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GRAVY TRAIN

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Gravy Train biography
GRAVY TRAIN from Lancashire were formed in 1970 by guitarist/vocalist Norman Barrett. They managed to get a contract with the famous Vertigo label. And their first outing aptly named "Gravy Train" hit the street in early 1971. Second album, by many critics and followers hailed as their best, came later that same year (december 1971) titled:"Ballad of a Peaceful Man". That also saw the ending of contractaul obligations with Vertigo. However Dawn records signed them for another 2 albums. "Second Birth" were released in 1973 and "Staircase to the Day" 1974. After that nobody really heard of them... rumour has it, that Barrett saw the light in Christian music and apparently he were involved in the MANDALABAND project (see elsewhere in ProgArchives).

My favorite album by GRAVY TRAIN is "Staircase to the Day", even though many, as mentioned, swear to "Ballad to a Peaceful Man". Musically they´re sort of a mix of good solid UK prog / rock / folk (plenty of wonderful flute playing.) Ccheck them out, you might be in for a surprise!

: : : Tonny Larsen, DENMARK : : :

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Ballad of a Peaceful ManBallad of a Peaceful Man
Import · Limited Edition
Repertoire 2006
Audio CD$9.88
$9.69 (used)
Staircase to the DayStaircase to the Day
Extra tracks · Import · Limited Edition · Remastered
Repertoire 2007
Audio CD$11.02
$21.15 (used)
All the Sweet StuffAll the Sweet Stuff
Cochon Records 2007
Audio CD$1.00
$0.01 (used)
Gravy TrainGravy Train
Import · Limited Edition
Repertoire 2005
Audio CD$9.61
$12.22 (used)
Second BirthSecond Birth
Import · Remastered
Polydor Japan 2006
Audio CD$35.98
$19.89 (used)
Strength of a DreamStrength of a Dream
Import
Castle Music UK 2006
Audio CD$36.95
$70.50 (used)
GHOST BOOBS [Vinyl]GHOST BOOBS [Vinyl]
Single
Kill Rock Stars 2004
Vinyl$12.12
$15.00 (used)
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GRAVY TRAIN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GRAVY TRAIN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.34 | 39 ratings
Gravy Train
1970
3.42 | 48 ratings
(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man
1971
3.09 | 27 ratings
Second Birth
1973
3.64 | 44 ratings
Staircase To The Day
1974

GRAVY TRAIN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GRAVY TRAIN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GRAVY TRAIN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Strength Of A Dream, The Gravy Train Anthology
2006

GRAVY TRAIN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

GRAVY TRAIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gravy Train by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.34 | 39 ratings

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Gravy Train
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by Dark Nazgul

2 stars Not a goldmine.

In the seventies Gravy Train are one of the bands of the British underground scene. This album, their debut and one of the pieces of Vertigo catalog, is in my opinion an average record and nothing more.

There is nothing particularly innovative in this album and sounds are typical of other blues/rock bands of the same period with heavy guitars, flute and sax and a few keyboards. The style reminds a bit other bands like Catapilla , East Of Eden, and early Tull, but the results are not the same.

In particular the long jam Earl Of Pocket Nook, in my opinion, is particularly tedious. In this track the attempt to create new sounds leads the band in the wrong direction, and soon the confusion prevails over everything else: the result is a song full of experimentation for its own sake, totally incoherent and inorganic, a bit noisy, without musicality and harmonies. The raw blues Coast Road and the mediocre Think Of Life do not increase the overall quality of this work.

Things go better with the other tracks: Enterprise, a song with exotic mood, with flute, sax, guitars and filtered voices, very reminiscent of the style of early East Of Eden. The New One is the most enjoyable song of the album, featuring beautiful harmonies and a delicate flute interlude. Dedication To Syd has good rhythmic variations and strange choruses in tone, however, with the atmosphere of the song.

Another thing that I find very hard to digest is the voice of the singer and leader Norman Barrett. Surely his voice does not leave indifferent: you love it or you hate it, without compromise. Personally I find that Barrett exceed in emphasis when interprets the lyrics, and this happens especially in the slower tracks where it would require a more measured approach (and this is even more evident in "A Ballad Of A Peaceful Man", the band's second album ).

If you are interested in the underground scene of 70s British music, I suggest you first listen to other bands, such as T2, High Tide, Catapilla, Tonton Macoute and East Of Eden.

