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Galahad - The Return of the Piper CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.91 | 4 ratings

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4 stars Medieval in subject matter if not in sound (and, after all, nobody really knows what music sounded like in the 1200s, do they?), "The Return of the Piper" casts a firm identity for this German Celtic Rock group. Given their thematic focus, they merit their moniker much more than the British neo prog group that more of you know, who curiously were formed in the same 1985.

More rock oriented than their debut, emphasis remains on male/female vocal harmonies, rambunctious guitars and flutes, and traditional or traditionally inspired melodies. Apart from 2 obvious retreads, "Gaudete" (nothing really added to the legions of versions) and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" (a scintillating doodle fest that makes me so glad I didn't hit skip), the remainder is likely to please purists and heretics alike. The center piece in every aspect is the astonishing title track that is indeed based on the 13th century German tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a "rat catcher" who is not properly compensated for turning the town's rats into proverbial lemmings so leads away the children of the village in lieu of payment. Shrouded in the mists of the middle ages, the story invites myriad interpretations, but this is a magnificent musical arrangement with an extended mournful lead guitar intro, imaginative vocal arrangements in the verse, and a catchy chorus with a raunchy final bar. The band gets to stretch out particularly on the flutes and mandolins during the break.

The opening number is a propos "The Lady of Corvic", who seduced Sir Lancelot by pretending to be Guinevere, and then was all like "Why did you leave me in the night?". The obligatory child from this indiscretion is to be named "Galahad" apparently. While a bit repetitive, its authenticity more than compensates. The instrumental "Experience" is another exhibit of the band's fluid quasi improvised interactions, with judicious keyboard understudies for saxophone, and spirited lead guitar. For ballads, "The Ring" is a mystical number that recalls some of the better CLANNAD ballads from that period. GALAHAD only offer up one out and out rocker, "Friday Night at Home", and it does settle back for the vocal parts, but the aggressive undercurrent remains throughout. It's perhaps the most TULL like number, female vocals notwithstanding.

"Return of the Piper" finds GALAHAD marching to their own beat, and is a marked improvement on their prior release. It's not likely to attract a sizable prog audience but is a must for those who would follow Celtic Rock wherever it may lead. 3.5 stars rounded up.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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