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MARTIN DARVILL & FRIENDS

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Martin Darvill & Friends biography
I'm always very careful when talking about supergroups, but in this case MARTIN DARVILL & FRIENDS, managed to make it work. In 1998 Paul Ward managed to make a dream Neo Prog band that included such artists as John Wetton, Dave Kiliminster, Clive Nolan, Martin Orford, Al Stewart, etc.

Their only release was called "The Greatest Show on Earth" and despite the arrogant sounding title, the bands does a pretty decent job, something surprising if .we acknowledge that Martin Darvill has worked as accountant for many artists.

The album consists of 16 songs but the first one is a 18 minutes epic divided in 6 parts, so it's a long and careful work.

In cases like this we can't talk about influences because each artist brings his own background and sound under the arm, and the hardest work is to make all this stars soud coherent, something Darvill achieved.

Not a spectacular album, but sure deserves recognition because it's a very ambitious project.

It's hard to make a bio of a Various Artists project without turning it into a review, so sadly it has to be short.

Highly recommended.

IvŠn Melgar Morey

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3.93 | 18 ratings
The Greatest Show on Earth
1998

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MARTIN DARVILL & FRIENDS Reviews


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 The Greatest Show on Earth by DARVILL & FRIENDS, MARTIN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.93 | 18 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Martin Darvill & Friends Prog Related

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars This ensemble from late-90's had to involve the biggest list of Neo Prog musicians ever appearing in the same album along with a shorter one full of rock veterans.It was led by Martin Darvill, who was a multi-instrumentalist but mainly a manager, member of the Music Of Life management, on which the album ''The greatest show on Earth'' was released as Martin Darvill And Friends.The participating musicians are countless, Nick Barrett, John Jowitt, Ian Gould, Clive Nolan, Martin Orford, Karl Groom, John Mitchell, Ian Salmon and Paul Wrightson all came of from the most significant Neo Prog acts of the period, but you should also count the presence of John Wetton, Don Airey, Al Stewart, Noel Redding and Kevin Jones to this list, linked to groups like The Who, Fairport Convention, Rainbow, King Crimson and Jimmy Hendrix Experience.Year of the album's release was 1998.

Musically this was definitely not ''The greatest show on Earth'' as its title suggested, but it is a very strong work with competent songwriting, interesting melodies and tons of atmospheric themes, somewhere between the classic Neo Prog sound and an AOR taste akin to ASIA or DON AIREY's early works.It unfolds like a dominant Rock Opera with Orford and Nolan providing some powerful and bombastic synthesizers and the no less than eight guitarists offering rockin' tunes and impressive solos.As expected from such an album there are lots of symphonic interludes to open the way for the upcoming grandiose music with the poetic lyrics, the sentimental passages and the monster parallels between guitars and keyboards for a flashy atmosphere.Moreover the mood ranges from ballad-esque, sweet themes with a deep song component to fine instrumental passages with symphonic lines, you can even hear to lots of organ runs and, yes, a harsichord in a couple of tracks, to build a bridge between the old and modern stylings.The result is far from complex but pretty convincing, most of the melodies are excellent and the tracks are basically tightened up to form long and emphatic arrangements.But the most interesting part comes at the album's farewell, the 18-min. title track is certainly a great music show along the lines of modern Neo Prog and flirting with the sound of ARENA and LANDMARQ, the AOR vibes are quite reduced and the track contains the finest guitar work of the album over a pounding keyboard atmosphere, fantastic stuff indeed.

As Darvill made his dream come true, he returned to music management, being the founder and chairman of one of the most well-known, prog-related music management companies, QEDG.

Nice mixture of ARENA/PALLAS/LANDMARQ-like furious and intense Neo Prog with the more orchestral side of AOR music.Great purchase for all fans of melodic Progressive Rock.

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 The Greatest Show on Earth by DARVILL & FRIENDS, MARTIN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.93 | 18 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Martin Darvill & Friends Prog Related

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What happens if you put a list of great musicians together in one project and make an album ? The pretentious title says it all. No honestly, I don't think it's meant to sound pretentious (or is it ?). Anyway I must say, it's not really so far from the truth. This is a very nice album. But not quite the greatest thing on earth or something like that. I have to divide this album in two parts or categories. There is the opening of the first three songs which is absolutely incredible. Modern man and Ceremony are two of the nicest songs I know especially thanks to the unbelievable guitarwork in these songs. Then we have the "middle part" of the album that lasts until the final epic number. I'm not too thrilled about the middle part. It's not bad, I don't want to go too far in minor, but it's not impressive. An exception in this middle part is Circus in the sky with a great guitar solo of Nick Barrett. Then we have the title track, consisting of 6 parts, at the end of the album. A grand finale that is very much worthwhile.

These two different "faces" of the album makes it hard to give the final judgement. Because only half of it is very good, I can't go further than 4 stars, but I absolutely believe they deserve those 4 ! All in al this is a model album for neo progressive rock. And since I like neo progressive, I also like this a lot.

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 The Greatest Show on Earth by DARVILL & FRIENDS, MARTIN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.93 | 18 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Martin Darvill & Friends Prog Related

Review by wes676767

4 stars Oooh this is a good one for any of you who love good neo-prog. I was pleasantly surprised (having never heard of Martin Darvill) but buying it because of the amazing line-up of "friends" he has assembled. Anything with Nick Barrett gets my vote! John Wetton gets a long suite at the end if you're a fan of his voice (I am!) and many other greats round up this all-star concept album.

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 The Greatest Show on Earth by DARVILL & FRIENDS, MARTIN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.93 | 18 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Martin Darvill & Friends Prog Related

Review by lritzel

5 stars Did you ever look for the ultimative Prock Rock opera? Have you been disappointet by what Ayeron does present on CD? This is teh CD to go for. Its great great music. Great songs that vary in many ways. From Neo to Art, from Balad to more Heavy. There is not one single weak song over this whole CD and it is a pitty that there seems not to be nore out from Mr Martin Darvill. I wonder how he could get all these real Neo Prog Rock and Rock greats around him. Not only will you find names like Barett., Nolan, Jowitt and Pointer, But additionally you find Rock greatests like Noel Redding, Al Stewart and Kenney Jones. I was real blown away when i first listened to this CD and bought right away 3 of them, just in case I woudl loose the one or the other. Hard to find in shops but very much worth while looking for. If you like old style Mariliion, Arena, Pendragon, Arrakeen, Grey Lady Down and Twelfth Night go for it and enjoy!

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