Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1973-74)

- Brian Gulland -- vocals, bassoon, English horn, recorder

- Richard Harvey -- keyboards, synthesizers, sax, recorder

- Dave Oberle -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Graeme Taylor -- guitar, bass, recorded, mandolin


  line up 2 (1974)

- Brian Gulland -- vocals, bassoon, English horn, recorder

- Richard Harvey -- keyboards, synthesizers, sax, recorder

NEW - Philip Nestor -- bass, vocals

- Dave Oberle -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Graeme Taylor -- guitar, bass, recorded, mandolin


  line up 3 (1974-75)

NEW - Malcolm Bennett (aka Malcolm Markvovich) -- bass, flute

  (replaced Philip Nestor)

- Brian Gulland -- vocals, bassoon, English horn, recorder

- Richard Harvey -- keyboards, synthesizers, sax, recorder

- Dave Oberle -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Graeme Taylor -- guitar, bass, recorded, mandolin


  line up 4 (1977)

NEW - Alex Baird -- drums, percussion (replacing Dave Oberle)

NEW - Jonathan Davie -- bass

- Brian Gulland -- vocals, bassoon, English horn, recorder

- Richard Harvey -- keyboards, synthesizers, sax, recorder

NEW - Bob Foster -- lead guitar (replaced Graeme Taylor)

- Dave Oberle -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Tim Sebastion -- lyrics





- 2nd Vision (Jonathan Davie)

- The Albion Band (Graeme Taylor)

- The Albion Dance Band (Graeme Taylor)

- The Banned (Richard Harvey aka Rik Mansworth and Jonathan

   Davie aka John Thomas)

- Communique (David Oberle)

- Contraband (Alex Baird)

- Richard Harvey (solo efforts)

- Home Service (Jonathan Davie)

- The Jags (Alex Baird)

- The John Kirkpatrick Band (Graeme Taylor)

- Malicorne (Brian Gulland)

- Masterworks (Richard Harvey)

- David Oberle (solo efforts)

- Precious Little (Malcolm Bennett and Graeme Taylor)

- Spelllthorn

- Wire (David Oberle)




Genre:  progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Treason

Company: Harvest

Catalog:  SHSP 4063

Country/State: London, England

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2700

Price: $30.00

Gryphon fans seem divided on the band's fifth and final studio album.  


Their first studio album in two years, 1977's Mike Thorne produced "Treason" saw the band undergoing major changes on a number of fronts.   Their first release for EMI's Harvest imprint, the album came out on the heels of major personnel changes.  Founding members Brian Gulland, Richard Harvey, and  singer Dave Oberle were joined by new recruits Alex Baird (replacing Oberle on drums), Jonathan Davie (bass), and lead guitarist Bob Foster. 


Along with the personnel shakeup, musically the collection found the band largely abandoning their earlier forays into medieval folk and hardcore progressive moves, in favor of a more open and commercial sound.   Sure, there were modest progressive influences scattered throughout the album (check out the extended opener 'Spring Song'), but longtime fans were probably taken aback by shorter, more mainstream tracks like 'Flash In the Pantry', 'Fall of Leaf', and especially 'Major Disaster'   The latter could have been released as a single.  Was it a great album ?  Nah, but it certainly gets high marks on the melodic scale and producer Thorne gave it a nice, crisp sound that's excellent on a quality pair of speakers, or headphones.   


"Treason" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Spring Song   (Richard Harvey - Tim Sebastion) - 10:00    rating: **** stars

Ever wondered what a funky bassoon sounds like ?   Yeah, probably not, but if you did, then check out Brian Gulland's contributions to 'Spring Song'.  It started out sound surprisingly funky, before revealing it's progressive charms, including a beautiful melody and some beguiling vocals that have always reminded me a bit of Yes at their most mainstream.  A different and severely shortened version of the track was tapped as a single:

- 1977's 'Spring Song' b/w 'Fall of the Leaf' (Harvest catalog number HAR 5125)

2.) Round and Round    (Richard Harvey - Tim Sebastion) - 4:30    rating: **** stars

At least to my ears 'Round and Round' sounded more folkish and pastoral than progressive.  Okay, the last minute found the band going off on a progressive tangent.  Not meant as a criticism of vocalists Dave Oberle, but imagine Graham Nash taking a stab at something mildly progressive and you'd have a feel for this one.  I actually found it quite enjoyable with guitarist Bob Foster turning in a nice solo about halfway through.

3.) Flash In the Pantry   (Brian Gulland - Tim Sebastion) - 4:57  rating: *** stars

Guitar and bass heavy, 'Flash In the Pantry' was not exactly a rock song, but came pretty close for these guys.   I certainly enjoyed the shared Oberle and Brian Gulland lead vocals and interesting time changes, though the Cantebury-styled horn work didn't do as much for me.


(side 2) 

1.) Falero Lady    (Richard Harvey - Tim Sebastion) - 4:08  rating: *** stars

Originally 'Falero Lady' did nothing for me, but the song's quirky arrangement, abrupt tempo changes, and sweet vocals eventually won be over.   Maybe someday I'll even figure out what it's about.

2.) Snakes and Ladders (instumental)    (Richard Harvey) - 5:15  rating: ** stars

Stark and experimental, 'Snakes and Ladders' started out sounding like something snagged off a musique concrete album.  Certainly not the most tuneful, or uplifting start to a Gryphon track.  The Latin-esque horn charts certainly sent the song off in a different direction and then it was off to visit jazzland for awhile.

3.) Fall of the Leaf    (Richard Harvey - Tim Sebastion) - 4:22    rating: **** stars

It's not hard to imagine 'Fall of the Leaf' being slotting into a movie soundtrack ...  On of the prettiest ballads the band ever recorded.   

