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GRACIOUS!

Gracious

Symphonic Prog


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Gracious Gracious! album cover
3.73 | 103 ratings | 24 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Introduction (5:53)
2. Heaven (8:09)
3. Hell (8:33)
4. Fugue in 'D' Minor (5:05)
5. The Dream (16:58)

Total Time: 44:38

Bonus tracks on Repertoire reissue (2004):

6. Beautiful
7. What A Lovely Rain
8. Once On A Windy Day

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Alan Cowderoy / guitar, vocals
- Martin Kitcat / piano, Harpsichord, keyboards, piano (electric), vocals, Mellotron
- Robert Lipson / drums
- Tim Wheatley / bass
- Paul Davis / vocals, acoustic guitar

Releases information

LP Vertigo 6360 002 (1970)
CD Repertoire Records CX 4060-CX (1990)
CD Repertoire (2004, Paper sleeve with mini poster)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Tarcisio Moura for the last updates
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  • Hell Gracious!, 1970
  • C.B.S. This is.....Gracious!! , 1971

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This Is GraciousThis Is Gracious
Remastered · Import
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Audio CD$12.07
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Import
Repertoire 2004
Audio CD$7.35
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GRACIOUS Gracious! ratings distribution


3.73
(103 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
21%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
42%
Good, but non-essential (32%)
32%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

GRACIOUS Gracious! reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars I had high hopes for this as it was released on the fabulously prog Vertigo (with the swirl logo as opposed to the harder rocking spaceship logo of later years) and re-released by the excellent Repertoire records on CD. I had heard so much from this album from collectioners , I was expecting a masterpiece. Alas Minor deception was around the bend, as this is a rather eclectic record ( i normally consider this as a plus ) but this led to a very unfocused album .

Introduction is the best track on the album with a blistering guitar solo giving high hopes for the rest . Heaven is marred/plagued by Beatlesque or Moody Blues vocals (this would not be a problem if it was for one song only but you find that recurring on most tracks) and Zappaesque doodling out of place on this album. Hell is more interesting but the long Ragtime interlude is boring me as I never enjoyed that particular style of music. Fugue is well played but totaly out of place in this album. Dream ia all together a better tune but again the singer almost pulls a Hey Jude line and I don't think this was a nod or a wink to the fab four ( inspiration is the main problem of this album) and funny Zappa licks.

Adding it all up makes for less than a side of fine music , which I find a little too few IMO, so I am being generous giving that third star. Make sure you heard this well enough , before dishing out the dough.

Sometimes some rare records have superb reputation one the facts that the vinyl was rare and some people would dish out small fortune without a listen , but Labels such as Repertoire makes this avoidable by having pressed bigger amounts of CD as Opposed to some other (we want names.....) that will release only 1000 copies of the Cd insuring that most would-be buyers jump on it without hesitation. This is true for average records with few copies on vinyl and on CD such as Raw Material , Running Man and Titus Groan ( who all made some very decent alum but rather uneven in the song/tracks proposed). But Gracious! is not concerned by these last considerations as a release on repertoire makes it relatively easy to find..

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#18641) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Review by Steve Hegede
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I heard someone say once that they considered "Gracious!" one of the best albums released in 1970. Well, after listening to this album they might have a point. GRACIOUS! were quite influenced by KING CRIMSON and the BEATLES, but they took their influences to the next level. The band was seemed interested in mixing prog, hard rock, blues, jazz, baroque, classical, and even ZAPPA into a futuristic sound (well, futuristic for 1970). Both epics, which are worth the price of the CD, are made-up of shorter sections, and we find the band quickly weaving in and out of various genres and moods. The album, however, has some flaws that might bother some collectors. The fourth track, for example, features a classical duet between guitar and harpsichord. Although the music is beautiful, it doesn't really fit the style of the other tracks. Also, some sections on "Hell" (on side A) are silly in a style similar to ZAPPA's "America Drinks and Goes Home", and don't fit into the epic. Overall, these complaints are minor since rock musicians make compositional mistakes all the time, but I just want to point this out if you're looking to get this CD. In all, "Gracious!" is quite an advanced prog album for a 1970 release, but expect some flaws

