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Druid - Fluid Druid CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.07 | 90 ratings

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3 stars The Swan Song of a sadly underappreciated, quality group

The second Druid album is written off by some as the weaker one but I'm not sure that is correct. It does feature material that is less connected: the first album has a consistent almost conceptual feel about the tracks whereas this one tries a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But the playing is still top notch, the changes of pace invigorating, and the band's commitment to their sound apparent to me. Had they not folded after this album and had the luxury of taking some time off and having a big budget third album I think Druid could have made a fantastic one. But as it is we are left with two quality documents of a band with much talent and an ability to create something fresh in the same general zone of other 70s symphonic acts.

"Razor Truth" sees the supposed "Yes clones" charging out of the gate with a Styx sound, the vocal so close to DeYoung's voice that you might do a double-take. But it's a good rocking track with a strange quiet interlude in the middle. Pretty good lyrics as well. "Painters Clouds" intros with the big bass sound again and crisp acoustic guitar before some nice electric leads. The mellotron again holds down the background here but the imagery seems just a tad closer to Earth this time around. Dane proves he is a vocal chameleon here by sounding neither Anderson or DeYoung-like, but rather sounding like Dane Stevens. Very high range squealing solo to close it out. "FM 145" shows the first break from the Druid sound to date with a decidedly synth-pop sound to the Styx-like rock track. "Crusade" really tests your cheese limitations with Dane leading a choir of children into a chorus of "la la las" over and again. I really don't mind it but it will be a bigger eye roll for some of you than Cat Stevens ever provided. It turns quite theatrical with a big Queen style section that is robust and jamming. "Nothing but Morning" is another majestic over-the-top thing with organ, arms in the air vocals, and harmonized guitars over huge bass and drums. In some ways the jammy sections here are as Yes-like as anything on the debut, perhaps more so because they are a bit more aggressive. "Barnaby" is another change-up for the chameleon Druid band who I'm beginning to think could have been a very interesting band if they continued. Here they are Steely Dan, laying down Babylon Sisters a few years before the does that mean Dan is a Druid clone? Just kidding. But seriously that's what this track reminds me of, sans the girls singing the chorus. "Kestrel" has a lovely solo piano opening that crescendos with a dramatic vocal before the band joins in. It then gets really fast and lively before reverting back to a piano/quiet vocal ending. "Left to Find" is really the anchor of this second album. It is a lovely, brooding, hopelessly romantic piece of symphonic prog as elegant as anything you will find in the period. A cymbal shimmer, bass line, and flute usher in a wavey and peaceful piano melody. Soon Dane begins with clean leads over the piano and it is very beautiful indeed, slow but building emotionally like Sebastian Hardie's best work. The drums and bass slowly up the ante until Dane is forced to turn up his volume as well. Mid way through the band pauses for a brief vocal section that ends with haunting lines, as if Druid as much as knew this moment was their swan song:

Shattered dreams

Broken and left on the table

Breakfast done

Sweep them all away...

After the vocal the flute returns for a beautiful ending with piano as well. This is really the finale, as the last track "Fisherman's Friend" is simply a silly coda of 40 seconds that showed Druid were going out with a sense of humor. They headed out in the Spring of '76 to tour the album but the liner notes say that in the same issues of the rock mags that carried ads for their album and tour, there began to appear buzz for a new group called The Sex Pistols. Their days were numbered.

Most feel that the first album is easily the better one and I thought that initially as well. But after a while I began to appreciate the fact that they were trying some different things on this second one. It doesn't always work but there are enough moments that do to make "Fluid Druid" worth checking out for fans of late 70s proggy pop/rock. One of the few reviewers whose view I share is ProgressiveWorld's Tom Karr who writes "the second disc in this set, Fluid Druid, has a more mature and individual sound. It is slow moving and quite gentle, and has that mellow energy of the first few PFM releases. I think the second disc is superior to the first in some ways. It allows the band to move further afield from the Yes sound of the first album, and the group displays a more solid, yet more sensitive sound than on the first disc, though the material is not as uniformly strong as that of the first CD. In my opinion, all the songs from the first disc were good and more than half the material of the second disc was outstanding and memorable."

I enjoy this band for their reckless sense of playfulness and their great ear for the joy in music. The have a rather na´ve approach to things but with that an almost childlike wonder that is now but a moment trapped in their mid 70s story. I think neo-prog fans would do well to check out the ear pleasing Druid sound. Another 3-plus for me but just shy of 4 I think.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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