Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
This Is Gracious
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Excellent, seldom-heard progressive rock from England
Allen Ray | Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, South Korea | 08/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This set contains both "Gracious" and "This is," which are the only two albums the band recorded before disbanding in 1972. During the time they were in operation, they apparently developed a reputation for being excellent live performers. A proficient five-piece band, their sound has much in common with the Beatles, the Moody Blues, and King Crimson. In fact, there are places on the first CD in which the singer sounds so uncannily like Paul McCartney that I had to double check the liner notes to be sure Mr. McCartney wasn't in fact guesting. Those who remember the band remember it for these influences as well as for keyboard player Martin Kitcat's highly percussive mellotron technique, which is actually more to the fore on "This is." Yes, there's lots of good mellotron bits on both of these, all done very tastefully, too. Other instrumentation includes drums, bass, electric guitar, 12-string guitar, piano, harpsichord, a wonderfully nastilly-distorted Hohner electric piano, sound effects, and great lead and harmony vocals. Production values in general are pretty good considering the time period that this was out, too.Each original album had five tracks, and of these five, each had one very long track. The first CD contains some tongue-in-cheek silliness on the tracks "Hell" and "The Dream" which may put off some listeners, but I didn't mind it at all. Also, there's a very baroque-sounding piece featuring acoustic guitars and harpsichord called "Fugue in D Minor" that sounds very much out of place on this album, though it is excellently played. The second CD overall has a darker feel to it and displays a bit more musical complexity. Some prefer this to the first one, but overall I'd rate them about the same because there are also a couple of filler-like tracks on "This Is." When you hear these, I think you'll agree that it's a shame these guys never made it bigger than they did. After that, you'll probably be as puzzled as I was as to why you'd never heard of these guys before!This is a good deal for two CDs. In England, vinyl copies of either of Gracious' albums go for large sums, but you can do yourself a big favor and pick up both relatively cheaply on this double CD reissue. There's a very detailed and well-written booklet that comes with it that will tell you all about the band. If you like the Beatles, the Moody Blues, and "In The Court of the Crimson King"-era King Crimson, you're sure to get a kick out of this. I play both of these CDs constantly. For me, finding these was almost like finding buried treasure. "Gracious" and "This Is" are really very good. Highly recommended."
Two great British prog classics
BENJAMIN MILER | Veneta, Oregon | 09/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gracious was a British prog rock band that started off playing covers when they were students at a Catholic school. Eventually they went for much more ambitious compositions, and dropped covers altogether. The band consisted of vocalist Paul Davis who also played 12-string guitar, Martin Kitcat on piano, Mellotron, harpsichord, and Hohner electric piano, Alan Cowderoy on guitar and vocals, Tim Wheatley on bass, and Robert Lipson on drums. The band signed to Vertigo Records and released their first album in 1970 (this album also had an American release on Capitol Records, but with a different cover). Because of the band's Catholic school upbringings, it should not come as any surprise that the first half of the album would have religious themes, but don't let that scare you off. The music is some of the more complex prog I've heard from a 1970 release. The album starts off with "Introduction", with Gentle Giant-like vocal harmonies. It's also the least complex piece on the whole album. I also really dig that great guitar solo. "Heaven" starts off with some Mellotron, before kicking in to more typical Gracious fashion. "Hell" is a more dissonant piece, remininscent of what King Crimson had also done (which should come as no surprise as Gracious was Crimson's opening act). The band gets silly with them playing Offenbach's "Can-Can" and honky-tonk piano stuff that sounds like it came off a Charlie Chaplin movie. "Fugue in D Minor" is basically a classically influenced piece played on Harpsichord and bass. The last is the 16 minute epic, "Dreaming", is another great high point. I liked how the piece starts off with Kitcat playing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", then going through many different bizarre and twisted passages. They even poke fun "for a brief few seconds" of the Beatles' "Hey Jude". Incredible stuff indeed. This Is... was their 1971 followup, but because Vertigo Records rejected it, it wouldn't be until 1972 when Philips released it, by which point the band had broken up. The cover was done by Roger Dean, but the artwork looks very little like anything off a Yes album. Some people consider this to be a superior album and here's why: the music is more accessible and less complex. Also the music seems to flow more, there is less of the classical feel, and less of that Crimson-like dissonance. Martin Kitcat uses much more Mellotron here as well, but the harpsichord and electric piano seemed to have vanished. The album starts with the side length suite "Super Nova". It starts off sounding like certain Krautrock bands of that time like Amon Düül II or early Ohr Records-era Tangerine Dream for the first couple of minutes, before going in to more typical British prog territory. I always felt the first two movements are the best, nothing short of incredible, then the band went in to a more ballad mood for the final two movements, which has grown on me, doesn't quite match up to the first half. "What Comes to Be" was supposed to be part of the "Super Nova" suite, but couldn't fit due to time constraint of the LP, so it was placed on what would be side two of the LP right after "C.B.S.". Regardless, "What Comes to Be" is by far the best ballad on this album. The rest of the album consists of great jams and tunes, and a somewhat more direct approach than their debut. I have a real difficult time determining which of the two is the better albums As a big fan of prog rock, like myself, I can very highly recommend this 2-for-1 CD reissue from BGO."
A Lost Gem!
BENJAMIN MILER | 07/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Along with Bodast and Spring, this has got to be one of my favorite Bands Nobody's Ever Heard Of....beautiful harmonies, some kickass guitar, and absolutely wonderful Mellotron playing. (If you're a 'Tron fan, you HAVE to get this CD!) I like "This Is" better than their 1st album, though the opening track is pretty awesome. A good bargain, and a great record."