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Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom

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England picture
England biography
Founded in Maidstone, UK in 1975 - Disbanded in 1978 - Reactivated around 1983/4 - Reformed in 2005

This British quartet featured Martin Henderson (bass, vocals), Frank Holland (guitar, vocals), Robert Webb (keyboards, vocals) and Jode Leigh (percussion, vocals, bass). Their debut LP "Garden Shed" is one of the finest, 24-carat progrock albums I've ever heard and it was also a sought after item. The LP was released on CD in Japan but you could hear the scratches because they put it directly from the record on CD without the usual mastering. Fortunately keyboard player Robert Webb re-released the original album tapes on a limited edition CD with the help of Gordon Haskell and The Forward Organisation. This in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of "Garden Shed" in 1997. Two years before there was a CD-release entitled "The Last Of The Jubblies", including material from '76 and '77.

The album "Garden Shed" has strong echoes from early GENESIS and YES. The often Mellotron drenched compositions sound melodic, warm and inventive with many captivating changes of climate and thrilling breaks. The guitarwork is sensitive, the keyboardplay is varied and the vocals are strong, no doubt that these are good musicians. The way ENGLAND combines the influence of YES with lots of original ideas reminds me of FRUUPP, another good British progrock band. Not to be missed in any serious progrock collection! "The Last Of The Jubblies" is a grouping of the recording made between 1976 and 1977. Their sophisticated music with elaborated instrumental developments could be situated in the same category as YES and GENESIS.

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
Fan & official Prog Archives collaborator

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ENGLAND discography

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

3.89 | 187 ratings
Garden Shed
3.25 | 48 ratings
The Last Of The Jubblies
3.67 | 15 ratings
Box of Circles

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

4.07 | 17 ratings
Live In Japan 'Kikimimi'

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

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
3.12 | 20 ratings
The Imperial Hotel


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Garden Shed by ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.89 | 187 ratings

Garden Shed
England Symphonic Prog

Review by Albert H

5 stars This is undoubtedly one of my favourite Prog albums of the 70s. It stands up well alongside their obvious Yes, Genesis and Gentle Giant influences. The musicianship is of a very high standard, and for some reason the drummer uses a snare drum without the snares, so it sounds like a differently pitched tom! All the songs are of excellent quality, and "Three Piece Suite" has some sublime melodies. "Poisoned Youth" - a musical depiction of the "Picture of Dorian Gray" - is quite amazing, and you can hear where a certain theatre-music writer lifted a theme for his best-know (and longest-running) stage show - the one with a Phantom in it! That "writer" certainly owes this band very substantial royalties and an apology for using their work without credit!

If you can find a copy of this album - grab it! You will not be disappointed if you're a fan of intelligent, experimental 70s prog.

 Garden Shed by ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.89 | 187 ratings

Garden Shed
England Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is another one that I missed out on when it originally came out in 1977, though I can only be partly reassured that it went unnoticed by many more fans, being that 1977 was the universally agreed death year for prog. Punks with bad teeth and worse manners entered the mainstream and kicked serious musicians in the behind and right off the main stage! In retrospect that may have been a good thing as the dinosaur mentality had crept in by then (Hello Tony Emerson and Keith Banks). England released this puppy to little fanfare, even though it is regarded in hindsight as a quirky little masterpiece, featuring a gifted talent in keyboardist Robert Webb. The cover is perhaps one of the most fascinating in prog, very English style like Robertson and Sons' Marmalade or Twining's Tea. The music is quite reminiscent of The Enid in that classic symphonics are blended with orchestral arrangements, sugared by some blatant rock multi-tracked vocalizations that can run the span between Gentle Giant, Yes, Supertramp, Genesis, Druid, Greenslade etc?

"Midnight Madness" provides exactly that kind of premise, the high pitched vocals meandering down a symphonic river, with clever little e-piano motifs that wink at Supertramp, vibraphones wrestling with slippery synths, slamming organ ushering the crew along. Of course, harmony vocals add a great amount of choral depth to the arrangements, which is easily admirable to any prog fan. High-pitched vocals almost have a Russell Mael feel (he of Sparks fame) or even Freddie of Queen. In fact, I would not be surprised if Webb and company had been influenced by the Champions. England, Queen, yeah! All in all, a thrilling introduction.

