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Prog Folk • United Kingdom

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Gryphon biography
Founded in 1973 - Disbanded in 1977 - One-off reunion in 2009 - Reformed in 2015

GRYPHON was founded by Richard HARVEY (recorder, keys) and Brian GULLAND (bassoon, krumhorn) after a stint at the Royal Acadamy of Music in 1973. They shared a vision of blending traditional English folk, Baroque instrumentation and Renaissance music in a modern format. The compositions resemble those of Gentle Giant but give greater emphasis to the authentic textures and sounds of the Renaissance period.

Harvey and Gulland were joined in 1973 by Graeme TAYLOR on guitar and singer/percussionist David OBERLE for their all-acoustic first album 'Gryphon'. Bassist Philip NESTOR was added to the line up in 1974 for their second effort 'Midnight Mushrumps', which featured an increased number of original compositions and leanings in a rock direction. Later that year their classic 'Red Queen to Gryphon Three' was released and has become a prog rock staple with its longer, somewhat more symphonic arrangements and courtly instrumental rock. The mid-1970s brought big changes to the band with new bass player Malcom BENNET taking over for Nestor. In 1977, guitarist Graeme Taylor left to be replaced by Bob FOSTER, bassist Jonathan DAVIE replaced Bennett, and Oberle switched to lead voice with Alex BAIRED taking over on drums. Tim SEBASTIAN was also brought in as a lyricist to complete the ever-growing unit. 'Raindance' was released in 1975 and 'Treason' in '77, establishing GRYPHON as a top-notch prog rock act.

With a seamless fusion of British folk and medieval rock, GRYPHON developed a strong sound all their own and a loyal following.

-- Atavachron (David) --

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Gryphon 2018
$9.60 (used)
Midnight MushrumpsMidnight Mushrumps
Talking Elephant 2016
$12.17 (used)
Red Queen to Gryphon ThreeRed Queen to Gryphon Three
Shirty Records 2016
$16.47 (used)
Raindances: Transatlantic Recordings 1973-1975Raindances: Transatlantic Recordings 1973-1975
Esoteric 2018
$19.05 (used)
Talking Elephant 2010
Crossing the Styles: Transatlantic AnthologyCrossing the Styles: Transatlantic Anthology
Extra tracks
Castle 2004
$16.80 (used)

More places to buy GRYPHON music online Buy GRYPHON & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

GRYPHON discography

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

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

3.35 | 212 ratings
3.74 | 232 ratings
Midnight Mushrumps
4.16 | 626 ratings
Red Queen To Gryphon Three
3.29 | 203 ratings
3.45 | 142 ratings
3.95 | 90 ratings

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

1.75 | 11 ratings
3.10 | 21 ratings
About as Curious as It Can Be
3.44 | 20 ratings
Glastonbury Carol

GRYPHON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.92 | 5 ratings
The Collection
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Collection II
4.07 | 14 ratings
Gryphon & Midnight Mushrumps
4.25 | 23 ratings
Red Queen To Gryphon Three & Raindance
3.20 | 7 ratings
Crossing the Styles - The Transatlantic Anthology

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

3.67 | 3 ratings
Spring Song


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Red Queen To Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.16 | 626 ratings

Red Queen To Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars GRYPHON are a London-based Prog-Folk band who are best-known for their unique blend of medieval and Renaissance Folk music, combining classical themes and proggy elements. They released five albums during the Progressive Rock decade of the 1970's:- "Gryphon" (1973); "Midnight Mushrumps" (1974); "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" (1974); "Raindance" (1975); & "Treason" (1977). The band reached something of a stalemate in the 1970's because they were never quite able to achieve commercial success, but they're now experiencing a well-deserved revival, thanks to the arrival of the Internet. Buoyed up by the renewed interest in the band, Gryphon released the aptly-titled comeback album "Reinvention" in 2018, their first album in over forty years.The chess-themed album we have here, "Red Queen to Gryphon Three", with its distinctive album cover, is probably the best-known of Gryphon's six albums. There are four movements in this instrumental Prog-Folk concept album based on the game of chess, so let's make the "Opening Move" now with the 10-minute-long opening piece of music.

