Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dave Greenslade - 2011 - Routes-Roots

Dave Greenslade 

01. Routes (4:57)
02. A Valentyne (3:48)
03. Signing Contracts In The Dark (4:27)
04. Touch Of Fire (5:03)
05. Conversations (5:08)
06. Fishakka (4:19)
07. Born In Eternity Time (3:18)
08. Thanks For Having Me (3:41)
09. Sideways (3:33)
10. In Dreams (3:10)
11. Boogaloo (2:55)
12. A Last Dance (3:05)
13. Roots (4:14)

- Dave Greenslade / all instruments

...this is very plainly a record made for the love of music alone. An exercise in deft tinkling of the ivories that covers a wide range of musical styles from robust pseudo-classical through to light jazz and on to airy instrumental pop-rock, there is plenty here that reaffirms Greenslade's compositional and technical abilities.

Dave Greenslade - 1999 - Going South

Dave Greenslade 
Going South

01. Going South (5:00)
02. Chasing The Wind (4:50)
03. Slipstream (6:19)
04. Flying V (5:39)
05. Miles Away (3:52)
06. Short Time Down (2:23)
07. Crane Dance (3:20)
08. Night Flight (6:32)
09. Piano Flamingo (3:07)
10. South Revisited (3:04)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards, composition, arrangements, mixing, production

It was reissued by Angel Air in 2004 with a different cover, and this time credited to 'Greenslade' as opposed to 'Dave Greenslade'

Going South is a relaxing keyboard album that may perhaps be categorised as New-Age. There are many albums of its kind made by progressive Rock heroes like those albums Steve Howe did with Paul Sutin or many of the albums in Anthony Phillips's Private Parts & Pieces-series. However, there are also here some parts that are in a more jazzy vein, soft Jazz that is.

All the sounds are created by Dave himself on his keyboards and the programmed rhythms and he even produces and mixes the abum himself. Hence, this is a solo album in the true sense of the word and it has nothing whatsoever to do with Greenslade (the band).

It is a pleasant listen, very easy on the ear, and never offensive.

Dave Greenslade - 1994 - From the Discworld

Dave Greenslade 
From the Discworld

01. A-Tuin The Turtle (2:53)
02. Octraine The Colour Of Magic (2:36)
03. The Luggage (3:36)
04. The Shades Of Ankh-Morpork (3:58)
05. Wyrd Sisters (3:00)
06. The Unseen University / The Librarian (2:55)
07. Death (4:09)
08. A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End (3:56)
09. Dryads (2:31)
10. Pyramids (4:45)
11. Small Gods (5:16)
12. Stick And Bucket Dance (2:27)
13. The One Horseman And The Three Pedestrians Of The Apocalypse (3:02)
14. Holy Wood Dreams (6:00)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards, programming
- "Clem" Clempson / guitar
- Tim Whitnall / vocals
- Kate Greenslade / flute (11)
- Rhianna Pratchett / keyboards (11)
- Tony Robinson & Stephen Briggs / narration
- Chris Cozens / programming

 Like his previous album, 1978's The Pentateuch Of The Cosmogony, From The Discworld is not a concept album as such. Instead of a cohesive narrative, Greenslade has chosen to interpret isolated people, places or things contained within the 'Discworld' novels of Terry Pratchett. These are presented as self-contained snapshots, mostly delightful shortish mood pieces [three with some very short narration] plus a couple of songs, played entirely by Greenslade using keyboards and sequencers except for a contribution on guitar by Clem Clemson.
You can enjoy the music on a superficial level but it will make little sense unless you are familiar with the Discworld novels. Terry Pratchett has a very fertile imagination and intelligence with which he cleverly constructs an alternative universe centred around The Disc and its multifarious creatures occupying various levels of time and dimension. It is a mirror world of magic and satire, with brilliant believable characterisations, wrapped up in a very funny narrative [Death is hilarious].

Greenslade's music successfully evokes the essence and humour [yes, the humour is there if you know where to look] of the characters with understanding, if you use a little imagination. From The Discworld has a far more adventurous and varied orchestration than Pentateuch, an accomplished depiction of a wide range of moods and settings. Usually this is achieved suggestively, ingeniously using mood and feel to enable the listener to construct appropriate mental images.

I shall mention a few personal favourites. The opener, depicting the giant A-Tuin The Turtle elegantly paddling across the cosmos, and a spooky Wyrd Sisters conjuring images of three witches meddling in affairs of state [including Granny Weatherwax's reluctant broomstick], are both wonderfully evocative atmospheric pieces. DEATH rides across the land on his horse Binky [represented by a spaghetti western style trumpet], dark and menacing yet always ready with a comforting merry quip. The spirits of trees, Dryads, are at once eerie and scary yet beautiful and majestic in another slow atmospheric piece infiltrated by minor chords.

The dreadnoughts of time, stately Pyramids which harness magic, metaphorically stride out across the landscape as the ghost of an old pharaoh wishes he were dead. Close your eyes and they really are there, flaring-off their excess into the night. The One Horseman And Three Pedestrians Of The Apocralypse (sic) [don't ask! if you need to know, read The Sourcerer (sic)] uses scurrying strings to depict them racing across the plains, wind in their, erm, hair, then stopping for a quick one at the Mended Drum. I must make a special mention of a sing-a-long nonsense song, the traditional Ankh-Morpork drinking song A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End.

