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Gnidrolog - In Spite Of Harry's Toenail CD (album) cover

IN SPITE OF HARRY'S TOENAIL

Gnidrolog

Eclectic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars This band is fronted by identical twins , the Goldring (the band's name is the screwed up anagram of their name) and drummer Nigel Pelgrum will join Steeleye Span and Peter Cowling will be the source of inspiration for Canadian guitarist Pat Travers in the late 70's .

Just as good as their second album , the sound is even more aggrressive , still very much in the line of AUDIENCE (sadly over-looked prog group - even here ) with VDGG influences in the ambiances. Again here the longer numbers like Man Dead and Toenail provide plenty of of instrumental space for everyone to showcase their talent without being too demonstrative . Ther is not one weaker number on this absolutely masterful debut . I just wish that those very aggressive guitar chords in the opener and closer would fit better with the lyrics and singing - a very minor flaw.

It is really hard to understand how such bands (Audience also) never really got more attention. I guess there was only room for so many and the places on the plane for success were too few and unafordable . To be discovered at all cost .......

Some Cd include some very worthy bonus tracks but with poorer sound quality. Also in the booklet , there is the hilarious story of how this album got its weird name

Recently (three years ago , I missed a concert in Holland as they presented their new album , and a friend of mine told me that although very very acoustic was their concert , they stayed very true to the spirit of those albums.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#3047)
Posted Monday, May 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A minute or two into Gnidrolog's debut album, chances are you will realise that you have stumbled upon a sensational group. It's one hell of an entertaining ride that doesn't just continue steadily through Harry's Toe-nail, but even manages to accelerate on the follow-up Lady Lake. This killer one-two combination is a real treat for classic prog fans, and puts Gnidrolog really high on the list for those willing to strike out and discover something new.

When describing the band's music, it's tempting to make references to Gentle Giant, King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator and at some points, even Amazing Blondel, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Wishbond Ash, but I prefer to waffle on at length about the Gnidrolog sound, cos it's unique. There is a real note of desperation in Colin Goldring's vocals, a powerful occasionally even eerie atmosphere envelopes the music, and the band's sound is both rich and unusual ... probably because for large portions of their album, the guitar is sidelined and the keyboards are non-existent, while bassist Peter Cowling doubles up on cello and drummer Nigel Pegrum is often to be found playing the flute or oboe!. It's also notable that despite quite obviously being brilliant musicians, Gnidrolog generally eschew the "solo".

The multi-dimensional opener Long Live Man Dead is probably the best way for the band to throw down the gauntlet, for while it is certainly an animated, occasionally bewildering offering that will draw you in if not through the frantic vocal melody, then surely through the flute-led mid section or the ominious deliberately disjointed ending ... and it probably isn't even Gnidrolog's most daring composition!

The intensity never lets up ... the medieval ballad that is Peter begins with a delightful instrumental passage and its sparse instrumentation carries the lead melody superbly. Snails is one of those eerie pieces I mentioned earlier ... it can be hypnotic and vicious and towards the end descends into the most beligerent of cacophonies with Stewart Goldring's visceral guitar lines sharing the spotlight with avant-garde brass work in a manner that would have brought a smile to Robert Fripp's face.

Time And Space starts off life as a exquisite Tudor-era companion to Peter, but soon evolves into a jarring beast and closes with a feeding frenzy of a solo. The lyrics, by the way, are full of poetic expressions of fear and confusion. Who Spoke is another almost Baroque acoustic piece, although this one stays delicate and concise (as one would expect with a running time of just over 2 minutes). The concluding title track is probably my favourite piece is a superb album, using the flute and bass to set the scene before massed vocals lead the band to a emotionally charged solo that leads into the blistering jazz-rock finale.

When you first discover Gnidrolog, you might be caught wondering if it really is as special as everyone else seems to claim it is. I can assure that this is one album that grows with time and like its successor, helps establish the identity of a unique group of music makers. In Spite Of Harry's Toe-nail is an essential stop for the adventurous. ... 90% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#71738)
Posted Sunday, March 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This debut from Gnidrolog brings you an unique prog rock that is something like King Crimson (song Long live man dead).

The musicians are great and songs are well structured mixing many instruments and variuos moods, but this album is also full of energy and promise a great potential.

However, the group did just one more album and vanished.

Although this is an excellent edition to prog rock collection, their masterpiece is Lady Lake.

And for people who are interested, it's good to buy all-in-one CD version of Gnidrolog although the cover of Lady Lake is amazing.

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Send comments to Hejkal (BETA) | Report this review (#84142)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gnidrolog are an under-appreciated 70s prog band that only made two albums, In Spite of Harry's Toe-nail and Lady Lake. Both were released in 1972 and they both are very different from each other, but both are masterpieces. These are essential to any fan of Van der Graaf Generator or King Crimson (which is most of the people here).

