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Druid Toward the Sun album cover
3.49 | 157 ratings | 31 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Voices (8:14)
2. Remembering (5:24)
3. Theme (5:26)
4. Toward the Sun (5:08)
5. Red Carpet for an Autumn (3:09)
6. Dawn of Evening (10:03)
7. Shangri-La (10:08)

Total Time 47:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Dane / guitars, vocals
- Andrew McCrorie-Shand / keyboards, choral arrangements
- Neil Brewer / bass
- Cedric Sharpley / drums & percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Adrian Sadgrove

LP EMI ‎- EMC 3081 (1975, UK)

CD EMI ‎- TOCP-7751 (1993, Japan)
2CD Beat Goes On Records - BGOCD285 (1995, UK) Bundled edition with "Fluid Druid" album
CD Progressive Line ‎- PL 596 (2003, Australia)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DRUID Toward the Sun ratings distribution

(157 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DRUID Toward the Sun reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars This is the type of album that gives me a real problem of appreciation, In itself , this band has everything to please me in instruments and capabilities, but lacking one major ingredient: personnality . This is a clone band and looking at the date of recording probably the mother of all the clones along with Fruup, and looking at later years in prog one can only be afraid G M O in agriculture just by looking at the damage done by clones in prog . Just kidding, but reallt this proves that even back then , uninspired musicians (although good in many regards) made plagiarism. If Fruup was more of a Genesis clone , this one is scandalously ripping off Yes , and does not even bring anything new to music. If they had taken the music of Yes as a base to do something else and bring it further and expand it , I could have forgiven them (Starcastle is another one of these example) and might even be impressed at their audacity but here , sorry , nothing of the sort. This album is full of Yes images and plans and the second number starts as a rip-off of the Rain Song from Zep. But at least in itself this album does not insult those band , as some of those 90's groups. This is more of a clumsy and mis-inspired album that could have been a good tribute album but certainly not as an Oeuvre of its own. I don't want to be mean , but most of the prog fans should have better dicernement/judgment on these albums and reject them because success of such albums can only encourage plagiarism and laziness of creativity as well as making prog just another industrial product to be copied and "bootlegged " (if you'll allow me the misuse of that last expression).
Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars Here's another acclaimed YES-oriented progrock band named DRUID. In '75 they released their debut-LP "Towards The Sun" and a year later a second album entitled "Fluid Druid". Their first effort is their best: fluent and melodic songs, layered with Mellotron, often in combination with sensitive electric guitar work. The echoes from YES are obvious: lots of vocal harmonies, a Chris SQUIRE-like bass, WAKEMANesque keyboards and even the high- pitched vocals like Jon ANDERSON. But DRUID plays less complex and virtuosi, their pleasant sound appeals to me, more than the 24-carat YES-clone STARCASTLE. The second LP entitled "Fluid Druid" is in the vein of their first but less mature, as if the band is a bit running out of ideas. So start with their very pleasing debut-album.
Review by NJprogfan
3 stars Druid is compared mainly with the sounds of Yes. I can understand that with a singer that reaches towards Jon Anderson's vocal range, (at times screeching) and a bass playing obviously influenced by Chris Squire, but thats it for me. They sound more like Starcastle, especially when they harmonize. In fact, they sound more like a cross between Starcastle and Sebastian Hardie, especially on the second half of the album. Very subdued at times with generous amounts of mellotron, they can be pretty mellow. The first half of the album reminds me of "Recycled" era Nektar, until of course Dane starts to sing then you are just reminded of Yes. Nothing stands out on the album, yet its not badly played and the melodies do stick in your head. My only complaint is the cheesy end, you know, when the drum has that BMM, BUMMM, BMM, BUMM then gong type ending. UGH! A good album that at times is very good, but it's hardly essential. 3 stars!
Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars How fickle is Fate. In the hot summer month of July 1975 when Toward The Sun was launched at Shepperton film studios, Druid were a young band on a roll with a new EMI contract in their pockets and the patronage of DJ Bob Harris [who produced the album] and British music paper the Melody Maker [whose competition they had recently won]. Each of these would prove to be barbed blessings, however, as the critics sharpened their quills!

Druid's debut album occupies the kind of AOR space that some of the major Prog bands - I am thinking Yes and Genesis - would turn to during the late 70s, laced with sympathetic instrumentation like acoustic guitars, 'flutes' and lush keyboards, all neatly wrapped in a Symphonic Prog overcoat of more adventurous instrumental passages. In other words, Toward The Sun is a fairly generic example of mainstream Prog from the later 70s with the overt intricacy toned down and without the attendant success factor.

