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Pendragon - Fly High Fall Far CD (album) cover

FLY HIGH FALL FAR

Pendragon

Neo-Prog


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greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record sound definitely like "The Jewel". There are tons of fast cymbals, loud and sophisticated bass (its sound is really unique and definitely not bland). The electric guitars are really good, and the keyboards are impressive too: many moog solos, floating keyboards streams (e.g. organ) and more modern sounds. The guitar rythmic is loud, aggressive and addictive. The four songs are very good, especially "Excalibur", which IMO started the neo progressive style: just listen to those guitar solos, full of pedal effects a la Steve HACKETT. The composition of "Excalibur" is very structured, elaborated and varied. The lead vocals are excellent, as always. The songs have something very addictive and catchy. It can sound like MARILLION-FISH era. Again, the sound is recorded too loud, so that the cymbals sound saturated. This record doesn't leave me indifferent. The style is very urban and tracks may be played in the car on a hot summer night.
Report this review (#27983)
Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Arthurian

This was Pendragon's first release, a maxi single made up of four tracks. It lacks the sophistication we have come to expect from the band, although Nick Barrett's vocals are instantly recognisable.

The absence of Clive Nolan, who had yet to join the band, means that the guitar work is more up front with the keyboards further back in the mix.

The title track is a pretty basic loud piece of rock, but it does have a good if brief guitar then synthesiser break. "Victims of life" is a largely instrumental number, with a bit of a Genesis feel, especially on the Steve Hackett like guitar. "Dark summer's day" has clearer hints of what was to come, being much more progressive and melodic. The keyboards finally come to the fore here alongside the guitar, to create a beautiful piece, well ahead of its time. The final track, "Excalibur" is about as legendary as its namesake sword. There's hints of early Genesis ("The knife" etc.), although it is an instrumental piece.

A good early collection, signalling the way forward. The first two tracks subsequently appeared on "The Jewel" album.

Report this review (#27984)
Posted Friday, May 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Contempory of Marillion and IQ, Pendragon distills a more poppish, easy and accessible music. Pendragon will need some time to establish their style. This EP was released before the line-up really stabilized.

Music here is pleasant but not sophisticated. What we'll get here are four good songs. Nothing less, nothing more. Barrett's unique tone is still hesitant, far from what he will be. His guitar play is not yet as symphonic and passionate as it will be.

This EP lacks in emotional moments, but do not worry : Pendragon will get you there.

The title track of this EP is a poppy and stright-forward song. Not a great track, but it has all the elments fo Pendragon with more keys than usual maybe. "Dark Summer's Day" is very romantic. Very subtle backing keys but childish chorus. I guess that detractors will call this a useless song. I just want to mention to them, that it does not hurt to produce just beautiful songs... I quite like it, obviously.

The most achieved song here is "Victims Of Life". It will be featured on their debut album as a bonus track on the remastered version. A very nice instrumental part opens this song : it is imposing, well performed and catchy. The so typical guitar play of Rothery (you know, these special intros of closings) is very much present here. The beautiful and so passionate voice from Barret is perfect here. It is by far the best number on this EP. Fully symphonic and just beautiful as Pendragon can sound.

I really like this band. Although it is categorized in the neo-prog genre, IMO it has more to do with the symph-prog one. I have had the chance to see them live and it was really an EMOTIONAL and exceptional moment (thanks again Francis for organizing this great concert at the Spirit Of 66 last year).

Very good intro again for "Excalibur" which is an intrumental piece. It sounds pretty much like Genesis but with less grandeur (Camel as well is not far away). A nice number.

To rate this short work is rather difficult. It is of course not a must own (even for Pendragon fan since half of it will be featured on their debut album "The Jewel". Three stars.

Report this review (#120000)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well, last week I wrote a review on this site about Pendragon their latest effort, the DVD entitled Past And Present. Then I discovered that I still had not reviewed their first effort, this mini-LP. I remember vividly that I bought it when it was just released in the days that Fish Marillion ruled. They speerheaded the neo-prog rock movement with IQ as second best but in my opinion Pendragon should be considered as the inventor of neo-prog rock because Pendragon sound more neo-prog than the more symphonic prog inspired Marillion and IQ: more pure rock elements, a more accessible and straight-forward sound, more head-and- tail guitar - and keyboard soli and more song-oriented compositions. After all those years I am still delighted about the four compostions on this mini-LP: very melodic and pleasant atmospheres, strong soli on guitar and keyboards (great Minimoog flights) and I still love Nick his vocals. If you take a look at the Past And Present DVD you will notice that keyboard player Nick Carter delivers an splendid job after all those years, full circle!! My rating: 3,5 stars.
Report this review (#127746)
Posted Friday, July 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars PENDRAGON's first album is a fair product if you consider the year/decade and if you add the debut label, even with the acknowledgment that "Fly High Fall Far" isn't in reality a full album. Anyway, knowing now a little better the band's history we notice that they weren't properly rookies in the prog scene since they had amassed a certain number of years on the road, which explains the reason they show pieces of seniority throughout this short release.

