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KOWTOW

Pendragon

Neo-Prog


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Pendragon Kowtow album cover
2.57 | 159 ratings | 16 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Saved By You (3:58) (Omitted from original LP)
2. The Mask (4:01)
3. Time For A Change (3:56)
4. I Walk The Rope (4:47)
5. 2 AM (4:14)
6. Total Recall (7:00)
7. The Haunting (10:40)
8. Solid Heart (4:20)
9. Kowtow (8:56)

Total Time: 51:52

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Nick Barrett / vocals, guitars
- Pete Gee / bass
- Fudge Smith / drums
- Clive Nolan / keyboards

GUEST:
- Julian Siegal / saxophone

Releases information

LP - PEND1LP 1988
CD - Released in 1988 Toff Records PEND1CD

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to rushfan4 for the last updates
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PENDRAGON Kowtow ratings distribution


2.57
(159 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
4%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(15%)
15%
Good, but non-essential (38%)
38%
Collectors/fans only (34%)
34%
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)
10%

PENDRAGON Kowtow reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
1 stars Well , If I had discovered and followed Marillion and IQ 's carreer throughout the eighties (with very mixed feelings for each ) I was not aware of either Pallas or this group Pendragon at all !! I became aware of them (and Twelth Night also ) in the early 90's and did not think much of those "finds" at the times but they were up to stiff and absolute quality competition from the Swedish Viking Invasion (Anglandberkdotengard) and poor albums such as this one did not stand a chance. I did give it a fair try , though but to no avail . One must also recognize that thios is not their better album but I did not get into the Jewel also , and the real neo-prog albums such Masquerade , Window of life were for much latter. I would kindly recommend most progheads to stay away from this very poor album even if you are a neoproghead.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#5714) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 04, 2004

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Pendragon's first studio album with the classic line up is the least successful CD among fans. No wonder, the group was facing a transition period and did not know if they'd soldier on as a prog band or turn the tables and try a new image as a pop rock group. Unlike most of his peers of first wave neo prog bands, Pendragon did have talent for writing simple, catchy, pop rock songs without sounding lame or corny. Red Shoes was a single they had released early on to show this side of the band since their very start. So, Kowtow was not really a betrayal of their roots as many have put it.

The album was not entirely pop either. Half of its songs could have easily be included on their first LP, The Jewel. The first half anyway werer simple songs, very much 80's flavoured commercial tunes and, in that field, very good ones, they are still listenable. On the other side, the prog songs are clearly transitional, showing glimpses of the great pieces they would produced in the 90's (The Haunting, Total Recall). With those remarks in mind I found this CD to be very much pleasant and enjoyable. A document of a difficult time for almost all pioneering neo prog bands, it shows that Pendragon could either be a fine prog band or maybe also an excellent pop group. Fortunatly they made what I consider a better choice (although at the time a hard one, since prog music scene by the late 80's did not offer a promising future).

If you're new to Pendragon, this is not the album to start (A História, is an outstanding overview of their career up to The Masquerade Overture). But if you have all other of their classic stuff, you should try this one too. Different, yes, and very good too.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#89568) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The least we can say is that Pendragon is not very prolific those days, and won't be throughout their career if you except their awful lot of compilation and live albums : respectively eight and six referenced on this site; for a total of seven full studio albums !

Their last studio effort was released three years before this one. And the fans will wait for another three years to get the next one. I remember when seeing them live, that Nick mentioned that they were probably lazy guys. My opinion is that he is probably too much left alone by Clive who has too many projects running at the same to really support him. It is even more true from 1995 onwards and his commitment to Arena (amongst others).

I have expressed my admiration for Pendragon and its very melodic music and wonderful guitar breaks. I must admit that "Kowtow" is probably their weakest effort. During the same concert (June 2006, at the Spirit Of 66, of course) Nick announced "and now one very old song. From Kowtow". He was expecting enthusiasm from the audience but none appeared. This says sufficient.

