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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars As far as I am concerned this is my favorite album , although most progheads will choose RQTG3 . Heldenleben alone is reason enough for acquiring this album .

Part of Gryphon's music is veering towards Yes and is more and more electric as lps go by, and the rest staying more traditional Gryphon style. More and more the rock music is taking place as albums go on and it is yet another step up from Red Queen . The main difference here is that some numbers are downright rock and electric and some are still perfectly traditional . As I said above , the real highlight is the 15 min Heldenbengen very close to Yes in spirit but still so Gryphon-ish.

This album could've gotten another half star but the main reason why it does not is thatthe tracks choice is definitely more uneven than RQTG3 and there two weak moments IMHO. Still definitely woth the investigation and then the investment.

Report this review (#3019)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Don't be afraid, this album is not a total goner. Okay, it's different than Red Queen. But, be honest, is it cool to do the same album all over and over again (sorry Dream Theater)? The album is a bit like the white album. There's bits and pieces of influences everywhere and the guys are having fun to have less boundaries. They proved their talent (and how!) in the previous album. Now, they experience. And, as a treat, you get the best, and I mean, the best song of every Gryphon album on this record: (Ein Klein) Heldenleben. This song is worth the price of the album. I was suspicious at first. I mean, this record is a total no-name. But, the last song will make you rejoyce and dance, amen.
Report this review (#3020)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album by a great band, sadly underrated. This is mostly a classic English progressive album with a few touches of classic rock, featuring incredible playing, exceptional writing, and a peculiar sence of humor as well. Just listen to the tongue-in-cheek "Le Cambrioleur Est Dans Le Mouchoir" - sounds like some of the later Steve Hackett stuff. The strangely named "Wallbanger" is an amazing symphonic progressive piece with some medieval stylings, again reminding me of the later Steve Hackett sound (Maybe Steve owned this album!). "Ormolu" is a charming little wobbly, ticking piece about a wind-up toy. But the true masterpiece is the symphonic 16+ minute epic "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben", where the band's true instrumental powers are fully unleashed. The album has some weaker moments, but it's so easy to overlook them and it's worth getting it on the strength of these songs alone. Even the classic rock tunes are tasteful and refreshing - there is not a bad song on the album. A forgotten masterpiece.
Report this review (#3021)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The next album after the acclaimed "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" album shows GRYPHON becoming more rock-based and less medieval in their sound. There are 9 tracks on this album, versus the 4 long tracks on "Red Queen To Gryphon Three", although the shorter tracks on "Raindance" are counterbalanced by the last track '(Ein Klein) Heldenleben' which is the album's pičce de résistance and perhaps more like the music on "Red Queen To Gryphon Three".

'Opening Move' has a funky start and is a pleasant 'foot tapper' (with an abrupt end), but it's nothing special.

The title track is basically the sampled sound of rain falling with backing instrumental music, with some thunderclaps near the end of the track. It's pleasant, relaxing and quite evocative, but hardly a masterpiece.

'Mother Nature's Son' is GRYPHON's rendition of the Lennon & McCartney song, and for me is one of the highlights of this album. The vocals, recorder and acoustic guitar make for a beautiful track which I like very much. It also reminds me of just how good Lennon & McCartney were at song writing. I wonder, though, why GRYPHON chose this particular song to include on the album.

'Le Cambrioleur Est Dans Le Mouchoir' (the burgler is in the handkerchief!) is a fun number in a 1920s-like style and reminds me a little of BONZO DOG DOO-DAH BAND, even down to the Viv Stanshall-sounding singing in places.

'Ormolu' is a short song with a tick-tock rhythm; it sounds to me like the soundtrack to a BBC TV programme for small children!

'Fontinental Version' is initially a rather laid-back, melodious song with nonsense lyrics, sounds a bit like an 18th Century English country dance in the middle but then has a good Progressive instrumental part with synth, electric guitar and bass. I like this track.

'Wallbanger', an instrumental written by Harvey (!), has a foot-tapping beat and good use of instruments (including clavinet): there's still a bit of GRYPHON's recorder and bassoon in there but also plenty of bass, organ and percussion, amongst others. It's still easily identifiable as GRYPHON with the medieval influences, though. Great track.

'Don't Say Go' is a tuneful, 'foot tapper' song, but nothing special.

The long instrumental '(Ein Klein) Heldenleben' is more like the music on "Red Queen To Gryphon Three". It's a very good track containing a variety of catchy rhythms, melodies and moods. You can still easily hear the medieval influence for which GRYPHON is known, but it's also very Progressive music in my opinion. It also rocks in places with some nice keyboards (almost Wakeman-like in one place), electric guitar, bass and drums.