Thrusting a pawn forward to the centre of the board with the bold "Opening Move", you could be forgiven for thinking this is YES when you hear the dynamic opening chord sequence. This is an energetic and adventurous keyboard piece which also features a bassoon. Imagine the grand symphonic sound of YES with a bassoon player included and that's the powerful piece of music you have here. There's also a gentle flutey middle passage to give the music a medieval banquet atmosphere, although this impression doesn't last for long, as the music slowly builds up into a crashing crescendo of sound for the dramatic finish when the slightly discordant chords reminds one of some of Van Der Graaf Generator's more experimental works. It's a powerful "Opening Move" to this musical game of chess with a striking "pawn storm" of sound in the centre of the board, designed to grab the listener's attention right from the outset.

Onto the second movement now with "Second Spasm", which opens in traditional medieval feast style with the sound of a crumhorn. You can almost picture Robin Hood and his Merry Men dining with Maid Marion at an exotic banquet with a lavishly-laid-out table. There's no time to dine on a feast though, as we're in full proggy mode just one minute into this 9-minute-long piece, when there's an outbreak of dynamic (and very modern) keyboards to spoil the medieval party atmosphere. The music returns briefly to the flutey medieval theme of a banquet hall, and then we hear the sound of a slow marching rhythm in which gallant knights might have marched into battle in old days of yore. The finale transforms into a powerful quick-march, which brings to mind intrepid medieval knights jostling and jousting on the battlefield to save a beautiful fair maiden's honour in time-honoured tradition.

Side Two opens with the third movement: "Lament". It's an 8-minute-long, three-piece-suite, opening to the harmonious sound of a bassoon and the crumhorn floating along on a gently melodic wave of sound. The acoustic guitar and rhythm section reminds one of the Prog-Rock band Renaissance, which seems somehow appropriate, as Gryphon's unique blend of musical styles is loosely based on the Renaissance music of the Middle Ages. In fact, this music wouldn't have seemed too out of place if it HAD been played in Henry VIII's time, although there would have been no power source to plug the modern electronic keyboard into. Putting that minor detail aside though, the middle section of the suite is a really laid-back mellow groove, but try not to get too laid-back as there's an uplifting and unrestrained grand finale to this Renaissance-style (in both senses) musical extravaganza. This is the kind of flutey folky Renaissance music you could picture yourself listening to at a medieval banquet attended by gallant knights and lusty wenches dining on a suckling pig, whilst being entertained by jolly jugglers and merry magicians, although you're more likely to hear this music played now at a 21st century medieval banquet revival night.

It's "Checkmate" now for the fourth and final movement on our chess-themed Prog-Folk album. This medieval style Prog-Folk instrumental will transport you back in time to the Renaissance court of Henry VIII where gay (in the old sense of the word) wandering minstrels and court jesters entertained the King. The music might have the flutey sound of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, but it's actually the antiquated crumhorn and a recorder that gives the music a Renaissance feel to it. In modern times in England, this is the kind of jolly Folk music that Morris dancers might prance around to, looking slightly ludicrous wearing bell pads on their shins and waving sticks and handkerchiefs in the air, although to be honest, most sensible people in England would go out of their way to avoid Morris dancers. Anyway, back to the music at hand. The music's not TOO folky, because there's enough prog elements included here to keep the prog-heads entertained, including staccato stop-start changes of tempo and an outbreak of Rick Wakeman-style keyboard virtuosity for the sonorous grand finale to this 10-minute Prog-Folk epic.

If you're in the mood for some proggy Folk which conjures up images of gallant knights rescuing fair maidens in distress, then this might be just the album for you. Some of the music on this unique album might sound folky and medieval, but it's given a proggy 20th century upheaval.

 ReInvention by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.95 | 90 ratings

Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars When Gryphon were first started by Richard Harvey (recorder, keys) and Brian Gulland (bassoon, crumhorn) back in 1973 it was obvious they weren't going to sound like anyone else, and the albums they released were a strange amalgam of medieval and progressive music, with some element of folk for good measure. The strong use of different styles of woodwind also assisted in giving their music a distinct presence, and although all five of their albums are worth investigating, the two 1974 albums 'Midnight Mushrumps' and 'Red Queen To Gryphon Three' are undoubted classics. But after 1977's 'Treason' the band were no more, and Harvey made quite a name for himself firstly as a session musician before composing for theatre, TV and films.

