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GRYPHON

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 discography


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

3.38 | 233 ratings
Gryphon
1973
3.74 | 250 ratings
Midnight Mushrumps
1974
4.15 | 663 ratings
Red Queen To Gryphon Three
1974
3.28 | 221 ratings
Raindance
1975
3.44 | 150 ratings
Treason
1977
3.89 | 102 ratings
ReInvention
2018
3.20 | 6 ratings
Get Out of My Father's Car!
2020

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

1.75 | 11 ratings
Ethelion
1998
3.12 | 22 ratings
About as Curious as It Can Be
2002
3.43 | 21 ratings
Glastonbury Carol
2003

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
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Collection II
1995
4.07 | 14 ratings
Gryphon & Midnight Mushrumps
1996
4.25 | 24 ratings
Red Queen To Gryphon Three & Raindance
1997
3.22 | 8 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
 Get Out of My Father's Car! by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.20 | 6 ratings

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Get Out of My Father's Car!
Gryphon Prog Folk

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

3 stars As pretty much the only 70s shining example of Medieval chamber prog, GRYPHON stunned the world with its self-titled debut release in 1973 which crazily crafted a bizarre mix of English folk music with medieval and Renaissance music spruced up with the energy of rock. After a couple of progressive folk albums the band enjoyed extensive touring opportunities with bands like Yes, Steeleye Span and even the Mahavishnu Orchestra. All that exposure to the more progressive forms of rock rubbed GRYPHON in all the right ways and the band was influenced heavily as heard on the band's most lauded prog folk and rock release "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" but just as soon as the band ascended the ranks so too did it fall after a couple of less magnificent following albums.

After the dismal response of 1977's "Treason" GRYPHON called it a day and was pretty much written off as a flash in the pan from the early 70s but in 2018 the three original members Graeme Taylor (guitars), Brian Guilland (bassoon, crumhorn, sax) and Dave Oberle (drums) stunned the prog world by releasing its first album 41 years later with the critically acclaimed "Reinvention" which served as a summary of the band's five album career that straddled the mid-1970s. While many may have thought this might be a one-off project, GRYPHON returns in 2020 to prove that not only would that be a false assumption but that it didn't require another four decades to gestate another batch of material to unleash on the prog world and much like the legendary mythological creature that was known for guarding treasures and priceless possessions seems to have uncovered a wealth of new inspiration.

Yeah GRYPHON is back but with a different lineup and a completely different style unlike anything they have tackled in the past (well for the most part). This is a much leaner lineup with not only the three original members but the return of Andrew Findon on flute, piccolo, soprano crumhorn, soprano sax and the clarinet. New to the family is Rob Levy on bass and Clare Taylor on violin and keyboards. At first glance of the band's seventh album GET OUT OF MY FATHER'S CAR! one is struck with an abrupt WTF reaction as the album cover deviates from the band's cover art depicting mythological scenarios and instead sports what resembles some kind of poster art that might have been seen during the Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Oh no! This is gonna suck! (my first thought). Well, you can never judge a book by its cover so after all is said and done i have to say that it's not as bad as i was fearing however this one is unfortunately a few steps down from "Reinvention" not only in its inconsistency but in its deviation from the crazy prog folk charm of what makes GRYPHON so unique (well, for the most part).

The title track gets off to a funky festive start as it sounds like Earth, Wind and Fire have joined the band for a funk fueled romp that includes some deviations into some extremely proggy territory. Oh yeah, now we're talking! While unlike anything GRYPHON has crafted before, the intricate tradeoff of all the various instruments on board fortified with crazy time signature and even genre skipping is actually quite beautifully done but after a couple of minutes of instrumental wankery, the band adds some funny lyrics which breaks immediately takes the album into a silly nary a care mood. After that rollicking roster of unorthodoxy, the album takes on a more serious mood with the following "A Bit Of Music By Me" which sounds more like classic Gryphon at its peak with beautiful folk motifs laced with the sultry sounds of woodwinds and of course that classic crumhorn!

After another prog folk winner in the form of "Percy the Defective Perspective Detective" the album showcases another stylistic shift with the Celtic folk ballad style of "Christiana's Song" which unfortunately derails the fun made all the more so by several songs of this style punctuating the jocular festivities and prog folk dynamism. "Suite For 68" starts off as an oom-pa-pa polka waltz but finds resolution in a sombre crumhorn fueled folk melody. "The Brief History Of A Bassoon" brings back the humor with Dave Obele providing vocals singing about being a tree! "Krum Dancing" is also mined from GRYPHON's distant past with meideval and Renaissance flavors teased out into prog folk splendor. "Normal Wisdom from the Swamp. (A Sonic Tonic)" follows suit but in the end, there are just too many gosh darned sappy Celtic ballads on this one! The closing "Parting Shot" ends up sounding more like an Irish James Taylor than anything remotely GRYPHON.