All in all not a bad album, but not as good as "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" in my opinion. Nevertheless, I doubt you would regret owning this album. In any case, as Transatlantic Records has released it together with "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" under their "Two Albums on One CD" releases, there's no reason not to get it!

Report this review (#3022)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Gryphon's fourth release, "Raindance", was a step down from the previous "Red Queen to Gryphon Tree" album. This one is closer to regular Progressive Rock instead of Folk-Prog. The band's technical abilities is still present but the songs are less creative and interesting. However, the title track and "Ein Klein" are both beautiful and masterful songs that easily are among Gryphon's best songs. Other than that, there are a couple of good tracks, but also some completely bad ones. If you like this band, get this one for the title track and "Ein Klein".

A very varied album, but could have been better. 3 stars.

Report this review (#3024)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars If Gryphon's brilliant third album was a shocking grab for the prog-rock throne, Raindance was a gentle slide back down to earth. It's as if immortality was too much to handle and the core quartet, along with new bassist Malcolm Bennett were content to put out an album that was simply "good".

The stomping opener Down The Dog is widely despised among Gryphonites, but I actually found it quite funky. However, a combination of the reverrent, but unnecessary cover of The Beatles' Mother Nature's Son, the joke song Le Cambrioleur Est Dans Le Mouchoir and the sing-along Don't Say Go soon revealed that Gryphon had made the fatal decision not to take themselves too seriously!

That's not to say that there isn't a lot of quality lurking around. The atmospheric title track, entertaining clock-based instrumental Ormolu and the beautiful if slightly nonsenical Fontinental Version are among Gryphon's best tunes. And the 16-minute closer (Ein Klein) Heldenleben is the sound of Gryphon rocking out as never before.

In fact, from a progressive point of view, Raindance is clearly Gryphon's second best work. It's just that it suffers in comparison with the masterpiece that preceeded it. ... 68% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#3025)
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is their most progressive rock one. The songs styles are very varied. The medieval patterns are less present than on the previous albums. For the first time, Gryphon use here omnipresent miscellaneous keyboards and excellent electric guitars. "Down the dog" contains an overload of clavinet. The "Raindances" track has magic and graceful keyboards arrangements, sounding VERY modern for 1975: the flute and the delicate small percussions enhance the enchanted tendency of this track: the very fast Fender Rhodes and/or Wurlitzer and/or clavinet? is amazing. The very acoustic, delicate, charming and catchy "Mother Nature's Son" has more the traditional medieval style of the earlier albums. "Le Cambrioleur Est Dans Le Mouchoir" is a short funny track made of melodic acoustic guitars, funny percussions, some badly spoken French vocals in the background and clarinet. The very short "Ormolu" is a stunning and funny exhibition of varied percussions played through repetitive clock ticks. The OUTSTANDING and structured "Fontinental version" is a more conventional complex progressive rock song, having abrupt air & pattern changes: the dissonant parts are well exploited, and the mellow parts remind me the PFM's "Photos of ghost" album. "Wallbanger" has successive parts of melodic harpsichord, electric piano, bassoon + flutes and harmonium. "Don't Say Go" reminds me the Caravan's "Golf girl" track. The last track, the epic "Heldenleben" is among my all-time favorite progressive rock tracks: the omnipresent electric guitars are very impressive! Richard Harvey's keyboards are speechless; the bass and drums complete well the complex whole. Some bits are even progressive hard rock! There are delicate and subtle moments, like the piano, flute and bassoon combination past the fourth minute; the canon bit around 6:30 reaches the quintessence; there are impressive pedal effects (delay among others) on the last electric guitar solo, near the end. All the tracks are at least excellent!


