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Kestrel Kestrel album cover
3.77 | 72 ratings | 13 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Acrobat (6:45)
2. Wind Cloud (4:41)
3. I Believe In You (4:10)
4. Last Request (4:50)
5. In The War (7:32)
6. Take It Away (4:11)
7. Ene Of The Affair (4:51)
8. August Carol (7:18)

Total Time: 44:18

CD Two (Esoteric Recordings 2015):
1. August Carol (single version)
2. Wind Cloud (single version)
3. The Searcher
4. Part of the Machine
5. The Acrobat (alternate version)
6. August Carol (alternate version)

Total Time: 29:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Black / guitar, vocals
- John Cook / guitar, synthesizers
- Tom Knowles / lead vocals
- Fenwick Moir / bass
- Dave Whitaker / drums, percussion

Releases information

LP Cube HIFLY 19
Produced by John Worth for Noeland Porductions
2-disc re-release: Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2 2481 (2015).

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Matti for the last updates
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Buy KESTREL Kestrel Music

KESTREL Kestrel ratings distribution

(72 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

KESTREL Kestrel reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Cheers for bright British pop-progressive rock!

Pleasant, very pleasant. Whenever I heard this album, I have such a feeling. Let me say the KESTRELl's one and only work be a toy box with full of British-sound toys. The box can take us listeners deeply at first hearing the beginning. The Acrobat is exactly like a garden with plenty of sound-flower. The song has an interesting and attractive mixture of pop voice and rigid bass plus stiff drum sounds. But you know it has no difficulty. It may say let's enjoy itself, I always feel. :-) The key essence or point of this album is, I think, hard and rigid bass sound. The hardness and loudness can remind me Chris Squire...Fenwick would be influenced by Chris, wouldn't he? Of course, in this pop album are lots of songs not progressive but pop and catchy.

There are fans who want their technique and skill, and who want their kindness and comfort. I consider both are okay for KESTREL. Let's enjoy!

P.S. In Japan, we call British pop music as 'Brit pop' and I'm afraid the British hate this word 'Brit' it right?

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Let me repeat Keishiro-san's words, this is really pleasant. In a symphonic (but not necessarily Symphonic Prog) way. It's also Pop Prog, sadly for some, but only minor nuisance for me. Fortunately, songs are longer than is usual in pop and their structure is also more complex (and the band got here also because of Prog elements - like in final track August Carol [keyboards]). Vintage is nice word to describe this music, as it truly is. 1975 was in the name of audience slowly turning away from Prog (just first signs only, nothing big) and so I'm quite surprised that this album was (and is) so overlooked. It's not that difficult to approach, even though it still has a lot to offer.

4(-), I found that this simplistic way isn't exactly my liking, but on the other hand, there are things that I have to (and want to) appreciate. Today it's called - vintage, back then - who knows.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Kestrel is an obscure progressive rock act with one album released in their short career. Selftitled from 1975 , this album is a good one in every way, because it reminds me of the great prog rock bands from mid'70's. To me this album is a combination between heavy prog arrangements and some art rock parts, very well composed with some memorable parts. I have the japan CD version and the sound is crystal clear, evey instrument is where it belogs creating some excellent passages full of intristing keybords and great guitar chops. The vocalis Tom Knowles is very ok, warm voice and fits perfectly in the mood of the album. What I like most are the keybords parts, there are some fantastic passages like on In The War, both on great intro of the piece and the last min of it, great atmospheric and grandious keybords, excellent. Also the heavy prog sections are very well performed, where the duel guitar-keyboards are awesome, tight and intristing in same time. Another highlight is Take It Away , a piece full of joy and positive mood, what a great tune. Well, to end the review , it was a very pleasent audition, from me desearve 4 stars, not quite a masterpiece, but worth own it. In places they remind me of belgian prog rock band Womega.
Review by Warthur
3 stars One album wonders Kestrel's sole album is an intriguing mixture of progressive and art rock on the one hand and some broader commercial influences on the other - I hear, for instance, a few strains of soft rock and soul here and there through the proceedings. The outcome is not unpleasant - quite the opposite, in fact - and I'm reminded in particular of Pavlov's Dog, not necessarily in sound but in the sense that both produce accessible prog flavoured art rock which isn't too pretentious to get sentimental from time to time.