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Send comments to Steve Hegede (BETA) | Report this review (#18642) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Regarding of some other "Proto-progressive" works of the same period, this is one of the most surprising, although it is not a masterpiece. It's a sort of psychedelic band with a creative stuff, sometimes resembling the most accessible tunes (actually a few ones) by early GENTLE GIANT; naturally such original breaks through are in between, while the development of the harmonic structure was already developed, within a mellow song. Moreover the track "Hell" is characterized by a fine riff, which could be performed easily by early KING CRIMSON , if They were into a mellow contest. Besides so many "Mellotron tunes" are played here and in this manner. They can complete a simple but remarkable "Romantic picture".

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#18643) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004

Review by Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars All these years of being aware of GRACIOUS and the two albums they released in the early 1970s, it was only a matter of time before I snatched the 2-for-1 CD reissue deal that BGO Records released back in 1995, and I have not regretted it! This review here, of course, is for their first album. This band consisted of a bunch of former Catholic school boys who lived in the affluent stockbroker belt of Surrey (to the south of London, this was also the same county GENESIS resided in). The band had toured with KING CRIMSON, and their keyboardist Martin Kitcat was impressed enough with those guys that he bought himself a Mellotron as well. They signed up to Vertigo and released this incredible album in 1970 (the album also had an American release on Capitol Records, but with a totally cover). The rest of the band consited of vocalist Paul Davis (not the Paul Davis of "I Go Crazy Fame"), guitarist Alan Cowderoy, bassist Tim Wheatley, and drummer Robert Lipson.

This is an album that often received the Mellotron hype. Whatever you do, don't buy in to it, sure he uses is, but on only three cuts, "Heaven", and only a small amount on "Hell" and "Dreaming". The electric piano, piano, and harpsichord are the more dominant instrument. This is suprisingly complex music for 1970. The album opens with "Introduction", with some GENTLE GIANT-like vocal harmonies, but is actually the most straighforward piece on the album. I really like the guitar solo in the middle. "Heaven" features some great Mellotron work, and I like the acoustic part of the song, which is totally 1970, before you hear a chorus repeating "Do you have a clean mind?" over and over. "Hell" is far more like KING CRIMSON, far more sinister sounding piece. Also some ragtime and classical (specifiaclly OFFENBACH's "Can-Can") pops up, showing the band had a sense of humor. These three songs have religious themes (no surprise because of the band's Catholic school upbringings). "Fugue in 'D' Minor" is basically a classically-oriented piece on harpsichord and guitar. "Dreaming" is the longest piece and is incredible! It goes through several movements, with some great use of guitar and electric piano, as well as the occasional dreamy vocals I can't get enough of. The myth that seems to be is that this album is not too far off from the Moody Blues as far as complexity is concerned, you need to listen to this album, and that myth is actually myth. Essential album, in my book!

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Send comments to Proghead (BETA) | Report this review (#18644) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 02, 2004

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
4 stars This less-known debut can surprise you very positively when you hear it for the first time. The opening track shows how Gracious can rock and do that with style. It's like a cross between psychedelic Beatles and early Uriah Heep. The real gem is the second, 'Heaven', which builds a wonderful arch in only 8 minutes, from a theme-fitting devoutness to genuine time-changes. Lyrics are cleverly ironic (I think), about being saved "if you have a clean mind". The vocals are superb, not very far from the likes of Zeppelin and Heep but with gorgeous harmony vocals that makes one think of Moody Blues. The other highlight is the longest track 'The Dream' which has same kind of amazement as 'Heaven', now with more jazzy instrumental passages. They also momentarily cite Hey Jude.

Instrumental, harpsichord-starring 'Fugue in D minor': now I can't remember if it's basically some old composition (Bach or something) but it's not at all out of place with the whole. Through the album one can hear ingredients of many musical genres: classical, jazz, entertainment, etc, but it all works perfectly together and shows a very promising talent. Sadly the second Gracious is less interesting and after it they disbanded and practically disappeared from music business (til '96 Echo, anyway - someone should write about it!). This album is very nearly a masterpiece, but not quite: compositional ingenuity shines in two tracks while the rest is more like showing the band's versatility in various styles. But that's sure enough to be "excellent addition to any prog music collection".

