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JOHN GREAVES

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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John Greaves biography
Born January 23, 1950 (Prestatyn, Wales, UK)

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 GERY & 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 ...
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Verlaine GisantVerlaine Gisant
Signature 2015
$17.98
$11.76 (used)
VerlaineVerlaine
Zig Zag 2007
$5.13
$3.00 (used)
Tambien 1-7Tambien 1-7
Resurgence Uk 2005
$10.31
$14.25 (used)
Trouble With HappinessTrouble With Happiness
Le Chant Du Monde Fr 2004
$20.19
$14.25 (used)
CaretakerCaretaker
Blueprint UK 2006
$36.98
$20.00 (used)
AccidentAccident
Blueprint UK 1997
$43.51 (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)

4.17 | 57 ratings
John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone.
1977
4.00 | 10 ratings
Accident
1982
3.80 | 5 ratings
Parrot Fashions
1984
4.05 | 2 ratings
La Petite Bouteille De Linge
1991
4.00 | 2 ratings
Greaves, Cunningham
1991
4.02 | 16 ratings
Songs
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
On The Street Where You Live
2001
2.00 | 1 ratings
Greaves, Pyle & Iung: The Pig Part
2001
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Caretaker
2001
3.00 | 1 ratings
Greaves, Sophia Domancich & Vincent Courtois: The Trouble With Happiness
2003
3.04 | 4 ratings
John Greaves & Elise Caron: Chansons
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Tambien 1-7
2005
3.95 | 2 ratings
Greaves / Verlaine
2008
3.00 | 1 ratings
Greaves / Verlaine 2 - Divine Ignorante
2011
4.00 | 1 ratings
Verlaine Gisant
2015

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Loco Solo
2001
3.00 | 1 ratings
Piacenza
2015

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

JOHN GREAVES Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

JOHN GREAVES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Songs by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.02 | 16 ratings

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Songs
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

4 stars The Essential Greaves Album - very close to 5 stars!

John Greaves has produced solo albums since the late 1970s, although often sporadically. But with at least 16 solo albums, he has by now a long discography. He is not an easy composer to categorize, although there is perhaps a touch of melancholic vaudeville (or something) in all his work. He began with Henry Cow, playing bass on their first three albums, and then on National Health's two last (out of three) albums, as well as the joint Henry Cow/Slapp Happy album 'Desperate Straights'. It was while making the latter that he met Peter Blegvad, with whom he would make his (probably) most famous album 'Kew.Rhone'. While I really like that album, 'Songs' is my favourite Greaves album. While Kew.Rhone is highly inventive and original, it largely keeps the same sound and feel all the way through, and one needs to be in a particular mood for it. 'Songs', on the other hand, is highly varied, and yet flows very well from song to song, engulfing the listener in its warmth regardless of mood. On 'Songs', Greaves writes new songs while also re-interpreting a number of his older tunes, setting a pattern that would continue on many later albums. However, instead of having the same vocalists on every song, here Greaves invites a number of different vocalists to sing on the album, as well as himself. This further helps differentiate each track, giving each song a slightly different flavour and allowing the identify of each one to really emerge. Robert Wyatt is one of these guest vocalists, singing on three tracks, among them a re-interpretation of both the closing track ('Gegestand') and the title track, to his first album 'Kew.Rhone'. I must say this is just an amazing version of the song - the penultimate version in my opinion. Another Wyatt guest vocal is on Greave's 'The Song', a new song written for this album. And well, it is awesome. If Greaves could be said to have a signature song, this would be it (and 'Kew.Rhone' would have to be the runner-up). These are two exceptionally musical tunes, and Wyatt's presence elevates them even further, putting them among the best of the 'Canterbury' genre. But with only three guest vocals, Wyatt does not dominate here. Greaves brings in three other singers to sing on a total of seven of the other tracks, while Greaves takes the helm on only two songs (including the excellent ''The Green Fuse', with lyrics drawn from a poem by Dylan Thomas). Susan S'Ange Belling adds quasi-operatic vocals on three tracks, including a re-interpretation of the 'The Price We Pay' originally from Greaves' 'Parrot Fashions' album, while Kristoffer Blegvad (younger brother of Peter, with whom Greaves has written a number of songs, including those on Kew.Rhone) co-sings on three tracks. While the music, with instrumentation leaning on acoustic guitar, piano, and accordion, is largely subdued and sombre, it is also highly innovative with ethereal electric guitar additions by David Cunningham and the occasional saxello by (of course) Elton Dean, with the instrumentation changing from song to song. Yet each track builds on the previous one, and you just don't want to turn this album off. While I could highlight my favourite tracks (in addition to the Wyatt version of "Kew.Rhone" and Greaves' classic "The Song", for me these would include "The Green Fuse", "The Silence" and "Back Where We Began"), in reality every single track here is excellent and everyone will probably choose a different favourite. If anyone has not yet heard John Greaves solo music, this is the album I would recommend you start with - it is really high quality, warm, and often beautiful. I give this album 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is very very close to 5 stars.

