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Dave Greenslade

Crossover Prog

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Dave Greenslade Cactus Choir album cover
3.53 | 68 ratings | 8 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Pedro's Party (3:37)
2. Gettysberg (3:57)
3. Swings and Roundabouts (4:20)
4. Time Takes my Time (6:50)
5. Forever and Ever (3:38)
6. Cactus Choir (6:14) :
- a) The Rider(2:52)
- b) Greeley and the rest(2:00)
- c) March at Sunset (1:22)
7. Country Dance (5:30)
8. Finale (8:36)

Total Time: 42:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Greenslade ‎/ piano, clavinet, synths (ARP, Solina String Ensemble, Crumar Stringman, Moog), Fender Rhodes, Hohner Electra, Hammond, Mellotron, vibes, voice box, vocals (4), composer, co-producer

- Steve Gould / vocals (2,6)
- Lissa Gray / vocals (4)
- Mick Grabham / guitar (4)
- Bill Jackman / bass flute & bass clarinet (8)
- Tony Reeves / bass (1,2,6,8)
- Dave Markee / bass (3,4), percussion (3)
- John Perry / bass (7)
- Simon Phillips / drums, percussion
- Martin Ford / conductor (8)
- Simon Jeffes / orchestration (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP Warner Bros. Records ‎- K56306 (1976, UK)
LP BGO Records ‎- BGOLP2001 (2016, UK) Remastered by Andrew Thompson

CD Angel Air Records ‎- SJPCD433 (2014, Europe)
CD Belle Antique ‎- BELLE 142304 (2014, Japan) Remastered by Karl Adams

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DAVE GREENSLADE Cactus Choir ratings distribution

(68 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DAVE GREENSLADE Cactus Choir reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The first Solo record from Dave Grenslade sounds like Greenslade and is a beautiful record with (I agree with Steve) the most beautiful Roger Dean Cover. This is one of the records which got competely lost, like so many, in the begining Punk/New wave period and has to my knowledge never been republished.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars David Greenslade started here a band owning his full name: David Greenslade instead of Greenslade. He plays all the keyboards, and he hired some musicians to play bass and drums: the refined drums are provided here by Simon Phillips. There are no guitars, except a very low profile one on "Time Takes my Time". The keyboards consist in electric piano, clavinet, organ, piano, mellotron and moog, among others. Greenslade still sometimes sounds like Rick Wakeman, but a bit less than on the "Time & tide" album. The album is still quite progressive, and there are many original keyboards explorations. On the first track of side 2, Greenslade plays a slow wah-wah organ, quite sounding like Caravan's "In the land of grey an pink". The last track has an impressive orchestra playing a dramatic part suited for a movie soundtrack.
Review by Tom Ozric
4 stars The band GREENSLADE ceased to exist by 1976, but main instigator and namesake Dave Greenslade put together another project and released 'Cactus Choir', his first 'solo' LP. Again, lovingly presented in a stupendous Roger Dean artwork (Titled 'The Jade Sea', from memory). To be honest, there's not much difference with the compositions here from his previous band, and his core 'backing' band consisted of Tony Reeves once again (on Bass Guitar, who had ventured into a line-up of CURVED AIR), the mightily impressive session-ace Simon Phillips on Drums/Percussion, and various guests helping out, most notably Bassist John G Perry (on the track 'Country Dance') and lead-vocals on 2 tracks by ex-RARE BIRD singer Steve Gould. The production is very warm and professional indeed. I'm puzzled as to why this is lumped in with the 'Crossover Prog' sub-genre ?? It fits in well with Symphonic Prog. Anyways, the album is made up of mostly instrumental material, with Gould singing beautifully in the catchy Prog-Pop song 'Gettysburg', and the middle section of the excellent title-song, and Greenslade himself handling the mic for the bluesy 'Time Takes my Time', which may have been a slight mistake, but the soprano backing vox of Lissa Gray raises the quality of the tune up a bit. As you would expect, Greenslade utilises no less than 10 Keyboards, and the prowess of the tight rhythm section calls for attention. Best tracks would have to be Cactus Choir (6.14) and Finale (8.36), but overall it is a highly recommended album. 4 stars.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars I have never been a devoted "Greenslade" fan.

Their music was far from being original and none of their albums scored better than three stars IMHHO. Still, I was curious to figure out how this good musician would start his "solo" career.

