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Grey Lady Down


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3 stars English neo-prog act in the vein of IQ, PALLAS, ARENA and MARILLION. I have several of their recordings and love each of their albums to death with perhaps "Forces" standing out as arguably their best release. Martin Wilson's vocals are truely wonderful and is one of the most striking features of this band. GREY LADY DOWN blend complex multi-layered music with synthesizer driven passages emphasizing their Neo-Prog leanings. "Forces" has some truely sweet guitar playing as well handled by the multi-talented Julian Hunt. Their music is highy energetic and professional throughout and is a "Crime" that they ever split up.
Report this review (#2962)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For those of you who like neo prog music, this band might be considered in your collection. Especially, if you love PENDRAGON, this GREY LADY DOWN (GLD)'s music is very similar. Martin Wilson's voice is very close with Pendragon's guitarist and vocalist: Nick Barrett. I owned this CD since 1997 when I regularly received a direct mail from Cyclops and amazed with the fact that prog was still alive - looking at the list of band names in Cyclops catalogue. Sinkadus, Land's End, Citizen Cain, Flamborough Head, Mostly Autumn, etc. .. ugh man I was totally left behind with prog news in that period. Ok Ok .. let's have a look on this record.

Even though I love bands like Marillion, IQ, Arena but I never consider myself as neo prog die hard fan as I also enjoy other category of prog like Dream Theater, Pain of Salavation etc of The Flower Kings etc or even Return To Forever or Hatfield and The North. For me, almost all kind of prog I can enjoy it. As for this GLD, I set my mood into totally a neo prog mood, and this is my view about this album .

"Paradise Lost" is a good track with heavy emphasis on keyboard work with some guitar solo, performed in an upbeat tempo. "The Nail" is in the similar vein with the opening track, performed in upbeat tempo. There is some exploration of drumming and percussion in the middle of the track. The keyboard work is stunning.

"Battlefields Of Counterpane" starts like a fanfare with a trumpet sound and some female narration - it's basically picturing a war situation, I guess. The music flows nicely in mellow style with good voice line. The music turns louder in the middle of the track with symphonic keyboard at background and it turns into keyboard solo augmented with guitar work. It's an excellent part. For my personal taste, the integrity of this track is erupted when vocal returns back on track. It does not sound natural to me.

"Without A Trace" is a good composition song performed in an upbeat tempo, exploring the guitar work at the background of singing passage with stunning keyboard sound in symphonic style. There are some tempo changes as well as transition into quieter passages. Those who love neo prog would really enjoy the guitar and keyboard works here.

"The Cold Stage" starts mellow with nice violin and guitar fills followed with voice line. It's a melodic opening, augmented with soft piano work. Unfortunately, when the drum enters the music, it sounds like a pop stuff even though the guitar fills nicely at background. Keyboard plays excellently in symphonic style and it turns to piano when it accompanies lead vocal's singing passage. Structure-wise, this track was composed in a way that the music flows gradually from a very slow opening and moves up into a higher register notes followed with a faster tempo music. The combination of keyboard and guitar sounds is good and enjoyable.

"I Believe" is an upbeat tempo music that starts off with a combination of guitar and keyboard work. Keyboard then take the lead in the rhythm section, augmented with guitar. This track has a very nice keyboard and guitar work at the ending part. Stunning!

"The Flyer" is the band's truly epic in this album. It's funny that I start liking this song when I listened to the live album "The Time of Our Lives" that I owned at the same time with this CD. Overall, it's a very enjoyable track that explores and pushes the music forward in nice melody, performed theatrically - backed with symphonic keyboard and 70s guitar fills. It's typical neo prog music, basically. The guitar solo is really excellent. The music flows into a faster tempo exploring guitar solo augmented with keyboard sound. [Effectively this song takes 13:06 minutes duration but I don't know for some reason there is another 13 minutes leftover that is filled with approx 5 minutes silent and it is then continued with studio out take of unfinished material. Is it intentionally? If yes, it's a lousy concept, I think. But if it's an accident - it's a very poor quality control. In any case, it's a bad thing.]

Overall it is a good album with good keyboard and guitar. Unfortunately, it lacks variation on drumming part and also on mixing. Overall rating is 3 ¼ out of 5 stars. - Keep on progging!

Yours progressively,

GW - Indonesia.

