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Secret Green biography
Formed more than twenty years after departing another band he formed (The ENID), Francis Lickerish is back with another talented assemblage of musicians with classic and folk roots, fertile imaginations and an abundance of mature talent.

SECRET GREEN has hit the ground running with the well-formed studio release 'To Wake the King' and a live show lineup that features both original material as well as Enid standards. The band's melodic, sometimes medieval instrumental arrangements as well as the angelic vocals of Hilary Palmer make for a rich musical experience.

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

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3.97 | 28 ratings
To Wake the King

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 To Wake the King by SECRET GREEN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.97 | 28 ratings

To Wake the King
Secret Green Prog Folk

Review by sussexbowler

5 stars This is surprisingly good. I found it because I went back to Prog magazine's old demo discs and a track by 'Secret Green' stood out from the crowd. It turned out to be the tip of an iceberg! A mix of New Age and Classical, it certainly sounds like what the Enid perhaps should have become. Unlike early Enid albums which in my view are mostly "Miss", this album is a winner. What's more, it's lengthy too, so there's plenty to enjoy. Probably more "Symphonic" than Prog, but that shouldn't be a problem for those who like the 'Symphonic Prog' genre. To me, there are so few great albums from the last 20 years or so, but this release shows that there has been some great music produced after all. It was a revelation, in fact.
 To Wake the King by SECRET GREEN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.97 | 28 ratings

To Wake the King
Secret Green Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars I somehow doubt that fans of groundbreaking cult group ENID, during a 13 year drought, got together in their drafty cellars and lamented into their draughts that what the ENID needed to do above all was incorporate Olde English folk derivations into their already twee arsenal. But, if I had bothered to follow the group at some point that's surely what I would have concluded. Curiously, the deliverance came in the form of former member FRANCIS LICKERISH and his SECRET GREEN project, coincidentally (or not) released in the same year as the mother ship's first sailing since 1996.

Luckily so much more than lip service is paid to intrinsic folk influenced numbers like "Echoing Green", "Tom O'Bedlam" (and its companion "Bransle") and "Nimue", but even in the surprisingly aggressive moments like the introduction to "Galliard", the ancient roots are nurtured. Sure, you still get the ceremoniousness of any Enid related production, so fans would be mostly at home here, and the heavenly voice of Hilary Palmer only adds to the enticements.

My main criticism is how slowly matters unfold on many of these tracks, and I'm not always so keen on the timbre of the lead guitars, but really these are ungrateful quibbles when considered in light of this uniquely English event that is equal parts symphony, courtly dance nickelodeon, and social mixer for lords, serfs and scallywags alike. At least that is what the sound evokes, which is surely the point, along with a lament for the long departed and idealized benevolent dictatorships of yore. Given modern vicissitudes, if the KIng has not awakened yet, he has rolled over and wished the nightmare away. That's where SECRET GREEN comes in.

 To Wake the King by SECRET GREEN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.97 | 28 ratings

To Wake the King
Secret Green Prog Folk

Review by The Mentalist

5 stars There's a shocking lack of interest in Secret Green - only two reviews of 'To Wake The King' and one of them is so off the mark regarding frames of reference that I've decided to come out of retirement to write a review.

Secret Green is the brainchild of composer/guitarist and founding member of The Enid, Francis Lickerish. After nearly thirty years out of the music business, Francis has returned with a remarkable concept album. The album is an invocation of King Arthur - the sleeping soul of England, that he might awake and save his land and people in its time of greatest peril. Of course this isn't to be taken literally, it is a plea for an end to jadedness and cynicism, and for a return to Dignity.

The music is 100% English. Indeed there are moments where you would swear you were listening to Vaughn Williams. There are also many moments where The Enid come to mind. In fact, there are several quotations from the first four Enid albums throughout, and one of the main recurring musical themes is from The Enid's 'Six Pieces' album. This music also brings home the fact that Francis Lickerish is an excellent composer, and proves that Robert John Godfrey didn't write as much of The Enid's material as people think The album consists of instrumentals; songs, and songs with lengthy instrumental sections. The songs have a haunting Englishness about them, complimented by sumptuous guitar and keyboard orchestrations which recall two of England's greatest musical sons, Vaughn Williams and the criminally neglected Arnold Bax.

The opening Prelude sounds not unlike the opening of Wagner's Das Reingold (with a direct quote from Mahler's 2nd symphony thrown in on the brass for good measure) and leads into:

Echoing Green An invocation of England's pagan past and Arthur himself

"Sunset Summer star, waking up the warrior. Keep it from the priest for he'll say it's a sin".

The song ends with an extended fugue of gigantic proportions, written by Francis's ex Enid buddy, keyboardist William Gilmour. No pseudo 'classical' wakemanesqe noodlings here, this fugue is the real deal.