Any melodic rock album must have a solid foundation of good songs, and Toward The Sun's songs are good to excellent. There are a couple of exceptions, but otherwise the songwriting is first class with some lovely tunes and lyrics which 'sound right'. There is even a common theme spread throughout the album - dreams and dreaming: from the "long nights' dreams" of opener Voices; remembering them and "understanding every word they say" in Remembering; disillusioned and asking "whatever happened to the dream, should we still listen to the meaning" in Toward The Sun; finally to "sail away" to Shangri-La "there I'll find my dreams, and some day I'll return when the world has changed".

Aside from an occasional lapse into Howe or Hackett territory, Dane's guitar playing is exemplary without being unduly flashy, producing a number of luscious understated solos. Brewer's Rickenbacker is well to the fore, splattering the songs with that trademark sound. The album is also awash with lush keyboards, including Hammond organ and Mellotron and the odd synth. All instruments meld together quite naturally to produce a full and balanced sound, never sounding forced or out of place. Even better are the arrangements: always interesting and involving; always developing without ever getting too far off the road; full of light and shade.

Shangri-La is the undisputed star of the show, a magnificent ten minute tour-de-force of melodic Prog with everything you could wish for: Mellotron and acoustic guitars; wonderful varied harmonies from Dane; one or two little proggy bridge sections; a change of pace to inject a lift via a short instrumental; a false ending; and a rousing finale complete with choir. All this is based on a majestic multi-segmented song which progresses quite seamlessly before returning to its opening melody. This is one of those songs that worms its way into your head and stays there.

The other stand-out songs, shorter but from the same mold, are the title track Toward The Sun and Remembering. Perhaps leaning more towards the AOR side of their character, both are nevertheless very high quality songs. Remembering is the more Proggy of the two, with some instrumental contrasts, while Toward The Sun relies on a simpler structure which builds to an abrupt ending. Both Voices and Dawn Of An Evening are excellent examples of fundamentally standard soft rock core songs augmented and lifted by inventive arrangements and surrounding instrumental passages, though Voices is the most derivative song here.

Clearly for many, the primary stumbling block is Dane's singing voice: the real origin of those 'Yes clone' accusations. He is compared to Jon Anderson because he, too, sings in a high register, but their voices are not otherwise alike, indeed Dane sounds more like a female than Anderson. Believe me, it does sound quite natural and does not in any way detract from the music: on the contrary, it is one of the album's strengths, especially on some excellent harmonies.

The verdict - Toward The Sun is perhaps a little derivative in places but it deserves to be heard. I like it very much and would recommend it unreservedly to lovers of classic Prog.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Can you tell who it is yet?

Together with STARCASTLE, DRUID's sound ensured they were instantly labelled as derivative, indeed almost a tribute band of YES. In reality, with Druid it is the vocals of the singularly named Dane and to a lesser extent the bass playing of Neil Brewer which encourages the comparisons.

The opening track, "Voices" certainly contains "Close to the edge" like lyrics and structures, but the instrumental passages tend to be more RENAISSANCE than Yes, such is the symphonic feel and quasi-orchestration of the mellotron. Dane can be rather ambitious with the high vocals, occasionally sounding like the already high pitched JON ANDERSON after an intake of helium. The following "Remembering" shows that he is more comfortable when creating multi-tracked harmonies, where he veers in the direction of CROSBY STILLS and NASH. This gentle ballad has a couple of stings in the tail along the way.

The instrumental "Theme" has strong hints of FOCUS during its keyboards drenched 5 minutes. There does however appear to be some uncredited sax prior to the AKKERMAN inspired guitar solo. The title track forms the play-out track of side one of the LP. The "stand on hills.." lyrics and distinct melodies betray once again the band's affection for all things Yes, but in the words of our esteemed member Maani, they could perhaps have made a little effort to "filter" those influences a bit more.

The brief "Red carpet for autumn" dreamily opens side two, moving seamlessly into the 10 minute "Dawn of evening". The opening section here is "I get up I get down" and "heart of the sunrise" rolled into one. Unfortunately, the vocals on this track are the poorest on the album. Another 10 minute piece, "Shangri-la" closes the album. This soft, lyrically intense, piece swims in mellotron but tends to drift along without ever really finding a focus.

It is a pity Druid were tarred with the clone band epithet, as there was far more to them in terms of both creativity and ability than they were given credit for. That they were labelled in that way though is largely attributable to their willingness to borrow heavily from the most distinctive aspects of the music of Yes. Nevertheless this is a fine album, with strong melodies, and proficient performances throughout.