To tell the truth, the result is quite average. In terms of prog, there are hardly great moments to retain. Some confidential bluesy stuff like "Time Takes My Time" is the best you can grab from this album. Nothing too fancy: just a good song with bluesy roots.

One of the best track is by all means the instrumental "Forever and Ever". At least it features some great and passionate keyboards play (which we all would have expected from the first second of this album).

Fortunately, this album ends up on a better way than it all started. I wouldn't tell you that all of a sudden we are faced with a masterpiece, but at least the great keys being played during the title track are sufficient to raise the interest of this album.

Basically, nothing really changed in comparison with his band's work. This first "solo" album is decent, even enjoyable at times. But don't expect too much from this "Cactus Choir" because you might be disappointed.

As far as I am concerned, three stars are the maximum rate I can provide. And I'm generous to be honest. A track as " Country Dance" would preferably be skipped from this work.

The long closing number ("Finale") is by far the most interesting one. In terms of prog, one gets a great keys feel (which was expected from the opening). It sufficiently shows how good a keyboardist Dave IS. Too bad that his writing abilities were not on on par with his great talents as a keyboards player.

A good album. Three stars.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars 3.5 star really

Dave Greenslade is to me one of the most unnoticed and unfairly forgotten keyboard player in prog music. What he done with Greenslade is absolutely great to my ears, I'm a big fan of this band, not to mention his contribution with Colloseum in his early career. After disbanding Greenslade in mid '70 after 4 superb albums he decided to go solo under his full name Dave Greenslade. The first offer coming in 1976 named Cactus choir, the album graced but one of the best Roger Dean art works ever made on an prog album. With this release Mr. Greenslade move into a more gentle, surrealistic teritory then on his previous band, but aswell keeping a progressive attitude on entire album. Helping hand here is offered by omni present excellent drumer Simon Philips, world renowed bassist John Perry and few more names. The music as I said is gentle, delicate smooth and elegant, he uses vast array of synthesizers, mellotron, moog, etc to create a pleasent atmosphere full of catchy moments. Sometimes he sounding like Rick Wakem around same period. Besides some vocal oriented pieces, the beautiful instrumental , one of the instrumental from the album is definetly Forever and Ever, great and catchy. This debut under his full name is by no means a masterpiece or something close, and for sure is not so inventive as Greenslade albums, but I think is more then pleasent with delicate keyboards arrangements that I think any prog fan can enjoy. I like what I've heared here from start to finish and because of that for me is 3.5 stars album, 3 stars for the music with another half star for the excellent art work.

Review by ExittheLemming
3 stars Singing Plants and Disarming Wizards

There's a picture of Dave Greenslade and Andy McCulloch playing chess on the inner sleeve of Spyglass Guest that always makes me chuckle i.e. try NOT inferring that musicians who play complex music, rarely shave and would have us believe they pursue board games between takes rather than wanton hussies ain't erudite and intellectual critters. Delve a little deeper however, by glancing at any proffered lyric sheet and it's erm... checkmate mate:

You left me a nut when I wanted a screw You left me a crossword with only one clue I fell out with love babe when I fell out with you

OK, I admit it's cherry-picking to quote a poetic gaffe that's a bit s.h.i.t (and ain't even on that album) plus ignore the fact that Dave Lawson's lyrics were actually rather good by the relatively gauche standards of Prog

If Cactus Choir truly represented an opportunity to launch Dave Greenslade's solo career and draw a line under the Greenslade 'band', why then reprise the Roger Dean artwork (almost) intact, use Tony Reeves on bass for four tracks and continue to plough the same Progressive Rock furrow that makes this tantamount to Greenslade II?. The only discernible difference is that shorn of Lawson and McCulloch, the music is more synth heavy, less blues and jazz inflected and maybe slightly pared down and/or simplified

I reckon that Lawson, for all his polarising qualities, represented the only real chance Greenslade had of achieving the 1st division crossover success that always just eluded them. His pedigree as evidenced by previous stints in Web and Samurai proved that he was capable of writing material that dispensed entirely with Prog's stock fantasy footage of Conan the Librarian astride a mythical beast in his lunch break while cradling a rescued and swooning damsel. (Morag, from 'Accounts') In many ways Lawson could have played the Greg Lake, Russ Ballard, John Wetton or Jon Anderson role in Greenslade as representing a more accessible and conventional lyrical style of song-writing that might have lured the inquisitive sailor onto some more rocks. (and here's me giving Prog wordsmiths a hard time...)