In Spite of Harry's Toe-nail is much heavier, more aggressive, and complex than their following album, Lady Lake. It would make sense to compare this album to Van der Graaf Generator's album Pawn Hearts and the next to Godbluff or Still Life. These guys sound like a mixture of Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and Gentle Giant, but all blended together with other influneces to create a unique sound.

Listen to the sample "Long Live Man Dead" here on the archives to get a good impression on what this album is like. Very aggressive vocals and guitars blended together perfectly with lighter and more mellow prog. All the longer songs here are great, Snails features some of the most aggressive guitar playing of any 70s prog I've heard. Time in Space has an amazing flute solo at the end which will make your jaw drop guaranteed (there is nice flute work throughout the whole album, which is the cliche reason I compared them to Jethro Tull). In Spite of Harry's Toe-nail is a nice way to close the album, it's a progressive-sounding hard rocker reminding me of Deep Purple with some nice harmonica. The one low point of the album is the shorter songs, which are good but not as impressive. It's no big deal since they only add up to around 5 minutes and fit together with the album nicely.

All in all, this album is to me an underrated masterpiece. Right now, you can buy both Gnidrolog albums on one CD for the price of a normal album which is an absolutely amazing deal. I strongly encourage any fan of 70s prog to look for this bundle, you will definitely not regret it.

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Send comments to Mikerinos (BETA) | Report this review (#84830)
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Despite being a big fan of bands like Crimson, Gentle Giant and VDGG Gnidrolog use to be compared with this toenail was quite a hunk to swallow for me (sorry, the seduction for this joke was too high!). From the aspect of musical prowess and employment of instruments like flute, sax, cello and oboe which is really quite an unique combination everything seams to be brilliant. Certainly the compositions are very cumbersome with a highly aggressive mood throughout most of this album but that's the case as well with some of VDGG's stuff. That should really not be that a big problem for me to find full enjoyment nonetheless after a couple of spins. I think the biggest hurdle for my own complete pleasure is the voice of the singer here and the songwriting style (though usually I'm really not the type of music fan who cares much for perfect songwriting). Actually most of the instrumental parts on this album would receive the maximum score from me, still I rather prefer their follow-up one. Anyway this band was certainly quite an extraordinary band in the early seventies and actually hard to be compared to any other one since they really developed their very own sound. Whether you like it or not still remains a matter of acquired taste. I've to admit it took me as well quite a while to love Hammill's voice and maybe one day the same will happen with Colin Goldring's one (though they can't be compared to each other by any means). Nevertheless this drawback can't keep me off from giving this album a 4-stars rating!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#88570)
Posted Thursday, August 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hard listening band, with a dense and mysterious atmosphere. Always being compared to KC, GG and VDGG by the arrangements, intricate songs and vocal style but remember, they have their all style, I'm sure they don't imitate any of these bands. Alternating acoustic and more aggressive songs; air instruments flute, sax etc; no organ, lyrics that may remember an E A. Poe tale, confident vocals and excellent musicians. Great band. A bit impossible to give less than 4 stars.

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Send comments to Rafael In Rio (BETA) | Report this review (#93426)
Posted Thursday, October 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gnidrolog's debut lp. I've listen to it a million of times before this review. First thing that is very suprising - vocal. Goldring has a powerful but high voice. Second - sound of this album is very good. Tracks are great. There is a hint of flute in almost every one of them. I can't say about any of them "the best", because all are great. This is a short review, so you don't have to waste your time reading it, and just listen to it. Highly recomended for King Crimson's early work fans.

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Send comments to Deepslumber (BETA) | Report this review (#104005)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars What an album! When I first finished listening to it, I kind of couldn't believe what I'd just listened to (in a good way of course). These guys produce music that I just cant compare to anything I've ever heard before. As mentioned many times, comparisons to VDGG, Gentle Giant, etc may be evident now and then, but they maintain a unique sound of their own. Certain tracks can just weave in and out of doomy riffs, gentle folky passages and some almost medieval sections. First time you listen, it may sound totally disjointed and directionless which can make it a challenge. Repeated listening will reveal that the arrangements are not as complex as you may think.

A very difficult album to describe, but highly recommended. (4.5 stars)

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Send comments to kingdhansak (BETA) | Report this review (#107106)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've just listened to "In Spite of Harry's Toenail" for the very first time. Let me preface my review by saying that I am positively sure that this is the kind of album that requires multiple listenings. That being said...well...er....it was similar to witnessing a car wreck; you know something bad is about to happen, but you can't take your eyes off the accident.

The voice of Colin Goldring is harsh, off key and rather high pitched. It makes me cringe. The lyrics are rather simple and often repeated (screamed). This is the main problem I have with this band.

The music, however, is quite good in my opinion. The drums and base are solid, and really set the pace for this band. The guitar work, although good, takes a back seat to the more prominent flute and sax work which is avant-garde in nature...a little Tull, a little Zappa.

I won't get into the individual songs because right now, after one listen, I'm working off of an overall impression....dazed and confused, but definitely entertained.

This is not the type of music that will regularly find a way into my rotation, but on those days when you feel like something completely different (sorry Monty Python) this is your album. Not for everyone though.

