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Thread: FEATURED CD - Gryphon : Red Queen To Gryphon 3

  1. #1
    Moderator Duncan Glenday's Avatar
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    FEATURED CD - Gryphon : Red Queen To Gryphon 3



    Per "Maribor", on the old PE system:
    It has never before happened to me that I liked an album from the get-go but didn’t really think it’s all that great, only to be completely blown away by it a couple of years later. This happened to me with this album. When I first bought it, I thought it was okay but didn’t really understand why some people rate it so highly. I thought it was too ambitious, pretentious and, dare I say, at times even boring. But man was I ever wrong. Returning to this album some time later, I suddenly discovered a new charm about it that didn’t seem to be present before, it was as if I was listening to a different record. I naturally wondered if perhaps I had misplaced another disc into this case. However, I was really “hearing” this music for the first time. When I bought it, I listened to it once then again after three months and then again after six months but this album needs to be heard, at least once a week for the music to start having an effect.

    I suppose that I mistook the complexity of this work for over-ambition, the beauty for tediousness but with repeated listening, this album just kept getting better and better. At moments, the melodies resemble the romantic and folk elements Mike Oldfield used in his early work. The beauty of some of the melodies is almost a match for the melodies on Ommadawn or Hergest Ridge. The folk elements in Gryphon’s music have always been in the foreground, so it’s not really that surprising that some segments might resemble some of Mike Oldfield’s themes. Even the fast change of themes seems to come from the same book of ideas that Oldfield was studying at the time. Most of the time, however, Gryphon’s style is a bit more energetic and dynamic than Oldfield’s works at the time and this provides a nice contrast to the beautiful quiet passages. The complexity of the song-writing, the fast changing of themes, the constant changing of tempo are a match for any top progressive band of the 1970s. And even when it appears that some passages will be extended for too long, the band members have such a vast array of instruments at their disposal that they can repeat the same theme with different instruments and make it appear as fresh as when it was first played.

    Gryphon, although usually placed in the folk-rock category, created with Red Queen To Gryphon Three a truly magnificent symphonic rock masterpiece with lots of folk elements. The arrangements, just like with Mike Oldfield, remind of some of the best classical pieces. The instrumentation is so interesting and unique (instruments like the bassoon and krumhorn) that the record never suffers from being too tedious and the same sounds are hardly ever repeated. On some of the other Gryphon albums, Richard Harvey, the keyboard player, seemed to have been the predominant figure, both in the song-writing department and the overall sound but on this record, the roles are much more even. Every instrument gets a word in, so to speak and this makes for a much more balanced work.

    This album is usually sold as a 2 for 1, together with Raindances. If you ever get a chance to buy this, you won’t regret it. You’ll get two great albums for the price of one.

    9 out of 10. This has become one of my favourite albums of all time.



    Regards,

    Duncan

  2. #2
    It's very good. I don a minstrel's anachronistic codpiece and stupid feather-hat just thinking of this.

    I'll be playing it tomorrow, I think.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  3. #3
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    I haven`t played this in a while but remember liking it for the GG vibe.

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    Traversing The Dream 100423's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    It's very good. I don a minstrel's anachronistic codpiece and stupid feather-hat just thinking of this.

    I'll be playing it tomorrow, I think.
    But does it give you excitement!?!?

  5. #5
    ^

    Oooh yeah, boy. I feel it comin' on.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  6. #6
    facetious maximus Yves's Avatar
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    It's been a long while since I spun this thing. I'll have to hear it with fresh ears. I remember liking it yet I only own the 2-for-1 mentioned in the review from this band's discography.
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    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
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    This thread will prompt a revisit of both this and "Treason", both have sat in the stacks for years and demand a re-listen. I recall liking them both, but I especially dig the Yes-vibe (the result of their supporting gig for Yes, yes?) of the latter and final album.

  8. #8
    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    I dig this one. The others not as much.

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    ^^^
    I like some of their other stuff but this one is their best (IMHO) by a large margin.
    Prog's Not Dead

  10. #10
    I actually have a soft spot for their debut, which has some stupendously fun material on it. Midnight Mushrumps is solid, but a bit less engaging than both the debut and Red Queen to my ears. Raindance was the first one I heard, and while there are some great ideas and fine melodies there, it's altogether too uneven to really make a mark. I prefer Treason to that one. I'm not too fond of Michael Jackson's Thriller, but I like Off the Wall. Soft brain juice eat deluxe.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  11. #11
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Nifty stuff, and their best LP, imo. Was there really a time in rock when one could do music like this?

    I caught them with Yes back in the daze, and I believe some version of the group is currently active.
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

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    Bought the vinyl LP when it first came out based on the cover/liner notes. Actually, I thought the cover art was second-class prog artwork, but the array of instruments sold me. For many years, I mostly listened to only one track (the one with the long quiet section at the beginning that's mainly acoustic guitars and recorder), though I realized that the other tracks were well-executed. When I started buying CD's, I picked up the Japanese release of this and the Progressive label releases of the others, finally adding the "Treason" CD several years later. Each album has its own distinctive charms, but I have come to appreciate this album much more over the years, and consider it my favorite.