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#38534) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Review by mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gracious!......!!!

......was one of many good albums vying for one's cash in 1970 amid a host from many other excellent bands, very stiff competition - though this deserved better! A fine album, an excellent example of British early Prog - great sound quality, adventurous though certain influences from major bands abound. Originally released on the still new "Vertigo" label, it is otherwise known as the "exclamation mark" album by collectors. Thanx to Akarma (vinyl copy) we are again able to enjoy this interesting album, especially if you're a a lover of keyboards, they abound on here - harpsichord, piano, mellotron, organ, though not swamped or overdone, and a collection of very good songs which stand up well today.

The first tracks "Intro" (very catchy song), "Heaven" and "Hell" form something of a suite and contain intelligent use of the aforementioned instruments, they contain good melodies and make great listening, though comparisons with "The Moody Blues" on "Heaven" are valid, the vocal arrangements are very similar. The song is mainly instrumental and builds into an almost classical finale. "Hell", as you would guess, starts off with stepped keyboard notes taking you "down" the note-steps into a completely different, dark mood, and keybords reminiscent of "Rare Bird's" "Flight", very ("mello"?) dramatic, as you would expect "Hell" to be! The piece ends in a bar-room style/megaphone-vocal finale, everyone having a jolly good time in Hell, including dancing the "Can Can"!! (??) The comparisons to King Crimson are also evident in this song.

"Fugue in D Minor" is an instrumental, as you would expect a classical piece on the Harpsichord, very beautiful indeed, i like this track a lot being a fan of classical music but it may not appeal to all. The final track on the album "The Dream" crashes in, then you hear a snippet of Beethoven's "Moonlight" piano sonata which drifts into a dreamy echoey vocal chorus bidding you all "Goodnight", the song then kicks into a jazzy, bluesey instrumental piece like a jam which includes some fine guitar and keyboard solos with spoken interludes reminiscent of "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown", and even a snippet from "Hey Jude" - cheeky! Only the kitchen sink is missing from this piece, and does he get his "dream girl"?? Not sure where they were going with this, it seems to be all over the place, i did suggest a jam, but it does make very interesting listening! Overall an excellent album for any Prog collection.....Goodnight!!

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Send comments to mystic fred (BETA) | Report this review (#88849) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, September 03, 2006

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
3 stars 3.5 stars actually...

A legendary captivating British band,GRACIOUS were formed around 1965/1966 in Esher,UK by guitarist Alan Cowderoy and drummer/vocalist Paul Davis (later he switched to guitars).The band suffered from numerous line-up changes in the early years,before relying on a stable line-up just before the 70's.Signed by Vertigo label,GRACIOUS released their eponymous debut in 1970.Their album sounds very daring for a pre-70's band and it was a careful mix of classical piano/harpsichord/mellotron work with bluesy electric/smooth acoustic guitars and dreamy vovals,creating an album consisting generally of complicated structures.GRACIOUS sound if THE BEATLES could ever collaborate with KING CRIMSON and GENTLE GIANT,you'll get the image I assume.I insist on listening to the fantastic keyboard work,the complex bass lines and the colorful guitars of their work.This is an absolutely underrated work of early-70's and you should spend some time listening to a band with a style far from the typical cliches of the time!