In a nutshell, the singing is horrid, the music is bluesy to jazzy, hard driving and often quite avant-garde, but very different and entertaining. Just don't expect the normal musical experience and you won't get hurt.

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Send comments to epictetus1 (BETA) | Report this review (#117427)
Posted Thursday, April 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
laplace
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A sensational album full of bite and contrariness!

Most listeners will be shocked by the sudden, crashing opening of "Long Live Man's Dead," and that's no accident - Gnidrolog seem to appreciate the value of a little ugliness when it comes to gaining a listener's attention. Don't worry, because they have a sensitive side which will be revealed before the song is over, lolloping through sweet flutes and violin before sputtering out somewhat anticlimactically. Again, this is part of the plan, and your misgivings at the song's "remarkable" conclusion should be alleviated by "Peter," which is a songwriter's song and while not being predictable, it remains roughly in an acceptibly traditional frame and grows to be very poignant. I hope you liked it, because it precurses "Snails", this album's high point in terms of spiky weirdness. This reviewer's favourite track on display, the song lurches choppily like the waves even while at its rockiest, changes mood in a lunatic manner and expects the listener to keep up through various baffling and dissonant moments of musical hopscotch. An out and out success.

Side B is prettier, thankfully. "Time and Space" is very romantic and has lovely cadent lyrics (Incidentally, I would love to have heard Gnidrolog perform some of their songs in their native Welsh - it's a beautiful language) sung somewhat precociously by Goldring, who has a tendency to overpronounce, maybe to the irritation of some listeners even though I personally find it sweet. The song doesn't recline all the way into a pastoral mode because the band soon slip into jilted, Crimsonic storminess which takes the track in an odd and cutesy-horror direction. I'll leave you to explore that one. "Who Spoke" is a acoustic bridge in a sort of introspective major-seventhy mood, not really long enough to be worth distinguishing from the tracks that surround it, but it's very pretty. The title track feels like "Epitaph" from a parallel, slightly more relaxing dimension, and contains that rare bird - blues-based solos that doesn't patronize. How wonderful!

If you think you've concluded your forays into the hegemony of the classic progressive rock world but haven't auditioned Gnidrolog, then you're missing out. I'll leave you to scratch your head over whether you should opt for the expanded "Toenail" or the set that offers both original albums, but for heaven's sake, don't pick "neither"!

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Send comments to laplace (BETA) | Report this review (#127640)
Posted Thursday, July 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Gnidrolog, a melting pot more than a band, had one phenomenally strong year with 1972. That year is a really strong one all around: so many of our classics were released that year. But, after that year's end came, we heard very little from this sensational band. And that's one of the biggest drags in Prog Rock history (for me, and undoubtedly, many others). This, along with the curiously more popular Lady Lake, have created a wonderful journey, drawing inspiration, and styles from many diverse sources - though never to the point of blatant "rip-off" (a silly term, anyway). This album, in contrast to its counterpart, is more edgy, whereas Lady Lake exercises a more melodious and, chiefly, jazzy feel. Both approaches are phenomenally done, and fit perfectly with Gnidrolog's sound as a band.

The thing I often mention that bands lack (post-rock bands, more often than not) is spice. Sure they may write beautiful melodies, have complex songwriting, or even be unique, but if they ain't got no feel, they ain't worth nuttin'. Gnidrolog is a band that is drenched with feel, originality, zang, and undeniable spice. This makes this album, along with its counterpart, very refreshing, and very easy to delve into. And to contribute to the flavour factor: each member's outstanding instrumental skill, the jagged, energetic vocals, the great production and sound quality, and the revitalizing compositions. Even with a RIO-like genre jumping aspect, the album covers folk, experimental, standard rock, soft rock all in their unique original style. There is a weak jazz influence here, as that was more reserved for the next release.

Again, energetic phrases and experimental passages run amok during the album. The absolutely powerful opening sets the mood, yet sways instantly into a really folk-y section, mildly reminiscent of Jethro Tull, and back to a softer section all seamlessly. Much of the rest of the album continues in this fashion, with very strong and sometimes obvious influences: Gentle Giant-like medieval sections, et cetera. Compositional complexity is not off-the-charts, but it is certainly present, and extremely creative in its execution and conception. And, for good measure, there are some hilarious parts you'd think would be in a Monty Python sketch or a Mel Brooks movie. (If truth be told, they're not so funny as that, but I love the piece they add to the puzzle.) Overall, this is a bit of an overlooked gem from a bit of an overlooked band, and should not remain as such to those for you reading this. Heed my call, and go buy this.

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Send comments to Shakespeare (BETA) | Report this review (#132575)
Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, this comes advertised as a complex and medieval,a blend of GENTLE GIANT, VDGG and JETHRO TULL. And so it is. The playing is at a high level, but this is a difficult listen at times.There are no synths or organ on this release. Now the follow up record "Lady Lake" is a phenomenal recording while this one is rough with grating vocals at times. An adventerous and challenging album to say the least.

