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Grace - The Poet, The Piper And The Fool CD (album) cover




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3 stars This album starts with a Marillion-like track (He knows you know ?)...later you'll find some celtic-medieval elements (the flute) and even saxophone. It's a pleasant listening, so if you like neo-progressive as Marillion, IQ, and if you're not looking for something really original, this album is for you. Good, but absolutely non-essential.
Report this review (#2953)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This UK band is rooted in the late Seventies, they did a lot of gigs and had a sensational live act featuring slide-projections and Peter Gabriel like stage visuals. They earned a growing cult-following and the record company MCA contracted the band, this resulted in a few singles and two albums, Grace and Live. Everybody was waiting for the final breakthrough but unfortunately Grace disbanded in 1981, just before Marillion starts to speerhead the neo-prog movement. In the late Eighties a smokey pub is the craddle for a reunion and Grace starts to perform on stage and to write new songs. On this CD (released in 1992) you can listen to nine tracks from that era, to start with the fluent and swinging The Piper delivering impressive church organ sounds. The cheerful flute sounds give a folky undertone to this song, also on the rest of the CD the flute sound can be traced frequently. The track The Fields sounds quite simple because of the monotone drumming but the Steve Rothery-like guitar work and the tasteful contributions on flute, saxophone and keyboards makes it to a pleasant listening session. The Poet is in the vein of The Fields and also delivers Tony Banks-like organ work and delicate guitar soli. On Raindance the atmosphere is close to Peter Gabriel his emotional song Biko because of the moving vocals, the tight and hypnotizing rhythm and the bagpipe sound. Then the swinging Success and the dreamy Lullaby (featuring electric piano play). The highlight is Holy man that contains two parts: firs folky, then again Tony Banks-like organ work and finally a varied sound blending all styles on this CD. Despite the echoes of Genesis and Marillion, the sound of Grace is varied and original, this unknown band deserves more attention.
Report this review (#121426)
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars A strange mix of neo-prog, Genesis like prog, Marillion, celtic folk and the worst excesses from the 1980s pop music scene.

The opening song is the highlight of the album. A good symphonic prog epic with a lot of influences from neo-prog and celtic folk. Good stuff. After a couple of songs, the album looses it's focus and becomes more like a pop album with some celtic connections. The fourth track, called "Success" is a pure pop track in the vein of Duran Duran. Only a lot worse. I would not be surprised if this track was released as a single to attract the teeny-bopper girls or the disco crowd. This horror is followed by a love ballad of some sort. Again, pure horror. Then somebody suddenly remembers that this maybe a neo-prog rock album after all and tries to get the album back on track. For the last eight minutes of the track, somebody is trying to unlock the door to prog rock land again. The result is some neo-prog with uptempo pop and a celtic sound. The Marillion influences kicks in like a lion with a sore head and we get a mess as a result. I have really spent time with this album and I wished I liked it. Besides of the opening track; I don't. Two stars.

Report this review (#163449)
Posted Saturday, March 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Reformed in the early 1990s, GRACE returned with vigour to produce three albums in a relatively short period. This first seems to introduce the new style of the band and the various archetypal characters that would occupy them for a couple of years. Only sprinklings of their Celtic inspirations can be detected here and there, and this is very much in the vein of neo prog bands that came before, with some rhythms and vocals reminiscent of the then recently departed 80s.

The first track, "The Piper", is fairly interesting and well rounded, with all band members working to establish a unique identity for the group, and half succeeding, thanks to a folky undercurrent that plays up the "piper" theme, and some pleasant organ and tasteful lead guitar. The lyrics are also fairly poetic. "The Field" is not quite as strong but still noteworthy for its fine melody and, again, the colourful organ and pseudo Celtic touches. The use of saxophone, however, is ill-suited to the material and not well integrated.

The rest of the album is noticeably weaker. "Raindance" does include a catchy chorus that conjures up the New Romantic movement of the 1980s more than it does rain, but "Success" is pure excess. The compositions are ultimately a bit weak, and it sounds like Grace is just trying to spit out the ostensibly captivating poetry to whatever beat or melody happens to be playing at the time. "Lullaby" provides somewhat a change of pace, but its only notable aspect is the use of fake strings that provide an ethereally ambient break. Even the longer tracks simply lack verve and emotion, which is an element normally present even in weak neo prog.