 Verlaine Gisant by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Verlaine Gisant
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

— First review of this album —
4 stars The best of Greaves' Verlaine trilogy.

I am surprised that no one yet has reviewed this or the previous entry in the Verlaine trilogy. Verlaine Gisant is the third entry in John Greaves' trilogy of albums dedicated to poet Paul Verlaine, the tortured and romantic French 'fin de siecle' poet who died in 1896. While the first two albums involved poems by Verlaine set to music, this album is different. The lyrics here are written by lyricist Emmanuel Tugny, inspired by the book written by Gustave Le Rouge called "Les Derniers Jours de Paul Verlaine" (Last Days of Paul Verlaine). There are bits of Verlaine's poetry here, interspersed with new phrases, statements and lyrics from Tugny that speak to Verlaine's life and emotions. Musically, this is my favourite of Greave's Verlaine trilogy, although each of them are worth getting. The music on this one is simply excellent, and also somewhat unique - a combination of hypnotic chamber music for strings, pensive French 'chanson'-style composition, and Crimson-like electric-guitar dissonance, often on the same track. Definitely progressive-minded, although not really fitting in any of the categories here on PA. These are all vocally-based tunes with mostly sparse instrumentation, although there are often many strings being played at once. The tunes are 'normal' length, but often with two or three different sections. Greaves is often joined on vocals by Elise Caron (who sung on the wonderful album 'Chansons') and Jean Added, as well as Thomas De Pourquery. While Greaves' singing is better here than on many other albums (all the singing is in tune!), nonetheless the female vocals upstage on every song here, really great singing. The lyrics, which are all in French, can be quite jarring even when they are sung beautifully. To wit, one of the more beautiful songs on the album (with some excellent vocal harmonies) is simply called "Merde" (!). The most beautiful track here, reminding me a bit of the North Sea Radio Orchestra, is "La Poetesse" - a simply stunningly gorgeous piece of music. Other tracks I really like include "Autoportrait", "Air de la Lune", "Un Ange", and the opener "Air de la Derniere Demeure", but really there are no poor quality tracks on this album, they are all strong and fit together well. The album flows and creates its own distinct melancholy mood. Not only is it an excellent tribute to Verlaine, but a great piece of music. This would be a good place to start in one wanted to get into Greaves more recent mature albums. I often find myself drawn to put this on. I give this 8.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

 Greaves, Sophia Domancich & Vincent Courtois: The Trouble With Happiness by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Greaves, Sophia Domancich & Vincent Courtois: The Trouble With Happiness
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

— First review of this album —
3 stars Great music, but not the best vocal performance.

