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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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Midnight MushrumpsMidnight Mushrumps
Import
Talking Elephant 2007
Audio CD$18.39
$14.87 (used)
GryphonGryphon
Remastered · Import
Talking Elephant 2007
Audio CD$9.47
$10.99 (used)
Red Queen to Gryphon 3Red Queen to Gryphon 3
Remastered · Import
Talking Elephant 2007
Audio CD$20.76
$16.05 (used)
TreasonTreason
Remastered · Import
Talking Elephant 2009
Audio CD$11.01
$9.71 (used)
CollectionCollection
Griffin Records 2000
Audio CD$3.99
$2.90 (used)
RaindanceRaindance
Remastered · Import
Talking Elephant 2010
Audio CD$12.03
$11.99 (used)
Red Queen to Gryphon Three/RaindanceRed Queen to Gryphon Three/Raindance
Remastered
1997
Audio CD$72.80
$11.75 (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)

3.18 | 115 ratings
Gryphon
1973
3.62 | 130 ratings
Midnight Mushrumps
1974
4.13 | 402 ratings
Red Queen to Gryphon Three
1974
3.25 | 120 ratings
Raindance
1975
3.43 | 77 ratings
Treason
1977

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

1.43 | 5 ratings
Ethelion
1998
2.88 | 13 ratings
About as Curious as It Can Be
2002
3.38 | 12 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 | 2 ratings
The Collection
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Collection II
1995
3.90 | 10 ratings
Gryphon & Midnight Mushrumps
1996
4.31 | 14 ratings
Red Queen To Gryphon Three & Raindance
1997
3.15 | 6 ratings
Crossing the Styles - The Transatlantic Anthology
2004

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Spring Song
1977

GRYPHON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 402 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
3.43 | 77 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 | 402 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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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 402 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by peterfrederics

5 stars I bought Red Queen to Gryphon Three when it first came out back in the 70s. I thought it was a masterpiece then and it has continued to be one of my favorite albums of any style not just progressive rock. It puts all other Gryphon albums in the shade going well beyond the typical folk rock genre. It weaves in classical, folk and progressive themes without any noodling pretentiousness. I like all the tracks but the standouts for me are Opening Move and Lament. Why Gryphon aren't considered to be on a par with prog royalty is a mystery to me but perhaps it is because their other albums didn't have the stature of Red Queen. Thoroughly recommended.

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 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.25 | 120 ratings

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Raindance
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Raindance from 1975 is definetly a good follow up the the excellent Red queen, but this time Gryphon change little bit the ingredients here, musicaly speaking. While is a worthy album, here are also some unintrsting tracks and of course combined with some very fine moments. More rockier and less medieval in aproach then Red queen but with folk influences added as usual in Gryphon sound, Raindance desearve attention from prog listners. The opening track Down the Dog and the title track are excellent instrumental pieces that shows a mature band with good ideas, a worthy metion is the ending piece, the longest (Ein Klein) Heldenleben , a great musicaly ride in everything Gryphon has best, the rest of the tracks, some with voice are ok but nothing more. So, decent with some parts being great, so I think 3.5 stars worth this release, little to low rated IMO.

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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 402 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Gryphon and implicit their third album from 1974 Red queen to gryphon tree is one of the most intresting albums ever recorded from prog/folk rock zone in the ;70s. This is a complicated pieces of work with no weak moments. From the excellent cover art who goes hand in hand with the music, progressive folk with medieval touches, sometimes remind me of Gentle Giant in their most fascinating moments, but without that rockier sound. Many unusul instruments here like bassoon, Krumh'rns who gives a very special atmosphere, very folk but very progressive. Also in some parts the album sounds like a music with minstrels and all stuff from the court of a king in middle age, so medieval, intresting in the end. Only 4 pieces here, all long with complicated moves, this album is not easy to listen and is a definetly a grower. The first part with the first two pieces are little better the the B side, with excellent parts, all album is instrumental so another thing to get a carful listning. Opening Move and Second spasm are killer pieces to my ears, such beauty in such complex music is a wonderful thing to get. So, definetly one of the best albums from mid '70s and I think their best album overall, fascinating release coming from this little known band. 4 stars easy and recommended big time.

