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Greenslade - Bedside Manners Are Extra CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 192 ratings

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3 stars Having lived with it for over 30 years I still do not know if I like Bedside Manners Are Extra. In the normal run of things I should adore it as it is awash with all the expected early 70s keyboards, including the mighty Hammond and Mellotron. Greenslade and Lawson are both very capable musicians so no problem there, but I seem to have a number of issues.

- Many of the tunes have a jazz-rock or funky base, which is a problem for me because I have never been able to appreciate jazz

- While it is full of delicate little melodies, there don't seem to be many fully-developed themes so it all seems rather inconsequential

- Too much of it is noodly keyboard jamming, extended duelling workouts without any clear purpose and I am not usually a fan of such things

- Mood is generally light and airy but with very little variation or contrast

- Songs are pleasant without being outstanding and arrangements are weak (compare to Rare Bird)

- Lawson's voice is poor

- Sound, even on the CD, is astoundingly poor

- It is the only Prog that I know which simply floats past me, I don't feel involved in it in any way

The above are, of course, sweeping generalisations. The other side of the coin is that Bedside Manners Are Extra is full of light and bouncy compositions, bubbly as a mountain stream cascading over rocks, and performed with a welcome deftness of touch. And there are some nice little hooks too: the "have a holiday" section of the title track; the beautiful Tron flutes in Drum Folk; and the more reflective mood opening Chalkhill immediately spring to mind.

Though it is an instrumental, for me, Pilgrim's Progress is by far the most successful track and an old favourite. It has an internal structure and rhythm which lends it a sense of purpose, aided by a wonderful chugging up tempo theme and an excellent build-up to a duelling-keys climax. No dodgy vocals and no jazzy noodling, but a much stronger thematic identity which makes it memorable.

And now the crunch: Bedside Manners Are Extra doesn't 'touch' me in the way I need it to. For some reason that I have never really been able to fathom, I simply 'don't get it' and I guess after 30 years I am not now likely to. It remains for me an enigma - enjoyable but not as good as it ought to be.

[Check out the cover by Roger Dean - it's my all time favourite]

Joolz | 3/5 |


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