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Pendragon The World album cover
3.81 | 502 ratings | 34 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Back In The Spotlight (7:39)
2. The Voyager (12:15)
3. Shane (4:25)
4. Prayer (5:21)
5. Queen Of Hearts (21:46)
- a) Queen Of Hearts
- b) ... A Man Could Die Out Here ...
- c) The Last Waltz
6. And We'll Go Hunting Deer (7:14)

Total Time: 58:59

Bonus Track on 2009 & 2013 reissues :
7. Sister Bluebird (7:48)

Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

Artwork: Simon Williams

LP Toff Records - PEND 5 (1991, UK)

CD Toff Records - PEND 5 CD (1991, UK)
CD Snapper Music ‎- SDPCD186 (2009, Europe) With a bonus track
CD Madfish ‎- SMACD1008X (2013, Europe) Remastered with a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PENDRAGON The World ratings distribution

(502 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

PENDRAGON The World reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is neo progressive rock. PENDRAGON sounds a bit like MARILLION, but MARILLION is more refined, more subtle. This record is full of good songs and bits. The keyboards of Clive Nolan (ARENA, SHADOWLAND) are very good, when he doesn't eternize for too long time on a specific pattern. Actually, I've rarely seen a keyboard player with so many different patterns and sounds.

The lead vocals are excellent, as always, the electric guitar solos a la Steve Rothery (MARILLION) is excellent too. The rythm of this record is slow, and you have to listen it more than once to discover that this record is really progressive. Just one bad point: Peter GEE's bass is definitely insufficient!

Review by chessman
5 stars This was the third Pendragon cd I bought, although the second track, 'The Voyager' was the first song by them I ever heard - through a cassette sampler a friend of mine had. I love this track, and feel there is a big Genesis influence here. In fact, I have often thought this band are closer to Genesis than ever Marillion were, even in their early days. Of course, it was always Fish's voice, and Mark Kelly's keyboards that connected the the two bands, but with Pendragon it is a lot of the songs' structures that bring to mind Genesis. The other band whose influence shows most is Pink Floyd, especially in the guitar solos and the female backing vocals sometimes used. This cd kicks off with the brilliant 'Back In The Spotlight', an excellent and powerful opener. Next comes the aforementioned 'Voyager', a classic. 'Shane' is the shortest song on the cd, but one of the best. I love this track. It has everything. Strong melody, beautiful backing vocals, and an inspirational guitar solo at the end. Tremendous! The next track, 'Prayer' is another strong song, though maybe slightly weaker than the first three. Not much in it though! The epic, 'Queen Of Hearts', is another tremendous piece of composition, alternating between gentle passages, with harp-like interludes, and powerful guitar work. An excellent track! The final song, 'And We'll Go Hunting Deer', is another lovely, gentle piece, which reminds me very much of Anthony Phillips's best work. It sounds like something he could have composed. A nice ending to a lovely and varied album. Essential listening. Whilst I don't believe it to be their best album, it is a must for every serious prog fan, especially those who enjoy Genesis and Marillion. A word of warning though, Nick Barrett's voice takes some getting used to!
Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars PENDRAGON are one of those rare prog bands completely devoid of musical posturing. They simply follow their sweet little hearts, bang their drums, set the music aflame and you can't help but gulp it all down with gusto. Purists don't like them much and I'm the first to admit their material is none too complicated. But if you're looking for a genuinely good time, no strings attached, you'll rarely come across music that so engages the mind, the body and the spirit all at once.

"Back in the Spotlight" is an infectious little rocker and a perfect opener. As for the 12-minute + "The Voyager", I could try and pick it apart, talk about its catchy melodies, appropriate time changes, flowing themes - it wouldn't do justice to it. Let's just say it features the essense of what PENDRAGON is all about. You could skip over two tracks called "Shane" (although this one features some nice guitar play) and "Prayer". The next three, however, are the album's pièce de résistance.

I'm talking about a 3-piece suit made up of "Queen of Hearts / A Man Could Die Out Here / The Last Waltz". The first is a mellow tune with a floydian flavour that introduces the next. "A Man Could Die Out Here" features the most exhilarating piece of instrumental neo-prog I've yet to hear - it's simply intoxicating and has me reeling with delight every time I hear it. Push it to eleven, my pets, 'cause you'll want to play this one LOUD! A real 'kick-ass' of a rock tune! The last of the trilogy, "The Last Waltz", is not a waltz at all but a mid-tempo, almost sing-along number that doesn't owe much to prog, but what an emotional finale to some great music - lovingly simple, simply lovely. The last track, "And We'll Go Hunting Deer" is a little cheesy but nice in its own way.

The musicianship through out the album is exemplary, the keyboards a pure delight and the percussion as tight as can be. Sure, Nick Barrett sings in his usual goofy, whiny voice; but who cares when the music is this good (bring on the cheese, please!!!)

Gosh, what a breath of fresh air these guys are...

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars I'm rounding off to the upper unit here as to avoid too much controversy. This album is the first I will consider as a good Pendragon album but still has flwas in it. I believe it also the first one to plunge into all of the clichés used by neo-prog bands - first exhibit your honour , look at the sleeve artwork, then pull the disc out and put it in your deck and listen and then what ? I rest my case, Case Closed , your honour!!! All kidding aside , if you are into neo , this should please you because this is where Pendragon gets its act toigether and decide to stop their noodlings left , right and center during the previous decade. This is why I rewarde them of the rounding off to the upper unit.
Review by progaeopteryx
2 stars I was basically put into a deep sleep by this below-average release by Pendragon, which surprises me by the number of people that seem to like it. Maybe I'm just strange. My sleep was so deep that I literally merged with my sofa. I realized it was over when I woke up to silence and darkness, which quite disturbed me. Am I dead? But no, fortunately for me, I found my way out from underneath the sofa cushions with most of my brain cells intact and able to write some semblance of a review.

