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Red Jasper

Prog Folk

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Red Jasper Sting In The Tale album cover
3.20 | 18 ratings | 4 reviews | 11% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Faceless People
2. Guy Fawkes
3. T.V. Screen
4. Second Coming
5. Old Jack
6. Company Director
7. Secret Society
8. Magpie
9. I Can Hew

Line-up / Musicians

- Davey Dodds / vocals, Tin Whistle, mandolin
- Pat D'Arcy / saxophones, bass, backing vocals
- Robin Harrison / guitar, bass
- Ric Sanders / Fiddle
- Tony Heath / bass, keyboards, guitar
- Dave Clifford / drums, backing vocals

Releases information


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RED JASPER Sting In The Tale ratings distribution

(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(6%)
Good, but non-essential (67%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

RED JASPER Sting In The Tale reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars This early Red Jasper album contains fewer of the warm Celtic tinged atmospheres of their later works like "Midsummer Night's Dream", but is certainly not devoid of them. Overall what we have here is a lot more driving rock with blues, boogie, jazz, and yes, folk elements sprinkled into the mix. Whether it becomes a preferred RJ album for you depends on your tastes. Personally I find this a lot less distinctive. Only when whistles enter the fray does the album come across as somewhat out of the mainstream, as opposed to an overall feeling of differentiation that comes in the later albums.

An example of this perspective is "Magpie", that does feature some whistles as well as a near a cappella beginning and ending, but is in many ways a standard rocker. "Guy Fawkes", "TV Screen" and "Secret Society" are not even saved by these variations. On the other hand. songs like "Faceless People" and "Company Director" possess a suspenseful Gothic quality that works well when contrasted with Dodds' appealing baritone, while "Second Coming" begins as a jig like tuning before skillfully transitioning to a more conventional prog song.

Red Jasper doesn't know whether to be Steeleye Span or Van de Graaff Generator here, so the album suffers as a consequence, whereas later efforts would sound like Red Jasper, an infinitely better choice. Yet their overall enthusiasm and the horrible musical environment in which they had to operate (ie-1990) helps take some of the sting out of this mildly disappointing tale. 2.5 stars rounded up.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars From the county of Whitshire comes this UK band, formed in mid-80's with Davey Dodds, Robin Harrison, Tony Heath and Mark Ollard as the original line-up.Much more on the folkier side of things this line-up recorded the rare LP ''Englands Green & Pleasant Land ?'' in 1987, only sold at local gigs.Later the line-up was expanded with the addition of Pat D'Arcy on saxes,while Ollard was replaced by Dave Clifford.Securing a deal with HTD Records, the band recorded the debut ''Sting in the Tale'' during a 4-week period, eventually released in 1990 both as LP and CD issues.

The sound of the band was pretty original, trying to push Folk Rock into more entertaining and modern forms, mixing traditional sounds from mandolins,tin whistles and violins (the later credited to Ric Sanders of Fairport Convention fame) with rockin' grooves and expressive lyricism.With Davey Dodds' voice being as theatrical and powerful as FISH'es, Red Jasper deliver some dynamic and groovy songs with an energetic and solid rhythm section enriched by folkish sections: mandolin introduction, driving violins, whistles interruptions and accordion tunes.On the other hand a few tracks serve just the joyful side of rock music with light keyboards, deep bass and drumming along with emphatic vocals, being rather straightforward and nothing close to the basics of progressive music.Still all of them have a very rich atmosphere and good production to be supported and finally sounding quite pompous.

Far from being essential, Red Jasper's debut is based on the band's originality and pounding approach to push the Folk aesthetics into a more rockin' mood.Good effort and warmly recommended.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Fairport Convention with a bit of saxophone!

Red Jasper is one of the most overlooked bands I have ever come across. After having given high praise to all of the band's three subsequent studio albums A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Winter's Tale and Anagramary, I was anxious to hear this debut. But it was not easy to find this album. My first attempt involved buying this album on vinyl LP, but unfortunately it did not play as it should. Thanks to a fellow Prog Archives reviewer I finally managed to get hold of the music without any defects. The band's official website now states that all the Red Jasper albums will be re-released on CD with bonus tracks which is fantastic news!

