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GRACIOUS

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Gracious biography
Another fine band from the early British Progressive Rock Movement (like FANTASY, RARE BIRD, CRESSIDA). After several personnel changes the final line-up became Alan Cowderoy (guitar), Paul Davis (vocals and 12-string guitar), Martin Kitcat (keyboards), Robert Lipson (drums) and Tim Wheatley (bass). A double-concert with KING CRIMSON turned out to be pivotal for the band's musical direction: Martin Kitcat was so impressed by KING CRIMSON's Mellotrons that he wanted to incorporate the Mellotron into the sound of GRACIOUS. In '70, GRACIOUS released their eponymous first album, a year later their second entitled "This is ... Gracious!". The end of the band came soon when they didn't get gigs and ran out of money. Both albums were released on one CD in '95.

On their debut album "Gracious!" the songs are alternating and adventurous but at some moments the music tends to become too structureless or too longwinding. Despite good ideas and a 'progressive mind' it's not really a memorable album. Their second album "This is ... Gracious" is another story, due to a stunning progress from the band and Martin Kitcat's frequent play on the mellotron, often in captivating interplay with the electric guitar. The songs are varied (blues, rock, classical, symphonic) and the climates are pleasant, it makes this album to highly acclaimed one!

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
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GRACIOUS discography


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

3.72 | 151 ratings
Gracious !
1970
3.79 | 105 ratings
This Is ... Gracious !!
1971
3.82 | 11 ratings
Echo
1996

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

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

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

3.57 | 22 ratings
Gracious! / This Is ... Gracious!!
1995

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

GRACIOUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gracious ! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.72 | 151 ratings

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Gracious !
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Combining the Mellotron-happy approach of the Moody Blues with the more dynamic vocal approach of the likes of Audience, Family or the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Gracious craft here a debut album that's full of flash and pomp and, whilst lyrically speaking there isn't much of substance, they certainly manage to make it all sound serious at the time. It's been overlooked over the years a little. perhaps because Gracious didn't quite have the longevity of more prominent contemporaries, but it's worth giving a chance if you care for the early prog sound at all - in particular, album closer The Dream takes us on a wild journey from the height of mystical visions to the verge of a fist fight.
 This Is ... Gracious !! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 105 ratings

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This Is ... Gracious !!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

2 stars Strangely, This is ...Gracious!!, Gracious' sophomore and final album of the seventies until partially reuniting in nineties, leaves me even colder than their scattershot debut album. At least with their first album Gracious!, you never knew what direction the band was going to veer off to. Not so with This is...Gracious!! The band have become more focused and have concentrated on structured songs that again lean heavily on prog influences of the era such as Floydian guitars and more prominent use of Mellotron. But for me, it just doesn't work. Gracious had taken a path more closely emulating their heroes King Crimson (in place of the Moody Blues) on many of the album's closing tracks, but lead vocalist Paul Davis' roughly Ozzy like voice, while unique for prog, doesn't gel with the faux Beach Boys harmonies of the other band members.

But there's little surprise turns on This Is...Gracious!!, and the band just lack that certain magic, be it pretension, high drama, camp, kitsch, bombast or whatever that helps to send prog into the realm of greatness. To their credit, it was not from a lack of talent or from trying. Similar to a band like Spring, they will always remain a seventies' prog footnote with a dedicated cult following.

 Gracious ! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.72 | 151 ratings

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Gracious !
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars Yikes! What have we got here?

Gracious was an early seventies' Mellotron, standard keys and guitar based symphonic prog band whose influences run the gauntlet from the Moody Blues to early Zappa/Mother's of Invention. Near virtuoso players, their scattershot approach works well, on this suite like album, with the more friendly Moody's like fare and the group's near Beach Boy's harmonies, while a pastiche, do shine. Where Gracious go wrong is on extended studio manipulated dissonant sound experiments (like early Mother's of Invention) and the band's fascination with tight repetitive bass, keys and drum rhythms that seem to go on forever and, worse yet, seem to go nowhere.

What does work well for Gracious is that they seemed to have foreshadowed (by 20 years) Robert Fripp's obnoxiously harsh toned math like guitar playing, which would have worked better if it was not surrounded by second rate Zappa like satirical lyrics. I'm not a big fan of Zappa's inane social critiques, but Frank did them first and a thousand times better.

I can't recommend more than two and a half stars, rounded to three, for GRACIOUS(!). Perhaps their follow up album issued one year later will be more focused and original. Time will tell, as I'm getting ready to give that a disc a spin in due time.

