Band members Related acts
up 1 (1969)
line up 2 (1969-70)
- Brian Cresswell -- flute, sax
up 3 (1970-71)
backing musicians: (1971)
- Wizz Jones -- acoustic guitar, backing vocals
- Mike Moran -- piano
- The Art Wood Combo (Malcolm Poole)
- The Artwoods (Malcolm Poole)
- The Brotherhood
- Gordon Giltrap Band
- Don Partridge (solo efforts)
- Pump Gump (Malcolm Poole)
- The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Malcolm Pool)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: minor ring
Catalog ID: --
Accolade is one of those short-lived late-1960s/early-1970s English bands that attempted to expand musical boundaries mixing traditional English folk with an array of rock influences. A&R man/manager Don Paul is responsible for the band's formation. In 1967 Paul spotted singer/guitarist Don Partridge playing in a London street (what the English call "busking"). Paul helped Partridge get signed by Columbia where he promptly enjoyed commercial success with a series of singles including 1968's 'Blue Eyes' and 'Rosie'. Taking advantage of his commercial breakthrough, Partridge rented the Royal Albert Hall in order to stage an early 1969 "Buskers Concert". The concert's success led to a UK Buskers Tour and the release of a Buskers album ("The Buskers" Columbia catalog number SX 6356). While he wasn't featured on the album, one of the tour participants was singer/guitarist Gordon Giltrap. Discovering common musical interests, Partridge and Giltrap agree to a collaboration which saw the emergence of Accolade.
By the time the Accolade signed with Columbia, the line-up featured Partridge and Giltrap on vocals and guitar, Brian Cresswell on flute and sax, drummer Ian Hoyle and former Artwoods member Malcolm Pool on contrabass fiddle. In one respect the band was quite different from many of their folk contemporaries - namely they were brimming with talent. Signed by Columbia in the UK, it's a mystery to me how they even got their 1970 debut released in the States by Capitol . In the early-'70s Capitol was hardly a label renown for its willingness to take a chance on cutting edge sounds. "Hey guys, let's take a chance on signing a bunch of unknown, long-haired English folkies to a contract in the States ..." Bet that went over well. Produced by Don Paul, 1970's "Accolade" is hard to accurately describe. Giltrap and Partridge split the majority of songwriting duties, with Cresswell contributing the instrumental 'Prelude To a Dawn'. The track listing was rounded out with a cover of Eden Ahbez's famous 'Nature Boy'. The album exhibited a smooth and calming sound throughout. Call it pastoral. Entirely acoustic (though you don't really realize it), material such as the opener 'Maiden Flight Eliza' (featuring some unexpected Monkees-styled harmonies - I'm not kidding), Creswell's pretty instrumental 'Prelude To a Dawn' and Giltrap's hysterical, autobiographical memory 'Never Ending Solitude' weren't exactly mainstream rock, nor did they fall under the banner of Fairport Convention-styled English folk. Imagine well crafted cocktail jazz with the addition of a touch of English folk (the twelve minute opus 'Ulysses') and you'll start to get a feel for the LP. While that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, the result was actually a fascinating album that I repeatedly come back to. My favorite tracks? The album's only cover - their extended jazzy take on Ahbez's famous 'Nature Boy' and Giltrap's surprisingly hard rocking 'Gospel Song'. It's not a common LP, but you can still readily find US copies with the added bonus being it isn't outrageously priced.
There's also a rare non-LP single (which I've never seen, let alone heard), but I have to admit I don't know if it was released before, or after the debut album:
- 1970's 'Natural Day' b/w 'Prelude To a Dawn' (Columbia catalog DB 8688)
"Accolade" track listing:
1.) Maiden Flight Eliza (Don Partridge) - 2:42 rating: *** stars
'Maiden Flight Eliza' started out the album with a weird mash-up of folk, blues and jazzy moves. Not sure how they pulled it off, but the results were surprisingly impressive. Partdridge' acoustic guitar work was wild. How does anyone play notes that fast - would love to hear it played on an electric guitar. Featured both Giltrap and Partridge the harmony vocals were sweet and very commercial. They would not have sounded out of place on a Monkees album . I didn't even mind Brian Cresswell's flute moves.
