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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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GryphonGryphon
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$11.31
$16.35 (used)
TreasonTreason
Import · Remastered
Talking Elephant 2009
Audio CD$14.51
$19.96 (used)
Red Queen to Gryphon ThreeRed Queen to Gryphon Three
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$10.76
$8.99 (used)
RaindanceRaindance
Import
Disk Union Japan 2003
Audio CD$49.99
$35.00 (used)
Midnight MushrumpsMidnight Mushrumps
Import
Talking Elephant 2007
Audio CD$19.91
$23.26 (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 | 159 ratings
Gryphon
1973
3.67 | 173 ratings
Midnight Mushrumps
1974
4.13 | 504 ratings
Red Queen to Gryphon Three
1974
3.25 | 150 ratings
Raindance
1975
3.41 | 106 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
4.33 | 12 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
 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.25 | 150 ratings

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Raindance
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by ALotOfBottle

2 stars After their outstanding third album Red Queen To Gryphon Three, which presented a fresh, bright, and ambitious vision of progressive folk rock, Gryphon enjoyed a relative success. The band was offered to open for Yes during one of their tours. It is at this time that we can observe Gryphon's radical drift away from their folk roots. Philip Nestor and Peter Redding, the bassists left the group and were replaced by Malcolm Bennett, who was also a fluent flautist. In 1975, Gryphon recorded Radiance.

The band's sound on Radiance is dramatically different from their previous releases. Their original distinct sound shaped by English medieval and renaissance folk music is almost entirely absent. These elements are being replaced with a style that would not be out of place on works by Yes or Gentle Giant. However, the newer influences are executed in a rather clumsy and awkward manner, sounding unnatural and dull.

Gryphon's signature bassoon sound is all that is left from the old style. Most of the sound is dominated by keyboards and an electric guitar. The musicianship is very decent. The band shows a strong tendency of building melodic structures on rhythms set by repeating sequences on a diverse range of percussion instruments. Folk-inspired acoustic guitars do appear in places, but play a minor role in the band's new sound. The previously mentioned keyboards range from grand piano to a Minimoog synthesizer, which is definitely something new In Gryphon's music. There are also some ambient passages with various electronic sound effects.

The album consists of nine tracks. Some of the titles are in German in French. "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben" is Gryphon's own 15-minute "mini-epic" and highlights the most essential elements of Radiance. One of the pieces is a cover of The Beatles' "Mother's Nature Son". It's a good song and probably the best track on the album, but feels sort of unambitious for a progressive rock band to play arrangements of popular music. "Down The Dog" is also a very decent with an interesting clavinet sound.

Radiance is nothing short of a big disappointment. The band's original and unique sound presented on previous releases is sacrificed for mediocre, popular-sounding soft rock with just little strains of folk music. It's a real shame, because Gryphon could do much better than that. The album is not bad in its own right, but it is recommended to avoid it, unless you are a fan of Gryphon. 2.5 stars!

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 Midnight Mushrumps by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.67 | 173 ratings

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Midnight Mushrumps
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by ALotOfBottle

5 stars Their best work and one of the finest Prog Folk albums of all time!

Before what arguably was Gryphon's greatest album, "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" came this - "Midnight Mushrumps". Now, I might be a minority, but I think, this record beats Gryphon's following work by a whole country mile. Overall, I think it's a much more solid effort and far more exciting.

Showcasing multiistrumentalist abilities of Royal Academy Of Music graduates, "Midnight Mushrumps" has an incredibly English factor to it. This album is really a definitive prog folk work. An unmistakeable sound, which despite sounding familiar is unrepeatable.

The title track, a side-long epic is probably the highlight of the album with highly-educated folk instrument work. Many new, fresh sounds are to be heard, with familiar motives, which come far from falling into a folk cliche category.

"The Ploughboy's Dream" is Gryphon's arrangement of a traditional English tune. This track once again blisses the listener with great, fascinating sounds that are only to be found in this group's catalog.

"The Last Flash of Gaberine Taylor" is a very moody instrumental with a really catchy motive.

"Gulland Rock" is a song which serves as a romantic part of the album. Again, flashing English-ness here.

"Dubbel Dutch" is a humouristic track, which is quite similar to a previous one.

"Ethelion" is another great piece with a heavier acoustic rhythm and some more English folk motives, a great closing of the album, which leaves the listener with rather postitive feelings.

Albeit slightly boring in some places, this album deserves 5 stars and is an overlooked essential. A must have for progressive folk and rock fans!