Having absorbed convenient doses of classic prog-rock taken directly from the fountain of the 70s, PENDRAGON show an apparent typical neo-prog album which in truth is tinted with neat symphonic and space/psych prints - something that should become, at least for my ears, a kind of band's signature. The reference to FLOYD's "The Wall" heard in the intro of 'Fly high, fall far', the opening song, is a clear testimony of their roots and background. The song itself is pleasantly average, with some good hard-rock parts and hearable keyboards, drumming and vocals actions - not groundbreaking but interesting.

'Victims of life' sports that characteristic neo-prog atmosphere responsible for the disdain of so many old prog-fans; guitar does a great work compensating a few the excessive flow of synth sounds. Soft segment is catchy and amusing enough to make worth the listening of the whole track. 'Dark Summer's day' seems a follow-on of previous song, but now things become weary and expendable; the weakest point in this mini-album. 'Excalibur', the closing song, on the other side is the strongest point - really a fine moment and where band demonstrate their ability and musicianship.

This mini-album could be considered only a specific item for fans and collectors however if one looks forward at PENDRAGON's career life it becomes essential which points to the middle course. Good.

Report this review (#129695)
Posted Saturday, July 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars Lift off

Pendragon was formed already in 1978 but they didn't release anything until this four track EP in 1984 (and their first full length album came in 1985). This EP was thus the very first release ever by Pendragon which together with IQ, Pallas and Marillion and a few other bands spearheaded the Neo-Progressive movement in the early 80's. However, unlike Marillion it took a while for many of these bands to create anything of high quality. The first couple of albums by IQ, Pallas and Pendragon were relatively weak when compared to what these bands would go on to do in the 90's and 2000's. Indeed, it almost seems to be symptomatic of Neo-Progressive bands that they needed many years to mature and reach their respective musical peaks. This tendency seems to be very general, just look at the Top 100 of Neo-Prog albums and you will find that a very large majority of the top albums are from the 90's and 00's and only very few from the subgenre's early days (the reverse is true in other subgenres).

What we have here then is one of these immature releases along with the full length debut The Jewel from the following year. Two of the four songs from this EP resurfaced of that album while the other two songs can only be found here (and on the compilation The Rest Of Pendragon that brings together the songs from three of the band's early EPs). Personally, I think that the two songs that did not end up on The Jewel are fully up to par with the songs that did. Dark Summer's Day is a decent Pop song that would have fitted very well on that album but it is the instrumental Excalibur that is the best moment on this EP and the only reason that this is recommended for fans and collectors. This long instrumental features very nice keyboard and guitar play even if the great Clive Nolan was yet to join the band and Nick Barrett was yet to find is own guitar style. Sadly, the sound quality is quite weak and very far from the high sonic quality of later albums from the 90's onwards.

Relative to the decent but hardly great full length debut album The Jewel and the poor second album Kowtow, Pendragon actually did fly comparatively high here musically speaking, and oh how far they fell! (Before reaching ever new heights in the 90's and 00's).

This EP is worth finding (the best place is probably the compilation I mentioned above) for the two tracks not available elsewhere, but really only recommended to fans and collectors of early Neo-Prog and Pendragon in particular. Very nice cover art too!

Report this review (#253410)
Posted Sunday, November 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This was Pendragon´s first officiail release, an EP with four tracks. I was quite surprised to find it so good for such a new band. Ok, it lacks the sophistication of their 90´s material of course, but if you look closer it´s easy to see that all the basic elements that made Pendragon one of the best prog bands to emerge from the so called neo prog movement are right here: the Gilmour/Hackett influenced guitar lines, the fine symphonic keyboards (although it would take a little over than an year for Clive Nolan to take over those duties), excellent rhythm section. And, sure, Nick Barrett´s unique voice, love it or hate it.

The title track is quite heavy on parts and show the group´s versatility since the early days. Victims of Life is a more familiar synphonic prog track, being mostly isntrumental and showing off clearly Genesis influences. Dark Summer Days on the other hand is quite different, with its jazzy guitar, slightly bossa nova rhythm, dreamy keys and fine melody. The last track is the isntrumental Exclibur, where the Steve hackett influence comes to the fore again. Very nice!! Production was only average, but the energy and passion of the performances were so strong they overcome such small detail.

Like Marillion Market Square Heroes EP, Fly High Fall Far proved once and for all that progressive music was far from dead. In fact, a whole new generation of prog artists would show that not only the style was alive and well but they had a lot of new sounds to offer. Small wonder Pendragon is still making fine and relevant music almost 30 years after they appeared. They were truly special from the get go.

Report this review (#541049)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars An appealing but rather lightweight little EP from Pendragon - their debut in fact, and very much in keeping with the approach they would take on their first full-length album, the Jewel, in that there's a combination of more approachable, jaunty, mainstream tracks (the title cut) and murky meanderings through neo-prog territory. Nick Barrett's guitar work gets a decent outing on the closing instrumental, Excalibur, and the opening track is catchy as anything, but the intermediate tracks are rather forgettable.

