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JOHN GREAVES

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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John Greaves biography
John Greaves played with the following groups : HENRY COW (1969-76), NATIONAL HEALTH (1978-80), SOFT HEAP (1979-88), PETER GORDON'S LOVE OF LIFE ORCHESTRA (1981), MICHAEL NYMAN BAND (1985), MICHAEL MANTLER BAND (1987,1996-97). In his solo records he combines influences of his different musical experiences into a mixture of Jazz, Jazz-Rock, R.I.O, Traditional Songwriting, Absurd Theatre, Chanson Française and more.

"The son of a Welsh dancehall bandleader, John Greaves was born in 1950 in Prestatyn, a small village in the North of Wales, near the seaside resort of Rhyl, but grew up in Wrexham, the native town of his mother. Very soon, he was initiated to music by his father, who offered him a bass guitar for Christmas at age 12. Six months later, John was playing every night with his orchestra, and spent four years doing it. A year before he left to study litterature in Cambridge, his younger brother Michael, an aspirant drummer, also joined. By that time, Greaves had acquired the necessary skills, both as a musician and an arranger. The very varied mix of musical styles played by the orchestra, playing every night from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., and the opportunity to open for pop groups like the Big Three and Gerry And The Pacemakers proved an invaluable context for learning quickly!

Once in Cambridge, in 1967-68, Greaves discovered politics, canoeing and... cricket! In 1969, he met the members of Henry Cow, which he joined. For two years, following which he received a Master of Arts from the university, he combined these different activies, before concentrating on his work with Henry Cow, recording and touring with the band until his departure in early 1976.

Having developed a strong collaboration with Peter Blegvad during the shortlived (but very creative) Henry Cow/Slapp Happy amalgamation in 1974-75, Greaves flew to New York with him to work on the Kew Rhône project with funding from Virgin. The pair spent three months putting words to Greaves' compositions, then jumped on the offer of Carla Bley and Michael Mantler to record these in their Woodstock studio. Many musicians guested on the album, which was eventually credited to Greaves, Blegvad and singer Lisa Herman.

Back in England, John Greaves spent a year working for theatre, both as composer/arranger and actor (!). Then, in early 1978, he accepted an offer to join National Health, staying until the band's demise in the spring of 1980. Meanwhile, he'd also joined part-time jazz...
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Buy JOHN GREAVES Music


Kew. Rhone.Kew. Rhone.
Import
Imports 2004
Audio CD$15.09
$24.99 (used)
Little Bottle of LaundryLittle Bottle of Laundry
Import
Blueprint UK 1997
Audio CD$12.32
$6.94 (used)
CaretakerCaretaker
Import
Blueprint UK 2006
Audio CD$18.25
$21.12 (used)
SongsSongs
Import
Resurgence UK 1996
Audio CD$24.28
$28.99 (used)
Parrot FashionsParrot Fashions
Import
Blueprint UK 1998
Audio CD$17.98
$14.85 (used)
ChansonsChansons
Import
Le Chant Du Monde Fr 2004
Audio CD$16.97
$15.98 (used)
Trouble With HappinessTrouble With Happiness
Import
Le Chant Du Monde Fr 2004
Audio CD$17.38
$19.95 (used)
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JOHN GREAVES discography


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

4.37 | 35 ratings
Kew Rhone
1977
4.00 | 4 ratings
Accident
1982
3.50 | 2 ratings
Parrot Fashions
1984
4.00 | 1 ratings
La Petite Bouteille De Linge
1991
3.00 | 1 ratings
Greaves & Cunningham
1991
4.02 | 8 ratings
Songs
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
On The Street Where You Live
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Caretaker
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Pig Part Project
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Trouble With Happiness
2003
3.00 | 2 ratings
Chansons
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Tambien
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Greaves Verlaine
2008

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Loco Solo
2001

JOHN GREAVES Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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JOHN GREAVES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Kew Rhone by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.37 | 35 ratings

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Kew Rhone
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars John Greaves and Peter Blegvad enjoyed working with each other on the Henry Cow/Slapp Happy albums Desperate Straights and In Praise of Learning so much that they got back together (and brought Lisa Herman into the fold) to produce this eccentric avant-Canterbury piece. Presenting a jazzy Canterbury sound that borders on Henry Cow's later chamber-rock explorations, the album also features Blegvad and Herman indulging in wild, fanciful wordplay with the lyrics.

