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Gravy Train

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Let us venture into some early 1970's hard-prog/psych from the UK, the not so known (at least in the US) Gravy Train. Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Norman Barratt, keyboardist/voclaist/wind instrumentalist JD Hughes, bassist Leste Williams, and drummer Barry Davenport.......Personally, I like these albums a good bit, drag them out every couple years (especially the first two, but all have their moments). Sounding a good bit like Jethro Tull (yep, lotta flute) with rougher, blusier vocals, maybe even somewhat like Blodwyn Pig, there are some gems here if you are a fan of early 1970's prog stuff.

The first album is a very, very good one, 1970's "Gravy Train". Opening with the fine track "The  New One", and followed up with the (misspelled) tribute to Syd Barrett entitiled "Dedication to Sid", oh well......there are some good hard/heavy rocking tunes here, notably "Coast Road" and "Enterprise", of course, as is the norm in this type of stuff, we also get one of those never-ending 17 minute opi, "Earl of Pocket Nook", I'm sure it seemed "way hip" at the time.

The second effort "Ballad of a Peaceful Man" is as good/better, still plenty of flighty flute playing, still plenty of fine guitar, and plenty of abstract lyrics for you to peruse in Tull/Floyd style they incorporated on the debut. "Alone In Georgia" is a good one, but really, the songs flow together well, and as with much prog rock of this area, really needs to be listened to as an album as a whole.

My prog "experts" tell me that album #3, 1973's "Second Birth", is not looked upon as favorably by fans/true beleivers, I guess I am really neither because it sounds god to me, quite a bit like theire previous two efforts......I realize they were changing record labels at the time, but, to me, there is little evidence of tension or problems......"Motorway" is a good rocking tune, one of their best, a lot of the other stuff is more dreamy and laid-back, but still seems worthwhile to me.

Finally they called it a day with "Staircase to the Day", I think while it is still listenable, it's probably the least essential of the four....the musicianship is still ace, but the material seems to be in a serious state decline, it would be wise for MANY bands to rethink their career path once they are running dry on ideas. Congratulations to them for not staying too long at the fair as so many do.

Not a prg-rock expert, but I enjoy some of it, and I enjoy at least parts of all four of these....if you only want to sample one, go for either of the first two, but if you enjoy those you MAYwant to check out the other two as well, they do have their rewards.

Still looking for that "King of Internet Musical Diversity" gift certificate, I an just feel it coming myn way.

Links in a little while.

GRAVY TRAIN-01 The New One/02 Dedication to Sid/03 Coast Road/04 Enterprise/05 Think Life/06 Earl of Pocket Nook

(BALLAD OF) A PEACEFUL MAN-01 Alone in Georgia/02 (Ballad of) a Peaceful Man/03 Jules Delight/04 Messenger/05 Can Anybody Hear Me/06 Old Tin Box/07 Won't Talk About It/08 Home Again

SECOND BIRTH-01 Morning Coming/02 Peter/03 September Morning News/04 Motorway/05 Fields and Factories/06 Strength of a Dream/07 Tolpuddle Episode/08 Second Birth/09 Goodtime Girl (Bonus Track)

STAIRCASE TO THE DAY-01 Starbright Starlight/02 Bring My Life On Back to Me/03 Never Wanted You/04 Staircase to the Day/05 Going For a Quick One/06 The Last Day/07 Evening of My Life/08 Busted in Schenectady

Links pretty soon, odds are you simply cannot wait!

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