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Greenslade - Greenslade

Review: 186
Date: 23 Jul 04

 


Rating: 2 Stars

Musicians:
Dave Greenslade - Keyboards
Dave Lawson - Vocals and Keyboards
Greg Reeves - Bass Guitar
Andrew McCulloch - Drums

Tracks Listing:
Feathered Friends
An English Western
Drowning Man
Temple Song
Melange
What Are You Doin' To Me
Sundance


Ah, the early seventies. The peak of the era we all lovingly called progressive-rock. During that time there were the releases of some classic albums, which have all stood the test of time. ‘Doremi Fasol Latido' by Hawkwind, 'In the Wake of Poseidon' by King Crimson, 'Tarkus' by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, 'The Debut Album’ by Flash and countless others, still sounding as fresh and relevant as they did over thirty years ago.

Some, on the other hand, have rather fallen from their illustrious heights. Greenslade's debut album is a point in case. This ‘teenage’ Dog can recall clearly nodding along sagely in an attempt to look very knowledgeable when this was first thrust upon his ears. He was taken in by a rather smashing Roger Dean Cover (the artist, who became famous for his artwork for ‘Yes’ amongst others), the fact that here there was a band, who was a little bit unique (dual keyboards and no lead guitar), and that they indeed had a fine pedigree. Dave Greenslade (who humbly gave his name to the band) on one set of keyboards had plied his trade for the previous three years with the magnificent Colosseum. On the other keyboards was Dave Lawson, who had been in 'Samurai' (never heard of them, but they sounded impressive). Bassist Tony Reeves had been in ‘Curved Air’. And drummer Andrew McCulloch had been in ‘Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come’, ‘Manfred Mann’, and ‘King Crimson’. However, his presence in each band was only a short one, which perhaps should of given us some form of clue.

While we were all with great pretentiousness listening away in our Bedsits, I think actually we were all pretending to be listening to the next big thing, not wanting to seem uncool by blurting out that it was actually very ordinary and a second division 'Yes' or 'E.L.P.' Second division (just above the relegation zone) was where they stayed throughout their career.

Most of the songs are very mid-paced with very little to differentiate one from the other. Sure, the keyboards intermingle very nicely, but if truth be told they sound like a very average lounge act with an over ambitious, dominating keyboard player stuck with a bad singer. Although there can be no doubt that Dave Lawson was great foil for Dave Greenslade's keyboard playing, a singer he was not, nor could he write lyrics, his other primary job within the band. Try this little sonnet from 'What are you doing to me':

''You murdered the love that I once had for you,
When you put in the boot cos the shoe wouldn't do,
Well if that's how you feel, woman, I love you, too."

I think it would perhaps have been a good idea to not have written the lyrics on the inside sleeve of this album as there are many more just as cringe worthy moments. Worst of all is his impression of the Lord’s Prayer on 'Drowning Man'. It is so awful that it wants to make you snicker. There is a time and place for everything and that was neither the time nor the place. I believe Dave Lawson is no longer in the music business. I cannot say that I am totally surprised.

Tony Reeves plays bass guitar with great enthusiasm throughout, if a little bit repetitively. However, at no point on these songs does he seem to be playing the same song as the other members of the band. His most embarrassing moment comes during 'Melange', where the bass is very dominant. That’s surprising for a dual keyboard band. Reeves gets by definition a bass solo, but it actually sounds as if the rest of the band gives up playing for a minute and without realizing it, Reeves just carries on in his own sweet way.
Andrew McCulloch drums are thankfully mixed way down in the production, which I think is a kindness to the skins man, same as saying he had rudimentary skills would be a kindness. How he managed to stay in King Crimson under the critical eye of Robert Fripp for three months before being booted out, will always remain a mystery.

The staple of any Greenslade concert was always the final song on this album, and throughout their career the last song of their live set, 'Sundance'. Now this is not actually a bad piece of music and at over eight minutes (longer on stage), it represent a fair portion of the album. But I’m afraid, it is too little too late. The first thing that you notice is that the song is an instrumental, so already the song is ahead on points as there is none of Lawson’s yodeling in it. And for the first time the band actually seems to gel together and play with some fire in their bellies. The interplay between Lawson and Greenslade fair sparkles at times with the great controlled violence, mingled with light and shade only a rock keyboard player can bring to his music. A bit more of this and less of the lyrics and the vocals and they might of had something.

All I can say is that if you have fond memories of Greenslade, leave them in the past. You may be very disappointed if you try and listen to your past memories today. These days Dave Greenslade writes scores for television and movies. He also released a solo album of songs inspired by the disc world based on the Terry Pratchet Books, which was rather good and plays with the reformed Colosseum. I don't know what the other three are doing and don’t care, as long as Dave Lawson is not singing.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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