Apparently, some people have blamed the album's commercial failure on it coming out on the same day as the Sex Pistols' debut album, but I think that buys into the punk-vs-prog myth a little too much. The fact is that the Canterbury scene was always a bit less high profile than the likes of Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd or ELP, so the idea that an avant-garde side project from two members of underground Canterbury/RIO bands with lyrics so complex the album art provided diagrams to aid in their interpretation might have become a serious commercial hit is rather far-fetched.

Simply put, this is Canterbury at its most complex, obscure, and inaccessible. Of course, if you're a prog fan then that's a plus - but for my part, whilst I do consider it a worthwhile accomplishment at the same time I think the album is a bit too much in love with its own cleverness to show much interest in communicating its ideas effectively and engagingly with the listener, and so doesn't quite attain the fifth star for me.

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 Kew Rhone by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.37 | 35 ratings

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Kew Rhone
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I would probably think a lot higher of this if Robert Wyatt was singing. The focus here is definitely on the vocals and concept of this album. I've never been a fan of concept albums for that reason. Give me great music that's all I ask for. Peter Blegvad wrote the lyrics while John Greaves composed the music. The music is mostly laid back with horns and piano often standing out,but like I said the focus is on the singing (male and female). I acknowledge that the lyrics here border on brilliant, and I can appreciate why many consider this a masterpiece. I do prefer Greaves' "Songs" album more.

"Good Evening" is sort of a lazy sounding tune with horns to get us warmed up. "Twenty-Two Proverbs" is more urgent sounding as male then female vocals come in. Horns before 2 minutes. Vocals are back after 3 minutes. "Seven Scenes From The Painting" opens with piano as reserved female vocals come in. It sounds sort of loungey if you know what I mean 1 1/2 minutes in. It turns serious as these contrasts continue. "Kew Rhone" is piano and female vocal led early. Male vocals, horns and some violin follow.

"Pipeline" is again led by female vocals and piano. Bass, drums and horns help out. Lots of horns late. "Catalogue Of Fifteen Objects & Their Titles" features reserved female vocals and piano. It picks up as other sounds join in. Male vocals around 2 minutes. "One Footnote (To Kew Rhone)" is mostly horns and drums as vocals come in late. "Three Tenses Onanism" opens with piano. Male vocals before 2 minutes. It's dissonant followed by a calm before almost spoken vocals end it. "Nine Mineral Emblams" opens with female vocals. The tempo picks up. I'm not into this one at all. The horns are good though before 4 1/2 minutes. "Apricot" is better with male vocals. The horns after 2 minutes sound great. "Gegenstand" puts the focus on the almost spoken female vocals.

I much prefer Robert Wyatt's solo work which is of a similar style but this has grown on me to the point where I can give it a low 4 stars.

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 Songs by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.02 | 8 ratings

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Songs
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars John Greaves is probably most well known for his being part of HENRY COW, although he did play with NATIONAL HEALTH as well. This album evolved out of an idea he had to have a trained soprano sing a couple of his songs, namely "Swelling Valley" and "The Price We Pay". S'Ange turned out to be the perfect choice with her lovely soprano voice. So they did a demo of three tracks and then over the next couple of years the project developed and expanded until he wound up with 48 songs. John also wanted to record existing material with different voices. So this really is a combination of new and old (re-recorded) tracks. Greaves' first choice for a vocalist was Robert Wyatt who he knew already was a big fan of the song "Kew. Rhone." so he got Robert to sing that as well as "Gegenstand" and "Songs" which John says "might as well have been written for him". A marriage made in heaven if there ever was one. Greaves also thought Wyatt's vocals would contrast and compliment S'Ange's angelic voice rather well. He also got Kristoffer Blegvad to sing "Silence" which he had done for years in the eighties with John's band. John said he always enjoyed listening to Kristoffer sing that one. Greaves felt he needed another female voice and Caroline Loeb happened in one day and agreed to do it so John wrote 2 tracks for her to sing "Eccentric Waters" and "L'aise Aux Ex-Sans Trique". John himself sings The Green Fuse" which is my favourite. It's actually a Dylan Thomas poem that John was reading one day, and he said the music just leaped off the page, so he had to record it. Peter Blegvad wrote 5 of the tracks and I have to mention that Elton Dean guests playing sax. This really is a mature and special album that is just a pleasure to listen to.