What no-one ever expected, that after a small gap of some forty years, three of the founding musicians, Graeme Taylor (acoustic and electric guitars), Dave Oberlé (drums, percussion, vocals) and Brian Gulland (bassoon, bass crumhorn, baritone sax, recorders, piano, vocalisations) would feel the urge to again join together and release a brand new album. They have been joined by Graham Preskett (violin, mandolin, keyboards, harmonica), Andrew Findon (flute, piccolo, fife, soprano crumhorn, soprano sax, clarinet) and Rory McFarlane (electric and double basses) to create an album which has absolutely no right at all to be released in the 21st century, and is all the better for it. This feels more like a sequel to the classics, as opposed to something from guys who are very much older and longer in the tooth.

Few progheads these days have ever experienced the delights of Gryphon, which shows just how much is lacking from their musical education, as I have loved the band for years, and a quick check of my iPhone allows me to say that I do indeed have all their albums loaded for my listening pleasure. I was in conversation with Olav one day and said I was currently listening to 'Mushrumps' and he was the one who told me there was a new album out, which I could hardly fathom! Mostly instrumental, Gryphon still sound just like Gryphon and like no one else at all. Progressive, medieval, folky, if nothing else this will increase the musical education of many who (like me) didn't even realise there were both bass and soprano versions of crumhorns available! Here is a band who have stepped back onto their singular path as if they have never been away, and to say this is a delight is something of a massive understatement.

I can listen to this all day and have found myself doing just that. Easy to listen to, full of light and pleasure, Gryphon are back with an album which is totally indispensable and essential. If you have not previously come across these guys then you have been missing out, and at long last there is a new album to excite and delight us all.

 ReInvention by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.95 | 90 ratings

Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

3 stars After a hiatus of 40 years folk prog rock icons Gryphon rose, phoenix like, from the flames to give us their eagerly awaited new album, ReInvention.

The line up of musicians includes Gryphon stalwarts Brian Gulland, Dave Oberle, and Graeme Taylor, and they are joined by new recruits Rory McFarlane on bass, Graham Preskett on keyboards and strings, and Andy Findon on woodwind.

I was delighted that Gryphon reformed and even more delighted when they announced a new album. I so wanted to give this album a high 4 star rating, but after much deliberation, I feel that 3 stars is more appropriate.

This is a very enjoyable album with good tracks throughout and no weak track on the album.

The problem is that there is no truly stand out track on the album. No track that you can point to as a 5 star track that draws you back to the album again and again.

All of Gryphon's previous albums had a standout track: The debut album had "Juniper Suite", Midnight Mushrumps had "Ethelion", Red Queen to Gryphon Three was excellent throughout, Raindance had "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben", and even the disappointingly pop effort Treason had "Spring Song".

I have played this album over and over for many months trying to find the star track, but I have had to accept that this album just does not have one.

The two longer tracks "Haddocks' Eyes" and "Sailor V" come close, but they are just not quite able to generate (for me) the same emotional connection to the music that tracks like "Ethelion" and "Heldenleben" were able to achieve.

After their ill advised foray into pop rock on their final album of the 1970's, "Treason", the band, fortunately, get back to their roots on this album, with a folk rock fusion which shows off their diverse range of instrumental talents. What's more there are lots of crumhorns on the album, with Brian Gulland on bass crumhorn and new band member Andy Findon taking up the soprano krumhorn (which Brian told us in concert had to be specially made before the album could be completed).

However, fans hoping for an album with a strong medieval flavour are likely to be disappointed, as the album ranges over a variety of musical styles, including more contemporary folk influences and even, on "Sailor V", a celtic folk inspired piece.

Surprisingly, there are rather more vocals on this album that you might expect for a Gryphon album. Whilst, for me, vocals were never one of Gryphon's strong suits, the vocals on this album are, on the whole, marginally better than on some of their other albums. The lyrics are playful in typical Gryphon style, although sometimes rather twee.

My favourite track on this album is actually the unusual and interesting "Hampton Caught" by Graham Preskett, with its use of harpsichord and church organ and strange but interesting rhythms. It's also the most medieval sounding track on the album, which also draws me to it.