Review by Tony Fisher
5 stars In 1975, a trio from Berkhamstead won the Melody Maker folk/rock contest at the London Palladium, and then caused a furore when they refused to go on the revolving stage at the end! Their prize was a recording contract with EMI. They also came to the attention of (whispering) Bob Harris, who championed them and helped with production. This band was Druid, comprising guitarist/singer Dane, bassist Neil Brewer and drummer Cedric Sharpley.

Under Harris' guidance, they decided to broaden their sound and advertised for a keyboards player, eventually recruiting Andy McCrorie-Shand from the Royal College of Music.

Their debut album, Towards the Sun, is often maligned as a rip off of Yes. In fact nothing could be further from the truth as the band, whilst they liked and admired Yes, at no time set out to copy them. Indeed, analysis of their music shows only fleeting similarities, mainly singer Dane's high pitched voice which superficially resembles Jon Anderson, Neil Brewer's bass tone on his Rickenbacker and some slightly ethereal lyrics, especially on Shangri La. Dane often vocalises without words, sometimes reaching extremely high notes. They took the basic Yes style and adapted it and evolved it to produce something distinctly different and worthy.

They are generally slower, much more melodic and less complex than Yes, although they can certainly play to a very high standard. Dane's guitar work is clean and his solos beautifully constructed. Andy McCrorie-Shand has some masterful keyboard solos and some delicious, dreamy mellotron, whilst the rhythm section of Brewer and Cedric Sharpely is tight and dynamic. Some of the vocal harmonies are delightful.

The album has a recurring motif of Dreams. The tracks are uniformly excellent and include an instrumental (Theme) with a glorious interplay between an (uncredited) sax and the keyboards. The first side tends to be more dynamic whilst the second is more soporific. The climax and highlight is Shangri La, one of the great prog tracks.

I took this album out after a long absence to defend Druid against the Yes-clone slur, since when I have totally fallen back in love with it. It's not ground breaking but it is wonderful, melodic and beautifully composed and constructed prog with a distinct folk feel. I actually prefer it to anything Yes have done. It's great music to relax to whilst in no way being wallpaper music; there's lots of stimulation if you look for it.

(Druid cut one more album (Fluid Druid) and wrote another (Newfoundland) which was never released. Punk came along and Druid quietly disbanded; Andy McCrorie-Shand had a successful career as a TV composer and ended up as musical director for The Teletubbies (I joke not). He now runs a company which teaches children music. Neil Brewer is a guitar teacher with him. Cedric Sharpely joined Gary Numan's Tubeway Army and enjoyed chart success. Dane disappeared without trace; such a talented musician was a huge loss.)

I have no hesitation in giving this 5*; I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with an open mind and good taste.

Review by Hercules
4 stars *And someday I'll return - when the world has changed.*

Criminally ignored and too often dismissed as Yes clones, this band only released 2 albums, of which this is marginally the better. Their playing is simpler and less virtuoso-obsessed than Yes, but more melodic and very relaxing. They make excellent use of soaring mellotron to back the tracks and there are some fine guitar and keyboard solos, always well planned and executed. The big question is whether you can cope with Dane's vocals, which are even higher pitched than Anderson's, and the lyrics, which are often as pretentious and nonsensical as those of Yes and are the main reason for the Yes comparisons. However, the words fit the music perfectly.

Voices starts with a lively and dynamic intro before morphing into a drifting, gentle vocal section which is delightful, culminating in some extremely high-pitched vocalisations before a slow and melodic guitar solo fades out the track. Remembering is slow paced and has some more of their trademark high vocals and mellotron drenched keys. Theme is instrumental, driven along by Neil Brewer's Rickenbacker and with a fine sax solo (which may in fact be a synth) alternating with some fine guitar and organ/synth solos. Utterly delightful. Toward the Sun again features Brewer's Rickenbacker prominently in a drifting and soporific track with some fine vocal harmonies and synth runs.

The second side is one of the truly great sides of prog. Red Carpet is slow and features some fine piano work from Andy McCrorie-Shand before the drifting mellotrons enter behind a Dane vocal. Dawn of Evening is again a slow and gentle instrumental at first, gradually building up pace and dynamics. I love the single tubular bells notes which occur at key points. Dane than launches another melodic slow solo with Brewer's bass and Cedric Sharpley's tight drumming pushing the track along until the vocals enter. Dane shows what a fine melodic and tuneful voice he has as the song proceeds its gentle way before a much livelier and dynamic finish with all members in full flow. Shangri La is the album's highlight. Fine lyrics (which sometimes actually make sense for once), driving bass/drums, great interplay between bass, keyboards and guitar - this has it all.

