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KESTREL

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Kestrel biography
In the early 70's, a symphonic rock quintet were doing the London college circuit when they caught the attention of producer John Worth who signed them and released their one album in 1975. It didn't sell too well but the boys took it more or less in stride and then went their separate ways. Guitarist Dave Black, who had composed the lion's share of the material, went on to become a member of David BOWIE's band for a few years and then formed several other groups of his own. Some thirty years later, a Japanese man was reported to have paid £366 to acquire the album, through an internet auction on eBay. In the words of guitarist Black who heard about the incident: "It's amazing to think that 30 years after we made the recording that the album is now being described as a prog-rock masterpiece."

You may or may not agree with the word "masterpiece", but the album does feature enough mellotron blasts to hook the most fleeting tron admirer. The eponymous LP also features some good guitar work, excellent vocals and interesting arrangements; the compositions are simple and straightforward - call it a sort of prog/MOR crossover, if you will. Not overly complex but pleasantly melodious and well executed.

If you're a tron enthusiast or into bands such as FRUUP, SPRING, FANTASY or early MOODY BLUES, it would be worth lending an ear to KESTREL's album.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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BAST*RD KESTREL Stench 7" 3 Track White Label With Handwritten Info B/w 2 A USD $8.24 Buy It Now 2 days
BASTARD KESTREL / OH SPLENDID MUSHROOM LP UK 1989 NOISE/THRASH/PUNK ROCK VINYL USD $4.70 Buy It Now 3 days
Appalacian Ste/Kestrel/Peruvia - Stahly/Bart (2000, CD New) Trott/Cutler/Moresch USD $16.76 Buy It Now 3 days
BASTARD KESTREL Oh Splendid Mushroom LP MINT W/L Promo 1989 UK NOISE ROCK GRIND USD $11.99 [0 bids]
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Saturnine - American Kestrel (CD, Oct-1999, Motorcoat Records) NEW SEALED USD $4.99 Buy It Now 4 days
CD BIRDSONG BIRDS OF PREY BUZZARD KESTREL OWL ROOK ETC USD $7.85 Buy It Now 5 days
KESTREL-S/T-JAPAN MINI LP SHM-CD BONUS DISC Ji50 USD $45.99 Buy It Now 6 days
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Kestrel (2013, CD New) USD $37.01 Buy It Now 10 days
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Lie To Me A Compilation of Guitar Use and Abuse CD NEW Killdozer Bastard Kestrel USD $33.95 Buy It Now 12 days
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KESTREL discography


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3.88 | 40 ratings
Kestrel
1975

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KESTREL Reviews


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 Kestrel by KESTREL album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Short-lived band from Newcastle, which became from an oddity to a legend over the years.Kestrel (named after a type of bird) were born in 1975, featuring Dave Black on guitars/vocals, Tom Knowles on lead vocals, Fenwick Moir on bass and Dave Whitaker (formerly of Ginhouse) in the original formation, later to add John Cook on guitars and keyboars.The band was then signed by Cube Records to release their only LP in 1975.Most tracks were written by guitarist Dave Black.

The music is somekind of light Progressive Rock with slight symphonic overtones and elements from British Psych/Pop, it reminds me of early YES, CRESSIDA and SPRING after repeated listens with AMBROSIA being the closest comparison from the US scene minus the pompous arrangements.The tracks are structured over soft electric guitars, great vocal harmonies and an array of keyboards, which includes Hammond organ, electric piano, harsichord and, of course, Mellotron.Two different sides of the band can be identified.First comes in the shorter tracks, most of which follow a typical melodic Psychedelic Rock vein with some MOODY BLUES and PROCOL HARUM influences with organ and guitars in evidence, featuring excellent songwriting skils and flawless vocal parts by Knowless, balanced between romantic and more edgy instrumental textures.Even if being too accesible, this material is still very strong and memorable.The longer pieces are more progressive and feature quirky instrumental parts, symphonic flavors and lyrical depth in one package.''The acrobat'' is propably the best of all, albeit showered by some AOR lines, with impressive instrumental/vocal changes, a nice and proggy middle section with some STEVE HOWE nuance in the guitar chops and series of beautiful melodies.''In the war'' is a mixed bag of progressive sounds, somesort of Symphonic-, Jazz- and Psychedelic Rock amalgam with organ, electric piano and smooth electric guitars leading the way.''August Carol'' is no doubt the most progressive track of the mass, typical British Prog in the vein of CRESSIDA with mood and tempo changes, propelled by the nice guitar work of Black and containing some majestic Mellotron in a grand, symphonic style, which offers the best outro of the whole album combined with the farewell solo of Black.