There is however a semblance of concept status about the whole undertaking. The colonisation of America seems to be the gist but although the author's angle on this topic is clearly admonitory, his reasons are seldom expanded upon and ambivalent throughout

Rolled upon the ground like sawdust So began the game they called get rich or bust

Clearly a lament for missed opportunities, paradise lost and the inevitable triumph of greed when unclaimed natural resources and the resultant stratification reveal themselves. The USA gets beaten with the unfulfilled 'American Dream' stick so often that even a Brit like me is starting to find such gleeful flagellation plain vanilla tiresome. Like Uncle Sam monopolised bespoiling a potential green and pleasant land? Enlarge thy countenance and forehead y'all citizens of Golders Green.

Pedro's Party - It's remarkable how prevalent the humble shuffle beat is in much Prog from around this time and it's revisited here a la Spirit of the Dance on a Spanish/latin tinged tune that takes it's inspiration from classicists Villa Lobos and Lalo with a tiny sliver of Alberto Ginastera's maverick modulation DNA thrown in to keep everyone's throat dry right to the end.

Gettysburg - the instrumental departure sounds uncannily like Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might be Giants (who knows what messrs Flansburgh and Linnell were listening to in their formative years that they might now readily disavow?) Steve Gould's excellent vocal melody is on a par with anything that either the Alan Parsons Project or Mike Oldfield might have hatched in their more inspired moments. Very strong compositional rigour throughout this and it's one of those unusual instances where lyrical immediacy is not intruded upon by instrumental flights of fancy. (A rare bird indeed)

Swings and Roundabouts - love that wurlitzer piano through a big whooshy whirring thing that Dave has exploited to great effect over the years. (I think it's actually a Leslie cabinet and/or a chorus/phaser device) but anyways, it's almost tantamount to the Greenslade 'brand' calling card. Listen to the Simon Phillips/Dave Markee drum and bass performance here and take note that as fine and lyrical a player as Tony Reeves is, he seldom glues the bottom end on any Greenslade tune as effectively as Markee does here (by playing less and allowing the other parts of the music space to breathe accordingly) I've always felt that much Greenslade material benefited from Reeves' unique 'singing' melodic bass style but also suffered from him sometimes 'over playing' and neglecting his less glamorous anchor role. It seems I'm not alone in having these reservations:

He (Dave Greenslade) is the only one who can put up with my playing! Not everybody wants a bass that is upfront a lot of time, though in some ways over the years my playing has matured and I'm not as upfront as I used to be. Somebody sent me through the Net a pirate recording of a gig that we did with COLOSSEUM in Sweden? the first part of it is alright and it's all quite nice, but then we do the whole of "Valentyne Suite", all three movements, and my playing on that is frankly terrible. It's all over the place, too intrusive, too clever, it's actually embarrassing. I can't believe now that I played that way! I went too close to the edge of the cliff, and fell off. (Tony Reeves 2003)

Time Takes My Time - like Keith Emerson and everyone's favourite inebriated Uncle, Dave makes a decent stab at singing but those present merely wish prohibition could be reintroduced pretty damn quickly. A perfunctorily bluesy and dreary guitar solo ensues which takes the song precisely nowhere. A lump of very grey glacial rock but it does at least reveal it's author as a time served jobbing R'n'B veteran and carries one of the very few pointers to his previous band Colosseum on the whole album. Would have been charming at three minutes but encroaches narcolepsy at six. Full marks to Lissa Gray whose wordless harmony vocals try their best to inject some energy into this otherwise sleepy dawdle.

Forever and Ever - Redolent of something that European film score composer Francis Lai might have concocted with a couple of Synths, Vangelis as a house guest, a wet bank holiday afternoon to fill and half a case of Merlot to empty. Rather 'airy' and it smacks in places of nondescript library music or the sort of bijou cosmos that keyboard players somehow get lost in when left to their own knob encrusted devices (see Pent Up Teuchters of the Cosmic Agony for uber s.h.i.t.e variations of this tomfoolery). Spoiler alert: the obligatory cathedral organ ego massage moment is contained herein for posterity.

