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GRACIOUS

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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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 : : :
Fan & official Prog Archives collaborator

Gracious official website

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  • Hell Gracious!, 1970
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This Is GraciousThis Is Gracious
Remastered · Import
Bgo - Beat Goes on 1995
Audio CD$12.66
$9.00 (used)
GraciousGracious
Import
Repertoire 2004
Audio CD$7.35
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GRACIOUS discography


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

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

3.70 | 107 ratings
Gracious!
1970
3.81 | 77 ratings
This is.....Gracious!!
1971
3.40 | 5 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)

3.42 | 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! / This Is ... Gracious!! by GRACIOUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
3.42 | 22 ratings

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

Review by siLLy puPPy

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.

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 This is.....Gracious!!  by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.81 | 77 ratings

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This is.....Gracious!!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy

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.

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 Gracious! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.70 | 107 ratings

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Gracious!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy

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.

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 Gracious! / This Is ... Gracious!! by GRACIOUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
3.42 | 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

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 This is.....Gracious!!  by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.81 | 77 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.

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 Gracious! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.70 | 107 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

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 This is.....Gracious!!  by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.81 | 77 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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 This is.....Gracious!!  by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.81 | 77 ratings

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This is.....Gracious!!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by Thandrus

4 stars Strangely this band had been out of my attention for a long time and today I had the chance to hear their two albums. What to say, while not exactly fantastic, it is quite interesting indeed. Very diverse, at times somewhat lacking direction, but with some very beautiful moments, like the movements of the Mellotron-drenched epic "Super Nova" or "Once On A Windy Day", with it's amazing vocal harmonies. "C.B.S." and "Blue Skies And Alibis" also hold some dynamic and heavy playing. Especially recommended to those who like some bluesy garnish to their symphonic meal. Three and a half stars rounded up to four. It shows that the band definitely had some more ideas to offer and their premature splitting up was a pity.

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 This is.....Gracious!!  by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.81 | 77 ratings

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This is.....Gracious!!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by baz91
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is... AWESOME!!

After gorging myself on their spectacular debut, I knew that I just had to hear Gracious's second album as well. There seemed to be no proper reissues of this album, so instead I decided to buy the Japanese Mini-LP (for those of you who don't know about Mini-LPs, they are CDs that are given the same packaging as the original vinyl LP, but obviously scaled down, and are usually manufactured in Japan). This was my first mini-lp, but while this album has no fancy packaging, the original sleeve was nonetheless revealing about the history of the album and the band. Upon viewing the back cover, one becomes instantly aware that this was originally a very cheaply produced album. Distributed by Philips as part of their 'International Series', the sleeve is donned with an advert for other albums in this range including 'This is... Dusty Springfield', 'This is... Val Doonican' and even 'The Band Of The Scots Guards'. This explains the ghastly album title 'This is... Gracious!!', though I dislike the fact they included two exclamation marks instead of one. In fact, this album was shelved for a while before being distributed, leading to the bands unfortunate demise. The album may have been cheap, but for your money you get astonishingly good music.

The album kicks off in true prog form with a sidelong track Super Nova. For some of you, this version is 25 minutes long, but on the original album, and on my version, this track is only 21:40 in length. Apparently the original suite was too long for one side of music so they had to cut one of the sections (What's Come To Be) out, and stick it on the second side. Some remasters have placed this section back into the song, bringing it to 25 minutes, but I disagree with this move. On the record, Super Nova sounds as if it was rewritten so as not to include What's Come To Be, and thus sounds better without it. In the 25 minute version, the suite simply loses it's flow! I shall review it as a four-part suite and not a five-part.

Arrival of the Traveller is the first part of the suite, and is entirely instrumental. The first two minutes sound experimental and dissonant, but afterwards the music becomes more regular. There is a throbbing bassline behind this part which gives way to a theme that sounds inspired by Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra.

The next section of the suite is called Blood Red Sun. This section is very catchy, and has a very anthemic mellotron sound. The lyrics of the song remind one of 21st Century Schizoid Man and the vocals are treated in a similar way too. After this part finishes, it gives way to a groovy instrumental that stops abruptly before the next part (which may or may not be What's Come To Be).

Say Goodbye To Love is played on the acoustic guitar, and accompanied by the mellotron. The lyrics are simply sublime. This is a very beautiful song.

