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Gracious - Gracious ! CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 182 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gracious is a peculiar band whose progressive style (vital for the maturation of the prog trend in Britain's underground scene) combines the seriousness of eclectic roads (classical, jazz. psychedelia) and the joyful spirit that was also used by The Nice, Giles Giles & Fripp, and Pink Floyd in places. The specific style of Gracious! is somehow close to Procol Harum and Beggar's Opera, albeit less magical than the former and more consistent than the latter. Perhaps the best way to describe Gracious is "what Beggar's Opera would have evolved into had they remained completely loyal to the stylish endeavors of their first two albums" - Gracious had arrived there earlier and with a bigger musical bigger. The "Gracious!" album kicks off with 'Introduction', a powerful mid-tempo track that sets a heavy mood: oddly enough, the harpsichord parts find a natural place among the organ harmonies and electric guitar phrases. 'Heaven' is the first song over the 5 minute mark. It starts with a lovely prelude that flows through mellotron layers and piano washes. Then, the sung section shifts into something very different, an acoustic guitar-based passage that combines the folkish candor of CSNY with the reflective vibe of The Moody Blues, plus an ounce of "Revolver"-era Beatles. 'Hell' is more psyche-rock oriented, with a prominent role assumed by the organ in order to set up a focus for the whole instrumentation. The overall ambience sounds like a mixture of primitive VdGG and Arzachel, plus humoristic vaudeville moments that bring in a Zappa kind of thing. The album's second half starts with a rendition of Bach's 'Fugue in 'D' Minor', performed by a duet of harpsichord and acoustic guitar. 'The Dream' takes advantage of its 17- minute span, creating a combination of psychedelic rock, chamber sections, pastoral passages and jazz-rock jamming in a vivacious sequence. The classical quotes are very popular (one of them is Beethoven's "Clair de Lune"), and so is the brief revival of The Beatles' anthem 'Hey Jude', reconstructed on an evil Zappaesque mode. The excursion from blues-rock to jazz-rock led by the dueling electric piano and guitar is awesome, not tiring at all. Before you know it, some Beatlesque interludes are inserted for good effect, with vocal harmonies that sound as dreamy as the underlying mellotron. This is pretty much the recurrent mood, which delivers some slight yet effective variations along the way. When the menacing climax arrives to finish the song, you can tell that the track's structure has been solid enough as to endure its duration without becoming uneven or boring. A very good album "Gracious!" is, and so will be the band's sophomore effort. Hopefully, in the current digital era, more and more prog fans and collectors will learn to appreciate Gracious as the real pioneers they were alongside King Crimson, Yes, Procol Harum, Colosseum, The Nice, etc.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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