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#165071) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gracious is a peculiar band whose progressive style (vital for the maturation of the prog trend in Britain's underground scene) combines the seriousness of eclectic roads (classical, jazz. psychedelia) and the joyful spirit that was also used by The Nice, Giles Giles & Fripp, and Pink Floyd in places. The specific style of Gracious! is somehow close to Procol Harum and Beggar's Opera, albeit less magical than the former and more consistent than the latter. Perhaps the best way to describe Gracious is "what Beggar's Opera would have evolved into had they remained completely loyal to the stylish endeavors of their first two albums" - Gracious had arrived there earlier and with a bigger musical bigger. The "Gracious!" album kicks off with 'Introduction', a powerful mid-tempo track that sets a heavy mood: oddly enough, the harpsichord parts find a natural place among the organ harmonies and electric guitar phrases. 'Heaven' is the first song over the 5 minute mark. It starts with a lovely prelude that flows through mellotron layers and piano washes. Then, the sung section shifts into something very different, an acoustic guitar-based passage that combines the folkish candor of CSNY with the reflective vibe of The Moody Blues, plus an ounce of "Revolver"-era Beatles. 'Hell' is more psyche-rock oriented, with a prominent role assumed by the organ in order to set up a focus for the whole instrumentation. The overall ambience sounds like a mixture of primitive VdGG and Arzachel, plus humoristic vaudeville moments that bring in a Zappa kind of thing. The album's second half starts with a rendition of Bach's 'Fugue in 'D' Minor', performed by a duet of harpsichord and acoustic guitar. 'The Dream' takes advantage of its 17- minute span, creating a combination of psychedelic rock, chamber sections, pastoral passages and jazz-rock jamming in a vivacious sequence. The classical quotes are very popular (one of them is Beethoven's "Clair de Lune"), and so is the brief revival of The Beatles' anthem 'Hey Jude', reconstructed on an evil Zappaesque mode. The excursion from blues-rock to jazz-rock led by the dueling electric piano and guitar is awesome, not tiring at all. Before you know it, some Beatlesque interludes are inserted for good effect, with vocal harmonies that sound as dreamy as the underlying mellotron. This is pretty much the recurrent mood, which delivers some slight yet effective variations along the way. When the menacing climax arrives to finish the song, you can tell that the track's structure has been solid enough as to endure its duration without becoming uneven or boring. A very good album "Gracious!" is, and so will be the band's sophomore effort. Hopefully, in the current digital era, more and more prog fans and collectors will learn to appreciate Gracious as the real pioneers they were alongside King Crimson, Yes, Procol Harum, Colosseum, The Nice, etc.

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Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The mellotron was supposed to signal a goodbye to silly psychedelia in favour of serious neo classical rock music, at least according to the Moody Blues and King Crimson. But once the genie is out of the bottle anything goes, so bands found themselves with their fingers in too many pies. All this inspiration and no direction. Such is the case with the Gracious! debut, which almost pulls off the impossible only to have the whole house of cards not so much fall down as dissolve in acid.

The group is all over the proverbial map, but the original Side One manages to work very well as a series of movements, the first aptly named "Introduction". It could have also been called "Overture", for it introduces the more coherent aspects of the next few tracks - strong at times angelic vocals, searing lead guitars, and of course mellotrons. But it is also excellent in its own right. It is followed by the beautiful "Heaven", consisting of a sumptuous vocal section borrowing playfully from ROD ARGENT and with a facetious view towards organized religion. The beginning and ending sections provide fine symphonic sequences and dynamics, making this track a standout. "Hell" is a different fish but also effective, fiery in parts and honky tonk in others - do the people in hell know where they are, or are they too busy whooping it up?

What follows is the unravelling, at first slowly, with the disparate ""Fugue in 'D' Minor" that still merits a good listen, but "The Dream" is an almost complete psych morass. With no anchor or glue, it floats aimlessly and takes on plenty of water. Smarmy snippets of various half baked improvisations do not constitute a viable epic or suite unless there is some underlying direction or statement. I get the feeling that what the band might have been trying to say could have been said more concisely, and perhaps was earlier in the album.

While still worth checking out, and a masterpiece for half its duration, in the end this album falls down several notches due to a lack of...graciousness.