The music of From The Discworld is fine within its limitations, but some of the ideas lack progression, sometimes too short and under-developed. Also, Greenslade has attempted a 'symphonic' effect on many tracks by emulating sections of an orchestra using generic and unconvincing samples. While the digital revolution enabled him to progress from the simpler synthesizer patterns of Pentateuch, the instruments' synthetic nature is readily apparent.

Had he employed a real orchestra, From The Discworld would probably have received an unqualified recommendation. As it is, Terry Pratchett's fans [especially those with children] will probably adore this. For others, though, it is an excellent choice for some light listening when you wish to switch off your brain, though hardly essential

Dave Greenslade - 1979 - The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony

Dave Greenslade 
The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony

01. Introit (4:05)
02. Moondance (3:09)
03. Beltempest (2:41)
04. Glass (3:02)
05. Three Brides (5:56)
06. Birds & Bats & Dragonflies (3:48)
07. Nursery Hymn (3:32)
08. The Minstrel (2:42)
09. Fresco / Kashrinn (2:24)
10. Barcarole (3:51)
11. Dry Land (3:54)
12. Forest Kingdom (3:53)
13. Vivat Regina (3:44)
14. Scream But Not Heard (2:57)
15. Mischief (5:36)
16. War (3:06)
17. Lament For The Sea (3:08)
18. Miasma Generator (5:32)
19. Exile (2:33)
20. Jubilate (3:00)
21. The Tiger And The Dove (5:35)

- Dave Greenslade / ARP Explorer, ARP Omni, CAT synthesizer, organ, Crumar Stringman, clavinet, Kitten synthesizer, Korg vocoder, Mellotron, Minimoog, Polymoog, Prophet 5, Roland R5202, SDS Drum synthesizer, Sennheiser Vocoder, Tubular Bells, Vibraphone, Yamaha synthesizer, piano
- Kate Greenslade / child vocals (7)
- Phil Collins / drums, percussion (5,12,17,18)
- John Lingwood / drums, percussion (6,8)

Conceived, written and illustrated by fantasy artist and writer Patrick Woodroffe, The Pentateuch was his first fully-fledged art-book combined with Dave Greenslade's second solo album, released at a time when the punk revolution had revised the outlook of many former Prog musicians!

The Book

The Pentateuch Of The Cosmogony [literally meaning 'the 5 books of the origin of the universe'] is a fantasy 'creation myth-cycle' presented as a pseudo-scientific decipherment of an ancient document. Beginning with a description of how the document came to be found, it then details the ideographic 'language' employed [ideograms are like, for example, our modern road signs] before presenting a "suggested interpretation" which takes up the bulk of the work. The text is laid out as a series of 5 'books' each sub-divided into many 'verses' and extensively illustrated. Briefly, the story shows how a world was created, populated by deities and men, before being destroyed by the hateful vengeance of an overlooked deity called Ildrinn. Ildrinn subsequently took her hate, and her human followers, into a never ending journey through space, an endless search for contentment. It is of course based on known creation myth-cycles, but is also an allegorical look at the condition of humanity.

While the story may not be to everybody's taste, the colourful illustrations will attract more attention. Some are large-scale paintings covering a whole page or more, while others are smaller details which accompany the text. All are rendered in Woodroffe's highly imaginative style, depicting a world full of strange mutated beings, like an evil flying spider with eagle's wings and beak, or an underwater fairy with a fish-like body. One or two of the set-piece paintings are simply stunning: for example 'Peace - The Happy Savage' is a skillful evocation of a pastoral heavenly innocence with a wealth of fine detail.

The Music

Let's face it, the music was never going to win any awards for originality! Somewhat different from the varied mixture of his first solo album, this is an all keyboard affair, with occasional assistance from drums and vocoded vocals - oh yes, and his 2 year old daughter urging us to "come and play". Aside from that it was all down to Dave and his large assortment of keyboard based instruments, including Mellotron, church organ, piano, tubular bells and the much-loved voices of a host of classic vintage synths.

Greenslade's music is light of hand and fleet of foot. It cheerily skips and jumps over fat bouncy bass lines. It meanders dreamily among slowly evolving ambient textures. It beguiles with charmingly simple melodies. It is intimate and airy in nature, yet satisfyingly warm and organic. It is instrumentally sparse and concise. It maintains a consistency of 'soul' throughout. It trips along pleasantly without being at all demanding, and could easily be used as a background for a dinner party, or writing reviews on a PC! But above all, it is nice!

The music succeeds - and fails - in variable degrees as a tool to illustrate the story, partly depending on the imagination of the listener. Beltempest, for instance, a track depicting the Lord Of Air, successfully invokes the first living being floating on air and making the first sounds. Conversely, Forest Kingdom, a funked up piece with Phil Collins on drums, entirely fails to conjur a forest world full of magical and mysterious creatures. Then again, Mischief & War cleverly imply a build up of arms and division of kingdoms by the use of a marching motif with an increasing amount of dissonance and harmonic breakdown, ending on a simulated nuclear strike.

As with any interpretive music, its success is often dependant on the amount of effort the listener is prepared to put in. Taken on its own you will likely find the music bland, boring and uninspired but take time to study and absorb the music and story together and you will be rewarded. It becomes transformed beyond a merely OK piece of nostalgic electronica to a deeper and ultimately more satisfying experience, though hardly in the same league as Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony!