The opener "Saved By You" and "the Mask" are poppy songs vaguely disco influenced. Rather poor. But nothing in comparison with "Time For A Change" : AOR with sounds remininding me of "Owner Of A Lonely Heart". Pendragon at its low.

What I like most in Pendragon is their melancholic but passionate ballads. "I Walk The rope" is anything but passionate. A dull and poorly mellowish number. "Kowtow" is extremely weak so far.

The jazzy "2 AM" is very quiet, with a gentle sax part. Sad mood all the way through. Even if one feels depressed after having listened to this song, it is a nice and peaceful break.

The same mood is shared in the intro of "Total Recall". Even if it sounds a bit flat, I prefer this type of songs than the poor attempts to disco-pop ones I had to suffer earlier on. A bit more emotional and a good guitar solo could have turned this song in a good one; but as such I must say that it is not very brilliant. One has to turn up the volume seriously to hear something. Nice to get faster asleep.

"The Haunting" is the longest piece of this album. Usually, when Pendragon produces a long track, it is very often a good one. Considering the very low level of "Kowtow" so far, it is one of the best numbers on the album. Actually, if we except again a (too) tranquil intro, the song shows a nice development and finally features the so recognizable and beautiful guitar solo from Nick. Pendragon is back again, but it was about time !

"Solid Heart" is another poppish song. At least it shows some type of enthusiasm. But it won't be enough to make it a good one, alas.

So, we have already reached the final and title track. The first half of the song is again very quiet and a bit dull; but he second one features a nice melody as the band is used to produce. It saves this track and the listener is finally rewarded to have waited so long to get an interesting moment with the very good and rocking (!) finale.

I guess you all have understood that with "Kowtow" we are not confronted to a masterpiece of music. The band will release much (and I mean really much) better albums later on. Do not start your Pendragon experience with this album, please.

You would have a wrong image of this band. Two average tracks is all we will get here. Fortunately these are the longest ones.

"Kowtow" is for completionists. But even for them, it doesn't hold enough great numbers to make it worthwhile (at least it is my case, and I can tell you that I like Pendragon a lot). Two stars, but I have forced this rate on the up side.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#120914) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 06, 2007

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Time for a change

The LP version of this album has two contrasting sides. On the one hand, there are five pretty basic rock tracks, on the other are three much more structure and melodic prog ones. The album was originally recorded as a demo for EMI records, but the label backed out of the deal before it could be released. This resulted in band's own label Toff Records being formed, this being its first release, catalogue number PEND1.

Clive Nolan had only just arrived in the band when this album was recorded (completing the long serving classicline up), so his contribution is mostly limited to providing keyboard layers on which the tracks are based, and wearing cool dark glasses on the sleeve. The song writing is dominated by guitarist and vocalist Nick Barrett, who also found time to get a nice perm for his sleeve photo. Bassist Peter Gee contributes the music for a couple of the tracks, but was apparently away buying a nice hat when the rest of the album was composed! (I should mention drummer Fudge Smith too, who apparently used the same hair dresser as Barrett).

The album opens with a couple of decent but unremarkable rock numbers ("The mask" and ""Time for a change") before we get our first taste of the band's slower big sounding ballad style song in "I walk the rope". The track includes some fine sax playing by guest Julian Siegal. "Solid heart" reverts to an upbeat, rather commercial sound with a jittering electronic rhythm. The sax returns to introduce "2AM", which opens as a smoochy, downbeat song, but soon becomes another of the mid-paced ballads. Incidentally, the LP version does not include "Saved by you", presumably for reasons of space, and the track order is different.

"Total recall" kicks off the second side of the album, Nolan adding some colourful piano sounds to a more progressive but slightly wandering piece. "The haunting" offers the closest idea of the direction the band will take on all their future albums, Barrett's guitar work here being far bolder than on the rest of the album. The track has a fine (neo) prog structure, while perhaps lacking the maturity of sound which would develop rapidly on subsequent releases. The closing title track also has a more intricate structure, and credible guitar work. I find it is one of those songs which grows on you, only truly revealing itself after a number of listens.

