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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Gravy Train

Second Birth

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new reissue of an album from 1973. It might not be full on progressive rock. It's clearly set in something close to proto prog, though. There are some sections that are pretty firmly set in prog rock. Some other sections wander pretty far from that position. All in all, though, this is an effective set no matter how  you label it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Morning Coming

A hard rocking introduction with a wall of vocals starts this song. It drops down to a mellower movement with an equally dense vocal part. After the verse the cut builds out into more pure psychedelia meets proto prog jamming. The flute adds a lot to the mix. Some of the guitar sound on this actually makes me think of early Black Sabbath a bit. This cut works through a number of shifts and changes. There are things here that make think of Vanilla Fudge or Uriah Heep. Other elements call to mind Jethro Tull a bit. All in all, this is such a classy early prog song.

Peter
This fast paced rocker is hard edged and very cool. It's very much a stomping psychedelic rocker. It's a bit on the noisy side, but I like it.
September Morning News
A mellower cut, this is very much a 60s styled thing. It has a lot of folk music built into it. I love the vocal arrangement. The whole piece works really well.
Motorway
Now we find ourselves back in definite proto-prog territory. This killer cut makes great use of the contrast between harder rocking movements and mellower ones. It has some killer shifts and turns.
Fields And
Here's another rocker, but it's bookended with mellower movements. This one definitely has plenty of proto prog shifts and changes. I love the horn soloing movement later in the piece. The powerhouse instrumental section as the song works toward its close is among the best musical passages of the disc.
Strength of a Dream
Imagine a mix of T-Rex and The Beatles on a mellow balladic rocker. You'll probably be somewhere near this cut. I suppose comparisons to Sweet wouldn't be out of the question, either.
Tolpuddle Episode
This is a balladic cut that lands in the folk rock vicinity. The cut is a classy number.
Second Birth
Now, this is a full on prog extravaganza. The early section is fast paced and twisting and turning. It drops to a mellower movement for the vocals. Eventually it builds back upward. There is a really powerhouse jam later that gives way to a mellower drop back. Then we're taken back into the fast paced prog from there.
Goodtime Girl
This is more of a down-home straight forward rocker.
 
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