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Red Jasper

Prog Folk

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Red Jasper Anagramary album cover
3.79 | 26 ratings | 5 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Perfect Symmetry (6:00)
2. Babylon Rising (6:18)
3. In Her Eyes (6:22)
4. In the Name of Empire (7:28)
5. Flag (4:28)
6. Island of Mighty (6:15)
7. People of the Hills (4:56)
8. Through Th Dawn (7:07)
9. Waterfalls (Rhaeadreau) (6:58)

Total Time 55:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Davey Dodds / lead vocals, tin whistle
- Robin Harrison / guitars, backing vocals
- Dave Clifford / drums, lead vocals (3,8), bodhrán, percussion
- Jonathan Thornton / bass, backing vocals
- Lloyd George / keyboards, backing vocals, voices

Releases information

CD CYMBELINE RECORDS - 5082-2 (1997)

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RED JASPER Anagramary ratings distribution

(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RED JASPER Anagramary reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
4 stars I feel this is better than Midsummers Night Dream. They sound further developed as a band and the folk influences are integrated into a harmonised approach.There is more synths in evidence as well which adds atmosphere to the music very nicely.I think this is an album I can quite happily listen to.Sounds a bit Jethro Tull v Marillion! Many of the passages remind me moreso of Marillion in fact.Solid prog release and a good one for the band to finish on.3.75 stars.
Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Less Folk and more Neo-Prog, but still Red Jasper

Red Jasper is a criminally underrated band with roots that go back into the 80's. Sadly, they appear to not exist anymore as the present album from 1997 is their last to date. However, you never know these days when many unlikely reunions of progressive Rock bands from the 60's, 70's and 80's actually happen!

Red Jasper is a rather unique band blending British/Celtic Folk Rock with hard edged Neo- Progressive Rock. On the band's two previous albums, A Midsummer Night's Dream and A Winter's Tale, they achieved the perfect mix of these elements to great effect. Anagramary, on the other hand, clearly emphasises the Neo-Prog side of the equation. This is not necessarily a bad thing and this is also a very good Red Jasper album, but it inevitably is a little bit less original and slightly less unique compared to what came before. However, the Folk Rock side is not entirely absent here and Strawbs still appears to be a strong influence as is 70's Genesis.

The very strong vocals of Davey Dodds remind alternately of Peter Gabriel and Dave Cousins as well as Neo-Prog singers like Marillion's Fish and Galahad's Stuart Nicholson. Dodds has nothing to envy from these latter singers. For some reason, drummer Dave Clifford takes lead vocals on In Her Eyes and Through The Dawn. These songs sound very much like Strawbs numbers with a slight Moody Blues feel.

The rest of the band are just as competent with the traditional Prog Rock line up with electric guitars, bass, drums and assorted keyboards being enhanced with acoustic guitars, tin whistle, bodhran and fiddle. The mandolin that was so strongly present on the two previous albums is, however, wholly absent here, as are the more traditional Fairport Convention-like jigs. This, I think, is a great loss as the mandolin was such a strong trademark of the band's sound that I have come to know and really appreciate and those jigs from previous albums were really good. But you have to accept a band's evolution!

The album opens with Perfect Symmetry, a good song with great vocals. This song reminds a bit of Virtual Reality from A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was the least folky and most typically Neo-Progressive song of that album. The distinctive vocals of Dodds immediately give it away what band it is despite the absence of any Folk influence. Babylon Rising is next up and is one of the better songs of the album. Here we have some folky elements like tin whistle and some "Oriental" sounds. In The Name Of The Empire is probably the most Genesis influenced track with some very Gabriel-esque, almost spoken vocals - so very British. Flag is an instrumental based on guitar and keyboards - a decent interlude. Some of the songs here are as fantastic as the material on the previous two albums, and the present album is not that far behind those. Indeed, in some respects, Anagramary is perhaps even a slightly more mature album but also inevitably a bit less astonishing than those earlier albums.

The closer, Waterfalls (Rhaeadreau), stands out as being almost New-Age! Otherwise the album continues pretty much in the same vein and there are no bad songs on this album.