ReInvention is absolutely a worthy addition to the Gryphon canon and very much recommended to Gryphon fans and also to fans of folk prog alike, but it will not displace "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" or "Midnight Mushrumps" in my estimation of the very best Gryphon albums.

 Treason by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.45 | 142 ratings

Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

2 stars Henry VIII sent those who committed Treason to be hung, drawn, and quartered, and, after hearing this sell out of an album, he would surely have dispatched the whole bally lot of Gryphon by oxcart to Tyburn for immediate execution.

It is sometimes said that it is about the journey and not the destination. That must certainly be true of Gryphon, because their journey from medieval folk troubadours to pop rock tune meisters was a wonderful ride full of beautifully crafted music, combining medieval folk and progressive rock in amazing ways, but, if this album is the final destination, then I would prefer to see the troubadours back out on the road again.

Of course no band can keep doing the same thing over and over again, and all bands that want to flourish must explore new musical territory and new musical directions. However, not all new directions are the right direction, and this album is definitely a wrong turn for a band like Gryphon.

Gryphon going pop rock is like Houdini announcing that he's giving up performing escapology and will instead give demonstrations of cross stitching. He might have been a great cross stitcher, but it's not what I would want to watch Houdini doing. Equally I want to hear Gryphon exploiting their talents and exploring their medieval folk prog influences to the full.

With a changed line up of Harvey, Oberle, Gulland, Foster, Davie, and Baird, Gryphon are, as always, a wonderful set of musicians, and the quality of the musicianship is again high on this album, and there are many nice enough pop rock songs on the album.

But this is GRYPHON!! This is not an average pop rock ensemble. We know that Gryphon are capable of creating incredible albums fusing medieval folk with progressive rock music in the most glorious ways, so why would they want to change their style and produce okay but fairly average pop rock that so many other bands were already churning out?

When you have your own niche and a style that is absolutely unique in music, why would you want to become ordinary and like every other pop rock band?

Of course, those listeners who dislike the medieval folk inspired albums will probably prefer an album like this, but, medieval folk is the very essence of Gryphon, and there are plenty of other bands to turn to if toe tapping pop rock is the order of the day.

Gryphon had been touring with Yes, and they clearly craved the success that Yes were having. They hoped for bigger audiences and main stream appeal. Unfortunately a band as specialised and inimitable as Gryphon were never likely to top the charts, and the experiment failed. There is no surprise that the band called it a day soon after this album.

"Spring Song" is of course the highlight, and the only highlight, of the album. It has nice use of bassoon from Gulland and a good uplifting melody. The chorus section of "Spring is the dancer..." has a nice catchy refrain and the song is pleasant and memorable. Even so the track is a little disjointed in places and, good as it is overall, it is not enough to rescue the album.

Is 2 stars a bit harsh? Possibly, and in all honesty, if I was reviewing this album on a purely stand alone basis, it would probably merit 3 stars, but this is Gryphon and I know what they are capable of. I cannot reward an album that has sold out on a wonderful musical heritage for cheap popularity that in the end it did not achieve. What's more, I would only recommend this album to someone who was a committed fan of Gryphon and who had already heard all of their other albums.

For this crime of Treason I sentence Gryphon to 40 years of banishment, after which they shall be required to ReInvent themselves.

 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.29 | 203 ratings

Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

4 stars Gryphon's journey from outright folk band to pop rock ensemble reached its perfect equilibrium in the magnum opus that was Red Queen to Gryphon Three.

Here, in their next album, Raindance, the balance is tipped in favour of a more progressive pop rock feel, but still combined with some folk elements.

Let's be clear: this album is not as good as Midnight Mushrumps, and it would be a three star album were it not for one factor:

"(Ein Klein) Heldenleben"

This is the final track on the album and at 16 minutes it dominates the album and, what's more, it is a belting track that, on it's own, turns this album from an average 3 star album into a 4 star work.

I won't waste too much time on the tracks that precede "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben". They are good enough, although the album overall lacks the sense of cohesion of the two earlier albums, and the tracks feel a little thrown together with no real unifying theme.