Final rating 4/10.

Best song: The New One

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 (A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.42 | 48 ratings

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(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. GRAVY TRAIN's second album is less experimental and the jamming has been stopped, so yes this sounds quite different in style when compared to the debut. I like this better surprisingly enough.This album offers up a collection of good songs with Norman's expressive vocals and the ever present flute standing out. I must admit i'm surprised at how quickly I warmed up to this record but there's an emotional element at work that just draws me in. Unfortunately there are a couple of tracks I just don't like at all.

"Alone In Georgia" opens with flute,strummed guitar and strings as the vocals come in.Too commercial sounding to my ears, I just can't get into it. "(A Ballad) Of A Peaceful Man" is better especially when it picks up before 2 minutes with guitar and some attitude. It settles back as contrasts continue. "Jule's Delight" opens with flute as reserved vocals and other sounds help out in this mellow soundscape.The vocals do get passionate at times though. Good song. "Messenger" is the only track with mellotron on it. I like when it settles into a very CAMEL- like mode.That changes when the vocals arrive 1 1/2 minutes in. Flute then leads before 4 minutes followed by guitar. Nice. Excellent track.

"Can Anybody Heal Me" like the first track is one I can't get into.This one is heavy with flute and aggressive vocals. A soaring chorus too. It just doesn't work for me. "Old Tin Box" is good with that steady beat and sax. Catchy. Vocals before 2 minutes. A calm with percussion before 3 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in with vocals. "Won't Talk About It" features relentless guitar as the flute plays over top.Vocals join in. A brief guitar solo comes in at 1 1/2 minutes. Good song. "Home Again" is one of the best tracks on here. A native-like beat as the flute and guitar join in. Soft vocals also join in along with backing vocals. I like the atmosphere here.

Like the album cover for the debut the cover art here leaves me scratching my head. Oh well the music is good and that's the important thing.

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 Gravy Train by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.34 | 39 ratings

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Gravy Train
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars GRAVY TRAIN came out of Manchester, England and this is their debut from 1970.They are very much a guitar / flute driven jam band with pretty good vocals. One song is straight-up Blues but the rest are of the psych / jam style. Not a fan of the album cover at all.

"The New One" is my favourite. It kicks in with a beat along with guitar and flute rather quickly. A calm with flute before 1 1/2 minutes then the drums arrive as it kicks back in. Some choral effects then vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. Catchy stuff.The flute replaces the vocals around 4 minutes. "Dedicated To Sid" and i'm thinking it's not Barrett either. A flute / drum intro before it changes and picks up around a minute with vocals.There are some vocal effects here that make him sound like one of the chipmunks. Not a fan at all. Flute and guitar 3 minutes in when the vocals stop. A silent calm 4 1/2 minutes in then it slowly comes back to life. A beat builds late as the flute joins in to end it.

"Coast Road" is the Blues track and it's a lot of fun.Vocals after 4 minutes as it settles. It picks back up to the end when the vocals stop. "Enterprise" is led by the flute and drums early on.Vocals around a minute as the sound changes.The tempo picks up when the vocals stop. It turns heavier with vocals later. "Think Of Life" turns heavy quickly with flute.Vocals before a minute as the heavy guitar continues.The tempo picks up as it lightens some. "Earl Of Pocket Nook" is simply a 16 minute jam and I like it.The tempo shifts occassionaly and the vocals come and go. Some nice bass after 14 minutes as well.

I have to agree with Hugues on the 3.5 stars. I do like this but it's not without it's faults and limitations. Good album though.

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 Staircase To The Day by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.64 | 44 ratings

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Staircase To The Day
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Funkier, rockier and more confident than this group's first two releases, 'Staircase To The Day' finally sees this Lancashire group blooming into something approaching the real deal. Gone are the Jethro Tull-lite musical passages and shredded guitars; in come synthesizers, funky bass riffs and more expansive song-writing. This change of direction is evident on the album's fist-pumping opening track 'Starlight, Starbright', which positively blows the listener away in an orgy of swirling, feel-good keyboards, powerful guitar riffs and blazing synth runs, fulfilling the group's obvious potental at long last. Elsewhere, the synth-bass funk is pushed to the fore on the epic 'Busted In Schenectady', whilst the uplifting prog of 'Going For A Quick One' fills out the album's mid-section. This is, by a country mile, easily Gravy Train's most accomplished album, though, considering both 'Gravy Train' and '(A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man', it's actually no great feat. Still, 'Staircase To The Day', despite it's slightly dodgy title, does show a group learning from their mistakes and producing genuinely enjoyable prog-rock. Good, but non-essential. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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 (A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.42 | 48 ratings