In 1994 BGO Records finally released Greenslade's music as a CD. They have made a fair enough stab at presenting as much of the original book as possible and reproducing it as a high quality booklet. Inevitably it suffers in comparison: those magnificent full size illustrations are now too small to fully appreciate the detail work, and text is now borderline for comfort, especially the ideogram chart for which a magnifying glass is essential. The music was remastered by Greenslade and sounds superb, with a crisp and clear soundstage.

Personally, I adore the book and have a soft spot (or, should that be blind spot?) for the music, but bear in mind the original 12 inch version is the one to get for the book - though now a hard to find collector's item - while the CD reissue is best for the music

Dave Greenslade - 1976 - Cactus Choir

Dave Greenslade
Cactus Choir

01. Pedro's Party (3:37)
02. Gettysberg (3:57)
03. Swings and Roundabouts (4:20)
04. Time Takes my Time (6:50)
05. Forever and Ever (3:38)
06. Cactus Choir (6:14)
  a) The Rider
  b) Greeley and the rest
  c) March at Sunset
7. Country Dance (5:30)
8. Finale (8:36)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards

- Tony Reeves / bass (1,2,6,8)
- Simon Phillips / drums, percussion
- Steve Gould / vocal on 2 and 6
- Dave Markee / bass on 3 and 4
- Mick Grabham / guitar on 4
- John Perry / bass on 7
- Bill Jackman / bass flute, bass clarinet on 8
- Orchestra conducted by Martin Ford and arranged by Simon Jeffes

 I've always been really fond of this album, and to me it has an 'end of era' feel about it as it was made in 1976 with prog about to be overwhelmed by punk. The cover, with the Greenslade wizard sitting on a rock surrounded by stormy seas and a dark sky, seems to reflect this (possibly I'm reading a bit too much into it).
Musically it's up there with the best Greenslade group stuff. My favourite tracks are Gettysberg and Finale. The former is an evocative tale of visting the US Civil War battle site, with a catchy tune and excellent vocals by Steve Gadd (whatever happened to him). Musically it sounds a lot like Peter Gabriel's subsequent Solsbury Hill and I often wonder if Mr Gabriel ripped it off.

Finale is the big epic closer with lots of symphonic keyboards and a dramatic Hammond solo that is the equal of the one Dave Greenslade performed on Colosseum's Valentyne Suite (another underated classic worth acquiring, prog buffs).

The only track I don't much like is Time Takes My Time with Mr G impersonating an old man on the vocals. It reminds me of Clive Dunn's 1970s chart topper Grandad (bummer!).

Other excellent tracks are the two instrumentals Forever and Ever and Swings and Roundabouts.

Overall this is an essential album for any lover of keyboard-oriented prog and, as previous posters have said, the best Roger Dean cover ever (does anyone know where you can get hold of the poster?).

Greenslade - 2013 - Live In Stockholm, March 10, 1975

Live In Stockholm, March 10, 1975


01. Pilgrim's Progress
02. Newsworth
03. The Flattery Stakes
04. Bedside Manners Are Extra
05. Joie de Vivre
06. Waltz For A Fallen Idol
07. The Ass's Ears
08. Drum Folk
09. Spirit Of The Dance

- Dave Greenslade / vocals and keyboards
- Dave Lawson / keyboards
- Martin Briley / bass and backing vocals
- Andrew McCulloch / drums

Recorded in 1975 but not released until 2013, this archival release features Greenslade performing live in Stockholm, Sweden. At the time of this concert performance, the band were touring in support of the album Time And Tide which had been released the same year, and four tracks from that 1975 album are featured here in Newsworth, The Flattery Stakes, Waltz For A Fallen Idol, and The Ass's Ears. From 1974's Spyglass Guest comes Joie de Vivre and the excellent Spirit Of The Dance both of which also appeared on Live 1973-75 (an archival live release from 2000). Bedside Manners Are Extra is represented by three tracks including the title track, which was also on Live 1973-75, and Pilgrim's Progress and Drum Folk, which were not on Live 1973-75. The band's self-titled debut album is not represented at all on Live In Stockholm.

The sound quality is not perfect, but also not too shabby. The art work by the great Roger Dean is very nice and I would guess it is something that they dug up in the archives. It is a similar style to the early Greenslade covers, though it features a long-legged lady instead of the trademark many-armed man.

If you liked Live 1973-75 then Live In Stockholm will constitute a good companion piece for your collection. But essential it is not unless you are a Greenslade fan and collector.

Greenslade - 2001 - The Full Edition Live

The Full Edition Live

01. Cakewalk (4:33)
02. Feathered Friends (6:38)
03. Catalan (8:08)
04. No Room-But A View (3:36)
05. Large Afternoon (4:06)
06. Sundance (8:31)
07. Wherever I Go (5:15)
08. On Suite (5:56)
09. In The Night (6:24)
10. Bedside Manners Are Extra (5:11)
11. Joie De Vivre (11:19)
12. Spirit Of The Dance (3:27)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards
- John Young / keyboards, vocals
- John Trotter / drums
- Tony Reeves / bass