In all, "Kowtow" was clearly a transitional album for Pendragon. It was designed to make an impression on EMI records, an objective it achieved. Fate conspired against the band though in terms of EMI, but it was not all bad news as the intervening years since have proved. Not the band's best album by any means, but a creditable effort, with some definite highlights.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#132430) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 09, 2007

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It's a well known fact that Pendragon played a totally different kind of prog in the eighties compared to the nineties. In the nineties they almost became symphonic but in the eighties Pendragon played accessible music, almost poppy but their huge talent was already shining through and one could almost feel these guys could do better.

Kowtow was actually the last album in this accessible style with (same as on The Jewel) two small epics as precursors of what was to come the next decade. But it has to be said that not both epical tracks are equal in quality. Personally I believe The Haunting is a lot better than Kowtow. I even feel there is one shorter song better than Kowtow and that is 2 AM. The others are very mediocre compositions for Pendragon (Barrett) standard.

If you don't have a problem with Fly high fall far or The Rest of Pendragon you could add this one to your collection. I think this album is much less than The Jewel so I don't mention that one on purpose. But it's still a solid 3 stars for me because the basic level of Pendragon (even of the eighties) is somewhere around that mark.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#158696) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Of Pendragon's two studio albums from the 1980s, Kowtow often gets short shrift compared with The Jewel, and it's easy to see why; the first side consists of a series of poppy songs that really should be classed more as melodic rock than progressive or neo-prog, and it's easy to think that Pendragon are selling out and not being true to themselves.

I don't agree; I think the pop songs on Kowtow are where Pendragon's heart truly was at when the album was recorded. There's an infectious and genuine enthusiasm about them, and they seem to be the natural evolution of a radio-friendly aspect of Pendragon's music which had been with them all along - the title song from their first release, Fly High, Fall Far, was a poppy number after all. Ranging from the upbeat and energetic (Saved By You) to the more slow and emotional, (2 AM), the pop songs on Kowtow aren't going to scratch your prog itch, but if you are into competently executed and emotionally sincere melodic rock you could do a lot worse.

Where I run into problems with Kowtow is on the second half of the album, where Total Recall introduces a string of songs in a neo-prog style. The thing is, while they're neo-prog compositions, they're not *Pendragon* compositions in style - they seem, in fact, to have been written in imitation of Marillion's output at the time. The Haunting sounds like an off-cut from the Clutching At Straws sessions, Solid Heart reminds me a *lot* of the rousing White Feather closer from Misplaced Childhood, and Kowtow is extremely reminiscent of Fugazi - it even has similarly Vietnam-tinged lyrics! (Speaking of the lyrics, incidentally, on these neo-prog compositions they seem to have been written in the style of Fish, and Nick tries to deliver them in a similar manner, which seems unnatural for him.)

In short, Kowtow is an album of two halves which don't sit well together - there's the short, poppy, commercial tunes which Pendragon seem genuinely interested in, and the neo-prog suites towards the end which seem to lack enthusiasm and inspiration. It all makes me wonder what was going on in the band during this time period. It doesn't seem likely that they were running out of ideas - after all, the two Once Upon a Time In England compilations prove that they had plenty of material that still hadn't seen an official album or single release at this point in time - so I can't understand how this happened. Was there internal conflict within the band over their direction, or were they simply still recovering from the fallout of being dropped by EMI and the effort required to set up Toff Records?