4.) Major Disaster  (Bob Foster - Tim Sebastion) - 4:04    rating: **** stars

Damn, who would have expected a truly commercial, pop song out of these guys ?   I can see their hardcore progressive fans clutching their ears and literally running out of the room ...   Shame since it was a great pop track.





Genre:  progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Raindance

Company: Transatlantic

Catalog:  TRA 302

Country/State: London, England

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $50.00


1975's "Raindance" was co-produced by the band and Richard Elen (who also handled engineering duties).  The album also saw Malcolm Bennett replace Philip Nesto on bass.   While I'm not a gigantic Gryphon fan, the album struck me as having a very different sound than their earlier releases.  Actually, it had different sounds (note the plural).  Having released three studio sets, it almost sounded like the band was using this as an opportunity clear out their creative closets.  "Hey, I've got some passed over songs stashed away.  Let's clear out the creative clutter and put it on this album."  With the exception of 'Le Cambriolleur Est Dans La Mouchoir' and parts of the 16+ minute closer '(Ein Klein) Heldenleben' this time around their patented medieval influences were all but absent.  In its place tracks like 'Down the Dog' and 'Wallbanger' reflected a more rock oriented sound featuring waves of Richard Harvey keyboards and synthesizers.  Yeah, I guess it was progressive, but on the title track the band seemed to be heading off into new-age territory.  Nothing against new-age, rather it just wasn't very interesting.  The weirdest track was the band's cover of The Beatles 'Mother Nature's Son'.  Fully expecting a disaster, their cover was really good - almost on a par with the original.  The album certainly had its moments (I particularly enjoyed the catchy 'Don't Say Go'), but the overall effect was just very disjointed and confusing.  


On a related note, given prior Gryphon album covers were rather staid affairs, Tony Wright's cover illustration was certainly different and eye-catching.


"Raindance" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Down the Dog (instrumental)   (Richard Harvey) - 2:44   rating: *** stars

It was kind of funny that I heard this tune for the first time after listening to Gentle Giant's "Missing Piece".  While I don't think you would confuse the two bands, the bouncy instrumental 'Down the Dog' seemed to share some of the same  joy Gentle Giant appeared to get out of lightening up their repertoire.  Maybe Harvey was just happy to be able to walk away from some of heavy medieval influences so common to Gryphon and just pound away on his mini-Moog, or whatever synthesizer he was using at the time and shake his butt to the groove.  

2.) Raindance (instrumental)   (Richard Harvey) - 5:37   rating: ** stars

Well the running stream sound effects were certainly calming, as was the initial repetitive synthesizer pattern.  Malcolm Bennett's flute washes then  just made be sleepy, until Harvey popped in with a different jittery synthesizer pattern.  I don't know.  It just felt like I was listening to the soundtrack for some deep space mission I didn't really want to take part in.  Darn ... and then the thunderstorms rolled in.

3.) Mother Nature's Son  (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:08   rating: **** stars

Having heard so many Beatles covers over the years (most of them horrific), I have to admit that I'm tempted to just skip them.  Luckily I was too lazy to pick up the stylus.  My laziness was rewarded with a beautiful cover - easily one of the prettiest covers of a Beatles tunes I've ever hear.  It actually comes close to surpassing the original.

4.) Le Cambriolleur Est Dans La Mouchoir (instrumental)   (Graeme Taylor - Malcolm Bennett) - 2:14   rating: ** stars

I don't have a clue what it means (the translation seems to be something along the lines of "The burglar is in the handkerchief", let alone what the was about. The spoken French in the background seemed nonsensical.  The tune  was pretty in a laidback, pastoral fashion, reminded me a little like something John Fahey might have written and recorded if he'd been living in France.  Just not my genre.

5.) Ormolu (instrumental)   (Richard Harvey) - 1:00   rating: *** stars

I didn't even know if it was a word - it is.  French referring to a process for gilding with gold.  'Ormolu' was more of a song fragment than anything.  Bouncy and mildly interesting, but oh so short.

6.) Fontinental Version   (Graeme Taylor) - 5:36   rating: *** stars

The closest side one came to a conventional song, 'Fontinental Version' started off with a  pretty melody, some nice electric guitar from Graeme Taylor and a beautiful vocal from Brian Gulland.  That was all in the plus column.  On the downside, the mid-song section sounded like Jethro Tull had stumbled into their recording sessions.  When Tull left the song went off on a every changing path of folk and progressive moves, before eventually coming back to the original melody.  


(side 2)

1.) Wallbanger (instrumental)  (Richard Harvey) - 3:33   rating: *** stars

The instrumental 'Wallbanger' was a carryover from earlier sessions and it sounded like it.  While buried in clavinet and other electric keyboards, it was one of the few tracks to carry over their earlier medieval influences.

2.) Don't Say Go   (Graeme Taylor) - 1:48  rating: **** stars

As a listener who gravitates to catchy melodies, I was sad to see the album's most conventional and commercial track was also one the shortest tunes.  The band's hardcore progressive fans will groan, but with a bouncy melody, including a Brian Gulland bassoon solo, this was my favorite song.  Could have been a commercial success had it been longer.

3.) (Ein Klein) Heldenleben (instrumental)   (Richard Harvey) - 16:30   rating: *** stars

Ttranslating roughly as "a hero's Life", I'm guessing '(Ein Klein) Heldenleben' was inspired by the Richard Stauss symphony.  Clocking in at over sixteen minutes, it's the piece most likely to appeal to the band's longstanding progressive fans.  It was also one of the few pieces to openly embrace their earlier mash-up of medieval and progressive motifs.  And along the way each member was given a chance to showcase their technical prowess.  The good news is the sixteen minutes goes by pretty fast.