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Gracious - This Is ... Gracious !! CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.81 | 117 ratings

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4 stars Although only existing for a brief while during the progressive rock boom of the early 1970s, British outfit Gracious managed to produce two lengthy albums worth of complex symphonic art-rock, with 1971's 'This Is...Gracious!!' following on from the group's debut '!' of a year earlier. Whilst '!' was issued on the now legendary Vertigo imprint(them of the famous 'swirl' logo), the relative commercial failure of the album saw this sequel-of-sorts released by Phillips. Both labels, however, proved pretty indifferent to Gracious' singular sound, with the lack of promotion and support echoed in both albums poor sales figures. Thirty-odd years down the line, however, and the group's reputation has been happily restored, this second, superior album in now recognised for what it really is, namely an excellent slice of adventurous progressive rock from a group who really did deserve better. Whilst '!' featured some wonderful moments, as an album it was overlong and unfocused, the music too often interrupted by strange, anarchic, avant-garde interludes, spoken word sections and touches of weird humour. Thankfully, 'This Is...Gracious!!' is much more about the actual music. This is reflected in both the epic, twenty-four minute long opener 'Super Nova', which segues effortlessly from moments of serene instrumental calm to blistering segments of pacey, intricate guitar-and-mellotron-drenched rock, and the album's stand-out piece 'C.B.S'(Don't ask; I don't know what it stands for). 'C.B.S' is a marvellous track, a piece underpinned by an insanely catchy rhythm and imbued with charging organ runs and blistering guitar work which make a mockery out of the seven minute running time; if only it were longer. The rest of the album unfortunately fails to scale the peaks reached on the first half, yet there is still plenty that should please fans of classic-era progressive rock, especially in the imaginative playing of guitarist Alan Cowderoy and the almost soulful vocals of Paul Davis. Imagine King Crimson with a sense of humour, and you kind of get the sonic picture. Whilst both Gracious albums are highly recommended, this second - and final - release from this sadly-ignored five-piece is well worth investigating.
stefro | 4/5 |


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