Sting In The Tale was Red Jasper's first full length album (they debuted with an EP that was released a few years before). It is fair to say that the band had yet to truly find its own identity at this point and that they later made a major leap forward with their masterpiece A Midsummer Night's Dream some three years later. Some of the band's trademark elements were already present here, most notably the distinctive and unique lead vocals of Davey Dodds. But some other elements of their sound were yet to be developed (the Neo-Prog element) and some would later be altogether removed (the presence of saxophone). In the light of this, Sting In The Tale is clearly inferior to the three albums that came after it and not very representative of the band.

Still, judged on its own merits, and for what it is, this is a good debut from a promising band. About half of the songs here point more or less clearly in the direction that the band would later take while the other half is rather erratic. Faceless People is a slow, rather conventional rocker with strong vocals and discrete Folk elements. It is a good song, but it lacks both the progressive elements and the strong melody of Virtual Reality that would open the band's next album. Guy Fawkes is a complete throwaway; a punky feel to this one. T.V. Screen too is disappointing and the saxophone sticks out like a sore thumb in the band's sound. At this point it is tempting to dismiss this album as stemming from an immature period of the band's career not worthy of attention by us who fell in love with the later albums, but Second Coming quickly reassures us that this really is the same great Red Jasper. Dodds here delivers a haunting vocal and tasteful mandolin and tin whistle. The first highlight of the album for me.

Old Jack is a more typical uptempo British Folk Rock tune in the style of Fairport Convention. Fair enough. Company Director is a decent song but the hope of finding anything Prog here is running out. Secret Society is another throwaway and the listener's patience is once again tried. Thankfully, the the final tracks of the album are good ones. Magpie is the second highlight of the album and again reminds of later efforts. The closing track I Can Hew is another Fairport Convention-like track and indeed it features Ric Sanders from that classic band on fiddle.

Red Jasper is a very highly recommended band, but while Sting In The Tale is a good album, it is certainly not the place for newcomers to begin. Start instead with the brilliant A Midsummer Night's Dream and then on to A Winter's Tale and Anagramary. And only after that, if you still want more, you can turn to the present album.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Towards the end of 2011 I was perusing through the internet, and started thinking about bands that I used to deal with in the early Nineties and this led me to conduct a search for Red Jasper. I was surprised but extremely pleased to see that they were again active, and that they had an interesting website. The person I always used to talk to had been singer Davey Dodds, but he is no longer involved, so I thought that I would contact them and see how they were doing. Drummer/singer DC and I were soon swapping emails and I offered to send him copies of every review I had ever written on the band, and eventually managed to be organized enough to be able to do so. DC told me that he was hoping to find a record label that may be interested in releasing all of their old albums on CD, and I asked if he had thought of Angel Air and would he like an introduction to the person in charge? And so it was that a few weeks later the band had agreed with the label to reissue five albums, with 'Sting In The Tale' to be the first (which also includes as a bonus the songs from the "Pull That Thumb?(off the top of your head)" EP), and that yours truly was going to be writing all of the booklets.

As I write this only 'Sting' has been reissued to date, but 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'/'The Winter's Tale' will soon be available as a double pack, with 'Action Replay' following soon afterwards. Of course, some people may now say that isn't really possible for me to be completely objective when writing a review, so perhaps it might be best to go back to what I said all those years ago: "you cannot fail to fall in love with this. Red Jasper's strength is not only their musical and song-writing ability but the fact that within each song they combine instruments and moods in a constructive, challenging yet interesting manner." I still stand by that: this is an album of music where the guys are challenging each other throughout ? a real refusal to fit into any one particular style and heavily political to boot. What I find really interesting is that this album was originally recorded and released in 1990 yet here in 2012 it is still a damn fine listen and hasn't dated at all.

If you enjoy folk rock with more than just a hint of edge and power (described by Davey himself as "Motörhead meets Jethro Tull"), then this is for you. Mention must be made of the fine remastering that Lloyd George has undertaken, and come to think of it the text in the booklet is particularly interesting as well?..

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