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 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.18 | 115 ratings

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Gryphon
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

5 stars A majority of Progheads obviously prefers the band's later, more electronic efforts, but Gryphon's self-titled 1973 debut is by far their best album, because it remains the most genuine of the bunch. Unlike the occasional Elizabethan eclecticism of rockers like GENTLE GIANT, or the more traditional post-60s Folk Music of bands like PENTANGLE, Gryphon was the real deal: a quartet of medieval troubadours transplanted to the late 20th century and let loose in a modern, multi-track recording studio.

The music wasn't Progressive Rock (at least not yet), but it wasn't really Folk Rock either. Authenticity was never Gryphon's goal, and yet their interpretation of traditional music (including one song here penned by the Tudor's own rock star, Henry VIII) remained true to their original era even when adapted to ours, circa 1973. The arrangements were honest, and typically very simple, but the sound throughout is discreetly modern.

It's a very short album (less than 37 total minutes), but in presentation and performance a near perfect one, although hard-line Progheads might beg to differ. The material is smartly arranged too, balancing unplugged period instrumentals alongside charming mock 15th century sing-a-longs. And all of it is played with disarming wit and ingenuity, from the haunted romance of 'The Unquiet Grave' (with its near ambient middle interlude) to the toe-tapping morality tale taught by 'The Astrologer', and finally to the ribald comedy of 'The Devil and the Farmer's Wife': Chaucer with krumhorns and cartoon demons.

And, lest you imagine a band of (mostly) unplugged ersatz Folkies unable to generate any musical heat without the friction of electronic instruments, lend an ear to the whirlwind of 'Estampie', propelled into overdrive on the virtuoso recorder trills of Richard Harvey, and David Oberl's manic drumming. There's even a brief quotation from 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' hidden within the bassoon solo, yet another example of the band's playful iconoclasm.

Gryphon would later jump headlong onto the Symphonic Rock gravy train, just before it was rudely derailed at the end of the decade. But here at the start of their career the band's ambitions were still untarnished, and refreshingly modest for 1973. Compare this album to what the major Prog acts were playing that year, and maybe you'll agree: sometimes smaller is better.

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 Midnight Mushrumps by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.62 | 130 ratings

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Midnight Mushrumps
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Gryphon's second album strikes a fine balance between the unplugged whimsy of their 1973 debut and the more calculated Prog Rock of later LPs. The addition of an electric bass guitarist didn't alter the band's unique medieval sound too drastically (not yet, anyway), and David Oberlé's modest drum kit still sounded like something played while sitting cross-legged in a garden.

The album also marked a quantum leap forward in compositional maturity, even on some of the less distinguished shorter tracks, like "Gulland Rock" (which doesn't, alas). Standouts among these include the cautionary fable of "The Ploughboy's Dream", and the energetic Elizabethan dance "Ethelion", cued by Brian Gulland's maniacal laughter. Both songs show a canny knack for updating traditional melodies without sacrificing any of their original antique charm.

And then there's the side-long title track, adapted from the band's own score to a National Theatre staging of "The Tempest", and in retrospect a career highlight. This is textbook classical rock, beautifully arranged and performed, although it needed digital technology to finally be heard as intended: on vinyl the more subtle harmonium and pipe organ grace notes were hard to discern amidst even the slightest analog pop and dust scratch.

The 19-minute suite is an unassuming epic, to be sure. But unlike the disjointed cut-and- paste exercise of their more popular "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" it flows easily and organically from theme to climax to resolution.

The siren song of commercial success would soon lure the group into troubled musical waters. But before hitching their fortunes to the back of the Prog Rock bandwagon Gryphon was able to enjoy a brief moment of comfortable equilibrium, one foot planted firmly in Olde English soil and the other resting lightly on the pulse of the post-Beatles British music scene. Even an establishment broadsheet like The Times would praise the band as being "stately and discreetly turned on", and I couldn't imagine a better, more economical description of their sophomore album.