This 11-song collection sees John Greaves record a mix of new and older songs, as he has often done over the last two decades, here with Sophia Domancich on piano, and Vincent Courtois on cello. Each song is thus arranged for piano, cello and voice. There is lots of space in these arrangements, and Courtois' cello playing adds much of the quirk to the otherwise subdued melancholy atmosphere provided by Domancich's beautiful acoustic piano. More than the typical Greaves album, though, the lyrics and vocals here are prominent and emphasized. This works well for some songs, but Greaves is not going to win any singing contests. His voice often goes out of tune, and to be honest I think he sounds like he is trying too hard on many of these tracks. For instance, on the wonderful song "How Beautiful You Are", recorded/released by Greaves a few times already by this point (and written by Greaves and Peter Blegvad), it is not his singing but the cello parts that make this version special for me. On "The Real World", in particular, he pushes his vocals too hard - it would have worked better if he had instead whispered the lyrics. His approach works a bit better on the excellent songs "The Price We Pay" (a great cover of an older song of his), the new songs "No Dice" and "The World Tonight" (my two favourite tracks on this album), and on the lone French song, "Saturne". Meanwhile, on each album, Greaves often references his other work, and changes up some of his lyrics, in a kind of Greaves version of 'conceptual continuity'. On this one, "All Summer Long"/"When We Were Young" references his Greaves-Blegvad classic "The Song", originally released on the wonderful album "Songs". All in all, this is a decent collection of songs, and the piano-cello arrangement really works well on some tracks. However, it is not the best Greaves vocal performance. He is not known for his singing anyway, and I think he should have tried a number of vocal takes using different approaches before releasing this. Given all this, I would not recommend one start with this album, but I nonetheless think it is an important part of his discography. I give this album 6.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

 Piacenza by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Live, 2015
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Piacenza
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

— First review of this album —
3 stars John Greave's latest album is an archive of his solo live concert at the main theatre in medieval Piacenza, Italy. Quite different from most of the music here on PA, this is a mature intimate affair, with John sitting at the acoustic piano and singing, although he is joined by Annie Barbazza and Paola Tagliaferro on backing vocals on the final track of the concert - his career-defining 'The Song' from his 1993 album 'Songs'. Despite his age, John's voice remains pretty decent here, although it is better here on the English-language tracks that the two sung in French (originally sung with others where they first appear on the studio albums), and this being a live performance he does occasionally go out of tune. Throughout his career, John has typically written the music while his collaborators write the lyrics, or he has set poems to music, including his excellent trilogy of albums dedicated to the poetry of Paul Verlaine. Also, many of his albums have contained both new music interspersed with re-interpretations of his older tunes. This album fits that pattern. Among others, here he includes solo versions of 'The Price We Pay' (from his 'Parrot Fashions' album), 'Earthly Powers' (from his album 'The Caretaker'), 'Bad Alchemy' from the Henry Cow/Slappy Happy album 'Desperate Straights', two songs 'La Lune Blanche' and 'Chanson d'Automne' from the first 'Verlaine' album, 'Green Fuse' and 'The Song' from his album 'Songs', and the title track from his album 'The Trouble with Happiness'. Of the older/cover tracks, a couple really stand out. The timeless and romantic 'How Beautiful You Are', originally written by Greaves and Peter Blegvad is a really beautiful song, just wonderful, and it works well in this setting (this appears on a number of his other albums, but I think this is one of the best versions). His 'The Song' is once again brilliant, with the backup singing nicely bringing the concert to a close on an emotional high. Meanwhile, fans of Greaves and Blegvad's excellent album 'Kew.Rhone' may be shocked to hear his version of the title track to that album here. Greaves builds up to a manic version, adding new words to the second half which makes the listener call into question the meaning of the original lyrics. Greaves ends the album with a recording of Robert Wyatt's 'Sea Song', recorded during rehearsal (not played in the concert itself) duetting with Annie Barbazza. I, of course, love this song, and this version is a welcome addition to the archive of Sea Song covers. Again, beautiful is an apt description. Meanwhile, there are new songs here too. 'Summer on Ice' is my favourite of these, a fantastic emotional track (perfectly following his older 'The Price We Pay'). He also wrote new music to Blegvad's 'The Thunderthief', a song which John Paul Jones (of Led Zeppelin fame) also wrote music to (found on Jones' album of the same name), but with a totally different feel. I don't like the JPJ tune, but I really like Greaves' version here, and 'The Same Things' is also a great track. All in all, this is for me quite a satisfying album. It is not brilliant - it is not going to rock anyone's world, and if you are looking to get into John Greaves' music, I would not start with this one (and for some of the older songs, there are better versions on the studio albums). But for those familiar with his music over the years, this is a generally positive listening experience. I give this album 6.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.
 John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone. by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.17 | 57 ratings