Kestel weren't enough around to taste success, as they disbanded the following year.Dave Black continued his career throughout the 70's, first with the Rock band The Spiders from Mars and later with Goldie, apparently an unsuccesful attempt on Pop Rock.

Symphonic Pop Rock of a great quality with focus on solid and sensitive songwriting and file next to FANTASY, CRESSIDA, SPRING, THE MYND and BYZANTIUM.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Kestrel by KESTREL album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Obviously, prog does come in all shapes and sizes. There are the pompous ones, the low-key, the larger-than-life ones and the small, the complex and those easily likeable. Everything in between and all things put together makes up the world of prog. Sometimes prog can be sort of poppy aswell. Nothing wrong with that. It can be very enjoyable. I would like to put forth a likeness and draw inspiration from the pub. After several sturdy Guinesses (think of Magma or some other complex band as Guiness) the pallet craves something refreshing, like a cool lemonade or just a sip of water. In this case the lemonade is Kestrel. Light, refreshing yet with a bite to it.

Kestrel is one of those obscure bands that did not make it. Not because they were bad, as often the case with some obscurities, but maybe because they simply fell through the net and escaped the record buyer's hands. Who knows? The fact, however, is that the sole album by Kestrel is a very enjobale mixture of pop and prog, sort of a Supertramp meets Chicago and has a child by Genesis and nursed by Nektar added. If that is not all I'd say that Chris Squire babysat at times, considering the sound of the rumbling bass. Or something like that. It holds enough keyboards to make me happy and that says something.

The tracks varies in length, the longest being 7.31 minutes, the shortest 4.09. I like all of the songs but "Wind cloud" with it's beautiful and dreamy web is fantastic. So are "Last requests", the epic "In the war" or (the more accessible) Gentle Giant-ish "August carol". All of the tracks are very well produced, performed and thought through. Nothing is left to chance.

I think prog is the greatest genre due to it's variety and width. The severely complex at the one end and the very accessible and poppy at the other. All that gives me as a listener the chance to really ease my muscial hunger. If you are looking for something british, something complex yet accessible I would recommend this little overlooked gem. I would not call it a masterpiece but it is a fantastic album, full of ideas and enthusiasm which I really enjoy listening to. Well worth checking out.

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 Kestrel by KESTREL album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One album wonders Kestrel's sole album is an intriguing mixture of progressive and art rock on the one hand and some broader commercial influences on the other - I hear, for instance, a few strains of soft rock and soul here and there through the proceedings. The outcome is not unpleasant - quite the opposite, in fact - and I'm reminded in particular of Pavlov's Dog, not necessarily in sound but in the sense that both produce accessible prog flavoured art rock which isn't too pretentious to get sentimental from time to time.

Unfortunately, the album never quite got much recognition, and I suspect part of the reason for this is that it rather falls between two stools. On the one hand, it's got enough Supertramp-esque poppy flourishes that it wouldn't pass muster next to more purist expressions of progressive rock. At the same time, it incorporates sufficient complexities to disrupt the pop-prog daydream its poppier moments seem to offer. There's an extent to which Kestrel seem to be hedging their bets there, which is a shame because if they'd gone for the all-out pop-prog route or went full proggy the album would probably be the stronger for it.

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 Kestrel by KESTREL album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Kestrel is an obscure progressive rock act with one album released in their short career. Selftitled from 1975 , this album is a good one in every way, because it reminds me of the great prog rock bands from mid'70's. To me this album is a combination between heavy prog arrangements and some art rock parts, very well composed with some memorable parts. I have the japan CD version and the sound is crystal clear, evey instrument is where it belogs creating some excellent passages full of intristing keybords and great guitar chops. The vocalis Tom Knowles is very ok, warm voice and fits perfectly in the mood of the album. What I like most are the keybords parts, there are some fantastic passages like on In The War, both on great intro of the piece and the last min of it, great atmospheric and grandious keybords, excellent. Also the heavy prog sections are very well performed, where the duel guitar-keyboards are awesome, tight and intristing in same time. Another highlight is Take It Away , a piece full of joy and positive mood, what a great tune. Well, to end the review , it was a very pleasent audition, from me desearve 4 stars, not quite a masterpiece, but worth own it. In places they remind me of belgian prog rock band Womega.

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3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Let me repeat Keishiro-san's words, this is really pleasant. In a symphonic (but not necessarily Symphonic Prog) way. It's also Pop Prog, sadly for some, but only minor nuisance for me. Fortunately, songs are longer than is usual in pop and their structure is also more complex (and the band got here also because of Prog elements - like in final track August Carol [keyboards]). Vintage is nice word to describe this music, as it truly is. 1975 was in the name of audience slowly turning away from Prog (just first signs only, nothing big) and so I'm quite surprised that this album was (and is) so overlooked. It's not that difficult to approach, even though it still has a lot to offer.

