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Red Queen to Gryphon Three / Raindance

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Album Review

This single-disc collection gathers the complete contents of both Red Queen to Gryphon Three (1974) and Raindance (1975), respectively the third and fourth titles from Gryphon. Initially the band made a significant niche for themselves with a myriad of intricate and equally beautiful acoustic folk melodies. However, by the time of these two long-players, the original quartet had now expanded to include Philip Nestor (bass guitar), Ernest Hart (organ), and Peter Redding (acoustic bass), and their sound had evolved, now tastefully incorporating elements of prog rock/art rock. As the album's title suggests, the concept behind Red Queen to Gryphon Three is the dramatic strategy involved in a chess match. The move-by-move struggle for supremacy is instrumentally animated during the four movements: "Opening Move," "Second Spasm," "Lament," and "Checkmate." Many enthusiasts have expressed the opinion that this LP best represents Gryphon's abilities to effortlessly vacillate between the electric bombast of mid-'70s prog rock and the delicate woodwind recorders, distinct crumhorn, and hand percussion. Raindance — the band's follow-up and final Transatlantic Records label release — again provides a noticeable departure. The album's fairly wide spectrum of styles ranges from the downright funky opener, "Down the Dog," to the absolutely enchanting acoustic cover of the Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son." There are also diminutive ditties such as the slightly ragtime instrumental "Le Cabrioleur Est dans le Mouchoir" and the 60 seconds of harmony and precision clockwork percussion on "Ormolu." The 16-plus minute closer, "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben," recalls the stretched-out jams and almost cinematic blend of instrumentation to create one of the band's most definitive sonic sojourns. Although a slightly reconfigured Gryphon regrouped a few years later for a final outing, appropriately enough titled Treason, the madrigal majesty and organic sonic whimsy of Gryphon had undeniably passed.

Customer Reviews

Red Queen to Gryphon Three

Red Queen to Gryphon Three is a true gem of early '70s progressive rock and is more than worth the price of admission here. Raindance showcases Gryphon in a more commercial vein and is still a decent piece of work.

Biography

Formed: 1971 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

Gryphon was one of the more unusual of the folk-rock groups to come out of England in the 1970s, mostly because they didn't confine their musical genre-melding to folk-rock. Spawned at the Royal College of Music, they started out making a name for themselves in folk-rock, but their classical training and their approach to composition, recording, and performance soon took...
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Red Queen to Gryphon Three / Raindance, Gryphon
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