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Roger Glover - The Butterfly Ball And The Grasshopper's Feast CD (album) cover

THE BUTTERFLY BALL AND THE GRASSHOPPER'S FEAST

Roger Glover

 

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3.90 | 11 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars ROGER GLOVER (born 1945) is of course best-known as the longstanding bass player with Deep Purple and Rainbow. In the second Deep Purple line-up during the early 1970's he appeared on four Deep Purple albums:- "In Rock" (1970), "Fireball" (1971), "Machine Head" (1972), & "Who De We Think We Are" (1973). He joined Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow in the late 1970's, appearing on four albums:- "Down to Earth" (1979), "Difficult to Cure" (1981), "Straight Between the Eyes" (1982), & "Bent Out of Shape" (1983). He rejoined his Deep Purple bandmates in the mid-1980's, returning for the 1984 album, "Perfect Strangers", and he's remained with the band ever since through the recording of ten albums, up to and including the most recent Deep Purple album, "Infinite" (2017). Roger Glover has also made numerous guest appearances on other musician's albums, as well as having a whole bucketload of production credits to his name. The album we have here, "The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast" (1974) is Glover's first solo album. He followed it up with "Elements" (1978) and "Mask" (1984). He teamed up with his Deep Purple bandmate Ian Gillan in 1988 to record the album "Accidentally on Purpose" and he's also recorded a couple of more recent albums, "Snapshot" (2002) and "If Life Was Easy" (2011) under the name Roger Glover & the Guilty Party. This album, "The Butterfly Ball" is a rock opera with all of the nineteen songs on the album written and produced by Roger Glover. It's a real ensemble effort though - with Glover acting as ringmaster - featuring a whole host of notable guest singers from the world of rock, including Tony Ashton, David Coverdale, Ronnie James Dio, Glenn Hughes & John Lawton amongst others. The music on this album is a real departure from the Hard Rock sound of Deep Purple that we've become so accustomed to hearing over the years from Roger Glover and his bandmates, so we could be in for a real surprise here. Let's have a listen now to "The Butterfly Ball" and see if it floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

"The Butterfly Ball" is really one long suite of music with all of the nineteen songs segueing into each other. As "Dawn" breaks on the album, we hear the sound of birdsong and the melodious sound of a synth, conjuring up images of a peaceful Sunday morning spent lazing in bed. This leads us nicely into the bright and lively "Get Ready", with the quirky sound of the synth giving the song a New Wave feel to it, before the term "New Wave" had even been invented. Remember, this is 1974 we're talking about here. The song is a real rocker at heart though, with Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple given a chance to really stretch his vocal chords. Next up is "Saffron Dormous and Lizzy Bee", a very silly song title with silly lyrics to match, but with a childishly charming appeal. Barry St. John & Helen Chappelle share vocal duties on this cheap and cheerful little number with its happy-go-lucky vibe. It's only a mere 90 seconds long and it sounds a little offbeat and off-the-wall, but being "Off The Wall" never did Michael Jackson's career any harm. The next song "Harlequin Hare" barrels along at a rapid hare's pace with the relatively unknown singer Neil Lancaster doing his best impression of David Essex. Burrowing onwards now with "Old Blind Mole", featuring John Goodison (who?) on vocals. It's a playful lyric sung in the nursery rhyme style of "Old King Cole". It's short and sweet at 70 seconds long, featuring the sound of a tabla drum, which somehow reminds one of Indian curries and poppadoms. Fluttering into view comes "Magician Moth", a mournful synthesiser piece, featuring the man himself, Roger Glover on keyboards, proving there are many more strings to his musical bow than "just" being a bass player in a Hard Rock band. Next up is "No Solution", a brassy and rollicking Jazz-Rock number which you could be forgiven for thinking it's titled "Don't Drink the Water", as that's the main recurring lyric of this romping stomping song. It features Micky Lee Soule on vocals, who, just in case you may not have heard of him before, was a member of Ronnie James Dio's band Elf, as well as being a founder member of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. You'll have no problem recognising the rich velvety tones of the singer on "Behind the Smile" though, because it's no less than David Coverdale, the acclaimed frontman with Deep Purple and Whitesnake. It's a quirky little song with an offbeat time signature, which is quite a departure from the Hard Rock songs we're more accustomed to hearing from Mr. Coverdale. We're in Countrified mode now for the bright and twangy Pop song "Fly Away". The virtually unknown singer on this song Lisa Strike sounds remarkably like Kiki Dee , which has to be a good thing. Next up is "Aranea", an imitation white Reggae number featuring Judy Kuhl on vocals. It's a happy-sounding song with the same kind of cheerful vibe to it as the cod Reggae song "Tropical Loveland" by ABBA. We reach the end of Side One now with Song No. 11: "Sitting in a Dream", featuring the barely-recognisable voice of Ronnie James Dio, no less. This beautiful ballad represents the high point of the album so far, with it's gorgeously-rich orchestration and with hard rocker Ronnie James Dio in romantic balladeer mode. Yes, really! This is an album FULL of surprises.

