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Greenslade

Spyglass Guest

Review by Gary Hill

This new re-mastered edition of the third Greenslade album is quite cool. First you get the original album with a polished up sound on the first CD of the set. That's quite good, and well worth having on its own. CD two, though, includes a number of live tunes from a couple BBC radio shows, rounding this out nicely. Add in a cool book and digipack, and you have an excellent collection of Greenslade progressive rock.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD One:
            
Spyglass Guest Re-mastered
                  
Spirit of the Dance

Playful keyboards dance around as this number opens. Other instruments join after a time, bringing a celebratory, nearly classical texture. Comparisons to Emerson, Lake and Palmer are valid here. This energetic tune is a lot of fun and has some intriguing changes including a shift toward psychedelia. There are some amazing keyboard sections along this instrumental route. I really love the bass work on the later portions of this tune, too.

Little Red Fry Up
A fast paced jam that feels a bit like something Frank Zappa might do opens this. The vocals at the start are mostly spoken and include sort of a weird back and forth between two parts. That reinforces that Zappa comparison. From there the tune works out to a killer fusion meets progressive rock jam with more traditional (albeit jazz based) vocals. Yet there are still hints of that Zappa influence on the piece. This has some weird (but cool) changes. A mellower movement makes me think of David Bowie just a bit. There is a smoking hot guitar based jam further down the road, and this number has some funk built into it, too.
Rainbow
Trippy keyboard based textures open this in a mysterious and dramatic way. That section holds it for about the first minute and a half or so. Then a new keyboard section enters to move the cut forward from there. Weird mellow jazzy elements emerge as the layers of vocals join. There is a real psychedelic edge to this number.
Siam Seesaw
Intricate mellower textures are on the menu here as this cut works gradually forward. This builds out to more of a traditional progressive rock sound as it grows. This feels like it combines both that Zappa element and the ELP one. Around the two minute mark it shifts toward jazz for a short bit before working out to more of a cool rock jam from there. It continues to shift and evolve as it makes its way forward. This instrumental is classy.
Joie De Vivre
The opening movement of this is so cool. It works through a number of shifts and changes in grand progressive rock fashion. There is a lot of classical music built into this, and the violin reinforces that. It drops to keyboards after the two minute mark. Then it shifts to more of a mainstream 1970s rock song for the entrance of the vocals. This has some great energy and a bit of a psychedelic angle to it. I love the string section in the later jam on this tune, but the whole thing is so cool. There is a healthy helping of mainstream rock here, but it's definitely elevated with the classical and progressive rock stylings in the mix.
Red Light
A mellower number this has a lot of jazz and pop rock built into it. It makes me think of the kind of sound Supertramp would later champion to a large degree. There is a definite bluesy edge to this at times, too. This is a short cut at just a little over two minutes.
Melancholic Race
This instrumental is dramatic and fun and has some cool changes. Prog and jazz elements are both incorporated nicely. I dig the powerhouse keyboard jamming later in the piece, and the bass really drives it well.
Theme For An Imaginary Western
Another solid tune, this has a bit of the David Bowie texture heard earlier in the album. Add some Procol Harum into the mix, and you'll be in the right territory. This has more of a mainstream rock vibe, and is one of the most effective and accessible pieces here. It's a great closer, really.
CD Two:
                
Previously Unreleased BBC Radio Sessions
              
BBC Radio One "In Concert"
      
Recorded at the BBC Paris Theatre, London
         
7th November 1974
                  
Joie De Vivre

There is a bit of an immediacy and more of a keyboard texture brought to this live rendition of the cut from the studio album. As it works out to the song proper, I think that there is an increased vitality to the whole thing. This is a great live rendition overall.

Bedside Manners Are Extra
Trippy psychedelic elements bring this one into being here. I really love some of the textures and sounds on this live number. The cut has plenty of pure progressive rock along with that psychedelic edge. There are even some space rock textures incorporated at times. This has a good energy and vibe and really works well. I really dig some of the keyboard soloing on this a lot.
Sundance
The jazzy groove that opens things here is high energy and so classy. That plays through before the whole thing drops way down to mellower sounds to work forward. It eventually builds back outward to killer prog rock jam that has a lot of fusion at its core. This is a killer tune that's among the best here. Some comparisons to Meddle-era Pink Floyd wouldn't be out of the question at times here. The cut gets pretty funky at times, too, and this instrumental really drives through a lot of varying territory. At almost fourteen minutes, this is the longest cut here. They use that space well, really stretching out nicely. The mellower section at the end builds back upward well, too.
Red Light
Coming in with a mellower, almost bluesy kind of sound, this works out nicely with a cool jazzy groove.
Spirit of the Dance
A live rendition of the cut that opened the studio disc, that ELP element seems even more prominent in this performance. It's a fun cut, that has a great energy and groove to it. I really love the bass sound on parts of this a lot.
BBC Radio One Bob Harris Session
           
6th November 1974
            
Melange

Keyboards dominate the early parts of this, bringing both classical and progressive rock tendencies with them. While the keyboards remain one of the prominent factors, other instruments do rise up to join after a while. This is quite a dynamic and powerful prog rock jam that works very well.

Melancholic Race
I dig the killer jamming on this fast paced cut a lot. A bass-led movement takes into some cool territory further down the road. There is a real improvised kind of feel to a lot of this, and it explores some intriguing soundscapes along the road.
Red Light
I dig the bluesy, jazz groove on this cut. I think this version is better than the previous one on this second CD. It's classy stuff. The ending feels a bit abrupt, though.
 
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