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(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Made in the same vein as it's self-titled predecessor, Gravy Train's second album ('A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man' features the same guitar-and-flute heavy mix and screeching vocals as before, just this time the group's leader Norman Barrett has split the album into two sections, the first of which features ballad's and songs of a slower tempo, whilst the second is made up of the group's heavier and rockier numbers. Again, there is nothing wrong with the group's actual playing, it's just the material is pretty un-inspiring. The syrupy album opener 'Alone In Georgia' is possibly the worst thing this band has recorded, but luckily it's a one-off abberation. The rest of ('A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man' is made up of competent, guitar-heavy prog that could well appeal to fans of Jethro Tull, Black Widow and Uriah Heep, but probably won't win any prizes for originality. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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 Gravy Train by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.34 | 39 ratings

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Gravy Train
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Pretty straight-forward guitar-and-flute orientated prog-rock that doesn't sound unlike Jethro Tull and features some seriously shredded vocals from the groups founder, leader, guitarist and main singer Norman Barrett. To cut a long story short, Gravy Train were a Lancashire rock group who released their eponymous debut in 1970. It failed to make a significant impact on the charts, but did give the group enough space to record three more studio albums that covered the same musical ground as this energetic-yet-hardly original slice of rocky prog. A lot of Gravy Train's appeal depends on whether you can dig Barrett's screeching vocals, and for those that can there are some small rewards to be had, especially in the album's lengthy closing number 'Earl Of Pocket Nook' and in the impressive flute-playing of J.D. hughes on the mid-tempo rocker 'Coast Road'. However, when compared to the prog era's big beasts like Genesis, Yes or Pink Floyd, Gravy Train seem very tame. Enjoyable, but hardly essential. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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 Staircase To The Day by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.64 | 44 ratings

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Staircase To The Day
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Forth release of this discrete heavy prog band named Staircase to the day from 1974. A little better then the predecesor Second birth and maybe at same level with their most mature work from all 4 albums A peacefull men,but less captivating, this album brings nothing new in their sound, same hard rock combined with heavy prog moments and some folk traces here and there. Only new thing is that the trusty Barry Davenport is out and officially replaced by Russell Cordwell at the drums. While the album as a whole is not bad, too many times is mid tempo, with out many bursting moments, too monotonous in places, saving the great flute play and the guitar who realy shine son couple of pieces, in the rest same old formula, who in the end didn't work for them, they disbanded next year, all members understand that tehy will never make it big in prog scene. The cover art painted by the famous Roger Dean didn't save the album to become a lost one in the shelf of progressive rock music. The inprovements over previous albums are not obvious, same rockier numbers interplayed with more progressive ones, some couple memorable pieces like Starbright starlight or the longest track from here Busted In Schenectady, great musicianship here and Climb around the gravy train with a touch of Cockney Rebel atmosphere, the rest are from good to mediocre. As I said as a whole the album is a good one, no really bad moments, but very vague puted in contrast with other albums of that period, even less exciting then their classic A peacefull man. I will give again 3 stars, nothing groundbreaking or over the top, but plesent and most of the time sincere and well played. One of the forgotten bands from early movement of prog, while thier sound is not so progressive in musical terms, they has some truly amazing moments on all 4 albums. I don't think this is their best album, I remain to A peacefull man to be their most mature work and thier most intristing one aswell. Although long gone they should never be forgotten.

