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Cressida Asylum album cover
3.60 | 196 ratings | 22 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Asylum (3:33)
2. Munich (9:33)
3. Goodbye Post Office Tower, Goodbye (2:50)
4. Survivor (1:34)
5. Reprieved (2:28)
6. Lisa (5:08)
7. Summer Weekend of a Lifetime (3:25)
8. Let Them Come When They Will (11:44)

Total Time 40:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Angus Cullen / vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion
- John Culley / electric & acoustic guitars
- Peter Jennings / organ, piano
- Kevin McCarthy / bass
- Iain Clark / drums, percussion

- Harold McNair / flute
- Paul Layton / acoustic guitar
- Graeme Hall / orchestra & musical direction

Releases information

Artwork: Keef

LP Vertigo ‎- 6360 025 (1971, UK)
LP Repertoire Records ‎- REP 2224 (2014, Europe) Remastered

CD Repertoire Records ‎- RR 4105-WP (1990, Germany)

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CRESSIDA Asylum ratings distribution

(196 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CRESSIDA Asylum reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars After a very promising debut album, Cressida proceeded with a stunning artwork on their sleeve, but somehow I feel that it does not work fully either as the backside of the gatefold is the same but reversed shot of the front. Heyworth had left (but not completely) but was replaced by Culley and flute player McNair also joined (but his interventions will be few). With this jacked-up sound, it is no surprise that Cressida sounds even more enthusiastic, more instrumental, and their melancholy reaching another state of fulfillingness.

The majority of the tracks are still in the short and concise manner of the first album, but there are two monster tracks making the difference. After a short title track (reminding you of the debut album), as soon as you enter the 9-min+ Munich (with strings and the organ wailing gently), the track never really takes off until the last two minutes, but are those two minutes ever wild. Shorter but charming songs, Post Office, Survivor, Reprieved refer again to the debut album. With Lisa, the strings come back, but not always well-inspired as they sometimes draw on the syrupy flavour. Summer WE is one of the better tracks on the album, but every proghead reading this review is waiting for the almost 12-min closer Let Them Come. Starting out with Strings, the track slowly develops into a Savoy Brown-like groove, until the rythms takes over and exchanging wild call and response with the strings and brass section before stopping full dead to zero and back up again with Cullen pulling his finest vocal prowess, drawing spine chills and goose bumps.

Although none of Cressida's albums are masterpieces per se, both make a must-hear obligation to progheads who are into early-70's UK prog. While this album has major highlights, I find it slightly less even than their debut, but just as worthy.

Review by Steve Hegede
5 stars CRESSIDA's "Asylum" is a wonderful example of early British symphonic progressive rock. This 1971 release mixes catchy Paul McCartney-esque vocals with adventurously colorful instrumental passages. The new listener will probably notice singer Angus Cullen, whose voice comes close to McCartney's (not totally, but close). His vocal melodies are some of the finest I've heard in 70s English prog, and the subtle British storytelling style in the lyrics is amusing to listen to. The instrumental sections are equally good, and tend to be typical of early 70s prog rock. A fair amount of the music is driven by Hammond organ (dirty, and mellow), piano, bass, guitar, and drums; a small orchestral band also adds violins, and other orchestral instruments (cellos, trumpets, timpanis, etc) to the arrangements. Most of the first side of the LP seems to deal with the title of the album, "Asylum", and ends with a short filler track. That filler track features one of weirdest topics for a rock songs that I've heard. The second side of the LP features a couple more short filler tracks, and a high-quality epic. One of the short tracks, on Side B, turns a bit cheesy when the singer starts to yell "Survivor!!!!", in a 70s broadway sort of way, but after those few scary seconds the band returns to their classic sound. Overall, "Asylum" is a classic.
Review by lor68
3 stars I don't like this particular genre, anyway the present issue is a bit better than their debut album, being more developed than "Cressida", by adding some strings, horns (such a good orchestration!!) and also some spare creative "music effects"... a more mature and better structured album, but it's well worth checking out in the case you're interested in this sophisticated 70's pop.
Review by Dick Heath
2 stars Saw the CD one Saturday sitting in the sales section of Andy's Records (or whatever that chain now call themselves) and came away from that shop with three other albums. A good haul: a Joni Mitchell, one from (the guy who provided the brass rock for the Beatles' Revolver) Cliff Bennett, a John Surman and the Cressida - and then I got change out of 15 quid.