Report this review (#3026)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not as overtly progressive as "Red Queen...", and lacking most of the Early Music overtones of their first two efforts, this all-over-the-map album has some fine songs mixed in with some... "missteps". I like the tunes that show a Gentle Giant/Caravan influence, and tolerate the tracks that attempt to expand their trademark sound (the sequencers don't work, Mr. Harvey). I'd say that about half of the album is worthwhile. Unfortunately, I'd say the same about the 16-minute closer. It's difficult to listen to the whole track, since it's got good and bad sections. Ah, well....
Report this review (#49927)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Tough to rate this album by our medival/folky/prog Gryphon boys. They have a couple Gentle Giantish songs, (beatwise, anyway) "Down The Dog", and the beginning of "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben", a few Stackridge/kitchen sink variety ditties, "LeCambrioleur Est Dans Le Mouchoir" and "Ormolu", some popish songs, "Mother Nature's Son" and "Don't Say Go" and then there's tracks only Gryphon can do, "Raindance" and "Fontinental Version". So why is it hard to rate this? Well, when you consider the last track, "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben", you can't believe a band can play this type of mind-blowingly complex and wonderful prog and yet saddle the listener with the popish stuff mentioned previously. Even songs like "Fontinental Version" is very Gentle Giant-like in spots and ROCKS! I guess if you're looking for something with a wide pallate of sounds, then this album would fall under the 4-star umbrella, the last track alone warrants the fourth star. But in reality, it's really 3.5 rounded to 4; uneven but highly enjoyable!
Report this review (#69324)
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Urgh.. I really like write about bands like Gryphon. They have almost all to become one of the famous bands. The music is permeated by beautiful melodies and some fairy tale. It was made in classic english rock with some touch of folk music. All the songs together are just a fairy tale hypnotic puzzle. The weak place is that songs are isolated from each other and there is no conception. "Mother Nature's son" - is very good prog folk version of The Beatles' tune. "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben" - original long epic composition with the good arrangtment - one of the best song, which ever been released. This album is just collection of good songs.
Report this review (#91396)
Posted Saturday, September 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The sound of the krumhorn

I have always looked upon Gryphon as a second division prog band. They are undoubtedly a talented bunch of guys, but for me their albums lack that spark which separates the good from the great. On the face of it, this their fourth album (from 1975) has many of the right ingredients; a tastefully artistic sleeve, a 16 minute opus, a multi-instrumental line up, and so on. What we have though is at best a mixed bag.

The arrival of Malcolm Bennett for this album coincided with a change in the band's style, away from the folk sounds of earlier albums towards rock based music. Whether this was down to the fact that they had toured with Yes (Bennett also worked with Steve Howe) is debatable. It may just have been that the band were seeking a new direction anyway.

The plethora of traditional instruments (including the krumhorn) which distinguish the sound of Gryphon are still present, sitting well along side their more modern peers such as mellotron and synthesiser.

The music is a pleasant blend of CAMEL, MAGNA CARTA and YES. It tends to be reflective rather than aggressive, with a pleasant overriding folk feel. On side one of the LP, "Fontinental Version" is by far the most diverse and progressive offering, with hints of PFM in the tempo changes and acoustic vs. electronic passages. The unusual mixture of synthesiser solo, mellotron backing, and an array of traditional instruments actually works well. The cover version of the Beatles "Mother Nature's son" is an agreeably soft interpretation which brings out the delightful melody of the song.

Side 2 of the album consists of three tracks, but is dominated by the 16 minute "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben". "Wallbanger" is probably the band's most rock orientated composition, while the brief "Don't say go" has the feel of one of CARAVAN's light, whimsical ditties. For me, while "Heldenleben" is well composed and performed, it is not the feature track which might be expected. The rock and classical influences are certainly blended will, with tasteful instrumentation, but the piece leaves me feeling that it could have been considerably more dynamic.

This was effectively the last of the real Gryphon albums, the line up changing substantially before their final album "Treason". It is a fine representation of the point the band had reached in their development, with the rock influences coming more to the fore, balanced effectively with more traditional folk moods.

Report this review (#112156)
Posted Thursday, February 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This fourth album is lighter (in my opinion) compared to the third one. There are many influences from ELP but still this band has its own identity. The music is as complex and misunderstood as previous album - at least for my personal taste. Some people might be able to fully digest the music. For me personally, I have to force myself to be able to enjoy the music. So, what's the point? It does not fulfill my principle that "music is emotion". I'd rather listen to other kind of prog music and leave this album to those of you who like complexity and do not think melody as important part of music. I do not say that this is a bad album - not at all - it's just not tightly composed, musically (in my opinion). The epic at the end of the album can be considered something that I can enjoy - but not the whole epic track. I leave it up to you whether or not to purchase this album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#121053)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Is it acceptable to buy an album for one song? Yes, when that song is (Ein Klein) Heldenleben! Of course, the epics are what catches most proggers' eyes anyway. Just don't expect much more from this album. The other songs are not bad, but highlights are few and far between. And then you have Heldenleben, one of my top 25 prog epics.