This is a damn fine live album, acting as a 'best of' spanning a 23 year career , all the expected tracks are present except for my all-time favorite Greenslade tune 'Melange' off the debut, (which you can listen to it on the MP3 section of PA) and the tremendous 'Pilgrim's Progress' of the second release. . There is a tremendous upside in John Young's voice (he of Asia, Wetton, Lifesigns) being so much more attractive than original second keyboardist Dave Lawson's, whose vocals were a hard digestion to say the least and the presence of fabulous bassist Tony Reeves. I, for the record, will restate that Reeves is one of my giant bass idols, owner of an exemplary technique, an almost fretless style that is awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, original drummer Andy MacCulloch (yes of King Crimson infamy) is replaced by the more straightforward John Trotter. This disc really encompasses some those little details that make this band somewhat unique in the prog realm. I will endeavor to highlight those in the course of the review.
Let's get to the killer tracks first: 'Cakewalk' opens up the festivities with Reeves bopping bass leading the crew and it's just plain fun. Little tongue in cheek humor to start off a show, but what do you expect! Dave Greenslade will always be considered as the poor man's Emerson/Wakeman, which in no way diminishes his celebrated talent. The luxuriant 'Catalan' is a celebrated piece that gives the soloists the room to show off their chops (Reeves pulls off a solo that is to die for) but not before going through some Mediterranean sonic stylings that just make you close your eyes and dream. A true prog classic off their 'Large Afternoon' is the title of their 2000 return album, their last one to date. It's a classic setup for both John Young and Dave Greenslade to display some explosive work on synthesizers, piano, organ and such. 'Sundance' is another Greenslade classic off their stellar debut disc, an epic and symphonic masterpiece that swims in dense orchestrations, dazzling electric piano and tons of flute mellotron, before unleashing a blazing hot synth blast that would make Manfred Mann blush with envy. The honky tonk piano solo in the midsection is diabolical. A couple of tracks from 'Large Afternoon' come up next, the 'On Suite' is a modern synth fest, with a bass track nice and present as well as a sax/oboe synth solo that is simply the best ever, a tad lightweight but the bombast via the trumpet sounding synthesizer brings the pulse back to home base, Reeves shepherding the crew magically. The next one is perhaps a bit corny but I love a good romantic tune with symphonic dressing, so 'In the Night' delivers the raw emotion in spades, enhanced by some stellar e-piano work that flutters beautifully, paving the way for the cheese factory voice to be sure but Young can sing with the best of them. I love that lounge/blues/jazz feel, I admit it's an acquired taste but I like Sade, so give me a break! What gets me is that unique guitarsynth patch and the bluesy sway. 'Bedside Manners are Extra' is the title of their second album (1973) and has a playful aura, nothing too cerebral but still chock full of mellotron waves in the old Genesis fold that just veers into a country-style piano romp, with a cool Young vocal. Refreshingly amusing. 'Joie de Vivre' is a lust for life piece off the otherwise dull 'Spyglass Guest' album, an epic 11 minute + keyboard showcase, where both the boss and Young get to try out all kinds of ivories. This is a more buoyant example of their unique legacy, a 'no guitar'/2 keyboardist attack that is quite rare in the music world. Lots of soloing here when Young ends his singing parts, both taking turns at ravaging their set-ups, screeching sounds tortured by deft fingers (a Moog solo to knock your jaw off!). Fun! 'Spirit of the Dance' is a bubbly finale overflowing with eclectic organs runs, a bold bass cutting through the waves, a good time to be had by all and superb playing by all musicians, a fascinating farewell.

The less interesting and predominantly vocal 'oriented tracks are interspersed with these extended pieces. The 1973 'Feathered Friends' is lovingly reworked with some sensational singing by Young as well as that pseudo sax synth solo that is utterly cute. 'No Room 'But a View' and the previously unreleased but poignant 'Whenever I Go' are shorter and more accessible ditties that are still miles away from being radio-friendly pap. Kind of idiotic that this is actually destined to please keyboard fans but I just follow that maddening bass and really get off on Reeves' talent. A very, very pleasant live album that is perhaps their finest recording ever. This is the place to start (at the end?). Oh well!

Greenslade - 2000 - Large Afternoon

Large Afternoon

01. Cakewalk (4:56)
02. Hallelujah Anyway (6:46)
03. Large Afternoon (4:34)
04. No Room - But A View (3:38)
05. Anthems (6:09)
06. In The Night (5:19)
07. On Suite (6:46)
08. Lazy Days (4:18)
09. May Fair (4:13)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards
- Tony Reeves / bass
- John Young / keyboard, vocals
- Chris Cozens / drums

 It may be the best part of thirty years since the release of their superb first two albums, but Dave Greenslade and Tony Reeves are back, with 'new boys' Chris Cozens and John Young .There have been few four-pieces that could boast two keyboard players, and Greenslade have been away far too long. I defy any lover of keyboard rock a la ELP not to fall in love with the opening instrumental "Cakewalk" as it drives along very nicely. John provides all of the vocals (four of the nine have lyrics), but his voice isn't strong enough for this role, although for a lot of the time he just manages to get away with it. For me it is on the more expansive instrumental numbers that the guys show what we have been missing for all these years. This is an album that I would recommend to any keyboard loving proggers out there.

Greenslade - 1999 - Live '73-'75

Live '73-'75

01. Sundance (8:10)
02. Drowning Man (5:50)
03. Feathered Friends (6:15)
04. Melange (7:35)
05. Jie De Vivre (8:55)
06. Bedside Manners Are Extra (5:10)
07. Sundance (13:15)
08. Red Light (2:40)
09. Spirit Of The Dance (3:05)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards
- Tony Reeves / bass
- Dave Lawson / keyboards, vocals
- Andrew McCulloch / drums

It's Greenslade, it's the 70's and it's recorded live! Just do yourselves a favor and get it. It is an impressive performance. Especially, the activity of the base of Tony Reeves that supplements the parts where the keyboards were overdubbed in the studio versions is splendid.