If Yes had never existed, Druid would have been held in very high esteem but then they themselves may never have existed, so obvious is the influence of Yes. They do make music which is full of melody, fine playing and emotion. The second side in particular is perfect to put on late at night to purge the day's stresses, relax the mind and prepare for sleep.

Druid will not return because the world hasn't changed enough to appreciate them. But their fine legacy should be heard by anyone who likes the more melodic side of prog. A very good 4 star album; it nearly makes the masterpiece category in terms of simple aural experience.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Of course this music is not very original. OK, it sounds as a "Yes" rip-off. BUT "Druid" is far much better in this style than "Starcastle". Their music is bombastic, poignant and emotonal as the one of the masters. These very high-pitched vocals are fine with me. When I listen to a song like "Voices", I am just submerged with pleasure. Even if it is a lot "Yes" oriented but when played with such brio, I can only like it and be positive about it.

It is true to say that the band lacks in personality but the music proposed is far from being worthless. When I want to listen some MORE "Yes" oriented music, I get a little bit of "TFK" ones. And after these, maybe that some "Druid" songs aren't a bad idea. You won't get the complexity, the sophistication of the genuine masters (but "Druid" does not play in the same division). Only a shadow music which reminds me great moments. One of the most personal number is the intrumental "Theme". Jazzy, aerial and powerful.

All songs are a voyage into Yes" repertoire, that's a given fact. But musicianship is very good (especially vocals). "Towards The Sun" has a definite flavour of "Tales" ("The Remembering") but you can play the same game with several tracks from this album. The highlight is "Dawn Of Evening" and the closing "Shangri-La" is well balanced as well.

In those remote days of this release, I had never heard of "Druid". I guess that there were no needs for this. I was more than happy to play endlessly genuine YesMusic. But since 2003, I am looking for more input and even if this album can't compete with any TRUE YesAlbum, it is a pleasant work and if nostalgia is part of you, you might be as indulgent as I am. Three stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Toward the Sun" is the debut full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Druid. The album was released through EMI Records in June 1975. Druid formed in 1971 and became a bit of a progressive rock phenomenon after winning an unsigned band contest in the Melody Maker magazine in 1974. They were active in the period 1971-1977 and released two albums during their run.

Stylistically the material on the album is symphonic progressive rock greatly influenced by Yes. I think I hear a few nods toward the most epic Queen compositions too and thereīs also an obvious Genesis influence heard in the most mellow pastoral sections of the music. So writing Druid completely off as a Yes clone wouldnīt be fair (which is what many people do). Itīs true they donīt have a particularly unique progressive rock sound, but that can said about a lot of contemporary artists.

What Druid bring to the table instead is clever and memorable songwriting, good quality production values, high level musical performances, and something not all progressive artists of the 70s had (actually only a few had this)...a skilled singer with a good voice, and great choir and harmony vocals. The music is predominantly organic and laid-back, which makes for an incredibly pleasant listen. Beautiful acoustic and clean guitar parts, floading synth chords, and the occasionally more climatic moment featuring electric guitar leads.

Upon conclusion this is one of the tier 2 progressive rock albums from the 1970s which is actually worth a listen if you enjoy symphonic progressive rock with a mellow and laid-back attitude. Tier 2 in this case doesnīt mean that "Toward the Sun" is a bad quality release but only the fact that Druid is not considered among the most famous artists in the genre and are therefore among the vast amount of artists on the secondary list of 70s progressive rock acts. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is well deserved.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Do you like Yes, Camel, Tai Phong, Sebastian Hardie?

The "Yes-clone" debate. I care not to be honest with you. Yes, the vocalist sounds uncannily like Jon Anderson with a very high, gentle voice. Yes, the bassist has a sound that is a bit Squirish. And yes, they have flowery lyrics and a fantasy album cover here. Whether the similarities are intentional or not is for those who care to debate. All I know is I like this album, side 1 is especially good with side 2 not so much. I'll get the criticism out of the way right off the bat: this band has moments of "sweetness" that might be toxic for some. They have the same kind of syrupiness at times that you will find in other 70s 2nd tier bands like Sebastian Hardie, Tai Phong, and Styx. Their composition is not as complex or aggressive as Yes, being more in the gentle modes (usually) somewhere between Moonmadness and Willowglass. So if you bristle at the thought of those kinder, gentler fantasy 70s prog albums you will want to pass. But..

If you like such albums then you will like this one!! I can be awfully cynical myself but if you can swallow the Anderson-like vocals I think this is really good, accessible symphonic. Druid were a band formed by two friends from Berkhamstead who won a Melody Maker contest which awarded them a record deal among other prizes. It would be a blessing and a curse.

