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GRYPHON

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Gryphon biography
GRYPHON was founded in 1973 by Richard HARVEY (recorder, keys) and Brian GULLAND (bassoon, krumhorn) after a stint at the Royal Acadamy of Music. 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) --

Gryphon official website

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  • Ethelion Midnight Mushrumps, 1974
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Gryphon/Midnight MushrumpsGryphon/Midnight Mushrumps
Import
Castle 1996
Audio CD$95.85
$11.99 (used)
gryphongryphon
Transatlantic Records
Vinyl$22.00 (used)
GryphonGryphon
Remastered · Import
Talking Elephant 2007
Audio CD$49.99
TreasonTreason
Import · Remastered
Talking Elephant 2009
Audio CD$14.34
$20.41 (used)
Red Queen to Gryphon 3Red Queen to Gryphon 3
Remastered · Import
Talking Elephant 2007
Audio CD$15.02
$30.39 (used)
Red Queen to Gryphon Three/RaindanceRed Queen to Gryphon Three/Raindance
Remastered
1997
Audio CD$99.98
$22.75 (used)
The CollectionThe Collection
Progressive International 1993
Audio CD$12.59
$9.95 (used)
Midnight MushrumpsMidnight Mushrumps
Import
Talking Elephant 2007
Audio CD$19.67
$25.39 (used)
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GRYPHON discography


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

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

3.31 | 157 ratings
Gryphon
1973
3.63 | 168 ratings
Midnight Mushrumps
1974
4.13 | 494 ratings
Red Queen to Gryphon Three
1974
3.27 | 148 ratings
Raindance
1975
3.41 | 105 ratings
Treason
1977

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

1.76 | 8 ratings
Ethelion
1998
2.98 | 17 ratings
About as Curious as It Can Be
2002
3.43 | 18 ratings
Glastonbury Carol
2003

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

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

4.00 | 3 ratings
The Collection
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Collection II
1995
4.27 | 11 ratings
Gryphon & Midnight Mushrumps
1996
4.29 | 21 ratings
Red Queen To Gryphon Three & Raindance
1997
3.20 | 7 ratings
Crossing the Styles - The Transatlantic Anthology
2004

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

3.67 | 3 ratings
Spring Song
1977

GRYPHON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.31 | 157 ratings

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Gryphon
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Replayer

4 stars Gryphon's eponymous debut album is not rock, and is technically regressive rather than progressive. This is due to the fact that the music is played on acoustic instruments and largely consists of traditional English Renaissance/folk songs.

The album finds Gryphon as an acoustic quartet, consisting of Royal College of Music classmates Richard Harvey (recorder, crumhorn, organ, harpsichord, mandolin) and Brian Gulland (crumhorn, bassoon, recorder, vocals), together with Graeme Taylor (acoustic guitar, recorder, vocals) and David Oberle (drums, percussion, vocals). Oberle used an ingenious combination of toms, bongos, gongs, cymbals and even a kettle instead of a standard drum kit.

Despite the band's reputation as medieval-prog band, much of the album's music originates from the Renaissance and Baroque era: Kemp's Jig is a 17th century tune named after Shakesperean actor William Kempe (died 1603), The Three Butchers is a 17th century ballad, Pastime With Good Company is a well-known song composed by a young Henry VIII. Three Jolly Butchers with its references to shooting also seems to be a Renaissance song. Actually, all songs with vocals use modern English.

All songs are rather short, with only The Unquiet Grave surpassing five minutes in length, but this also means that none of the songs overstay their welcome. About half of the songs are instrumentals, interestingly including Pastime With Good Company, which does have lyrics. The songs with vocals range from melancholy (Sir Gavin Grimbold and The Unquiet Grave) to amusingly raunchy. Save for three original instrumentals (two of which are very short), the album is comprised of cover songs.

As such, this debut is more of a showcase of the band's instrumental prowess rather than its compositional abilities. Estampie, in particular, reaches an impressive tempo. Nevertheless, the band's own composition Juniper Suite is very strong and foreshadows Red Queen to Gryphon Three.

Whether you will enjoy this album depends on your appreciation of Medieval/Renaissance/Baroque/acoustic folk music. For my part, I enjoy it very much, leading to a solid four star rating.

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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 494 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

5 stars The third release from Gryphon brings their definitive release. "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" is a wholly instrumental offering, driven by intricate interplay between piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar and flute with other odd instruments thrown in to add their unique accents. The album is largely symphonic in nature, though the folk influence shines through strongly. In fact, this album is so symphonic that it actually follows the form of a classical symphony!