Unfortunately, the album never quite got much recognition, and I suspect part of the reason for this is that it rather falls between two stools. On the one hand, it's got enough Supertramp-esque poppy flourishes that it wouldn't pass muster next to more purist expressions of progressive rock. At the same time, it incorporates sufficient complexities to disrupt the pop-prog daydream its poppier moments seem to offer. There's an extent to which Kestrel seem to be hedging their bets there, which is a shame because if they'd gone for the all-out pop-prog route or went full proggy the album would probably be the stronger for it.

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars Obviously, prog does come in all shapes and sizes. There are the pompous ones, the low-key, the larger-than-life ones and the small, the complex and those easily likeable. Everything in between and all things put together makes up the world of prog. Sometimes prog can be sort of poppy aswell. Nothing wrong with that. It can be very enjoyable. I would like to put forth a likeness and draw inspiration from the pub. After several sturdy Guinesses (think of Magma or some other complex band as Guiness) the pallet craves something refreshing, like a cool lemonade or just a sip of water. In this case the lemonade is Kestrel. Light, refreshing yet with a bite to it.

Kestrel is one of those obscure bands that did not make it. Not because they were bad, as often the case with some obscurities, but maybe because they simply fell through the net and escaped the record buyer's hands. Who knows? The fact, however, is that the sole album by Kestrel is a very enjobale mixture of pop and prog, sort of a Supertramp meets Chicago and has a child by Genesis and nursed by Nektar added. If that is not all I'd say that Chris Squire babysat at times, considering the sound of the rumbling bass. Or something like that. It holds enough keyboards to make me happy and that says something.

The tracks varies in length, the longest being 7.31 minutes, the shortest 4.09. I like all of the songs but "Wind cloud" with it's beautiful and dreamy web is fantastic. So are "Last requests", the epic "In the war" or (the more accessible) Gentle Giant-ish "August carol". All of the tracks are very well produced, performed and thought through. Nothing is left to chance.

I think prog is the greatest genre due to it's variety and width. The severely complex at the one end and the very accessible and poppy at the other. All that gives me as a listener the chance to really ease my muscial hunger. If you are looking for something british, something complex yet accessible I would recommend this little overlooked gem. I would not call it a masterpiece but it is a fantastic album, full of ideas and enthusiasm which I really enjoy listening to. Well worth checking out.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Short-lived band from Newcastle, which became from an oddity to a legend over the years.Kestrel (named after a type of bird) were born in 1975, featuring Dave Black on guitars/vocals, Tom Knowles on lead vocals, Fenwick Moir on bass and Dave Whitaker (formerly of Ginhouse) in the original formation, later to add John Cook on guitars and keyboars.The band was then signed by Cube Records to release their only LP in 1975.Most tracks were written by guitarist Dave Black.

The music is somekind of light Progressive Rock with slight symphonic overtones and elements from British Psych/Pop, it reminds me of early YES, CRESSIDA and SPRING after repeated listens with AMBROSIA being the closest comparison from the US scene minus the pompous arrangements.The tracks are structured over soft electric guitars, great vocal harmonies and an array of keyboards, which includes Hammond organ, electric piano, harsichord and, of course, Mellotron.Two different sides of the band can be identified.First comes in the shorter tracks, most of which follow a typical melodic Psychedelic Rock vein with some MOODY BLUES and PROCOL HARUM influences with organ and guitars in evidence, featuring excellent songwriting skils and flawless vocal parts by Knowless, balanced between romantic and more edgy instrumental textures.Even if being too accesible, this material is still very strong and memorable.The longer pieces are more progressive and feature quirky instrumental parts, symphonic flavors and lyrical depth in one package.''The acrobat'' is propably the best of all, albeit showered by some AOR lines, with impressive instrumental/vocal changes, a nice and proggy middle section with some STEVE HOWE nuance in the guitar chops and series of beautiful melodies.''In the war'' is a mixed bag of progressive sounds, somesort of Symphonic-, Jazz- and Psychedelic Rock amalgam with organ, electric piano and smooth electric guitars leading the way.''August Carol'' is no doubt the most progressive track of the mass, typical British Prog in the vein of CRESSIDA with mood and tempo changes, propelled by the nice guitar work of Black and containing some majestic Mellotron in a grand, symphonic style, which offers the best outro of the whole album combined with the farewell solo of Black.