Greenslade - 1975 - Time & Tide

Time & Tide

01. Animal Farm (3:24)
02. Newsworth (3:03)
03. Time (1:16)
04. Tide (2:51)
05. Catalan (5:03)
06. The Flattery Stakes (3:57)
07. Waltz for a Fallen Idol (3:19)
08. The ass's Ears (3:21)
09. Doldrums (3:42)
10. Gangsters (2:27)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards (all except 1,9)
- Dave Lawson / keyboards (sll except 3,4)
- Martin Briley / bass, guitar, back vocal (all except 3,4,9)
- Andrew McCulloch / drums (all except 3,4,9)
- Ann Simmons / back vocal on 10
- Jill MacIntosh / back vocal
- Barry Morgan / timbales
- The Treverva Male Choir Directed by Edgar Kessel

ime and Tide was Greenslade's last release as a band during their 70's triumph. As good as the album is, it's quite short, clocking in at a mere 32.24 and features 10 (!) tracks, some of which took on a Pop glaze. The gorgeous cover-art by Patrick Woodroffe wasn't enough to make this album a masterpiece, and niether was the gatefold photograph of the band's stage set-up, complete with a clear perspex (?) Drumkit and a keyboard rig on each side, which perhaps suggests an un-necessary flamboyance, but this is often the case with Prog, and most of us wouldn't have it any other way. With the eye-catching excesses aside, the compositions are mostly fine, the playing extravagantly laden with stunning keyboarding, and a solid rhythm section, this time with newbie Martin Briley taking over the recently departed Reeves on Bass and Guitar duties, and Andrew McCulloch is, as always, a great Drummer. The songs are composed by the 2 Daves - Greenslade and Lawson, either by themselves, or together. Four of the songs here are dynamic instrumentals, 'Time' (1.16) being an arrangement for Harpsichord and Male Voice Choir - this one's a bit pompous. 'Tide' (2.51) follows on a low note Fender Rhodes rhythm, with multi-tracked Mellotrons creating a lush and majestic atmosphere. 'Catalan' (5.03) cuts in like a sledge- hammer, and kills the rather nebulous mood the previous tune created - it's rather chaotic arrangement of sudden loud blasts, and brooding moments interrupting the flow somewhat, but when the song gets going, Lawson turns in a fine, searing ARP synth solo and the band is firing on all cylinders. The last instrumental track is the last on the LP, 'Gangsters' (2.27) and is a beauty. 'Doldrums' (3.42) is a jazzy piece (always reminds me of Soft Machine, circa 'Softs') and is just Lawson alone at the keyboards and the microphone. The remaining songs of the album are the Prog/complex Pop ones, but still offer up some great moments. 'The Ass's Ears' (3.21) in particular highlights McCulloch's playing. The weakest point of the album would have to be 'The Flattery Stakes' (3.57) with some cheezy female backing vox and rather simple melodies and structure

Greenslade - 1974 - Spyglass Guest

Spyglass Guest

01. Spirit of the Dance (5:08)
02. Little red Fry-up (5:11)
03. Rainbow (4:20)
04. Siam Seesaw (4:43)
05. Joie de vivre (8:25)
06. Red Light (2:47)
07. Melancolic Race (4:15)
08. Theme for an Imaginary Western (3:51)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards (1,4,5,7,8)
- Tony Reeves / bass guitar (1,2,4,5,7,8)
- Andrew McCulloch / drums, percussion
- Dave Lawson / keyboards (all except 1)

Guest musicians:
- Clem Clemson / electric guitar (2,4)
- Jeremy Ensor / recorder Rainon 3
- Andy Roberts / acoustic guitar on 4
- Graham Smith / violin on 5
- Gregg Jackman / recorder church noise on 5

My favourite album from this band created from keyboard player Dave Greenslade agree with bass player Tony Reeves both from Colosseum. Greenslade decided to give his band a very keyboard orientated sound so that decided to join Dave Lawson and get along without a guitar player, but, compaired to the two previous albums," Spyglass guest" it's better balanced among all sounds possibilities and results wonderful. It opens with typical instrumental introduction, but not a short one, on the contrary a complete demonstration of Greenslade capabilities at each kind of keyboards,perfectly substained by the evergreen Andy McCulloch on drums. Then it's Lawson's turn and "Little red fry-up" with "Rainbow" complete the fantastic beginning of this album, expecially from instrumental point of view: Lawson 's voice is infact a bit too screeching for my tastes! A moment of rest with peaceful "Siam Seesaw" which precedes the hit of this album, "Joie de vivre" so beautiful in every part, with both of Dave at their top realizing complex and at the same time so vital music. "Red light" is at right place in the right moment because you can listen at this track as while you've still in ears the previous one! "Melancholic race" is fantastic again for sounds and rhythm changes showing a great Andy, on the contrary "Theme for an imaginary western" nothing adds to the album beauty,

Greenslade - 1973 - Bedside Manners Are Extra

Bedside Manners Are Extra

01. Bedside Manners Are Extra (6:16)
02. Pilgrim's Progress (7:12)
03. Time to Dream (4:46)
04. Drum Folk (8:44)
05. Sunkissed You're Not (6:27)
06. Chalkhill (5:24)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards
- Andy McCulloch / drums & percussions
- Tony Reeves / bass
- Dave Lawson / keyboards