The material is very warm and inviting and will pull you right in if you let it. The songs are generally speaking slower and mellower than Yes and less complex than Genesis but are every bit as gorgeous as both. They are very well constructed and focus mainly on being engaging and melodious first, with flash only displayed occasionally. A mellotron lover's dream, the whole album floats on a cloud of 'tron that is used perhaps a bit too much for some. The style is like Sebastian Hardie but a little more varied I think: often the pace is deliberate like SH but I find the payoffs more interesting. I'm never looking at my watch like I do with Hardie who seem so repetitive at times. Druid always has another interesting avenue to pursue around each musical corner. "Voices" begins with an upbeat introduction with Dane and Brewer running riffs off each other. After 3 minutes of rather muscular (by Druid standards) chest beating on the guitars, the lovely mellotron and vocals begin. It then redefines the word you see used a lot to describe this kind of music: lush. The keyboards provide the background along with solid bass guitar for Dane's expressive lead guitar playing, he is quite good in a Latimer way of peeling off emotional leads. "Remembering" builds slowly and beautifully with more amazing, slow leads towards the end. "Theme" sounds very Camelish throughout to me and even throws in a bit of sax and a jazzy e-piano solo. It also features some of Dane's most exciting lead guitar. "Toward the Sun" nicely blends a country vibe into the acoustic opening. The parts are so nicely layered here that you won't care about words like "derivative" if you just love beautiful music. "Red Carpet for an Autumn" is a very nice feather in the cap, just a nice solo piano melody for a bit until the vocal and mellotron pick it up. The first of two 10-minute closing tracks is "Dawn of Evening" and it begins with soft keyboards and gentle wordless vocals until we hear bells being chimed. The band comes in at about two minutes and Dane begins some nice leads. The bass is pretty chunky in the section where the verse begins. The latter section injects some acoustic guitar and a change in the verse structure, plus some nice keyboard effects to spice things up a bit. Dane closes with a nice electric solo. The album ends with "Shangri-La" which is one of the two tracks Druid played in the famous contest that won them their record deal. It's a pleasant and ambitious piece focusing on the journey of one's life and the search for truth, and fulfillment of dreams. While not exactly "The Revealing Science of God" it does showcase the groups obvious talents at nicely arranging their feel-good material with drama and flair.

"Toward the Sun" easily gets 3 stars and I'd go another ― star perhaps, worth checking out for fans of sweeter 70s symphonic. Side 1 is solid 4 stars but side 2 drags the overall score down a bit. The group went on the road after this album but faced some backlash from winning the contest and had trouble getting press from other publications as they didn't want to tout Melody Maker's find. Druid would make a second album but fold after that as punk emerged. They are not an essential prog experience by my standards but are an enjoyable find for those who have all the essentials and are looking for some new symphonic to enjoy.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars Toward The Sun...actually this is the song I've ever listened and been so impressed. Mildly and softly instrumental works, beautifully the chorus goes...exactly excellent song. Very naturally, they has an experience to win the first prize in the folk-rock contest by Melody Maker, and with the reputation they producted and released the first work.

In fact, the album has lots of beautiful and terrific songs all around. But, I wonder it is sometimes not so good that all songs are okay in an album. That is, I suggest an album should have a mood or wave which can rise and fall. That's exactly an story. Regretfully, this product is continuously beautiful and then I'm afraid it will get monotonous.

Although some listeners say this band is a mimic of Yes, the point is not a mimic but a monotony I think. I wanna give 3 stars to their beauty of sound.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars I heard this album after their second efford Fluid Druid and I can say Towards The Sun is every bit superior than its follow up. Of course you might have heard of them as one of those Ýes clonesī, which is not totally correct, even if the the Jon Anderson & co influences are more than obvious (specially on the bass parts). Originality was not their forte. But still I found those songs here to be quite interesting and entertaining. They sounded like a lightweight version of bands like Yes and Genesis. I mean, nice overall, but fairly inoffensive.

What really got me are the vocals: guitarist Dani is no singer. When he uses his lower registers, it is ok, but the tendency of throwing in a very annoying falsetto ruins many parts of some otherwise quite good tunes. If they wanted to sound like Jon Anderson, why not hiring a singer that could do the job? This is a mystery to me. Anyway, the instrumental parts are really good and the band showed some promises (the keyboards runs and guitar lines are very well done).

