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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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ibnacio
5 stars A Sundance in the Temple

☞note: this review stands for Greenslade's first two albums.

You, who were around 18 in 1973, have to admit it. Do not deny it. Whenever you saw that green Dean cover glittering from the shopwindow as it if were inside a cave of wonders with vaults as high as a cathedral's and pillars, lakes, waterfalls, the whole lot... with that strange wizard on a stranger seat doing... what? Reading his book of enchantments? Casting a spell?... your mouth did fall wide open, didn't it? Mine did, I confess.

In advance, I had no previous idea of these guys' origin but of Andrew McCulloch having been 'my' marvellous King Crimson's Lizard's drummer. Later, I would learn that both Dave Greenslade, who seemed to be the leader and ideologist of the band, and Tony Reeves -that astonishing bass player (listen to his work in Melange, for instance)- came from Colosseum. Nothing I knew of Dave Lawson, and would not know until a lot of years after of his having come from Episode Six, (The) Web and Samurai. But what did it matter? Nothing at all. It was a time for discovering new things. And 1973 was perfect for discovering Greenslade or The Kinks, a 10-years-career band, although there were also many awful things to meet as that new distasteful glam rock with its unbearable looks and tacky musical style. Or was it viceversa?

And indeed all expectations would be fulfilled after pre-listening some of the tracks in the record shop boot. That mellotron solo on Feathered Friends, that intriguing and sinister beginning of Drowning Man and its posterior explosion, those oriental notes in Temple Song... it had all the musical features as well as the artistic ones: not only roger Dean's cover, but his design and handwriting of the songs lyrics... even the b&w (green) pictures of the members showed them so nice and "in"!

After several complete listenings, the un- or self-titled first Greenslade record reached to top ten in my -on the other hand, minute but selected- collection of some 10 LPs but sharing place with the aforementioned Lizard, and with Trilogy, Close to the Edge, Nursery Crime, Living in the Past or Made in Japan, among others less well-known productions of the year or previous.

Some people refuse listening or even liking a band without a guitar player. I don't think Greenslade wanted one at all, as happened with others which, as in the cases of The Nice, Soft Machine, E, L&P, Renaissance, Supertramp, VdGG etc, did not want one either although their bass guitar players used to include some guitar work every now and then. Not the case of Greenslade until their third production, in which we felt something had broken inside the cohesion of that magnificent band which only lasted one (4th) work more in two years' existence. But that was just natural with a monster with two heads and different wills. Two heads on different keyboards with their own personal seal, Greenslade more organ-oriented while Dawson more electric piano-oriented. Synths and mellotron are not missing either to provide both solo or strings-like arrangements.

In their first two records they gave ample samples of their dynamic and rich interplay, supported by a stupendous rhythm section impersonated in the brilliant Reeves and McCulloch, who had their share in those fantastic instrumental as Melange, the lyrical Sundance and, in their second effort, Bedside Manners Are Extra- published only some ten months later and in whose cover the wizard would leave the cave and appear now as an eastern Temple Master-, the brilliant Pilgrim Progress (a masterpiece), Drum Folk or Chalkhill.

In fact, there are so little differences between both first albums and so many similitudes in structure of their A and B sides that I have always thought they could be really made into one double album. And that was what Demon Music Group probably thought by publishing in 2011 both albums in one double CD set under the label Edsel -together with a second set featuring efforts three and four, that is, Spyglass Guest (1974) & Time and Tide (1975), which completes Greenslade's seventies' studio discography- and which is the best way to get into that somewhat despised or forgotten but which made, at least, two essential when not two masterpiece albums.

Posted from Sanlucar, Spain, 28th July 2014.

ibnacio | 5/5 |

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