The World starts off with Back in the Spotlight, which has a strong Marillion feel, but pales in comparison to Marillion's worst. Nick Barrett's vocals are way below average. It's an okay song, but a face-squinching (what an adjective!) start that leads me to think we're heading for trouble. The second track, The Voyager, has a promising title and a promising 12+ minute time, but once I got halfway through it, I began to realize that it's just not happening. It's okay, but it's missing the energy needed to make it a good song. It shows some Genesis influences, but the vocals are stale and the mix is just too sterile, too "clean-cut." Shane, the third track, is again okay, but has the same problems. The fourth track, Prayer, is downright sappy with poor vocals.

The fifth track is the three-part suite Queen of Hearts, timing in at almost 22 minutes. Before listening to this, I had the hope that this might lift this album out of mediocrity, but again, it failed. It is better than the other songs on this album, but the vocals are still poor, the digital keys are cold and sappy in places, and it drags on for way too long. The last track, And We'll Go Hunting Deer, is "blah." I don't how else to describe it.

I bought the 2005 re-release by Snapper Music. This featured a bonus track called Sister Bluebird. The funny thing is, the bonus track is better than any other song on the whole album! I've never seen this before. Sister Bluebird is much better produced, has more warmth, nice keys and guitars, and even Barrett's vocals are better. Pendragon would have been better off releasing an album full of bonus tracks. Two stars, only for collectors and fans. All others avoid.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars The future of progressive music looked quite bleak in 1991: hair bands still ruling, grunge was rising and all major neo prog bands stuck in a rut. They all had either broken up (Pallas, IQ) or gone looking for other markets (Marillion). Jadis was a kind of late comer and really did not count. Bu also it was that time Pendragon resurfaced after a 3 year hiatus. Previously this english band looked like a second rate Marillion in the eyes of many and their previous album, Kowtow, suggested the group might follow others neo prog acts into pop music. Surprisingly Pendragon came back with the first of their truly prog sounding CD. With The World the group not only went back to their prog roots, but actually created a style of their own. The sound was more sophisticated, more focused, more adventurous. Nick Barret had matured his songwriting and the group worked as a truly living thing, it was bigger than the sum of its parts.

Up to 2001's Not Of This World, Pendragon came with better and better sounding albums. They got the recognition they deserved on The Masquerade Overture. Actually Masquerade and Not Of This world were so much acclaimed that fans tend to forget that their previous effords (The World and Windows Of Life) were excelent ones and quite groundbreaking for their time. I myself was one of those fans. Recently I rediscover this CD and I've been hearing it a lot. And although I have The World for quite a while, I never gave it too much attention, something I'm correcting now. After all, it might not have the same development of Masquerade or the bombastic arrangements fo Not Of This World, but the songwriting and the performance are so strong they overcome any limitations they might had at the time. The music still soars convincily and the emotions are the same. It was hailed by critics as a classic in 1991. They were right. Highly recommeded.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars As I have mentioned in previous reviews (and I work chronologically), I like Pendragon a lot.

Their music is of course not complex. But most of the time (if you expect "Kowtow" of course) it is full of emotions, melodic and beautiful music. Actually, the best point of comparison I can think of, since I am also reviewing the entire catalogue for Barclay James Harvest, is the similarity between those bands. Nice music. Beautiful harmonies. Great guitar breaks. This is also how Pendragon sounds.

It is of course easy to say that this studio album is their best one to date (since there were not so many). If you are looking for weird lyrics or incredible and complex pieces of music, you'll have to knock on your neighbour's door. What you'll get here is just wonderful music with lots of feeling. From start to finish.

None of the tracks are weak. There will be some outstanding ones. "Voyager" is a perfect example. Nick is of course not the best lead singer in the world (I have already said this about John Lees), but he is so emotional and sincere... I have seen Pendragon live in May 2006, and this feeling was present during the whole of their (very long) live set. The audience being really passionate. Of course we are not in front of a new Genesis or Floyd. But we all know this.

Pendragon just brings me A LOT of emotion. And I can tell you that this record won't be dissapointing. Of course "Voyager" sounds like a Genesis song, but do you really have too much of these ? I don't, and I never will. I'm just overwelmed with joy when I listen to this track. So beautiful, yet so simple...

It is clear that with "The World", the band reaches full maturity. It will be the first of a wonderful trilogy. The finale of "Voyager" is a pure jewel of prog music... I have never understood (except for "Kowtow" which was rather poor) that this band is categorized in the neo-prog genre. They sound so symphonic and beautiful that there is no hesistation for me : Pendragon is a symphonic band.

"Shane" is very Floydian. So what ? There are poorer references, aren't they ? This is a wonferful and melodic song. I just have the shivers when I listen to it. "Prayer" is at least as good. What a great melody ! Nick 's vocals are just great (but some will say that he can't sing...).

The "piece the resistance" is their epic "Queen of Hearts" divided into three movements. It is a real pleasure to listen to Pendragon. So beautiful music is just fabulous. If you do not like to listen to this type of albums all the way through and are missing some dull improvisations and weird sounds, just put another CD into your multiple CD reader, but be sure to get one spot free to insert "The World" (or a later one of the Trilogy). Just to give you a breathe (in the air).

