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CANTERBURY GLASS

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United Kingdom


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Canterbury Glass biography
A folk-rock duo Mick & Malcolm, that were founded in 1964 by Michael WIMBLETON and Malcolm IRONTON and released a couple of singles, were the roots of CANTERBURY GLASS. Malcolm recruited a drummer Dave DOWLE and a bassist Tony PROTO, whilst Malcolm and Tony started writing material for them in around 1967, strongly influenced by some British progressive rock scene like Pink Floyd or Moody Blues. For bringing their musical intention to completion, they needed other two musicians - one was a flutist Valerie WATSON who simply met them at a gig, and another was a keyboardist Mike HALL, a mate of Malcolm at Hornsey Art College. Finally a "forgotten" UK psychedelic rock legend CANTERBURY GLASS could confirm their formation as a quintet by Malcolm IRONTON (guitar, voices), Tony PROTO (bass, voices), Dave DOWLE (drums), Valerie WATSON (flute, harmonica, voices), and Mike HALL (keyboards, guitar).

CANTERBURY GLASS started getting gigs at UK-based venues like Middle Earth, Electric Garden, or Eel Pie Island with various renowned artists like Ten Years After, Jimi Hendrix, Denny Laine, or Caravan. Getting support from an arranger Harry ROBERTS and the owner of Olympic Studios Cliff ADAMS, they recorded some tracks with an engineer Chris KIMSEY (a U2 producer later). They were about to enter into a contract with Polydor but sadly they fell amongst three labels - Polydor, CBS, and EMI - owing to their hoping higher payment. At that moment their material had been unreleased and they were disbanded brokenheartedly. These obscure gems (with a track "Prologue" featuring Steve HACKETT's guitar play, and a session demo as a bonus one) have been found and released as a compilation "Sacred Scenes And Characters" via Ork Records in 2007, finally.

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4.41 | 16 ratings
Sacred Scenes And Characters
2007

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CANTERBURY GLASS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sacred Scenes And Characters by CANTERBURY GLASS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
4.41 | 16 ratings

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Sacred Scenes And Characters
Canterbury Glass Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Psychedelic Paul

5 stars British band CANTERBURY GLASS' one and only album "Sacred Scenes and Characters" was due to be released in 1968, but for various reasons, including lack of interest from the record companies, this long-lost album treasure wouldn't see release for nearly 40 years. The album contains four long tracks, and one bonus demo track, with a unique combination of Psychedelic Rock and religiously-inspired choral music, in keeping with the spirit of the band name and album title. The album is notable for featuring Steve Hackett of Genesis fame on Track 4: "Prologue" - an unusual title for the final track on the album. Prepare to Tune In, Turn On, and Drop Out with some devotional, heaven-sent psychedelic music. Unless you're familiar with the two devotional albums released by the Electric Prunes in the same year of 1968, then this music may be quite unlike anything you've ever heard before. It's time to settle down now and take a pew and listen to the hymnal music playing from the pulpit.

On hearing the album opener "Kyrie" for the first time, you might believe you're in church with the sound of a delicate church organ and a choir gently singing. This first impression doesn't last long though when the song bursts into full psychedelic life, with the organist going on a wild keyboard spree and playing his heart out. This is no quiet country church organist playing to his Sunday parishioners - this is a full-on psychedelic jam, hopefully without the aid of any psychedelic substances. The guitarist is no shrinking violet either. Imagine Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane playing in church and you won't be too far off the mark. There's no way he's going to let the parishioners sleep through this rousing number with his pounding guitar riffs. The church choir are in full voice too, which gives the song it's religious devotional feel, as they repeatedly chant "Kyrie Eleison" with no small amount of spiritual passion. The second song "Nunc Dimittis", also known as the Song of Solomon, features the familiar multi-part vocal harmonies of the choir at the forefront with more psychedelic showmanship from the church organist, who sounds like he's auditioning for a place in Deep Purple in the style of keyboard wizard Jon Lord. He's so fast and nimble on the organ keyboard, you can almost picture steam coming out of the organ pipes. If every church organist sounded as good as this, then church congregations would soar. In fact, you'd still want to go to church and listen to this psychedelic five-piece ensemble even if you happen to be an atheist. It's time to open your hymnbooks now to Song No. 3 "Gloria". Be prepared for some more keyboard histrionics and much religious chanting of "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" by the resident choir. If you're not in a religiously devotional mood by now, then you must be a confirmed atheist, although that shouldn't put you off enjoying this powerfully energising number. The song comes with a nice pleasant interlude too, which gently lulls you into a false sense of security before playing out in a rising crescendo of sound for the dramatic finale. On the subject of finales, the curiously titled "Prologue" closes out the album. There are no pretensions of religiosity in this song, as it's a really wild and fast-paced psychedelic jam right from the beginning. This is where Steve Hackett is given the chance to demonstrate his prowess as a psychedelic guitarist, several years before he became famous in Genesis. Imagine the Moody Blues cranked up to eleven, and that'll give you some idea of the tremendous power of this final song.

If you're familiar with the two religiously-inspired albums from the Electric Prunes in 1968, "Mass in F Minor" and Release of an Oath", then this album will resonate with you. Otherwise, this might be like nothing you've ever heard before. It's a religiously-themed psychedelic concept album which should appeal to fans of organ-driven Proto-Prog. This is what Sunday church services SHOULD be like - a religious mass to entertain the masses with massive appeal for all the ageing hippies out there who love a good dose of late-1960's psychedelia with a spiritual twist. You can even picture the Archbishop of Canterbury himself rocking in the aisles to this stunning album from Canterbury Glass.