A mini-piano etude "All Alone" simply sets the table for the first section of the main opus here the "Three Pieces" suite, as such I cannot help but feel a reminder of an artist such as Anthony Phillips , meaning it's all very British, wot? "Introducing Three Pieces" is definitely symphonic in style that at times sounds a lot like Yes, what with the grandiose orchestrations and the ruthlessly trebled bass guitar, veering close to the edge in more ways than one. Drummer Jode Leigh has his Bruford tapes working nicely for him, Martin Henderson must have heard of Chris Squire, while only the guitarist Franc Holland differs a tad, being more Hacketty than Howey. Robert Webb can compete with the Wakemans, Emersons and the Greenslades of the world, a clever utilizer of all forms of ivories. The result is a brisk-paced, densely choired as all four musicians sing, reverential homage to "Close to the Edge" in a multi-hued, uncanny reworking that is ultimately enjoyable. The electric guitar has a muffled 'in a tube' sound that actually fits the mood quite well, followed by a thunderously harmonious bass solo from Mr. Henderson, Webb shuffling in his cozy mellotron to great effect, even discreet winks at snippets of la Marseillaise. The Queen/the Korgis/Sparks high pitched voice is actually cool and well performed.

"Paraffinalea" is a jaunty little affair, heavily vocalized, and doused in waves of glorious mellotron splashes as well as some coily synth loops. I actually liked the next piece a great deal, "Yellow" wallows in pastoral noodling, handled by some quality orchestrations and a Beatles-like vocal presence, a reminder of a psychedelic past that once ruled over the first prog wave. The Anthony Phillips hints are again quite clear and determined. There is even room for some brief soloing to make matters more interesting.

The tectonic plate on which this album revolves is the epic 18 minute + monster "Poisoned Youth", a scintillating composition that wastes little breath in getting the troops moving forward. The bass is up-front and brash as it leads the crew into some multifaceted territories where all is molded into a whole musical experience, tight drum attack, spooky vocalisms and the obvious colossal keyboard colorations. Paced in such a manner as to provide a slew of unpredictable peaks and valleys, wrapped in various layers of mood and contrast, this is a perfect example of a typical progressive rock epic.

Nice music ! Great cover , really!

4 Lawn barns

 The Imperial Hotel by ENGLAND album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2006
3.12 | 20 ratings

The Imperial Hotel
England Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars England was a short-lived British Prog band, hailing from Maidstone, Kent, led by drummer Mark Ibbotson.Just before settling to a regular four-piece operating line-up, Ibbotson recruited keyboardist Robert Webb and guitarist Jamie Moses.The same year they recorded one ambitious 25-min. long piece at the Marquee Studios in London, which was never officially released.During a brief reformation some thirty years laters, including visits at the Baja Prog Festival and a short Japanese tour, the band handed out a number of CD copies with that song, titled ''The imperial hotel''.

At the time of the recording with no bassist on board, Webb played the bass lines through his Moog bass and ''The imperial hotel'' suggested a young band, heavily inspired by the British Prog bands of the time, basically GENESIS, YES and a little bit of KESTREL.Their sound was largely symphonic with many interesting keyboard parts and a few fiery guitar solos, sounding close to the likes of GENESIS circa-''The knife''.Rhythm changes and bombastic parts are definitely close to YES, but the melodies and omnipresent Hammond organ flashing reminds me a lot of TONY BANKS.''The imperial hotel'' is a super-tight composition, not actually on par with the best material the band recorded over its limited career, but the lust for long instrumental parts, multiple thematic variations and the undisputed talent of the trio resulted an overlooked prog epic, which sounds a bit raw at moments, still reveals a great potential.Poetic and theatrical singing lines to go along with more normal vocal arrangements, some fantastic organ executions, smooth piano backgrounds and a mixture of dramatic vibes and melodious orchestratins offer a nice listening experience in a Classic Prog vein.Of course they sounded pretty similar to their idols and hadn't matured enough to deliver the same monumental ideas, but this is nonetheless an easy-flowing prog piece with series of interesting instrumental and vocal stuff.

The free distribution of this archival piece makes its discovery quite a hard case.If you are lucky enough to detect a copy, be sure to love the classic years of GENESIS and YES.Recommended.