4(-), I found that this simplistic way isn't exactly my liking, but on the other hand, there are things that I have to (and want to) appreciate. Today it's called - vintage, back then - who knows.

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 Kestrel by KESTREL album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych Team

4 stars Cheers for bright British pop-progressive rock!

Pleasant, very pleasant. Whenever I heard this album, I have such a feeling. Let me say the KESTRELl's one and only work be a toy box with full of British-sound toys. The box can take us listeners deeply at first hearing the beginning. The Acrobat is exactly like a garden with plenty of sound-flower. The song has an interesting and attractive mixture of pop voice and rigid bass plus stiff drum sounds. But you know it has no difficulty. It may say let's enjoy itself, I always feel. :-) The key essence or point of this album is, I think, hard and rigid bass sound. The hardness and loudness can remind me Chris Squire...Fenwick would be influenced by Chris, wouldn't he? Of course, in this pop album are lots of songs not progressive but pop and catchy.

There are fans who want their technique and skill, and who want their kindness and comfort. I consider both are okay for KESTREL. Let's enjoy!

P.S. In Japan, we call British pop music as 'Brit pop' and I'm afraid the British hate this word 'Brit'...is it right?

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3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by seam

5 stars I argue with Raleks. Think about this album as it can be REALLY forgotten minor classic. I was very surprised when heard it first time. 'Oh! The beginning is nice... Ops... But... What is it?..' The lead vocal is fantastic. Look, we've heard all these monsters (and I think no one can reach the level of Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Jethro Tull or others). And now we think about prog like we do it by patterns in our mind - we have a pattern of keyboboards (Wakeman-tern, for example), a pattern of guitars (Gilmour-tern), and others, and a pettern of voice, of course. A pattern of high voice. And what about Kestrel? A real masculine vocal. So, I was much, very much surprised. Music? I know the right word. Tasty. I don't want to compare this album with Genesis and others. 5,0. Why not? Let it be. P.S. Excuse my English.

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3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by ShaiBerger

5 stars OK, are you familiar with the guys who get wild about an album you must hear!! and go like this is the best unknown piece of music you haven't got the chance to hear etc... then you listen to the music and..nothing! you just don't understand what was all the noise about - I'm sure you experienced a similar situation sometime. Anyway - this is really a lost gem, not quite long and changing songs like classic Prog rock stuff but the production is very reach in sound and the music is quite sophisticated through most of the album. If you listen to the first songs and think this is not your cup of tea, you at least must listen to the last track August Carol , it starts like a rhythmic song which follows the general sound of the album for the first 3+ minuets of the part then it suddenly ends! what you have from here until the end of the album is one of the most magnificent music pieces I ever heard - and I heard a few. It starts with a lush Melotorn tracks that just overlaps one another building a very smooth anticipation until they brake with a very full Melotron move and then! the most full bodied guitar sound I ever heard with a bigger then life vibrato and a really beautiful melody - I'm not an English native speaker so I find it hard to describe but you just have to hear this piece - only problem is that its too short. Bottom line - a really great album with a grand finale!!

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Review by raleks

5 stars And I give 5 stars (really 4.5) to this album despite the fact of this is NOT a masterpiece in compare with best albums of Yes, Genesis, JT and other monsters. But. This's REALLY "forgotten minor classic" (review from vintageprog.com). And masterpiece for me. :p This album is very good example of song-based symphonic progressive rock. Every song is vell composed and performed, but not so simple and straightforward as written in bio. It tooks several listens to understand melodies (but still not all arrangements - in process :) ) so I strongly recommend this record for everybody, who have already heard all monsters of Prog and seeks for other good albums of prog of 70th. I especially love prog music with strong and pleasant vocal melodies so this is album for me :) It is hard for my terrible English to describe each song, but at the moment I can point at least two highlights - "The Acrobat" and "August Carol", the last one is very typical for Kestrel sound and has two sections - "song" and finale section of strong mellotron- theme followed by even more emotional guitar play. So - must have.

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3.88 | 40 ratings

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Review by christopher.harlan

4 stars I was suprised by how good this album was. However, I had the album explained to me by its producer, John worsely (or Johnny Worth, real nice guy), who helped me realise the tremendous musicianship and songwriting capabilities of this group. The sound derives from many bands from Gentle Giant to ELP and the album has some similarities to small sections of Tales From Topographic Oceans (yes), though nowhere near its complexity. Its a shame that this was their only album. Its an even greater shame that it is practicaly forgotten, as it made quite a splash on its release. Give this album a listen, it grabs and holds you from the outset.

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