"Old Kinderhook" is simply a short accordion led instrumental. "The Song" is a beautiful laid back song sung by Wyatt as bass, piano and acoutic guitar support. Kind of melancholic too. "Swelling Valley" gives us our first taste of S'Ange and her angelic voice. Another pastoral tune with Kristoffer adding backing vocals. Just gorgeous as piano and acoustic guitar help out. "The Green Fuse" features strummed guitar and piano with John's vocals. Why is this so emotional ? My favourite. "Kew. Rhone." is where Wyatt returns vocally. Piano, acoustic guitar and vibes early before we get a fuller sound after 1 1/2 minutes. "Eccentric Waters" opens with what sounds like a party with different people talking as accordion plays.Then Caroline comes in vocally as party sounds fade away.

"Silence" is my second favourite. Piano opens as Kristoffer comes in vocally. Another moving track. Acoustic guitar joins in followed by bass. Sax before 3 minutes then it turns dissonant. "The Price We Pay" features S'Ange again with Kristoffer backing up. Great combination. Piano and acoustic guitar help out. "L'aise Aux Ex-Sans Trique" has some enrgy and both Caroline and John singing. Good song with piano and accordion standing out. "Back Where We Began" is a top three track for me. Simply heart rending. S'Ange's vocals with piano are so tender and touching it's difficult to express. "Gegenstand" is experimental to open then Wyatt comes in along with percussion and acoustic guitar. Experimental sounds return as the contrasts continue. "Whatever That Is" is the humerous conclusion to the record. It opens with atmosphere that you can feel. Acoustic guitar and piano come in then sax. The humour comes from the angry rant that follows. Haha, so funny.

A special album that I treasure.

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 Greaves Verlaine by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Greaves Verlaine
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Alucard
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars The Green Fairy

Since his first records with Henry Cow John Greaves, has never stopped composing music, recording and giving concerts. He considers every new project as a challenge for himself and the audience. John Greaves lives now for quite a long time in France and his last record "Chansons", was built entirely around French lyrics, but was sung by Elise Caron. In concerts John sung sometimes a song of famous French chansonnier George Brassens himself, but Greave/Verlaine is the first record where John sings all tracks in French. The poems of French poet Paul Verlaine had already been set to music, the most famous being the Claude Debussy's melodies and in the 60's the record of Leo Ferré who recorded a double LP with poems by Verlaine & Rimbaud. Not an easy task to attack these "famous" poems.

The First contact with the record is the beautiful cover, a silver absinth spoon on red ground, a homage to the famous 19th century alcohol that was forbidden for his devastating effects, but inspired a lot of artists and was nicknamed the "Green Fairy", a whole program in itself.

The overall atmosphere of the eleven songs is heavy and down to earth, with John's deep voice, the distorted guitar of Jef Morin and the swampy drum sound on one side and on the other hand of the sound-spectre the beautiful soprano voice of Jeanne Added, the violins of Arthur Simonini and Dominique Pifarelly and Karen Mantler's harmonica. Somewhere in the middle range Scott Taylor's accordion and some eerie musical saw and Theremin playing by Fay Lovsky.

The moods range from the melancholic "la lune blanche" et "chanson d'automne" to the bal musette like "Streets" and "Beams" featuring Scott Taylor on accordion.. The absolute highlight of the record for me is "Le piano que baise une main frêle", one of these songs that give you the shivers every time you hear it with Jeanne Added and John singing together, John's heavy French pronunciation in opposition with Jeanne's delicate soprano. Awesome!!! This track on his own, in the line of "The Green Fuse"and "Kew Rhone", is already a classic John Greaves song. Two other outstanding songs "Chanson d'automne" with his melancholic atmosphere of falling leaves, one of Verlaine's most famous poems and "Triolet a une vertu" featuring again Jeanne Added and John on distorted vocals in a answer/question game.

The whole record is flawless and all tracks segue nicely one into the other, alternating slow and up- tempo atmospheres, unveiling with every listen another hidden aspect of the beautiful arrangements : already a classic record.

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 Chansons  by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Chansons
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Syzygy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This is a remarkable album which really exists in a class of its own. 'Chanson' is a French genre in which the lyrics are more like poetry set to music - think Jacques Brel or Serge Gainsbourg - and there are singers known as chansonniers who interpret these, Edith Piaf being perhaps the best known outside France. This is John Greaves' vision of chanson, and it's a little gem, although fans of his RIO/Canterbury work may find it a little surprising.

