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CRESSIDA

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Cressida picture
Cressida biography
Founded in London, UK in 1968 (originally as "Charge") - Disbanded in 1970 - Reformed in 2011

CRESSIDA were an excellent band of early British symphonic progressive scene. Their sound is mostly dominated by the most beautiful and symphonic Hammond organ (dirty, and mellow), piano, bass, guitar, and drums. The instrumental sections are equally good, and tend to be typical of early 70s English prog rock. Thanks to the captivating atmospheres and the technical ability of the musicians. Similar bands include FANTASY, BEGGARS' OPERA, CIRKUS, GRACIOUS, and SPRING.

Both CRESSIDA albums are excellent and very rare now (both were original Vertigo "Swirls"). Their self-titled debut is an early seventies forgotton classic with delicate vocals, gobs of organ and acoustic guitar. CRESSIDA's second "Asylum" is the best of the genre represented by BEGGARS' OPERA, SPRING, FANTASY, FRUUPP, and many more. The combinations of instruments used for this album featuring the flute and different keyboard configurations accompanied by acoustic guitar works. This album, though, was by far the better one, with long instrumental passages and more elaborate arrangements. Thus, if you're interested, "Asylum" is a recommended starter of great early British rock. DEFINITELY A CLASSIC!

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CRESSIDA discography


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CRESSIDA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.56 | 164 ratings
Cressida
1970
3.60 | 173 ratings
Asylum
1971

CRESSIDA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CRESSIDA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CRESSIDA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.67 | 18 ratings
Cressida/Asylum
2004
3.44 | 16 ratings
Trapped In Time - The Lost Tapes
2012
4.75 | 4 ratings
The Vertigo Years Anthology 1969-1971
2012

CRESSIDA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

CRESSIDA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cressida by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 164 ratings

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Cressida
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

5 stars Cressida are a group of five accomplished musicians who got together in London in the late 1960's to form a band. The band initially called themselves "Charge" before changing their name to Cressida. They released their self-titled debut album in 1970 and a further album "Asylum" followed in 1971 shortly after the break-up of the band. The "Cressida" album is full to the brim with complex changes of time signature, soaring emotional vocals, impressive Hammond organ virtuosity and wild guitar solos. The album contains 12 diverse songs, ranging from short Jazzy numbers, melancholy ballads, and all-out symphonic masterpieces. It's hard to pick out a favourite in an album that is a sheer joy to listen to from beginning to end, but the final song "Tomorrow is a Whole New Day" represents a masterpiece of Symphonic Prog. The melancholic singer sounds remarkably similar to Justin Hayward in places and the album is guaranteed to appeal especially to fans of the Moody Blues and any collectors of classic Symphonic Prog generally.

The album opens impressively with "To Play Your Little Game", featuring plaintive vocals and a beautiful organ solo before launching into some fast-paced Jazz-Rock played in an unusual time signature. "Winter is Coming Again" is a pleasant sounding melody, featuring a wild psychedelic guitar and Hammond organ solo in the middle section. "Time or Bed" opens with an acoustic guitar before transposing into another up-tempo Jazz-Rock number in an irregular time signature. The title track "Cressida" is probably the most Jazzy track on the album with an upbeat Jazzy 5/4 time signature. "Home And Where I Long To Be" is a beautifully complex song, and ranks as one of the most impressive numbers on the album with it's sudden changes of tempo, soaring vocals and virtuoso Hammond organ and guitar accompaniment. The song is very much in the style of the Moody Blues and would deserve pride of place on any of their albums. "Depression" is a very fast-paced song, very reminiscent of one of the Moody Blues rockier numbers. Side Two of the album opens in similarly impressive style with the jaunty song "One of a Group" with the sound of the Hammond organ very much at the forefront and featuring a brief fuzzy guitar solo with a few Jazzy piano motifs included for good measure. The eighth song on the album "Lights on My Mind" is an up-tempo rocker with some bright and breezy Hammond organ playing and another far-out fuzzy guitar solo. "The Only Earthman In Town" begins with a haunting refrain and launches into some dextrous and intricately fast-paced organ-playing. Track 10 "Spring '69" is a gentle melody featuring a solo acoustic guitar which blends in nicely in between the orchestral and Jazzier numbers. The penultimate song on the album "Down Down" opens with a beautiful organ solo and features the haunting sound of the Mellotron. The song has several interesting changes of pace throughout and includes a Jazzy interlude. The album concludes in full grandiose splendour with "Tomorrow is a Whole New Day", a song very much in the symphonic style of the Moody Blues classic "Night in White Satin".

This is a superb album of musical virtuosity featuring a very talented group of musicians. The album should delight Symphonic Prog lover's everywhere. It should also appeal to any aficionados of early Jazz-Rock with special appeal to fans of Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues symphonic sound. It's no exaggeration to say this album is a masterpiece and it deserves repeated listening to fully appreciate the beautifully complex nature of the twelve well-crafted songs. There's an abundance of melancholy melodies, fast-paced Jazz-Rock songs and grand masterpieces of symphonic virtuosity to entertain and enthral the listener in equal measure and it's an essential album for any classic Symphonic Prog collection.