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 Midnight Mushrumps by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.67 | 173 ratings

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Midnight Mushrumps
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars The passion to recreate authentic medieval folk music which began on the first album becomes corrupted by the exponentially exploding world of progressive rock on the second album MIDNIGHT MUSHRUMPS and is a veritable transition between the authentic period style of the eponymous debut release to the fully fledged progressive rock folk behemoth "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" which would emerge a mere few months later. With this second release GRYPHON caught the attention of Steve Howe, who fell for the sprawling title track (which clocks in at 18:58 and took up side one) and offered them the coveted spot of opening for Yes' 1975 tour allowing the band to gain a much larger audience. With this new album came a new full-time bassist with Philip Nestor who undeniably added the proper crossover aspects in the rock / folk hybridization.

MIDNIGHT MUSHRUMPS is an exponential leap in sophistication for unsuspecting GRYPHON fans. Whereas the debut album was solely a collection of medieval English folk songs performed in a bona fide period style complete with authentic instrumentation, album number two steps up their cross-pollinating process with progressive rock aspects. At this point all of the medieval folk instruments are still on board performing their retrospective duties in creating an authentic achronistic snapshot of the past but with the addition of Philip Nestor's rock oriented bass skills and Richard Harvey's symphonic prog sensibilities on pipe organ, harpsichord and piano, they all conspire to create an impression of time traveling having occurred of a true blue medieval folk band having suddenly popped into a 70s symphonic prog band's rehearsal and suddenly spontaneously bringing a totally new strange hybrid of music into existence. Richard Harvey would also become the main composer of the band leading the sextet deeper into the contemporary world.

The sprawling title track which swallows up half the album is a progressive folk rock masterpiece that never strays from the mood building medieval folk music that the band is famous for but it seriously revs it up with ever changing passages, progressive time signature and tempo changes like there's no tomorrow sounding like they are making up for lost time in catching the prog rock wave of the era. The music is serenely ambitious never sounding forced. For two disparate unrelated genres being mashed together, it all sound quite natural which is quite the major feat if you ask me. Like the debut album, MIDNIGHT MUSHRUMPS is entirely instrumental with the mere exception being the traditional "The Plough Boys Dream" sounding more like a hangover from the pure folk covers of the debut.

You can feel the energy gestating on MIDNIGHT MUSHRUMPS and as exciting as the development from the first album is with the marriage with progressive rock and all, it really feels like the band is only beginning. As the album progresses it seems like the tracks get more audacious with their bold time signatures and tempo changes. The band tackle these challenges with grace and the odd juxtaposition of authentic folk instrumentation with progressive rock compositional styles makes this utterly unique in the musical world for there is no comparing this band to Jethro Tull, Comus or other English folk rock bands of the era. GRYPHON sounds like no other and likewise MIDNIGHT MUSHRUMPS sounds like no other album in their very own discography. Perhaps not as sophisticated and completely satisfying as "Red Queen" but i find this to be an exciting album that in the midst of their gold rush progification process which creates an incomparable yet satisfying ratio of prog rock and medieval folk aspects.

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 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 504 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by ALotOfBottle

5 stars Gryphon was an English folk rock outfit created by Royal Academy Of Music graduates. Red Queen to Gryphon Three is their third release generally regarded as their best work and beloved by connoisseurs of the folk rock genre. Red Queeni s a concept telling a "story" of a chess match. This work of Gryphon (unlike their previous record Midnight Mushrumps) is entirely instrumental.

The album consists of four tracks, two for each side. "Opening Move" showcases the band members' outstanding musicianship since the very beggining. Drenched with dreamy synthesizers and loads of traditional folk instruments, this track features henomenal Chopin-influenced piano passages at one point. "Second Spasm" opens with a wonderful, medieval shanty theme, which resolves into a more rock-orientated part dominated by keyboard with a dynamic bass-line. The main theme returns exhibiting many interesting folk instrument sounds. "Lament", like its predecessors, it goes through numerous movements, which have a wide dynamic variation. "Checkmate" is probably the most "experimental" of the pieces.

Despite the album's excellence, the pieces are a bit monotonous with each one giving a similar impression. If I were to cut the movements of each piece and randomly put them together, it would sound quite natural. Maybe that is what musicians of Gryphon wanted to achieve, who knows. What I know is that this album is characterised by outstanting musicianship and instrumentalism.

All in all, Red Queen to Gryphon Three should belong in every prog folk fan's collection. It is a timeless album with a distinct, unique sound that no other band had. It might not be the most accessible album of the genre and not an easy one to get to, but once you do, this should provide a fantastic listening experience. Recommended, five stars!

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 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.31 | 159 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 | 504 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

4 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. While it may not offer quite the same drive as Gryphon's more rock-oriented contemporaries, 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 at the very least check out. 4 stars.

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 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.25 | 150 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 | 159 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 do 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 | 504 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 | 504 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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