Greaves wrote all the music and the words were written by one Christophe Glockner. My French is good enough to understand that the lyrics are extremely clever, but sadly nowhere near good enough to appreciate all their subtleties and nuances. The musical backing is quite minimal; Greaves plays piano and acoustic bass guitar, David Ventucci double chromatic accordion and Louis Sclavis plays clarinet and soprano sax here and there. Elise Caron is the chansonnier who brings the songs to life, and saving a couple of guest appearances that's it. This is very much in keeping with Greaves' recent albums, which have tended to be largely acoustic, although the style is very French and shows only traces of his RIO/Canterbury roots. Of especial interest is the guest appearance by Robert Wyatt on Melange, to which he contributes featherlight percussion and his distinctive voice, and this is where the album edges closest to any kind of rock connection. The arrangements are superb and the limited instumental voices are juggled adeptly to create a range of moods and atmospheres, and anybody who professes distaste for the accordion may be won over by Ventucci's incredible technique.

In its highly specialised field this is a minor masterpiece, but given the review criteria on this site I think good but non essential sums it up. Fans of Slapp Happy or the Greaves/Blegvad masterpiece Kew.Rhone will find plenty to enjoy here, especially French speakers, as will afficiandos of the eccentric French outfit ZNR. Newcomers to John Greaves would be better starting with Songs or La Petite Bouteille De Linge. Cautiously recommended.

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 Kew Rhone by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.37 | 35 ratings

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Kew Rhone
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by takas20

5 stars A thing no-one ever mentions is that the instrumentation on the album is the closest anyone ever has gotten to the magical arrangements on Unrest, which is a prog masterpiece. The piano, organ, bass, guitar parts (on for instance Kew Rhone itself or Apricot) are pure Cow (if such is an expression)

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 Accident  by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.00 | 4 ratings

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Accident
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Who would've thought that John Greaves' R.I.O approach could survive in the 80's ?? Well it did, and quite effectively, too. What we have here is a number of tunes, some of them quite catchy, all penned by Greaves and his dear friend Peter Blegvad, with a kind of 'New Wave' bent to them and full of clever experimentation, not unlike Hammill's albums from the same period. The Late Great Pip Pyle seems to man mostly the Simmons electric drum-kit, whilst ex-Weidorje drummer Kirt Rust handles the acoustic drums on several tracks, and various other big name musicians appear sporadically throughout ; Pascale Son (pretty female vocals) ex- Cos, Yochk'o Seffer on Sax (ex- Zao), Geoffrey Richardson, pizzicato Viola (ex- nearly everything else...) etc. Some interesting and amusing lyrics with unusual subject matter, kind of abstract and unclear at times. The low point of the album is 'Sad Emission' with it's DX7 'bells' patch and corny lyrics, complete with a very catchy melody and chorus, but a very weak song. Among the better tracks, some of which are very strange - Photography, Milk and Wax all display a strong R.I.O style with the then modern sound and the title track is a killer !! No extravagant Bass playing here, though. The track 'The Rose Sob' is weird, and has been performed by National Health live in 1979. Hopefully this review gets at least someone curious about this obscure release, I'm certainly not disappointed - closer to 4 stars than a three.

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 La Petite Bouteille De Linge  by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.00 | 1 ratings

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La Petite Bouteille De Linge
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Alucard
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars 'La Petite Bouteille De Linge' was recorded in Paris and released in 1990. The record presents a mixture of compositions that unit songwriting and sophisticated instrumental passages with influences ranging from contemporary classics, Kajun Folk Music, Straight Forward Rock, Jazz and a touch of Monthy Python.

'Solitary' the opener with lyrics by Peter Blegvad ("that whole great majestically startling mentally epic burning model of heaven") a Kurt Weill inspired song featuring Weill-Fashion Piano, distorted guitar and bass clarinet, reminding 'Henry Cow', followed by 'The World Tonight' a more traditional song.

'Deck Of The Moon' an uptempo track, sounding like 'XTC' and featuring F.Ovide on guitar and a nice piano solo by Sophia Domancich.

'Old Antiquity' a 'Kajun' Folk music inspired track with a soprano sax intro,featuring harmonica, guitar, violin, banjo and a great vocal arrangement.