Kestel weren't enough around to taste success, as they disbanded the following year.Dave Black continued his career throughout the 70's, first with the Rock band The Spiders from Mars and later with Goldie, apparently an unsuccesful attempt on Pop Rock.

Symphonic Pop Rock of a great quality with focus on solid and sensitive songwriting and file next to FANTASY, CRESSIDA, SPRING, THE MYND and BYZANTIUM.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by Matti
4 stars As a reviewer for Colossus prog magazine I've received a lot of reissues by Esoteric Recordings, often by completely forgotten bands from the early 70's. And often I haven't questioned at all why they are forgotten. Now here's a happy exception! Of course KESTREL has become a cult favourite among the most advanced prog listeners, but it was practically a new acquaintance for me until last Friday. [A personal note to my local music friends: yes, this band was on the additional list, not in the book.]

Newcastle-based Kestrel's sole album contains melodic, quite song-oriented prog featuring Mellotron, and it can be compared to the likes of SPRING, FANTASY or CRESSIDA, and actually for the benefit of Kestrel whose mature songs have more 'kick' as there are pretty good guitar contributions too. With one exception, the music is composed by the guitarist Dave Black. Perhaps the idea of a cross between the classic GENESIS and the '68-'72 era MOOY BLUES wouldn't be totally out of place? There aren't the theatrics of the former, nor does the singer have any Gabriel colour in his voice, but we certainly are dealing with the vintage Symphonic Prog tendencies, even though the compositions don't get very complex. (But still, I find it underestimating to stamp this as "Prog Related".)

Mellotron isn't quite as strongly present as on the SPRING album, but the grander is the effect when it comes to the fore. I haven't yet had time to listen to the album many times (which is why I'm not going into track-by-track approach), but I have a feeling I'm going to like it more and more. I strongly believe that with the support of a more prog oriented record company capable of merchandising, Kestrel would be nowadays known as a prog classic. In this sense I place it next to ENGLAND (Garden Shed, 1977). Indeed this is an album I would have loved to hear already two or three decades ago!

The ER re-issue contains a detailed article and a Bonus Disc of slightly under 30 minutes; placing the six tracks as bonuses on the same disc would have been MUCH more convenient. (This is something I always complain about, even if some album buyers probably appreciate the multiple CD format on all kinds of re-releases and Special DeLuxe-whatever Editions repeating basically the same material in slightly different versions over and over. Gosh, I'm not into that at all! Sorry, back to Kestrel...). Four of them are single/alternate versions of the album songs, two are pretty good "new" songs. Sadly the liner notes don't give any information on the bonuses.

Review by FragileKings
3 stars Always looking for something interesting from the seventies, I noticed a review of Kestrel's one and only album and decided to check it out.

It's not anything of the highly advanced prog variety. It's nothing like Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson or any of the other prog elite from this decade. Kestrel's music is very song oriented where it seems the musical interludes were built around the songs. Tom Knowles' lead vocals hold up well and strong, though I can't help but feeling they are a little on the ordinary side for the mid-seventies.

The band has a good sense of composition and are all talented players. They aren't exactly symphonic prog but more like a rock version of Uriah Heep stretching out a little. Kestrel rarely get very hard or heavy mind you though they do pound the organ and drums in places. Overall, very solid rock with some lighter interludes featuring piano. Not so much in the way of acoustic guitar, however. There are lots of easy to catch vocal melodies, too.