Each of the album's four compositions acts as a movement of the greater work, which is loosely based on the game of chess, hence the titles. The fanfare-like "Opening Move" gives way to the lively "Second Spasm" and the ballad "Lament" contrasts the rhythmically pulsing "Checkmate". None of the movements are weak and "Lament" stands out in particular as one of the stronger ones, with its beautiful pastoral guitar and flute duets and expansive, synth-led finale. The music throughout the entire album is very thoughtfully composed, well layered and intelligently written. This really is one that every fan of classic prog fan should check out. A must-have!

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 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.27 | 148 ratings

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Raindance
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

3 stars Following the elaborate and sophisticated songwriting of their third album, "Red Queen To Gryphon Three", British prog folk outfit Gryphon comes out with this eclectic album that can best be described as quirky.

Aside from the album's concluding epic, which is very much in the vein of their previous album, "Raindance" is composed of 8 shorter, odder tracks. It is obvious that the band was having a lot of fun recording this album, which is seething with silliness. Not that it's a problem at all; there are still fine musical moments scattered throughout and the whimsical moments are fun and carefree.

This album really doesn't have anything to dislike and the epic, the simplistically beautiful Beatles cover "Mother Nature's Son" and the fact that it comes bundled on CD with "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" are more than enough incentive to give this album a listen. Three stars for a happy, inoffensive release that will sit on your shelf for a while but should bring joy every time you take it out.

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 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.31 | 157 ratings

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Gryphon
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars GRYPHON was formed in the early 70s when the two Royal College of Music graduates Richard Harvey (recorders, crumhorns, keyboards, guitar, mandolin) and Brian Gulland (bassoon, crumhorns, recorders, keyboards, vocals) met. The two were extremely interested in English folk music, Renaissance music and everything medieval. This academic passion for the music of centuries gone by soon caught the attention of fellow musicians Dave Oberlé (drums, percussion, vocals) and Graeme Taylor (guitars, keyboards, recorder, vocals) who would soon join them to create some serious retro music with a modern day rock energy flair. Soon after this musical union, the band recorded a whole bunch of traditionals dating all the way back to King Henry VIII and caught the attention of Transatlantic Records which released their eponymous debut album in 1973.

While GRYPHON is best known for their unique mix of progressive rock and medieval folk instrumentation on their highly acclaimed "Red Queen To Gryphon Three," on this debut they were in full retro English folk and Renaissance mode staying very faithful to the original compositions on board here. Almost everything on the album is acoustic and heavy use of recorders, crumhorns and bassoon gives a most genuine period feel that instantly puts you in the time of the Tudor's and everything 1500s. The track "Pastime With Good Company" was written by King Henry VIII himself and is perhaps the most famous of the lot. The Dan Pearce fantasy album cover depicting the legendary GRYPHON, the most powerful and majestic creature ever to have lived guarding the treasures is the perfect symbology of the band's approach keepers of the medieval musical treasures that they have resurrected.

I can understand why many prog rock lovers will not find this one appealing. There is absolutely nothing modern or rock on this debut except for, of course, the recording and production techniques. All instruments and tracks are period correct and quite faithfully performed to evoke that good old Renaissance feel, however there is definitely an infusion of modern day rock energy incorporated into this track list of oldies but goodies. The drumming patterns are very energetic and what little interpretations of Renaissance music i have heard to not even come close to the quality of the music on this album. Progressive folk this is without any rock whatsoever but starting with the second album "Midnight Mushrumps," GRYPHON would begin adding rock elements into their retro folk sound. For this debut, however, we get one full-on Medieval folk album that transports you into the world where Shakespeare and English Madrigal Schools flourished. Personally i find this one to be quite the interesting listen heightening my musical and historical sensibilities in tandem. I have never heard anything like this and find GRYPHON to be a sadly underappeciated musical force.

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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 494 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This album is what progressive rock was about back in its heyday. The drive to push rock music further afield and into other fields. What an exemplary album "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" is of that. Do I like it? Well, yes and... yeah, it's alright. But never mind that. Here are four musicians who really tried to create something original.