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Posted Monday, January 05, 2009

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of a clutch of bands whose reputation has been restored by the German reissue-and- reignite label Repertoire Records, eclectic-prog merchants Gracious enjoyed a brief spell in the sunshine during progressive rock's boom years before that crippling combination - bad luck and bad sales - resulted in their sadly-truncated demise. Now, along with the likes of Jade Warrior, Black Widow, Patto, Gravy Train, Spring, Still Life and Beggars Opera, Gracious belong to that elite group whose music was deemed good enough to be exhumed, re-examined and re-established. Famed for their gorgeous, limited-numbered mini-vinyl replica editions, Repertoire have performed the full body job for this welcome re-release, with the original textured sleeve design that graced the original vinyl release beautifully re-created for the CD age, and the music cleaned-up and amped-up for us modern day progressive rock fans to enjoy. And enjoy you should. Gracious are indeed a curious group, one who blend King Crimson's sharp, experimental rock dynamic with the playful gusto of Canterbury-proggers Caravan and the music complexity of Italian genre kings Maxophone to interesting, if somewhat indulgent, effect. They came early on in prog's development, 1970 no less, and their first album, the cunningly titled '!', sported a devious undercurrent of leftfield humour to go with their majestic and epic brand of fulsome progressive rock. Of the cuts on '!', the grand-guignol piano-led opener 'Introduction' is possibly the most indelible, with Martin Kitcat's emphatic, charging organ and Alan Cowderoy's dextrous guitar-playing creating an impressive, classically-tinted opus, yet it is the gorgeous harmonies and gently-ebbing flow of 'Heaven' that really shines through, with Cowderoy's soulful vocals particularly effervescent. Sadly, Gracious' ambitious brand of rock was ignored by the buying public despite several fairly positive reviews across the British music press and after one more album, 1972's 'This Is Gracious', the group called it quits and moved on to pastures new. Good music, however, is hard to keep down, and it is no coincidence that this remarkably original album has been given a second chance. Fans of King Crimson and Cressida should find much to admire, but fans of progressive rock in general should all give an ear to hear Gracious. '!' indeed. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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Posted Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Another obscure british band from the 70īs I had never heard of until recently. They realesed just two albums before they broke up. Unlike many reviewrs here, I dontīsee this one as a lost gem, much less a masterpiece. it is quite interesting and has some nice tracks, like the first two, Introduction (good heavy rock with some nice guitars and vocals) and Heaven (quite progressive and daring). But the remainder of the tracks are little more than experiments that did not faire well. Hell is a piece that sounds like a carbon copy of something King Crimson could have done a lot better. Pointless. Fugue in D minor is a little classical piece that has nothing to do with the rest of the album. And even the supposed ītour de forceī of the album, the almost 17 minute suite The Dream, is nothing more than a collage of ideas without much coherence or focus. Interesting in the beginning, boring after the first four minutes..

So in the end I found that those guys were quite good musicians but had neither found their own sound nor developed their songwriting skills enough to granted them a more than tentative first. Small wonder this one went a little unnoticed at the time. Even for 1970 there were far better and more structured albums to be heard. This is surely for fans, collectors and completionists. Final rating: something between 2 and 2,5 stars.

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Posted Friday, December 03, 2010

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is GRACIOUS' debut from 1970.It's funny reading the lead guitarists' thoughts in the liner notes which were from 1995. He says he hated the name GRACIOUS as their band name and still does. Considering they were once called SATAN'S DISCIPLES I guess GRACIOUS does seem a little tame (haha). This band is often associated with other bands who use lots of mellotron and certainly the follow-up to this is loaded with it, the debut though doesn't actually have much mellotron on it.

"Introduction" opens with drums then everyone joins in including the vocalist.This is a catchy mid-paced tune. "Heaven" opens with organ and drums then it settles into a pastoral mood with mellotron. It's slowly building then a change before 3 1/2 minutes as strummed guitar and a lightweight soundscape take over.Vocals a minute later. Intricate guitar before 6 minutes then it picks up before 7 minutes with the guitar out front. "Hell" opens with experimental sounds then it kicks in around 2 minutes. No real melody until around 3 1/2 minutes.This sounds great. It settles 5 minutes in with piano and vocals then It turns into a Ragtime mode a minute later. A change after 7 minutes to a more intense sound. "Fugue In D Minor" is classical sounding throughout and I don't really like it.

"The Dream" is the 17 minute closing track.This one is interesting to say the least.The guitar comes out firing then it calms right down with piano.Vocals 2 minutes in and they are laid back.The sound gets more intense once the vocals stop 2 1/2 minutes in. Guitar comes to the fore then keyboards. Spoken words before 7 minutes then he starts singing.Things get a little strange after 9 minutes. It kicks back in instrumentally a minute later. I like when he says "I'm going to walk right over to him and put him on the floor". Funny section.The music kicks back in before 15 minutes.