'On Merlin's Ground' depicts Merlin atop a cliff, brooding and "mourning the disenchantment of the world". One can almost see the waves crashing against the rocks in this one. A beautiful tone painting. It ends with another Mahler quotation; 3rd symphony - 4th movement. Hilary Palmer's vocals are beautiful on this one, as they are throughout the album.

The Gunivere Suite consists of five courtly dances. Despite the fact that the mythical King Arthur is placed somewhere around the 5th century, the courtly dances are all firmly planted in the renaissance period.

Pavan - The Track Of The Moon On The Water One of the most beautiful songs on the album. Here the Vaughn Williams influence is at it's strongest. Stunning guitar playing too.

Galliard - On Secret Green Another call for The King to awake. Probably the rockiest track on the album this one. Loure - Lady Morgana's Orrery (No Real Cause For Tears.) The accompanying music to this song perfectly conjures up the movement of a delicately crafted orrery as it turns around and around. This is followed by two short instrumentals; an Allemande and Bransle, to complete The Gunivere Suite

'Canlaan' An atmospheric; cinematic, soundtrack-type instrumental, depicting Arthur's last battle - The Battle of Clanaan. It contains a quotation from the medieval plainchant Dies Irae (also used by The Enid) as well as a backward glance at the main thematic material of album.

The final track is 'Nimue' who is, of course, The Lady Of The Lake. This beautiful song culminates with a quotation from The Enid's 'Song Of Fand' and a glorious restatement of the opening prelude.

Is it Folk? Is it Rock? Is it Renaissance music? Is it 20th century orchestral? Is it Prog? The answer is yes to all of the above. But, more importantly, it's bloody good music.

 To Wake the King by SECRET GREEN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.97 | 28 ratings

To Wake the King
Secret Green Prog Folk

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Enjoyable at low dose.

The neo-troubadours are a cute breed: pantyhose, lute, hydromel in a brass cup, a feather on the hat and a song in the heart. Althrough an album like Wake the King, you could hit the skip- forward button due to the lenght time a song needs to settle in. Takes forever!

To buy (and enjoy) a record like this one, you need to be a fan. So oye oye to those medieval cravers, this one is for you. For the me, once in a while is enough. But sometimes, I need a fix of rescue-the-damsel-in-distress music, this is a good choice. You have that single-coil guitar pickup solos Malmsteen style in some places, and a realistic medieval theme all the way, not much shortcuts towards any other style than metal perhaps.

If you like the courtyard of King Arthur music style (menuets and quadrille), this is a good choice but without the goth attitude (Moon Concerto, ahem ahem). Definitely not music to headbang on! Try also Octopus from Gentle Giant or The Incosolable Secret disc 2 from Glass Hammer.

Ye olde style delivered with melody and care.

 To Wake the King by SECRET GREEN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.97 | 28 ratings

To Wake the King
Secret Green Prog Folk

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars What an unexpected pleasure it was to hear that Francis Lickerish had a new project on the go and was to release a new album as Secret Green. Lickerish will be well known to fans of The Enid having been one of the founding members back in the seventies and into the eighties. He's gathered together an excellent band featuring the ethereal vocal talents of Hilary Palmer who had briefly played with Lickerish back in the eighties in Rutterkin. Helping out Lickerish in the guitar department is Jon Beedle and on drums is matt Hodge. William Gilmour plays keyboards and Lickerish also plays some keyboards, lute and bass.

Not surprisingly Lickerish has brought his Enid influences into the music which is a refreshing blend of classical, symphonic prog and medieval folk. The music is brilliantly executed, the band creating an album of immense beauty. The sound is incredibly dynamic from powerful symphonic bombast to as quiet as you can imagine. This is no better demonstrated than on opener Prelude with its orchestral and extremely long fade in coming from total silence to a climatic crescendo topped by Lickerish's distinctive guitar sound. It's straight into the powerful opening of Ecchoing Green, a track of enormous breadth and containing all the grandeur of The Enids music with the added bonus of Hilary Palmers beautiful voice.

It's an album full of highlights over its 74 minutes though the first 3 tracks set a high standard that is never beaten but sometimes equalled. Palmers St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow chorister experience is put to good use, multi-tracking her voice to great effect on the excellent On Merlin's Ground, another track of extreme dynamics. Tom O'Bedlam by contrast is a relatively simpler piece with more of a folk influence than the more classically inspired tracks preceding it, though not abandoning the set tone altogether.

Without going into every track individually and repeating myself, you probably get the idea by now of the breadth and scope of this excellent album where the folk elements sit comfortably alongside the largely orchestrated music. If you have ever enjoyed the work of The Enid then To Wake The King is an album you'll almost certainly want to own. It's an album of immense originality with few if any parallels in music today apart from the inevitable Enid comparisons of course. An album destined to be one of the highlights of 2009.

Thanks to ClemnofNazareth for the artist addition.

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