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Greenslade - Bedside Manners Are Extra CD (album) cover

BEDSIDE MANNERS ARE EXTRA

Greenslade

 

Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 192 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
4 stars In my opinion, the British band Greenslade had one major fault which prevented it ever to approach my list of prog favourites. It's the vocals of Dave Lawson. To my ears they're awful bad occasionally, and harmlessly neutral at best. Luckily this band was pretty much instrumentally oriented, so the disliking of vocals is not that serious. The reason I'm now reviewing their second album is the recent re-release by Esoteric Recordings. As usual, the fine package with new interview-based liner notes and extra contents (this time with some visual material also) increases the appeal compared to the original album per se. The cover art of Roger Dean is among his finest ever, and in this cardboard-coated set it comes better alive compare to the normal plastic-coated CD.

Greenslade was a quartet named rather accidentally after the founding keyboardist Dave Greenslade, formerly of COLOSSEUM alongside the bassist Tony Reeves. The line-up had two keyboard players (Lawson came from WEB and its continuation SAMURAI) and there were no guitars on the two first albums. Musically Greenslade operated between Colosseum-like jazz-rock and Yes/ELP-kind of symphonic prog. Bedside Manners Are Extra was recorded within nine days in July 1973 and released in November, the same year as the eponymous debut was released. One could presume, due to the short writing and production time, that the material would be weaker, but that's not the case here. Many listeners regard this album as their best one, and I agree. The opening title track, about two young lovers who have to depart for summer, starts as a calm, piano-centred ballad and proceeds through lively instrumental sections to more joyous final part, and the fairly decent vocals don't go into the horrible "pain in the stomach" style that Lawson sometimes used.

Three of the six tracks are instrumentals. 'Pilgrim's Progress' with its jolly atmosphere and suitably catchy organ melodies is perhaps the best. 'Drum Folk' that began the vinyl's B side is composed by Greenslade and drummer Andy McCullogh (who played on the King Crimson album Lizard, 1970). On the faster parts the music reminds me of ELP. The drum solo is well in line with the organic feel of the entire album that was mostly played live in the studio with no overdubs. The third instrumental, Reeves-Lawson penned 'Chalkhill', ends the album. The vintage keyboard sounds are the main clue rather than the composition; if you'd imagine a Greenslade instrumental into a Yes album for instance, they'd be not much more than decent fillers.

The two remaning vocal tracks are not as good as the opener, and the vocals get rather bad especially on 'Sunkissed You're Not'. The CD on the Esoteric re-release contains three songs (of this album) performed for BBC Radio One in October 1973 (shortly prior to the release of Bedside Manners). These well-played live versions do not alternate very notably from the studio originals.

The bonus DVD contains a promotional live-in-a-studio film of three debut songs, 'Drowning Man', 'Temple Song' and 'Melange'. The picture quality is slightly worn-out, but at least the camera work is pretty good, having none of the psychedelic visual gimmickry that ruined for example ELP videos of the time. And then there's "The Old Grey Whistle Test" TV performance of 'Pilgrim's Progress' and 'Bedside Manners Are Extra'. Both of these films capture the band and its essence very nicely. The original album I'd rate with three stars, but the re-release stretches out to four, after the obligatory rounding up of 3 stars.

Matti | 4/5 |

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