As should be apparent, I don't find the non-epic tracks to be memorable. Mother Nature's Son would be the exception--a very catchy and tender mellow tune, up there with Focus' Janis and Hackett's Hands of the Priestess for simple elegance. Wallbanger features an upbeat tune with a very proggy arrangement, and Raindance is a nice ambient piece. Both are decent, not great. The rest is either too short or too goofy for me to take seriously.

And then we come to Heldenleben: Nearly 16 minutes of some of the most diverse, attention-grabbing, well-arranged prog I have ever heard. They have albums worth of great melodies packed into this song, and every instrument has its moment to shine, without ever directly being given the spotlight. You have the great baseline to begin, followed by marching keyboard, leading into an intricate drum/flute duo, moving to a cool flute/krumhorn build up, and finally the absolutely spacey keyboard/guitar climax. That is just a taste of what Heldenleben offers. Could have a little bit more crisp production, but otherwise a wonderfully unique and creative piece of prog history.

One phenomenal song, a couple worth returning to, and the rest filler. That is the paradox of Raindance. Sixteen minutes of fabulous prog is worth my money, and I'll wager it's worth yours as well.

Report this review (#138366)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Whoops. I've put on the wrong record, someone must have slipped a disc that certainly doesn't belong in a gryphon record sleeve. Where are the outrageous krummerhorn solos?

Just relax, deep breaths ... this is Gryphon, prog normality shall be restored in a short while, we are merely experiencing temporary pop turbulence (a comon feature of the mid 70s) nothing to be alarmed about, return to your seats and strap yourself in.

Ahhh, Raindance eases my troubled brow. It has to be said it's a bit like cabbage leaves for young rabbits ... soporific. This is a cosy seat; the music is inoffensively bland; it's been a hard week at work, time to nod off. Kummerhorns are heard in the background. I like it, but then I'm easily pleased. it's OK but not great.

At the end of the first side we are treated to Fontinental Version. Maybe teated is not the right word: it's more of an imposition. I cant' quite put my finger on it but, nah who am I kidding, it's just a bit disappointing and rubbish.

Side Two begins with the blandWllbanger and then Don't Say Go. Boy but this song is pure Canterbury. THis would not be amiss in the Land of Pink and Grey or If I Could Do it Again I Do It all Over You. As a Caravan fan, I love this short track.

Aha ...Heldenleben. Like for Marcia on Astronaut Dismatles Hal (Amplifier) this is a greta track which oyu should have in your collection.

It 's good album ( and a decent addition to a prog collection) but it's neither essential nor an excellent addition so 3 stars.

Report this review (#168710)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars I'm not a fan of this band at all and I think that Red Queen To Gryphon Three is very overrated on this site. However, I do rate the much underrated Treason album with four stars, definitely my favourite Gryphon album. Compared to Red Queen To Gryphon Three, Raindance is a bit more rock influenced and, indeed, I would say that Raindance is Gryphon's first Prog rock album! The first three not really being Prog at all in my opinion.

You might think that, since I like Treason so much, which was an even rockier album than Raindance, I should like this one too. Well, as a matter fact I don't, very much. This album is very uneven and the material is rather weak. Apart from the Beatles cover, which is nice, but no more. Wallbanger is the first track on this album to even grab my attention. It sounds good, but nothing remarkable.

(Ein Klein) Heldenleben is better compositionally than anything from Red Queen To Gryphon Three or Midnight Mushrumps. It is also the best and only memorable track on this album. It is enjoyable to listen to, but a masterpiece it is not. They might have been a bit influenced by Yes at this time, but this is far away from Yes in both style and quality. Don't get me wrong, they are excellent musicians, and all the instruments are very well played, but the composition is really not that strong.

It seems to me that Gryphon did not have many good musical ideas at this point. Most of the compositions are rather second rate and they are not as experimental as earlier albums, for better or worse. But don't let this album deter you from checking out the much better Treason album, where they finally made a good album.

Uneven, but with some good moments.

