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Ramases - Glass Top Coffin CD (album) cover

GLASS TOP COFFIN

Ramases

 

Prog Folk

3.71 | 26 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Apparently the Vertigo label sold sufficiently enough of Space Hymns for them to allow the weird Ramases to record a second and much more ambitious album with a consequent budget. Indeed Glass top Coffin is loaded with expensive and extensive strings arrangements, courtesy of both the London Symphonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but also the Eddie Letter Chorale. Gone are the four future 10CC members (gone to found Hotlegs first), and most of the pop charm of the SH. Well the label was cautious enough not to spend anymore cash in creating such an ambitious six-folded artwork of the debut, but they still designed a cosmic gatefold sleeve with an even more amazing innerfold. BTW, if SH had been on the legendary "Swirl" label, GTC was released on the even better suited for the "Spaceship" Vertigo logo in 75 (four years after SH, but not much is known about their activities), but unfortunately never managed to be detected by the chart's radars.

Opening on the bookending Golden Landing with heavy strings, we are first lead to believe that The Moody Blues created a Nights Of The Past Future album, but this doesn't last past the track. Te following long time starts out as a slow acoustic piece gradually softly crescendoing with a cello and violin first, then once cruising speed reached, the strings come in for some cool enhancements. There are a few lesser tracks like syrupy Now Mona Lisa, then later Sweet Reason (Lisa is back) and still later the soppy and waterfall-soaked folky Stepping Stone.

Other tracks are rather cool like the religious-like chants of God Voice (again sonically the Moody Blues are not far away) or the spacewinds-filled Mind Island, where Nucleus' Bertles adds a soft sax parts. The Island's winds segue into cosmic blasts and cello drones, to lead Selket's plaintive voice in the ultra-slow Loneliest Feeling. Later in the album's course, Saler Man is an outstanding piece of symphonic prog that puts to shame Moodies or many others that dabbled with Orchestras. The awesome Children Of The Green Earth has some borderline-Spanish guitar and lush orchestrations than enhance the song, rather cheeseing it up. GTC's title track is quite a departure though, definitely the (almost hard-) rockiest song on GTC, it's almost shocking compared to the finesse of most tracks, but I guess it is the climax of the opera, before the calm second Golden Landing piece, filled with cheesy strings.

Not as immediate as their debut album, GTC is still quite worthy and is more in the space- rock realm than in the folk-rock genre of SH. In some ways GTC is proggier and could maybe be considered as a space opera. Like the previous Space Hymns, the album sank without a trace and the couple disappeared for good from the music scene (Ramases committed suicide later in that decade), but both album gathered big cult-following in Germany, enough to receive a few Hymns reissues and now finally the much-awaited for (and more mature) GTC on Esoteric records. And if you listen well enough, you won't be deceived.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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