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Comedy Of Errors


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Comedy Of Errors Spirit album cover
3.93 | 292 ratings | 9 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

- Part 1 - "SPIRIT" (45:01) :
1. My Grief Lies All Within (5:24)
2. Infinite Wisdom? (1:51)
3. Spirit Shines / Spirit (4:26)
4. Can This Be Happening? (3:54)
5. In Darkness Let Me Dwell (3:06)
6. I Call And Cry To Thee (5:42)
7. Set Your Spirit Free / Goodbye My Love Until We Meet Again (3:22)
8. Ascension / Et Resurrextit / Auferstehen - Arise In Love Sublime, Arise - Spirit(6:55)
9. Into The Light (5:04)
10. Above The Hills (5:20)
- Part 2 - "EPILOGUE" :
11. This Is How It Has To Be (5:59)

Bonus Track:
12. Spirit (Single) (4:42)

Total Time 55:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Joe Cairney / lead & backing vocals
- Sam McCulloch / guitars
- Mark Spalding / guitars
- Jim Johnston / keyboards, backing vocals
- John Fitzgerald / live bass
- Bruce Levick / drums

Releases information

ArtWork: Steve Moffitt

CD Self-released - COE003 (2015, UK)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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COMEDY OF ERRORS Spirit ratings distribution

(292 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

COMEDY OF ERRORS Spirit reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars This is how it has to be

Back in the days before mobile phones, the internet and home computers, a band called Comedy of Errors came together in Glasgow, Scotland. Over 20 years later, in 2011, they released of their first official album ("Disobey"). Now, a mere 4 years later, we find them onto album number three, having successfully negotiated the challenge of the difficult second album in 2013 with "Fanfare and Fantasy". As if that was not enough, three of the band members were also a part of the superb Grand Tour album released earlier this year.

It would be something of an understatement to say that Comedy of Error's latest album "Spirit" is ambitious. One glance at the tracklist substantiates this, the title piece running to around 45 minutes. Although nominally broken down into 10 sub-tracks, it is intended to be approached as a complete work. The entire album was composed by Keyboards player Jim Johnston, who declares his influences as ranging from Shakespeare through composers such as Bach, Mahler and Purcell, to other less familiar names such as Dowland, Tallis and Falconieri, plus a few others. Johnston himself states that "this is the most personal of albums and the whole structure musically has been intensely worked out thematically and motivically".

With the previous album "Fanfare and fantasy", the band moved from the fine neo-prog of "Disobey" towards a more symphonic approach, and "Spirit" completes that migration. In terms of structure, this is a classical work demanding so much more than a cursory listen. It is a feature of the best in progressive rock that an album reveals itself only with repeated listens, and that is very much the case here. While the distinct vocals of Joe Cairney are the band's signature, the fine lead guitar contributions of Sam McCulloch and Mark Spalding and the symphonic keyboards swathes of Jim Johnston on which the album is based, only fully reveal themselves after several plays.

Lyrically, there is a fair bit of anger and cynicism bordering at times on despair to begin with at least ("You're God and you let me down, you're supposed to help, what the hell are you thinking"), but this is transformed into optimism and hope as we progress ("Everything makes sense now as the dawn breaks through the night").

The album is completed by a separate Epilogue "This is how it has to be", a delightful instrumental which in reality is coda to the main piece and intended to be heard as such, and a "bonus" track called "Spirit" (marked as "single") which draws in themes from the main track to create a pleasingly melodic conclusion to the album.

In all, "Spirit" is a mighty statement and a true masterpiece of symphonic progressive rock. Influences as diverse as Marillion, Yes, IQ, Genesis, Spock's Beard, and many more could be cited, but there is at the same time a true sense of originality here, of the band recording something they feel they can be proud of without necessarily craving the recognition they truly deserve.

Nice sleeve design too, inspired by the wonderful scenery of the Firth of Clyde.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Comedy of Errors has raised the progressive bar to unprecedented heights. Let's not dilly-dally any longer ad infinitum and cut straight to the chase:

This is the best Neo album ever made!

Yup, yesseree, si senor, jawohl, numero uno! This album will enter the legend and simply redefine a much maligned genre that admittedly had quite a few stinkeroos, but this? Phew! Let's use the ill-used OMG tag and let's stick it on this supposed comedy of errors! No errors here, very little comedy, just straight forward brilliant music played deliriously and brimming with enterprise. Terrific pace, genial details abound, mini symphonies, oratorios and some vicious bass playing up front and center!

