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PENDRAGON

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Pendragon picture
Pendragon biography
Formed in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England in 1978.

Originally known as ZEUS PENDRAGON it was decided fairly early on to drop the "ZEUS" as co-founder Julian Baker felt it was too wordy to fit on a t-shirt! There were several line up changes in the early days, members included Julian Baker (co-founder/guitar) Nigel Harris (drums) Stan Cox (bass) Robert Dalby (bass) John Barney Barnfield (keys) Rik Carter (keys). The one constant key element was Nick Barrett. The line up then remained the same for almost 20 years, featuring : Nick Barrett (guitar/lead vocal) Clive Nolan (keys) Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums), until 2006 when PENDRAGON and Fudge Smith parted ways.

Todate there have been 21 releases from PENDRAGON who set up their own label "TOFF RECORDS" in the late 1980's following the release of "The Jewel" and "KowTow" (as well as a couple of mini albums). "The Masquerade Overture" is probably their most acclaimed work todate. Although a recent change of direction with "Believe" has seen opinions somewhat split, it is definitely a remarkable album and maybe showing a move away from classic Neo-Prog.

I would highly recommend this band to anyone enjoying neo-prog.

PENDRAGON Videos (YouTube and more)


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The WorldThe World
MADFISH 2017
$8.04
$12.98 (used)
Pendragon - And Now Everybody To The Stage (2CD+DVD)Pendragon - And Now Everybody To The Stage (2CD+DVD)
Multiple Formats · Limited Edition
Metal Mind 2006
$19.99
$35.02 (used)
PurePure
Toff Records 2015
$9.54
$7.51 (used)
Masquerade OvertureMasquerade Overture
MADFISH 2017
$9.65
$8.31 (used)
Not Of This WorldNot Of This World
MADFISH 2012
$9.46
$7.75 (used)
The Window Of LifeThe Window Of Life
MADFISH 2017
$7.60
$8.81 (used)
The History: 1984-2000The History: 1984-2000
Metal Mind 2006
$11.71
$9.66 (used)
Out of Order Comes ChaosOut of Order Comes Chaos
Metal Mind 2013
$14.19
$15.54 (used)
Masquerade 20Masquerade 20
Metal Mind 2017
$12.17
$12.13 (used)
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PENDRAGON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.28 | 291 ratings
The Jewel
1985
2.59 | 222 ratings
Kowtow
1988
3.77 | 409 ratings
The World
1991
3.92 | 458 ratings
The Window Of Life
1993
4.00 | 619 ratings
The Masquerade Overture
1996
3.89 | 476 ratings
Not Of This World
2001
3.54 | 391 ratings
Believe
2005
3.89 | 620 ratings
Pure
2008
3.73 | 528 ratings
Passion
2011
3.65 | 226 ratings
Men Who Climb Mountains
2014

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

3.21 | 62 ratings
9:15 Live
1986
2.37 | 41 ratings
The Very Very Bootleg Live In Lille France 1992
1993
3.59 | 53 ratings
Utrecht ...The Final Frontier
1995
3.96 | 60 ratings
Live In Krakow 1996
1997
3.41 | 65 ratings
Acoustically Challenged
2002
4.04 | 19 ratings
Liveosity
2004
4.08 | 75 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.13 | 57 ratings
Out of Order Comes Chaos
2013
4.63 | 8 ratings
Masquerade 20
2017

PENDRAGON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.17 | 60 ratings
Live At Last ... And More
2002
3.96 | 65 ratings
And Now Everybody To The Stage
2006
4.03 | 62 ratings
Past And Presence
2007
4.44 | 97 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.56 | 48 ratings
Out Of Order Comes Chaos
2012
4.15 | 17 ratings
Masquerade 20
2017

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

2.90 | 54 ratings
The Rest of Pendragon
1991
2.44 | 8 ratings
1984-96 Overture
1998
2.54 | 45 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 1
1999
2.49 | 40 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 2
1999
3.43 | 27 ratings
The History 1984-2000
2000
4.13 | 5 ratings
A História
2001
4.10 | 12 ratings
The Round Table
2001
3.22 | 12 ratings
Introducing Pendragon
2013

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

3.23 | 54 ratings
Fly High Fall Far
1984
1.74 | 29 ratings
Red Shoes
1987
2.32 | 24 ratings
Saved By You
1991
2.47 | 13 ratings
Nostradamus
1993
3.66 | 93 ratings
Fallen Dreams And Angels
1994
3.41 | 72 ratings
As Good As Gold
1996

PENDRAGON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Jewel by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.28 | 291 ratings

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The Jewel
Pendragon Neo-Prog

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

3 stars Amongst the bands that kept progressive rock on life support in the 80s, only Marillion gained superstardom and achieved arena live setting status but there were quite a few other bands that came and went without much fanfare. Included on a different list is the band PENDRAGON who came but never went away and in the process found relative success in the 80s neo-prog boom along with other bands such as Pallas, Solstice and Twelfth Night. The band actually was formed all the way back in 1978 by vocalist and guitarist Nick Barrett but soon joined by bassist Peter Gee. The two have been the only constant members since the band's inception when it was called Zeus Pendragon. The Zeus part was quickly dropped.