The first few times I listened to this album I was left with little impression. I threw songs on playlists to see if anything would arrest my attention but mostly that was "The Acrobat" and "August Carol". Listening again for this review, I found the music more engaging and enjoyable. Lots of organ, piano, electric piano, and Mellotron. "In the War" has some of the more interesting prog music approach but the sung parts are a little too obvious in their stand against war. Again, it reminds me of some old and lost Uriah Heep.

The second disc with the Esoteric Recordings release includes the single version of "August Carol" which is bewilderingly the second half of the full-length version of the song and begins with the drum intro and Mellotron part rather than the Heep-ish start the first half of the song has. An alternate full version of the same song appears here as well. The single version of "Wind Cloud" isn't particularly outstanding as the album version is better and the alternate version of "The Acrobat" sounds more like a demo with a weak mix compared to the album version. Two other songs, "The Searcher" and "Part of the Machine" are as good as the rest of the album material and a welcome addition.

My conclusion is that this album has some very good songs and music. I just feel there's something missing to give it that memorable bite. None of the songs play over and over in my head, demanding to be heard though some of the melodies are easy enough to recall.

I can't say it's an excellent addition to any prog collection but I do say it's a fairly decent one. Not as exciting as some other albums but not dull or disappointing either. At least worth checking out.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Interesting short lived british band that released just one album in 1975 and broke up soon after that. Listening to it is easy to understand why this record was not a hit, since the style is very much early 70īs pop with some prog overtones: vocalist Tom Knowles vice and style reminds a lot of that period and the instrumental parts are also very much in that vein, even though sometimes jazz influences do make them sound a little more different and bolder, but not much. In other words, they were too passé by the time the album was out. If it was in the market between 1970 and 1972 maybe their story would be quite different, but, alas, this was not to be.

And what about listening to their music today? Well, the songs are very pleasant and well crafted, but nothing here really stands out that much. The production is fine. Vocal harmonies again make me think of late sixties and early seventies bands (Wind Cloud clearly was the band trying to write their own version of The Doors Riders of the Storm, for example). I listened to the whole record without the feeling of skipping any track. Maybe itīs because I do like the style. And if you are a fan of that kind of sophisticated british pop itīs worth to give it a shot. Just donīt expect anything really symphonic or avant guard. I still find it hard to believe it was released in 1975 and not 1971 or 72. A sad case of late coming, thatīs for sure.

Rating: good songs, but nothing essential, so 2,5 stars is the right rating for this one.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I argue with Raleks. Think about this album as it can be REALLY forgotten minor classic. I was very surprised when heard it first time. 'Oh! The beginning is nice... Ops... But... What is it?..' The lead vocal is fantastic. Look, we've heard all these monsters (and I think no one can reach the ... (read more)

Report this review (#208400) | Posted by seam | Monday, March 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars OK, are you familiar with the guys who get wild about an album you must hear!! and go like this is the best unknown piece of music you haven't got the chance to hear etc... then you listen to the music and..nothing! you just don't understand what was all the noise about - I'm sure you experience ... (read more)

Report this review (#200434) | Posted by ShaiBerger | Saturday, January 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars And I give 5 stars (really 4.5) to this album despite the fact of this is NOT a masterpiece in compare with best albums of Yes, Genesis, JT and other monsters. But. This's REALLY "forgotten minor classic" (review from And masterpiece for me. :p This album is very good example ... (read more)

Report this review (#135959) | Posted by raleks | Monday, September 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I was suprised by how good this album was. However, I had the album explained to me by its producer, John worsely (or Johnny Worth, real nice guy), who helped me realise the tremendous musicianship and songwriting capabilities of this group. The sound derives from many bands from Gentle Giant ... (read more)

Report this review (#33082) | Posted by | Tuesday, March 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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