 The Imperial Hotel by ENGLAND album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2006
3.12 | 20 ratings

The Imperial Hotel
England Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars England. This is the band that got stuck in the middle, like the novice soldier fighting the hordes of Punk all by himself, armed with a cosmic flower, a vison and died trying. (How the hell punk managed to draw all proggers to their own bosom is beyond me but that's the story. Punk slaughtered prog, if one is to believe what is said.)

England was surely an able band and one of my favorites. The were aböe to produce one marvellous album in "Garden shed", leaving an album's worth of high quality material and (as if that is not enough) managed to draw from the misty paths of time an unreleased track of 24 minutes, boasting all the characteristics of prog. On top of that it is a good one.

"Imperial Hotel" is a track to marvel at. The band wrote and recorded this nearly 25 minutes long epic AND it ended up on the shelf for 30 years. Good thing someone didn't throw it out in the bin. The first feeling I get is overwhelming amazement at the high level of musicianship and ideas put into this song. That is in itself very impressive. After a couple of listens I realize, though, that the song, no matter how enjoyable, sometimes loses some of it's momentum and drags on. It is an uneven balance between the great bits and the good ones. (There are no bad bits, actually.)

At times the music is more raw and rough than the material on "Garden shed". There is a higher degree of hard rock in this one, alongside all the symphonic parts. Though lacking the mellotron there is enough Hammond organ to make my eyes water from delight. I suppose that this is some sort of demo and that explains the rough edges, the so and so sound quality. That is something one has to accept and that really must be ignored and not be a part of the review.

When all is said and done, the fat lady has sung her anthem and someone has eaten the last piece of custard pie what remains is a great song, epic even, that really all progheads into old school progressive rock ought to lend an ear to. It is not 100% all the way through but it is a fantastic achievement worthy of (at least some) praise. The end result has to be three stars but that don't mean I do not love it. Because I honestly do.

 The Last Of The Jubblies by ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.25 | 48 ratings

The Last Of The Jubblies
England Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Now, let me first speak a little about the term "masterpiece". I find it to be sort of a troublesome word. What is the definition, really, and what does it mean? Is it purely an album of flawless material? An album where every song is as brilliant as the other, seemingly made of gods? Well, partly. To me a masterpiece means an album where all songs are great, yes, but one has to, I think, also bear in mind the overall feeling, such as originality and vision. All put together I would say that there are many albums I could rate a masterpiece, though the rating five stars only apply to a certain few. The difference can sometimes be thin as the hair of an atom but still, isn't that an integral part of the musixal experience, to feel something sublime, a twitch and sensation to special to put down in words? I would say so.

Anyway... I think that the first, or only real as it were, album by England ("Garden shed") is a testament to the thoughts starting this review. In my opinion it is a masterpiece, though not necessarily a five star album. I love it to bits. So, with that feeling of love within me I had to get a hold of this album, "Last of the jubblies". Some say it is a follow up to "Garden shed" and while I respect that notion I would rather not. It is completely made up of demos and outtakes and these songs were really not, as far as I am aware, intented to constitute the next album. But that is not important, at least not in any big way. The importance of this album lies in something else. What could have been and furthermore as a testament to the brilliance of the guys in the band, sadly neglected in it's time.

The sound quality of the album is so and so at times. Though I need to say that the sound really does not get that bad. I enjoy every second and never is the audio an issue. The issue is rather that the vocals aren't always in key. The recordings are demos and outtakes, so if you're looking for flawless recordings you won't find it here. I have come to find peace in the flaws and mistakes. If you give this album a go, I think you will to.

Now to the songs...

The first track, Creepin', is surely everything you'd expect from England. Great pompous, symphonic prog. From the very beginning it is clear that you are listening to one of the best bands around from the mid 70's. It holds a great pace and shifts and turns in a very pleasant way. The next track, A one-legged day tale, is one of the longer tracks on the album. A fantastic number with a raw riff and good melody line. Would not have been out of place on Garden shed. Sausage pie is a shorter piece, about five minutes in length, and is really one of the quirkier songs on the album. It is a great track, showcasing all that is England. The amazing keyboards, humorous lyrics and sense of melody.