The band went through several lineup changes and released a few EPs before crafting the debut album THE JEWEL which is the only album not to feature long time keyboardist Clive Nolan. At this early stage that task was performed by Rik Carter who was actually the second keyboardist after John Barnfield. The band was completed with drummer Nigel Harris who himself would soon be replaced after this album. While many neo-prog artists in the mid-80s were starting to differentiate, PENDRAGON followed the playbook of imitating Fish-era Marillion, the symphonic prog of 70s Genesis as well as the space rock of 70s Pink Floyd although like many contemporaries traded in the Moogs and mellotrons for digital 80s synthesizers that gave many of these bands a clear connection to the era.

THE JEWEL is the typical neo-prog album of the 80s that implemented the dramatic emotional lyrical outpouring with heavy keyboard-laden arrangements that ran the gamut from the cheesy AOR pop opener 'Higher Circles' to the more fully gestated multi-suite prog gem 'Alaska.' Despite a fairly consistent set of tracks that display the bands talents and showcase a somewhat gentler approach than the bombastic theatrical nature of Marillion, THE JEWEL unfortunately suffers from an extra weak production and if you ask me, nothing sounds worse than the one two punch of cheesy synth sounds of the 80s with a lackluster production job, however not all is lost as the compositions keep an even keel pace that allows the emotional connection to remain despite the flaws on board.

While not exactly excelling as they would with their 90s works, PENDRAGON became one of the more active bands which led them into the next chapter of the progressive rock revival that began in the 90s and in many ways the most familiar neo-prog sounds of that era resemble what PENDRAGON was doing at this moment rather than the idiosyncratic style of Marillion. While a pleasant experience of early neo-prog, i wouldn't call THE JEWEL an absolutely essential piece of its history at least for a top dog in the quality department. While historically important for its role in defining the sub-genre as it evolved, THE JEWEL basically comes off as a typical example of 80s synth-laden progressive rock with a firm connection to the AOR melodic rock scene that was all the rage at the time.

Nothing is particularly bad here. Barrett's vocals are in top form. The melodic guitar solos the same and the compositions are well done as well however neo-prog is a style of music that requires a decent production job and in the case of THE JEWEL even the 2005 remastered versions can't quite make it sound complete, however definitely not a bad beginning and one that should be explored if you have any interest in PENDRAGON's early origins that allowed them to garner enough clout to continue on as one of neo-prog's most successful artists. The album was originally recorded at Soundmill Studios and Cloud Nine Studios in 1984-85 and then remastered at Thin Ice Studios in 2005 but in this case everyone failed in that department. So a crown JEWEL? Not really but one that was dug up and needs a little TLC to make it shine.

 The World by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.77 | 409 ratings

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The World
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The third album of the long-lived British Neo Prog band PENDRAGON may not be quite as strong as what was to come after it -- my [other, slightly bigger] favourites are Masquerade Overture, Not Of This World and Believe -- , but The World is very pleasant in its melodic and emotional mellowness, as can be witnessed from high ratings. Those who don't like it at all are most likely such prog-listeners who don't appreciate the Neo Prog style in general, and who tend to despise especially its softer and more pop-oriented features, seeing them as weakness. But yes, this album surely could have more spine and edges, for the line between harmonic and mediocre/boring can be thin and depends mostly on the listener. At first I wasn't sure if my rating would be 4 or 3, but I'll round 3˝ upwards for the bonus track 'Sister Bluebird' which I believe to be included on most CD releases on the market nowadays.

Sonically and for the production The World is on the same good level with its followers; the differences lay more on songwriting which is a bit sharper on e.g. Masquerade Overture. Nick Barrett's guitar, reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Marillion, soars nicely, and Clive Nolan's keyboards finish the typical, polished Neo Prog sound. The opener 'Back in the Spotlight' with its U2-ish guitar sound has an energetic anthem-like feel. Not necessarily very proggy as a composition, but fairly enjoyable. 'The Voyager' quickly became a fans' favourite, Barrett says on the re-release's liner notes (2005). During the 12 minutes it contains some gorgeous melodies, romantic keyboard work and a passionate guitar solo. Even more emotion can be heard in 'Shane' which admittedly is a bit cheesy, almost like an 80's hard rock ballad. 'Prayer' is the weakest track, musically pretty forgettable in its lyrics-oriented sweet pathos.