' Rose C'Est La Vie' a beautiful French sung ballad with a string section (overdubbed violin?) and John on piano.

'Almost Perfect Lovers' a Jazzy track featuring piano, the late Jean-François Jenny Clark on double bass, tenor sax and including a longer instrumental improvisation.

'Le Garçon Vert' the scond song with Peter Blegvad lyrics, is arranged for Brass band, starting with a 'Peter Gunn' inspired theme with Italo Western style vocals by John, alternating Free Jazz passages with Canterbury and a Monthy Python touch, my favourite track on the record.

'Let Her Go' a beautiful ballad with a jazzy groove featuring acoustic guitar, a tenor sax and a piano solo.

'Dedans' is a reprise of trck 5 'Rose C'Est La Vie' with a Kajun feeling featuring accodeon, tuba, banjo, harmonica and reminding 'The Band'.

''La Petite Bouteille De Linge" is a great record of John Greaves, who mixes influences of Canterbury, Kajun Music , Kurt Weill, Monthy Python into a very personal record.

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 Songs by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.02 | 8 ratings

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Songs
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Syzygy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is a good introduction to John Greaves' solo career and also stands up as an extremely strong album in its own right. It's almost entirely acoustic, and consists of reworkings of songs from earlier albums interspersed with some new material, with the assistance of an impressive roster of guest stars from the Canterbury scene. Greaves himself takes more of a back seat than usual - the core band for the sessions consisted of double bass, piano and acoustic guitar, the pianist and bassist playing parts that he previously played himself, although he does occasionally add his own accordion, bass and piano parts, and takes the lead vocal on some of the songs.

About half the songs are the product of his long standing collaboration with Peter Blegvad, including two from their masterpiece Kew.Rhone. These are both sung by Robert Wyatt, a longtime fan of the album. Kew.Rhone itself is interpreted beautifully, with Wyatt singing what were originally multiple vocal parts and making the song his own. The arrangement is clear and crisp, with Ovide's acoustic guitar filling in for the string parts and adding a new layer of melodic ingenuity. There's a particularly effective interlude where the three main players demonstrate a remarkable interplay, and they complement Wyatt's voice splendidly - it's hard to believe that the music and vocals weren't even recorded in the same country. Gegenstand sees Greaves' electric bass deployed alongside Rodger's acoustic double bass to great effect, with another haunting Wyatt vocal, and Robert Wyatt also sings The Song and adds some of his featherlight percussion elsewhere. Two immensely talented female vocalists, S'Ange and Caroline Loeb, add their own lustre to several of the songs. Eccentric Waters - "An Opera In 3 Acts and 2 Minutes" - is a particular highlight, while L'Aise aux Ex-Sans-Trique spins a beautiful 5 minute song out of the album's performing credits. Kristoffer Blegvad (brother of Peter) is a longtime Greaves collaborator and turns in a pleasing vocal on Silence and duets with S'Ange on Swelling Valley. Greaves himself takes the lead vocal on L'Aise aux Ex-Sans-Trique and The Green Fuse, which is a Dylan Thomas poem set to music. John Greaves' hommage to his Welsh roots is brilliantly realised - setting poetry to music is a risky business, but here it is done with intelligence, style and a genuine feel for the original verse.

Songs is a splendid album which repays careful and repeated listening. The older material is reinterpreted and arrranged in ways which add to the originals without making them redundant, and the new songs fit in nicely. Everything on here has great depth, subtlety and charm, and is recommended to any fan of Canterbury or the more melodic end of RIO/Avant prog.

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 Kew Rhone by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.37 | 35 ratings

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Kew Rhone
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Syzygy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars With special thanks to Martin (Alucard)

Kew.Rhone is an often overlooked masterpiece from the 1970s, a multilayered concept album that combines the complexity of RIO with the melodic sensibilities of the best Canterbury bands and which features perhaps the most erudite lyrics in the history of progressive rock.

