Thursday, July 6, 2017

Gryphon - 1974 - Red Queen to Gryphon Three

Red Queen to Gryphon Three

01. Opening Move (9:42)
02. Second Spasm (8:15)
03. Lament (10:45)
04. Checkmate (9:50)

- Richard Harvey / keyboards, recorders, crumhorn
- Brian Gulland / bassoon, crumhorn
- Graeme Taylor / guitars
- Philip Nestor / bass
- David Oberlé / drums, percussion & tympani

- Ernest Hart / organ
- Peter Redding / acoustic bass

Complex and beautiful, an amazing work.
Someone mentioned that this band was nicknamed "Gentle Jethro" because of their supposed mimicry of Tull and Giant. I'll get controversial right off the bat and admit that I'll take this album over any album by Tull or Giant for a number of reasons. I love the fact that I can have this classy, complex, and incredibly performed music free from what I consider the occasionally obnoxious vocals of those two legendary bands. But Red Queen is so much more than just a good instrumental album. It is one of the most musically articulate and painstakingly arranged feasts ever assembled. It merges progressive folk and symphonic rock with both renaissance longings but also crisp modern chops and attitude. With long well-planned compositions and virtuoso performances taking the place of vocal distractions Red Queen is the perfect album for allowing yourself to be carried away to. Never listen to this album while distracted by other people or tasks. This is music that requires your full attention and should really be heard on headphones with eyes closed and mind engaged in listening mode. There is simply too much happening and changing too quickly to do a proper track by track description of the songs. Suffice to say that each song builds and winds back and forth through moments of symphonic and folk prog grandeur, lush keyboard and piano passages, elegant guitars and percussion, and of course we cannot forget the krumhorns and bassoon! The production is just outstanding and the sound quality of the Japanese remaster is breathtaking. The wonderful album cover art only adds to the completeness of what many consider a masterpiece of 1970s prog.

In his outstanding review at ProgressiveWorld, Tom Karr notes "This is intelligent art rock, with the group producing a work that is absent most of the clichés of the genre. Their affinity for the electric sound they had only recently added is nothing short of amazing, and their sound is exciting and blends their previous acoustic focus well with their new synthesizers and electric is the best example of this odd, eclectic style of mid 70s British folk/prog.. Bands like The Strawbs and Steeleye Span produced some interesting blends of early English music and rock, but no one came anywhere close to the mastery of Gryphon, and Gryphon made their premiere musical statement with this release." [Tom Karr]

An essential prog classic that should easily be on ones "desert island" album list. Recommended to anyone who loves complex music that is lively in nature and presented with great flair and superb artistry. I suggest that even Rio/Avant fans of things like Miasma or Gatto Marte try this out for size, it has the unique instruments, complexity, and sense of adventure that would appeal to those fans.



  2. Thank you Drago!