Still, it's a decent effort, and even though it might follow the lead of Marillion's Market Square Heroes a little too closely (in terms of front loading a poppy single and then keeping the more prog-oriented matierial at the back) it's still an enjoyable enough listen if you're a neo-prog fan. In particular, the instrumental Excalibur is really quite good, to the point where I'm inclined to give the EP an extra star simply for its presence.

Report this review (#579035)
Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
VianaProghead
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Review Nº 521

The history of Pendragon began at Stroud, Gloucestershire, England in 1978. Four young musicians got together and decided to form a rock band, Zeus Pendragon, later shortened to Pendragon. The band started playing cover versions of classic rock tunes by Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and Santana. In 1982, it was asked to Pendragon if they would like to support Marillion at the famous Marquee Club in London. At the time, Marillion had already gained a tremendous recognition. This was the break that Pendragon really needed. Thus, soon they released their debut work.

So, "Fly High Fall Far" is the debut EP, mini album or maxi single, as you wish to call it, of Pendragon and was released in 1984. This was Pendragon's first release made up only by four studio tracks. "Fly High Fall Far" sounds definitely close to "The Jewel", their debut studio album, which was released in 1985, about one year after the release of this EP. Like happened with "The Jewel", the absence of Clive Nolan is particularly evident and noticed on this work too. He hadn't yet joined the group, which means the guitar work is more prominent and the keys are more mixed on the back.

So, "Fly High Fall Far" and "The Jewel" represent a very different musical proposal when compared with their following studio albums "The World", released in 1991, "The Window Of Life", released in 1993, "The Masquerade Overture", released in 1996 and "Not Of This World", released in 2001. I left out of this comparison their second studio album "Kowtow", released in 1988, because it represents a very special album on the musical career of the group. In those days, when Pendragon released "Kowtow", the band was in change, facing a transitional phase in their musical career.

Thus, "Fly High Fall Far" and "The Jewel" began to Pendragon, as a kind of two pre-studio works from the band and where their classic keyboardist Clive Nolan and their drummer Fudge Smith weren't yet members of the group at the time. So, the line up on the album is composed by Nick Barrett (vocals and guitars), Rick Carter (keyboards), Peter Gee (basses, guitars and bass pedals) and Nigel Harris (drums and percussion).

As I wrote above, "Fly High Fall Far" is an EP with four tracks. The first track is the title track song "Fly High Fall Far". This is a very aggressive progressive rock song with great tempo breaks and some outstanding keyboards by Rick Carter. It sounds as a petty basic piece of rock with nice guitar and keyboard works that shows clearly the group's musical versatility since the early days and that became a true testimony of their musical roots and background. It isn't one of their best tracks but it's enough interesting and pleasant to listen to. The second track "Victims Of Life" is a very melodic piece of music with superb guitar parts, and again, it has also a lot of tempo breaks all over the song. This is a more familiar progressive rock track, mostly instrumental, that shows clearly the initial Genesis and Marillion musical influence of Fish's era, on the band's music. It sounds very symphonic and very beautiful as Pendragon can sound. This is a better song than "Fly High Fall Far" is, with many soft musical segments very catchy and amusing, which is enough to turning this track also very pleasant to listen to. The third track "Dark Summer's Day" is a mellow ballad with a great and emotional guitar break at the end of the song, which reminds me very strongly Carlos Santana. Santana is an artist that I like very much of his guitar style. It's a song with a fine melody, slightly jazz and bossa nova rhythm, nice harmonies, good keyboard work and a magnificent guitar playing. This is a very melodic song that became to be a very nice piece of music. However, and despite of that, this is probably the weakest track on the album, its Achilles' heel. The fourth track "Excalibur" is an instrumental piece of music with a very nice keyboard sound, in which Pendragon shows their great skills. I think we may say that this is the song of the EP with the most authentic Pendragon's sound of all. This is a musical composition very well structured, very well elaborated and very varied that reminds me the early Genesis' sound in the time of "Trespass". This is also a track that reminds me very strongly the early sound of Camel. It's a track that features a very nice keyboard and guitar works. This is, without any doubt, the strongest point on the album and represents a great musical moment. It represents also the best and most progressive moment on the EP.

Conclusion: "Fly High Fall Far" has a real good early collection of songs that represents a kind of an interlude and a showcase to their debut studio album "The Jewel". It's a very different musical proposal from the band but it represents a very solid and cohesive beginning to Pendragon. I think it can be considered, perhaps, as only a specific item for fans and collectors and probably must be heard as a complement of their album "The Jewell". So, I share the same opinion of some other reviewers that "Fly High Fall Far" is a difficult album to rate by its own. Still, if we look to it with some attention, we can find on it the roots of their future music. The high quality level of its music and its musical cohesion make of "Fly High Fall Far" a very good progressive EP and a promising start for what will be, in the future, one of the best neo-prog bands in the world, a band that continues still creating great, fine and relevant prog music, even today

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#2735751)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2022 | Review Permalink

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