A good album all things considering.

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Posted Friday, February 04, 2011

Review by baz91
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Hi there prog fan! Before I begin reviewing, I just like to say that I would love to know how you stumbled upon this album, because it is a really obscure one indeed. In my case, I was on the German record company Repertoire's website. I spent an afternoon browsing through their catalogue to try and find some old 70s gems which I hadn't heard of, and finding links on Youtube or Spotify to hear them. From this search I found a few interesting bands like Dust, Catapilla and Armageddon, but the most promising album I found was this, Gracious's debut. Whilst the cover art didn't seem very progressive, I knew that I couldn't resist the temptation of a 17 minute track. I quickly found this on Spotify, and began to play it. From the very beginning they had me interested; their mathematical approach to the intro was definitely appealing. At the 30 second mark, I grew more interested when the tone of the music was drastically changed as an excerpt of Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' was played. I knew I was hooked when the electric sound of the guitars and the bass cut in at about 2:30. Here was a song that had many interesting twists and turns in the space of a short pop song, and was not even 15% of the way through! For a couple of days, I listened to other parts of the album but not playing the entirity, as I wanted the experience to be fresh for when I would get a copy myself.

Here the review begins. Gracious were a funny little group indeed. The bonus tracks of this album reveal that they were at one point a very cheesy pop group, and I honestly have no idea how they made the leap from their mediocre to awful singles to suddenly writing intricate 17 minute songs.

It is possible to view the first side of this album as a 22 minute suite, since the Introduction has religious undertones and Heaven and Hell are mentioned in the lyrics. The theme of the suite, although clearly religious, is very vague. To me it speaks of the fallacy of religion, saying that all you are doing is following orders and believing others blindly, although the lyrics are very open to interpretation. For example the lyrics 'Do you have a clean mind?' seem rather sarcastic and commandments like 'Will you give some money to the church in time?' make religious people sound greedy. (These don't reflect my views, just the interpretation of the lyrics)

Musically speaking, it all kicks off with the appropriately titled Introduction. To most prog afficionados this would spell some short instrumental overture, but instead this is a medium length song which is about as close as the album gets to classic rock. It has a conventional three-chorus structure but the use of a harpsichord makes it sound very different to normal rock. The instrumental is also quite long (over 2 minutes), which leaves plenty of time for a guitar solo. However the production of this album is such that the solo sounds rather muted and doesn't leave much of an impression. However the song is nonetheless enjoyable and a good set up for the progressive treats coming up.

Heaven begins with a beautiful mellotron introduction, which could be easily compared to the corresponding introduction to Genesis's 'Watcher of the Skies'. Other instruments join in and and add to the musical soundscapes before we drop into an acoustic guitar section. This is quickly followed by the only vocal section of the song, the main lyric being Do you have a clean mind? The lyrics are quite simple but still quite evocative and the remaining 2 minutes of the song allows you to ponder the meaning of them. All in all this song is definitely heavenly, being extremely beautiful in places. As a treat, the guitar solo towards the end is far better produced, and sounds more prominent.

Hell then ensues! Both Heaven and Hell are around 8 minutes long, which allows them to be seen more equally. However the band did a good job of making them sound very different, Heaven being mainly light and beautiful and epic, and Hell sounding more random, jarring and heavy. They did not fall into the cliche of one sounding happy and one sounding miserable, as that would just be too obvious and would probably not deliver their vague message, whatever it may be. The creativity is at a peak in Hell, where you genuinely don't know what is around the corner. The first half of this song is much heavier than the second half, but the second half is extremely clever as well. There is bizarre shanty which then leads into the famous Can-Can. Risking sounding quite directionless, both Heaven and Hell are prog rock masterpeices. Simply the amount of creativity makes this so, as they are very eclectic in nature, drawing from all sorts of influences, sometimes very directly (eg the Can-Can). Objectively they are the best performances on the album, but rather than tainting your opinion with my own, I'll leave it to you to decide which you prefer.