I recognised the Cressida as one of those early Vertigo signed bands, who were short- lived, but I have missed/avoided for 30+ years until now. The low price combined with my desire to fill in some gaps in my knowledge of earlyday prog, inspired me to buy this. Simply I have to report that I have value for my money but I will declare I'm glad I didn't have to pay more than the 4 quid tag. Hammond organ, guitar and vocals, take the lead. The keys are often jazzy (appeals to me), as is the guitar on the title track. The voice is good. But considering the time of its original release when the new rock scene was exploding, when the competition to be the NEXT major rock band (with similar line-ups) was great, then it is clear Cressida faced an uphill challenge. The weakness of otherwise, workmanlike tunes and arrangements, (in other words having a large "so-what?" factor), will explain the lack of national (and international) success of the band - meaning Cressidabeing remembered only by a few.

As indicated, an album for collectors (or rock historians like me), which has some minor moments.

Review by Matti
4 stars Maybe 4 stars is a bit overrated since I don't enjoy all the songs, but Cressida is too unknown band of 'the golden age' that deserves to be checked out and would likely be enjoyed by many more proglovers. It's some sort of symphonic rock but quite far from Yes or Genesis. Even if it's 1971 already, Cressida has more in common with early British prog- rock (Moody Blues, Procol Harum, Rare Bird...). Organ and strings are important part of instrumentation. An earlier reviewer compared Angus Cullen's voice to Paul McCartney. Why not, but I think it has VERY much in common with Justin Hayward from Moody Blues. This album sounds deliciously mellow, old and rare. A fine obscure discovery. Songs vary from simple instrumentals to longer progressive compositions. Pretty interesting cover picture with dozens of white model heads on a shore, somehow suits the spirit!
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The departure of guitarist John Heyworth, who wrote half the songs on Cressida's self-titled debut, didn't really affect the style, and one presumes, the fate of this band. Despite greater ambition revealed in the two lengthy tracks Munich and Let Them Come When They Will as well as the thrilling prog-in-a-bottle track that is Asylum, this second album, like its predecessor, is a little too uneven for me to shower it with unequivocal praise.

Now I really love the opening title track. It was the first Cressida track I ever heard and it made me rush out and get the album. But its propulsive organ-driven melody and intriguing lyrics about the plight of Lunatic Larry are in fact the absolute highlight of Cressida's brief existence. The two lengthy tracks are both penned by keyboardist Peter Jennings, who stepped out of the shadows as a songwriter, but despite some stellar segments (the guitar freak-outs in Munich, the scintillating organ solos that pepper Let Them Come When They Will and that song's momentous emotional closing all come to mind), both are occasssionally hampered by the tendency of the band to lapse into 60s pop cliche and light lounge jazz. The heavy orchestration courtesy of Graeme Hall makes the comparison to The Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest quite an obvious one, and during the vocal/organ dominated sections, I am quite often reminded of The Nice, and even Vanilla Fudge.

The shorter songs reveal both a wicked sense of humour (check out Goodbye Post Office Tower Goodbye!) and the afore-mentioned over reliance on pop and jazz cliches (I don't know my Latin beats too well, but I'm pretty sure there's some rhumba and bossa nova here!). Lisa in particular, is a half-baked sort of composition, with some wonderful sweeping moments (not least the flute playing of guest Harold McNair who died soon after this album came out) and the odd dull passage, suggesting that Cressida didn't always know how to build on its strengths.

If you want to hear a pysch/pop band dipping its toes in prog waters, but never quite jumping in, there are a few better places to come than Cressida's second album. Nonetheless despite my fondness for this album's peaks, I have to give this one a qualified recommendation. ... 70% on the MPV scale

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Like for their debut album, I would say that this work poorly aged. Their psychedelic music combined with strings (''Munich'') is hardly to be impressive to my ears. I also admit that I have never liked such orchestrations. It is a nice follow-up to ''Asylum'' which opens the album in a psyche way which is the main stream of inspiration of the whole work.

Now, a song as ''Munich'' is still very pleasant once you have made abstraction of these classic lines. Great organ, sweet vocals, upbeat rhythmic offer a fine musical cocktail to tell the truth. It is combined with more traditional symphonic prog (or classic prog as I would prefer to name this). But even with all these orchestration moments, ''Munich'' is a highlight.