John Greaves (music) and Peter Blegvad (lyrics) began their creative partnership when Henry Cow and Slapp Happy joined forces for Desperate Straits - their song 'Bad Alchemy' was one of that album's highlights, and they have continued to write and perform together on an occasional basis ever since. Following the recording of 'In Praise Of Learning' Henry Cow and Slapp Happy split, and John Greaves left Henry Cow at about the same time. He and Peter Blegvad went to New York, where they wrote this album and then recorded it with the assistance and participation of jazz greats Carla Bley and Mike Mantler. Vocalist extraordinaire Lisa Hermann was rightly given joint billing with the two songwriters; like Dagmar in Slapp Happy and Art Bears, it is her interpretation of the material that brings it to life. Robert Wyatt was so impressed that he bought two copies, in case one got damaged or worn out, and later sang a version of the title track on John Greaves' 'Songs' album.

Side 1 of the vinyl original opened with "Good Evening", which functioned like the opening tune of a Broadway musical - some of the main musical themes of the album are played in a short but highly effective big band arrangement. This leads straight into "Twenty Two Proverbs", which is just that - a collection of proverbs from a variety of sources set to music and sung by Lisa Herman with occasional interjections from other voices - John Greaves' delivery of 'What have I to do with Bradshaw's windmill?' is one of the album's early highlights. The proverbs sometimes seem to relate to each other; 'A cat may look at a king' is juxtaposed with 'By night all cats are grey', while 'Names are not the pledge for things but things for names' flags up one of the album's main lyrical concerns. "7 Scenes From 'Exhuming The First American Mastodon' By CW Peale" follows, the lyrics based on the cover painting, itself based on CW Peale's painting of his own scientific project. This track has some remarkable brass by Mike Mantler, which plays off Lisa Herman's lead vocal to stunning effect. "Pipeline" follows, which pulls off the rare feat of having a line such as 'Figure b. illustrates the assertion 'Ambiguity can't be measured like a change in temperature' and making it melodic and catchy. The lyrics refer back to "7 Scenes"; objects mentioned in that song reappear here in a different guise (Names are not the pledge for things...). Again, despite the apparent complexity this a breezy, melodic song which will linger in the mind for a long time. The title track is the album's centrepiece, another hummable gem with opaque lyrics. The first part of the song is written solely using the letters in Kew.Rhone, for example 'We who knew no woe', and the second features a lengthy palindrome: 'Peel's foe, not a set animal, laminates a tone of sleep'. Once again all this is sung to some extremely memorable music, with some wonderful strings by Michael Levine and a superb vocal arrangement with another sterling contribution from John Greaves' pleasing Welsh tenor. The first half of the album culminated with Catalogue of Fifteen Objects and their Titles (Names again...), which is also referred to obliquely on 'Squarer for Maud' by National Health.

Side 2 kicked off with another short track, "One Footnote", which suggests further anagrams from the title and invites the listener to think of some more. "Three Tenses Onanism" is a highly poetic paen to the pleasures of self gratification and sees the music move more towards RIO/Avant prog territory, each of the three tenses being represented by a different musical idea. Peter Blegvad is the main vocalist here, his knowing New York drawl adding an extra dimension to the lyrics. 'Nine Mineral Emblems' returns to the jazz tinged Canterbury stylings of the first half of the album, and contains some accurate information about mineralogy given an unlikely but effective erotic subtext: 'When heated, SCOLECITE lengthens, squirms - not unlike the worm that looks for lodgings in a pearly urn'. "Apricot" feature's Blegvad's second lead vocal, and is probably the closest the album comes to a straightforward rocker (not very close, admittedly, but there's something of Lou Reed in the vocals and it has the album's most prominent electric guitar)."Gegenstand" brought the album to a subdued close - this track has the sparsest arrangement on the album, dominated by John Greaves' bass playing.

The instrumental performances are all superb throughout the album. John Greaves plays some beautiful piano as well as anchoring the arrangements with his ever inventive bass work. Peter Blegvad is not a great guitarist (as he admits himself) but acquits himself creditably on some extremely tricky guitar parts, while the supporting players all turn in splendid performances - this is very much an album of tightly focussed, carefully arranged ensemble playing, the arrangements allowing the individual players to shine without dominating the proceedings. It also functions well as a whole package - Blegvad was responsible for the sleeve design, which informs some of the lyrics, and some CD versions have an enhanced feature which takes you deeper into the album's concept. Music, lyrics and visuals all complement each other to perfection.

Greaves and Blegvad have both had long and distinguished careers, and they have written a wealth of good material together and individually, but nothing since has quite equallled this gem of an album. This is a genuine masterpiece, and no collection is complete without it.

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