Rarely have I had to witness such a musical act of bravura, a spectacular opus that gets going from the opening note and does not let go until the final track has faded into silence. Scottish group Comedy of Errors thus releases its third album, after the remarkable Fanfare & Fantasy, which by most accounts was a rather typically 'safe' neo- prog album, with mounds of delicious melodies with tight playing and great vocals. It was quite well-received by most progressive pundits, even non neo-aficionados liked it, though it must be said that 'Spirit' is an all-together different kettle of fish (please excuse the Marillionish pun).

Vocalist Joe Cairney really elevates his talent by sounding both convincing and imposing, a sublime set of tones to the overpowering instrumental package and solid drummer Bruce Levick shows off some thoughtful chops and monstrous beats that pummel, thump and explode willingly. The now dual guitars of Mark Spalding and new- comer Sam MacCulloch offer up a winning formula of criss-crossing riffs that recall vintage Wishbone Ash or recent Final Conflict. But the true stars that shine brightly on all these tracks are the tremendous bass playing of Jim Fitzgerald and the sumptuous symphonic touches brought to the console by main-man Jim Johnston, whipping out his choir mellotron patches and adding grandiose adornments to the mix. But the most obvious difference is the sheer quality of the compositions, each one perfectly constructed and well-balanced, as well as a multitude of eargasmic melodies that seduce immediately. Throw in a great production and sumptuous artwork and yes, we have a winner of the very highest order. A glowing, simmering and mesmerizing masterpiece that deserves the greatest honor, like the bold headline for this review. I received my copy in the mail on Friday November 13, 2015, so it behooves me to dedicate this review to the innocent Paris victims of primitive barbarism, and my 2 cousins living in St-Denis, near the Stade de France, who are safe yet shaken to the bone. Their spirits will live on forever. The track list titles almost eerily forewarn of the impending terror that was occurring, as I was listening to this treat the first time.

Though all tracks effortlessly form an unending suite, when you listen to the opening jewel, there is no screwing around with light fluff, the band go straight for the jugular and punch your ears out with aggressive guitar slashes, blinding thunderclaps of tectonic drums and a turn-on-a-dime supersonic arrangement that leads into one of those bass guitar grooves that seduces lovingly and that one dreams about in fantasyland, like Mike Howlett's magnificent reptilian furrow on 'Isle of Everywhere' or Leland Sklar's devilish playing on Billy Cobham's 'Stratus'. Yes, fans, iconic monuments to insistent, mind-numbing bass guitar heaven! 'My Grief Lies All Within' is a classic piece of progressive rock and a scintillating first course in a long-line of terrific tunes that will follow. The short track 'Infinite Wisdom' is whirlwind guitar-driven, organ-fueled and rhythmically propelled ditty with raging vocals as well as nimble choir work, and serves as a fine opener for the stately 'Spirit Shines' , which serves as the main anthem that define this work, to be repeated two more times later, under different guises. The urgent and heartfelt vocals really touch an emotional nerve, caressed gently by twinkling piano and lush symphonics, a massive chorus that can only leave one breathless, a stupendous sense of elation and a general feel good sentiment, full of hope and resolution. This invincible crescendo bleeds straight into the stultifying explosion that is 'Can This Be Happening?', a rambunctious outburst that spares no prisoners either lyrically, vocally or instrumentally. Bombastic, meticulous and sensitive, one cannot help feeling overwhelmed by the sheer quality of the music displayed, adorned by a multitude of little quirky details (stunning choir work, slick cymbal minutiae, and massive mellotron whooshes) that astound and confound in a factual progressive way. There is a strong Fish-era Marillion feel that is also exquisite and impressive, loaded with dynamic theatrics that are never overblown or histrionic. This washes into the more delicate and Celtic-tinged 'I Call & Cry to Thee', a lavish and intricate rambler that starts off pastoral and bucolic, suddenly evolving into a furious tornado of guitar, keys and boom drums, soaring like some upward vortex of exhilaration. There is a hint of Shawn Guerin's classic 'Monsters in my Room' that made me smile immediately, a clever wink full of melodrama and angst.