I don't really like the short format of most of the songs featured on this album. It doesn't really fit this genre IMO. But of which genre are we talking about while ''Goodbye Post Office.'', ''Reprived'' or ''Survivor'' are being played? Jazz-rock or Canterbury probably.

This album is a major disappointment as far as I am concerned. I am desperately looking for a great and symphonic prog song in here. Can't find it really. I can cope with ''Lisa'' for a while, but frankly this is far to be a great track. Some good organ and a convincing guitar break save this mellow ballad for sure. Some fine flute notes as well. But this is hardly sufficient to make a great song.

There is not much to retain from this work, and the poor ''Summer Weekend.'' is nothing else than a weak and gentle acoustic psyche song without feeling. The long and jazzy closing track is not any better. I wonder where is the symphonic side of this band even if the second leg of the closing number features some fine and emotional vocals.

Two stars.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A really very nice record from these five English lads with a sound endearing if typical of their time and a modest mix of well-crafted art rock, melodious oration, and satisfying jams in the manor of Caravan or Traffic. Always fun, often surprisingly good but well-worn over the years, the album may seem to just sit there. But for those who love what was happening in English rock during the cusp of 69/70, 'Asylum' is an accurate and quality sample of the early authentic prog bands that were emerging from the post-psych landscape.

There is no big highlight here to point to, no new breakthroughs or grab-you-by-the-throat moments. During their brief tenure, Cressida was mostly a bill-sharing band and appeared with Colosseum, Brian Auger, Man, East of Eden and Black Sabbath. The album, with its feet equally in acid and art, will excite few jaded progsters. But it's honest prog by good musicians, humble and unpretentious, and I like it. The bassy title is accompanied by Iain Clark's bongos & Peter Jennings's soulful organ and could be mistaken for simple Woodstock dance rock but the cut-above rhythms and sudden instrumental breaks reveal much more. Singer Angus Cullen pules 'Munich' with a plaintive lyric leading to an organ/bass/drums exploration, an understated classical passage, and a big finish of brass and strings. Very nice, and nearly ten minutes. Rather Canterbury, slightly Latin and entirely weird 'Goodbye Post Office Tower Goodbye', hot organ-rock of anthemic 'Survivor', and tinges of BS&T brass-jazz in 'Reprieved'. Fugue ballad 'Lisa' is what every derivative 60s band tried to do but failed, with real contrast and dynamism between soft acoustic refrains, delicious symphonic psych and a hint of the Moodies. Acoustic folk mourner 'Summer Weekend of a Lifetime' sports a Nice-style middle and is followed by equally folkie 'Let Them Come When They Will', a protest piece with a West Coast jazz break and more unexpected little bits.

Easily washed out by the enormity of what the progressive scene was becoming, Cressida was as good a garden-variety prog band as any of them and duly deserves their tiny spot in art rock history.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars For all its follow up status and 1970 release, on "Asylum" Cressida actually devolved their sound even further back into 1960s psychedelic jams. They seemed oblivious to the newer more refined prog that was coming out, while they lacked the general muscularity to pull off convincing jams and jazzy meanderings.

While the presence of 2 lengthy epics bodes well for progressive fans, it turns out that the group really has no idea how to execute an engaging longer piece. "Munich" alternates between banal organ jams and limpid tired vocals and orchestration. "Let them come when they will" provides a generally satisfying closing thanks to more interesting lyrics and harmonies accompanied by ethereal strings. Cullen's voice brings the emotion up a few notches here, as opposed to sucking the air out of the room as he does most of the time.

The remaining short tracks are largely filler: organ laden affairs that were probably obsolete on release, although "Reprieved" works well as a slightly jazzy tune that does not overstay its welcome. On "Lisa", Culley's lead guitar sounds like a poor man's John Lees (BJH) imitation. Too many motifs tend to be packed into too small a space, displaying instrumental skill but virtually no instinctive and organic quality. They would have benefited from a stubborn editor.