The middle part ("A Man Could Die Out Here") is my preferred one. All symph and beauty. More rocking as well. A very good track indeed.

Pendragon is of course not an influent band. It does not play in the major league for its global work. But still, they produce a powerful symph-pop-prog. Some blunders in their career (but which one did not produced one ? Remember Yes, Tull, Genesis).

When playing live, they are also great. Nick being a good entertainer and positive person. I just love them. Clive being the cement of their sound as well.

This album is not a masterpiece as such, but it is really close : it holds some pure symph prog gems. Besides, I like it an awful lot. Four stars (but I would have rated 9 / 10 if it was possible).

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars During the 80s and 90s I wasn't too much concerned about the so-called neo- progressive, even the label was odd for me until years after the genre erupted - those infamous bands like MARILLION, ARENA, IQ, etc, meant few to me and haven't touched my heart. Well, all changed the day I took contact with PENDRAGON and it happened due to "The World".

In fact, all resumed more or less by the beginning of the new century when PENDRAGON existed for more than 20 years and "The World" had completed an entire decade. I don't know what caught me initially, maybe the beautiful cover or the need to explore something different. I cannot even remember if someone gave me a tip about the band or the album - what I'm really sure is that something clicked on me when I first heard it (was I older and more tolerant?).

'Back in the spotlight', the typical neo-prog song that opens the album is powerful enough to grab your attention and make you to wait for new vibrations, which came through the lengthy "The voyager", a fine mini-epic with nice symphonic atmosphere, but anyway here and there it's possible to discern some Floydian tunes and folk spices. 'Shane' and 'Prayer', the next tracks keep the album in a fair mood even not being spectacular - again the same direction heard previously is present for both songs: good vocals and instrumentation, extra-high musicianship - there's a clear line followed steadily by the band in pursuing their goal to show the concept behind the songs.

'Queen of hearts', a piece divided into 3 independent segments, is the ultimate album epic and what an awesome and pleasant moment we are gifted: voices and instruments work in harmony but they still can be spotted individually and it's great. Album closes with the soft 'And we'll go hunting deer', and I cannot think of a better song to end this output.

After "The World" my view about neo-prog changed totally and the genre is now pretty acceptable as part of my personal taste. This is a good album, bordering the masterpiece realm and a recommended work for prog beginners. Final rating: 4.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Progressing well

Inexplicably, for some reason "The world" was the only Pendragon album missing from my collection up until this year. Released in 1991, some three years after "Kowtow", "The world" is Pendragon's first truly prog album. Following an abortive relationship with EMI records which resulted in the "Kowtow" album, this time the band decided to make the music they really wanted to make, an album for themselves. The result was a highly confident and competent statement of intent, and a first rate album too. By the way, it was around this time that Nick Barrett met his future wife, our very own "Progchick". Coincidence? I think not!

After the upbeat and admirably positive opener "Back in the spotlight", we have one of the albums highlights, "The voyager". Written during what Nick describes as "the most inspiring time of his life, in America", this fantastical tale of adventure is clearly semi-autobiographical, while reflecting the pioneers of yesteryear. Barrett's guitar work here is particularly striking, with Clive Nolan's keyboards laying lush textures of sound on which the track is built.

The two tracks which follow are shorter more standard Pendragon fare. "Shane" would have fitted in well on "Not of this world", while "Prayer" starts out as a softer ballad but builds quickly back to the big sounding stately form which characterises the band's music.

The centrepiece here though is undoubtedly the three part, 22 minute "Queen of hearts". This was the bands first attempt at a prog epic, and by and large it works well. There is perhaps an over dependence on the vocals, which largely suppresses the opportunities for instrumental development. While the lyrics are well written (Barrett is usually the sole composer on the album), a little pruning might have been wise. That said, Nolan does add some fine synthesiser to "A man could die out here" (the middle part). The album concludes with the reflective "And we'll go hunting deer"; a fine, relaxed, slightly softer piece.

The 2005 re-release of the album has a bonus track "Sister bluebird" (nothing to do with "Starship Trooper" by Yes). The track is very much in the same mould as those which precede it, with some fine guitar by Barrett.

In all, a fine album which will appeal to those who enjoy neo-prog. The Steve Hackett/Genesis influences are strong, especially in the guitar work. The band would develop and refine their style on future albums, but "The world" is the album which set them on the right course.

This was the first Pendragon album to feature the artwork of Simon Williams, the superb fantasy images further emphasising the prog direction the band had now firmly set course on.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars This is an example of a band that was still finding its sound. Bearing that in mind, I will grudgingly give this three stars, though if they released this material today (as opposed to 1991), it would be an easy two star rating for me. There are plenty of good musical ideas, but they just can't quite pull them off. The strange thing is that I can't easily identify why exactly, and that seems to be the case for a fair amount of other reviewers: this album is just a bit boring, and it just doesn't have enough parts that hold the attention of those whose ears are well attuned to prog. Here are my possible reasons: extended lead-ins containing ambient and atmospheric keyboard/guitar combos, too much repetition (keyboard/synth lines, choruses, etc), and select places where Barrett overextends his vocal range/abilities. Individually, none of these are dealbreakers, but from a Gestalt perspective, the whole is just not quite right.

Back in the Spotlight. A very solid intro, with catchy guitar effects/harmonies, keyboard flourishes, and riff to close the track. Maybe not the best musical moments of the album, but certainly the most cohesive song for me.