The next three minutes are very experimental and proggy, before we reach the final part of the suite, Prepare To Meet Thy Maker. This is a hymn-like song with wonderful vocals and simple yet beautiful lyrics. The last 2:45 of this track are instrumental, but with wordless vocals. The outro to this song, and indeed this suite, is very symphonic, and is simply perfect. Whilst The Dream on the last album had more recurring themes, Super Nova does just as well without them. This suite is a rich, beautiful and moving piece of progressive rock.

Side 2 opens with C.B.S., so called as it reminded mellotron player Martin Kitcat of some artists under contract to the Columbia Broadcasting System. The structure of this song is a classic in terms of prog rock: two shortish vocal sections seperated by a meaty showcase instrumental, much like a thick musical sandwich. Other songs in this format include Firth of Fifth and By-Tor And The Snow Dog. The instrumental is extremely good, with other instruments soloing on top of the repetitive bass riff. It's easy to criticise this song for being too repetitive but I don't feel it detracts the song that much. The highlight is the technical guitar solo.

If the King Crimson influence wasn't obvious by this point, What's Come To Be will surely make it clear. This song, with it's deep mellotron sound, is incredibly similar to Epitaph on KC's debut. The clue that this song was once part of the suite on Side 1 is the inclusion of the word 'Supernova' in the third verse. The lyrics are quite apocalyptic, and the outro is quite spectacular and powerful until it fades out. This would have been a good inclusion into the suite if they'd found a way to make the songs flow together.

Blue Skies and Alibis is perhaps the weakest track on the record. The breaks between verses are quite long and repetitive, although the proper instrumental is actually quite good. The verses themselves sound nothing like the rest of the song and feel a little out of place at times.

Hold Me Down is a return to form for the band. This is more of a straightforward rock tune, although the instrumental betrays the groups progressiveness. I have to admit I really like the chorus to this song, and the verses are good too. The instrumental is obviously the highlight, and at one point the band play with time signatures extremely successfully. It's hard not to enjoy this playful track.

The individual songs on 'This is... Gracious!!' are more concise than those on 'Gracious!' but they are still as fun and enjoyable. It seems that the band put more effort into writing proper songs rather than being experimental on this record, but I think the two records are equal in quality. Gracious are one of my favourite underground prog groups, and their second album deserves nothing less than 5 stars for being so enjoyable.

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 Gracious! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.70 | 107 ratings

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Gracious!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by baz91
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Hi there prog fan! Before I begin reviewing, I just like to say that I would love to know how you stumbled upon this album, because it is a really obscure one indeed. In my case, I was on the German record company Repertoire's website. I spent an afternoon browsing through their catalogue to try and find some old 70s gems which I hadn't heard of, and finding links on Youtube or Spotify to hear them. From this search I found a few interesting bands like Dust, Catapilla and Armageddon, but the most promising album I found was this, Gracious's debut. Whilst the cover art didn't seem very progressive, I knew that I couldn't resist the temptation of a 17 minute track. I quickly found this on Spotify, and began to play it. From the very beginning they had me interested; their mathematical approach to the intro was definitely appealing. At the 30 second mark, I grew more interested when the tone of the music was drastically changed as an excerpt of Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' was played. I knew I was hooked when the electric sound of the guitars and the bass cut in at about 2:30. Here was a song that had many interesting twists and turns in the space of a short pop song, and was not even 15% of the way through! For a couple of days, I listened to other parts of the album but not playing the entirity, as I wanted the experience to be fresh for when I would get a copy myself.

Here the review begins. Gracious were a funny little group indeed. The bonus tracks of this album reveal that they were at one point a very cheesy pop group, and I honestly have no idea how they made the leap from their mediocre to awful singles to suddenly writing intricate 17 minute songs.

It is possible to view the first side of this album as a 22 minute suite, since the Introduction has religious undertones and Heaven and Hell are mentioned in the lyrics. The theme of the suite, although clearly religious, is very vague. To me it speaks of the fallacy of religion, saying that all you are doing is following orders and believing others blindly, although the lyrics are very open to interpretation. For example the lyrics 'Do you have a clean mind?' seem rather sarcastic and commandments like 'Will you give some money to the church in time?' make religious people sound greedy. (These don't reflect my views, just the interpretation of the lyrics)

Musically speaking, it all kicks off with the appropriately titled Introduction. To most prog afficionados this would spell some short instrumental overture, but instead this is a medium length song which is about as close as the album gets to classic rock. It has a conventional three-chorus structure but the use of a harpsichord makes it sound very different to normal rock. The instrumental is also quite long (over 2 minutes), which leaves plenty of time for a guitar solo. However the production of this album is such that the solo sounds rather muted and doesn't leave much of an impression. However the song is nonetheless enjoyable and a good set up for the progressive treats coming up.