Fugue in 'D' Minor does exactly what it says on the tin. The harpsichord heard in Introduction is on full display here whilst being accompanied by acoustic guitar, creating a very baroque feel. This entirely instrumental peice would not sound out of place in the 1600s, so what it is doing on a 70s record i'm not entirely sure. While I hate to say this about such an amazing album, it's quite easy to say that this music is just filler. It performs very much the same role as 'Horizons' does on 'Foxtrot' (that's the second time I've referenced Foxtrot!) as a sort of interlude before the epic final track. The playing is good, but the track doesn't go anywhere in 5mins so it's just a little bit dull.

All stops are pulled out now for The Dream. The opening 3 or 4 minutes (as I described in the first paragraph) had me hooked, and made me want this album dearly. I cannot remember the last time that I've been hooked so quickly to an artist I've never heard before! The piece quite simply describes a bizarre dream. The dream itself seems to begin with the playing of 'Moonlight Sonata' and ends with the alarm clock sound towards the end. Whilst there are utterances of 'Good Night' near the beginning of the song, the lyrics only really begin about 6 minutes into the song. Afterwards, lyrics are placed intermittently throughout.

As with Heaven and Hell, The Dream switches moods very drastically and quite often, but there is a 2/4 riff that seems to run all the way through the song, with the band hopping on and off this riff to try other ideas. The use of very brief and completely different sounding sections makes this very progressive listening indeed.

However, it's not all good news. According the liner notes, the studio wished them to perform the whole song in one take and add overdubs later rather than recording pieces seperately and sticking them together. This might explain some of the minor complaints people have about it. For example, whilst the creativity is there, the musicianship leaves something to be desired. They aren't bad, but for a progressive group there's not a great sense of virtuosity in the performances. The song itself sounds quite simple to play. The vocals are probably the worst thing here. Whilst they seemed good enough on other tracks, there are points where the singer sounds really amateurish.

As I said before though, these are all very minor complaints. The Dream becomes an extremely fun and complex musical journey! The amount of variation on this track is simply astonishing, and the music is written very progressively for a record released in the early days of prog rock. The track is never boring, and always seems to pass very quickly for 17 minutes. Gracious succeed in creating an extremely exciting and cool prog rock epic.

I find it strange that this group have been labeled Symphonic Prog, when the music here is so eclectic. Rarely do you find a group who like to have so much variation within a single song. They really keep you on the edge of your seats in the more epic songs. The fact that the band aren't all virtuosos is actually endearing. Good on Gracious for experimenting and pushing the boundaries so far. It's amazing what such an obscure band could do on a record! The music here is so complex, and they achieved the goal of making extremely good progressive rock. I've always liked my music very complex, and all three of Heaven, Hell and The Dream exude truly high levels of what I regard as 'progressiveness'. 'Gracious!' indeed!

(Also, for those who aren't keen on the album artwork, look inside the gatefold sleeve, you'll have a nice surprise.)

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Posted Friday, March 25, 2011

Review by siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Despite the ridiculously boring album cover that must surely rank as one of the lamest in music history, the music that lurks inside is actually quite good delivering an interesting early British progressive sound that could only happen circa 1970. This year hosted many a heavy psych / Beatles-inspired / classically trained prog band and GRACIOUS fits into that category but we must add the term eclectic.

This is one of those albums that is all over the place. Some call it messy or unfocused. Some may call it pompous and overreaching and it's obvious that at times this does seem like an amateurish attempt to create something grander than is actually realized. The music meanders through different genres ranging from heavy psych to mellotron drenched symphonic prog and even from ragtime to medieval folk music with a whole track devoted to a classical fugue. These parts come and go and ramble and twist and turn and you never really know where they are going. That's part of the charm here, at least for me.