If youīre into obscure bands from the 70īs and donīt mind some derivative music and the lousy falsetto, this is an interesting CD to look for. Those guys are good players and they could have made it but somehow didnīt (with a good reason, some cynics would say!). I found the music pleasant, specially the second half of the album. Rating: something between 2,5 to 3 stars.

Review by stefro
3 stars Released in 1975, 'Toward The Sun' was the debut release from British group Druid, a symphonic progressive rock act whose quintessentially-English sound bore a strong resemblance to the early-1970s works of their much more famous genre mates Yes, an observation that has seemed to dog that band throughout their sadly rather brief career(just check out the other reviews for this album on this very website). Featuring a singer(called, simply, 'Dane') with a high-pitched, almost boyish Jon Anderson-like vocal style, a bassist(Neil Brewer) who likes a nice, deep twang effect, not unlike a certain Chris Squire, to eminate from his four-string and a dominant keyboard, mellotron and moog player (Andrew McCrorie- Shand), Druid's sound seems rooted in the fabric of 'Fragile', 'Close To The Edge' and 'Tales From Topographic Oceans', just with a less rocky vibe. The music is by no means bad, and on songs such as the maudlin 'Voices' and the achingly ethereal 'Dawn Of Evening', the group even achieve a level of symphonic prog that almost matches their musical overlords. The real pity is that, wherever and whenever Druid are mentioned, whether it be in a print review, a conversation in a pub or song played on a radio station, he name Yes will never be far behind. The reasons become startlingly evident once the first thirty seconds of 'Voices' have been played, but unlike many clone groups there is much merit to the Druid sound. They also aren't the only group accused of taking Yes' music a bit too literally, as Us proggers Starcastle, and another English group, England, have also tried to emulate the quicksilver Yes sound, usually without too much commercial success. However, those fans who have exhausted the Yes discography and are hungry for more symphonic thrills should definitely check out 'Toward The Sun', an album that twinkles with a lightly-ambling and gorgeously-harmonic(though highly unoriginal) album that features excellent production. Druid's second album 'Fluid Druid' would find the group edging towards a less enthralling and more commercially-viable sound, though still with the Yes-isms firmly attached. If you like your progressive rock light-and-airy, and you don't mind a touch of harmless plagiarism, this decent release should be right up your street. But don't expect it to be 'Close To The Edge'. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011
Review by Warthur
4 stars There's no doubt about it - Druid are a full-blooded Yes clone and make no bones about it on their debut album. But if you're in the market for a set of songs rooted in Yes' sound circa Yes Album/Fragile and performed by a talented clutch of imitators, Toward the Sun is one of the best clone albums I've heard. Guitarist-singer Dane does a passable Jon Anderson impression and is actually pretty good with that guitar of his, keyboardist Andrew McCrorie- Shand resembles Tony Kaye's style more than Rick Wakeman's (which at least shows a bit of originality in terms of choosing which Yes keyboard to imitate), and Neil Brewer's bass work is uncannily like Chris Squire's. Drummer Cedric Sharpley (who would later take up a post in Gary Numan's band) is no Bill Bruford and so wisely keeps a low profile.

But where the band really excel is in their compositions, nailing the Yes compositional approach from the era they are imitating without imitating any specific Yes song. You can imagine this material being passed off as a long-lost Yes album by a less scrupulous record company. If you absolutely have to be a clone band, Druid do a good job of showing how to do it right.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've just discovered this band, thanks to David Silly Puppy and a YouTube suggestion link. I'm impressed. The Yes similarities are obvious but this album leaves me wondering, "Did every band who ended up sounding like Yes or Genesis intend to come out that way?" Something here makes me answer, "no." The folk-like use of sound and space, the unusual and impressive poetic pronunciation of the singer, the constructs are not quite as classical or hard rock in their outcomes. Classic rock, psychedelia, folk, and even early Styx and Rush and Narada Michael Walden/Nova come to mind. I like the vocal arrangements and sounds more than any of the above (though I find it remarkable that they're all performed by male voices.) A truly enjoyable find that I will without doubt enjoy coming to know more intimately. Nice sound engineering and production throughout. Nobody trying to impress me with their egos, just nice, solid, cohesive, beautifully-constructed songs.

Favorite songs: 1. "Voices" (8:14) (8.5/10); 2. "Remembering" (5:24) (8.5/10); 3. "Theme" (5:26) (9/10) and the title song (5:08) (9/10).

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 274

As happened with some many other prog bands in the 70's, Druid is no more than another one relatively obscure progressive band from the 70's with a very short life. And also as happened with some many of their contemporaries, they were also strongly influenced by some of the major prog acts in those days. In this case, the sound of Druid was notably influenced by Yes. That influence became so evident that they were even accused to be a true clone of Yes.