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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 402 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Gryphon's earliest albums straddled the gulf between the 15th and 20th centuries with style and agility. But their popular 1974 LP, widely acclaimed on these pages (and just about everywhere else) found them losing that delicate balance, straying too far toward more lucrative but less distinctive musical territory better suited to veteran Symphonic Rockers like YES.

The classical underpinning was still secure, expressed in virtuoso bassoon and recorder turns from Brian Gulland and Richard Harvey. But the four long tracks (entirely instrumental, and dearly missing the dulcet voice of singer/drummer David Oberlé) seem more contrived than composed, all of them pieced together from unrelated themes and half-formed musical fragments, with little actual development or connection between them.

The Folk Rock simplicity of the original band was further compromised by modern instrumentation: more electric guitars (sounding as if played under duress), louder drums, and an over-reliance on souped-up synthesizer patches à la Rick Wakeman. The latter gives the music real Prog Rock authority, but of course nowadays the sound of a mini-moog is even more anachronistic than those bleating medieval krumhorns.

The best moments of the album echo the band's earlier days: the rollicking courtly dance at the start of 'Second Spasm', and the bulk of 'Lament', featuring some gorgeous recorder runs over a suitably romantic acoustic guitar melody. It's a pity the former was too quickly sidetracked into yet another medley of random musical snippets, and the latter spoiled by an incredibly tacky whiz-bang synth solo at its climax.

From a purely Prog Rock vantage it's easy to understand the album's enduring popularity (although I suspect the colorful cover art has a lot to do with that). But let's face it, fellow Progheads: from a broader musical perspective 'RQ to G3' marked a willful diluting of the band's original vision, with more of the same (only worse) still to come.

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 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.25 | 120 ratings

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Raindance
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars If this hadn't been my first Gryphon LP I would never have guessed it was the same band responsible for the delicate medieval folk rock of earlier efforts. That funky clavinet introducing the album opener 'Down the Dog' was a long way from the court of King Henry VIII, and the languid Space Rock of the title track showed a group turning its collective back on the past without even the courtesy of a second glance.

On compact disc the muddy sound of the original vinyl is greatly improved, but it's still an uneven album, to say the least. Most of the shorter songs (the majority of the album, in other words) are little more than incidental filler, including a lovely cover of the otherwise negligible Lennon / McCartney tune 'Mother Nature's Son'. Even the mid- length 'Fontinental Version' is a haphazard medley, awkwardly splicing ideas from at least three separate songs into a single ersatz composition, then and now one of Prog Rock's lazier habits.

The balance of Side Two is reserved for the mini-epic '(Eine Kleine) Heldenleben', the title a riff on the Strauss opus 'A Hero's Life'. It's the only thing here with any real ambition, showing the scope of classical training among the quintet of players, and the extent to which their later style was undermined by the Symphonic Rock influence of YES (I hope Steve Howe was flattered by the outright theft of his guitar style).

Even with a generous sixteen-minute running time there isn't enough meat in the track to carry a side of vinyl, let alone an entire album. But it does present the last great recorder solo by frontman Richard Harvey: seventy seconds of Elizabethan bliss from your local Renaissance Faire, updated with a throbbing electric bass guitar and ominous mini-moog atmospherics.

The rest of the piece is flashy but trivial, to a point where it's hardly surprising when a bit of circus music (a brief quote of the Souza / Fucik chestnut 'Entrance of the Gladiators') pops up in the song's closing moments. Fun stuff, to be sure, but not enough to distract attention away from the album's other deficits, including some truly awful cover art.

I suppose you could argue that Gryphon took their music from the 15th to the 20th century in the span of just a few albums: real progress for a Prog Rock band. But here the group sounded as if they might have been unequipped for the journey, and unsure of their ultimate destination.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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