Red Jasper is a very interesting and solid band that I really enjoy. This underrated band clearly deserves much more attention! Anagramary is certainly a recommended album, but make sure you start with the amazing duo of A Midsummer Night's Dream and A Winter's Tale.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Back from the mists of the past, Red Jasper is set to return with some new material. Now they never were a big splash even in prog circles, their albums quite hard to find but blessed by great qualities that deserve some recognition. Imagine a more Celtic-folk Galahad and you may have a clearer idea, as now departed vocalist Davey Dodds certainly had an incredible voice, correctly identified by others as somewhere between David Cousins, Fish and Gabriel but actually closer to Galahad's Stuart Nicholson, a gifted vocalist in a genre not always very famous for its microphone wielders! Previous albums "A Midsummer's Night" (1993) and "A Winter's Tale" (1994) possessed obvious Shakespearean hues, all enveloped in a tight neo-folk structure, blessed by some inspired playing , delightful vocals and interesting lyrics. The band's core instrumentalists remain until today as Robin Harrison on electric and acoustic guitars (Dave Lambert of Strawbs comes to mind), the highly supportive Lloyd George on keyboards and a tight rhythm section of Jonathan Thornton on bass and drummer Doug Clifford who is the new lead vocalist on the upcoming 2011 release. These lads are gifted players and fully understand the benefits of mood and atmosphere. This is Red Jasper last recorded opus back in 1997 'Perfect Symmetry' wastes little time in dilly-dallying, heading straight for the jugular with some powerful chops, Davey displaying his dramatic singing style, acrobatically forging the song ahead , very reminiscent of Nicholson's delivery on Galahad's recent and critically acclaimed 2007's "Empires Never Last" album. This is a stellar opener that bodes well for the remainder of the tracks presented here. In fact, that same Arthurian connection reappears on the second track 'Babylon Rising' and aptly titled fourth piece 'In the Name of Empire'. These all are strong Neo-prog tracks that are vivid, expressive and breathtaking, spiced with lovely Celtic/Oriental touches on the first one (tin whistle and bodhran) and politico-satirical on the second named as only the English can successfully do. The final lyric is "empires never last" (did the Galahad boys find their inspiration here, I ask? A great tune nevertheless graced by humorous lyrics with a stunning tin whistle solo, followed by a sultry violin slide and a galloping beat protected by mellotron washes. The profound anti- colonial rants continue on the fluid instrumental 'Flag' and the gratingly hard-edged 'Island of the Mighty', both complementing the overall theme quite brilliantly. The ornate instrumental qualities are openly expressed, with all soloists shining ever so brightly, offering up stark contrasts and evocative flurries of notes. 'People of the Hills' features harder boundaries, wah-wah twirling guitars and acerbic lyrics and vocal deliveries, almost crunching rocker material. Drummer Clifford has a different yet just as pleasant voice on the gorgeous 'In Her Eyes', a sumptuous ode to love , a subject matter that has room in prog , regardless of what the purist claim. Acoustic guitar frills introduce the heartfelt yet simple melody , trembling vocals expressing regret and humility evolving into a masterful chorus that refuses to fade away, deeply eloquent in that peculiar brit folk style. The elegant piano solo relates the feelings perfectly and the lead guitar solo keeps it graceful until the end. Clifford returns on the simply marvelous 'Through the Dawn', a highlight ballad that is the summit here for me. I could listen to this unendingly, a serenely appealing and memorable concoction that has a 'Dust in the Wind' feel . This consummate opus ends with the instrumental electronica of 'Waterfalls' that surprises one with a guitar finale of unforgettable proportions. "Anagramary" is a most precious recording indeed, highly original within the constraints of a limited genre. Fans of the above mentioned certainly need to hunt this one down, as its a hard find .That only makes it even more precious. 5 Crimson stones
Review by kev rowland
4 stars And so we come to the end of the first phase of Red Jasper. Following on from the two albums recorded for SI Music and the promotional touring that followed it the band took a break, and by the time that they came back together to record what was to be their final album the band had moved in different directions. In fact singer Davey Dodds wasn't involved a great deal in the writing process, which was spread out much more evenly over the remaining four guys. The album was recorded at the same studio as the previous two, but this time Davey was only there when it was time for him to record his vocals and it was little surprise that the band broke up not long afterwards. As Davey had been involved with many publications as the main contact, it also wasn't surprising that few even knew that it had been released as he bowed out of proceedings.

Although I had been a fan of the other albums I didn't actually hear 'Anagramary' until 2011, some fourteen years after it was originally released, so in many ways this is a 'new' album for me and looking back it is possible to see that here was a band in transition. Davey no longer took lead vocals on all songs, with drummer DC stepping to the fore and giving the band a different sound with "In Her Eyes" being both a departure and yet also familiar. There are times when Lloyd is content with piano, but there are others when swathes of Hammonds are what is required while the rest of the guys show why the band were mentioned as being "Motorhead meets Jethro Tull".

It is hard to fathom that this album basically sank without trace, being known to only a select few, and that it has taken 15 years for it to be made widely available again, but here it is with a bonus live number (and again a great booklet) and if you enjoy prog that is very English in its' style then this is essential. Red Jasper are recording again in 2012, with DC as the lead singer and new drummer Nick Harradence (Shadowland) filling his drum seat, and are playing the Fleece in December so get your tickets now!!

If, like me, you will be unable to attend (I live the other side of the world, what's your excuse?) then you will just have to satisfy your musical cravings by picking up all of the Angel Air reissues.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars With "Anagramary", RED JASPER's overt musical relationship with Olde England suffered a direct hit. While on the near masterpieces "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Winter's Tale" they were the lonely exponents of Celtified neo prog, here they practically abandon those musical pretensions even as anti-Imperialist themes remain in the foreground. A few touches of whistle and middle Eastern flourishes remain, as if Davey Dodds' voice alone wasn't enough to remind us to whom we were listening.

With neo prog being no friend of distinction, and with the overuse of colossally over amplified and redundant riffs, what's most arresting about this final (well, at least for 15 years) bow is that it's actually quite a refreshing album, with many passages rivaling earlier peaks. Dodds' voice is in fine form even if several instrumental cuts and lead vocals by Dave Clifford render him less integral than hitherto imaginable within the collective. Robin Harrison excels on lead guitar and Lloyd George's keyboards somewhat redeem otherwise banal hard rockers. "Babylon Rising", "In the Name of Empire', and "through the Dawn" are all top notch, the first two because they are so distinctively JASPER, the latter because it is so slick and un-JASPER like that it could be the pinnacle for a thousand other bands' repertoires. In fact, Clifford is a ringer for Lou Gramm on this emotive piece. "in Her Eyes", in contrast, is like "Through the Dawn" with the edges sanded down, that is, not much of anything, while "Island of the Mighty" and "People of the Hills" veer far too close to riff rock, never the band's trump card. "Waterfalls" is a fascinating, almost ambient instrumental which cascades to and fro, and is quite unlike the usual JASPER fare of any era.

It's hard to say if "Anagramary" represented a conscious effort to commercialize the product by skimming off much of its folky character, or whether it was simply the result of reduced engagement by the band's most eccentric affiliate. The imminent release of the Dodds-less " The Great and Secret Show" might resolve that puzzle once and for all.

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