The Voyager. 2 minutes before the vocals, and another 1.5 minute before drums. Let's pick up the pace Pendragon. We then hear a nice groove and chorus, but the music dies down again for three minutes to build to the nice guitar bit. There IS good music here, but they really make you work for it (eventually the law of diminishing returns on my listening effort kicks in).

Shane, Prayer. Two singles that take few chances and are quite forgettable. I have to admit that I enjoy Barrett's work on guitar.

Queen of Hearts. I really want to like this epic. There is good guitar, nice keyboard arrangements, and some memorable emotional and upbeat parts (especially the middle sequence), though the ending is a bit cheesy and cliche. Good thing Pendragon worked out the kinks here to produce some very focused and entertaining extended pieces later in their career.

And We'll Go Hunting Deer. This is the prog equivalent of maple syrup: overly sweet, and you certainly don't want to consume too much. At least this ends the album on a happy (if contrived) note.

Given a certain mindset and amount of patience, this could be a worthwhile album for you. That hasn't been my experience, but I do enjoy Pendragon's later work. Decent music, but not recommended.

Review by progrules
3 stars I have to say I'm a bit amazed about the average score so far for The World. Don't get me wrong, Pendragon is a great band, one of my all time favourites even but this album is not by a long way one of their better efforts. I only really liked it in the beginning and then we are talking about 1992 or so and then I have to add to it that this was one of my very first real prog albums, I was mainly into Saga in that period and in those circumstances you can imagine that a good album by Pendragon is mindblowing.

But as I learned more prog and later on also more Pendragon I also learned that though this album is good it's far from sensational. I already had that in mind before I gave it a last spin recently for the review to check if what was in my mind was really what it is to me now and that I will be giving a justified judgement about it. In fact there is not even one song on the album I got really enthusiastic about, it was just the second part of Queen of hearts that got me somewhat going but the rest was just a bit better than mediocre to me. It shows how music can evolve on you. In 15 years time it has gone from some 4,75 stars to 3,25 now. So I think I have to round this down to 3 stars. Even though this album meant a totally new style for the next decade by this band !

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars The thing that surprised me most about this album was the atmospheric passages that come and go throughout. In fact a couple of reviewers on this site compare certain sections to PINK FLOYD. PENDRAGON sounding like PINK FLOYD ? Well it's a good comparison actually. I find this music so uplifting and moving at times, I am definitely a fan of this band. It's kind of cool that beside the title of each track they give the year and the place that each song was written.

"Back In The Spotlight" opens with guitar and synths before keys and drums join in. Nick starts to sing before 2 minutes. Love his voice. It's hard not to smile when he sings "...seize the day" , which is followed by a beautiful guitar solo. "The Voyager" I think is my favourite song on here. An atmospheric intro as you can hear the water flowing. Keys a minute in change the mood but not for long as synths come in and wash repeatedly. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. It gets quite uplifting 4 minutes in. A nice long guitar solo after 8 minutes. Nice. "Shane" opens with some atmosphere before kicking into gear 1 1/2 minutes in. It's still a releaxing song though, very reflective with a tasteful guitar solo after 3 minutes. "Prayer" opens with keys as reserved vocals and synths follow. Marching-like drums as vocals get passionate. A full sound after 2 minutes. This one is fairly melancholic really with a good vocal performance from Barrett.

"Queen Of Hearts" although being almost 22 minutes long, it's divided into 3 parts with each part being written in a different place. The last part is the oldest song(piece) on the album from 1987. The song opens with keys as sad vocals arrive much like the mood. A change 2 1/2 minutes in as a GENESIS flavour comes in making things brighter. Another change after 4 minutes as vocals and acoustic guitar remind me of MARILLION. Some nice background synths during this passage as well. A nice long guitar solo after 7 minutes. This first part queen of hearts is 8 minutes long. The second part "...a man could die out here..." is also around 8 minutes long. It has an uptempo intro before quickly settling down a minute in. Some more atmosphere before it kicks back in 2 1/2 minutes with guitar and drums leading the way. Synths to end it. The final part "the last waltz" isn't as good as the first two sections in my opinion. Kind of catchy though. "And We'll Go Hunting Deer" opens with keys and synths. Atmosphere ! After 2 1/2 minutes we get a change as drums and reserved vocals arrive. Cool song.

I couldn't agree more with Hibou, these guys are a breath of fresh air. What a lineup as well. Nolan shines on the keyboard, while Fudge Smith is his usual solid self. Barrett is brilliant on vocals and lead guitar. Gee is the only one who seems lost in the mix or something.

Review by Warthur
3 stars There's a recurring theme of travel and wanderlust in the lyrics, but for many fans The World is where Pendragon truly came home. Overcoming their muddled direction of the 1980s, The World marks the point when Pendragon stopped even imagining their melodic pop-rock number could get chart success, and more emphatically focused their sound on Nick Barrett's soulful guitar playing.

In the three years since Kowtow Pendragon had mainly focused on consolidating Toff Records, rereleasing their old albums under their new label and producing the Rest of Pendragon compilation. But they clearly weren't idling musically speaking; instead, it seems that they've gone through a period of consolidation there too, finally deciding on what direction they want to take and pursuing it with gusto.