Report this review (#178163)
Posted Friday, July 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you are new to Gryphon, Start with 'Red Queen to Gryphon Three'. If you love RQtGT and are looking for more. This is definitely a worthy addition. Only the last track matches the sheer brilliance of that album. But the rest of the tunes are all at least good. The opening two instrumental tracks are also top notch. Some of the other tracks are not really prog, but they are all enjoyable folky tunes. If you take the best moments from 'Midnight Mushrumps' and this album along with all of RQtGT then you can put together 80 to 90 minutes of excellent quirky prog that you can listen to over and over and never get bored. I keep hearing rumours that Gryphon may reform and put out a new album. I will be first in line to get it!
Report this review (#187536)
Posted Friday, October 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Extremely Uneven Follow-Up to Gryphon's Signature Album

I got Gryphon's RAINDANCE album bundled with their highly rated RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE, and they are grouped under one album in my iPod. As a result, the tracks off RAINDANCE have usually come up as afterthoughts to RQrGT, the "leftovers." My impression had always been that there was nice music in that group, but also a lot of forgettable material. For this review, I've taken some time to isolate the songs and really listen to the album on its own. RAINDANCE turns out to be an album from a band really searching for an identity, with widely different tracks, inconsistent quality, and no real direction. Luckily, Gryphon is a talented band and we are still left with some nice prog.

I'll start with the epic, "Ein Klein Heldenleben" which is ballyhooed in these reviews as well worth the price of the whole album, the best song ever recorded by the band. As a piece of Renaissance-influenced prog, the song is quite nice. It's more typically prog rock than the similarly themed pieces on RQ, using heavier guitars, classic prog key sounds, and judicious use of Gryphon's trademark horns. The composition flows nicely through a number of moods from quite rocking to a medieval flute-fueled dance. Despite its over 15 minute length, it never overstays its welcome. Still there's no part that plays back in my head later, nothing that really distinguishes it. The song itself I would rate in the 6/10 range on its own, good but not quite reaching the "excellent" mark.

The rest of the album is extremely spotty. Two of my favorite songs are oddities, the sound- effect fueled "Raindance" and the pleasant cover of the Beatles "Mother Nature's Son." Other songs allude to Gentle Giant, Caravan, and Yes in an apparent search for identity. Not surprisingly, I like the GG bits the best. The founding theme of the band, melding Renaissance and classical music and modern sounds, seems to have fallen aside a bit. Perhaps the band was hoping for more commercial success, or maybe just bored with the same sound of the first three albums. Instead of having a new organizing idea, however, the band is now a bit adrift.

This is not an unpleasant album at all. Given that it was bundled, I don't mind having it and sometimes listen to it when RQ runs over. If you've exhausted the genre, this will likely have a few pleasant moments for you. Otherwise, there are so many better albums to get first. 2/5

Report this review (#263206)
Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Most people will consider Raindance a notch below Red Queen to Gryphon Three. To my ears, they were simply trying new things and see what works and what doesn't and you can see that for yourself. The band lineup is still basically the same: Richard Harvey, David Oberle, Graeme Taylor, and Brian Gulland, with new bassist Malcolm Bennett, who replaced Philip Nestor. I long recognized Malcolm Bennett's name long before I ever heard of Gryphon through Steve Howe's Beginnings (an album he played on, as well as Graeme Taylor and David Oberle), back when I was in my Yes phase (since I didn't know of Gryphon then I had no idea they actually toured with Yes).

"Down the Dog" has a decidedly funky feel, with Richard Harvey playing clavinet. This is something completely unheard of previously. The title track has that minimalist feel with electric piano and an electronic feel. Again a piece completely out of the question on their previous release. Then comes their cover of the Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son". The original has never been a favorite of mine, but Gryphon did an even better cover of it, with some medieval influences showing up. The next couple pieces are short and don't really do much for me. "Fontinental Version" is a vocal piece, but I like the rather complex approach they do to it. What's really surprising is the use of Mellotron, an instrument Richard Harvey obviously never used before. "Wallbanger" is a more rock-oriented piece, but still has some of that medieval feel. The 16 minute "(Ein Klein) Heldenbelen" is, as most people regard it, the album's high point. This is a truly amazing and complex piece that is without a doubt one of the finest pieces Gryphon had ever done.

I still recommend Raindance, even if a couple pieces I thought were throwaway, the worthy stuff is great, and I like some of these new things they do here.

Report this review (#273176)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Raindance is an eclectic excursion in many different (only slightly more commercial) directions for Gryphon. Far from ignoble, this album suffers mainly due to comparisons with its masterpiece predecessor "Red Queen to Gryphon Three".

"Down the Dog" is funky, fusion-y, powerful, catchy and "to the point". As far as "instrumental" tunes garnering AOR airplay in the 70's, this is the type tune that could have done it.

The band seems interested in integrating sounds into their music on this album. "Raindances" is a nice mood piece that begins and ends with the sound of rainfall. The song "Ormolu" conveys the mood of an ornate gold-plated clock consistently tracking time. Is it mere coincidence that this song clocks in at exactly 1 minute? Not a second more nor a second less!

