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Gryphon - Gryphon CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.37 | 258 ratings

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3 stars Gryphon are such a unique band that, if you have any interest in medieval and renaissance music, and, especially, in how it can be incorporated into progressive rock, then they are essential listening.

The Gryphon journey is very much a journey from pure medieval folk on this their debut album to a much more mainstream pop/rock sound on their final album "Treason", before their forty year hiatus saw them rise, phoenix like from the flames, to release ReInvention in 2018. I would not recommend a prog rock fan unfamiliar with Gryphon to start with this album. It is almost pure folk and may put a rock fan off the band completely.

Prog rock fans new to Gryphon should start with their classic third album Red Queen to Gryphon Three, and then work forwards or backwards, depending on their taste for more of the folk sound or more of the pop/rock sound.

The musicianship on the debut album is excellent with plenty of bassoon and crumhorn to excite the medieval folk enthusiast. Brian Gulland is excellent on bassoon and crumhorn, and Richard Harvey is one of the best flute players you are likely to hear. Backed up by David Oberle on vocals and percussion and the excellent Graeme Taylor on guitar and keys, this is a highly accomplished group of musicians.

The album has a number of interesting medieval folk numbers, especially "Kemp's Jig", "The Unquiet Grave", and a rendition of of a piece written by Henry VIII, entitled "Pastime with Good Company".

These tracks are good enough, but there is only one really outstanding track on this album, and that is "Juniper Suite", a track soaked in heavy crumhorns, and lightened by beautiful guitar work from Taylor and Harvey. A piece that totally transports you back to the court of King Henry VIII. Majestic in its pomp and beauty.

Unfortunately some pieces feel a bit lightweight, such as the fun and frivolous "Three Jolly Butchers" and "Sir Gavin Grimbold", and the album finishes with the playful, if possibly somewhat misogynistic, "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife".

Gryphon have a fun side to them which is evident throughout their albums and which can be hit and miss, but this album should have finished on a high with "Juniper Suite" and not with the somewhat puerile closer.

Better things were to come from Gryphon, but this album is certainly recommended to those who have already listened to and enjoyed the albums that follow this one. Three stars.

Chaser | 3/5 |


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