I have been aware of Dave GREENSLADE for some time now. Like his work with COLOSSEUM, such as "Valentyne Suite" (1969) which is truly a must have album for those who enjoy bluesy progressive jazz rock. And let's not forget his next band, simply called GREENSLADE. "Bedside Manners Are Extra" is their second album, released later the same year as their debut. Cover artwork is by Roger Dean, and the band logo was also created by Dean as well (which isn't hard to tell). All four members had been in established bands. We all know Dave GREENSLADE himself and his involvement with COLOSSEUM. Bassist Tony Reeves was also of COLOSSEUM (and appeared on their first two albums, "Those Who Are About To Die Salute You" and "Valentyne Suite"). He also played in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (in which another COLOSSEUM member, Dick Heckstall-Smith had played in). Andrew McCulloch was a brief member of KING CRIMSON, and had appeared on their album "Lizard", and keyboardist/vocalist Dave Lawson was a member of WEB during their final album ( I Spider from 1970, the previous two WEB albums, "Fully Interlocking" and "Therphosa Blondi" featured John L. Watson instead), and the one album from 1971 when WEB changed their name to SAMURAI.
Anyway, GREENSLADE's music tended to much more conventional progressive rock, those who aren't too keen on the jazzy/bluesy COLOSSEUM would have less problems here, but then the high-pitched vocals of Dave Lawson (he definately sounds a lot different than on I Spider) is an acquired taste and might throw off many people. You won't find much trace of that old COLOSSEUM sound here, despite the presence of two ex-COLOSSEUM members. Only half the songs on "Bedside Manners Are Extra" have vocals, the rest are instrumental. This album is also packed with Mellotron, I never imagined Dave GREENSLADE being a tron user, mainly because his works with COLOSSEUM were obviously dominated by organ and piano, but this album is loaded with it, and a good reason to buy this album, to fill a hole in your Mellotron collection. The title track starts off deceptively like soft rock, but most of the rest of the piece tends more to the Romantic prog spectrum. Most of the rest of the album has a more bombastic keyboard-dominated style of prog, but much more restrained than say, Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman. "Pilgrams Progress" is an instrumental piece with a recurring theme played on tron flute. There's the occasional ELP-like passage too. "Time to Dream" has an almost GENESIS-like feel to it, especially the use of Mellotron. "Drum Folk" gets frequently criticized for the use of drum solos twice, but the great passages (including more wonderful use of Mellotron) makes up for it. The final cut, "Chalichill" is an all-instrumental piece with a great jam at the end with a wonderful Moog solo. This is truly an underrated prog rock album (likely because of Dave Lawson's singing), and aside from CURVED AIR, one of the greats found on the Warner Bros. label (a label you can't get more mainstream than that, it's nice to see GREENSLADE and CURVED AIR on a label too full of overly-commercial crap).

I can't get over the photo of Dave GREENSLADE you find in the gatefold of the LP and that expression on his face.

No doubt, like RARE BIRD, this band also had two keyboardists and no guitarist, even if the music sounds nothing like RARE BIRD. It's an interesting fact that Dave GREENSLADE's first solo effort, "Cactus Choir" (1976) featured ex-RARE BIRD vocalist Steve Gould.

This is Greenslade's apex, and I'm not alone in thinking this way. Some of the most prominent Greenslade numbers ever written are right here, and even the interplaying between all four musicians is tighter and more cohesive than in their impressive debut album. There is also a productive expansion of Greenslade's sonic pallet, due to the inclusion of synth (by Lawson) and an enhancement in the role of mellotron, a role that proves quite relevant in many passages trhoughout the album. Things get started quite smoothly with the namesake prog ballad, whose first lines on piano are almost exactly the same as the ones that marked the final passages in the debut album's closing epic 'Sundance'. Well, 'Beside Manners.' is less epic and more reflective, with an unmistakable touch of irony in both the lyrics and Lawson's singing, particularly the sing- along choruses. The main basis played on grand and electric pianos is craftily adorned by mellotron orchestrations and successive solos on synthesizer and RMI electric harpsichord - not amazing precisely, but an attractive opener. Things really start to get typically Greenslade-esque from track 2. 'Pilgrims Progress' is one of the most emblematic instrumentals in Greenslade's career, and also one of the finest Dave Greenslade compositions ever: its various effective motifs and contrasting moods fluidly interconnected, the powerful performances of a well adjusted ensemble, the colourful keyboard resources that are displayed with total splendour and excitement, never getting too obtuse, always keeping a clear focus on the melodic lines - all these things make 'Pilgrims Progress' the most outstanding number in the album. But the other two instrumentals are nothing to be dismissed, not at all. 'Drum Folk' gives room for an excellent two-part drum solo masterfully delivered by McCulloch (shouldn't this guy be mentioned more often in prog forums and polls?), but there's more to it than that. The introductory ethereal organ/mellotron layers prepare the path for an effective prog- jazzy main motif in which the Hammond organ and the electric piano complement each other beautifully, while the rhythm section keeps an immaculately pace for the complex time signatures. Between both parts of the drum solo, comes a captivating Pink Floydian slow section: the mellotron flute intro is simply delicious (somewhere I read that the mellotron flute is perhaps the most beautiful keyboard sound ever, and I do tend to agree every time I listen to this brief part of 'Drum Folk'), and so are the organ harmonies added soon after, as well as the amazing RMI solo that emulates a bluesy guitar. The brief reprise of the main motif that serves as a coda ends the track with a proper sense of energy evidently developed in McCulloch's featured interventions. While not being as cohesive as the aforementioned instrumental, its epic orientation is certainly well accomplished. The last instrumental is 'Chalkhill', written by Lawson and Reeves: similar in structure to 'Pilgrims Progress', it also captures the prototypical Greenslade sound at its best. The remaining sung tracks are also very effective and powerful. The blues- rock infected 'Time to Dream' and the jazzier 'Sunkissed You're Not' are based on catchy melodies which are given an added touch of complexity through the use of clever arrangements and the layout of rooms for soloing.

