1974, Music

Red Queen to Gryphon Three (1974)

Are the wrinkles on the forehead of the character on the cover meant to to at least somewhat allude to Gentle Giant? Because that’s the first thing I think of when I see the cover and the thought enters my head that this might be somewhere in the world of Gentle Giant.

That proves to be both correct and completely incorrect. But thinking of Gryphon as a sort of Gentle Giant without singers is not the worst framework I can think of for approaching this music (for someone who has never heard this band before). Because, as much as Gentle Giant are in love with Baroque and Renaissance music, these guys appear to be in love with Renaissance music, perhaps even more so. There is a time in my life that I might have fallen head of over heels fore this but that time is long past.

There is a lot that is impressive here. The musicianship is pretty incredible and it is fairly rare (though not entirely unique) to hear such well played traditional horn/wind parts on a rock album. And in addition to the compelling playing, the pieces do have strong enough melodies that they don’t come across as just showing off.

But I am left very much feeling this this is not “rock” music most or at least much of the time. And the thing is, one of the things I like about prog rock is the rock part. This music is significantly more along the progressive folk spectrum than I like. I was just listening to an Egg album before this and though I think I can safely say this record is is the better album, is more of an accomplishment, I like the Egg record more. And I like it more because, when it does embrace rock, it rocks more, even though Egg didn’t have a regular guitarist like Gryphon does.

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