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 (A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.42 | 48 ratings

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(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Gravy Train is and was always considered a band that for some resons never hit big time in prog scene, they were in shadow of the bands that emerges in late '60's to early '70's, and I'm talking about the big names of that period, Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Tull. While their music is more heavy prog in places with a good dose of folk here and there with excellent flute arrangements, Gravy Train has a special emotional atmosphere on almost every piece , mainly because of Norman Barrett voice. The music besides heavy prog with folk touches has that psychedelic feel of late '60's british music, very well combined with more rougher ones, the guitar of Norman Barrett does the main work here. A peaceful man is their second album from 1971 , from totaly of 4 albums released between 1970-1975, when disbanded and gone almost unnoticed in prog circles. This album is a little better then predecor in my ears, is more solid, more better composed, and has a special atmosphere of that early '70's progressive music. All the pieces are good, not a weak moment here, the guitar, keys where are more in front, the voice, and the flute done a wonderful job, living the listner with no regrets that he was able to listen to them. Even the album was released in the golden era of prog, and specially when progressive music was taking wings, this second album is considered also a classic or a lost little gem in prog music. As a whole A peaceful man is no masterpiece or close, but is enjoyble and has some very good moments. They remind me in places , maybe because of the flute with Jethro Tull early years, but aswell some comparation with french Triode is obvious. Best track are to me:Jule's Delight with nice string arrangements and superb chorus, Old tin box, a heavy prog piece withe some great sax interplay with the rest of the instruments, Home again another worthy track with great flute play, the rest are ok. Something worth mentioning is that the whole album is mid tempo with here and there some laid back moents, but very good combined to each other. The pieces flow very nice one to other living the listner satisfied about this second Gravy Train release. I will give 3 stars, a good album all the way, not a weak moment, maybe Alone in Georgia is lesser good with a country feel, but the rest are all good and even great in places. A little underrated band from early years of prog with their own contribution to the unmatch world of progressive music.

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 Second Birth by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.09 | 27 ratings

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Second Birth
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by raleks

5 stars Album after several times of attentively listenings seems to be not so bad as previous reviews tells. :) Really, first time I've stopped listening a short time after begin :) This album indeed is not a masterpiece of prog, but it provides good prog arrangements and melodies with a hard-rockish playing vein. And what? I've satisfied with this: here are unique Norman's voice (I don't like it first time too), good flute's work and other stuff. This is Gravy Train, and I like this album even more than it's predecessor and successor. By the way, second part (instrumental) of title track is one of the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard. And such raisin is present on all GT albums (e.g. ending of title track Staircase to the day).

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 (A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man by GRAVY TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.42 | 48 ratings

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(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man
Gravy Train Heavy Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A band fuelled by good musicianship and enthusiasm, Gravy Train really reached their pinnacle with their eponymous debut album: none of their subsequent efforts could touch it. Still, "(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man" happens to be a very good album, easily enjoyable for any rock lover who loves something beyond the usual standards of mainstream. The opener 'Alone in Georgia' finds Gravy Train developing a serene melodic sense, mostly based on Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel with a touch of typical late 60s British style (mainly due to the string arrangements). There is a ceremonious set of string layers that segue into the namesake song, which initially portrays a prominently pastoral mood with an extra dose of sophistication. When the interlude arrives, the lead guitar assumes the leading role, the whole ensemble goes rocky and the flute stops being soft and turns aggressive in an Anderson-esque manner. The interlude set up the overall scheme for the sung section, whose slow tempo makes the song preserve a nostalgic mode. It is a pity that the interlude wasn't longer, since it would have helped the track to augment its potential splendor - it remains, all in all, underdeveloped. 'Jule's Delight' returns to a sonic terrain related to American folk-pop. The orchestral arrangements set an attractive amalgam with the flute lines. The album's second half starts with 'Messenger', a song that includes a jazz-flavored bucolic up- tempo section that makes Gravy Train seem an Italian band (the Delirium type, for instance), plus an exciting outro a-la Jethro Tull. Next are three rockers: the straightforward 'Can Anybody Hear Me?'; the R'n'B-inspired 'Old Time Box', which features Hughes' sole sax intervention in the album and a percussive interlude; 'Won't Talk About It', which sounds to me like Traffic-meets-Uriah Heep. All three songs are catchy enough as to deliver a reasonable dose of excitement, but unfortunately they don't receive enough expansive treatments. The closer 'Home Again' brings a mid-tempo excursion of soft rock with an ethnic twist (shades of early Jade Warrior can be referred here). So this is a good album, full of nice ideas that go flowing well, yet devoid of the special mixture of psychedelic hard rock and jazz-rock that had made the "Gravy Train" album so relevant for the maturation of avant-garde rock in the early 70s. "(A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man" is the ballad of a band that gave up on their musical power too soon - good but not great, not excellent but nice.

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