In determining a final rating, I don't know whether to analyze the poet, pay the piper, or play the fool. But I have to conclude that this effort is of limited interest even to those who profess to be fans of the various sub genres found within, because the group appears to lack commitment to any specific style especially their own. 2.5 stars rounded down.

Report this review (#198478)
Posted Sunday, January 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Wait a minute, The Fool is on the next album!

The Poet, The Piper And The Fool was Grace' come-back album and their first new studio album since the release of their debut in 1979. There was thus a 13 year gap between the present album and the previous album. As I have not yet heard the 70's debut I cannot comment on how the three 90's albums compare with that old one, but what Grace achieved in the 90's is certainly worthy on its own merits. We find here an appealing mix of classic Symphonic Prog, Neo-Prog and Prog Folk. Influences seem to include early Genesis, Barclay James Harvest and Jethro Tull, perhaps with a sprinkling of Marillion and Camel. The present album is much less hook-laden and "poppy" (which, by the way, is the name of one of the band's albums!) than the subsequent two albums and the appealing Folk elements are much more prominent here.

There are only seven tracks on The Poet, The Piper And The Fool and most of the songs are over six minutes in length allowing for more instrumental sections than on subsequent albums. The album is bookended by its two longest and best tracks, the absolute highlight probably being the opener. In accordance with the album title, there is a song called The Piper (the opener) and another called The Poet. The Fool did, however, have to wait for the next album to make his appearance - it being the opening track on the follow-up album, Pulling Strings And Shiny Things!

The Field is a moving song where vocalist Mac Austin showcases his mellower side as opposed to his more theatrical, Peter Gabriel-like style utilized on some of the other tracks. The Poet is another highlight with a great middle section with Tony Banks-like keyboards (think Selling England By The Pound), great guitar sounds and some discrete use of saxophone. Raindance would probably have sounded better with genuine Bagpipes instead of these keyboard-generated ones, but it still works very well to give the track a feel of the highlands.

The only track that might be considered commercial in nature here is Success which sounds a bit like Jethro Tull-trying-to-make-a-Pop-song-in-the-80's. Maybe it would have fitted on the A album? Anyway it is not a bad song at all! The Ian Anderson-like flutes appear here and there throughout the album. Lullaby is a sublime piano based ballad with strings and, again, a moving vocal by Mr. Austin. This song reminds me of Barclay James Harvest. The album ends on a high note with the two part composition Holy Man.

To sum up: This is a great and varied album, and though the sound is not quite as strong and direct as on the other two 90's albums of the band, the present one is more progressive - or, at least, more Symphonic and Prog Folk than it is Crossover. The Poet, The Piper And The Fool is thus a well recommended addition to your collection together with Pulling Strings And Shiny Things.

Report this review (#291745)
Posted Saturday, July 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When the first Grace period was over around 1981, Mac Austin and Harry Davies along with Harry's brother John formed the Synth Pop band White Door.The short-lived trio produced one album and several singles before disbanding in 1984.But in 1988 an accidental meeting between Mac Austin and Dave Rushton gave rise to discussions about reforming Grace.Eventually this took place in Christmas 88' with a succesful reunion concert with original members Harry Davies and Dave Edge in the line-up along with new drummer Tony Hall and John Davies from White Door on keys.In 1992 Grace returned with a new album,a self-produced release entitled ''The Poet, the Piper and the Fool''.

Good thing is the band did not stuck on the heavy GENESIS-influenced style of their past and Grace had now a more refined and less raw sound akin to ABEL GANZ and VISIBLE WIND, with strong vocal performances by Austin and accesible tunes.The album contains more demanding compositions along with some light commercial tracks, where keyboard breaks, smooth guitar playing and a clear production play the basic role.However it suffers from a killer track or a trully catchy and memorable tune to be regarded as a trully essential release.But the arrangements are decent with plenty of keyboard breaks, the lyrical moments are top notch, there are some great guitar parts, while Grace put on their own trademark on this Neo Progressive approach, adding a fair amount of organs and flutes along with whistles and bagpipes to make their sound a bit more nostalgic and colorful.Another positive credit comes from the extended compositions, where instrumental parts are well-played and far from difficult, though the pair of weaker compositions have more in common with White Door than with the 80's New Wave of British Prog.

Decent return by this legend of the Neo Prog movement.Grace offer a lot of enjoyable, pleasant and well-executed material on this album, always linked with the familiar sound of the 80's British Prog school.Warmly recommended.

Report this review (#730118)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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