So, Druid was a 70's progressive rock band from England. Formed in 1971 by the old schoolmates Dane Stevens and Cedric Sharpley, along with the local bass player Neil Brewer, Druid spent years playing in clubs as a trio before winning a competition by Melody Maker. At this point they added Andrew McCrorie-Shand, a recent London College of Music graduate. The Melody Maker prize included new instruments and a recording contract, and their eponymous debut album appeared in 1975. The band had a difficult time due to Yes' soundalikes. In fact, Druid was an opening act at a number of Yes' concerts. The Yes comparison, though an obvious one, isn't entirely accurate. While Dane's vocals are clearly styled after Jon Anderson and Neil Brewer's bass has the classic pick-driven Rickenbacker associated with Chris Squire, the rest of the band departs from that formula. McCrorie-Shand's unadorned keyboard parts, for example, have little in common with the lavishly baroque flash of Rick Wakeman or the martial Hammond pounding of Tony Kaye.

Druid had excellent instrumental skills and all the right moves for a symphonic progressive rock band, like swirling Mellotron and organ, sweeping tasty analogue synths, thundering Rickenbacker bass and some of the highest falsetto vocals ever heard from a progressive rock band. Their music often sounded like a softer and more folk influenced version of Yes. Their song writing, which isn't really as good as the song writing of Yes, was very decent and I feel very comfortable with it. But, above all, their nice very accomplished and atmospheric sound made up for some of it, surely.

'Toward The Sun' is the debut studio album of Druid and was released in 1975. The line up on the album is Dane Stevens (vocals and guitars), Andrew McCrorie-Shand (keyboards), Neil Brewer (bass) and Cedric Sharpley (drums). 'Toward The Sun' has seven tracks. The first track 'Voices' is a perfect opener for the album which goes after a dynamic and Yes' intro into a melodic section, which is dominated by the melancholy vocals of their front man Dane. It contains some downright smoking instrumental sections, though it's probably the most complicated playing that Druid ever did. The second track 'Remembering' offers almost sugar sweet vocal harmonies. Here we have again some delicate Mellotron passages recorded. It builds slowly and beautifully with some more amazing and slow leads towards the end. The third track 'Theme' unites as an instrumental title all already mentioned the qualities of the band. It's based around rather nondescript melody and jam section, but is a very enjoyable piece, nonetheless. The guitar playing is very melodic and is in no way comparable with the filigree string processing of Steve Howe. The fourth track is the title track. It nicely blends. The parts are so nicely layered here that you must like it, if you just love beautiful music. Yes, the Mellotron is truly ubiquitous with Druid, as happen with the title track. Therefore, with 'Toward The Sun' every Mellotron fan can feel it in his heart. The fifth track 'Red Carpet For An Autumn' is a very short piece based on a simple but haunting sequence on piano with some great singing. It's a very nice feather in the cap, just a nice solo piano melody for a bit until the vocal and Mellotron pick it up. The sixth track 'Dawn Of Evening' has a beautifully positioned Mellotron carpet that creates a magical atmosphere and the rumbling bass provides the right dynamics. It's another strong piece which takes a clever but understated chord sequence that starts out quietly and unnoticeably but builds into something quite intense. The second half of the track is a little less interesting though. The seventh track 'Shangri-La' distinguishes itself as one of the best. There's 3-4 minute of strength at the end of that track where the band finally stumbles upon a few genuinely catchy progressions. It's a pleasant and ambitious piece that ends the album nicely.

Conclusion: In my humble opinion and all in all, 'Toward The Sun' is a very nice symphonic progressive rock album from the 70's. If you don't have any problem with high vocals and don't deny the right to live in the beautiful tunes of the progressive rock, but above all, if you have no problems with the strong Yes' influence on Druid, 'Toward The Sun' could be a real pleasure to listen to. Druid belongs somehow to the same league as England and Starcastle. With this album which is dreamy, nostalgic and sad-beautiful, Druid proves an incredible sense of tune that touches. Maybe it's not as original as it should be and it's perhaps a little derivative in places. Still, I like it very much and I really think that it deserves to be heard. Anyone who considers Yes among his favourites and not only expects the band to perform works like 'Close To The Edge' or 'Gates Of Delirium', should definitely have Druid tested it. It's highly recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars A conundrum of a band/album. And apologies for parochial UK references. I think they won a battle of the bands contest run by a top UK music paper, Melody Maker maybe, and the prize was the album deal and Bob Harris to produce. This of course got them a slot on the Old Grey Whistle Test on tv w ... (read more)