Report this review (#2964)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As a band loyally commited to the preservation of neo-prog in the 90s prog scene, there is not much groundbreaking innovation to be expected from Grey Lady Down. Their second album "Forces" is a strong showcase for what one has to expect from standardized neo-prog at its best, just as it happens with the best albums from Clepsydra, Ricocher, Metaphor and a host of many others. One might come up with the name of Citizen Cain regarding their first two albums, but GLD never gets really close to the ambitious splendor of Cyrus, Stewart and co. In this GLD outfit, the keyboardist is heavily influenced by both Mark Kelly and Clive Nolan, teh guitarists pays constant homage to Nick Barrett, the rhythm section is rockingly tight as classic Twelfth Night's, and finally, the lead singer combines the melodic sense of the aforementioned Nick Barrett and the timber of Saga's Michael Sadler. It is obvious that most of the time Louis David's keyboards take center stage of the band's nuclear sound, while Julian Hunt's guitar leads and harmonies serve most of the times as enhancing tricks for the main melodies. The opener 'Paradise Lost' is quite catchy, displaying an effective succession of three diverse motifs in a very uptempo sequence. The next track, 'The Nail', is also one in which the uptempo feel prevails, although it contains a slower middle section that adds some moderate sophistication to the song. The next three tracks find the band exploring their progressive ambitions a bit further, expanding the musical ideas and toying more convincingly with tempo shifts: all this takes the band to its most epic dimension possible. 'Battlefields of Counterpane' comprises a moderately darkl mood to it thanks to the war-like atmosphere provided by the sound effects and lyricis, while 'Without a Trace' and 'The Cold Stage' display a more magnificent mood: the latter of these two is more focused on the sense of melancholy. 'I Believe' reprises the catchy spirit of the opener, with an even heavier presence of the keyboards, which give the whole instrumentation a massive definition: even when the guitar enters in for the solo, you can tell that the keyboard orchestrations push it across its path. Sometimes GLD manages to surpass some of its teachers (Pendragon) and equal others (Pointer-era Marillion). The closer 'The Flyer' brings back the war-like atmsphere of 'Battlefields' combined with the magnificence of 'The Cold Stage'. The CD's last minutes are filled with a silent intermission and some fooling around in the studio: kind of funny but nothing else. All in all, this is a very good album within the conventions of neo-prog. IMHO, this is the best GLD effort ever and it should be loved by regular neo-prog freaks and collectors.
Report this review (#97941)
Posted Thursday, November 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I must admit that "GLD" holds a special place in my prog ears. I have the tendancy to like them a lot. Their great melodic neo-prog is rather poignant. Much of this is due to Martin wilson, the lead vocalist. He has such a brilliant singing style, full of emotion, sweet but expressive. And he is not trying to emulate some great singer from the past like it is often the case in this genre. He is one of my fave neo-prog singer.

Their first album was really a great discovery for me. I loved it at first sight. Their melodic approach, the extensive use of lush keyboards are really my cup of tea. And "GLD" reproduces this here as well. In this respect, one of the longest compositions "Battlefields Of Counterpane" is a perfect example. Of course it is "Genesis" oriented. But so are a lot of neo-prog bands, right ? But "GLD" has a little extra which really kicks me.

If you would like to spend an hour or so with friendly and just beautiful music (like I do as I write to finalize this review), it is very easy : give "Forces" a spin. You'll have some true "Genesis" moments when listening to "Without A Trace", a very emotional one with "The Cold Stage" while you might skip "I Believe" which is the weakest track of this album.

And finally, the epic "The Flyer". Over thirteen of passionate and convincing music.

These were very good days for the band. They played in a packed "Marquee Club" before being asked to perform at the "Astoria" (both in London). This album sold very well (they were the best selling band of their Cyclops label which is always interesting in terms of promotional means). The album and the band did receive several awards. So, 1995 ended on a really positive note and a bright future for the band.

And I think it was just normal with such two great albums in two years time. Even if this album is a good one, I preferred "The Crime" (their first album). Three stars.

Report this review (#142575)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is one of those albums that can change your opinion through the years. It's strange with this one because I always felt it had something about it but it never really grasped me. In the beginning I had a strong preference for Battlefields of Counterpane and The Flyer but after some time my favourite songs became Without a trace and The cold Stage and remained so for many years. This century it more or less faded from me, there is too much around nowadays. So GLD is something in the past for me. In comparison to the debutalbum (The Crime) the songs are less catchy, or if you wish accessable.

I recently played the disk once again but it didn't really come back to me. Still not a bad album at all, so 3 stars.

Recommended for true neoproggers who like a slightly different, own style.

