Band members Related acts
Clark -- drums, percussion (1969-72)
- John Culley -- lead guitar (replaced John Heyworth)
- Paul Martin
Layton -- guitar (1971-72)
- Black Widow (John Culley)
- The New Seekers (Paul Martin Layton)
- Uriah Heep (Iain Clark)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Catalog: 58 47 904
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: Spanish pressing; gatefold sleeve
GEMM catalog ID: 5144
These British art-rockers are interesting in that they seem to evoke heartfelt affection, or outright scorn in listeners. Of the two camps I find myself leaning a bit in the former direction, though I'll readily admit these guys aren't the most original outfit you've ever heard.
Formed in 1969, the original line-up consisted of drummer Iain Clark, singer Angus Cullen, guitarist John Heyworth, keyboard player Peter Jennings, and bassist Kevin McCarthy. As Cressida the group was quickly signed by Polydor's Vertigo subsidiary, releasing their self-titled debut in 1970. Produced by Osie Byrne (who'd previously worked with The Bee Gees) "Cressida" served to showcase the writing talents of Cullen and Heyworth (Clark and Jennings each contributed one selection). While frequently tagged with a progressive label, the combination of Cullen's attractive and versatile voice, Jennings' keyboards and Heyworth's tasteful guitar made for an album that was actually highly commercial. Somewhat unusual in my experience, this was an album where many of the critics were right in terms of musical comparisons. On material like 'the title track, '' and 'Depression' Cullen's performances bore more than a passing resemblance to Justin Hayward and The Moody Blues, though with a more diverse and experimental edge (hard to imagine the Moodies taking a stab at something with the jazzy edges of 'Time for Bed'). That comparison might scare off some potential listeners, but it shouldn't since I'm talking about good Moodies, versus Ray Thomas-styled pompous Moodies. Extra credit for Heyworth's always tasteful lead guitar fills (check out the fuzz solo on 'Winter Is Coming Again').
"Cressida" track listing:
1.) To Play Your Little Game (John Heyworth) - 3:15
2.) Winter Is Coming Again (John Heyworth) - 4:40
3.) Time For Bed (Angus Cullen) - 2:20
4.) Cressida (Angus Cullen) - 3:54
5.) Home and Where I Long To Be (John Heyworth) - 4:02
6.) Depression (Angus Cullen) - 5:02
2.) Lights In My Mind (John Heyworth) - 2:43
3.) The Only Earthman In Town (John Heyworth) - 3:34
4.) Spring '69 (Angus Cullen) - 2:13
5.) Down Down (John Heyworth) - 4:15
6.) Tomorrow Is a Whole New Day (Iain Clark) - 5:20
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A worthwhile find from the early British scene. Asylum is the second
Cressida album, released on thel legendary "swirl" Vertigo label
around the same time as Gentle
Giant's Acquiring The Taste and the first Jade Warrior album.
Cressida vocalist Angus Cullen sings in a pleasing British folkie style, while
keyboardist Peter Jennings organ and piano playing has an apparent jazzy slant.
John Culley's electric guitar playing seems to be hanging on to the remnants of
the sixties, but it doesn't date the music too awful much. The band's sound
benefits a good deal from the orchestrations on several tracks, which make them
sound much more progressive than they otherwise might have, especially on the
climactic "Munich," my favourite song on this album. "Lisa"
and the eleven-minute "Let Them Come When They Will" are other
touchstone tracks, the rest of the album is adequate; not exceptional but
harmless. "Goodbye Post Office Tower Goodbye" shows the band's sense
of humour, and is probably a disgruntled postal-workers anthem. :-)
Fantastic early English proto-prog. The is supposedly one of the best albums to come out of that particular subgenre, apparently akin to other early English bands like Fantasy, Beggar's Opera and Spring. I haven't checked those bands out yet, but if they are anything like this, I will be soon.
This is very beautiful, melancholy and for the most part, mellow stuff. Very atmospheric and morose, yet with a singularly British personality to it. You can literally taste and smell the colors of autumn while listening to it. "Munich" is a fabulous track, with some absolutely gorgeous orchestration that sounds like authentic strings to me, and not mellotron, but I could be wrong. This orchestration makes frequent appereances throughout the album, adding texture to some some already beautiful songs. All the tracks are, for the most part, built around the very pleasent vocals, though there are moments when the band stretches out and engages in some intriguing interplay. The whole affair is awash with tasteful piano, softly pulsing bass and an occasionally biting and ferocious Hammond organ assault when the band builds up the intensity. This is an album whose atmosphere will have a slow but sure effect on the listener, like most great prog albums, its full emotional potential should be slowly realized.
Most of the tracks are short melodic ditties that definitely stick in your
head, except for the aforementioned "Munich" which allows the band
some free-reign jamming, and the epic centerpiece "Let Them Come When They
Will" during which the band experiments with a number of dynamics and some
phenomenal melodic themes over an 12 minute stretch. A highly reccommended
Cressida is an English band who released two albums in the early 70's. Asylum is their second album. The album starts with some jamming rock fusion more in the style of the German bands of that time (Out of Focus, Virus, etc.). On the next track, the 10-minute "Munich" we are definitely in UK prog territory. The song starts as a romantic piece with some orchestration, but halfway an up-tempo section for Hammond and electric guitar follows. The end of the track goes back to the romantic mood of the beginning. About equal parts of Moody Blues, Gracious and Caravan give a good idea of what to expect musically. The rest of the album continuous in a similar fashion as "Munich", although the compositions are slightly less sophisticated than on "Munich", except for the last track "Let Them Come When They Will" which is another ten-minute-plus highlight with some dramatic, intense passages. An excellent album and a must have if you like the bands mentioned above.
Cressida's second, Asylum, is one of the best of the genre represented
by Beggars' Opera, Spring, Fantasy, Fruupp, and other early British symphonic
rock artists. Both Asylum and their debut are very rare now (both were
original Vertigo "Swirls") and it took a while for them to reissue
this first one, but it was well worth the wait. Asylum incorporated a
laid-back, jazzy rock style with lots of room for instrumentals and compelling
vocal parts. The debut, however, concentrates on shorter, accessible songs that
obviously have their roots in the Moody Blues, with vocalist Angus Cullen
approaching Justin Hayward very closely. Even with such a strong influence,
Cressida's songwriting is particularly excellent, and some of the melodies are
very memorable. There are some great instrumental moments such as the organ solo
at the end of "Depression," although they aren't as prevalent as they
would be on the follow-up. It all adds up for an album that will undoubtedly
appeal to fans of early British symphonic rock and pop.