The overtly classical overtones that are the hallmark of this work appear on 'Set your Spirit Free', as it continues to trumpet the life-force cause, a transcendent instrumental keyboard showcase, laden with dexterous, feminine and delightful insights, lush with emotion and awe. This impressionist tendency continues on 'Arise in Love Sublime', pipe-organ and synths, in an ivory embrace that would make Wakeman blush with envy. When the pompous bluster veers into heady circumstance, a simply celestial vocal enters the fray with ceremonial bombast, manic mellotrons whirring and purring magically, arching high and wide into the night sky. Gulp and wow! The main theme 'spirit shines' does an encore performance of the highest order, branding the gorgeous melody deep into the brain, forever seared by the ornate beauty within. The majesty heightens further with the glorious 'Into the Light', a ray of sunshine where slippery synths celebrate the renewal of the hopeful, everlasting and undaunted spirit of everlasting love, the sheer aural delight is unstoppable, the music unshakably genial and the impression eternal. One cannot help wondering why recent Yes could not give birth to something this 'close to the edge'. 'To touch you, to hold you, to see you, AGAAAAAAAAAIN'! Cairney's vocals are effing brilliant! Its companion piece, 'Into the Hills' just expands on the shimmering symphonics even further, scouring the loftiest expanses and glorious horizons, keyboard cannonades that defy the norms, intensely orchestral and defiantly imposing, musical monuments to progressive rock's take on classical music. Thus ends the main suite, a sensational avalanche of sonic beauty.

Bonus tracks are not too shabby either, as the magnificent instrumental 'This Is How It Has To Be' perpetuates the previous standard of elegant musical sorcery, a bewitching medieval styled piece, drenched in a torrent of choir mellotron, led by a beguiling bass guitar rumble and a mystically euphoric premise. A Kerry Minnear-like organ solo is a sheer delight, playful, expertly played and thoroughly inspiring. There is a slight stylistic resemblance to the previous album's 'Time Motet and Galliard', so one can surmise that this is a standard Comedy of Errors diversion into the past.

As promised, this crown jewel is put to rest with a third encore of the spirit theme, a radio friendly 'Spirit' that should be playing on any radio show, prog or not, it's that bloody brilliant! Piano, electric guitar and a chorus to expiate over, this is simply superb music. As perfect an album as one could ever hope for. The proof is in every note. As it stands, my fave album of 2015, another splendid year of stellar prog.

5 esprits de corps

Review by Warthur
4 stars This is one of those prog albums where the lyricist decides to tackle the big questions of life and death and whether there's anything after that and all that jazz - think IQ's The Wake or Ever for preceding examples in a neo-prog context, though anyone with a reasonably-sized prog collection can probably cite a bunch more. It's also one of those albums where the artists decide to be proggier-than-thou by including a really epic song - in this case, the titular Spirit is a 45 minute epic, and then there's a last song tacked on at the end as a sort of epilogue - a bit like Mike Oldffield's Ommadawn has On Horseback at the end.

So, there's the blueprint, but how did Comedy of Errors do on the implementation? Reasonably well! The lyrics are not going to offer any major philosophical revelation to anyone who's been at least momentarily thoughtful on the subject of mortality, but the same old sentiments are at least expressed in a pretty way, with a mostly solid musical backing. That said, I don't think it's as consistent as the preceding Fanfare and Fantasy, and I think there are moments where the challenge of constructing the long piece overshadowed the requirement to make sure every piece of music was top-notch.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An amazing album, once again!

Comedy of Errors has been on my neo-prog radar since they released Disobey, a wonderful that I knew thanks to the same Joe Cairney who I've been in contact with ever since. And man, I have to tell that they are one of my favorite neo prog bands nowadays, I loved Disobey, I also loved Fanfare & Fantasy, and now I can tell you I love 'Spirit' an ambitious concept album where the neo prog is present, but I could say the band has morphed its sound compared to the previous works, here adding a dose of symphonic and classical music. Here, the band divided the album in 12 short tracks (none of them reaches even the 7-minute mark) giving us 55 minutes of extraordinary progressive rock.

It starts with 'My Grief Lies All Within' and wow, what a powerful way to open this album. I love the energy and the guitars that explode on the first minute, and then I love how it slows down and then Cairney's voice appear very softly, so drums, strings and keyboards create a calm atmosphere that continues like that, with a charming sound until the very end, adding in the last minute a great guitar solo. 'Infinite Wisdom?' starts with energy like the first minute of the previous song, very symphonic but with a touch of metal (or maybe heavy prog). This short track offers a feast of keyboards greatly complemented by vocals (lead and back) and drums. Then when it vanishes and the sound changes, 'Spirit Shines / Spirit' has already started, giving a spacey background in the first minute, but later a sound tender, shiny and bright, representing that spirit that shines. I love the vocals here, both, main and backing vocals.