Even before their first album was released, Gryphon was known for performing medieval/renaissance style adaptations of Beatles songs. This "style-sampler"' album afforded them the opportunity to cover "Mother Nature's Son" as only Gryphon could do!

"Raindances" closes on a high note with "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben", a 16+ minute piece that takes the band's medieval sound even deeper into Progressive Rock territory than much of the material on Red Queen to Gryphon Three.

Report this review (#280541)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars With this album Gryphon started to add vocals to their once instrumental sound. There is also more use of keyboards here. "Mother Nature's Son" is a cover of the Beatles tune. Nothing special and not much different to the original. "Le Cambrioleur..." is a short folky song with lyrics in French. Pure filler. "Don't Say Go" is another short song with some nice cowbell. This song sounds like Caravan.

Opener "Down The Dog" is my fave here. It begins with some cowbell and clavinet. A very fun and funky song but there are more symphonic sections too. Some organ and bassoon/krumhorn as well. Some cool sounding synths at the end. The title track has great synths with a single drum. It just builds and builds. The sound of a thunderstorm to end it. "Ormolou" has a New Wave style sequencer part with bassoon/clarinet/krumhorn playing as well. "Fontinental Version" starts out as an almost country-ish singer/songwriter type of song. It then goes into an almost Gentle Giant like part with a marching beat. It goes back to the earlier singer/songwriter vocal part. Then a great synth solo with the Gentle Giant part. Some krumhorn(?). Back to the marching beat. Then a folky section. Back to the vocal part but with some Mellotron this time. The Gentle Giant part gets briefly reprised before the song ends.

"Wallbanger" has some great bass. Some harpsichord and flute as well. The guitar playing sounds like Steve Howe. The Yes influence is most noticeable on the 16-minute "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben". It begins very classical sounding. Around 1 1/2 minutes in goes into a Yes-like part. Around 4 minutes there is a marching beat. It goes back to the classical section. Before 7 minutes there is a synth drone with a flute solo. Before 10 minutes there is a nice melody on flute/bassoon, etc. Then an electric guitar solo. 11 1/2 minutes there is a weird synth solo. After 13 minutes the nice melody comes back. It then goes into another Yes-like part with the same melody. Ends with a melody on glockenspiel(?).

Gryphon were never very consistent. Raindance does feature some of their best music along with more filler stuff. More diverse than but not as consistent as the instrumental Red Queen To Gryphon Three. Deserves 3 stars.

Report this review (#309005)
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'Raindance' is an inspiring mix of all the influences used on Gryphon's other three albums, plus a new blend of rock. The compositions are shorter, apart from '(Ein Klein) Heldenleben' which is a main highlight. It contains some powerful guitar and synthesiser solo passages that remind many listeners of Yes' style.

The other tracks show that the band are ready to try out virtually everything. 'Down The Dog', for instance, opens on a funky note and works very well. The title track is a real gem with its peaceful, sparkling keyboards. I love the rain sounds and tranquil flute in the background. And bless these lads for doing the pretty Beatles' cover 'Mother Nature's Son' too. This is one of the most stunningly melodic folk songs I've ever heard and the recorder solos here make it all the more effective and magical.

There are some touches on French folk with the subtly hilarious 'Le Cambrioleur Est Dans Le Mouchoir'. I really like the sly acoustic guitar on that number. 'Ormolu' has more playful acoustic work and interesting clock-work percussion that can't be traced to any particular style.

In all, this is very joyful and inventive stuff. It's particularly nice that no two subsequent Gryphon albums actually sound the same: for a band with such a short lifespan, this is a great achievement. I personally love all of Gryphon's studio efforts, although I still haven't heard the last album "Treason", which I believe to be an entirely new experience. Highly recommended

Report this review (#452876)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars As far as I am concerned, their previous album was their absolute top. It was a superb combination between symphonic and folk prog. This work is not too bad either, but the grandeur of its predecessor is not present.

The first part of the album features an upbeat & jazzy track ("Down The Dog") which is not the best opening number I have heard from the band. The mood is completely different with the sophisticated and melodic "Raindance". It is a tranquil track which features some beautiful background piano.

There is also truly folkish music ("Le Cambrioleur") which is not memorable and some" press next" type of tracks as well as "Ormulu", but there are also some more interesting musical parts available like the melodic "Mother Nature's Son"; but the latter sounds pretty much as a "Simon & Garfunkel" affair (which is not a poor comparison; on the contrary).