They chose the perfect time to do it. With Marillion and IQ taking a decidedly more commercial direction, and Pallas, Twelfth Night, and Solstice all on hiatus, 1991 was a dark time if you were a fan of the veterans of the Marquee scene and their early 1980s sound, and The World was an excellent alternative, rooted in the neo-prog sound and incorporating influences from Marillion and other big names without compromising Pendragon's own style. Hand on heart, I can't say it's an *essential* neo-prog album or even a particularly great one, but it's still a entertaining disc which filled a gap at a crucial period in the genre's development. It's preaching to the neo choir a little, but it's a fine fine sermon indeed.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars The third world in the UK

The World is Pendragon's third full length album overall but it was the first on which the band found their own sound and musical identity. Indeed, the formula established by this 1991 album would then be followed quite closely on subsequent albums up till and including Not Of This World that was released exactly ten years after the present album. Like the music itself, also the fantasy inspired cover pictures of these albums (The Window Of Life, The Masquerade Overture and Not Of This World) follow very closely the form and aesthetic of The World.

The previous two albums were quite immature and contained only traces of the typical Pendragon sound that can be found from this album onwards. This sound has as its essential components the distinctive vocals of Nick Barrett and his slow, sustained guitar play as well as the ever pleasant and lush keyboard work of the great Clive Nolan. Also quite characteristic is Barrett's particular style of song writing and the very high production values. In order to see what makes this music progressive you have to look both at the micro and the macro level. That is, both in the small details and in the larger structures. In between there is not much progression going on to be honest.

Three songs from this album are parts of a 20 plus minute suite called Queen Of Hearts. These songs are Queen Of Hearts, A Man Could Die Out Here and The Last Waltz. These songs would have to be declared the highlights of the album together with the American sounding The Voyager. The latter features harmonica and Country-like, bluesy acoustic guitar licks.

Personally, I have always found the music of Pendragon to be a little bit too lightweight and light-hearted for my taste, somehow lacking in depth and substance. However, there is no denying the talents of these musicians. This music is not particularly groundbreaking in any sense, but they do have a distinctive sound of their own which is more important. While their next album is slightly stronger than the present one, on The World is where it all began. The World is only the first in a series of good Pendragon albums.

While I find it quite hard to fault this album, I also find it very hard to conjure up much enthusiasm over it. It is a good album, but that's all it is.

Review by The Crow
3 stars After the fiasco of Kowtow (mediocre album by the way), Pendragon returned to their pure Neo-Prog origins heard in The Jewel and other early recordings with a record which should mark their style in decades to come.

In The World we can hear the most classic Pendragon line up with a very Barret's guitar oriented Neo-Prog sound, some glimpses of Nolan's keyboard leadership and with the typical weak and out of tone vocals of Barret himself.

Nevertheless, this gives the band an extra flavor which together with their mixture of English melancholy and epic approach to prog makes the listening of The World rewarding and interesting enough.

Best Songs: Back in The Spotlight, The Voyager, The Last Waltz.

Conclusion: if you like albums like The Masquerade Overture and Not of this Wold, you will surely enjoy The World although it does not has the quality of this later records in terms of production and songwriting.

My rating: ***

Review by Matti
4 stars The third album of the long-lived British Neo Prog band PENDRAGON may not be quite as strong as what was to come after it -- my [other, slightly bigger] favourites are Masquerade Overture, Not Of This World and Believe -- , but The World is very pleasant in its melodic and emotional mellowness, as can be witnessed from high ratings. Those who don't like it at all are most likely such prog-listeners who don't appreciate the Neo Prog style in general, and who tend to despise especially its softer and more pop-oriented features, seeing them as weakness. But yes, this album surely could have more spine and edges, for the line between harmonic and mediocre/boring can be thin and depends mostly on the listener. At first I wasn't sure if my rating would be 4 or 3, but I'll round 3½ upwards for the bonus track 'Sister Bluebird' which I believe to be included on most CD releases on the market nowadays.

Sonically and for the production The World is on the same good level with its followers; the differences lay more on songwriting which is a bit sharper on e.g. Masquerade Overture. Nick Barrett's guitar, reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Marillion, soars nicely, and Clive Nolan's keyboards finish the typical, polished Neo Prog sound. The opener 'Back in the Spotlight' with its U2-ish guitar sound has an energetic anthem-like feel. Not necessarily very proggy as a composition, but fairly enjoyable. 'The Voyager' quickly became a fans' favourite, Barrett says on the re-release's liner notes (2005). During the 12 minutes it contains some gorgeous melodies, romantic keyboard work and a passionate guitar solo. Even more emotion can be heard in 'Shane' which admittedly is a bit cheesy, almost like an 80's hard rock ballad. 'Prayer' is the weakest track, musically pretty forgettable in its lyrics-oriented sweet pathos.

'Queen of Hearts' is a near-22-minute epic in three parts. The first, 8-minute part is a bit boring (ie. over-extended), but the following parts are more inspired. As a whole it's not an album highlight for me, except perhaps for 'The Last Waltz' (Barrett's personal favourite, by the way). 'And We'll Go Hunting Deer' is a soft and a sort of pastoral song in a peaceful tempo. The aforementioned 'Sister Bluebird' (don't start thinking of Yes' 'Starship Trooper', no musical resemblance at all) may be my favourite on the CD, the moody emotion manages to touch me especially at the end where the words "sister" and "bluebird" are being repeated over the music that finally fades out. All in all, The World is best described as PLEASANT and is warmly recommended to those who enjoy both Neo Prog subgenre and mellowness. Others may not get very much out of this album.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars After the train wreck that resulted from the ill fated commercial nonsense attempted on "Kowtow," PENDRAGON learned the lessons of straying too far from its neo-prog aspirations and bounced back pretending as if the previous album was nothing more than a very bad dream. While the usual neo-prog cheese is displayed in full progressive pop splendor, the band was looking more towards "Wind & Wuthering" era Genesis and 80s Marillion for their return to the progressive rock universe and in the process launched themselves into the spotlight as one of the best neo-prog bands to sail through the 90s and into the 21st century.