Listeners hoping for the strong medieval influence present on the earlier albums will be disappointed, as the band opt instead for mostly pastoral style folk rock.

But then we get to the main event, (Ein Klein) Heldenleben, and it's definitely worth the wait!

This is pure prog rock and is executed superbly. Graeme Taylor's electric guitar simply soars on this track, and, combined with some of the most sensational flute work you are ever likely to hear from Richard Harvey, the track builds symphonically until it finally breaks out into a triumphant chorus of crumhorns and organ that turn into soaring electric guitar. A riotous feast of pure symphonic pleasure and a truly joyous track that elevates this album to heights it would not otherwise achieve.

This is Gryphon's third best album, behind Red Queen to Gryphon Three and Midnight Mushrumps, but (Ein Klein) Heldenleben makes the entrance fee worth paying.

 Red Queen To Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.16 | 626 ratings

Red Queen To Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

5 stars Good things come in threes! In the case of Gryphon's third album, "Red Queen to Gryphon Three", great things come in threes, because this album is an essential masterpiece of progressive rock music that every prog rock fan should own.

Why is it so essential? Because this album successfully achieves the fusion of medieval folk and progressive rock in a way that few other albums ever have.

The Gryphon journey is one from almost pure folk on their self titled debut, to pop rock on their fifth album "Treason", but, in truth, they were at their best when they combined these two influences, and nowhere did they achieve this so completely and successfully as on this album.

The album also achieves a level of consistently high quality across all four pieces on the album.

Other Gryphon albums tend to have at least a few weaker tracks, but here nothing is weak, all of the pieces that make up the album are brilliantly conceived and executed with the highest standard of musicianship.

The theme of the album is ostensibly based on a game of chess, and I have heard people say that they haven't listened to the album because they're not interested in chess! Really the chess theme is nothing more than incidental to the album and, whilst I do like chess, the album could really be about anything and you certainly don't have to be a fan of chess to enjoy it.

The other great advantage of this album is that it is entirely instrumental. I have always thought that vocals were not Gryphon's strong suit, so their absence on this album is all to the good.

To be able to successfully combine crumhorns, bassoons, flutes, synths, and electric guitars, to create a work of art that sounds both at the same time medieval and modern is no mean feat, but Gryphon pull it off in style in this album.

All of the musicians are superb on this album, but special mention should go to Richard Harvey who is, for my money, one of the best exponents of the flute that I have had the pleasure of listening to. His soaring, lilting flute on the closer "Checkmate" is simply joyous.

A wonderfully uplifting album that achieves everything that it sets out to achieve and is unquestionably a landmark in medieval folk prog fusion. This album absolutely shows how it should be done and no serious prog rock fan should be without it in their collection. A masterpiece of the genre.

 Midnight Mushrumps by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.74 | 232 ratings

Midnight Mushrumps
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

4 stars The second album from medieval folk prog specialists Gryphon exhibits a sound that is maturing and becoming more sophisticated, as the band take the compositional standard of their work up a significant notch and begin to take their music beyond straight folk and into more progressive territory.

There are two stand out tracks on this album and they are the opener and title track "Midnight Mushrumps", and the closer "Ethelion".

"Midnight Mushrumps" demonstrates the considerable orchestral compositional skills of Richard Harvey with a beautiful piece of music that builds softly and slowly and rises to a crescendo of medieval musical wonder full of crumhorns and bassoon, before softening to the gently lilting flute of Harvey. A wonderful piece of music.

"The Plough Boys Dream" is more in the style of the pure folk found on Gryphon's debut album, but is a nice enough piece, even if not particularly special.

"The Last Flash of Gaberdine" is a well constructed piece in a typically medieval folk style. "Gulland Rock" has some nice guitar work by Graeme Taylor, and "Dubbel Dutch" is a pleasantly meandering piece of medieval style folk.

But Gryphon save the best until last on this album with the final track and show stopper "Ethelion".

There is a playful side to the band in every album, which can be hit and miss, but on this track it's definitely a hit as the band's impromptu studio tickling attack on Brian Gulland becomes the maniacally comical opening to the track.