"Long Live Man Dead" is divided into two parts.The first section opens bombastically with vocals. Not a fan. What follows instrumentally is great. The second part comes in at 4 minutes and is pastoral with gentle guitar and flute. Reserved vocals 6 minutes in. A powerful sound before 8 minutes turns to a calm before it ends. "Peter" opens with what sounds like a party as flute and violin take over. Sombre vocals and acoustic guitar come in. Not a fan of this dirge. It blends into "Snails" which is better with those outbursts of sound that come and go. The aggressive vocals and guitar are a highlight on this album after 5 minutes as odd-metered drumming and dissonant sax follow. Nice.

"Time And Space" opens with gentle guitar, flute, recorder and vocals. Drums and a fuller sound before 2 minutes as horn and flute follow. Not a fan of the vocal style. Nice instrumental section 5 1/2 minutes in. I'm not a big fan of the flute and vocal sounds 7 minutes in. "Who Spoke" is pretty much acoustic guitar and fragile vocals. "In Spite Of Harry's Toe-Nail" opens with flute and gentle guitar. The vocals are so much better on this one which makes a big difference in my enjoyment of it. The vocals stop 2 1/2 minutes in as guitar and drums take over. Great passage ! The tempo picks up before 4 minutes as bass and drums stand out. Harmonica before 5 minutes with some beautiful guitar a minute later that goes on and on to the end of the song. Amazing.

It certainly takes longer to digest this album and appreciate than the followup, but it's worth the patience.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#171049)
Posted Wednesday, May 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars After a few listens, I find the comparisons between Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator to be highly exaggerated. Perhaps these guys were compositionally thinking about the music in a similar way, in a simliar era, but the execution sounds completely different. I haven't been moved, or really impressed, by this album at all. I find it, at times, irritating. I find it more irritating that I listen to it looking for some of the magic described by these aforementioned bands - it's about as compelling for me as Gentle Giant in their Missing Piece phase, and is no where near the best of their output.

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Send comments to kabright (BETA) | Report this review (#171575)
Posted Monday, May 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In Spite Of Harry's Toenail is the debut album from progressive rock band Gnidrolog. Gnidrolog was a very short lived band who only managed to release two studio albums in 1972. The band reunited in 2000 after 28 years and released Gnosis. Their two studio albums from the seventies are both widely considered prog rock classics. Gnidrolog is a pretty original band and they have a very distinct sound. One of the special things about them is the fact that they very rarely used keyboards or piano in their music which was of course a rarety in those days. It gives their music a very original touch.

The music is dominated by Colin Goldring distinct vocal style. The vocals remind me of Peter Hammil from Van der Graaf Generator even though Colin Goldring seems a bit less controlled. He doesn´t always hit the right notes but it ends up sounding convincing anyway. The music on the longer songs like Long Live Man Dead ( Great title that one by the way), Snails and Time And Space are a bit strangely constructed which is a plus in my book. Heavy guitar riffs and snarling vocals mixed with more soft parts with quit vocals and flute would not be a wrong description. Songs like Peter, Who Spoke and the first part of In Spite Of Harry's Toenail have a more folky touch that I don´t particularly enjoy. The bluesy jamming ending of In Spite Of Harry's Toenail is a great ending to the album though.

The musicianship seems a bit sloppy at times but on the other hand it sounds like it´s on purpose and it gives the album a lose and jamming feel even though the songs are tightly structured for the most part.

The production is below standard and I think it´s a problem with the raw and unpolished sound. Some people like their music this way as they feel this kind of sound has an authentic feel to it but I generally prefer a more polished sound on studio albums.

The cover art is not very impressive. Especially not if you compare it with the cover of Gnidrolog´s second album Lady Lake which might be one of the most beautiful covers made in the seventies.

I can see from many of the former reviews that people are generally very impressed with In Spite Of Harry's Toenail and I also think it´s a good album. It´s just not much better than average IMO and I´ll rate it 3 stars.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#176327)
Posted Tuesday, July 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars Great band,no doubt about it,with excellent talent and complex musicianship and should be considered as one of the founders of the progressive rock sound...Very ''difficult'' tracks,some rocky moments,nice flute work,even some harmonica passages is what you''ll get if you try to find this album...As for the influences ,the bands that came to my mind were JETHRO TULL,VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR,KING CRIMSON and in a lesser extend GENTLE GIANT,early RUSH and YEZDA URFA (please consider the two later bands as to have similar sound to GNIDROLOG as they released their first album much later than GNIDROLOG)...There aren't any obvious weak moments but unfortunately the songs get lost in their own complexity and I think many of you will agree with that...Maybe a slightly ''easier'' sound could makes this album an essential one but I think the most appropriate rating could be 3 stars...A must have for fans of early,dark and complex prog rock and a good addition for the rest's collection...