The other lengthy track is Tooting Bec rape case and starts off ominous with percussion before the keyboards enter the scene. It is also an intriguing piece of music which would have been great to hear in a more worked through version, put on a follow up to Garden shed. Mister Meener is a raw sounding track with very distorted guitar and lovely organ. A nice little titbit indeed.

The only track I was familiar with prior to getting "Last of the jubblies" was Nanogram, which appears as a bonus track on my "Garden shed" album. Now there's a piece! Beatiful! A lost classic, if you ask me,

All of the tracks would have fit nicely into "Garden shed" which is quite an effort, or rather they would have made up the contents of a follow up. As a collection of demos and such, it is such a full bodied album. The best of the rest, as it seems, are gathered here making this more than just a visit to the curiosity shop. It is a visit to the very halls of England, the very heart of the garden shed (as it were). These tracks aren't throw-aways. These aren't refuse meant to be theown away on the dung heap. These tracks are the very produce of the muscial harvest made during the mid 70's. Though there are some flaws and mistakes it does not matter. This album is a collection of lovingly crafted songs which by itself would be just enough to render England the title of a lost classic. It is that good. If you are new to England I would, though, recommend you to explore "Garden shed" first.

So, is it a masterpiece? Well... No. Maybe not. Or could it be a minor one? I can't put the label masterpiece on "Last of the jubblies". Primarily due to fact that it is a collection of demos and really not an album as such. It is however a precious testament to the brilliance of England a to me it is worth four stars. Just like that.

 The Last Of The Jubblies by ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.25 | 48 ratings

The Last Of The Jubblies
England Symphonic Prog

Review by Novri Leonard

4 stars I found this album when I surfed the internet and my "mentor" Mr. Gatot W. enlightened me with his review in this site. Later on, I got a copy of this album from a friend of mine in Metalbleedingcorp, and it's wonderful to listen to their music as I can hear the influence from early 70s Genesis and Yes. When those great prog pioneers had started to "move away" from their original roots, England was born and brought back the essential elements of prog with them. If only they were born in late 60s or sometime in the first half of the 70s then England could had been as influential as Genesis, Yes or other essential prog bands we know. Unfortunately they came to see the light when the 70s was almost over, in time when progrock was seen as pre-historic monster in musical industry and new wave as well as punk was showing their teeth and claws.

I give it 4 stars...Essential...

 Garden Shed by ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.89 | 187 ratings

Garden Shed
England Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars I have spent my youth longing for this album, never really getting my hands on a copy. And then I did manage to do so. Then I spent my older youth trying to understand it's greatness, though always stumbling on something else and seemingly (or hearingly) more interesting. However, now the knot has been loosened by the mighty sword of time and I am looking at something very beautiful. A relic from the past, made way out of it's time. Like the famous and ancient batteries found in modern day Iraq (was it?). They were made there in a far away time, though they shouldn' have been. I am rambling, of course.

"Garden shed" by England. The anglophile soul of mine is shivering with delight. The visual piece of the puzzle could not have spoker more in my favor than that. I am sold. Now to the audio-side of it all. Is it any good, really? Yes, is the short answer. It is very good. The opener "Midnight madness" is quite brilliant in all it's quirky british symphonic glory. Actually, this piece is as good as the rest on the album, bar two tracks that are even greater pieces of music.

"Three-piece suite" is my favorite of the album. It encompasses everything great about prog, as far as I am concerned. The instrumentation is gloriuous, all the way through the instrumenta used to the rattling of the keys on the organ. (I love the organ, by the way.) The track paints a picture very british and pleases me immensely. I fear that this track has become an all time favorite of mine. This is prog in it's glory. Tender, symphonic stuff weaved in stabs of slightly more harder grooves. Though it need to be said, if you are looking for eruptions of cacophony you need to go else where. This is, as the rest of the album, gentle music though by no means withput edge and complexity. The last track, "Poisoned youth", is the other, truly brilliant composition. Ranging over 16 minutes it is a delight. Just as with "Three-piece suite" you get textures and levels that really makes it prog masterpieces.