I love that the album has no pauses required, so at first it is difficult to know when a song finishes and other starts, however, when you listen to it over 3 or 4 times you already notice those changes. 'Can This Be Happening? / Timeless' starts a bit atmospheric, then some heavy guitars appear, again it vanishes but then a rock song begins with a somber atmosphere, a darker and I think more heartfelt voice enter. 'In Darkness Let Me Dwell' has a great game of voices once again, the choir is great and the keyboards superb all the time. I also like a lot the bass notes and the drumming, the rhythm section. And then the lead vocals along with the keyboards create a darker atmosphere. Then all of a sudden it all slows down and 'I Call and Cry to Thee' starts, whose first two minutes are like a choir in a church, then it disappears and the instruments begin to build up a new structure until it explodes at minute 3 with raw guitars and loony keyboards full of energy.

'Set Your Spirit Free / Goodbye My Love Until We Meet Again' has a moment of peace when you can close the eyes and just like the title suggests, set your spirit free. This is a short track that let you take a deep breath. 'Ascension / Et Resurrextit / Auferstehen - Arise In Love Sublime, Arise ' Spirit' is the longest track of the album, reaching almost 7 minutes and it is wonderful how it is progressing little by little, using symphonic classical elements and making our emotions float on, I really love that crescendo and how in a moment it reaches a climax at minute three and then a new structure begins, in which vocals enter. This track might be one of my favorites here, again I love the voices and the keyboard choirs and atmospheres. Amazing! Even better that all of a sudden you are listening to 'Into the Light', this is one of those track-changes that I found more difficult to notice. But well, before the first minute the keyboards take leadership and then bass and drums join, later vocals and together create a track that reminded me of Marillion, but well, without being Marillion of course, because the sound of Comedy of Errors is actually unique.

'Above the Hills' is a beautiful progressive rock composition, the sound is very symphonic and classical again, and the feeling is just cute, wonderful, like you have to smile every time you listen to it. When this track finishes, the sound disappears for the very first time, I mean, you can actually notice when a song finishes. But there is a bit more to come. The epilogue, entitled 'This Is How It Has To Be' is a great instrumental song that has that sensation of goodbye, and I think it is an excellent way to close this wonderful album.

There is an extra track, 'Spirit' which is marked as the single of the album.

Well, Comedy of Errors did it again, and am very happy to review it and tell to the world this band has created a wonderful album, once again. My final grade, 4.5 out of 5.

Enjoy it!

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A far more sophisticated and complex effort than their frequently bouncy and peppy previous album `Fanfare and Fantasy' from 2013, Scottish band Comedy of Errors return with their biggest and most impressive musical statement to date with the concept album `Spirit'. An extra few years have refined the sound of the band by way of more adventurous arrangements and a richer vocal variety, and this time around the sometimes Pendragon-flavoured Neo Prog styling of the group has been given a lavish classical and frequently symphonic upgrade, resulting in a sweeping grandeur that weaves in and out of the entire disc.

Essentially a fifty-one minute suite that ponders life, death and personal tragedy, `Spirit' unfolds over ten continuous parts. Opener `My Grief All Lies Within' starts with a quick burst of whip-snap drumming and frantic riffing before slowly murmuring bass, gently rising keyboards and a melancholic collection of voices all come together, soon to be blasted by the snarling vocal of `Infinite Wisdom?' powered by organ pomp and a smashing beat. `Spirit Shines/Spirit' introduces a heavenly soothing vocal theme that drifts in and out of the album with sublime deftness, a warm mix of sighing harmonies, reflective organ, twinkling synth melodies and fancy piano that calls to mind British group Pendragon. Both `Can This Be Happening?' and `In Darkness Let Me Dwell' remind of Clive Nolan's other Neo band Arena with their heavier guitar grunt and spectral symphonic synths, and `I Call...' rises with orchestral elegance and theatrical build.

`Set Your Spirit Free/Goodbye my Love...' and the opening minutes of `Ascension...' emerge as stirring orchestrated grandiosity full of wonder and symphonic power that effortlessly welcomes a reprise of the winning `Spirit' theme from earlier in the disc. It's at this point that the final run of pieces lift the album to an almost legendary status, both `Into the Light' and `Above the Hills' victorious with sighing harmonies and soaring guitar soloing lifting to the heavens. Whirring Moog runs and graceful Mellotron veils deliver majestic themes in the classic Neo-Prog-flavoured mold of I.Q and the vintage Pendragon releases, with some addictive stop-start patterns that are especially satisfying once you know the album back to front! A six minute instrumental `Epilogue: This is How It Has to Be' closes the disc (discounting a `single' edit of `Spirit' that serves as a bonus track tacked onto the very end) with regal and sprightly flavours presented by chiming guitars, pristine ethereal synths, grumbling upfront bass and commanding drumming full of dignity and stature that would give Rick Wakeman or even modern symphonic masters Glass Hammer a run for their money!