All the musicians come together brilliantly for this track as the medieval sounds evolve into a wonderfully stirring hook played on numerous instruments. Crumhorn leads us into guitar, followed by Richard Harvey's beautifully dulcet flute given harmony by Brian Gulland on the tenor recorder. The track swells and grows into a thing of beauty and majesty and you feel that don't want it to end, but sadly it does.

Ethelion is possibly the best track that Gryphon ever produced, and this album is a wonderful exhibition of sophisticated medieval folk prog at its best.

 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.35 | 212 ratings

Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

3 stars Gryphon are such a unique band that, if you have any interest in medieval and renaissance music, and, especially, in how it can be incorporated into progressive rock, then they are essential listening.

The Gryphon journey is very much a journey from pure medieval folk on this their debut album to a much more mainstream pop/rock sound on their final album "Treason", before their forty year hiatus saw them rise, phoenix like from the flames, to release ReInvention in 2018. I would not recommend a prog rock fan unfamiliar with Gryphon to start with this album. It is almost pure folk and may put a rock fan off the band completely.

Prog rock fans new to Gryphon should start with their classic third album Red Queen to Gryphon Three, and then work forwards or backwards, depending on their taste for more of the folk sound or more of the pop/rock sound.

The musicianship on the debut album is excellent with plenty of bassoon and crumhorn to excite the medieval folk enthusiast. Brian Gulland is excellent on bassoon and crumhorn, and Richard Harvey is one of the best flute players you are likely to hear. Backed up by David Oberle on vocals and percussion and the excellent Graeme Taylor on guitar and keys, this is a highly accomplished group of musicians.

The album has a number of interesting medieval folk numbers, especially "Kemp's Jig", "The Unquiet Grave", and a rendition of of a piece written by Henry VIII, entitled "Pastime with Good Company".

These tracks are good enough, but there is only one really outstanding track on this album, and that is "Juniper Suite", a track soaked in heavy crumhorns, and lightened by beautiful guitar work from Taylor and Harvey. A piece that totally transports you back to the court of King Henry VIII. Majestic in its pomp and beauty.

Unfortunately some pieces feel a bit lightweight, such as the fun and frivolous "Three Jolly Butchers" and "Sir Gavin Grimbold", and the album finishes with the playful, if possibly somewhat misogynistic, "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife".

Gryphon have a fun side to them which is evident throughout their albums and which can be hit and miss, but this album should have finished on a high with "Juniper Suite" and not with the somewhat puerile closer.

Better things were to come from Gryphon, but this album is certainly recommended to those who have already listened to and enjoyed the albums that follow this one. Three stars.

 ReInvention by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.95 | 90 ratings

Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The 2010s has been a great decade for classic prog rock acts of the 70s riding the new wave of popularity that the genre has been experiencing. These bands emerge seemingly from out of nowhere after finding a few classic heyday members who round up a bunch of newbies for the team and then secretly head into the studios unbeknownst to the world and then ultimately deliver a slice of good old fashioned classic prog tailored for the 21st century. Camel re-recorded their classic "The Snow Goose," Maxophone, Osanna, Comus and Bubu made a comeback after woefully brief careers in the 70s and even Soft Machine has completely rebooted with some of the band's former glory day members coming to the forefront in 2018. Add to that list, a band i would've never expected to hear from again and that's GRYPHON who hasn't been heard from since 1977's "Treason."

The release of their sixth album REINVENTION marks a whopping 41 year absence since their last album hit the market. It's hard to believe that this band that took the world by storm in 1973 with their unique Renaissance medieval folk only to catch the prog rock bug shortly thereafter and fizzle out a mere five years later has found a second wind by releasing a more than competent companion piece to their unique five album run of the 70s. While a shock to some, those who have kept up with the band on their website have been eagerly waiting for some new form of product after GRYPHON announced all the way back in 2007 that they decided to produce a new album after 31 years of silence. For those aware way back then, it must've been quite a nail biter as the years trickled along and no new album. Well that wait has come to an end and GRYPHON have finally released a very worthy album to fit within their short but interestingly diverse canon.

