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ACCOLADE

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Accolade biography
ACCOLADE were a short-lived band (1969-1971) whose musical emphasis was on combining acoustic instrumentation and light jazz/fusion arrangements with bucolic British folk lyrics and sensibilities. They released just two albums and a single in their brief tenure, though managed to tour throughout most of their active existence. The original lineup consisted of woodwind player Brian Cresswell, singer/guitarist Gordon Giltrap, drummer Ian Hoyle and guitarist Don Partridge.

The band's first album included their most lasting contribution to music in the form of a version of American bassist eden ahbez' (aka George Aberle aka Eden Abba) "Nature Boy", a languid and complex folk tale first recorded by NAT KING COLE in the 1940's, and since covered more than seventy times, including by MILES DAVIS, HARRY CONNICK JR, CELINE DION, JAMES BROWN, JOSE FELICIANO, the GATHERING's Annie Haslam, and most recently by the Greek psych band WILL-O-THE WISP. The song has charted as a single five times in that period.

Pool would depart the band after a 1970 tour incident in Sweden involving Partridge, touring briefly with COLOSSEUM before leaving the music business altogether for a career in graphic design (Giltrap had already left by that time and would go on to a lucrative solo career). Guitarist Wizz Jones would join for the band's second album, which was released only in the UK; and they dissolved shortly after its release.

ACCOLADE existed but for a brief period and failed to achieve popular success despite a wealth of individual talent in the group. Their recorded legacy however, earns them a place in the Progarchives and is a collection well worth seeking out,

>>Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth)<<

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ACCOLADE discography


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

3.89 | 8 ratings
Accolade
1970
3.45 | 15 ratings
Accolade 2
1971

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ACCOLADE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Accolade 2 by ACCOLADE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.45 | 15 ratings

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Accolade 2
Accolade Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars The band chose the mundane title '2' for their second and final studio release, but that's about the only thing that's ordinary on this record. I find it hard to believe only a single Japanese CD of dubious lineage exists as a reissue of this excellent studio work. In fact, I find it hard to believe the band isn't better known and more revered by progressive music fans today considering the quality of the work and the relative success many of its members have found since the group disbanded in the early seventies.

There are several lineup changes here and all are reflected in the more electric, poppy and often bluesy sound as opposed to the heavy jazz-meets-folk vibe of their first record. Gordon Giltrap was gone by the time the quartet (plus a couple of part-time members) reentered the studio to record these ten tracks. He did contribute one original composition though with the somewhat depressing faux biography "William Taplin". Raymond "Wizz" Jones (Lazy Farmer) adds a layer of vocals on several tracks and also contributed a song, the very folksy "If Only I'd Known". And a young Mike Moran gives the band's sound an added dimension with piano on a handful of tracks, where keyboards were not a part of their debut release. The eclectic bassist Eden Abba had by this point gone off to munch tree bark or whatever and was replaced by Malcolm Poole who also plays violin to rather muted but decent effect here and there.

Like I said, the songs here have moved considerably away from the decidedly jazz-infused folk motif of the band's earlier sound. This is immediately apparent on the opening "Transworld Blues", a clever tale of a world-traveling bard written by the perennial busker Don Partridge, who was probably reminiscing of his earlier days wandering around Europe playing for change at street corners and parks (Partridge also penned the more folksy "The Time I've Wasted" as another busker biography later on the record). Despite the acoustic guitar/flute opening this works out to be more of a whimsical blues number that lumbers along like a lazy train ride through bucolic countryside on a hazy spring afternoon.

The dynamic of new musicians and influences are manifest on the next track, a short and slightly acid-folk leaning number titled "The Spider to The Spy" which was apparently written for a television series although not one I'm not familiar with. Partridge wrote this song too and dominates with two-tracked vocals of himself and an unoriginal but deftly-delivered electric guitar riff, but the sound is more akin to pop-rock of that era and clearly the arrangement was tweaked in the studio by some of the fresh blood in the band's lineup (probably Jones in particular).

Partridge completes his trifecta offering with the light jazz vocal number "Baby, Take Your Rags Off" that features piano for the first time and recalls the cooler and more laconic tracks on the first album.