Greenslade - 1973 - Greenslade


01. Feathered Friends (6:42)
02. An english Western (3:25)
03. Drowning Man (6:40)
04. Temple Song (3:32)
05. Melange (7:27)
06. What are you Doing to Me (4:40)
07. Sundance (8:45)

- Dave Greenslade / keyboards
- Dave Lawson / keyboards, vocals
- Andy McCulloch / drums, percussion
- Tony Reeves / bass guitar, double bass

Greenslade has always been a great unsung prog hero from the UK. I fell in love with their style at first listen, which happened the day that I purchased their first two albums. I felt connected with the dual keyboard interplay, the jazz/blues nuances that were fluidly instilled in their symphonic approach, the powerful rhythm section, the way that all the virtuoso playing was accurately placed in the logic of the compositions, and even Lawson's peculiar singing. 'Feathered Friends' kicks off the album with an effective, fast-paced motif, which softly turns down and gives way to the slower, blues- based sung motif that fills 90 % of the song: this is an appropriate opening number, since it shows straight away the typical keyboard interplays fluidly sustained between both Daves, the solid rhythm partnership of McCulloch and Reeves, and Lawson's sharp vocal. 'An English Western' is an effective instrumental pretty much focused on Greenslade's organ excursions, with Lawson and himself delivering some well crafted complementing labour on grand and electric pianos: the bluesy aspect is somewhat pronounced on this one. That same bluesy aspect is evident in 'Drowning Man' (one of the most popular Greenslade tracks, well, under the boundaries of the popularity they managed to achieve), but it goes more places, from jazz to R'n'B to symphonic prog all throughout its developing themes. 'Temple Song' is a candid semi-ballad based on a Far East-like motif: beautiful dialogues between vibes and electric piano, and the first time Lawson chooses to assume a gentle vocal cadence in order to deliver a more "conventionally pleasant" singing. 'Mélange' is another Greenslade classic, going for the rockier side of things while being supported on a jazz fusion basis. Reeves shines particularly here, with his fuzz bass assuming the leading role in many passages: McCulloch delivers a more compact drumming in order to compensate for his rhythm partner's melodic excursions. Were it not for the closing track, this one would be my personal fave in this album. Without the presence of a guitar, it's amazing how Greenslade can get really aggressive whenever they want to: the organ chord progressions and the dual mellotron layers of 'What are You Doin' to Me' feel really dense and heavy, and the way that Lawson delivers his sung demands as stated in his lyrics don't make things any softer. Generally speaking, I feel this number as an appropriate moment of energy and irony between the exhibitions of instrumental tour- de-force delivered in the preceding and following numbers. So now, here it comes, last but not least, the closure 'Sundance'. The epic multicolored explorations and immaculately cohesive interplaying contained in this 8 ¾ minute long piece make it the most impressive number in the album, and a most amazing closure as well: it has all the common recurrent elements in the quartet's style, albeit with an overtly featured symphonic feel. If this is the first Greenslade experience for the listener, 'Sundance' sure makes them willing to keep track on this band's efforts - they won't be disappointed by the follow-up "Bedside Manners are Extra", but that's an issue for another review. As for "Greenslade", I think it's an excellent sample of prog stuff with a jazz-blues twist, and it would make a great addition for any good prog collection.

Samurai - 1971 - Samurai


01. Saving It Up For So Long
02. More Rain
03. Maudie James
04. Holy Padlock
05. Give A Little Love
06. Face In The Mirror
07. As I Dried The Tears Away

- Lennie Wright / drums, percusion
- Kenny Beveridge / drums, percusion
- Tony Edwards / guitars
- John Eaton / bass
- Dave Lawson / organ, piano, keyboards, vocals
- Don Fay / winds
- Tony Roberts / winds

Samurai was previously known as Web. Web released three albums, Fully Interlocking (1968), Theraphosa Blondi (1970), and I Spider (1970). The first two featured American singer John L. Watson, and were released on Deram. I Spider was released on Polydor and Watson was replaced by future Greenslade vocalist/keyboardist Dave Lawson.

The Deram albums are said to be more pop/psychedelic offerings. I Spider is considered the best and where Web's reputation in progressive rock circles rests on. But for some odd reason, when Tom Harris left and they brought in two new wind players, Tony Roberts and Don Fay, they were now called Samurai. Legal reasons? Did Tom Harris have the rights to the Web name? I really can't say, since finding info on bands like this is often very difficult to come by.

Once Web became Samurai, the band was no longer recording for Polydor, but for a far more obscure label, Greenwich. Finding an original LP these days, of course, is practically, forget it, find the CD reissue (Akarma in Italy had most recently reissued it). Honestly I really think Samurai is by and far the finest album Dave Lawson ever played in.

I even highly recommend this to those who aren't much for Greenslade. Greenslade's music could end up as cheesy at times to some listeners, Samurai avoided all of Greenslade's cheesy-tendencies. Let's not forget Dave Lawson's voice. On those Greenslade albums his singing was often high pitched and strained, here he has a much more pleasant voice in Samurai which really fits the style of music just great.

