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Greenslade - Bedside Manners Are Extra CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 192 ratings

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4 stars Greenslade has to be the least known super-group in prog. At the time Bedside Manners Are Extra came out, the group comprised keyboardists Dave Greenslade (of Colosseum fame) and Dave Lawson (formerly of Samurai) and a rhythm section of ex-Colosseum bassist Tony Reeves and former King Crimson drummer Andy McCulloch. I can't speak for all of Greenslade's music (and to be fair I've often heard it said that this is the group's best album) but these guys have combined to make one of the most accessible and enjoyable prog albums I've ever heard.

For despite the haunting Roger Dean cover, Greenslade's lyrical themes are as down to earth as they come, and the group's music, while undoubtedly progressive, still uses the "song" as its base. Lawson's vocals may be far from technically perfect but they are soulful and suit the compositions. There's plenty of playful keyboard interaction, with the piano, electric piano, mellotron and all manner of synths making their presence felt. While Greenslade lyrics are occasionally despondent, I feel that there's a rather uplifting quality to the music on this album. Some might see it as a lightweight affair, but I think they'd just be missing the point.

Take the vaguely Carribean feel of the "Have a holiday" refrain towards the end of the title track for example. When prog groups do such things it's usually long past the sell-out date (sorry, should I have said sell-by date?), but in Greenslade's hands there's something natural and joyous about it all. In fact, this album is full of listenable progressive music that might well attract non-prog fans.

The exuberant instrumental Pilgrim's Progress strikes the perfect balance between pomp and melodic beauty. Time To Dream is another one that is sometimes silly and yet contains some magnificent solo-ing and interplay between the players. Drum Folk sees McCulloch come to the fore with an enjoyable drum solo, before a mournful segment in which Greenslade proves once again that he was one of the great keyboardists of the classic era of rock music. Sunkissed You're Not is an electric piano-heavy cut that smacks of the Canterbury sound with some effortless changes of pace that reinforces the idea that Greenslade is one of the most natural sounding prog groups ever. Chalkhill is the most "fusiony" of the album's six pieces, yet has an ominous opening and an exultant closing that set it apart from other bands' fusion cuts.

Despite the light-hearted feel, Greenslade is still capable of careening freewheeling rock moments and it's interesting that you never feel the absence of guitars on this album. Bedside Manners Are Extra is just feel-good classic-era prog. ... 74% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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