 Gracious! / This Is ... Gracious!! by GRACIOUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
3.57 | 22 ratings

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Gracious! / This Is ... Gracious!!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

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

4 stars This compilation that was released in 1995 contains both GRACIOUS! and THIS IS GRACIOUS! Each album is on one disc so in effect it is basically two albums in just one jewel case. I'm not keen on reviewing these types of compilations unless I have something relevant to express. In this case I just want to convey that the production of these albums is a bit lackluster being a little tinny and if I had the chance to discover these albums again I would have held out for the digitally remastered releases that were released individually. Still though if you happen to find this combo pack for a really decent price like I did I would probably go for it just to see if I liked it. I haven't heard the remastered versions yet but my experience is almost always that on prog releases it is a big improvement.
 This Is ... Gracious !! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 105 ratings

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This Is ... Gracious !!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

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

4 stars Having seen little success with their debut album GRACIOUS managed to record enough material before calling it quits after their second album THIS IS GRACIOUS was released due to no publicity and no support from the record label. This album sees the band change their style by toning down the wild and unpredictability of their genre changes and develops a more epic approach.

The jewel of the album is the first side-long epic "Super Nova" which starts out with some really cool spaced-out sound effects dishing out the best progressive electronic of the day and then begins to really rock out with a Floydian guitar riff that reminds me of the Syd Barrett years. Act two delivers a good drum beat with pleasantly interacting guitars and keyboards and the anthem to the "Blood Red Sun" begins and ushers in acoustic guitar passages and the ever changing flow of the four chapters continues for 25 minutes.

The rest of the album is more hard rock oriented with shorter times and slightly less progressive and probably intended to get a single or two for any possible radio airplay which never materialized. "C.B.S." has a good organ and guitar run with latin percussion and actually has a Yes kind of feel at times. "Blue Skies And Alibis" sounds a bit like Steely Dan. "Hold Me Down" sounds like Free.

I have a mixed reaction towards this album. The band clearly learned how to focus their attention on writing more cohesive pieces of music creating a slightly more commercial feel to the whole thing. The songs are better constructed and are a little more memorable but the unbridled live wire approach of the first album was one of the attributes that I really like about this group. Overall I like the maturity of the album but miss the diversity. In the end this is a decent second outing for this lesser known early symphonic prog band that employs a pop vocal technique which adds a slight contrast to the sophistication of the music. Recommended.

 Gracious ! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.72 | 151 ratings

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Gracious !
Gracious Symphonic Prog

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

4 stars Despite the ridiculously boring album cover that must surely rank as one of the lamest in music history, the music that lurks inside is actually quite good delivering an interesting early British progressive sound that could only happen circa 1970. This year hosted many a heavy psych / Beatles-inspired / classically trained prog band and GRACIOUS fits into that category but we must add the term eclectic.

This is one of those albums that is all over the place. Some call it messy or unfocused. Some may call it pompous and overreaching and it's obvious that at times this does seem like an amateurish attempt to create something grander than is actually realized. The music meanders through different genres ranging from heavy psych to mellotron drenched symphonic prog and even from ragtime to medieval folk music with a whole track devoted to a classical fugue. These parts come and go and ramble and twist and turn and you never really know where they are going. That's part of the charm here, at least for me.

I think I like the "Heaven" and "Hell" tracks the best along with the finale "The Dream." "Heaven" starting as a floaty mellotron rich track with nice ambient passages. "Hell" begins with a descending keyboard run simulating the great fall into the the depths of the abyss and carries through with a dark gloomy mood replete with keyboards and heavy psych guitars. "The Dream" is the longest track on the album with a length of 17 minutes. It runs the gamut of everything prog in 1970 with nice fuzzy guitar and lots of keyboards, mellotrons and a nice 60s groove and lots of trippiness! The music remains fairly accessible and melodic throughout the entire album. It all sounds a bit like if The Beatles and King Crimson and maybe Cream all got together for a jam.

This is one of those albums that does have some inconsistent moments and a rambling feel at times yet despite it all this is exactly what I like in music. It is adventurous, exciting, unpredictable and spontaneous. I enjoy the album from beginning to end and despite the awkwardness that occurs from time to time i simply don't find it detracts from the overall excitement of the album. The boldness and enthusiasm are what makes this for me. Certainly not a masterpiece but well worth having in any prog collection as one of those obscure additions that's worth checking out from time to time.

 Gracious! / This Is ... Gracious!! by GRACIOUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
3.57 | 22 ratings

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Gracious! / This Is ... Gracious!!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by raul_siberian

3 stars Good compilation

This double CD includes the first two albums of the UK Prog band Gracious, these are: "Gracious!" and "This is... Gracious", both originally released on early 70s. The Band is known for being very accesible, and their music style can be described as eclectic rock ranging from; Prog, Hard rock, Classical, jazz, etc... The highlights of the CD 1 are:

"Introduction" A rock track. A good one, very simple, catchier and accesible.