Unlike some bands that own a particular band name and return with a whole new cast of members, GRYPHON returns with three of the classic team. Brian Gulland is back with his famous bassoon, bass crumhorn, recorders, and harmonium playing, Graeme Taylor likewise makes a reprise on guitars and vocals and Dave Oberlé has returned on drums and vocals as well. While the band had traditionally been a quintet even on their most ambitious effort "Red Queen To Gryphon Three," REINVENTION finds three new members joining the Medieveal folk ranks with Graham Preset on violin, mandolin and keyboards; Andy Finds on flute, soprano crumhorn, soprano sax and clarinet; as well as Rory McFarlane on bass. Just like "Treason," the band has opted to reform as a sextet and all the better for it as the newly updated musical journey benefits from the expanded musical mojo from these seasoned veterans.

With five fairly different albums in their 70s heyday which took GRYPHON through three distinct musical styles and two albums that provided the bridge between, the obvious first question for anyone familiar with the complete GRYPHON canon is where exactly would they go after so much time away from their medieval playgrounds. Those questions are answered fairly abruptly as the opening "Pipe Up Downsland Derry Dell Danko" starts off with dueling recorders and engages in an engaging menagerie of progressive folk acoustic guitar that falls somewhere in between the band's eponymous debut and the ambitious jittery folk of Jethro Tull's "Song From The Wood." The track prances around like a proper pony at a medieval wedding ceremony with after more than three minutes offers some vocals bringing more of a "Raindance" vibe to the stage. There is also much more of a presence of acoustic classical guitar glory.

After an initial listen, it seems only "Treason" hasn't been represented on this one as the medieval folk timbres follow the debut, the semi-rock passages of the sophomore "Midnight Mushrumps" and the complexity of the proggy time signature workouts, the "Red Queen" influences come through. Add the vocals and shorter tracks present on "Raindance" and it's a veritable tribute to the past, yet REINVENTION sounds like none of the albums that came before. Since GRYPHON has always had a rather strange anachronistic sound that evades the time from when it was created, so too does this 21st century undertaking embark on a medieval tinged journey into the progressive rock paradigm that utterly eschews the decade from which it emerged. In fact the whole thing is sort of a since it clearly is inspired by Renaissance folk but engages the most modern 21st production technology making it a crystal clear listening experience yet implements a clear progressive rock compositional prowess that the 70s excelled in which makes this one sound as eternal as its predecessors.

GRYPHON obviously spent years crafting this new assemblage of material and it shows. Every track is well crafted as it emphasizes the medieval folk values from their past teased out into progressive rock fantasy worlds. The musical flow is impeccable as the medieval melodies are as infectious as ever and the arrangements of the many instruments are perfectly executed. Perhaps the weakest aspect of REINVENTION is that of the vocal parts which clearly show strained and aging throats not hitting their stride which belie the triumphant return of the instrumental aspects. No worries as this is primarily an instrumental album that emphasizes those characteristics with only a few vocal parts finding their way into the mix. While many elements of yore have been resurrected, there are a few new things going on as well. There is a clear Celtic folk vibe on some tracks especially on "Sailor V," but interwoven throughout which honestly brings a Mike Oldfield feel to certain parts and transitions as well as more classical guitar runs. There's even an extraordinarily awesome keyboard run on "The Euphrates Connection" which finds GRYPHON tackling new progressive territories.

All i can say is - wow! REINVENTION is more than i ever could've hoped for from an old timer band like GRYPHON. It never even crossed my mind that this band would ever release a new album and now that it has arrived i'm utterly shocked as to how well this album sounds. I predict the consensus will be that REINVENTION will in no way usurp the throne as the band's best album which is pretty much universally accepted as their prog rock masterpiece "Red Queen To Gryphon Three," however this album is just as consistent and entertaining as any of the other four albums from their initial 70s run and much preferable to yours truly than their lackluster "Raindance." Add to that a warm and sensual production that is absolutely perfectly executed and you have one of the best prog albums of 2018. Whether this album is a fluke or a return to form from a classic 70s band remains to be seen but REINVENTION proves itself as one of the best modern examples of progressive folk with rock elements that i've heard. In case you need it spelled out in emphatic terms, THIS ALBUM IS AWESOME TO THE MAX!!!!