 Asylum by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.60 | 173 ratings

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Asylum
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by Ladyprogger

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 more uneven in quality. It was still a very good album but Cressida really came into their own on their second album, Asylum. In the main, they stuck to the shorter track format used in the first album, but there are two lengthy tracks, which give the album a much proggier feel. The title track is very solid, displaying the band's musical abilities to the full, but my personal favourite is Munich, which still sends shivers down my spine, however many times I hear it. I love the time signature changes and John Culley's guitar is stellar on this track. Like many of their songs, this one culminates with a dramatic ending and I have to say this is my favourite of all Cressida's music. Goodbye Post Office Tower Goodbye is the closest to being a throw-away track, however it does have the attraction of a very quirky title, no doubt confusing millennials these days. Survivor has more of the feel of the first album. One thing that Cressida never lack is a good melody and this track is no exception. The third very short track in a row is Reprieved. Easy on the ear and instrumental, this one could very easily get lost amongst the more meaty tracks. I kind of like the way they squeezed all the short tracks into the middle of the album. Summer Weekend of a Lifetime might be considered a throw-away track, but Cressida don't do that. They turn it into a summer feel good song, charming and atmospheric. My second favourite is Lisa. This is stunning. Changing time signatures and soaring melodies. What's not to like? Finally, Let Them Come When They Will. The longest and proggiest of the lot, it kind of reminds me of Caravan's Nine Feet Underground. It shows off their skills nicely but doesn't move me in quite the way Munich does. Although the band's roots were in London, they sound to me like they could have come from Canterbury. Overall, Cressida were a hugely underrated band. The plaintive vocals of Angus Cullen deserve recognition, along with all the other talented members of the band. Who knows what would have happened had their record label, Mercury, decided to release their two albums in America. We'll never know.
 Asylum by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.60 | 173 ratings

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Asylum
Cressida Symphonic Prog

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.

 Asylum by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.60 | 173 ratings

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Asylum
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

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 Culley, and as before Angus Cullen on vocals, guitar and percussion, Peter Jennings on organ and piano, Kevin McCarthy on bass and Iain Clark on drums and percussion. The cover picture is fun with many blank heads of whom one is burning. I don't agree to the common review "good, but non-essential". Well it doesn't seems to be essentiel but it could have been if it became more known. I warmly recommend you to listen to this record.

Since the debut Cressida here has perfected its sound to an artistic flower that shines through my loudspeakers directly against my soul. This music is so light and fair. They don't reflect themselves in hauteur, but they don't have to, their music speaks proudly enough. Some prog bands looses themselves in extravagant keyboard music where it's hard to regognize clear sounds but here we have the fantastic sound of organ and Jennings shows he's as good as Jon Lord, Tony Banks or Hugh Banton. Cullen's voice is so emotional, thank you for that and the band's wild progressivity plays around for us in incredible 41 minutes.

Everything here is amazing but if I shall pick favourites it'll be "Munich" and "Summer weekend of a life time". The least good song is "Reprieved". That is just very good and not marvelous.

I wrote warmly about Cressida's first record and did it honestly. That was a five star record as well as this, but I think I speak for more than me when I say this is the best of their efforts. Cressida made a development that is perceptible. But what a shame they didn't continue! Think about how it would have been with a ten-record discography! Perhaps I'll dream about their third record tonight.

 Cressida by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 164 ratings

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Cressida
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

5 stars This was really a band I like! Cressida was a no-name for me before I went on a cruise to wonderful Riga last weekend. On way back Cressida played and made us all totally amazed. This was an amazing reunion 42(!) years after their second and last record. This is Cressidas first record with an artistic cover showing fragments making a symbol and some clouds in the back ground. It feautires Angus Cullen on vocals, John Heyworth on guitar, and vocals on track 5, Peter Jennings on organ, harpsichord and piano, Kevin McCarthy on bass and Iain Clark on drums. Of them sadly Heyworth is dead but the other's still going strong, very strong actually.

Ok, then was then, and a good one! The sound of Cressida is light and very artistic. The perhaps most obvious is Peter Jennings talanted organ play and of course Angus Cullens soft emotional voice. If you don't know how they sound, think about a micture of Caravan and Van der Graaf Generator. Do you like those bands, I do, and so I like Cressida. On twelve almost similar good tracks they let their music talk to us is an honest manner. Unlike most other proggers these men mostly did short songs and they're so sweet. The album is even so it's hard to pick the best songs for you but the sweeping organ solos in "Winter is coming again" or the friendly vocals in "Lights in my mind" could make them that. Or perhaps(as usual) the longest track's the best: "Tomorrow is a whole new day" is a perfect song if you just would like to listen a little. I like Clark's tasteful drumming, McCarthy's bass and Heyworth elegant guitar. I also find Cullen's pure voice unique even if clear similarities could be felt to Hammill or Hastings. But what is making this record a five star record is the progressive organ which takes inspiration from classical and mainstream music but mostly from its own player. I look forward to review their next: "Asylum". I find this perfect!