PENDRAGON's third album THE WORLD redefined the quartet of Nick Barrett (guitars, vocals), Clive Nolan (keyboards), Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums) de-cheesifying from what many consider the awful 80s (in terms of progressive rock) and allowed them to join the new renaissance of prog with the band's first 90s offering. Before the world of neo-prog adopted a more hardened exterior by adopting metal guitar riffs and a more bombastic approach, the style went through its fluffy bunny and unicorn stage as evidenced on THE WORLD's fantastical album cover art. With a penchant for the late 70s symphonic prog sound, the style was evolving slowly into its own and PENDRAGON was along for the ride.

"Back In The Spotlight" exudes a rather 80s feel with U2 styled jangled guitar riffs as made famous by The Edge and a Peter Gabriel type of melodic drive similar to early tracks like "Salisbury Hill" but subtly recycled throughout his career. The keyboards generate an atmospheric resonance that extend into the entire near hour playing time and the vocals of Nick Barrett propelled PENDRAGON into the forefront of the neo-prog scene which would continue with a series of strong albums. "The Voyager" is the epic track of the album and dips past the 12 minute mark. It's here where PENDRAGON really blooms into a veritable neo-prog band. The composition takes on meany meandering fantasy fueled themes with Steve Hackett inspired soaring guitar work, emotional tugs in the form of nebulous visions of ocean dreamers and playing dolphins and a strong sense of compositional fortitude that builds up the intensity.

"Shane" delivers a more space rock vibe from the Pink Floyd playbook whereas "Prayer" is a piano driven tune that brings classic 70s Supertramp to mind complete with military drum marches and a folky flavor. "Queen of Hearts" while technically three tracks is basically a three part suite and the result of various song ideas being stitched together into a more cohesive whole and perhaps the most 80s Marillion sounding track of the album although Marillion were clearly one of the major influences as was most neo-prog of this era. The rest of the album follows suit with similar tracks taking the usual neo-prog twists and turns however different guitar riffs and the mixing it up of Floydian space rock with Mariliion and Genesis inspired symphonic elements keeps it from becoming monotonous.

While i wouldn't call THE WORLD the defining moment of PENDRAGON it's certainly no slouch. That is if you can stomach the somewhat cheesified hangover from the 80s only crafted into a more palatable 90s approach. Neo-prog by definition exudes a strong connection to pop music and in that regard THE WORLD succeeds in crafting instantly cute and cuddly melodies that grab you by the hand and take you to that world where nothing bad is lurking in the shadows. While i find the albums that follow to be of better quality, THE WORLD dishes out an album's worth of strong tunes that while not revolutionary in any particular way sure don't disappoint in the presentation of the classic neo-prog sound. As with any examples of this style of prog, if the vocalist doesn't cut the mustard then the experience will fail miserable but Barrett does an excellent job at crafting the nice vocal subtleties that make this album work for me.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Entering the 90s we find this band of Brits still refining their sound. Though their commitment to a NeoProg sound palette feels fairly solid, the "borrowing" of themes and styles from other 1980s pop bands is a bit surprising.

1. "Back In The Spotlight" (7:39) a surprisingly one-dimensional first with basically two synth wash chords and Flock of Seagulls rhythm guitar over straight time bass and drums. Part two is a little better, a little more 1980s Genesis like. (12.75/15)

2. "The Voyager" (12:15) looped sample of water flow with MIDIed marimba-bell synth open this one before dobro and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence-like computer MIDIed Japanese keyboard sound arpeggi enters. Guitars, acoustic, picked, and beautiful sustained elecric guitar notes enter before bass and drums and voice enter. Very pleasant, melodic vocal passage enters before moving into an okay chorus whereupon the song's full sound palette congeals and settles into place. Vocal bridge at the end of the fifth minute leads into a pretty instrumental passage in which "harmonica" solo introduces its own repetitive melody arpeggio. Vocals and whole band reenter. Nice drumming here. At the end of the seventh minute we move into a softer, more dream-like weave, which then moves into a very GENESIS Trick of the Tail/Wind & Wuthering-like passage over which Nick's plaintive lead guitar eventually starts to sing in a David Gilmour way. Nice solo: creative, engaging, and original--lasting well over a minute. No complex time signatures here, just solid, melodic NeoProg beauty. (23/25)

3. "Shane" (4:25) a little Pink Floyd foundation for an odd little poppy song here. Nice lead guitar work in the C section--even though it ends up being a near replication of David Gilmour's "Time" solo. The best song on the album. (8.5/10)

4. "Prayer" (5:21) the piano opening here made me think I was going to hear "Islands in the Stream"! The 80s ballad format surprises me as I thought these guys were supposed to be a prog band. The second section does amp things up a little, but then we return to the ballad motif: big let down. Another guitar solo with a familiar melody (Does Nick hear old familiar melodies while creating his solos?) (7.75/10)