Part of me wonders whether they simply composed and recorded this album as quickly as they could, simply to get a product out on Toff Records and keep the band's name out there. At the end of the day, I suppose Kowtow could be considered a success in that regard, in that it helped establish Toff Records as a viable publishing entity, a vital step in laying the groundwork for Pendragon's renaissance in the 1990s. In every other respect, however, it's simply muddled, the product of a band which clearly isn't steady on its feet and isn't sure of its direction. Had they simply gone for a consistent style on this album they might have earned an extra star for it - an all-pop album would at least be an upbeat guilty pleasure, and a Pendragon album of Marillion-pastiches would be enjoyable, if not original. As it is, Kowtow won't entirely please any audience - not melodic rock fans charmed by Pendragon's early output, and not by neo-prog enthusiasts turned on by the band's later albums.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#209245) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 30, 2009

Review by The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars "Kowtow" is an special album in Pendragon's discography... And it's specially bad, for being honest.

Hearing this band trying to imitate A-Ha in Time for A Change is really sad, and so is the unfortunate attempt to make the own Pendragon's version of Dire Straits's Your Latest Trick in 2 a.m... This album is full with this kind of mistakes, specially in the first half. The last half is proggier, evolving from the average "The Jewel", but sadly not very better. Total Recall is a coomendable Fudge Smith's attempt to make a song, and it's one of the few usable tracks. But The Haunting is easily forgettable, just boring, except some little parts where we can hear some of the Barrett's guitars-Nolan's keyboards combinations that would be so good used in albums like "Not of this World".

Solid Heart is again affected for this failed 80's pop-rock Barrett's attempt... The Nick Barrett's voice is not the right one to sing this kind of music, and this song is the perfect example of it. It's too soft and delicate, and it has not enough energy to make this style of music work.

The title song is the other really good track of the album, and a little gem... The oriental melodies are funny, Nick's guitars are creative, and here the band offers another glimpse of the quality and special kind of prog they would offer in the future. I specially like the second part of the song, with a precious guitar melody. This track makes worthy the whole listening (or suffering...) of the rest of the album!

Best tracks: Kowtow, Total Recall and some parts of The Haunting.

Conclusion: if you like "The Jewel", maybe you'll find some interesting moments in "Kowtow", the second Pendragon's full lenght album. Equally, if you are a die hard fan of this band, you'll enjoy the hearing of this freaky Barrett's attempt to introuduce himself into the 80's pop. For the rest of the people, this is a perfectly avoidable album. Nevertheless, the song Kowtow is a very valuable track, and the disc has the virtue of being the first Clive Nolan's album with the band.

My rating: **

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#223498) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
1 stars Embarrassing

The strangely titled Kowtow is easily Pendragon's weakest moments. While I have always found this band rather lightweight, even considering the band's 90's releases, the music of Kowtow is lightweight in the extreme. This music is basically soft 80's Pop Rock with only very slight progressive overtones. The often cheesy lyrics and the strong presence of saxophone on several tracks further strengthen the 80's Pop sound and feeling.

The actual songs are quite weak and not very memorable. With the exception of three longer tracks, the songs all range between four and five minutes and mostly lack anything out or the ordinary. What is even worse is the weak and timid sound of the drums and keyboards. I must emphasise that the instrumental attack is weak even by 80's standards. The guitars are slightly stronger, but there is surprisingly little of it. There is a serious lack of punch!

In fact, only the distinctive vocals of Nick Barrett remind us that this is the same band that later did much better albums.

This is only recommended for hard core Pendragon fans and even those will be embarrassed about this poor effort!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#252136) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I am not a big fan of neo-prog, to be honest - not a fan at all. I can enjoy early Marillion albums, and even can listen some IQ works. Other neo-prog bands usually don't attract my attention. I listened to this album with hope to find something interesting when Pendragon announced their concert in my town.

The result is predictable. This album is soapy mix of secondary AOR ( with a terrible vocal) with some elements borrowed from Marillion, Pink Floyd, electro-pop Yes and many others. Even Van Halen's Jump sounds better! It's difficult to review this album in details. In fact, there is nothing what can attract listener. Never listened other band's albums (this one was more than enough), possibly to start from that one was my mistake.