The introduction to this review spoke of the album as been made at the wrong time. Yes, somewhat. In 1977 the sound could be seen as somewhat dated, belonging more to the early 70's. Echoes of Genesis are abound and though being very present it is only part of England's glory and unique talents. I'd say that this album in many ways represent the timelessness of prog. It is a piece of magic that has lost none of it's beauty. It did take me long time to crack the album. Why I cannot tell you, as it is quite easy to digest and get into. The complexity and musical insanity is there, balancing on the melodic borders making it a charming, quite brilliant album. I'd advise anyone, really, to give it a go. Please do.

 Garden Shed by ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.89 | 187 ratings

Garden Shed
England Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars English Prog

Taking the best of what their home country had to offer, the appropriately named England produced an appealing slice of British progressive Rock with Garden Shed. The major influences seem to be Gentle Giant and Genesis but there is also a sprinkling of Yes, King Crimson and other bands. There are also some nice Queen-like harmony vocals. While England clearly lacks the distinct musical identity and ground breaking originality of these other bands, it would be unfair to thereby dismiss them as wannabes. They do not compete with the topmost names in our favourite genre, but frankly not much does. Garden Shed is clearly an entry in an already well-established genre, but it is a very good entry that will most certainly appeal to fans of that genre. England obviously has talent in all the relevant dimensions and this album does in my opinion deserve its title as a minor classic in the annals of Prog.

The keyboard sounds are vintage (with such usual suspects as organ, Mellotron, piano, etc.), but the production is that of the late 70's. The production is very good indeed; a clear and clean sound. The material is not among the most complex you'll find, but all of the six tracks are excellent. It is hard to pick out any particular favourites. I enjoy the album from start to finish.

An excellent addition

 Garden Shed by ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.89 | 187 ratings

Garden Shed
England Symphonic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars One might expect a band called "England" to represent the worst of that country's music: The Dave Clark Five, Brotherhood of Man, Slade, Gary Glitter, and other crippling wonders of 20th century British Pop.

But one would be wrong. Garden Shed is hardly the worst of anything, but rather the best of the English Progrock sound concentrated into an hour-long celebration of fine stuff. And if you've got a ticket, you're welcome to join. No doubt derivative of just about every British prog institution but done with such reverence and inspiration it's as if the band didn't know it wasn't the first to do it. Consequently, the 1977 release has taken on an air of legend, an almost Holy Grail-like aspect to some. It doesn't disappoint. A fluid matrix of period synths negotiate 'Midnight Madness', full of early Genesis to be sure but also Becker & Fagen, the Swingles, and Yes. By the end of this first cut the quality of skill in Henderson, Holland, Leigh and Webb is crystal clear. Once past the shameless (and I mean shameless) Yes vocals, thirteen-minute 'Three Piece Suite' is an exquisite number that qualifies as one of the most representative of the genre in its classic, native form-- delicious organ parts, blistering and weeping guitar solos from Frank Holland, the 'trons of Robert Webb dancing with Martin Henderson's bass and the whole group doing a heroic job alternating on voice duties.

The record hits its stride with the utterly hilarious 'Paraffinalea', just over four minutes and not a wasted moment of dazzlingly concise midtempo prog. Sugary and stoned 'Yellow' kinda just sits there but yields to magnificent 'Poisoned Youth' where they just let it go. Two bonuses from '76 on the Piper reissue. Nothing less than definitive if not wholly original, and a great time regardless.

 The Imperial Hotel by ENGLAND album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2006
3.12 | 20 ratings

The Imperial Hotel
England Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars A twenty-one minutes long gem for the Genesis & Yes fans out there.

England was a band who successfully made Genesis sound their own at their brilliant classic album Garden Shed. An album no Genesis or symph prog should live without. The twenty one minutes epos The Imperial Hotel was written and probably recorded before Garden Shed though. The concept is very ambitious and the lyrics speaks about England anno the Victorian era. The lyrics is about this old hotel and they are good, although flimsy as in eccentric. The music is very Genesis with a lot of Yes influences and some Beatles influences. The latter one from their Sgt Pepper era. You can surely also add Procol Harum to that list too. The instruments is the usual fare with tangents, guitars, bass and drums. The vocals are very good. The sound is more than acceptable.

There are some great melody lines along the way. But some of this epos is a bit dull to be honest. I would say half of this epos is great. The rest is OK. In short, this is a good effort which set them up for Garden Shed. Call this a trial and error epos. This is a good disc if you can find it.

3 stars

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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