The album is loosely based on a game of chess. Sounds utterly boring, does it not? Thankfully, other than the track titles, there is no hint of chess being played and in fact it is rather difficult to continue imagining a game of chess being played to this music. It is lively, it is diverse, it is bold, it is entertaining. We have rock and renaissance, folk and classical. We have guitars and the whole rock band deal along with bassoons and krum horns and some other woodwind instruments. In "Second Spasm" we have something that sounds like a renaissance duck duo. "Lament" features some lovely pastoral passages. Each of the four compositions follows a different course, though you will notice that each piece weaves its own wild course through varying melodies and themes.

One thing that struck me was how blatantly obvious it became that the American prog band Yezda Urfa were inspired by Gryphon, particularly "Second Spasm". There are sections of the music with its speedy guitars and rapid fire rhythm (in odd meters of course) that sound like they came straight off "Sacred Baboon" except for that Gryphon did it first.

For another comparison, I find the music is as busy as that of Anglagard or Wobbler, who both introduce musical themes like runners coming across the finish line at a race. Gryphon, too, will give you some melody for 24 bars or maybe 32, and then that one is discarded and an entirely different melody and meter will abruptly take its place. Which means this is no slow and gently progressing set of instrumentals but rather a sometimes torpedic (is there such a word?) ride through a magical music landscape.

As for my personal opinion, I find the music on this album to be admirably bold and progressive and at times a tad over the hedge. I love some of the parts but not all. Too much renaissance bassoon and krum horn doesn't sound so cool in the car stereo, and the duck duo, though well executed, is not something to play when the wife is around. Once again I am reminded that listening to this kind of prog is sometimes a very private affair.

I would say it is a masterpiece and certainly essential if classic seventies prog in all its wondrous forms is your fancy. However, I am certain there are plenty of progheads out there who will find this a little too out there. I'll give it four stars.

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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 494 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Mista-Gordie

5 stars A true gem of symphonic progressive, maybe one of my top 10 favorites of the genre, it's a shame how much Gryphon have become a quite forgotten band, because to me they belong to a very small group of bands that constitute the very best of symph prog, along with Genesis, Yes, Anglagard, ELP, Camel, PFM, Banco, Le Orme, Harmonium and Renaissance (at least for that one album). They have been categorized here as Folk Prog, but in this case the term Symphonic is way more appropriate (which is a good example of why I think it would be much better to class every album by genre instead of whole discography of each artist.

There is truly not a single weak moment and while all four tracks are perfect in their own, I'd have to say "Opening move" is my personnal favorite, with its magnificient intro that immediatly sets the tone for the listener to know what to expect from this very unique journey. The whole thing has a very medieval feel to it, which works even better than in Gentle Giant IMO, though in a quite different way. The musicianship here is the best I've heard from any band, except maybe Yes, and the keyboard work from Richard Harvey especially is totally mind-blowing, while the ubiquitousness of the bassoon might be what makes this album so unique.

Totally a desert island pick for me, just as Close to the Edge, Selling England and Red.

10/10

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 Red Queen To Gryphon Three & Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
4.29 | 21 ratings

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Red Queen To Gryphon Three & Raindance
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

4 stars This combo-release of 1997 by Castle Communications was my first (double!) experience with Gryphon. Having two-in-one CDs comes pretty handy but also, in this case, enhances the interest of the listening experience.

The main reason for this is the variation you get between the two CDs as RQTGT flows into Raindance. There is a transition from the long, peculiar, long compositions of the former to the more direct folk/rock character of the latter. In fact, Raindance in someways concludes with the way that RQTGT starts: with a long, intricate, symphonic-influenced composition.

The 'Opening Move' remided me of The Enid and ''In the Region Of The Summer Stars'' with the use of multiple instruments in an intriguing sequence from more melodic folk passages to grandios, barocque style. Apparently, this describes the atmopshere in the first move of the chess game... Throughout the rest of the three compositions, the mood constantly shifts, with 'Second Spasm' starting off as more light-hearted (imagine King Arthur arriving on his horse) but quickly evolving on a memorable dynamic bass line. The music that follows could remind you of Warner Bros' comics (no offence or pun intended!) with the wind instruments dominating, before returning to the trademark folk main theme. 'Lament' is much more subtle, dark and slower, but mid-way through explodes to yet another symphonic-folk adventurous rhythm that brings me back to The Enid... 'Checkmate' concludes the chess moves in an eclectic prog fashion and recurring wind instrument themes.