Cressida was a very minor player in the rock scene of the time, for good reason. Virtually nothing they tried had much conviction. Their silly juxtaposition of dated styles, especially on this the weaker of their two efforts, was fit to be tied.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars As the second one goes, this is quite a deception, really. I was exspecting more after their ok debut. It seems that Cressida didnīt grow much since then. And remember, the year was 1971, with so many great things happening prog wise, it is a bit of a let down to think this band was still into 60īs pop psychedelia, (even if with some jazzy bits thrown in for good measure). Nothing wrong with the sound: organ, guitar, vocals. the musicians are quite good, but not particulary skilled or outstanding. The singer has a fine voice too. But their songwriting is definitly achilles heel. They tried to write two epics, but they seem unable to handle it properly, i.e. they lack the real competence to deal with such undertaking.

Of all the 9 tracks only the last one, the 11 minute Let Them Come When They Will moved me enough to make hear it twice on the first listening. After repeated spins it is still the only track that I think showed some real good stuff on it, but I can hardly call it an epic: it is more like several good bits put together in a long track. The last two minutes are the best, reaching a nice crescendo that got my atention. But thatīs too little too late. Small wonder they didnīt go too far after this one. The remaining tracks are nice, ok, but again it already sounded dated at the time and didnīt add much to the vast 60īs pop rock scene.

There are so many greater bands aroung that time that I can only recommend this CD to fans and collectors. 2 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars CRESSIDA's second and final album "Asylum" was released in 1971 and for this one they've added a flute player and changed the guitarist. Unlike the debut we do get a couple of lengthy tracks and overall this album is more proggy.They used real strings instead of the mellotron from their debut this time.They would break up sometime after this release and drummer Iain Clark would go on to play for URIAH HEEP for a year while guitarist John Culley would join BLACK WIDOW.

"Asylum" has a good beat with organ then vocals before a fuller sound join in. An organ solo before 1 1/2 minutes then the vocals return after 2 1/2 minutes. "Munich" is mellow with spacey organ to start. When the vocals arrive they sound like Peter Hammill when he sings those more laid parts. Strings in this one too. A guitar solo 2 1/2 minutes then we get a change as the tempo picks up with guitar and organ leading.The organ solo before 5 minutes is great. It settles right down 6 minutes in then the original vocal led passage returns. Nice. So good. It picks back up late to end it. "Goodbye Post Office Tower, Goodbye" features strummed guitar before a full sound joins in.This is catchy with piano standing out. An explosion ends it. "Survivor" is a short urgent sounding track with vocals although it does calm down at one point. An organ solo on this one too. "Reprived" opens with piano, light drums and vocal melodies.Piano then leads.

"Lisa" is different as it it really is all over the place.Tough to enjoy.There are strings on this one and a guitar solo later. "Summer Weekend Of A Lifetime" is a folky track with floating organ, intricate guitar and vocals standing out early. An organ solo 2 minutes in followed by guitar as they trade off for a while. "Let Them Come When They Will" opens with strummed guitar and vocals.Strings before a minute. It picks up and gets fuller. Organ before 3 minutes then the percussion leads a minute later. A calm after 4 1/2 minutes then the vocals return in an emotional manner. A change 9 minutes in as bass and cymbals take over then a full sound follows. A guitar solo 10 1/2 minutes in.

I do prefer the debut but i'm rounding this up to 4 stars because I really like their sound.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Cressida's second album slipped out posthumously, the band having broken up a few months before. That's a shame, because it sounds like they were going in a very interesting direction with this one, both allowing in some jazz-rock influences filtered via the Canterbury scene as well as playing up the psychedelic side of their sound. The end result is a curious mixture both of the current progressive sounds of the early 1970s and the head music roots of the prog scene. It's a charming listen which manages to be accessible without dumbing down what the band are trying to do, and provides a sound which grew on me rapidly. A slightly different prospect than their debut, but the musical growth on display is substantial; that they never managed to take it further at the time is a real loss to the prog scene.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In March 1970 Cressida travelled to France to play alongside East Of Eden and Brian Auger and then -after a brief return to the UK- went to Germany for a two-week live schedule.However inner tensions between the members started to occur, resulting to the departure of John Heyworth upon returning to England.Through auditions they found his replacement in John Culley.They revisited both France and Germany for a short set of gigs and then entered the studio in June to record a second album, as Vertigo was quite pleased with the sales of the debut.By the end of the sessions a new long schedule of lives started with visits in Switzerland, Belgium and Germany.However the band dissolved sometime in November 1970, unhappy with manager Ossie Byrne and the amount of his regular bookings.With Cressida being part of history, ''Asylum'' saw the light the following year on Vertigo.