I'm sure you might detect some of that future Greenslade, but you don't have Dave Greenslade's keyboard style, and you also get treated with vibraphone and various wind instruments (saxes, mainly) and nice organ work throughout. This is early '70s, where many progressive rock bands were still making song-based material, and Samurai was one of them. In fact, I really think the reason progressive rock got such a bad reputation later on was many people felt too many bands abandoned writing great songs in place of showing off their instrumental abilities and how complex they can make their music. I really think this group could've ended up being better known were it not for the label they were on.

It's hard for me to describe the album on a song to song basis, but I'll pick out some of my favorites. "More Rain" is a nice, laid-back piece with nice use of flute. I really like the acoustic passages too. I get reminded a bit of Jade Warrior here. "Maudie James" and "Holy Padlock" are just plain great catchy songs, while "Give a Little Love" has a more aggressive edge. I really like the sax and organ work. "Face in the Mirror" is one of those songs that really grew on me big time, I really like the mellow nature of this song. "As I Dried the Tears Away" is a wonderful, epic closing piece with some great creative passages to go with it.

Samurai broke up after this album. No surprise given they recorded for such a short-lived and obscure label as Greenwich, and probably no longer had the finances to continue one. But that didn't stop Dave Lawson. Ex-Colosseum members Dave Greenslade and Tony Reeves, with ex-King Crimson and Fields drummer Andy McCulloch brought in Dave Lawson to form Greenslade, who managed four albums between 1973 and 1975, before throwing in the towel at the right time (just right before punk rock came in).

Samurai is truly another great, lost gem of early British progressive rock. I really like the jazzy feel that goes with it, and this is one progressive rock album you can't call "pretentious" (and we all know every prog rock detractor out there calls this kind of music "pretentious"). It's nothing but a collection of great songs with interesting use of instruments (organ, wind instruments, and the way the vibraphone is integrated in the music, rather than using it during jazzy solos like many other bands did at the time). I really highly recommend this album!

The Web - 1970 - I Spider

The Web 
I Spider

01. Concerto for Bedsprings (10:10)
 a. I Can't Sleep
 b. Sack Song
 c. Peaceful Sleep
 d. You Can Keep the Good Life
 e. Loner
02. I Spider (8:30)
03. Love You (5:21)
04. Ymphasomniac (6:43)
05. Always I Wait (8:10)

- Kenny Beveridge / drums, percussion
- Lennie Wright / drums, percussion, vibes
- John Eaton / bass
- Tony Edwards / guitars
- Tom Harris / saxes, flute
- Dave Lawson / keyboards, vocals

This is where The Web became just Web, ultimately offering a powerful point of reference for the evolution of prog rock in the jazz-rock area. The entry of keyboardist Dave Lawson (also owner of a charismatic, powerful singing style, bizarre pitch) refurbished the band's sound by making the keyboards and vibes form the prominent nuclear center of the whole ensemble's sound. It is also obvious that the new fresh air comes from the solid influences from great contemporaries art-rock bands such as Soft Machine, The Nice, Caravan, Egg and Procol Harum. The album kicks off with the monster piece 'Concerto for Bedsprings', a 10+ minute song with five individually defined sections. 'I Can't Sleep' is a slow rocker intro that sounds like a Zeppelin-meets-Egg feast, and it is a real pity that it isn't longer because it's terribly catchy. Anyway, the transitions to the next two sections emphasize the band's jazzy nuclear essence, very Canterbury-related indeed. 'You Can Keep the Good Life' is an uplifting section that straightforwardly reveals the band's good vibe; the featured sax solo is playful enough to complement the quite controlled deliveries of the remaining instruments. A passage like this explains why Lawson was destined to meet Dave Greeenslade some day and form a band together. Once again, this section ends too soon to segue into the closing section 'Loner'. I wouldn't have minded if it had been some minutes longer, but it's really a great start. The namesake track is an excellent showcase for the ingenious use of a simplistic musical idea in order to make it richer. The languid cadence, the lush organ layers and soaring vibraphone, the hazy sax lines, all of them create a pertinently introspective atmosphere; meanwhile, the repetitive minimal guitar phrases fulfill the overall aura with their focused precision. And the gentle chord shift that sets the conclusive portion, well, it's just plain lovely, mysterious in a way. If a track can last 8 ¾ minutes with such an evidently concise motif, then one must acknowledge the genius in the concept and the arrangement. The album's second half kicks off with 'Love You': after an eerie intro of piano and mellotron, the piece unwraps a main body that sounds like one of those R'n'B-toned The Nice songs that made it for any of their first two albums, only Web delivers it with a more meticulous balance among instruments. Lead guitarist plays a brief, rough solo that is closely related to anything that Robin Trower could have performed in Procol Harum's "Shine On Brightly" or "Home" albums. Generally speaking, this track is not too complex, but it certainly portrays a very usual sound in England's underground rock scene at the time. Complexity really comes out in the superb instrumental 'Ymphasomniac', an effective exhibition of pre-Gentle Giant syncopation combined with colorful traces of Egg and Colosseum. The album's last 8 minutes are occupied by 'Always I Wait', a song that brings much of the spirit of the extroverted moments from 'Concerto', only this time provided with an extra touch of blues-rock to feed the overall jazz feel. The track's melodic arrangement is elegantly developed, which shows the band's ability to set constraints to the potential energy in a clever way. Shortly after, the band added a second saxophonist and changed its name to Samurai: "I Spider" is, mainly, a solid precedent of that, and in itself, a great if obscure effort for the installment of early prog.