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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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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Greenslade is one of the few progressive rock bands from the seventies where the hackneyed phrase “awash with Mellotron” actually does accurately describe their albums. Even better, the band’s songs are for the most part tastefully arranged and executed with professional aplomb, while avoiding the sort of pretentious self-indulgence that brought about the near-demise of prog rock in that era. Not masterpieces to be sure, but these four records are all pretty decent.

This second album suffers a bit from the sophomore jinx I think, not necessarily because the music is any less interesting or trite than the band’s debut, but more because once you’ve heard their self-titled debut you maybe expect something newer and fresher for a follow-up, but really it’s more of the same. Certainly these guys aren’t the first (and won’t be the last) band to crank out several records of only slightly-varying music, but in an age where progressive musicians were reaching to often absurd heights to stretch themselves musically, Greenslade get no better than an average grade for innovation and creative development.

On this album the couple of songs that do manage to stand out a bit are “Time to Dream”, “Pilgrim’s Progress” and “Sun Kissed You're Not”. “Pilgrim’s Progress” gets a nod for the extended Mellotron passages and gently-flowing arrangement, and frankly for avoiding too much singing from Dave Lawson. Prog music fans are pretty tolerant of unusual singing voices (Rush, Yes, Supertramp and Spring are all good examples), but in Greenslade’s case less really is better.

“Sun Kissed You’re Not” is about as close as the band comes on any of their albums to a true symphonic rock epic. Not long enough for that to be sure (only six and a half minutes), but the trappings are all there with extended keyboard passages, a couple of minor tempo shifts and an appropriately abstract but seemingly deep theme. Add to that a clear jazz influence in the early inflections of the song and you have quite an unexpected treat. Too bad the band doesn’t have a lot more like this in their repertoire. I also think this could have become something Yes-like had the group found a way to morph the closing (and similar) “Chalkhill” into this one to create a real magnum opus. They sound like one song to me anyway.

And “Time to Dream” is an interesting case as it has some of the characteristics of ‘Sun Kissed’ (jazzy, ‘pretty’ keyboards) but also suffers from Lawson’s singing. In this case though it almost seems like the band breaks away from the fusion-like opening to a borderline AOR sound on purpose, just to bring the thing back around to something tasteful by the three minute mark. A very odd tune but one I find myself strangely drawn to. Better not to fight your impulses I always say…

So a decent album, certainly not a classic masterpiece (nor was anything else the group put out), but definitely well worth seeking out if you are a symphonic rock fan interested in having a fairly comprehensive collection of the genre. Three stars, maybe 3.5, and recommended if you have a few extra dollars of discretionary income. The original and import versions are too expensive in my opinion, but the Warner CD reissue is very modestly priced.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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