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#179384)
Posted Monday, August 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Enriched by a wonderfully nervous atmosphere, In Spite Of Harry's Toenail is an intense listening experience. Fusing many of the sounds of the cherished ground-breaking British prog movement in the early years of the '70s while adding a unique, malignant and busy quirkiness as the icing on the cake; it's an album and band that deserves more love from a prog community that has taken music like that to their hearts.

Think the sometimes crashing cacophony, deranged changes and brooding atmospheres of Van Der Graaf Generator coupled to some of Gentle Giant's impeccable taste for details and medieval sounds and some broad kind of folk influences that ranges from the evil, chilling music of Comus to sweet flute melodies if you need some points of reference when it comes to style.

But what I like most about these songs are in fact how they are delivered; a crashing introduction in the first few seconds of Long Live Man Dead sets the standard right from the start. Vicious, gritty and unpolished. There are no lush keyboards or flashy solos to found. They're all replaced by this constantly evolving, twitching, meandering intensity that makes the album a great one. It really doesn't matter if it's a slow or fast section either, the feeling seems to sneak in everywhere. The great choice of incorporating saxophone, horn, oboe and cello into the overall sound immediately have me thinking about King Crimson, even if the comparisons in that matter aren't entirely correct. Acoustic parts are naked in sound, clear and piercing, which suits the beautiful flute parts perfectly and add a fragile polish to the mix - gone just as fast as you notice it, lost in another swirl of hammering and sharp burst of guitar or jazzy chaos like in the end of Time and Space. Many of the songs are mostly ticking bombs, ready to explode in VdGG- or Crimson-esque ways without warning. Although they can be just as jarring and emotionally charged as the aforementioned bands, Gnidrolog still isn't as 'trigger happy' when it comes to expressions like that. That's something on the positive side, giving the music time to build up pressure enough to warrant them meaningful and surprising.

Having such a great and working concept it seems a little strange to muddle it with what ironically is the title track. The melancholic flute and bass guitar leading up to a mellow Goodbye-Farewell-Adieu (literally, yes) part and that part itself is pure genius and the perfect epilogue to In Spite of Harry's Toenail. But the following bluesed-up guitar solo and the jumpy, sometimes Uriah Heep-ish minutes following it leaves something to be desired. Harmonica and guitar fiddling included, it mostly feels like an excuse to actually 'rock out', even if the thunderous cacophony wrapping it up takes the album back on track and ends it on a proper note. But no, it isn't actually bad. Just an observation that makes the experience ever so slightly diminished.

Highly recommended to almost everyone. 4 stars.

//LinusW

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Send comments to LinusW (BETA) | Report this review (#186580)
Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Eccentricity gone mad.... sort of

This album has been described as a hidden gem and that make me fork out some money to get it. If they had added “avant-garde”, I would not have bothered. Gnidrolog’s brand of DAVID BOWIE, folk, jazz, pop, space-rock and prog is too eccentric for my refined, structured symphonic prog philosophies.

But the album still have some good ideas and songs. It varies between bombastic harsh landscapes and some harmonic landscapes. The opening track Long Live Man Dead is a prime example. This is also a very good song. The rest of the album is probably not for me, although I will not deposit this album in the naughty corner. The album has some qualities and I hope my evolving musical taste also will shine more favourable on this album in the years to come. At the moment, this is not my cup of tea.

3 stars and no offence intended.

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#201009)
Posted Thursday, January 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars In Spite Of Harry's Toenail, Gnidrolog, 1972

Gnidrolog's rather striking debut is both a melting pot of styles and also completely unplaceable, musically. Despite the occasional folk-inspired flute interval, an odd burst of jamming, tender acoustics and equally violent edgy dramatics, the material here doesn't really seem to correlate to any particular style but rather to represent a capable band's very original creation. Obviously, the multi-instrumentalism, with everything from cello to harmonica to piano to guitar handled capably, is an attraction (especially satisfying are Peter Cowling's menacing bass parts), the dramatic vocals are another, but best of all is the group's penchants for strident dynamics. The lyrics, though archetypal hippie stuff, are well-written, clever and still hold some meaning for those of us who missed out on it first time round. All in all, fantastic stuff.

Jarring, biting aggression instantly drags the listener into Long Live Man Dead, ten minutes of dynamic madness, juxtaposing the opening chaos with a quirky recorder, and pulling off admirably the sort of false lead that Tull would take so much interest in by 1973's A Passion Play, crossing wonderfully slippery bass runs with the intentionally stunted aggression of Nigel Pegrum's superbly dramatic percussion work. The lyrics are biting, angry and delivered with as much aspic as Colin Goldring's superb voice can muster. The band's confidence in their dynamics even on their very introduction to recording as a group is incredible, being willing to fade to nothing and then reintroduce themselves with a simmering cymbal only before the lush, pastoral flute and minute acoustics of a folk ballad, and then to pull themselves back to the vicious rock employing the vocals as a sort of linking point, while the rest of the band subtly builds to return the ferocious anger of the opening. A dark bass, almost imperceptibly complemented by unusual guitar, runs us out and into...