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John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone.
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Tucked away amongst the plethora of stellar output from the progressive rock scene of the 1970s is this unusual musical specimen that defies all logic and expectations in about every way. First of all the artist listing is the first bout with ambiguity. This is really a huge band effort but the cover only credits JOHN GREAVES, PETER BLEGVAD and LISA HERMAN, however on the record, CD and spine of both appears only GREAVES (who wrote the music) and BLEGVAD (who wrote the lyrics.) In reality this release contained a staggering eight extra musicians who contributed percussion, trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, violin, viola, flute, clave and additional vocals. JOHN GREAVES, of course, was the bassist of Henry Cow as well as participating in National Health and Soft Heap. PETER BLEGVAD, of course, was the mastermind behind the avant-pop group Slapp Happy but also joined Henry Cow for a fleeting moment in time but always retained a connection with GREAVES and worked together on many projects. I'm not sure where LISA HERMAN comes into the picture as she was an American singer who somehow ended up performing vocals on this release as well as with another GREAVES / BLEGVAD group called The Lodge.

What's that title all about? Not sure. As far as i can figure it out: KEW is a suburban district in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames while RHONE is either a major river in Switzerland or a wine producing region in France. Since this album is an intellect's paradise incorporating all kinds of anagrams, palindromes, verbal sophistication and mind bleeps, then i can only admit that i have not been able to figure out (nor taken the time) to decipher all the embedded cleverness that has been implanted into this album. The fact is that this is the product of musical nerds who had too much time on their hands and is probably one of those albums where you could literally listen to for your entire lifespan on the planet and constantly be having new insights whether true or perceived about what exactly this album represents. I prefer not to look too deeply into it for i've discovered that my insights are not exactly those that were intended by the artists involved. And it is totally unnecessary to glean these nuances to enjoy this album. The music stands on its own on many levels including just digging the avant-grooviness on display. This is one of those extremely rare albums that combines the complexities of avant-prog with the sensibilities of catchy almost ear-wormy pop hooks which shows the genius of the two masters in action with the help of an army of extremely talented musicians to pull it off. However, deepness is a virtue. This album of many levels can suck you in upon first listen but keep you guessing about all kinds of things.

Not a bad long term strategy i do say although this one was pretty much a commercial dud upon release. One important trivial fact is that it was not only released on the same day as The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind The Bollocks" album which was the big bang of the punk scene but it was also released on the very same LABEL! It seems Virgin Records (UK) was covering all grounds by not only releasing the last relics of the fading prog scene of the 70s but also picking up on the new pulse of the British youth that would capture a new generation of discontents not willing to delve into the complexities of prog where you have to listen multiple times to figure it out. While KEW. RHONE. isn't exactly a "Tales From Topographic Oceans" in prog complexity, it does embed within its initial catchiness several layers that can be deciphered. I'll only cover the basics as this one requires some effort if you want to dig deeper. On the surface this is a typical Canterbury Scene inspired jazz-fusion extravaganza that incorporates avant-prog as well as various strains of jazz music into the mix.

Right from the start this feels like a complete fusion of Rock In Opposition initiators Henry Cow's avant-prog approaches on such albums as "Western Culture" only with LISA HERMAN's vocals on board really reminds me of Lindsay Cooper and her various projects ranging from Art Bears to News From Babel. While the avant-prog is on full display stylistically, there is a strong connection on many tracks to the Hatfield And The North as LISA HERMAN delivers her vocal style with a strong Northette way of phrasing which shows a link to Barbara Gaskin, Amanda Parsons and Ann Rosenthal's angelic contributions of the Hatfield And The North albums. At times there is also a subtle Return To Forever vibe from the Flora Purim era as well as incorporating a plethora of jazz history ranging from hard bop to marching band type segments. In short, this is a beautiful and intricate and highly sophisticated album on many levels and for sure one of those underrated and short changed masterpieces of the 70s. I surmise that this is the case not only because of the ambiguities that spring forth from its weird and unassuming first impressions but also from a introverted passive aggressive form of jealousy that can emerge from the discovery of a sophistication so sublime that it literally scars the emotionally unprepared for such magnanimity. Whatever the case, if you LOOOOOVE the Canterbury Scene and crave avant-prog more than processed sugar and really secretly hoped that the two styles would have a salacious love affair, then look no further than KEW. RHONE. This is an amazingly brilliant album on so many levels that it should be banned for its sheer tenacity and utmost boldness. OK, maybe not. I'm just glad it exists.