A song as "Fontinental Version" is quite Canterbury oriented. It is somewhat jazzy, but the vocal parts are quite well achieved, and the instrumental sections are extremely well played. It is a very good song indeed.

Some songs from this offering are on the average side ("Wallbanger") and are more on the soft rock angle ("Don't Say Go"). Not bad but nothing spectacular either.

As far as I am concerned, I am rating this album with three stars thanks only to the "Heldenleben". It is a very good epic that should pleased most prog lovers: symphonic, folk, jazz and rock: it is all there. The band demonstrates, once again, their great musical skills during this long piece of music (just around the sixteen minutes mark).

At times it sopunds as a great YesSong and during others "Tull" is not very far away. Still, this great piece of music is rather personal. One of their best song ever for sure.

Most of this piece is on the rocking style but it is also combined with sweet and classical piano and wonderful flute sections.

This album holds some very good moments, but it is too much unequal. Three stars.

Report this review (#531727)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars If this hadn't been my first Gryphon LP I would never have guessed it was the same band responsible for the delicate medieval folk rock of earlier efforts. That funky clavinet introducing the album opener 'Down the Dog' was a long way from the court of King Henry VIII, and the languid Space Rock of the title track showed a group turning its collective back on the past without even the courtesy of a second glance.

On compact disc the muddy sound of the original vinyl is greatly improved, but it's still an uneven album, to say the least. Most of the shorter songs (the majority of the album, in other words) are little more than incidental filler, including a lovely cover of the otherwise negligible Lennon / McCartney tune 'Mother Nature's Son'. Even the mid- length 'Fontinental Version' is a haphazard medley, awkwardly splicing ideas from at least three separate songs into a single ersatz composition, then and now one of Prog Rock's lazier habits.

The balance of Side Two is reserved for the mini-epic '(Eine Kleine) Heldenleben', the title a riff on a Richard Strauss opus. It's the only thing here with any real ambition, showing the scope of classical training among the quintet of players, and the extent to which their later style was undermined by the Symphonic Rock influence of YES (I hope Steve Howe was flattered by the outright theft of his guitar style).

Even with a generous sixteen-minute running time there isn't enough meat in the track to carry a side of vinyl, let alone an entire album. But it does present the last great recorder solo by frontman Richard Harvey: seventy seconds of Elizabethan bliss from your local Renaissance Faire, updated with a throbbing electric bass guitar and ominous mini-moog atmospherics.

The rest of the piece is flashy but trivial, to a point where it's hardly surprising when a bit of circus music (a brief quote of the Souza / Fucik chestnut 'Entrance of the Gladiators') pops up in the song's closing moments. Fun stuff, to be sure, but not enough to distract attention away from the album's other deficits, including some truly awful cover art.

I suppose you could argue that Gryphon took their music from the 15th to the 20th century in the span of just a few albums: real progress for a Prog Rock band. But here the group sounded as if they might have been unequipped for the journey, and unsure of their ultimate destination.

Report this review (#815305)
Posted Wednesday, September 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Raindance from 1975 is definetly a good follow up the the excellent Red queen, but this time Gryphon change little bit the ingredients here, musicaly speaking. While is a worthy album, here are also some unintrsting tracks and of course combined with some very fine moments. More rockier and less medieval in aproach then Red queen but with folk influences added as usual in Gryphon sound, Raindance desearve attention from prog listners. The opening track Down the Dog and the title track are excellent instrumental pieces that shows a mature band with good ideas, a worthy metion is the ending piece, the longest (Ein Klein) Heldenleben , a great musicaly ride in everything Gryphon has best, the rest of the tracks, some with voice are ok but nothing more. So, decent with some parts being great, so I think 3.5 stars worth this release, little to low rated IMO.
Report this review (#864965)
Posted Friday, November 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Following the elaborate and sophisticated songwriting of their third album, "Red Queen To Gryphon Three", British prog folk outfit Gryphon comes out with this eclectic album that can best be described as quirky.

Aside from the album's concluding epic, which is very much in the vein of their previous album, "Raindance" is composed of 8 shorter, odder tracks. It is obvious that the band was having a lot of fun recording this album, which is seething with silliness. Not that it's a problem at all; there are still fine musical moments scattered throughout and the whimsical moments are fun and carefree.

This album really doesn't have anything to dislike and the epic, the simplistically beautiful Beatles cover "Mother Nature's Son" and the fact that it comes bundled on CD with "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" are more than enough incentive to give this album a listen. Three stars for a happy, inoffensive release that will sit on your shelf for a while but should bring joy every time you take it out.

