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Gracious - This Is ... Gracious !! CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.81 | 118 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars Goodness GRACIOUS me! What have we here!? "This is...Gracious!!", the second album from the British Prog-Rock band Gracious! - complete with exclamation marks!! Their first album, self-titled "Gracious!" (1970), passed by virtually unnoticed at the time of its release, but the band remained undaunted, and on the presumption that you can't keep a good band down, they got together again around a year later and recorded the album we have before us now, which ALSO passed by virtually unnoticed, leading to the break-up of the band shortly afterwards, which is a shame because this is a damned good album. Gracious! might have been down and out for the count in the early 1970's after the commercial flop of two albums in a row, but they returned with a vengeance in 1996 with their third album, "Echo", although sadly, this album also failed to make much of an impression on the record buying public. A remastered CD version of the "This is...Gracious!!" album was issued in the 1990's with the non-album single "Once on a Windy Day" added as a bonus track to the original five songs on the album.

"Super Nova" occupies the whole of Side One of the album. This 20-minute-long epic is a four-part suite, so prepare for blast- off with "Arrival of the Traveller". it's a pounding and throbbing Space Rock instrumental opener which immediately brings to mind Hawkwind and early Pink Floyd. That opening assault on the ears leads us into "Blood Red Sun" a two-part song, opening with a harsh-sounding and strident slow marching rhythm, foretelling a bleak dystopian future for the Earth, which has obvious parallels with King Crimson's "20th Century Schizoid Man". The second part of "Blood Red Sun" is a fast-paced, instrumental freak-out jam session, where the talented group of musicians sound like they're really having a blast. This powerful and energetic blast from the past might not have the awesome power and brightness of a super nova, but it's a luminous red giant of a song. We're really slowing things down now though for "Say Goodbye to Love", an unashamedly romantic tearjerker, so it might be time to get out the hanky, because this emotionally appealing ballad might just bring a tear to the eye. The singer really pours his heart out with these touching lyrics:- "Once there was peace on earth, Joined were thoughts of people, Who knew more of love and kindness from them, Living life always a thought for each other, So I can say good bye to love, Say goodbye to happiness." ..... You can put away the hanky now though and "Prepare to Meet Thy Maker" with the fourth and final part of the "Super Nova" suite. The song opens with a gloomy doom-laden atmosphere, but don't get too downhearted because the singer emerges in fine voice from the gloom with what turns out to be a very uplifting and exhilarating piece of beautiful music. The Prog Gods will be Graciously appeased, because this is a really grandiose and triumphal anthemic masterpiece to lift the spirits heavenwards.

If you're looking for fun and feeling groovy, then have a listen to "C.B.S", the 7-minute long funky jam session which opens Side Two. There's no clue in the lyrics as to what "C.B.S." might be referring to, but it's nothing to do with the well-known record company of the same name. Just groove along and shake your booty down to the ground for this invigorating and intoxicating piece of music. This is a fast-paced, toe-tapping, organ-driven number with attitude. Onwards now with "What's Come to Be", a moody bluesy Mellotron song which sounds remarkably like The Moody Blues! It might not be quite as grandiose and spectacular as "Nights in White Satin" but it's not far off. In the immortal words of Barclay James Harvest, this symphonic epic could be described as a "Poor Man's Moody Blues", but in a good way. There's a nice use of alliteration in the title of our next song "Blue Skies and Alibis", even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's a great piece of music though which barrels along at impressive speed with all of the musicians going hell for leather to keep up the pace. A well-earned tea-break might be in order for both the band and the listener after this frantic and frenetic jam session. Good Gracious, is that the time!? We've nearly reached the end of the album now and it's time to slow down the pace just a little for the closing song, "Hold Me Down". You can't hold this band down for long though because they're still in good solid rock & rolling form with this uplifting barnstormer of a song.

If you're in a Gracious mood for some good old-fashioned, classic British Rock from the early 1970's, then this is the album for you, because "This is...Gracious!!" - with two exclamation marks!!

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |


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