  13. #13
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Love this album, and enjoy all of their catalogue actually. Red Queen is probably the best, but throughout their catalogue there are some gems... "Spring Song", "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben", "Midnight Mushrumps", "The Unquiet Grave"... excellent stuff. We've just recently been discussing them on my FB group in fact, here's my little collection:

    gryphon.jpg
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    Still have the vinyl from back in the day. Some of the best arrangements and strongest melodies of any Prog rock album of the era IMO.

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    A pleasant pastoral symphonic rock album indeed.

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    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    Yes with crumhorn!

    Love it.
    Check out Colouratura's sophomore release Unfamiliar Skies - out this spring on Melodic Revolution Records!

    colouratura.bandcamp.com

  17. #17
    Member Since: 3/27/2002 MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER's Avatar
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    I don't get the comparisons to Yes. I feel these guys do Symph better than Yes and they are more original/less typical

    I have all their albums but haven't heard them in over 20 years... need to fix that soon
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    I don't get the comparisons to Yes. I feel these guys do Symph better than Yes and they are more original/less typical

    I have all their albums but haven't heard them in over 20 years... need to fix that soon
    Just listening to the clip now, the music reminds me much more of Genesis than of Yes. Also Jethro Tull, despite the absence of flute.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by bob_32_116 View Post
    Just listening to the clip now, the music reminds me much more of Genesis than of Yes. Also Jethro Tull, despite the absence of flute.
    Two of Gryphon's members were graduates from the Royal College of Music, and Richard Harvey especially excelled as film musics composer after his work in the band. He created some absolutely outstanding folk tunes and themes for several prominent British TV-series (for instance the P.D. James Adam Dalgliesh procedures and the excellent Spyship with Tom Wilkinson (in 1983, one of his first major roles).

    I specifically remember Harvey stating his respect for Jethro Tull, but claiming that he hadn't really heard much 'symphonic rock' music other than these and The Moodies and Krimson. The interesting part from that interview was that he also kept telling about the tour with Yes and how he didn't actually know them before Graeme Taylor (Gryphon guitarist) introduced the name. Together with Robert John Godfrey and Kerry Minnear, Gryphon (and Harvey, Taylor and Brian Gulland in particular) were arguably the most formally accomplished composers/performers in British 'symphonic' progressive rock music of the 70s.

    I personally think their version of "The Unquiet Grave" is the most beautiful rendition of the song outside of strictly folk music surroundings. It's just utterly gorgeous.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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    Member Since: 3/27/2002 MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob_32_116 View Post
    Just listening to the clip now, the music reminds me much more of Genesis than of Yes. Also Jethro Tull, despite the absence of flute.
    but those bands would have Anderson, Gabriel or Anderson warbling their ridiculous lyrical blather, smothering the music, whereas Gryphon are gloriously (mostly) all about the music.
    Last edited by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER; 01-29-2016 at 12:14 PM.
    Why is it whenever someone mentions an artist that was clearly progressive (yet not the Symph weenie definition of Prog) do certain people feel compelled to snort "thats not Prog" like a whiny 5th grader?

  21. #21
    Midnight Mushrumps is my favourite due to its most uplifting and captivating folk edge. Second, comes this one. Very subtle progressions from their earlier sound to a more medieval/classical vibe. And excellent virtuosity.

    Any love for Richard Harvey's solo Divisions on a Ground? A formal classical record which is an indication of the path he would follow from the late 70s onwards as a composer, conductor and soloist.
    Macht das ohr auf!

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  22. #22
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zombywoof View Post
    Yes with crumhorn!

    Love it.
    That's true for their last two albums: Raindance & Treason (especially for the latter), but not at all for their first three albums, IMHO

    Quote Originally Posted by MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER View Post
    I don't get the comparisons to Yes. I feel these guys do Symph better than Yes and they are more original/less typical

    I have all their albums but haven't heard them in over 20 years... need to fix that soon
    Treason is really Yes-like, to the point that they could almost be a clone (despite a wide array of instruments used)... Haven't heard it in ages (decades easily), but I'm not even sure there are crumhorns on it (though there is still the bassoon) anymore

    For Raindance, it is only apparent in a few tracks
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  23. #23
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
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    I tried this a long while back, and it struck me as a bit too twee. But, perhaps I never gave it its due time.
    Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

  24. #24
    ^

    The really good material essentially takes off on side 2, IMO - and the closing track is one of the greatest things they ever did. This was probably as advanced as British 'symph rock' ever got without bordering on the avant-garde.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  25. #25
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notallwhowander View Post
    I tried this a long while back, and it struck me as a bit too twee. But, perhaps I never gave it its due time.

    it is somewhat "twee" (as far as my understanding of the word is), but that's a bit the point of this band's music, IMHO

    do something totally out of context of the pop-rock realm.

    I'd almost agree with Scissor that their debut is almost avant-garde, like Univers Zero's music on 1212 and Hérésie would be.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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