 Sacred Scenes And Characters by CANTERBURY GLASS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
4.41 | 16 ratings

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Sacred Scenes And Characters
Canterbury Glass Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Sagichim
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A lost pearl.

Originally recorded in 1968 but never released until a few years ago, this is truly a lost pearl among collectors of very early british progressive rock bands. Among all of those obscure recordings from the 60's who gets reissued decades later, this is one of the best and most progressive in the most true sense of the word. In 2007 Malcolm Ironton (guitars) found the master tapes and managed to resurrect four of the six tracks which were recorded for the album, along with a demo tape recorded previously the album was now released on CD and vinyl. Basically "Sacred Scenes And Characters" consists of 4 main tracks, each of them is around the 10 minutes mark. The CD edition offers a fifth bonus track and the vinyl edition offers two different tracks replacing that bonus track. The sound quality is surprisingly very very good, capturing all the great aspects of the band and bring it to the fullest. Another interesting anecdote that will please a lot of progers is the inclusion of no less than Steve Hackett on the song Prologue, apparently he joined the band for a while, but sadly the band fell apart after they lost their momentum when trying to choose between Polydor and CBS for a record deal.

So Canterbury Glass were a five piece band who on top of their basic rock instruments added keys, harmonica and flute in order to enrich their sound. Their music here would fit nicely somewhere between proto prog sound and psychedelic prog, don't expect any weird psychedelic experimentations, the music is more focused rather than trippy, think of a progy mix between Vanilla Fudge, Caravan, Moody Blues and The Doors. One of the biggest elements here are the vocals which are strongly influenced by choral, church like singing, with multi layered harmonies, sounds quite religious at times but it also adds to the music a more angelic symphonic vibe. I think the key word here and the thing that stands the most as opposed to those very early prog bands is that the music is really 100% progressive! The band has a clear adventerous progressive direction, there are no happy 60's kind of tunes or Beatles inluenced songs to try and fit the era. The music contains a lot of ideas and effectively evolves containing varied and long instrumental sections. "Kyrie" opens with a beautiful choral vocals tune creeping in, which gradually builds and becomes fuller and rockier, around the third minute the band is sliding into an instrumental part but not because they want to solo, they have a whole bunch of ideas which evolves from one to the other perfectly, check out that killer Doors like organ psychedelic part, superb stuff! It then goes back to the main melody and closes with a rocking bang. "Nunc Dimittis" follows the opener's formula presenting the main melody before going into an instrumental journey, excellent stuff, this time adding flute and harmonica to the party on top of that fiery organ sound. "Gloria" is focusing a little more on guitar but still maintains a high level of creativity, throwing a lot of ideas and evolving just about every minute. "Prologue" starts with a bang, featuring some rocking guitars by Hackett, you never heard him like this in Genesis. This one doesn't have as many ideas as the previous songs but it is still quite progy and contains a lot of fiery guitar playing from the man throughout those 9 minutes. "We're Going To Beat It " is a song from the band's demo tape and is said to be very different from the version recorded for the original album. The song is not as good or progressive as the rest but still nice featuring prominent harmonica all over. But one must wonder what would happen if the band got signed and continued with Hackett, I think this is a must to anyone who's looking for that early psych proto prog obscurities. Recommended!

 Sacred Scenes And Characters by CANTERBURY GLASS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
4.41 | 16 ratings

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Sacred Scenes And Characters
Canterbury Glass Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

5 stars Rock died. So did progressive rock. But CANTERBURY GLASS are still alive for us progressive rock fans. They had recorded some demonstrated material for their debut album, that finally could not see the light, and released in a compiled album in 2007 ... the four tracks are so lively enough to make us crazie. Such a sound innovation can be called as progressive, let me say.

A UK obscurity (but simultaneously a psychedelic rock legend) CANTERBURY GLASS' "Sacred Scenes And Characters" has notified us they played psychedelic progressive rock with quite eccentric style for 40 or more years ago. The first track "Kyrie" tells us all of late-60s sound innovation. Varelie's deep and solemn voices, weird flute sounds made a drastic attack upon psychedelic keyboard bases. This psychedelia reminds me something like 13th Floor Elevators but yes, not only such a pure psych but also complexity, eccentricity (partially leaning toward Barrett's Pink Floyd but ... not all). In the following "Nunc Dimittis" we can touch kinda "Wall Of Sounds" established by Phil Spector. Able to feel sound depth and atmospheric euphoria, based upon repetitive keyboard plays and crazy flute sound dissemination. Not simple pop but persistently distorted harmony really.

A vague, evasive first departure can be heard in the third track "Gloria", that consists of sticky voice riffs, German-rock-ish guitar picks, and simple hypnotic keyboard tips. Their slippery chorus are funky and addictive. The middle part reminds me Floyd-y air with Happenings Four's dramatic storytelling ... one of my favourite phrases in this album actually. The last is sooo dreamy, beautiful that we must get immersed into their inner muddy world. Which can we feel, brilliant sunshine or dim moonlight? The fourth "Prologue" sounds more and more heavier, clearer ... with Steve's excellent wowwow guitar sounds.This stuff is a tad simple but with flexible psychedelic jamming featured. Aside from the last bonus track just in the same vein of 13th Floor Elevators, we can listen to their kaleidoscopic, innovative psychedelia all through this album.

Why not call they ARE progressive? Recommended strongly.

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the artist addition.

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