 John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone. by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.17 | 57 ratings

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John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone.
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars In 1969, during his studies at Premboke College in Cambridge, John Greaves met members of a forward-looking outfit known as Henry Cow. The musicians, Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson, were looking for a bass player and persuaded Greaves to join them. In 1974, Henry Cow teamed up with a German avant-pop outfit Slapp Happy. Peter Blegvad, Slapp Happy's guitarist, and Greaves found working together extremely prolific and, in result, ended up writing some material, most notably a piece "Bad Alchemy", which appeared on Slapp Happy's album Desperate Straights. After leaving the band, Blegvad returned to his hometown, New York City, and made a living as an illustrator. John Greaves left Henry Cow in 1976, appearing on three of their studio releases. In 1977, they decided to join forces to work on Greaves' project Kew. Rhone. in New York City, with financial help from Virgin Records. Peter Blegvad was responsible for writing lyrics, while John Greaves wrote music. When the album was ready to record, the two were offered a studio by two jazz musicians, Michael Mantler and Carla Bley, who ended up playing on Kew. Rhone., alongside a vocalist Lisa Herman, a drummer Andrew Cyrille, and numerous other guests.

The music on Kew. Rhone. is at times quite similar to that of Henry Cow from the Unrest period. The affinity is really a testimony for how much of the band's sound Greaves is responsible for. His distinctive compositional style, first fully displayed on "Half Asleep Half Awake" from Unrest, is now dominant on the album. The work has a unique, dark, noir-like quality, supported by influences of urban hard-bop. Jazz elements are also reflected in instrumentation, through the extensive use of Miles Davis-inspired the trumpet and rhythmic grand piano. And yet, Greaves and Blegvad manage to capture somewhat of a European spirit in their music. Flavors of avant-garde opera, in particular that of the Second Viennese School, composers such as Schoenberg and Berg, are also a considerable part of the musical extract. Small, inexplicable ingredients of so-called Canterbury sound are also present, highly likely solving the problem of classification of the album. Peter Blegvad's twisted, sophisticated, ambiguous, and most of all, highly experimental lyrics, dripping with of oxymorons, anagrams, palindromes, demand a great amount of erudition to be fully comprehended. There appears to be an invisible link between all of the songs lyrically, creating a feel of a concept album. Obviously, one is rather unlikely to notice the exceptionality of the words without actually reading them individually. However, "Is Kew. Rhone. an album to be "solved"? asks Marcus O'Dair, a journalist of a British music magazine. "It invites interpretation even as it resists it," was Blegvad's answer. "When considering the meanings of Kew. Rhone. we can only guess, we can't know ? which will put some people off. People who want definitive answers are unlikely to get whatever there is to be got from the Kew. Rhone. experience. Personally, I feel more at home with doubt than I do with certainty. What Keats called Negative Capability." Without a shade of doubt, the interplay of intricate and advanced music and elaborate and knowledgeable lyrics creates a one-of-a-kind blend - Kew. Rhone.

To ensure his musical vision is executed in the best possible manner, John Greaves invited some of the finest musicians he knew to play on the album. Himself, Greaves handles all the keyboard instruments (except for clave played by Boris Kinberg) as well as bass guitar. Peter Blegvad is responsible for guitar parts, which play an important role in the album's sound. Blegvad, Greaves, and Lisa Herman together, create a beautiful texture of three varied harmony vocals, which are probably the most characteristic element of Kew. Rhone. In addition, they get some help from the voices of Dana Johnson, April Lang, Michael Levine, and Carla Bley. The album is rich in wind instruments, which include a trumpet and trombone played by Mike Mantler, an alto saxophone and flute played by Vito Rendace, and tenor saxophones played by Rendace, Carla Bley, and Blegvad. Throughout the album, trumpet gets the most solo parts, followed by tenor saxophones. Andrew Cyrille on drums, finds himself perfectly comfortable playing complex time signatures. A classically-trained string sound is delivered by Michael Levine, who plays violin and viola, giving a slight chamber-like taste. In short: the musicianship on this release is excellent.

