Friday, April 14, 2017

Gravy Train - 1971 - (A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man

Gravy Train 
1971 
(A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man



01. Alone in Georgia (4:35)
02. (A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man (7:06)
03. Jule's Delight (6:58)
04. Messenger (5:58)
05. Can anybody hear me (2:59)
06. Old Tin Box (4:45)
07. Won't talk about it (3:00)
08. Home again (3:25)

- Norman Barrett / lead guitar & lead vocals
- Barry Davenport: drums & percussion
- J.D Hugues / flute, keyboards, saxophone, vocals
- Les Williams / bass & backing vocals


 It is 1971 and the second album from bluesy-rock-prog band Gravy Train was produced rather fast and rather in a satisfaction full of the usual creativity (that's vital, but interpretable also), the usual madness (needed to improvise or improve) or the consequent features of music and melody (among different ideas melting below the surface of what we hear).
The band's the same: Nick Barrett (Barratt?!), vocalist and guitarist by a full nature, Lester Williams as bassist and back-need vocalist, J.D. Hugues on wind and brass, plus some keyboards without obvious taste, and Barry Davenport on drums and all the percussion (interesting, what/whose credit goes to some orchestral strings?). Even the label, Vertigo, supports their album, more keen on their hard rock or late blues value (yet it is the last album to be signed up over here). But the mood changes, interpretation is more robust but radically switched, the entire illusion of old-fashioned rock distinguishes differently and, finally, the album is fuller of art, broader of stunning effects, deeper than the rock usual sky-limit...however it isn't truly amazing, only perfectly achieved and very sensibly arranged.

The style evokes only a bit from what the debut satisfied and, bombastically, shown as art and time's special music: blues rock, by the cheap rhythm or the relentless groove, hard rock, deep in atmosphere and experiment (though, just like over that album's review, I repeat that it's strange to call experiment the wild and the exhaustive flair and flames sprinkled or totally sprayed over there), a bit of Tull-ish pale folk (and, hey, a bit of Floyd artificial smoke-rock as well); lots of artistic freedom, aggressive beauty, creaking talent - and so. (A Ballad of) A Peaceful Man is the album above its standard, but still hangs on to deep expressions. Like the more progressive blend of symphonic, art rock, folksy drops and melody rock. Like the blues washing away towards a kind of soft rock. Like the hard choice being monumentally over-turn towards spices and mealier moments of rock and suspense. Like the music beauty (coming from arrangement and interpretation) being the only thing better than expected, by full impressions of reasonably expansive tastes. Gravy Train spots well its plentiful originality, but artists like Tull, Audience or a bit of relative and atmospheric Focus also does a nice. Until a sudden point, the album seems conceptual - or at least, one music moment follows another, spreading a diverse, concise, heart-warming and taste-storming entire effect of music...and progressive rock.

Out of the mix of lovely and amassing pieces, those rather weaker and less sensational should be mentioned first: starting with the very first piece, Alone In Georgia, very light in vocals and melodiousness - mainly very unusual for Gravy Train, but also too convincing for the album's entire soft art. Can Anybody Hear Me is a bit of Purple high rock, nothing is artistic, nothing, except the drum-flute-bass subtle observation reaches a short-time nice dandle. Furthermore, the last two pieces are very artistic, but not overwhelming. Reaching the better side of the view, the title is lovely and sensual for emotion, heart-breaking but otherwise rapid in its instrumental passion and its entire vocal art. Julie's Delight follows with folk, blues and a bit of the never forgotten strong rock. Messenger may have some problems with the opening folk theme, which is definitely too close to another famous line of another progressive rock band (can't remember if it's Tull, Focus or Nektar), or with another good mood of open vocals; but the guitar finale is sublime. Old Tin Box is jazzy and folksy, abstract-atmospheric and beautiful in easy character. The album is strong, pleasant, artistic.

Very close to a doubtless/flawless grand (too sad some tunes aren't bright enough), this is an album to remember, both the hard and the melodic provoking a pleasure worthy of progressive genuine high stuff, both the improvised and the utterly relaxed kind of music and jam does the effect of art beyond craft, mind and sense. I enjoyed deeply the debut, with its heavier and more strongly hazed freedom of rock/prog/folk/blues/psych expressions, and find that one my favorite. And, a bit, the best Gravy Train ever spotted.

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