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Paley's Watch biography
PALEY'S WATCH was a Christian Prog Band formed in 1992 by Marc CATLEY (classical guitar, wobbly guitars, vocals) (collaborator with Geoff MANN (ex: TWELFTH NIGHT), Duncan PARSONS (drums, keys, guitars, mandolin, SFX, programming, vocals, production) and Hungarian born Marianne VELVART (guitars, vocals) in 1992. Compositional duties were spread between the members, the overall style was a blend of Classical Acoustic Rock and wobbly guitars from CATLEY, Joni Mitchell styled JazzFunk from VELVART and ProgJazz from PARSONS. The individual influences come from all over the place: GENTLE GIANT, TALKING HEADS, BRUFORD, THE WHO, STRAVINSKY, SEGOVIA, STOCKHAUSEN, GENESIS, JONI MITCHELL, various Canterbury styles..

Their first recorded appearance was on the "Mannerisms" tribute CD to the late Geoff MANN, a cover of 'Certainly' and used a quartet of classical guitars to achieve a unique sound. This was followed by other tracks on samplers which demonstrated typical prog attributes - multiple musical styles; rich harmonies; intelligent, often humorous lyrical content; etc.

Only one full CD was made, "November" (1994) (modelled loosely on GENTLE GIANTS "Three Friends" cut) which told the story of 6 characters living in the northern UK mill town of Bury (Catley's stomping ground) and what happened to them one November in the early 1980's. Surrounded by a prologue and epilogue, each of the charaters has their own piece. The album showed flair and imagination, and attracted a reasonable amount of critical praise, but failed to make much of an impact in terms of sales.

In 1996, Marianne left to pursue solo work. After a brief time of collaboration with Duncan PARSONS, she was signed to Rick WAKEMAN's 'Hope' label, tho' no recordings have ever been released. In 1997 Duncan PARSONS left to find work that paid the rent (!) and now works as a programmer, tho' still writes and plays and can be found around some music forii. Marc CATLEY still teaches classical guitar, and is understood to be preparing to train as a Vicar.

Whilst they made little overall impact on the prog scene, PALEY'S WATCH offer a unique and very British sound, taking in Ambient, Rock, JazzFunk, Folk, minimalism, rich vocal harmony... Whilst the individual tracks from samplers may not amount to much, "November" is worth tracking down.

Why this artist must be listed in :
Paley's Watch were an english prog band with links to Geoff MANN and TWELFTH ...
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3.04 | 7 ratings

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 November by PALEY'S WATCH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.04 | 7 ratings

Paley's Watch Eclectic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars A one of album from this band who then disappears again. Well, one of their members added this album and wrote a review of it five years ago plus I guess contributed with the very impressive biography. That is all I know about them. Which is a lot.

Their music is a mix of folk rock and jazz, even funk. The music is rather understated. The lyrics are not and the social realistic lyrics is the best thing about this album. The music itself is performed with gutso female vocals and some male vocals. They are backed up with some good keyboards and guitars. Sometimes Hammond also get used with great effects.

The vocals is very jazzy and gives this album an edge. Unfortunate, the songs are not that good. Frankly, I have problems concentrate on this album because of the pretty dull music. Sometimes, a violin kicks in and I wake up. But besides of that, this music is neither good or interesting. A good effort, but not quite up there with the bigger boys.

2 stars

 November by PALEY'S WATCH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.04 | 7 ratings

Paley's Watch Eclectic Prog

Review by duncanparsons

4 stars Ok, I'll be upfront here, I played on the album, and wrote and/or arranged a number of the pieces. That was over a decade ago tho', and I hope I can be at least a little objective!

'November' is essentially about 6 characters who live in the northern mill town of Bury, Lancs, UK, and what happens to them one November in the early 1980s. Each of them gets their own track, which attempts to portray both the nature of the character, and what happens in their life that month. The style of the music reflects the person - the philanderer (Donald Condon) gets Jazz funk; the eternal youth (Peter Barrie) get Rock; the scatty student (Lizzy Green) gets a bit of everything. There is instantly a thematic crossover with GENTLE GIANT's excellent 'Three Friends' disc of some 20+ years before.