2.) Starting All Over Again (Gordon Giltrap) - 4:45 rating: *** stars
Opening up with some attractive acoustic guitar chords, 'Starting All Over Again' showcased Giltrap's nice voice on a flute-propelled, mid-tempo number that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Jethro Tull album. Yeah, the lyrics were a bit precious with their references ot Picasso and DiVinci, but again the results were surprisingly commercial and their blended voices were sterling. This was one of those tracks where you didn't realize the song didn't include any electric instrumentation.
3.) Prelude To a Dawn (instrumental) (Brian Cresswell) - 3:10 rating: **** stars
The album's lone instrumental, Brian Cresswell's 'Prelude To a Dawn' spotlighted his flute work on a melody that had a slightly jazzy vibe (you can hear Patridge on vibraphone). The result was calming, almost pastoral and another performance where I looked back surprised to realize it was all acoustic instrumentation. Admittedly having Ian Hoyle on drums helped disguise the absence of electric instrumentation.
4.) Never Ending Solitude (Gordon Giltrap) - 2:36 rating: *** stars
Great title for a folk tune ... Apparently an autobiographical reflection on his time as a touring artists, I love the timepiece lyrics - "groovy scene", "man", "bag a chick" and references to Paul McCartney and Steve McQueen ... Giltrap had an interesting voice; there was a weird "pop" character to his voice.
5.) Nature Boy (Eden Ahbez) - 9:35 rating: **** stars
One of my collecting regrets is having sold an original copy of Eden Ahbez's "Nature Boy" LP. I got quite a bit of money for the LP, though nowhere near the price an original goes for today. Anyhow, Partridge was responsible for getting the band to include this one on the album. The song was part of Partridge's original busker repertoire and he recorded a version of the song in the early-'60s. On the fabulous album remake he handled lead vocals, second guitar and Vibraphone. There are dozens of covers of the Ahbez (aka George Alexander Aberle) song, but other than the hit Nat King Cole version, this may be the best one I've encountered. Never realized how much I liked the vibraphone.
1.) Gospel Song (Gordon Giltrap) - 3:31 rating: **** stars
With Giltrap on vocals and lead guitar 'Gospel Song' was the album's most rocking tune. Showcasing the group's surprisingly nice harmonies, this one could have been a single. Easy to imagine a producer slapping on an electric guitar solo and the tune climbing up the charts. Actually, Giltrap's acoustic soloing was impressive enough as is. The man had some serious chops !!!
2.) Calico (Don Partridge) - 3:03 rating: *** stars
I think Partridge had the best voice in the group and it showed on breezy the ballad 'Calico'. Deep and resonant, his voice was the perfect instrument for the odd mash-up of folk and jazz. On a YouTube posting Partridge's younger brother mentioned the song had been written prior to the Accolade project while Partridge was living in Norwood Green, London in late 1968.
3.) Ulysses (Don Partridge) - 12:32 rating: *** stars
Remember it took Ulysses ten years to get back home to Ithaca after the Greek victory in the Trojan Wars. It'll only take you twelve minutes to get through this tune. Taking inspiration from the Odyssey, it's an interesting concept piece with a variety of musical turns and twists. And yes it's long. Another one where I was surprised to realize it was an all acoustic arrangement.
4.) Go On Home (Don Partridge) - 2:37 rating: ** stars
Thanks in part to Cresswell's flute work, 'Go On Home' was very jazzy. I liked Pool's acoustic bass lines, but overall the tune was a little too laidback for my tastes.
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Accolade 2
Company: EMI Regal
Catalog: SLRZ 1024
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: UK pressing; minor edge and corner wear;.