You may recognise the singer on the opening song on Side Two: "Waiting", because it's the sweet and soulful voice of Jimmy Helms. "Waiting" is a lovely Pop-Rock song with a heart full of soul which sounds as happy and carefree as a bright ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds. The lyrics are uplifting too:- "I'm waiting here for something good to come my way, And I've been waiting patiently all day, The sunshine begins to stretch upon the sky, I'm just waiting, Oh I'm waiting." ..... This bright sunshiney song is enough to brighten up anyone's day. Creeping along now comes "Sir Maximus Mouse", a song which is the complete antithesis of a timid mouse, because this is a powerful, hard rockin' mouse (and song) with attitude, featuring Eddie Hardin (of Hardin & York fame) on vocals. Next comes "Dreams of Bedivere", an instrumental number combining synthesiser and lush orchestration. Roger Glover does his best impersonation of Rick Wakeman on the keyboards before the orchestra takes over, concluding with a classical piece in the style of J.S. Bach. It's back for some more synthesiser virtuosity from Mr. Glover in the opening to "Together Again", before taking a completely different turn with the sound of a honky-tonk pub piano and with the Chas & Dave-style singer, Tony Ashton (of Ashton, Gardner & Lake), sounding like he's had a bit too much to drink. There's a complete change of pace again for the next song "Watch Out for the Bat", a warning that Ozzy Osbourne would have done well to take heed of. It's a good old-fashioned lively rock & roll number (complete with orchestra) with John Gustafson giving it his all on vocals. It's time to feast your ears on the next piece of music because this is a beautiful solo piano piece titled "The Feast", which leads us into "Love is All". This is a real humdinger of a song, featuring Ronnie James Dio on vocals. It's a very commercially appealing and happy-sounding Pop song, so you won't be surprised to hear this uplifting Beatle-esque number was released as a single. It didn't make much of an impression in the U.K. charts, but it reached number one in The Netherlands, so I guess the Dutch know a good song when they hear one. The song also received a lot of airplay in America, often being featured in children's TV shows. It's "Homeward" now as we reach the end of our entertaining musical journey. Ronnie James Dio returns again for this beautifully-orchestrated romantic ballad. It also features a charming, sweet-voiced children's choir. This emotionally-rich and enchanting ballad closes out this marvellous album in fine style with an unrestrainedly joyous song of love.

"The Butterfly Ball" is a very musically diverse rock opera album where you never quite know what to expect next. The album is a veritable smorgasbord of music, featuring primarily Pop-Rock songs, but also including Hard-Rock songs and gentle ballads, with a sprinkling of Reggae and Classical music thrown into the mix too. If there's one thing this album definitely isn't though, it's not in the slightest bit proggy. If you're in the mood for some bright and cheerful Pop/Rock though, then look no further, because this is the album for you. You'll really have "A Butterfly Ball" with this sensational album. It's "Poptastic!"

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |

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