Heaven begins with a beautiful mellotron introduction, which could be easily compared to the corresponding introduction to Genesis's 'Watcher of the Skies'. Other instruments join in and and add to the musical soundscapes before we drop into an acoustic guitar section. This is quickly followed by the only vocal section of the song, the main lyric being Do you have a clean mind? The lyrics are quite simple but still quite evocative and the remaining 2 minutes of the song allows you to ponder the meaning of them. All in all this song is definitely heavenly, being extremely beautiful in places. As a treat, the guitar solo towards the end is far better produced, and sounds more prominent.

Hell then ensues! Both Heaven and Hell are around 8 minutes long, which allows them to be seen more equally. However the band did a good job of making them sound very different, Heaven being mainly light and beautiful and epic, and Hell sounding more random, jarring and heavy. They did not fall into the cliche of one sounding happy and one sounding miserable, as that would just be too obvious and would probably not deliver their vague message, whatever it may be. The creativity is at a peak in Hell, where you genuinely don't know what is around the corner. The first half of this song is much heavier than the second half, but the second half is extremely clever as well. There is bizarre shanty which then leads into the famous Can-Can. Risking sounding quite directionless, both Heaven and Hell are prog rock masterpeices. Simply the amount of creativity makes this so, as they are very eclectic in nature, drawing from all sorts of influences, sometimes very directly (eg the Can-Can). Objectively they are the best performances on the album, but rather than tainting your opinion with my own, I'll leave it to you to decide which you prefer.

Fugue in 'D' Minor does exactly what it says on the tin. The harpsichord heard in Introduction is on full display here whilst being accompanied by acoustic guitar, creating a very baroque feel. This entirely instrumental peice would not sound out of place in the 1600s, so what it is doing on a 70s record i'm not entirely sure. While I hate to say this about such an amazing album, it's quite easy to say that this music is just filler. It performs very much the same role as 'Horizons' does on 'Foxtrot' (that's the second time I've referenced Foxtrot!) as a sort of interlude before the epic final track. The playing is good, but the track doesn't go anywhere in 5mins so it's just a little bit dull.

All stops are pulled out now for The Dream. The opening 3 or 4 minutes (as I described in the first paragraph) had me hooked, and made me want this album dearly. I cannot remember the last time that I've been hooked so quickly to an artist I've never heard before! The piece quite simply describes a bizarre dream. The dream itself seems to begin with the playing of 'Moonlight Sonata' and ends with the alarm clock sound towards the end. Whilst there are utterances of 'Good Night' near the beginning of the song, the lyrics only really begin about 6 minutes into the song. Afterwards, lyrics are placed intermittently throughout.

As with Heaven and Hell, The Dream switches moods very drastically and quite often, but there is a 2/4 riff that seems to run all the way through the song, with the band hopping on and off this riff to try other ideas. The use of very brief and completely different sounding sections makes this very progressive listening indeed.

However, it's not all good news. According the liner notes, the studio wished them to perform the whole song in one take and add overdubs later rather than recording pieces seperately and sticking them together. This might explain some of the minor complaints people have about it. For example, whilst the creativity is there, the musicianship leaves something to be desired. They aren't bad, but for a progressive group there's not a great sense of virtuosity in the performances. The song itself sounds quite simple to play. The vocals are probably the worst thing here. Whilst they seemed good enough on other tracks, there are points where the singer sounds really amateurish.

As I said before though, these are all very minor complaints. The Dream becomes an extremely fun and complex musical journey! The amount of variation on this track is simply astonishing, and the music is written very progressively for a record released in the early days of prog rock. The track is never boring, and always seems to pass very quickly for 17 minutes. Gracious succeed in creating an extremely exciting and cool prog rock epic.

I find it strange that this group have been labeled Symphonic Prog, when the music here is so eclectic. Rarely do you find a group who like to have so much variation within a single song. They really keep you on the edge of your seats in the more epic songs. The fact that the band aren't all virtuosos is actually endearing. Good on Gracious for experimenting and pushing the boundaries so far. It's amazing what such an obscure band could do on a record! The music here is so complex, and they achieved the goal of making extremely good progressive rock. I've always liked my music very complex, and all three of Heaven, Hell and The Dream exude truly high levels of what I regard as 'progressiveness'. 'Gracious!' indeed!

(Also, for those who aren't keen on the album artwork, look inside the gatefold sleeve, you'll have a nice surprise.)

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