"Heaven" A beautiful song, after the intro it is almost poignant. another very accesible song

"The Dream" It is just a lot of improvisation mixed. There are good moments, memorable.

On CD 2 are:

"Super Nova" Consists of four tracks, all of wich are differentiable each other. Enjoyable.

"C.B.S." Good song, moderately complex and catchier.

3 Stars... I highly recommended this double cd

 This Is ... Gracious !! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 105 ratings

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This Is ... Gracious !!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by raul_siberian

3 stars After their debut album it was the turn of their second.

"Super Nova" (3.75 out of 5.00) This song consists of four tracks, all of wich are differentiable each other. The Introduction is "Arrival of the traveller" which gives a good atmosphere of mystery, "Blood Red Sun" is the first sung track, it almost makes feel goosebumps, "Say Goodbye to Love" is a beautiful song, very different from the previous, delightful with a outstanding mellotron work, "Prepare to Meet the Maker" is the outro of "Super Nova" and the least interesting of the four songs although it`s enjoyable.

"C.B.S." (2.75 out of 5.00) Good song, moderately complex and catchier.

"Once on a Windy Day" (2.50 out of 5.00) My least favorite, serious, but not bad.

"Blue Skies and Alibis" (3.00 out of 5.00) This song brings back joy, I like this refiller despite its simplicity.

"Hold Me Down" (2.75 out of 5.00) The chorus are outstanding but the song itself simple, weak and slow.

3 stars well received and slightly better than their debut.

 Gracious ! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.72 | 151 ratings

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Gracious !
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by raul_siberian

3 stars A very accesible Prog band

"Introduction" (3.75 out of 5.00) The album kicks off with this rock track. A good one, very simple, catchier and accesible.

"Heaven" (4.00 out of 5.00) This is such a beautiful song, after the intro it is almost poignant. The repetitive lyrics did not annoy at all, then it became a bit heavy, another very accesible song. I like it.

"Hell" (2.50 out of 5.00) The first half is instrumental and repetitive, nothing interesting. The Last half it becomes really funny and more adventurous but not a big deal.

"Fugue in 'D' Minor" (1.50 out of 5.00) Classical music it`s not my thing, well played but out of place in this album.

"The Dream" (3.25 out of 5.00) After the promising intro all turns classical again (Yuck!)... I was expecting something heavy but... Wait... Then it turns beautiful again, just like "Heaven". This song is very eclectic ranging from: Hard rock, Classical, jazz, prog, etc... It is just a lot of improvisation mixed. There are good moments, memorable.

3 Stars well received and recommended

 This Is ... Gracious !! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 105 ratings

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This Is ... Gracious !!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Although only existing for a brief while during the progressive rock boom of the early 1970s, British outfit Gracious managed to produce two lengthy albums worth of complex symphonic art-rock, with 1971's 'This Is...Gracious!!' following on from the group's debut '!' of a year earlier. Whilst '!' was issued on the now legendary Vertigo imprint(them of the famous 'swirl' logo), the relative commercial failure of the album saw this sequel-of-sorts released by Phillips. Both labels, however, proved pretty indifferent to Gracious' singular sound, with the lack of promotion and support echoed in both albums poor sales figures. Thirty-odd years down the line, however, and the group's reputation has been happily restored, this second, superior album in now recognised for what it really is, namely an excellent slice of adventurous progressive rock from a group who really did deserve better. Whilst '!' featured some wonderful moments, as an album it was overlong and unfocused, the music too often interrupted by strange, anarchic, avant-garde interludes, spoken word sections and touches of weird humour. Thankfully, 'This Is...Gracious!!' is much more about the actual music. This is reflected in both the epic, twenty-four minute long opener 'Super Nova', which segues effortlessly from moments of serene instrumental calm to blistering segments of pacey, intricate guitar-and-mellotron-drenched rock, and the album's stand-out piece 'C.B.S'(Don't ask; I don't know what it stands for). 'C.B.S' is a marvellous track, a piece underpinned by an insanely catchy rhythm and imbued with charging organ runs and blistering guitar work which make a mockery out of the seven minute running time; if only it were longer. The rest of the album unfortunately fails to scale the peaks reached on the first half, yet there is still plenty that should please fans of classic-era progressive rock, especially in the imaginative playing of guitarist Alan Cowderoy and the almost soulful vocals of Paul Davis. Imagine King Crimson with a sense of humour, and you kind of get the sonic picture. Whilst both Gracious albums are highly recommended, this second - and final - release from this sadly-ignored five-piece is well worth investigating.
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