes. Classic rock, psychedelia, folk, and even early Styx and Rush and Narada Michael Walden/Nova come to mind. I like the vocal arrangements and sounds more than any of the above (though I find it remarkable that they're all performed by male voices.) A truly enjoyable find that I will without doubt enjoy coming to know more intimately. Nice sound engineering and production throughout. Nobody trying to impress me with their egos, just nice, solid, cohesive, beautifully-constructed songs.

Favorite songs: 1. "Voices" (8:14) (8.5/10); 2. "Remembering" (5:24) (8.5/10); 3. "Theme" (5:26) (9/10) and the title song (5:08) (9/10).

Report this review (#1709423)
Posted Sunday, April 9, 2017 | Review Permalink

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