Given the times (very early seventies), the eleven-minute plus and weirdly titled "Cross Continental Pandemonium Theatre Company" probably shouldn't be a surprise. This sprawling hodge-podge of sounds was a group compositional effort by the band and was clearly a studio creation including the widespread noodling that is generally a sign that a group has entered the studio without all their material solidly locked down. Poole is the star here with his gripping bass fiddle, while Partridge weaves a folk tale that seems to transcend both style and time. The song starts off as a tight folk-rock number but becomes increasingly jazzy (eg., improvisational) as it meanders along toward its anticlimactic ending. Brian Cresswell's flute is omnipresent here as it is throughout the album, but the addition on this particular song adds a dimension that really cements the band's unique jazz/folk style.

I'm not sure why the band chose to include "Snakes in a Hole" which isn't much more than a fairly accurate cover of this obscure Made in Sweden tune that was originally released only a couple years prior. Perhaps this was their attempt to garner some radio attention in Europe at the time, but musically it adds little to the album.

I suppose every band needs a sci-fi space-rock number in their repertoire, and "Sector Five Nine" gave Accolade theirs with a brief ditty that regales the listener with a weird future- vision that includes regulated sex and apparently humanoid cannibalism, all delivered to an upbeat tempo with pleasant acoustic strumming and flute work that can't quite find the groove. Odd but entertaining.

The band seems to portend their own future with the pleasant light-rocking "Long Way to Go" to close the album, but unfortunately for them that future would not include their mutual association as the group broke up before this record even managed to be fully distributed.

None of the songs here stand out the way "Nature Boy" or "Ulysses" did on their first record, but every song offers something and none are even close to being filler, even the Made in Sweden cover. That one is the only track that would make me consider something less than a four (out of five) star rating, and given the excellent musicianship throughout and the clearly progressive nature of the album in-total, I would say that's not enough to drop off another star. Very well recommended to all manner of progressive music fans if you can find it.

peace

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 Accolade by ACCOLADE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.89 | 8 ratings

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Accolade
Accolade Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars This is one of those albums that, like Incredible String Band’s ‘The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion’ or the Pentangle’s debut, helped really define the understated range of progressive folk music in the late sixties; this despite becoming a rather obscure and little-known bit of the genre’s history. The nine all-acoustic tracks showcase a style of jazz-tinted folk that incorporated some of the finest nuances of singer-songwriter stylings, rock tempo, jazzy improvisation and British folk into something that had little parallel in its day. The result is an album that grows in appeal with every listen even forty years after its release.

One thing should be noted though; this was not a band made up of grammar school chums or unknown amateurs. In fact, virtually everyone in the band was an established musician of some merit prior to its formation in late 1968. Guitarist Gordon Giltrap had already released a couple solo folk albums and was on his way to a lengthy and prolific career. Founder Don Partridge had been (and would become again) a street musician who had to his credit a couple of unlikely hit singles on the late sixties British charts (“Rosie” and “Blue Eyes”). And bassist Malcolm Poole, who would replace original bassist Eden Abba (more about him later) somewhere between the beginning of these studio sessions and the band’s second album, was an alumnus of the Artwoods, a mid-sixties blues-rock band that included future Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord and Ron Wood’s older brother Arthur in its lineup. Drummer Ian Hoyle was a relative unknown but would go on to appear on at least one Wizz Jones album, and flautist/ saxophonist Brian Cresswell appears to have been the only formally educated musician in the group.

I’m not really clear on the background of the band’s formation, but there was clearly an attempt with their music to jazz-up (literally) British folk music with some rock and varied arrangements, while at the same time keeping a focus on acoustic instrumentation and storytelling lyrics in the finest tradition of British and other Anglo folk music. The net result, like I said before, will grow on prog folk fans with repeated listens.

One band I would point to as appearing to have been influenced by this group’s music is the modern Greek folk band Will-o-the Wisp. That band’s vocalist Aggelos Gerakitis bears a striking resemblance to Accolade’s Partridge, and their cover of bassist Eden Abba’s original “Nature Boy” reinforces my suspicion that at least a couple members of that band have this record in their collection.

Speaking of Abba, his song “Nature Boy” appeared for the first time (to the best of my knowledge) as a Nat King Cole single in 1948. It has since of course been covered by scores of artists, has appeared in numerous films and television series, and became the title of a biography about Abba’s life written shortly after his death due to an auto accident in 1995. There’s a fascinating person if you ever feel like digging into his history.