Report this review (#3054325) | Posted by Nickmannion | Friday, May 17, 2024 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The music is pretty and the band sounds exactly like classic Yes. The album cover is in the vein of roger dean the bassist, the guitarist the vocalist, honestly everything on this album sounds like Yes. This is literally a lost Yes album. The first song cuts right to the chase, organ and a guit ... (read more)

Report this review (#2579898) | Posted by Beautiful Scarlet | Sunday, July 18, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Does cloning Yes well make a good album? Well if we take that "well" part, then you must be. Having the ability to play so similarly to such an eclectic and talented band must mean you have a certain share in that talent. This is the case for the 70's symphonic rock band Druid, and their debu ... (read more)

Report this review (#1617816) | Posted by aglasshouse | Saturday, October 1, 2016 | Review Permanlink

2 stars An unimpressive YES clone. That's my opinion about DRUID and this album cement my opinion about them. The first track sounds like a left-over track from Close To The Edge. The rest of the songs here is not even that good. OK then, both Theme and the title track is decent songs. But the rest is ... (read more)

Report this review (#218308) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a Yes clone. No doubt about it. There is no originality here at all. The musicians are competent and the songs sound OK, but I am sorry, Yes does it MUCH better. Many other reviews for this album mention Starcastle so I will throw in my 2 cents on that as well. Starcastle is definite ... (read more)

Report this review (#171250) | Posted by digdug | Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Warning- if you love this band, please don't read this review; I have no inclination to offend anyone. I'm sorry, but I have to submit a review, if only to lower the overall rating. Yes, this band brandishes some respectable musicianship; Yes, this band demonstrates admirable compositional ... (read more)

Report this review (#88429) | Posted by progdemon | Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is an album that divides the symphonic prog lovers into two groups. One group of people will consider this a pointless album, too similar to YES and not original, and therefore dismiss it. The other group of people will agree on the matter of originality and YES similarities, but they don't ... (read more)

Report this review (#88319) | Posted by BackToBruijn | Monday, August 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Druid have often been accused of being Yes-clones - understandable in many ways, and indeed they were an opening act at a number of Yes concerts, so Jon Anderson obviously didn't feel too threatened... They won a competition by Melody Maker for the best unsigned band, the prize including n ... (read more)

Report this review (#69181) | Posted by bruin69 | Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Debut album released in 1975 "Toward The Sun". It is a lock of healing. The ensemble is single-mindedly beautiful. It runs and the sound of Merotoron writes up nostalgia in the whole volume. It is a performance that has the stability and leads the melody. Moreover, the performance never become ... (read more)

Report this review (#63363) | Posted by braindamage | Friday, January 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This would have been considered a pretty good album in its own right in the 70's and a typical prog album of the time for one thing, YES . As one of my friends said after hearing this album, and I quote " They sound more like YES than YES do". To me the album is like something YES might make ... (read more)

Report this review (#27797) | Posted by jheels | Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars You can only listen to your old YES albums so many times, so I needed something stimulating with a similar outlook. Having sampled FLOWER KINGS, TRANSATLANTIC, etc (with some pleasure I would add), I checked out DRUID, nearly 30 years late. "Towards The Sun" gives the impression of a bunch of ... (read more)

Report this review (#27795) | Posted by Tony D | Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This work is A TRUE PLEASURE, full of musicality. This work surpasses and concludes (in my opinion) a lot of Yes' proposals. Iīm sure that jazz musicians or classical composers didn't spend any time discussing about imitations or clonings. They always tried to improve the work of their master ... (read more)

Report this review (#27793) | Posted by | Thursday, October 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This debut album by Druid is per se a classic in Progressive Rock. Released in 1975 with Neil Brewer on bass, Andrew McCrorie-Shand at keyboards, Cedric Sharpley on drums and Dane on guitars and vocals. The album opens with Voices, where the band shows instantly what they came for. Perfect int ... (read more)

Report this review (#27792) | Posted by | Friday, October 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you like Yes at his best (Fragile to Relayer period) this is a compulsory buy! I think these English band hasn t got anything to envy to the Masters, the melodies are fantastic, the arrangements are full of dreamy Mellotron layers, the singer has a pleasant high-pitched voice and uses it in ... (read more)

Report this review (#27791) | Posted by | Monday, July 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First of all.....yes, i know i reviewed this (and the other album)earlier....but another reviewer recently raved about this group. And i have to say...that dismissing these guys as a YES like comparing oranges to lemons..... first of all this group are foremost an acoustic (basicly)grou ... (read more)

Report this review (#27790) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Friday, April 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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