I think I like the "Heaven" and "Hell" tracks the best along with the finale "The Dream." "Heaven" starting as a floaty mellotron rich track with nice ambient passages. "Hell" begins with a descending keyboard run simulating the great fall into the the depths of the abyss and carries through with a dark gloomy mood replete with keyboards and heavy psych guitars. "The Dream" is the longest track on the album with a length of 17 minutes. It runs the gamut of everything prog in 1970 with nice fuzzy guitar and lots of keyboards, mellotrons and a nice 60s groove and lots of trippiness! The music remains fairly accessible and melodic throughout the entire album. It all sounds a bit like if The Beatles and King Crimson and maybe Cream all got together for a jam.

This is one of those albums that does have some inconsistent moments and a rambling feel at times yet despite it all this is exactly what I like in music. It is adventurous, exciting, unpredictable and spontaneous. I enjoy the album from beginning to end and despite the awkwardness that occurs from time to time i simply don't find it detracts from the overall excitement of the album. The boldness and enthusiasm are what makes this for me. Certainly not a masterpiece but well worth having in any prog collection as one of those obscure additions that's worth checking out from time to time.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1150676) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Latest members reviews

3 stars A very accesible Prog band "Introduction" (3.75 out of 5.00) The album kicks off with this rock track. A good one, very simple, catchier and accesible. "Heaven" (4.00 out of 5.00) This is such a beautiful song, after the intro it is almost poignant. The repetitive lyrics did not annoy at all ... (read more)

Report this review (#805369) | Posted by raul_siberian | Thursday, August 16, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Mellotron Heaven. This first Gracious album is a little classic of symphonic progressive rock, with many great moments and some loss of quality, especially in the long suite The Dream which is too inorganic and inconclusive, sometimes even boring. The other four tracks are in focus however ... (read more)

Report this review (#419704) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Tuesday, March 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Not a great album. Only "Introduction" and "Fugue in ''' minor" are good ("Fugue..." is a great harpsichord Renaissance song in Folk field). For the rest... If I use foe example "The 'ream" as example of "Gracious!" music I think that I speak of an adventurous suite that only in two Jazz parts ... (read more)

Report this review (#366939) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars An British stew with squirrels and cows (potatoes and carrots not included). I am not sure if all of the music on this album was done without the tongue firmly in cheek. Some of this album sounds like an internal joke within the band. The music here is something between baroque music, psyche ... (read more)

Report this review (#284557) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, June 02, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The debut album by Gracious contains about 45mins of incredibly creative and eclectic music with fairly complex textures and with melodies that are always enjoyable. The spotlights here are on Martin Kitcat's keyboards (he mostly uses piano, e-piano and harpsichord here, but there is also a fair ... (read more)

Report this review (#282220) | Posted by lukretio | Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars GRACIOUS "S/T" 1970 It is in my top 5 all times and all places better and most important progre records ever made! This review is also about the creators of the progre genre: our British heroes. Since 1969 KC "in the court.", not forgetting the fantastic 1969 Colosseum "valentine suite", the p ... (read more)

Report this review (#186871) | Posted by Prog_Veteran | Saturday, October 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This has to be most prog a band can possibly get.. It will take a few listens as it is so "out of here".. The whole album is like one mad prog fest.. bits of "Can Can" and other bits of classical music, bits of "Hey Jude".. Its all about heaven and hell and a dream.. Some great bits, and some n ... (read more)

Report this review (#132097) | Posted by Frippertron | Monday, August 06, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is great album. It is mixture of progressive rock and classical music. Hard to describe. Very delicate. When I listened to it for the first time I though this is how The Beatles would sound if they would play longer. Maybe it is too much, but this is just what came to my mind then. All the ... (read more)

Report this review (#52552) | Posted by | Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Probably my fave prog rock band (next to Camel). This album is a mixture of various genres, from classical to psych. Fantastic atmospheres, magical vocal armonies, great guitar solos on a carpet of mellotron... a true forgotten gem! ... (read more)

Report this review (#18636) | Posted by | Tuesday, December 30, 2003 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is an absolute MUST for any serious progfan. There are plenty of styles,genres and oddities to keep even the most ..ahem..contraire listener...satisfied. This album is MASTERCLASS prog.Keys player Martin Kitcat really are supreme. And this album really are PROG in upper class. Make your o ... (read more)

Report this review (#18633) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Friday, November 28, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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