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Gravy Train - Second Birth CD (album) cover


Gravy Train

Heavy Prog

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3 stars OK so to this day I have still not heard or read a favourable review of "Second Birth" which was GRAVY TRAIN's 3rd album and often forgotten and literally dismissed in the brilliance of their great bookend albums. Without a question GRAVY TRAIN were in transition from the Vertigo Records days and yes had a few years off in between releases and yes maybe there are some strong borrowed parts, but I really like this album. Perhaps It is because I love the sound these guys created and am a big fan of Norman Barrett vocals and guitar work. As with all GRAVY TRAIN albums guitars are in the forefront with some excellent flute, bass, key and drum interplay. My favourite track is "Motorway" which gets to really find some space to groove to and is complete IMHO with flute accents, raging guitar, Barrett's harsh vocal screeches and syncopated timing. Overall "Second Birth": does not reach all the highs of "(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man", but still is a very good album and one which needs to be seen in different light.
Report this review (#30856)
Posted Sunday, May 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I agree with the previous review, this album has had unfair criticism in the main. Norman Barrett delivers strong vocals and great guitar work. Motorway is great but for me the strong points on this album are the laid back tracks like Tolpuddle Episode, September Morning News, Strength of a Dream and Fields and Factories. I really need to get this album on CD because it is essential listening if you remotely like Gravy Train and my Vinyl won't last forever.
Report this review (#30857)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars I think that my trusted fellow reviewers are right about the lack of positive reviews on this one, but this is not a good album. I am not sure how they got bumped off from the Vertigo label, but this would've been a sub-par release for them also. Maybe that the Vertigo label had deemed the prospects for the future Gravy Train a bit dim (and to the view of this album, one could easily understand it), but GT found refuge on a similar label called Dawn. This album's title is deceptive because it hints at a renewal and one can quickly see that Gravy Train are up to their same old tricks and even the inspiration of their previous albums is lacking. Three tracks found their way on my compilation before I got rid of their albums (needed the shelf space): Morning Coming, Motorway, and the title track. Aside from those three excellent tracks, I have the awkward feeling that a lot of the other tracks are a bit of fillers or second-choice tracks, not intended of course.

This band was IMO never destined for greatness or stardom for too many elements were lacking, but they remain a band to discover but this is no emergency. There are plenty of other British prog band from that era that are worth investigating before: check-out their label-mates Tonton Macoute, Spring, Mellow Candle, and the absolutely fabulous Comus (in a similar genre if you like raunchy vocals), to check out what the Dawn label was releasing in parallel. You might want to investigate into Gnidrolog and Audience (it is much more urgent to discover those two), for delightful raunchy prog rock. Not their best album, to say the least.

Report this review (#30858)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Born again

The misleading title of Gravy Train's third album refers to their migration to a new record label, and the consequent renewal of inspiration. While the band had secured a loyal following, the hope was that their move to Dawn records would lead to the breakthrough which had so far eluded them. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case, and "Second birth" has gone on to become another albums from the early 70's which collectors search for on vinyl in vain.

The music here is essentially heavy rock with strong prog leanings. The first two tracks "Morning coming" and "Peter" have a driving rhythm and powerful organ at their core. Bands such as Uriah Heep and Atomic Rooster come to mind when hearing the vocal harmonies and ambitious arrangements.

The mood takes a sudden and surprising change for "September morning news", an acoustic ballad with echoes of US folk rock bands such as The Byrds and Crosby Stills and Nash. On "Motorway" we move towards the early blues of Jethro Tull, not just through the overt use of flute, but also in terms of the vocal style and instrumental arrangement. The song is an early-ish environmental protest song, which also displays some of band leader Norman Barratt's Christian beliefs.

The longest track on the album "Fields and factories" continues in a similar theme. At 8 minutes, the track affords room for some jazz orientated sax by JD Hughes. "Strength of a dream" takes an unexpected deviation into light acoustic pop, with distorted vocal harmonies and a catchy beat. The song, which was released as a single, has more than a passing resemblance to George Harrison's "My sweet lord".

"Tolpuddle Episode" tells the tale of the martyrs who tried to set up the first trade union and were deported for their troubles. The story is told very literally, with further CSN harmonies on the choruses. The album closes with the seven minute title track, another heavy grinder which weaves it way through a complex arrangement.

The CD bonus track "Goodtime girl" is a disposable pop boogie which was originally the B side of a single release.

In all, a very enjoyable if rather anonymous effort. Had the band not been up against such formidable peers at the time, Gravy Train may have enjoyed greater success than ultimately they ever did.

Report this review (#170949)
Posted Wednesday, May 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Album after several times of attentively listenings seems to be not so bad as previous reviews tells. :) Really, first time I've stopped listening a short time after begin :) This album indeed is not a masterpiece of prog, but it provides good prog arrangements and melodies with a hard-rockish playing vein. And what? I've satisfied with this: here are unique Norman's voice (I don't like it first time too), good flute's work and other stuff. This is Gravy Train, and I like this album even more than it's predecessor and successor. By the way, second part (instrumental) of title track is one of the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard. And such raisin is present on all GT albums (e.g. ending of title track Staircase to the day).
Report this review (#179101)
Posted Thursday, August 7, 2008 | Review Permalink

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