Favourites: Tomorrow is a whole new day (10/10), Lights in my mind(10/10), WInter is coming again(10/10), Home and where I long to be(10/10), Depression(10/10), Cressida(9/10), The only earthman in town(9/10) and Down down(9/10)

 Asylum by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.60 | 173 ratings

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Asylum
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Cressida by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 164 ratings

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Cressida
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Cressida's first album proves that you can have rich symphonic prog textures without long, extended track durations. Part of the Vertigo stable (in fact, it was issued along the debut albums by Black Sabbath and Rod Stewart), it's a charming piece which straddles the prototypical psychedelic-leaning progressive rock sound of the 1960s with the symphonic prog sound which was beginning to creep in following King Crimson's debut album. Angus Cullen's vocals are a particular treat, as are the warm harpsicord, organ and piano textures of Peter Jennings. One of those special albums which on the one hand is quintessential progressive rock but on the other hand offers none of the grandiosity or pomposity of other proggers but retains a clear connection to the psychedelic underground the genre emerged from.
 Asylum by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.60 | 173 ratings

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Asylum
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Cressida by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 164 ratings

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Cressida
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was such a pleasant surprise. I've seen this band associated with some Proto-Prog bands so I wasn't expecting much considering most of these organ / mellotron led late sixties bands just don't do a lot for me. Add to that the poor rating on this site and I just assumed this would be a disappointment. Well check out the first review for this album on here from a Collaborator (Sean Trane) and also the high ratings on the Gnosis and RYM site and you'll see I am not alone in my praise for this 1970 release.The vocals are so appealing, kind of a cross between Hayward (MOODY BLUES) and Hastings (CARAVAN) plus a little Robert Wyatt.The songs are fairly short and samey but i'm just drawn to their sound with the floating organ and the odd guitar solo.Well crafted tunes are the strength of this record.

"To Play Your Little Game" opens with vocals that remind me so much of Wyatt then it kicks in before a minute.Vocals become more passionate as contrasts continue. A guitar solo ends it. "Winter Is Coming Again" builds as reserved vocals join in. It gets fuller on the chorus each time. Nice guitar melodies and laid back organ here. "Time For Bed" is uptempo with strummed and picked guitar along with piano and vocals standing out. "Cressida" features pulsating organ with bass and drums as the vocals join in. Far out stuff right here. Mellotron too as It turns dreamy 2 1/2 minutes in then back to the original programming. "Home And Where I Long To Be" is another relaxing song with vocals that does pick up at times. I like the guitar melodies in this one.

"Depression" opens with organ then it kicks in with vocals and a full sound. A guitar solo 2 minutes in followed by an organ solo after 3 minutes to end it. "One Of A Group" is mainly organ and drums early. A piano solo 3 minutes in then the guitar joins in to end it. "Lights In My Mind" is such a great little track. Some tasteful guitar too. Drums shine late. "The Only Earthman In Town" picks up before a minute with vocals leading the way. Some beautiful guitar melodies 2 1/2 minutes in then the organ solos. "Spring '69" has some cool lyrics with sad vocals and gentle guitar. "Down Down" has these floating organ melodies and reserved vocals leading. I like it. It picks up when the vocals stop. Mellotron in this one too. "Tomorrow Is A Whole New Day" opens with organ then it picks up with vocals and drums.The guitar leads then organ. Some vocal melodies later. Moving stuff.

A great and enjoyable album.

 Cressida by CRESSIDA album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 164 ratings

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Cressida
Cressida Symphonic Prog

Review by 1967/ 1976

4 stars I do not have the idea that in the world there is a band more romantic and poetic of these Cressida, a band with a short career but with a Vertigo label's evergreen "To Play Your Little Game". Cressida is classified as Symphonic Prog band. If correct this is a Folk Rock band but if you read Cressida as Folk band is correct that Cressida is classified as Symphonic Prog. This fact is important because you read in correct manner the music of Cressida.

The sound is light but with tons of organ: some moments light, some moments heavy. But generally sweet because the music is romantic: a sort of post Folk in Beat/ psychedelic field. Is not difficult to see a cottage garden in the England countryside but at the same time the smoky chimneys of the steelworks during the Industrial Revolution. Not common in Prog, Cressida have a role vocalist, Angus Cullen, a good vocalist, pefect to sing this type of music. Organist Peter Jenning is great in Cressida but the rest of the band is not great as technique: so the Cressida music is this. The songs are not long: maximum 5 mins. As for this fact the music present tons of symphinicisms in Folk field or tons of Folk moments in Symphonic Prog, depend which side you want to watch Cressida's music. I am not mad. If you remove the organ the music is simply Folk!

So, for me, Cressida is a great band, a sort of band that have a perfect role in Prog world and that deserved better luck. Genesis not have Folk moments in their music, Cressida have Folk moments in their music!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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