Peter, initiated by a gorgeous cello, flute and recorder trio, sinking and rising mournfully, is almost a lament, regretting the passage of the title character from his revolutionary antics to a tedious desk job. The resentful vocals are underlaid with a subversive medieval-feeling acoustic, and a ticking clock segues the end of the piece. Smooth, meaningful and a bold inclusion.

Snails is another dynamic showcase, with some incredibly frantic quiet material juxtaposed with the eclectically loud splintering of the guitar, occasionally backed up by a piano. Spiralling bass and flute or oboe backing pictorially fills out the piece's unforeseeable and crazed energy, and throughout there's both the circular pull of the bass parts, and the gradual dynamic bursts of guitar and e-piano (I think). The vocals feel a mixed need to follow the general dynamic, occasionally complementing with mockery, occasionally using madness as a substitute for violence. Towards the piece's end, theatrical horn and tenor sax (both contributed, I think, by Colin Goldring... what I hear as sax could be oboe... I'm bad at working these out) play out a vituperative duet. Top notch work from Nigel Plegrum, again, for working up such an energetic and violent percussion part without that much in the way of real 'drums'. Really incredibly violent at times; makes Opeth sound like The Beach Boys.

Time And Space, alternately pretty in a sort of casual folk song way and daringly crazed with its own sort of self-destructive fervour. The calm folk open gives way to a thick, block bass-driven rock piece with the occasional Soft-Machine-like overflow. Unusually produced flute and thunderous bass offers up more chaotic vocal work, with a lot of stress on pronouncing the individual words, and the piece comes together in its jazz/rock meets Van Der Graaf Generator way. The heady rhythm section allows for a two guitar jam, complementing and contradicting each other with equal effect. Ten-second drum solo, and suddenly, scat-sung flute work before the regal power of the final guitar chord. Absolutely bizarre, and yet so brilliantly pulled off.

Who Spoke follows this energy with a less emotionally taxing trip, bringing an introspective acoustic guitar to the high-range, endearingly individual voice of Colin Goldring, ranging comfortably from nervousness to hope to anger and defiance to panic. As far as plain acoustic-and-voice goes, this is pretty far out.

Goodbye - Farewell - Adieu is the precursor of the more 'symphonic' and grandiose material their sophomore album would feature, and it's nonetheless significantly more enjoyable than that, with a gorgeous vocal over the sad harmonies (and with such amazing lyrics, 'Goodbye, farewell, adieu, I don't know where I'm going to/I'll return when I've found why/I'm going now, let me see you smile), a momentous bass part and a careful development to the crunching guitar chord and a slow bluesy solo, and while that solo could well be from a faster-paced Floyd song, the imaginative resolution straight into an up-tempo jam is something really quite Gnidrolog, a rhythm section jumping about tribally, a smooth, defiant harmonica soloing all over the place and an impeccably tasteful sense of when to have a little communal break. This reviewer gets the whole defiance meets escapism vibe from this one, with a combination of fun rocking out, great musicianship and Schizoid-Man wailing, coming casually off the whole trip with a chord. Fantastic conclusion.

In many respects, much more compelling than its more lauded successor, and though it's not as easy to deal with, this combination of frantic energetic work and soaring beauty is something I keep coming back to. A must-have, not only for its originality and creativity but also for the genuine moods it represents. Especially recommended for those with an appreciation for the dramatic.

Rating: Five stars, 14/15 Favourite Track: tough choice... maybe Time And Space or Who Spoke

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Send comments to TGM: Orb (BETA) | Report this review (#218016)
Posted Sunday, May 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Ballsy and sometimes brilliant freshman effort from the Goldring Twins with very good help from bassist/cellist Peter Cowling and the invaluable Nigel Pegrum [Spice,Steeleye Span] handling flutes, oboe, piano and drums. Not as refined as somewhat better Lady Lake, the punk leanings later played-out by Colin and Stewart Goldring - vocals/guitars/winds & lead guitar/vocals respectively - are clearly heard here four years before the toilet-humored Pork Dukes vomited their way onto the scene. The record represents an early interface of Prog and Punk rarely to occur in following years, at times making In Spite of Harry's Toenail compelling listening with a band torn between the mellifluous machinery of Caravan or Gentle Giant and the insistent, raw spirit of The Stooges (Peter Hammill anyone?). And like much good prog rock, the album is a journey wherein we're never exactly sure where we are along the path.

An impressive and promising first cut, ten-minute 'Long Live Man Dead' pounds alive with a ragged overture picked up by brisk jazz beats and Colin Goldring's nasal caterwaul, but slips easily into the humid and slow second movement with a dire chant from one pissed-off minstrel. The band's delicate acoustic instrumentations usher in 'Peter', a cautionary Folk number in Greensleeves clothing. Obsessive 'Snails' sports building riffs, clattering crashes, insanities, narcoleptic wanderings, paranoid delusions and atonal splittings as it careens towards its brutal finale, and 'Time and Space' soothes the pain a bit afterward, transforming into a big rock number rumbling through. Noble steel strings of 'Who Spoke', and the title opens on solid vocal harmonies slowly churning awake with a little blues, Blackmore-esque guitar lines, and eventual destruction in a stampede of noise.