The album comprises eleven tracks. It opens with "Good Evening", a half-a-minute intro, which despite its short duration, successfully sets the mood for the rest of the work. "Twenty-Two Proverbs" has a bit of an unsettling sound reflected by its dissonant nature and an odd time signature, with great, varied harmony vocals. "Seven Scenes from the Painting 'Exhuming the First American Mastodon' by C.W. Peale" alludes to the album art, which portrays Peale's scientific project. The title track, "Kew. Rhone." features a motif that I'm sure I have heard on Henry Cow's debut album, LegEnd. The short theme used in this lighter piece often appears on Cow's early recordings. "Pipeline" was once described as "a phenomenological bossa nova in 7/4". And this description perfectly captures the spirit on the track. "Catalogue of Fifteen Objects and Their Titles" closes side one of the LP with well-rehearsed saxophone virtuosity and memorable harmony vocals. Side two opens with a somewhat heavy sound of " One Footnote (to Kew. Rhone.)", which features a strong syncopated rhythm with great interaction of horn instruments and, later, the band members' voices. "Three Tenses Onanism" is a much lighter piece with John Greaves' grand piano play and strange, sinister noises from Peter Blegvad's guitar. "Apricot" is built around a catchy, jazz-influenced theme with a trumpet solo and sophisticated vocals. The album closes with "Gegenstand", which starts with a melody-less, improvised passage with atonal, Fred Frith-like guitar sounds. Towards the end, one will hear a bit of silent vocal melody supported by gentle bass and organ, as if struggling to break through, but not for long, as the piece slowly descends into complete silence.

John Greaves and Peter Blegvad are responsible for one of the most detailed, difficult, multifaceted, complicated, and thought-provoking albums in the history of progressive music with very listen revealing new aspects and qualities. Kew. Rhone. demands a lot more than just many listens to be fully appreciated, it demands a careful and experienced listener. Canterbury sound had never been as complex and sophisticated before Kew. Rhone. Close to sheer perfection in almost every way, in short: a masterpiece.

 John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone. by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.17 | 57 ratings

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John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone.
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I always look forward to hearing 'Kew Rhone' and am continually underwhelmed by the time I'm half way though it. With a line up of eleven clearly talented musicians you'd think you'd be in for something special. Such a pity then that they seem to continually overlap and intrude each other in the most annoying of manners. They create a messy, sprawling sound that is at once academic, clearly being a scored soundtrack, but it is difficult to listen to. It brings very little enjoyment to my decades old poor bludgeoned ears.

Apparently this album is full of anagrams and palindromes. I've certainly not heard any. Maybe it's because my mind keeps wandering to more important things like: 'what time do I have to get up for work tomorrow'. I try so hard to like this but always find it ultimately boring and directionless. 'Allmusic' calls this a masterpiece of 70's electronic rock. God knows why. I must have listened to this around 15 times and all I can think on is of a wizard throwing a bag full of musical notes down a flight of stairs.

Lisa Herman's vocals irritate throughout the duration with her tuneless leaping from one octave to another. I can't make head nor tail of her intentions. I can't even say she has a good set of vocals. They're all too random and willy-nilly, almost an afterthought as if she's just heard the backing track for the first time and has decided to give it a go despite the consequences.

It's all too clever for its own good. Listening to 'Kew Rhone' is like tying to decipher an algebra equation. No fun at all in other words. The separation of isotopes by gaseous diffusion is easier to understand than this.

I will admit though - it does have a great sleeve by Charles Peale called 'Exhuming the First American Mastodon'. That's as high praise as you'll get from me I'm afraid.

 John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone. by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.17 | 57 ratings

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John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: 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.

 John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone. by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.17 | 57 ratings

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John Greaves, Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman: 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.

 Songs by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.02 | 16 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.

Thanks to alucard for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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