The characters lives are on the whole separate, tho' at times their paths or situations cross over. The philanderer starts the month with Lizzie Green as his girlfriend, but by the end of the month the businessman (Harold Slater) suspects that he is having an affair with his wife. Lizzie is also a single mum, and has trouble with childcare, whilst the boring housewife (Sue Brown) misses having children around the house. There are many threads woven throughout the album, adding to the wealth of music to be explored.

The music itself is very broad, but everso prog. As well as the 6 character tracks, there is an opening 'Prologue' and a closing epilogue 'December' which moves the characters lives and situations on.

Prologue opens the disc with a delayed ('wobbly') guitar line, familiar to those who know Marc CATLEY's work (esp. 'The Off the End of the Pier Show' with Geoff MANN). This features a stunning violin solo from guest musician Simon EVANS (a doctor by trade) - a first take as well. Other elements of Marcs style pervade the album. He makes use of the 'Guitar Quartet' a number of times (Lizzie Green, Peter Barrie, even in 'Prologue' where a quartet of harmonics brings a very delicate sound), and in other places his 'Classical Acoustic Rock' jumps out for all to hear (Harold Slater, Timothy). Each memer of the band contributed to the music writing tho', each bringing their own unique flavour; with the lyrics all provided my Marc.

After the hypnotic opening, the character tracks follow, taking in rock (Harold Slater, Peter Barrie), minimalist (Sue Brown), Folk (Timothy), Jazz/ funk (Donald Condon) as well as other less generic influences such as JONI MITCHELL, GENTLE GIANT, STEVE REICH, THE POLICE, and a many others. There are thoroughly beautiful passages (such as the night section of Harold Slater [available as MP3 on this site]), great vocal textures (esp. Sue Brown) and imaginative instrumentation (Lizzy Green, Peter Barrie, Timothy).

The final track 'December' rounds off the stories. It fades in with GENTLE GIANT/ BRUFORD chaotica, then proceeds through each character giving them some space to develop, returning to variations fo the 3/4 chaotica riff at appropriate moments. This track provide the listener the opportunity to make judgements as to the 'success' of the individuals as people, and their contributions to society. Maybe it comes across as slighlty polemical, maybe not - you decide :).

The album is let down a little by the production. The whole 71 minutes was recorded and mixed in less than 10 days, and at times it does show. There are moments when the drums are not as tight as they could be, and some of the vocal harmonies don't quite reach the spot. For the most part the first time the pieces were played was in the studio and recorded there and then. Heavy use is made of sequencing, which for the most part is OK, but some passages could have been loosened up a little, either by careful programming, or by actually being played with a band together in one place. Having said that, the quality of the musicianship is high. Don't expect fancy WAKEMAN-esque flourishes, or HOLDWORTHian solos, but creative emotional playing is evident thoughout, and supports the well crafted stuctures of the tracks. Some sounds are clearly 'factory presets', although there are sufficient acoustic and 'analogue' moments that it doesn't matter too much. There are also moments when tired ears and time pressure won out over pristine gloss, but that doesn't detract from pleasurable listening.

The CD comes with full lyrics laid out as book. When the album came out, reviews did suggest 'file under literature' given the nature of the work. This is a fair comment, and not necessarily a bad thing. The album does bear deeper analysis, whilst at the same time allowing each track to stand on it's own musically (pretty much), in a similar way to tracks can stand on their own from GENTLE GIANT's 'Three Friends' and GENESIS's 'The Lamb...'

Overall 'November' stands out as a unique piece of very British prog. It is understated and generally unpretentious (the only bombast relates to the characters), altho' some may wave a finger of 'delusions of literary grandeur' at it. Like all good prog, there is an element of being 'self referential'! There is the inter-relation of the characters, plus at different points some of CATLEY's satirical albums gets a brief mention ('My Guardian Angel drives a White Sierra' and 'FGA' appears at the most poigniant moment of the lyric ['there's so much more work that needs to be done/But too few people to shoulder the burden']). Paley's Watch were a Christian band, and whilst they manage to get through the whole album without mentioning JESUS once, there is a clear moral direction being suggested throughout. On it's release it received many very positive reviews from Europe and some Stateside, however lack of distribution and availability made it difficult to get hold of. There are still review available over the net, Googling "Paley's Watch" +prog should find them.

Whilst I wouldn't claim it to be essential by any means, and even with acknowledging its flaws, I do think it bears a 4 star rating as it does represent 'Excellent addition to any prog music collection'.

Thanks to duncanparsons for the artist addition.

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