Report this review (#152373)
Posted Friday, November 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Grey Lady Down, this obscure neo prog band from UK, taken their name from an unknown movie to larger public from late'70 and formed in 1992 around the excellent Julian Hunt on guitars, release so far 4 studio albums and one live, this one their second release from 1995 entitled Forces is one of their best. I was pretty impressed by this band, knowing their music quite recently, 6-8 month ago I discoverd two of their album, this is one of them. To my ears Grey Lady Down is diffrent, in musical terms from most of the neo prog bands, from that period, or before and later in this scene. They are not Marillion clones, they are not Genesis and Peter Gabrile influenced band and vocal arrangements, they are pretty original and damn good instrumentaly. Now , the voice of Martin Wilson is brilliant, he has one of the most pleasent voice I ever heared in neo prog zone, such emeotional tone is hard to belive someone has, great range and beautiful vocal arrangements. As I said, instrumental passages are top notch, very uptempo, with keyboards and guitars as leading instruments, Louis David os one hel of a player, he use the keys like almost no one in neo prog zone, excellent. All the pieces are total winners, not a weak moment here. 5 tracks from 7 are long enough to show how good they are in this field, elaborated compositions and great songwritting above all. I will give 4 stars easy to this album, one of the better releases of them and quite on same level with their next one Fear, considered their best. This band needs attention, belive me, they sound better and more solid then half of the neo prog bands I known. Similar with anothe r fav of mine from this scene Galleon. Recommended, excellent work by this underrated band.
Report this review (#273496)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is album number two for UK's GREY LADY DOWN released in 1995. I do prefer the debut and the follow-up to this one but there's some good stuff on here regardless.

"Paradise Lost" opens with samples before the music kicks in with vocals. Some nice guitar after 2 1/2 minutes. "The Nail" opens with water sounds.The music kicks in around a minute, vocals follow. Synths and vocals lead on this one and there's lots of energy. "Battlefields Of Counterplane" is heavy to start with female sampled words. A music box joins in too. It all stops after a minute as reserved vocals and synths take over. It starts to build after 5 minutes then the vocals return.

"Without A Trace" opens with synths galore with heavy outbursts that come and go. It settles in with vocals before a minute. Some nice guitar then water sounds end it as it blends into "The Cold Stage".Thunder here as well before strings and piano take over. Reserved vocals join in.Soaring guitar comes and goes. "I Believe" features lots of synths and drums with vocals. "The Flyer" opens with sounds of fighter planes and gunfire in a dark atmosphere. It settles 1 1/2 minutes in then reserved vocals arrive a minute later.Tasteful guitar after 5 minutes then it turns heavy as the tempo picks up. It settles again as the tempo continues to shift in this the longest track at over 13 minutes.

A good album that may be of interest to Neo-Prog fans.

Report this review (#370885)
Posted Sunday, January 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Rather grey

Forces was Grey Lady Down's second album and the follow-up to the previous year's The Crime. Musically, this album is a pretty straightforward continuation of the previous one and there are very few changes in the sound of the band here. Once again, we get a style of music heavily rooted in the sounds of the 80's British Neo-Prog scene with (early) Marillion being an obvious primary influence. It is fair to say that Grey Lady Down were 10 years behind their time. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, particularly if you manage to make the style your own and execute it with good taste, much talent and strong material. It is in all of these latter respects that Grey Lady Down fails, however. To my ears, this band is rather anonymous and, frankly, bland. Or should I say, grey?.

While Forces is slightly better produced (which has eliminated the slight Punk-ish feel that I found on the debut) and features a more tasteful and intriguing sleeve picture, this album is haunted by all of the same problems as the debut: every song sounds just like the next one and there are again not enough of changes in mood, tone, tempo or in the instruments used to keep my interest till the end. Even if I found Forces to be slightly more enjoyable (which means mildly enjoyable) than The Crime, I found this album too to be rather tedious to listen to in one session due to the severe lack of diversity and variation and the indistinctive, anonymous and derivative sound.

Only for fans and collectors

Report this review (#467830)
Posted Thursday, June 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The wonderful ''The crime'' was followed by several gigs by Grey Lady Down, opening for acts such as Jadis and Pendragon, while they also received the award of ''Best New Band'' by Classic Rock Society.1995 opens with the band entering The Warehouse Studios in Oxford along with producer Tim Turan, preparing their sophomore effort.The result was ''Foces'', eventually released in June 95' again on Cyclops Records.

The band seemed to be in an orgasm, as the gigs not only slowed down the recording process, but Grey Lady Down returned in fact with a more mature and adventurous album.This is some great Neo Prog in the classic vein of ARENA, ABEL GANZ, IQ and MARILLION, the band obviously lacks in personality, but what's left to make this one a trully excellent release?Firstly comes the fantastic voice of the man called Martin Wilson, among the top singers of the genre, sensitive, dramatic and expressive chords all the way to result a first-class performance by the band's frontman.Additionally the songwriting and compositions seems now more tight and intricate.The band added a few extra elements in the previous style like grandiose symphonic passages, more evident GENESIS-inspired synth solos and a greater number of dramatic atmospheres.Nothing unique, but the well-accomplished and promising sound of their debut now has a more cohesive and dramatic result.Superb flashy synths, great guitar solos and lots of symphonic grandieur along with a more complicated but always well-polished songwriting guarantee a really fantastic listening.

''Forces'' is no less than awesome Neo Prog in the best early-80's tradition, switching from the roughness of these years to more elaborated parts, but played a bit later, just to satisfy all the fanatic audience of the style.Highly recommended.

Report this review (#657930)
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | Review Permalink

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