5. "Queen Of Hearts" (21:46) (39/45) - a) Queen Of Hearts (8:18) sounds like a sappy 1980s hair band ballad using a GENESIS "There Must Be Some Misunderstanding" chord sequence and Tony Banks sound palette. It's pleasant enough--with a fair vocal performance. Nice impassioned 12-string Fish-era MARILLION section starting at 4:05--even down to the eventual keyboard sound choices and lyrical content. At the six-minute mark it seems to go wrong before a wailing STEVE ROTHERY-like guitar leads us into a powerful vocal section. Excellent guitar here--really sucks the listener in. Good parts, with some weaknesses but overall a good section. (18/20) - b) ... A Man Could Die Out Here ... (8:08) back into 1980s GENESIS territory--where they seem to be trying to extract some of Phil and Steve's magic from the 1970s but end up sounding Invisible Touch-era. Disappointing choices in sound and rhythm at the 2:45 mark--sounding a bit like yet-to-come Petri Walli KINGSTON WALL--and further diminished by odd Xanadu lyric, eventually contracts at the 5:00 mark into a more spacious Bar-do feeling section. When things re-amp up in the seventh minute the drum beat and Gilmour/"Run Like Hell" guitar rhythms carry us into another quasi-Reichian jazz section before handing it over to the last section. (13/15) - c) The Last Waltz (5:15) more 80s classic rock keyboards (computer electric piano and MIDIed other keyboard sounds) eventually lead into Nick's vocal. It's rather bland, even when choral vocals are used to back Nick's lead in the chorus. Very nostalgic lyric about dance hall days. At 3:15 there is a little bridge into a brief instrumental passage in which weird lyricon-"harmonica" is used for the lead solo instrument. This should have been a TOTO song. (8/10)

6. "And We'll Go Hunting Deer" (7:14) long synth intro is finally joined by guitar and electric piano in the second minute. But, still, we don't really get out of the atmospheric "interlude" phase until late in the third minute. The song that is established feels so much like Genesis' "Afterglow" (12.25/15)

Total Time: 58:59

B/four stars; an very nice addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially for a lover of NeoProg.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 561

"The World" is the third studio album of Pendragon and was released in 1991. After a few years of inactivity Pendragon released this great album which represents a return to the lengthy and more progressive songs. While it's true for prog classicists the neo-prog scene, lead by Marillion, IQ and Pendragon, represents nothing new and creative, but there is a certainty that many of the neo-prog bands have grown to produce respectable, if not excellent music, in their own way.

The line up on the album is the same of their previous second studio album "Kowtow", released in 1988. So, the line up on the album is Nick Barrett (vocals and guitars), Clive Nolan (keyboards), Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums). All lyrics were written by Nick Barrett and curiously, he even recalled all the places where all songs were written.

"The World" has six tracks plus a special bonus track. All songs were written by Nick Barrett except "The Last Waltz" music which was written by Nick Barrett and Peter Gee. The first track "Back In The Spotlight" is a great rock song full of mood and tempo changes, and represents a great energetic opening song on the album. It's a typical neo- prog song very powerful and very solid with catchy and rich harmonies and where we can found beautiful guitar effects and some nice keyboard work. This is, in my opinion, a song that sounds to me very pleasant to hear, that can remind me Simple Minds due to its rhythm section in the background. The second track "The Voyager" is a kind of an epic ballad with great keyboards and beautiful acoustic guitar work that could create a very harmonic and engaging colourful pallet of sounds. On here, Barrett's guitar work is particularly good, with Nolan's keyboards producing some lush textures of sounds, providing a real great harmony all over the song. It's a very good song with steel guitars opening that soon became in what has to be one of Pendragon's best songs ever. The third track "Shane" is a very nice song that sounds very much like Pink Floyd. Of course this isn't a real surprise, because the band never denied that. By the way, for me, of the all classic bands from the 70's, the bands that most influenced Pendragon's music style are undoubtedly Genesis and Pink Floyd. Returning to the song, this is a song with some great guitar parts, perfectly in Gilmour's style, with a very nice melodic line and very well sung. It shows us the other face of Pendragon's music. The fourth track "Prayer" together with the previous track "Shane" represents the prelude to the next track on the album, the great epic track of the album. It's another very nice song, very melancholic, with a good vocal performance and nice instrumentation too. But, this time, its melody is based on the keyboards. This is a song built as a very soft ballad but that soon evolves to a bigger sound, which is a characteristic of the group, indeed. Despite being two good songs, "Shane" and "Prayer" are clearly inferior to the two first songs of the album. The fifth track "Queen Of Hearts" is divided into three musical parts "Queen Of Hearts", "?A Man Could Die Out Here?" and "The Last Waltz". This piece of music represents the real first attempt of Pendragon to make truly an epic progressive track, and they real managed to do that. This is a real pleasure to hear this track, so beautiful and great it is. It's a brilliant song that alternates between gentle musical passages and a very powerful guitar work. There are plenty of great melodic moments scattered throughout this piece, really. This song represents, without any doubt, the great highlight on the album. The sixth track "And We'll Go Hunting Deer" is truly a great relaxing song, a real lovely and gentle piece of music, a very cool moment on the album. It opens with a relaxing atmosphere mood with some very nice piano musical passages and a beautiful guitar driven solo in the end. This is the atmospheric song on the album that represents a gentle and beautiful way to close this magnificent music work, really.

As I said above, my version of "The World" has a last and seventh track "Sister Bluebird", which is the special bonus track on the album. As usual, I don't review bonus tracks. However, I must say that we are in presence of an excellent piece of music that fortunately brings a magnificent addition to the general high quality of the album. So, it's welcome.