Catalog ID: SOLD
Price: SOLD $250.00
Following a personnel shakeup that saw singer/guitarist Gordon Giltrap strike out on his own, Accolade returned with 1971's "Accolade 2". Again produced by Don Paul, Capitol executives apparently deciding the set had no commercial potential and passed on the opportunity to release the album in the States. That was unfortunate given the band's sophomore effort was actually far stronger than the debut. With Partridge continuing to serve as chief writer (he's credited with six of the ten songs), his contributions were far more varied than on the first LP. Musically the set was pretty entertaining, mixing acoustic folk and jazzy touches with occasional slices of more pop and rock-oriented material. Highlights included the slinky and lyrically intriguing opener 'Transworld Blues', the surprisingly taunt rocker 'The Spider To the Spy' (sporting some of the year's most inept harmony vocals) and the bizarre 'Cross Continental Pandemonium Theatre Company'. Admittedly it wasn't something that immediately grabbed my ears, but this is one of those albums that rewards patience. The first time around it doesn't sound like anything special, but with repeated spins, it grows on you revealing considerable charms.
The band briefly toured in support of the album. Personality conflict arose in the band and Pool quit after an incident with Partridge. Within a matter of months the band was history.
'Course I know none of you buy music based on what the critics say ... Were you to ever fall to such a temptation, this one's included in Hans Pokora's "2001 Record Collector Dreams". I've only seen two copies in my twenty years of collecting; which may explain some of the high asking price.
"Accolade 2" track listing:
1.) Transworld Blues (Don Partridge) - rating: **** stars
Normally a song opening up with acoustic guitar and flute wouldn't do a great deal for me, but on 'Transworld Blues' the combination was simply mesmerizing. Showcasing Partridge's clipped vocals and some hysterical lyrics that named more countries than any song I've ever heard, the result was one of the coolest acid-tinged jazz songs I've ever heard.
2.) The Spider To the Spy (Don Partridge) - rating: **** stars
With Partridge double tracked on lead vocals and turning in some tasty lead guitar, 'The Spider To the Spy' demonstrated these guys could actually pull of a real rock song. Kudos to Brian Cresswwell for turning in one of the few flute solo that actually ended up helping a song rock out ...
3.) Baby, Take Your Rags Off (Don Partridge) - rating: *** stars
A slow, bluesy ballad that actually had kind of a MOR-ish edge, 'Baby, Take Your Rags Off'' was the album's first disappointment. Pretty, but not particularly memorable. Nice harmonica solo (though if you listened closely you could hear what sounded like an additional stanza of lyrics in the background).
4.) Cross Continental Pandemonium Theatre Compan (Brian Cresswell - Ian Hoyle - Don Partridge - Malcolm Poole) - rating: *** stars
With a title that was almost as long as the song itself, 'Cross Continental Pandemonium Theatre Company' found the band trying to blend a more commercial pop direction with their patented jazzy-rock moves. It started out slowly, but actually got more interesting when it moved into jazzy territory and the song sported some fantastic acoustic bass. Partridge's lead vocals have always reminded me a little of Greg Lake.
1.) Snakes In a Hole (Wadnius - Borgudd) - rating: *** stars
Hum, if asked I probably wouldn't have thought that a flute solo could be funky, but after hearing 'Snakes In a Hole' I've changed by mind.
-2.) The Time I've Wasted (Don Partridge) - rating: *** stars
'The Time I've Wasted' was a standard folk number. Apparently autobiographical and based on Partridge's life as a busker, the song was kind of interesting in that his vocal reminded me a bit of Greg Lake's ... hum, imagine ELP recording a folk song.
3.) Sector Five Nine (Don Partridge) - rating: **** stars
Described as 'an invitation to extra-terrestrials', 'Sector Five Nine' sported one of the strangest sci-fi lyrics you've ever stumbled across ("humans taste delicious ..."). In spite of the weirdness factor, it actually rocked out with a vengeance.
4.) If Only I'd Know (Wizz Jones) - rating: *** stars
Penned by guitarist Wizz Jones, 'If Only I'd Know' offered up a laidback, acoustic folk number with a nifty hook, though this time around Cresswwell 's flute was more of an irritation.
5.) William Taplin (Gordon Giltrap) - rating: *** stars
A dreamy ballad, 'William Taplin' was actually an intriguing song built around the reminiscence of an older man, recalling his earlier life. I wouldn't have expected much from the track, but piecing together his life story was actually kind of interesting.
6.) Long Way To Go (Don Partridge) - rating: **** stars
acoustic rocker with Partridge's best vocal performance, 'Long Way To Go'
was probably my favorite song on the album.
Singer/guitarist Partridge died of a heart attack in September 2010.
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