A thoroughly fascinating piece of work, particularly for a smaller band in 1972, Gnidrolog's In Spite of Harry's Toenail should be tried at least once by every serious progoholic if only for its audacity to attempt what other prog artists simply wouldn't.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#221874)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Penultimate album, but does not match their second album.

In Spite of Harry's Toenail was actually one of my first prog albums, and I was hooked straight away. Gnidrolog's power on this album has yet to unfold, and this can be considered as sort of a hard rock album, with many progressive tendencies. This album consists of medleys, medleys, medleys, and songs. Songs fading into one another gives this album the heavy "progressive debut album" feel.

The album begins with Long Live Man Dead, the first of a two part piece of the same name. It starts with a feedbacked guitar note, a smart move played by Stewart Goldring. This is an adventurous move, especially for a new-coming prog band from WALES. The song then recieves the first impression of Gnidrolog's sound, which is Van der Graaf Generator-styled powerful, melodramatic vocals and all-band synchronicity. The song then transforms into one of Gnidrolog's soft-yet-spooky parts, with a recorder solo played by lead singer Colin Goldring. As Colin opens his mouth the song recieves a much more epic feel to it, with brother Stewart's epic vocals. The song then fades unnoticeably into Skull, a mellower song, with an opening flute song played by drummer Nigel Pegrum, and transforming into a loud part with Colin chanting Long Live Man Dead with the whole band backing him up with their amazing power. The song ends with Peter Cowling's bassline, which is a very weird ending to a duology like so.

Peter is a mellow, Caravan-styled (in terms of instrumentation and such) song, about the tales of a certain Peter, which is referenced later during the album. Starting with a cello and a couple of flutes, and fading into a guitar-flute-vocal part, continuing throughout the entire song.

Snails begins as a soft song with a flute and a barely audible guitar line played by Stewart, but then transforms into an enormous part, with the barely audible guitar part taking the lead, joined by Peter and Nigel. It then goes to a drum/vocal part with Colin singing in an opera-like voice, continued by the band's barely audible riff, followed by 7th chords and amazing sycnhronicity. It then goes back to the opera-like part, back to the 7ths, and then into a wah-wah guitar part which follows Colin's vocal phrasing exactly, creating a funny, brotherly feel, like they've been palying together for years. The song goes back to the riff but with Colin's opera vocals on top, and repeats. It then goes back to the wah-wah part, and then to a chord-based part, with Colin's vocals screaming, yet they are barely audible, and then into an enormous breakdown which is just guitar banging and drum mashing. The song then goes into this soft part with 2 trumpet solos dubbed on top of each other, and to an abrupt ending.

Time and Space is a soft, mellow, "nice" song, with vocals, guitar and a trumpet in the background, then going to a Rush-like part, this song is very heavy in terms of composition, yet as I said earlier, soft and mellow. I'd have to say, this song is a soft-loud switcheroo in many ways, so if you like that kind of songs you might find yourself looking this song over and over again. This song ends with a bang, and is fantastic.

Who Spoke is an odd kind of song, which is for people who would admire the music of Hatfield and the North if they would let Ian Anderson into the band. This song has Colin giving us a feel of the Wales accent, which was not very well used in soft songs like previous ones. Maybe one of the lyrics is the word "crimson", but it does not sound like them.

Then starts Goodbye-Farewell-Adieu, part I of the Harry's Toenail duology, and the one- before-final track on the album. Opening with a flute solo by Nigel Pegrum with rhythm guitar provided by Stewart Goldring, the song then progresses when Colin starts singing. His voice gives me the shivers on this one, and when the rest of the band provides backing vocals, it is absolutely mind-breaking. Then starts an epic guitar solo by Stewart, which also, gives me the shivers whenever I hear it. The solo will be for Clapton fans, as Stewart sort of follows the Slow Hand technique, of playing heart-warming solos, but with nothing regarding technicality and virtuosoness. Ending with Bonham-like triplets, the song progresses into part II of the Harry's Toenail duology, Harry's Toenail!

This is the final track on the album, which is based on a shuffle beat, and will remind a lot of you of Wishbone Ash themed songs, and even Jethro Tull on certain parts. This song has many blues influences, including a few harmonica solos played by Colin, but also Fusion influences which include a mini-solo by Peter Cowling on bass, and others. This song is instrumental, showcase track. It bookends the album in a fantastic way, I must say.

4/5, as it is great, but does not match the epic epicness of the second album Lady Lake. Still a very, very, very good album! Must buy for fans of Jethro Tull and Van der Graaf Generator.

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Send comments to The Runaway (BETA) | Report this review (#236031)
Posted Monday, August 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I never heard nothing about Gnidrolog, before I read it in PA. So, it was interesting to listen it after I purchase the album.

