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Topic: Galliard Re-Released
Posted: January 19 2009 at 17:10
Esoteric Records are re releasing both Galliard albums at once. Strange Pleasure (1969)
and New Dawn (1970).
Both albums were produced by Phil Wainman, drummer and future Bay City Rollers manager. These are two of the best, most powerful, most vibrant albums of the era.
The band were phenomenally creative, spending hours on brass arrangements. They had to be as at one time there were 12 members in the band of which 6 were brass players. The first album Strange Pleasure, was in some ways, a journey through dark and light, and happiness and sorrow.
The songs speak for themselves and are presented now in greater clarity than ever before, following careful re-mastering. Listening to the albums now, it’s remarkable how influential they’ve become.
The second album, New Dawn, is the worthy successor of Strange Pleasure. It is more adventurous than the first album. New dawn has a schizophrenic quality as half the tracks are pure brass-rock, but the other half is completely eclectic.
Galliard were truly innovators of the Jazz Rock genre, alongside greats such as Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago Transit Authority, who, ironically, had a heavy influence on Galliard. These influences are almost crystal clear in their flawless debut "Strange Pleasure". This phenomenal piece of funky art opens up with one of the bands classics "Skillet", a rhythmic song with some great use of dissonance in the brass section, some really soulful solos from Dave Caswell and John Smith, the two virtuoso trumpet and saxophone players of the band, and a memorable riff running through, courtesy of guitarist Richard Pannell.
Among the highlights of this album are the progressive Pastorale, the pop number I Wrapped Her In Ribbons (of which was published as a single), the hefty psychedelic Children Of The Sun, the folky Frog Galliard, the King Crimson-esque Hear The Colours and the rock’n’roll influenced I Wanna Be Back Home, all of which are included in the 2009 re-release album.
Throughout you can hear influences from The Beatles, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, King Crimson and maybe even a few avant-garde classical elements. However, in this great mix of tunes there are many original moments never seen before, mainly to do with the merging of all these influences. This is a truly great release, with astounding musicianship from all members, groundbreaking drumming and melodic hooks and turns that will keep you entertained throughout the entirety of this work.
Although Strange Pleasure was an all round excellent album, it does not even compare to the wonderfully progressive New Dawn. This album truly marked the bands signature sound that had matured greatly over the years in professional complexity, smooth arrangements and avant-garde harmonies. All songs here are short and sweet, but pack a lot inside. The opener "New Dawn Breaking" is a prime example of what Galliard stood for and achieve in their music: exciting and diverse changes in the music, rhythmic complexity and a very well composed brass section. This track goes through many changes in time and tempo, with some fantastic dissonance (one of the bands pivotal attributes) and a great jazz saxophone improvisation in the centre section, the climax of the piece. Probably one of the bands best and most progressive works, this is jazz rock at its very finest.
Although their greatest work, it is probably the least commercial. This is due to the lengthier suites such as Winter-Spring-Summer and Ask For Nothing, but also due to the uncommon arrangements and the overblown improvisational parts, e.g. the song Premonition is simply one 5 minute impro piece. Fans of jazz will find this album essential. The highlights are Open Your Mind, the very lengthy, atmospheric Ask For Nothing, the suite Winter-Spring-Summer (which shows the true proggy tendencies of the band), the Bach/Jazz combined Open Up Your Mind, the rockier Something’s Goin’ On and the heavy jazz number Premonition. All of these songs are included on the re-release and are masterpieces in their own right, stretching from mainstream pop to jazz-rock classics. If you like jazz, then you should own this album. If you’re a drummer you should own this album. If you are a fan of lengthy improvisation you should own this album. If you are intrigued by the complex arrangements you should also own this album. Generally, if you like good music without being fussed by the production values, then you should own this album. A true, underrated gem of the 70s prog-rock scene.
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