As you can understand, I didn't buy the ticket for the band's show. And missed my interest for trying any other their album as well.

The music on the album is mellow, almost romantic. Possibly it could attract Pendragon's hard fan. Can't imagine who else can be interested to listen this album. (And looking from today, all their music sounds very dated there!)

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#260447) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars I was only a little confused when I saw this album, as the sleeve wasn't how I remembered it, but a quick check at the collection proved I wasn't going insane, it is just that this reissue has a black cover instead of the white. This was Pendragon's third album, but the first with what became their most stable line-up of Nick Barrett (vocals/guitar), Peter Gee (bass/vocals). Clive Nolan (keys/vocals) and Fudge Smith (drums). To be honest it was only after I was sent 'The World' that I tracked back to their earlier material, and investigated this and fell in love with it. Years later I was over at Clive's with my good friend Artur Chachlowski (www.mlwz.pl and Radio Alfa) and Clive presented us both with vinyl editions, which sit proudly with the 'Fly High Fall Far' mini-album and the "Saved By You" single that I managed to find.

Pendragon's sound has changed over the years as the band has matured, but it is to 'Kowtow', 'The World' , 'The Window Of Life' and 'The Masquerade Overture' that I turn to time and again of all of their releases. The use of sax by guest Julian Siegel on a couple of numbers adds a depth and Dire Straits feel, while opening number "Saved By You" is a bouncy singalong. "Solid Heart" was often used as a set closer, with the band walking off one by one until just Fudge is left, and to me it typifies Pendragon in concert. It is an album that always makes me smile, it is fun from start to finish, and is simply put one of the best UK prog albums from the Eighties.

This reissue comes in a slip sleeve with a nice booklet, and three additional songs that were recorded as demoes by Peter and Nick. Both "The Mask" and "I Walk The Rope" were re- recorded fro the album proper so it is interesting to see how these compare. Great to see this album available again, and a nice resissue from Madfish. www.pendragon.mu

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#840578) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 19, 2012

Latest members reviews

2 stars A very low rated Pendragon album here - is that low rating justified? The first release from these guys was impressive and I personally rated it with four stars. "Saved By You" - A pop flavoured number very much more commercial than anything from the previous album. Reminds me to an extent of ... (read more)

Report this review (#1024488) | Posted by sukmytoe | Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is definitely not Pendragon's finest hour. 'Kow-Tow' seems to have two dominant thoughts behind the making of: on the one hand a couple of easy listening, poppy tunes that were to be suitable to a huge legion of listeners (Top of the Pops, lads!), on the other hand the really symphonic si ... (read more)

Report this review (#82244) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Thursday, June 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A nice album in the neo-prog vein, with more than one attempt at a more commercial sound. The first part of the album is very much pop-music with some catchy R&B melodies. The additional saxophone makes the music sound more full and a bit bluesy at times. 1. Saved By You (3:58) A pop-rock song ... (read more)

Report this review (#5715) | Posted by tuxon | Wednesday, February 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Apart from the two "weaker" attempts at commercial success on this album (Saved By you & Time for a Change), this album is absolutely FANTASTIC Pendragon at their experimental, yet polished best. The "Jewel" album is an excellent precursor for the type of musical genius these guys achieved ... (read more)

Report this review (#5713) | Posted by SunJester | Sunday, August 01, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars best Pendragon ever... the only one where the band does not act as followers but try (and succeed) to find their own sound... the production is really bad and the album didn't do what the band expected so they went back to following, sadly... ... (read more)

Report this review (#5712) | Posted by | Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars just listen without prejudice, first song appears like something from Rod Stuart, but the next one is simply great, the same goes to another one on the album and another and another... The Haunting is less interesting and the solid heart is the weakest on the album. Title song is ok and whole album ... (read more)

Report this review (#5711) | Posted by l-s-d | Saturday, February 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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