First impression - very soft sound, clear early 70-s. Plenty of acoustic, dreamy sounds,complex enough to sound professional. The music is more balance of all instruments, than solos. In fact, VdGG is coming on mind as something similar. Nice vocal, all atmosphere is very characteristic to early seventies ( what is plus for me). Songs are long enough to show their ideas and level of musicality.

Not masterpiece, but very competent album. I think fans of period dreamy eclectic prog will like it for sure.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#244704)
Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Gnidrolog are not what I consider a top echelon prog act in terms of star power; they're not as flashy as say ELP. But, the music produced here on IN SPITE OF HARRY'S TOENAIL is top echelon and one of the best ''overlooked'' albums I've ever heard.

Right from the get-go, Gnidrolog hits you in the face with this abrasive line on ''Long Live Man Dead'' showing that they mean business. It may sound like fuzz noise, but that soon gives way to a nice little melodic exercise led by a rare recorder thing. The piece goes through so many twists and turns in the first four minutes, then recedes to a quiet acoustic guitar piece until the first abrasive line sharply returns. This happens to be one of the most powerful pieces of music I've heard.

To describe the music is a difficult feat in and of itself. Songs can be cunningly quiet, beautiful and melodious in one instance, but wait a few minutes and it gets abrasive and sharp pretty quick, even to the point of dissonance. Take ''Time and Space''; it starts as a nice acoustic guitar/recorder track for a few minutes until the band just decides to do random chaos for the rest of the song. A few ballad tracks like ''Who Spoke'' and ''Peter'' are nice sombre tracks that break up the intensities of the longer songs, and the title thing is very much a bluesy jam.

The rhythm section is by and far the strength of the album. Nigel Pegrum has such an unorthodox playing style, it just has to be heard to be believed (and it's good). Peter Cowling has this thick, creaking bass sound that augments the music well. The bass also seems to play great passages that seem to go unnoticed. The vocals are probably the deciding factor as to how the listener might judge the band; certainly they're very much an acquired taste, but they have a sharp resonance to them when loud and a gentle pastiche when soft.

If you're looking for something new in prog rock, give this a try. It's very off kilter compared to even some eclectic bands like Gentle Giant, and certainly more rugged than say Genesis. But the music is very honest and original; there is nothing else like this in the prog rock circuit.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#255909)
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Debut album by a band that could have gone far but didn't, featuring six tracks of generally good quality, a couple of which were actually quite superb.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this band is their use of non-typical rock instruments. Perhaps not the most unique thing on a prog website, but their use of flutes, cello, et al was done very well, and although there are parts without a single "rock" instrument playing. They never quite lose that rock sensibility, and some of their tracks (including the instrumental section of the title track) have quite a bluesy feel to them, something that is somewhat rare in the progressive music I have experienced to this point and much appreciated for that fact.

In general, the longer tracks on this album are the better ones. They contain more shifts, emotion, and energy. Both the short tracks (Peter and Who Spoke) sit more on the quiet acoustic side. I do think they fit great between the longer tracks, but do not stand out so much on their own.

In my eyes, what would have been Side 1 features the two best tracks of the album - Long Live Man Dead, and Snails.

Long Live Man Dead, the opener, is one of the better tracks on the album. We are introduced to the vocals of the Goldring twins (whose name was mangled to create the band name), which are quite distinctive and fit the music perfectly. The second half of the track, which is mostly instrumental, reveals to us the unique textures of the band that made them interesting enough to still be of note over thirty years later, despite the fact that they were never hugely influential.

But as far as I am concerned, it is the third track on this album, Snails, that really cements this album as something that needs to be heard. It starts slow and quiet, building up over the next minute, until the vocals come in - where there is a really neat interplay between slower vocals with no instruments, and an energetic instrumental outburst. The song just doesn't sit still, but keeps shifting between various moods. Just three minutes in, we are introduced to yet another excellent theme from the track, somewhat more jagged and aggressive than previous sections. Although this track sits around seven minutes long, it contains a lot of ideas that work great together.

Beyond this, there are no bad tracks on the album, and both the other longer tracks (Time and Space, and the mysteriously-named In Spite of Harry's Toenail) are very good. It is definitely worth giving this album a number of spins.

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Send comments to TheGazzardian (BETA) | Report this review (#294633)
Posted Sunday, August 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Often compared to Gentle Giant or VdGG, Gnidrolog really have a sound that's unique to them, which lurches from extremely avant-garde to surprisingly straightforward giddily across the course of this album. When they get experimental, they're more dissonant and chaotic than any of the bands they're usually compared to - there's something almost RIO-ish about the opening section of Long Live Man Dead, for example - but at the same time they're more than capable of straight-ahead rocking out, as on the outro to the title track. Certainly a diverse and rewarding band to listen to - "eclectic prog" is truly the best tag for them - though those expecting a symphonic-sounding band based on the oft-cited influences may be in for a surprise. Approach with an open mind.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#491047)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | Review Permalink

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