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Gravy Train - Gravy Train CD (album) cover


Gravy Train


Heavy Prog

3.42 | 66 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With a blues-rock basis and a hard rocking sound that related them to other great British proto-prog bands such as Beggar's Opera and Warhorse, Gravy Train allowed themselves to be prog via the introduction of complex structures and arrangements for their compositional ideas: a big influence is Jethro Tull as it was during the latest 60s, a mandatory mention indeed, but there is also the influence of Traffic, both of them recycled with a slightly harder edge despite the featured role that J. D. Hughes' sensational flute inputs. That's what you can expect from their 1970's eponymous debut album. While the blues thing still bears an obvious presence (check out 'Coast Road' and the sung parts of 'The New One'), the band shows that they can create very good progressive music in pieces such as 'The New One', 'Dedication to Sid', 'Enterprise' (which is, by the way, my personal fav) and the robust 16 minute long closer. 'Dedication to Sid' provides a certain aura of psychedelic fun amidst the exhibition of rocking power and prog-fashioned complexity. 'Enterprise' is the gem of the album, alternating carefully composed passages and aggressive jamming in a solid manner: Hughes manages perfectly well to keep his flute interventions from getting drowned by the storming guitar in the middle section. The long closing track can be described as a recapitulation of all three musical sources that Gravy Train has been handling throughout the preceding repertoire: blues-rock, psychedelic hard rock and prog. The odd time signatures and crafty tempo shifts that take place here and there are firmly sustained by drummer Barry Davenport, who uses his jazz-friendly sensibilities for good effect. Being as it is the most recurrent wind instrument in the group's sound, Hughes does not limit himself to it, but he also plays some damn good saxophones (alto and tenor): every time it appears, the sax turns out to be an adequate complement to Norman Barrett's guitar riffs and leads, especially on the bluesier side of GT's music. Track 5, titled 'Think of Life', is the most lively and least demanding piece in the repertoire, something more focused on typical early 70s hard rock with a psychedelic touch. While not a master opus, Gravy Train's eponymous album proves a more than worthy item for any good prog collection. This work shouldn't be as overlooked as it usually is, but again, we can rely on that any genuinely devoted prog collector will be able to appreciate "Gravy Train" as it deserves.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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