'Queen of Hearts' is a near-22-minute epic in three parts. The first, 8-minute part is a bit boring (ie. over-extended), but the following parts are more inspired. As a whole it's not an album highlight for me, except perhaps for 'The Last Waltz' (Barrett's personal favourite, by the way). 'And We'll Go Hunting Deer' is a soft and a sort of pastoral song in a peaceful tempo. The aforementioned 'Sister Bluebird' (don't start thinking of Yes' 'Starship Trooper', no musical resemblance at all) may be my favourite on the CD, the moody emotion manages to touch me especially at the end where the words "sister" and "bluebird" are being repeated over the music that finally fades out. All in all, The World is best described as PLEASANT and is warmly recommended to those who enjoy both Neo Prog subgenre and mellowness. Others may not get very much out of this album.

 The World by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.77 | 409 ratings

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The World
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After the fiasco of Kowtow (mediocre album by the way), Pendragon returned to their pure Neo-Prog origins heard in The Jewel and other early recordings with a record which should mark their style in decades to come.

In The World we can hear the most classic Pendragon line up with a very Barret's guitar oriented Neo-Prog sound, some glimpses of Nolan's keyboard leadership and with the typical weak and out of tone vocals of Barret himself.

Nevertheless, this gives the band an extra flavor which together with their mixture of English melancholy and epic approach to prog makes the listening of The World rewarding and interesting enough.

Best Songs: Back in The Spotlight, The Voyager, The Last Waltz.

Conclusion: if you like albums like The Masquerade Overture and Not of this Wold, you will surely enjoy The World although it does not has the quality of this later records in terms of production and songwriting.

My rating: ***

 Pure by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 620 ratings

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Pure
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Pendragon brings fond memories on my mind: they were an important part of the emerging Neo Prog in the mid- Eighties, I bought their maxi-single Flying High, Fall Far in 1984, one year later their first LP entitled The Jewel and witnessed the band as support-act for Marillion. Meanwhile Pendragon has released 10 studio-albums, 9 live- albums and 6 DVD's. Their latest studio-album is Men Who Climb Mountains (2014), this review is about their acclaimed 8th effort entitled Pure, from 2008.

During the first composition Indigo (more than 13 minutes) I got excited about the slow rhythms with bombastic atmospheres (the Pendragon trademark) and the excellent guitar work. First rock and roll riffs, then fiery and howling runs, twanging acoustic guitar and in the end a strongly build-up, very compelling guitarsolo. This is accompanied by lush keyboards,Pendragon in its full splendor! In the next five songs I notice that Pendragon delivers both typical Pendragon songs as very surprising tracks, some examples.

Comatose - I View From The Seashore : featuring prog metal guitar riffs and flute-Mellotron.

The Freak Show : first and final part sounds like Immigrant song by Led Zeppelin.

And the final song It's Only Me with mouth-organ, cello and again Mellotron in the wonderful grand finale delivering a nother compelling guitar solo, goose bumps!

On this album I notice very powerful drumming by new member Scott Hingham, special attention for the recording with lots of sound effects and a blend of typical Pendragon and a more experimental Pendragon. A big hand for Pendragon, 14 years after their first vinyl effort they have released a strong and adventurous CD.

P.s.: on their website I read that Pendragon is still alive and neo-progging: November 2018 they will do a small European tour (40th anniversary) and in 2019 they are booked for the incredible progrock event Cruise To The Edge.

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Acoustically Challenged by PENDRAGON album cover Live, 2002
3.41 | 65 ratings

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Acoustically Challenged
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by penmar

5 stars .A different approach to this fabulous but underrated band. I was stunned at the quality of sound and Nick magical voice sometimes almost talking ,other times macthing perfectly with the music.Nick's vocal is more unique than on any studio album. He doesn't speak much between the songs, but his singing is enough to put a spell on the Polish. It contains very good tracks .I love specially 2 A:M a song I think not too many people know and which is completely emotive. Nick Barrett shows here that he is not only the master of the electric guitar but also the acoustic one .To this Clive adds a lot of very sensitive parts on piano and what sounds like a hammond. I would beg them for another acoustically chllenged . Voyager, Alaska , A man of nomadic traits in these acoustic versions allow us to appreciate all the feelings lingering in their great lyrics due to the fantastic changing colours in Nick 's voice . Nick is of course pretty much at ease with the audience and even says a few words in Polish.Nick's empathy with the audience is wonderful and creates a gentle atmosphere.. Great job.
 Not Of This World by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.89 | 476 ratings

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Not Of This World
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by penmar

5 stars Marvellous !! This was my reaction when I first listen to this album, and continue to find it exactly the same whenever I isten to it .Concerning musical beauty this band can compare with the great iconic ones .The music carries all sorts of feelings such as melancholy, sadness, and also optimism and hope .I completely disagree with those who say Nick Barret 's voice is a weak point . On the contrary I find it full of different colours and powerful and even very sweet when neccesary. I can't imagine Pendragon without Nick .And his talent combined with Clive Nolan keyboardist is magical.This album soars with melodic brillianceand with emotion,being the highlights Barret's lead guitar and Nolan's keyboards which are backed by the fantastic drumming of Fudge Smith and the more than adequate bass of Peter Gee. All the tracks deserve 5 stars for me.
 Masquerade 20 by PENDRAGON album cover DVD/Video, 2017
4.15 | 17 ratings

