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POPPY

Grace

Neo-Prog


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Grace Poppy album cover
2.73 | 8 ratings | 4 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Burglars (3:43)
2. Sing Something Simple (3:41)
3. Anorak Of Fire (5:07)
4. Resurrection (3:50)
5. Oklahoma (5:26)
6. Heart And Soul (6:06)
7. Secret Garden (8:22)
8. Touch (4:51)
9. The Wolf (4:47)
10. Emily (4:53)
11. Rich Men Singing (3:10)
12. Court Of Despair (6:03)

Total Time: 60:59

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Harry Davies / flute, sax, dustbins
- Dave Edge / guitars
- Tony Hall / drums, vocals
- Mac Austin / vocals
- Dave Rushton / bass
- Mark Price / keyboards

Releases information

CD CYCLOPS CYCL044

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GRACE Poppy ratings distribution


2.73
(8 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
0%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(12%)
12%
Good, but non-essential (62%)
62%
Collectors/fans only (25%)
25%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

GRACE Poppy reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Poppy prog

I have to confess to being extremely impressed with this 1996 album by British band Grace. At time of writing, "Poppy" is their fourth and latest studio album, the band having been around since 1979. I should say straightaway that this is more of a prog related album than a bona fide neo-prog album as such, but the music here is written and performed with an assured confidence which questions why Grace as not far better known than they appear to actually be. Anyone familiar with the band Dare will be pleased with what they find here. There are also distinct influences of bands such as Marillion and perhaps more specifically Fish, along with residual nuances of their early influence, Jethro Tull.

The six man line up commands an instrumental array which offers a diverse range of sounds including sax and flute in addition to the ubiquitous guitars and keyboards. The style is generally from the pop prog end of the spectrum, drawing in sound of bands such as Supertramp, It Bites and Stackridge. The opening "Burglars" is particularly reminiscent of the latter, being an upbeat, bouncy affair with whimsical lyrics.

"Sing something simple" takes us back to the pre Radio gaga days, the song sounding a bit like a hybrid of the Fish and Hogarth era Marillion. Mac Austin's vocal style varies considerably from track to track, but here he sounds rather like Pendragon's Nick Barrett.

These opening tracks set the scene for a succession of highly enjoyable sophisticated pop songs which are developed well through instrumental breaks and embellished arrangements. While the album is generally upbeat, occasionally the band will take on something more serious. "Oklahoma" sensitively examines the impact of the bombing there, especially in light of the "it could never happen here" attitude which prevails in most of us.

At a shade under 8˝ minutes, "Secret garden" is the longest track. Its length is in part due to a pleasant acoustic guitar intro which stands apart from the rest of the track. The actual song is an acoustic number with strong flute, which develops through an anthemic chorus, the song celebrating the joys of parenthood.

"The wolf" and "Emily" seem to move the band more towards Roxy Music/ Bryan Ferry/ David Sylvian territories, the former featuring saxes and a quivering vocal, while the latter is a much moodier piece in the sparse style of Sylvian. "Rich men singing" is a mildly amusing rant about the use of lottery funds to underwrite the cultured arts such as Opera. "Hearing Italian without any rhyme sung by unpronounceable figures, but they're sure that they're having a wonderful time while the rich men behind them just snigger", says it all really.

In all, a very enjoyable album but one where the enjoyment mainly comes on the first listen. The arrangements are good, the songs are well written, and the performances are of a high standard, but there is perhaps a lack of underlying depth to the album as a whole. Worth a go though.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#178388) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Arriving on the heels of the excellent "Pulling Strings..", "Poppy" came as both a shock and a disappointment. I kept waiting for those adventurous song structures, dark subjects, and imaginative melodies, but they are few and far between. The first cut starts off sounding like FOREIGNER and ends up like SUPERTRAMP, although it must be said that even when wounded GRACE has more subtlety than FOREIGNER and more restraint than SUPERTRAMP, so "Burglars" is in fact one of the highlights.