Ultimately GET OUT OF MY FATHER'S CAR comes off as a bunch of aging hippies blowing off steam rather than an attempt to craft a serious progressive folk album in the vein of the 70s output or even the lauded comeback "Reinvention." The playful and oft ludicrous humor is actually quite refreshing in a genre that is renowned for taking itself too seriously but the album is bogged down by several earnest tracks that dwell too much on traditional Celtic folk sounds. In the end GRYPHON should've just made a really funny comedy album in the spirit of the title because those are the tracks that work the best here. Tracks like "Christiana's Song," "A Stranger Kiss" and "Forth Sahara" for example just seem like an insipid tribute to Clannad or some other long lost folkies from the late 60s. A good enough album for sure but inconsistent and a step down from the beautiful "Reinvention." Hopefully this was just a fluke and the band has a few zingers left in them.

 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.38 | 233 ratings

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Gryphon
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Lupton

5 stars Predictably, Prog fans tend to zero in on Gryphon's third album "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" with its combination of instrumental doodling and lengthy tracks and total absence of vocals and general sense of seriousness.The group's eponymous debut is by far their most enjoyable partly because of the musicians refusal to take any thing they do too seriously while still displaying serious musical chops. And make no mistake- all four musicians are absolute virtuosos. Richard Harvey is a phenomenal recorder playe as displayed towards the climax of the album's opener- Kemp's Jig,Brian Gulland is an expert on the crumhorn and his wayward accompaniments add to the creative whimsy.Guitarist Graeme Taylor playing is extremely tasteful throughout and is almost jazzy in places especially on "The Astrologer".Dave Oberle plays an assortment of drums while taking on most of the vocal duties. While the album is dominated by the group's quirky takes on medieval and Renaissance tunes they also incorporate their own medieval inspired instrumentals. The best of these by far and by far my favourite track on the album and infact my favourite ever Gryphon track is "Juniper Suite". I remember being totally smitten when I first heard this wonderfully intricate Prog Classic (yes that is Prog with a capital P)and have never stopped enjoying listening to it. It is a shame that the group were almost impatient to abandon the quirky approach of the first album although the final Transatlantic album saw them recapturing some of the magic of their debut. A wonderful album. A full 5 stars
 Red Queen To Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.15 | 663 ratings

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Red Queen To Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars The English lads got on the peak of their progressive driven folk as they equalled contemporary progressive rock with their folk renaissance past. Apart from the classical music instruments, the band mastered also the 70's instruments, especially multiple 70's synthesizers. Textures in the 4 long songs are fantastic, layer after layer and undisputed experimentation are on full display. Keyboards, crumhorn and bassoon take the first seat. Bass guitar is also pretty good. You won't find another better example of the renaissance progressive rock with this mix. The good thing is that the band refrained from singing to keep focus on instruments - that won't held true on the next album. Also, look at the marvellous front cover. I am happy I finally acquired an original CD years after hearing it for the first time on the progressive rock radio. A highly recommended album for those who prefer solid composing and playing over abundance of aimless soloing.

 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.28 | 221 ratings

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Raindance
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Raindance was my first experience of Gryphon, having known the band only from hearing them on progressive rock radios. I like the cover sleeve of the album a lot and bought at a prog-rock festival. The album is quite accessible, varying between folk, prog and pop-rock. Due to some light poppy tracks like the cover of "Mother's nature son", parts of "Fontinental song" and Camel-like "Don't say go", this album won't deserve more than 4 stars. The folky parts are represented mainly by the short fourth track, then "Ormolu" and the last folk-prog epic track. The band has become more progressive than folk which may be a welcome change to most progheads. Apart from the use of exotic folk instruments, I particularly adore the vast array of keyboard sounds like clavinet, glockenspiel, organs etc.

Highlights are the second symphonic track "Raindance" that creates great keyboard textures thanks to synths, Moog and organs. Also nice sounds of storm and rains. The instrumental section in "Fontinental version" compensates for the sloppy poppy part. Keyboard sections are excellent but acoustic guitars are well arranged, too. "Wallbanger" is a nice marching song but not too original apart from nice clavinet playing in the end. "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben" is a definite highlight with grandiose motives and all instruments being folky and epic. Look how a complex epic can be composed without having to be virtuoso. There are so many instruments and various ideas that it may sound incoherent - however you simply have to give it numerous listens. Keyboards, guitar and flute are at the top of their game. Only Gryphon can craft such original epic based on folk and progressive elements.

 Red Queen To Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.15 | 663 ratings

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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
3.89 | 102 ratings

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ReInvention
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

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
3.89 | 102 ratings

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ReInvention
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
3.44 | 150 ratings

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Treason
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
3.28 | 221 ratings

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Raindance
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
4.15 | 663 ratings

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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.

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

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