Report this review (#1484329)
Posted Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Review Permalink
2 stars After their outstanding third album Red Queen To Gryphon Three, which presented a fresh, bright, and ambitious vision of progressive folk rock, Gryphon enjoyed a relative success. The band was offered to open for Yes during one of their tours. It is at this time that we can observe Gryphon's radical drift away from their folk roots. Philip Nestor and Peter Redding, the bassists left the group and were replaced by Malcolm Bennett, who was also a fluent flautist. In 1975, Gryphon recorded Radiance.

The band's sound on Radiance is dramatically different from their previous releases. Their original distinct sound shaped by English medieval and renaissance folk music is almost entirely absent. These elements are being replaced with a style that would not be out of place on works by Yes or Gentle Giant. However, the newer influences are executed in a rather clumsy and awkward manner, sounding unnatural and dull.

Gryphon's signature bassoon sound is all that is left from the old style. Most of the sound is dominated by keyboards and an electric guitar. The musicianship is very decent. The band shows a strong tendency of building melodic structures on rhythms set by repeating sequences on a diverse range of percussion instruments. Folk-inspired acoustic guitars do appear in places, but play a minor role in the band's new sound. The previously mentioned keyboards range from grand piano to a Minimoog synthesizer, which is definitely something new In Gryphon's music. There are also some ambient passages with various electronic sound effects.

The album consists of nine tracks. Some of the titles are in German in French. "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben" is Gryphon's own 15-minute "mini-epic" and highlights the most essential elements of Radiance. One of the pieces is a cover of The Beatles' "Mother's Nature Son". It's a good song and probably the best track on the album, but feels sort of unambitious for a progressive rock band to play arrangements of popular music. "Down The Dog" is also a very decent with an interesting clavinet sound.

Radiance is nothing short of a big disappointment. The band's original and unique sound presented on previous releases is sacrificed for mediocre, popular-sounding soft rock with just little strains of folk music. It's a real shame, because Gryphon could do much better than that. The album is not bad in its own right, but it is recommended to avoid it, unless you are a fan of Gryphon. 2.5 stars!

Report this review (#1558109)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Gryphon becomes a (progressive) rock band.

This is the album where Gryphon morphs from playing progressive medieval music while using both medieval and modern instruments, to a rock band playing progressive rock that also includes medieval instruments. As other reviewers have noted, the album contains a mix of styles, and if nothing else, this presents issues of flow and continuity. Thus, while everything on 'Red Queen to Gryphon Three' was written in the same eclectic progressive-medieval style and flows exceptionally well from track to track (and from section to section within the tracks), on this album the transitions can feel jarring and certain tracks sound very out of place. Saying this, the underlying music is still quite good. The best track here (competing for the best track in their entire catalogue) is the 16-minute "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben". This is the track that provides the most continuity with 'Red Queen', with a very similar compositional style and sound. It is more structured around the rock instruments though (with prominent electric guitar solos, etc) than the medieval instruments, although the latter are still all present and sections of the piece definitely get back into the medieval sound. This is an awesome 5-star piece, and takes up more than a third of the album. The only other two tracks that have a medieval feel are "Le Cambrioleur est dans le Mouchoir" and "Wallbanger" but even these are more 'modern' than medieval, and both are brief. The rest of the tracks are a different story. Indeed, no one versed in the first three albums would probably even recognize the rest as Gryphon - they are very much of various rock genres. "Don't Say Go" is totally Canterbury-flavoured rock, and very catchy, much like Caravan, but I like it. "Down the Dog" and "Ormolu" have a Gentle Giant feel (not at all medieval), while "Fontinental Version" sounds (to me) a bit like the last track on the Quiet Sun album (thus also a bit of a Canterbury flavour, although less so than 'Dont Say Go'). The title track, "Raindance" should have been the last track on the album - it is basically just a mellow outro. Indeed, when I made up the tape of this album, I re-arranged the tunes, with (Ein Klein) Heldenleben first, and Raindance last. I think the album works better in that order. Actually, I would say that the order of the tracks on the original album is one reason why the transitions are jarring for the listener, and perhaps why this album gets some poor reviews. This is easily fixed with a bit of re-arranging. The only track I don't like here is the cover version of the Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son" - it feels too out of place, and there is no better order for me that includes it. Other than that, I think all the music here is good, and Heldenleden is really excellent and worth the price of the album alone. All together, this gets 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1825197)
Posted Monday, November 20, 2017 | Review Permalink

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