Conclusion: For many of us, "The World" represents the real beginning of the excellent musical career of Pendragon, magnificently followed by three other great studio albums in the same style, I mean, "The Window Of Life" released in 1993, "The Masquerade Overture" released in 1996 and "Not Of This World" released in 2001. It helped to define Pendragon's style of music, and perhaps the most important of all, it began really the great partnership between Nick Barrett and Clive Nolan. On "The World" the musicianship through the album is exemplary, the guitar performance is simply great, the keyboard work is delightful, the bass lines are good and the percussion is very tight. This is an album full of catchy melodies with of plenty of tempo and mood changes. The music on "The World" isn't very complex, but it reveals great musical skills by the band. In my humble opinion, it represents truly a hallmark in the progressive music and launched the group into the rare club of the best neo-prog bands such as Marillion, IQ, Arena, Pallas and Galahad.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

5 stars 1Back In The Spotlight surely the PENDRAGON sound that you should listen to first; simple, effective, melodic, well-performed instrumental parts; after the symphonic break the guitar returns twice, with the chiseled riff then the metronomic melodic solo and 2 The Voyager arrives suddenly, a slide g ... (read more)

Report this review (#2311563) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An album that I really enjoy followed by an album that I don't like much at all - what was on the table for this third release 3 years after the last? By the time this was released Marillion had lost Fish (Oh Woe of Woes) although their "Season's End" album was brilliant the forthcoming works fro ... (read more)

Report this review (#1024512) | Posted by sukmytoe | Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Re visiting the earlier (mid?) catalogue of Pendragon I'd forgotten what stunning music they had been producing. 'The World', 'The Window Of Life' and 'The Masquerade Overture', are three superb albums by anyone's standard, soaring guitar work, tempered by ethereal keys and excellent melodies; t ... (read more)

Report this review (#228492) | Posted by huge | Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the 3rd release of the English Band, Pendragon... Pendragon, after the release of 2 interesting albums, demostrate for the first time their great capacity of composing nice progressive rock. The World consists of lyrical and melodic, progressive tracks that sound much as Marillion. I ... (read more)

Report this review (#221767) | Posted by FatalV | Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 'The world is your oyster, search for your dreams and make them come true' That's what it says on the inside of the booklet. A bit cheesy, and actually the majority of their lyrics are in this vein. But really, I don't care because the music is FAR from being average. Pendragon can be accused f ... (read more)

Report this review (#194129) | Posted by Barla | Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Mid 80´s to 90´s beginning, the time when the art genre was left to ruin, falling down, but some heroes didn't abandon the boat; independent acts resisted - as I mentioned in Iconoclasta "soliloquio" and Coda reviews - now some more history: the 1985 "The Jewel" (4****) by Pendragon was one mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#191964) | Posted by Prog_Veteran | Friday, December 5, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Having refound Pendragon after a gap of 22 years I have found this the hardest album to get into but it has been well worth the wait. The World is often attributed with defining the modern Pendragon sound and I can appreciate this as it does sound very much of its time but this should be take ... (read more)

Report this review (#158844) | Posted by SLFTB1 | Thursday, January 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars "And then came doubt, then came the fears" I must admit, I am not a fan of neo-progressive music. I've listened to several highly rated albums from the genre and nearly none of them caught my interest. Unfortunatly, it is the same for this one. This album is leargely keyboard based, the vo ... (read more)

Report this review (#117752) | Posted by jikai55 | Monday, April 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Well, I hate to give bad reviews, but since this is the only Pendragon album I've listened to I thought I should put in my comments. First, I can't think of many more boring albums that this one. The first track seemed somewhat promising, but lacked any real bite or power. And after that, it ... (read more)

Report this review (#83462) | Posted by | Tuesday, July 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I close my eyes and find myself floating somewhere where everything feels so good. I turn the volume more up and feel the extacy rising. It starts as a gentle U2 turning into a pleasant texture made by keyboards and guitar interacting in harmony. The singing and the voice suits the music perfe ... (read more)

Report this review (#72605) | Posted by pirkka | Thursday, March 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Welcome to the world of fairytales! The man who tells them is called Nick Barrett. He's an owner of warm, high voice and his guitar play is an ellegant mixture of Davud Gilmour's and Andy Latimer's styles. His songs are based on nice melodies, but there are more melodic fragments here. Every ... (read more)

Report this review (#71586) | Posted by | Friday, March 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 3.5 stars. Step by step, chord by chord, Pendragon were working up to their greatest achievement, The Masquerade Overture. They started off pretty advanced with The Jewel, but it was evident from the beginning that they had a few great ideas, but surrounded them with filler and sub-par song ... (read more)

Report this review (#68814) | Posted by stonebeard | Wednesday, February 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's a very great album, which changed style of Pendragon. It begins with great, rocky "Back In The Spotlight". I like this song, but then we have something really marvelous - "The Voyager". It is one of the best songs of Pendragon, and one of my favourites. After that we have "Shane" - beauti ... (read more)

Report this review (#67071) | Posted by | Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The album starts off sounding encouraging; a bit like Fish-era Marillion, with the lead-off track Back in the Spotlight. The vocals aren't very strong, so the music weakens a bit from that. The next songs just become weaker still. Later on, Queen of Hearts picks up the pace and energy, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#41478) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A great album. Pendragon has distilled and perfected their previous work into a sound that has all features a good neo-prog act should have. Catchy melodies, great high-pitched guitar work on a frame of symphonised keyboards, with plenty of tempo and mood changes. Not to complex, but with grea ... (read more)

Report this review (#5729) | Posted by tuxon | Wednesday, February 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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