On ''Asylum'' Cressida developed their early style a bit more, reducing the 60's-styled Psych Pop leanings and even introducing a light jazzy breeze in the instrumental sections with Culley having totally adjusted his moves to the needs of the group, as -reputedly- his style was more rhythmic and bluesy.Imagine a more psych-flavored and lighter version of the emreging E.L.P. with the organ being always in the forefront and the occasional orchestral sections ala THE MOODY BLUES.Some of the short tracks contain the aforementioned jazzy flashes, very close to the lines of CARAVAN, flavored by some Canterbury-styled Psych/Pop tunes, but the longer tracks were following a much more orchestral path, no wonder the band used a small orchestra to acquire this feeling in the arrangements of ''Munich'' and ''Lisa'', featuring string and flute parts, directed by Graeme Hall.Lots of piano fanfares and organ smashing with some very good guitar plays and Angus Cullen voice being a highlight moved the band to the right direction, the British flavor is present in every corner, passing from romantic tunes to complex themes with a storm of keyboards and guitars.The 12-min. ''Let them come when they will'' contains these elements in an extended composition, alternating between sweet melodies and more grandiose instrumental parts.

File along BEGGAR'S OPERA early albums.Classic early-70's British Prog with a Classical aura and psychedelic leftovers dominating the sound.Charming, although far from masterful music.Recommended.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I first discovered Cressida in around 1989, long after they disbanded in 1970. They were only in existence for a mere two years, which I regard as a real shame. This band could have been huge, with the right promotion. Their first, self-titled album consisted of shorter tracks and was a bit mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#2232027) | Posted by Ladyprogger | Thursday, June 20, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Let me stand up and declare: This is a true amazing album, perfectly suited for my 70s prog- nostalgic ears. I have heard them live, just a week ago and incredibly they're still as good as they were 1971. Asylum is Cressidas second and last studio record and features a new guitarist in John Cul ... (read more)

Report this review (#1035587) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Sunday, September 15, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Caravan, anyone ? Cressida is a sadly forgotten band who released two albums. I reviewed their first one a month ago. I liked that one. This, their second album is rumoured to be the better one. Well, I think they are pretty similar when it comes to quality. Two solid albums in other words. ... (read more)

Report this review (#251888) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A wonderfully charming record by a band who apparently only released two records. This one being the second one. This one has longer songs and is more prog than the first one. The guitarist Joh Heyworth is replaced here by John Culley and Paul Martin Layton (The New Seekers) and there is so ... (read more)

Report this review (#189193) | Posted by Kingsnake | Friday, November 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This Album was resident in my house right through the majority of my childhood but once I became an early eighties stoner, it's tired out vinyl spent many a night on my Dual record deck, gently pleasuring myself and my spaced out buddies. When my mum managed to get a copy on cd a few years ago ... (read more)

Report this review (#100248) | Posted by roooegg | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This album is terrible. The first Cressida album managed to overcome the group's shortcomings while this one flaunts them. The record begins mediocre, but soon the maudlin bombastic string arrangements, endless soloing (guitar and keyboard), and horrid vocals destroy everything as Asylum turns ... (read more)

Report this review (#98514) | Posted by | Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of my most favorite albums from the era of early British, progressive rock. In this album Cressida kept all the good things from their debut. Namely the beautiful voice of Cullen and the warm organ sound of Jennings. On this album however they explored their musical ability. This i ... (read more)

Report this review (#75325) | Posted by Agemo | Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The second work released in 1971 "Asylum". It is a content of exactly progressive rock. It is not to saying and the illustration of the jacket is Keef. It is a masterpiece that accomplishes a further upgrade. Cool is felt by me. It is a soulful excellent article. "Munich" is one of the most im ... (read more)

Report this review (#61257) | Posted by braindamage | Thursday, December 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I am revising my earlier review of Asylum, which was rather unkind, as I realized after a couple of spins. While I still maintain that this album is way inferior to other progressive albums of the time, and can in no way be considered a masterpiece, is not a bad recording when taken on it's ow ... (read more)

Report this review (#25353) | Posted by EMinkovitch | Thursday, January 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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