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Masquerade 20
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

3 stars For the 20th anniversary of the "Masquerade Overture" album, the band recorded this show in their familiar venue in Poland. But you wouldn't know it is filmed at the same place because the lighting is very different using not as much various colors. The picture quality is ok as the sound and camera work. The band has a new drummer, Jan Vincent Velazco who has played in various styles of music and his now working with the band in London. He does a good job replacing Scott Higham. The band played the complete "Masquerade" album in the first part and some new songs in the second part. It seems to me that they didn't choose the best songs they could on those new songs, I might have to listen to those again to make sure. I don't think this DVD is better than the previous ones, so I don't think it will appeal to the old fans, but a new fan can't go wrong buying this because the band is constant as the stars shining at night. Their music still shows some Pink Floyd influence with a little modern approach in their later material. Pendragon as never been to me my favorite Neo-Prog band, probably because their music doesn't have enough of that darker style of IQ and that I will always prefer Genesis to Pink Floyd...
 Masquerade 20 by PENDRAGON album cover DVD/Video, 2017
4.15 | 17 ratings

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Masquerade 20
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

5 stars Chuckle Brothers

Pendragon have visited Poland on a regular basis over years, and their performances there have been superbly captured in a series of DVD releases. 'Masquerade 20' is the latest of these, recorded at the Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice in May 2016.

As the title suggests, the DVD celebrates the 20th anniversary of the release of the mighty 'The Masquerade Overture' album. I must admit, I had to check this for myself, as that album seems to have been around for much longer, and has slipped neatly into my 'classic albums' selection.

The first half of the performance consists of the entire album, played in its original order, and including the two bonus tracks ('Schizo' and 'King of the castle') on the second CD that were not simply edited versions of album tracks. The renditions are faithful to the original versions, the band clearly enjoying the opportunity to restore those that have slipped out of the regular playlist alongside perennial favourites such as 'The shadow'. Three quarters of the line up that recorded that album is still present, the only change being on drums where even Pendragon are not immune from the ubiquitous exploding drummer syndrome.

The latter part of the album focuses on the band's latest studio album 'Men who climb mountains' released in 2014, plus a couple of tracks from the classic 'Window of life' and one each from the more recent 'Passion' and 'Pure'.

The unique chemistry between chuckle brothers Clive Nolan and Nick Barrett is as apparent as ever, Nolan enjoying the additional flexibility his revolving keyboard offers in terms of audience interaction.

The whole things is captured suberbly as usual by the Metal Mind Productions team, the camera work and sound reproduction (2.0 or 5.1) being as reliable as ever. The interviews this time are with bassist Peter Gee and drummer Jan-Vincent Velazco, the presentation being rounded off with the usual discography, photos etc.

Overall, an excellent presentation that offers a unique opportunity to enjoy what is arguably the band's finest album live and in all its glory.

 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.65 | 226 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars This is a very good album that I have been avoiding due to lukewarm reviews. I finally took the plunge, and I am glad I did. I have no idea why there are any negative reviews since it fits in nicely with their catalog of other releases. I believe that The Masquerade Overture or Pure are likely their best, but Men Who Climb Mountains is easily as good as Passion. I would have no trouble recommending Men Who Climb Mountains as a starting point for new listeners as well. It has excellent songwriting and musicianship, and the Pendragon sound that has been perfected over the years. The high points of the album for me are For When the Zombies Come and Explorers of the Infinite, that inject all the prog goodness one could expect. I am really enjoying the album, and have started going through their back releases to feed the addition.
 And Now Everybody To The Stage  by PENDRAGON album cover DVD/Video, 2006
3.96 | 65 ratings

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And Now Everybody To The Stage
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by berkaal

2 stars You call it neo-prog? I call it pop. The only thing in common with prog is songs length. But prog has: 1) roots in classical music 2) instrumental prowess 3) tempo changes 4) odd measure/beat 5) cultural aura 6) deep-meaning lyrics 7) charm. Pendragon have nothing of the preceding. As prog, it's zero stars. As pop, as long as this music doesn't disturb my ears, it's listenable. But, as someone already wrote, nothing remains in my head. No real listening pleasure. Well, let's take a look at Barrett: he's a good chap, let's have a pint with him, but: his singing is....ehm, average, his playing is average, his lyrics are awful, his songwriting skills are mediocre, and his trousers are HORRIBLE!!!
Thanks to ProgLucky; Atkingani for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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