Cactus Choir - perhaps the most fully realised and successful piece on offer and given that it features Dave's signature keys palette plus Tony Reeves on bass then yeah, it does sound a LOT like early Greenslade albeit stripped of Lawson's idiosyncratic lyrical twist. The sung sections remind me in places of (good and memorable) Barclay James Harvest (cf flouncy bouffant forgettable BJH). Plenty of variation and effective exploitation of dynamics can be enjoyed plus the individual sections all segue together very smoothly. Rather disappointing ending though, kinda just fizzles out like an imposter's graduation speech.

Country Dance - no gingham orgy hereabouts mercifully, but given the subject matter to hand, which country is being referenced is at best obscure and very un-American sounding. Not sure if Dave is playing the lead here via an electric piano timbre coaxed through a fuzz/wah pedal or if it's an uncredited guitarist? Either way, there's plenty of distinctly ordinary musical mud being thrown at a precarious wall hereabouts that resolutely refuses to stick. Such 'mopping up' exercises on Prog albums, are somewhat akin to a retirement home for ideas not even out of short pants. Once again, a more modestly gifted bass player than Reeves shows how it should be done (this time one John Perry, who even throws in a few short lead breaks but in all the RIGHT places..)

Finale - Rather mournful synth melody over some elegiac little chords until circa three and a half minutes in when the whole band gatecrash this funereal party and Greenslade reciprocates with an exuberant organ solo over an boisterous Reeves/Philipps groove in 'six' that the rhythm section, once locked on, conspire to blow their target into smithereens. Towards the end we get to hear an excellent but faintly disquieting orchestral arrangement of the previous thematic materials by the late Simon Jeffes, whose huge talent was wasted on the Sid Vicious atrocity My Way.

Speaking of talentless, overdosing little parasites who are now celebrated as cultural icons, I can't help but think Mr G unwittingly prescient with his title here i.e. Cactus Choir: the massed spiky voices of dissent were looming on the horizon circa 1976 in the shape of nascent 'Punk'. This must have made the anticipated career path of virtuosos unharnessed from their respective Prog bandwagons a rather daunting one. It appears that solo success for keyboard wizards (with but two arms) consisted of their ability to come up with conventional song formats to appease their anxious post-Punk paymasters. All that instrumental clever s.h.i.t was never going to provide the desired crossover to the skinny tied masses. Like Rod Argent, Jon Lord, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz et al Dave Greenslade eventually gravitated towards film, TV and documentary music once it became painfully apparent that without the radio friendly lyrical and vocal hooks provided by his previous collaborators, he was always destined to inhabit a strictly niche market. All the Prog heavyweights, despite their complex pyrotechnics had recourse to tried and trusted traditional song forms and 'top drawer catchy' melodic hooks in their locker e.g. ELP, Yes, Tull and Genesis while the likes of Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson and maybe Greenslade did not or even cared less? The Tarkus album by ELP is the embodiment of this phenomenon i.e. would Emerson's intense, dissonant and challenging instrumental title suite alone have propelled the album to No 1 status in the UK in 1971 without Greg Lake's spoonful of conventional sugar to help the medicine go down? (I really don't think so)

What happened next - bassist Tony Reeves is now managing director of a very successful pro-audio equipment manufacturing and hire company while Dave G somehow tunneled free from the prison of his own backside a.k.a. Penteuch of the Cosmogony and embarked on a very distinguished TV and documentary music career before resuscitating Colosseum for some very well received live shows in the 90's and beyond

It's a pity that the 3 star rating has come to be perceived in many quarters as PA's version of 'damning with faint praise' as this is a very robust and enjoyable album with a few forgivable flaws but it's also not dissimilar to that chick you met at college who smoked roll ups, drank pints, liked footie, laughed at all your jokes and dug your kind of music but... you just didn't want to f.u.c.k her....(unlike Morag from 'Accounts')

Footnote: The little hooded wizard had four perfectly good arms on the Greenslade debut album cover but only a paltry three here. Roger Dean, you are a one arm bandit.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I've always been really fond of this album, and to me it has an 'end of era' feel about it as it was made in 1976 with prog about to be overwhelmed by punk. The cover, with the Greenslade wizard sitting on a rock surrounded by stormy seas and a dark sky, seems to reflect this (possibly I'm readi ... (read more)

Report this review (#29360) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Although packaged as a Dave Greenslade solo effort, most of Cactus Choir sounds like Greenslade at their best. All it really lacks is the harder edge and distinctive vocals of Dave Lawson. Dave Greenslade's own vocals on 'Time takes my time' are the highlight of the album, sounding like some g ... (read more)

Report this review (#29357) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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