The first couple of listens of `Spirit' reveal a few unengaging little stretches, and lead singer Joe Cairney is still something of an acquired taste (sounding somewhat like the love-child of Nick Barrett and Weird Al Yankovic!), but repeat plays help the album flow more naturally, balancing constant dramatic and hopeful passages - not to mention some surprisingly angry outbursts! - and the skilfully implemented reprises of themes throughout brings a thoughtfully considered cohesion. The emotions revealed throughout the album are never to be doubted as being anything but true and heartfelt, and lovers of any of above mentioned groups and those who especially connect with the melodic end of prog that equally balances superior vocal qualities and exciting instrumental skills will likely adore `Spirit'.

Four stars.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Scottish band COMEDY OF ERRORS was originally active back in the '80s, one of many neo-progressive bands at the time that never quite made it. But following a couple of decades of inactivity the band reformed again, and since their return in 2011 they have steadily built a reputation and a growing fan base with the three studio albums they have provided us with this second time around. "Spirit", their most recent studio album, was self-released by the band in 2015.

Those fond of ambitious bands that operate within a neo progressive-meets-symphonic progressive rock kind of landscape should find this CD by Comedy of Errors to be of general interest. A key audience would be those that tend to enjoy concept albums dealing with deeper spiritual matters, and especially those who find the notion of a 45-minute long epic dedicated to such a topic in a style as described above to be alluring.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars Back in 2014 I stopped all reviewing to start collating 15 years of reviews into a book, which seemed like a good idea at the time! Not only did it take far longer than I ever imagined getting everything collated, but it meant that when I started reviewing again I had a massive backlog which still lasts to this day. However, I have vowed that whatever it takes I will get through them all, which is why I am now listening to an album which came out all the way back in 2015. Whenever I think of Comedy of Errors, I get a clear memory in my mind of being in the car with Mark Colton (Credo) who at one point seemed unable to drive anywhere unless we were listening to "The Student Prince Part One". By this time in the early 90's the band had already broken up, and no-one believed they would ever play again, but in 2011 two of the founder members, Joe Cairney (vocals) and Jim Johnston (keyboards) got back together with Mark Spalding (bass, guitars) who had been there since the early days, and with new drummer Bruce Levick released 'Disobey'. Bassist John Fitzgerald came in the fold to play one track on follow-up 'Fanfare & Fantasy', and by the time of this release in 2015 they had added an additional guitarist in Sam McCulloch, taking them up to a six-piece.

Keyboard player Johnston is the person responsible for penning this album, which comprises one 45-minute long epic and a six-minute "Epilogue", and it is a work of complexity and over the top elements which takes neo-prog in a whole new direction. Take the subsection "In Darkness Let Me Dwell" for example, which not only has a complex time signature and crunching guitars but moves deeply into symphonic and Yes territory while also bringing in choral elements which sound as if they have come straight from a classical piece. One just has no idea whatsoever where this music is going to lead as it is never content to stay in one area for too long, with every musician having the opportunity to take lead roles, and never sit too long in the background. There is no surprise that they have brought in another guitarist as there is just far too much interweaving and straightforward rock for this ever to be played live with just one.

There are plenty of progheads who unfortunately agree with the media and many critics that any prog released after the 70's has no worth as is not to the same standard (earlier on FB someone said to me "If I spend an hour listening to a new prog group, that is an hour not listening to Relayer or Selling England by the Pound or Larks Tongue ?"), but this is one of those albums which can be pointed towards and the cynic told to go and listen to it with an open mind.

It is immediate, yet grows even more when it is listened to repeatedly, and yet again Comedy of Errors have released an album which is simply wonderful in every manner. That it has sat on my "to do" list has way more to do with my seeming inability to ever catch up no matter how much I write, and nothing to at all to do with the music itself as this is simply essential.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I was quite impressed with this band's previous effort "Fanfare & Fantasy" (definitely a 4-star recording), so I was looking forward to this release. The title suite is a concept piece based upon a personal tragedy (I don't know if it affected one the band members, but I suspect it did), ... (read more)

Report this review (#1500317) | Posted by branchranch | Thursday, December 17, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a masterpiece. There is a journey here which encompasses the human spirit; from dark to light or from despair to hope. The music takes us on that journey and leads us to a place of transfiguration or if you prefer, resurrection. No mean feat. The first part of Spirit is rightly broken d ... (read more)

Report this review (#1480916) | Posted by Ludwigvan57 | Sunday, November 1, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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