The most interesting thing about the tracks on this album is the palpable amount of familiarity you feel with them even on the first playing. From the opening “Maiden Flight Eliza” with its lively flute and West Coast harmonizing, to the closing languid ballad “Go on Home” and its almost America (the band) sounding peacefulness; this album is full of comfortable, comforting and casual folk music imbued with just enough modern touches to make it still palatable years after its initial release (and possibly even more so considering how little impression it made back in 1969/1970).

Top tracks are without a doubt “Nature Boy” and the lengthy, rambling folk pseudo-biographical sketch “Ulysses”. This album and these songs could never be made today; only the diversity and free-thinking air of the times allowed them to come into being even then, and frankly too few music fans of those times appreciated the simple and sincere beauty of these songs even then.

I don’t suppose this qualifies as a masterpiece, but it certainly deserves recognition as one of the seminal works of the progressive folk genre, and I suspect it is much more well-known to many modern folk musicians today than it is to fans of their music. Well worth seeking out, and highly recommended to prog folk fans of nearly every stripe, but near-essential for any serious prog folk lover. Easily four stars.

peace

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 Accolade 2 by ACCOLADE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.45 | 15 ratings

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Accolade 2
Accolade Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Accolade's second album is well in the line of their debut album, despite Giltrap's departure from the band after a Sweden tour supporting Colosseum, but there are obvious progressions, primarily due to personnel change. A better-produced album than its predecessor, but sporting another collage artwork, this album didn't get a US release as its predecessor had, but the group's fairly different line-up also provide some change. Apart from a different bassist and Giltrap's lead guitar (replaced only partly by Wizz Jones), there are a few keyboards interventions as well.

The songs have bluesier-folk spectrum than in the debut album, starting with the amusing and opening Transworld Blues so much of the Moody Blues feel of their debut is gone. The tracks are more like Gravy Train this time around, including the odd William Taplin and the closing Long Way To Go (with all too rare piano). But once again, it is the mammoth 11-mins, Cross Continental Pandemonium Theatre Company that grabs most of the proghead's attention with flutes, vibes, bowed bass. It's definitely not the album's only good track, though! Indeed Snakes In A Hole or Spyder To The Spy also good enough for a mention.

Personally this writer prefer their first album for the purer folk touch; but both album are worth discovering, so start chronologically if you can. Apparently az Japan version of this album exists, but whether legit or not is a mystery to me.

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 Accolade by ACCOLADE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.89 | 8 ratings

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Accolade
Accolade Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars First album from this English folk quintet that easily accommodated symphonic arrangements in their music as well as giving us some splendid psychedelic moments. While the music rested mostly on the two guitarists (Giltrap and Partridge), it is clear that most of their embellishments came from sax & flute player Cresswell, but also some vibraphone, from lead singer Partridge. Graced with a bizarre bucolic collage, it was released on the UK Columbia label, but received a US release as well.

Their debut album is made up of mostly shorter folk-rock songs (inferior to 3:30) except for three notable tracks, including the superb epic album-best Nature Boy (with its lengthy vibraphone solo) and the 12- mins+ most-challenging Ulysses (with its unusual phrasings and bowed bass, wild flute and strange drum patterns) and to a lesser extent the almost 5-mins Starting All Over, Again. Some of the trickier guitar parts are due to Gordon Giltrap, and it's no doubt that Accolade was probably not room enough for him to last more than one album.

In general, all off their shorter songs are lying in the folk rock realm; but never afraid to foray a bit in jazz, in rock and receiving lush string arrangements ala Moody Blues. Yup, TMB have been mentioned and it's quite understandable why: Cresswell's flute, Partridge's vocals and many of the band's arrangements are a direct inspiration of the mythic TMB. A few things do allow Accolade to have their own sound, among which the vibraphone (when in use) or the stand up bass, especially when it is bowed (as in the epic Ulysses). So in short, while a bit derivative, Accolade's debut album still manages its own personality and enthrals this old pagan of a proghead, as he's discovered yet another unearth early 70's gem.

As far as I know, neither of their albums have seen a Cd release (neither legit or boot), and it's a bloody shame because their superb psych-prog folk rock deserves much more sunlight than in its "obscure curio" status procures it.

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