Raindance starts off in a more direct rock, on the one hand, and relaxed-folk atmosphere on the other with lyrics being first introduced in the mellow 'Mother Nature's Son'. The influence of French music appears in the next number, before 'Fontinental Version' which kicks off the more heavy rock elements in the album, amidst the melodic interludes. 'Wallbanger' presents a mix of flute and rock 'n' roll and 'Don't Say Go' reminds strongly of the canterbury tales of Caravan. The 16 min '(Ein Klein) Heldenleben' is certainly the highlight and potentially the only one resembling profoundly RQTGT, with symphonic/pompous arrangements but with a slightly lighter approach in the vein of Alan Parsons. Midway through it displays a folksier (see very British!) character with fast flute playing and then returns to the main theme of the composition before concluding in grandiose arrangements.

Great addition to your prog collection, even if Raindance does not match RQTGT, this combo-CD shows great variety in moods and includes memorable compositions. + to the price and - to the CD inlays but these are minor details.

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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 494 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by BatBacon

2 stars This is a record that always make me feel a bit stupid, because I just dont get it. No matter how many times I hear it I cant see whats so interesting about it. To my ears it sounds like someone done a whole album from the song 'Cans and Brahms' (from Yes classic album 'Fragile'), which is a terrible idea!

To be a bit fair the concept behind the album is very cool, it about a game of chess starting of with the song 'Opening Move' and ending with 'Checkmate'. Also the title of the album is really clever, considering this to be the band's third album. And of course, great art for the cover, it makes the record look beautiful and very classic prog.

So with all those things covered for, what could go wrong? Well, what if the band didn't really have any ideas for the music? That would ruin it, wouldn't it? Yes, and if you ask me, thats exactly what happens. I doesn't sound like chess (or any great progressive adventure, for that matter), it sounds more like five guys playing something they didn't have time to finish writing. Theres just a lot of playing around with half written ideas for some minutes, never leading into anything exciting, no climax, no dynamics, no ups and downs. It doesn't happen anything at all.

I guess its a question of preferences, I'm not a huge fan of Camel's 'Snow goose' ether, and I find the two albums to have quite a few things in common. To start with they are both instrumental, which apparently is hard music to write. Also they are so busy with trying to tell a story without using any words, they forget about the dynamics of a great song. Instead of building a mood or a groove, sticking to an idea long enough to make the listener involved and interested, they keep adding melodies to the song that just doesn't lead anywhere. Its too much going on without filling any purpose and the result is a complex song that does nothing but fall flat to the ground.

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 Treason by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.41 | 105 ratings

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Treason
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Not what you think!

It's exaggerating greatly to say that Gryphon committed treason to their sound and their fans with this album. I'm actually surprised by the negative comments above. I kinda understand their deception; you have to remember that Gryphon was (and still is, frankly) so superior in writing and execution than everybody else. Few could come close to being that skilled, but a lazier album by Gryphon is STILL better than many, many other 'classics' in the prog world (*cough* ELP).

I do agree, they changed their approach: less medieval, more Yes-like, more vocals, more catchyness, more love-oriented texts and a general less 'showoffness'.

You STILL have an above-average record with lots of hooks and a Fairy Tale mood that will still satisfy your hunger for mind-blowing prog.

Not a Treason by any means, just more pressure from The Man.

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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 494 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Mr. Mustard

4 stars I've always been amazed at the extensive range of genres prog rock can encompass. Gryphon's Red Queen to Gryphon Three is one of the most eclectic albums in this regard, tackling genres such as Baroque, Renaissance, and Folk, all while retaining that progressive rock sound.

Working with these "Classical" genres, the album has some instruments even most prog bands don't employ, such as the bassoon and crumhorn. These rarely used instruments, along with the classic keyboard and guitar creates an odd, but effective sonic landscape.

The music itself is very melodic, upbeat, and light, but there are plenty of tense moments to keep the album sounding dynamic. In fact, it would be an understatement to call the album dynamic, as there are an enormous number of tempo, meter, mood, and volume changes throughout each song. Add on to this the use of a classical technique in the form of development and repetition of themes, and you have a constantly evolving album.

However, on many listens I feel something falls just short. Perhaps it's the disjointed nature with which I label it, or maybe it's because I'm not an avid fan of music from the Renaissance/Baroque era. But for whatever reason i'm never as excited as I should be given the albums superb creativity and complexity.

Regardless, I believe this is an album that should be given a chance by anyone who likes a unique combination of Folk and older "classical" music, and carefully crafted and thoughtful compositions.

7/10

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