If the album title was not supposed to be a play on words, it should have been. Many of the songs are relatively simple even allowing for the confines of pop music, and seem like more than a mere step backward from "Pulling Strings...". But once I get passed that reality, I find much to enjoy in "Anorak of Fire" and "Heart and Soul", with its best BE BOP DELUXE imitation, while "Oklahoma" does capture some of the suspense of the federal building bombing that took place in 1995. "Rich Men Singing" is in the best tradition of the British legends LINDISFARNE, while the closer "Court of Despair" bows out with the album's most celtic passages.

Still, at least half of what's here seems to be going through the motions, when we know that GRACE is capable of so much more. Even "Secret Garden", clocking in over 8 minutes, ultimately fails with its lacklustre vocals and cutesy whistles. Several tracks again hearken back to the band's 80s lineage (thinking JAPAN), such as "Touch" and "Emily". Even though parts of these songs are appealing, I end up just wanting them to do something...mostly end. That is never a good sign, so at the risk of popping a few buttons I must downgrade from 2.5 stars again.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#198479) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, January 11, 2009

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars Sing me something simple

Poppy was a bit of a letdown after the two great previous albums, The Poet, The Piper, And The Fool and Pulling Strings And Shiny Things. The history of the band goes as far back as the 70's with a debut album being released in 1979 after several years of touring and releasing singles. However, after the release of a live album they broke up in the early 80's and did not reform again until the early 90's. The group have since released three further full-length albums in the 90's of which the present release was the last. While, as implied, I thoroughly enjoyed the band's previous two albums, I must issue a word of warning concerning this follow-up. In my review of Pulling Strings And Shiny Things, I said that Grace occupies an area of music where Crossover Prog, Prog Folk, and Neo-Prog meet. On the present album however, not much of the Folk and Neo-Prog remains. The album title pretty much gives it away even if this is not by any means your paradigm "Pop Prog" album. A song title like Sing Something Simple is also quite revealing concerning the level of intricacy involved in the compositions. Still, when the initial disappointment had settled, I found myself enjoying this album nonetheless.

There is surely lots of talent here and the sound they produce in the end is clearly professional. The voice of Mac Austin is somewhat hard to pinpoint, but he sometimes sounds a bit like Fish of Marillion and sometimes like Brian Ferry of Roxy Music! Most of the songs are rather cheerful and almost nowhere do we find here the dark and brooding atmosphere of the previous album. The presence of saxophone on many tracks adds further to the Pop feeling and whatever Folk leanings that are still present are mostly represented by the inclusion of a few flute passages. Most of the songs are rather short and vocally driven rather than instrumentally so. An exception is the appealing (but short) bridge that ties Burglars and Sing Something Simple together. The lyrics are also sometimes questionable and overly simplistic, particularly some choruses like that of Sing Something Simple and Heart And Soul which basically consist only of repetitions of their respective song titles.

The longest track is Secret Garden with its over eight minutes, but the first two minutes consist of a lovely acoustic guitar instrumental that is musically unconnected to the rest of the song. The main part of the song reminds me a bit of Barclay James Harvest but with Ian Anderson-like flutes. Still, this is one of the highlights of the album together with Oklahoma and, the best of them all, the Celtic-flavoured closer Court Of Despair. Emily sounds very much like it could have come straight from a Roxy Music album, complete with strongly Brian Ferry-like vocals! It's quite a variation of styles and there seems to be no clear direction.

The album runs for over an hour which is too much given that the 12 tracks are musically unconnected to each other, it would have benefited from the exclusion of a couple of songs. I still haven't heard anything from the early incarnation of Grace, but the music found on this album from the band's come-back years is quite pleasant. While I would certainly recommend going for the much better, and more progressive, albums The Poet, The Piper And The Fool and Pulling Strings And Shiny Things first, Poppy is still a worthy addition to your collection in addition to those two albums.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#291345) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Latest members reviews

3 stars Poppy, by Grace, is a good solid album with twelve decent songs. I'm not sure that it's terribly progressive, but it contains good melodies, lively beats and catchy instrumental riffs. Perhaps it is a bit twee and old-fashioned in places. The whole tenor of the album is very English in the sense ... (read more)

Report this review (#93593) | Posted by mathmethman | Friday, October 06, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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