 Treason by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.45 | 142 ratings

Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars GRYPHON was one of prog rock's most restless characters during their initial seven year run. All within the span of five albums released during the 70s, they managed to develop not just one style of playing but in reality they cranked out three distinct musical sounds that they could call their own! The band emerged as a unique medieval Renaissance folk revival band which stood out like a sore thumb even amongst the fertile creative early years of the 70s when it seemed everything experimental was en vogue and GRYPHON developed their retro folk of centuries gone by perfectly. However they would soon catch a prog bug, end up touring with Yes and then honed their skills to craft one of prog's most unique albums of the 70s with their landmark "Red Queen To Gryphon Three." Having apparently been happy enough with one glorious proggy album of that caliber, they switched gears again and started honing their progressive art pop skills which started out on the awkward transition album "Raindance" and finally realized on their fifth and final album of their early years TREASON.

After "Raindance," the band experienced a complete upheaval as three of the five members departed and after all was said and done, guitarist Graeme Taylor was replaced by Bob Foster, bassist Malcolm Markovich was replaced by Jonathon Davie and drummer David Oberlé by Alex Baird. And with the departure of two of the founding members, so too did almost all of the folk aspects of the early years exit stage left. TREASON represents what was supposed to be a whole new chapter in the GRYPHON saga as they adapted to the ever changing world of less proggy tracks that were shorter and more mainstream, however in reality they are anything but as TREASON packs in quite a few punches of over-the-top time signature workouts and compositional fortitude that would please any hardened progger. However, TREASON does deliver more streamlined tracks that diminish the pomp and awe excess and create easier to follow tracks even if within them they pack a few prog punches. This is also the most vocal oriented of the five original GRYPHON albums with Oberlé taking the mic and doing his best Jon Anderson as Yes provided once again the main inspiration.

While "Raindance" seemed more like a grab bag of disparate leftover tracks and had no continuity between the nine tracks, TREASON on the other hand exudes its own character. Gone are the medieval crumhorn squawks but the band successfully integrates the English horn and bassoon from previous incarnations into their decidedly austere progressive art pop. If you ask me, TREASON sounds a lot like a more Yes inspired Caravan. This album has cleverly crafted pop hooks and Pye Hastings meets Jon Anderson type vocals. Bob Foster, the new guitarist in town, obviously worshiped Mr. Steve Howe and his guitar style emulates the best moments on "Close To The Edge" as well as the earlier more melodic Yes moments. All in all, the album is composed of seven catchy tracks that exhibit strong hooks, somewhat traditional pop compositional form and contains elements of progressive rock, funk and jazz, albeit more tightly woven together than the previous album. With TREASON, the band had successfully transmogrified once again into a completely different band and pulls it off reasonably well.

The Yes influences have never been more apparent beginning with the opener "Spring Song" which takes that famous "Close To The Edge" sort of groove and adds a little funk with some dramatic keyboard stabs for emphasis. This ten minute opener is by far the most proggy track on board but overall comes across as a post-Relayer type of Yes, more like "Tormato" than the "Close To The Edge" riffing style that the track exudes with bravado. It also has a key rich melodic line that echoes a late 70s connection with bands like Styx and Supertramp but in the end sounds like neither. The rest of the tracks remain shorter with only one barely extending past the five minute mark but somehow GRYPHON retains a kernel of their former selves within each art pop oriented creation.

Out of all the GRYPHON albums, TREASON is the one that i've wafered back and forth over. The first time i heard this i was floored and thought it was their best album but the second time i hated it and thought it was their worst. I've had to let this album simmer down and check it out in various moods and then ultimately accept it for what it is outside the context of what came before. Ultimately i'm quite taken with the art pop on display on TREASON. There have been many claims that TREASON is GRYPHON's "Abbey Road," that meaning a final chapter of a band's history that does nothing but deliver strong catchy vocal oriented songs that grab you by the heart rather than dazzle you with instrumental workouts. And that's exactly what this one does. The Yes inspired aspects embedded within progressive pop hook laden compositions is quite a decent formula and had GRYPHON not released this in the very year when The Sex Pistols changed the entire musical paradigm of popular music then perhaps they could've evolved this sound into the 80s and have produced elegant art pop hits much in the vein of both Yes and Genesis. That was, however, not their destiny and after TREASON the band would call it a day and not release another album for forty years. Ultimately TREASON has won me over despite a preference for a return to the "Red Queen" days.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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