Gryphon / Midnight Mushrumps
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Other bands had done folk rock and progressive rock; Gryphon did progressive folk, a concept so extraordinary that nobody else had even contemplated it before (or since, we might add). Formed by a bunch of graduates from the Royal College of Music, the band's musical eclecticism produced such a weird hybrid that Gryphon--a mythological mix of eagle and lion--was the only sensible choice of name. Their eponymous first album mixes traditional tunes with original compositions, all performed in ultra-complex arrangements by the multi-instrumentalists on recorders, assorted guitars, keyboards, and the utterly unique sonority of bassoon and crumhorn (the latter an antiquated precursor of the former). However, Gryphon's second album, Midnight Mushrumps, is their finest hour, consolidating and extending the band's captivating soundworld. The title track, originally conceived as a ballet by composer Richard Harvey, is a 19-minute suite of breathtaking musical boldness and well worth the price of this two-album disc alone. (Post-Gryphon, Harvey went on to compose film scores and other orchestral music, including a guitar concerto for John Williams). Subsequently, Gryphon never could surpass the achievement of this album, but thanks to this CD reissue their audacious fusion has now been rescued from the mythological fate of their namesake. --Mark Walker
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These two albums give a fair impression of Gryphon and their development from a bunch of very competent Early Music loonies to a highly cohesive group of serious musicians who while obviously enjoying themselves produced some sublimely listenable music.
The first album is a motley selection of folk tunes, songs attributed to Good King Henry VIII (Pastime With Good Company), spooky music (Unquiet Grave), beautiful stuff (Juniper Suite) and great toe tapping stuff (Kemp's Jig, Estampie). The second album (Midnight Mushrumps) progresses Gryphon by a large step. The title track is a beautiful extended piece. The loonies surface again with Gulland Rock and Ethelion but always coupled with craftsmanship.
My favourite Gryphon album is Red Queen to Gryphon Three.
However, give these two a listen. They’re a great introduction to a great little band
The debut album by the group Gryphon was originally released in 1973 by the transatlantic record label.
It is an incredible album with every track perfectly put together. There is originality here with a very interesting arrangement and sound that was refreshing back in the early 1970s and still sounds fabulous today.
Multi-instrumentalist Richard Harvey and fellow Royal College of Music graduate Brian Gulland, a woodwind player, began the group as an all-acoustic ensemble that mixed traditional English folk music with medieval and Renaissance influences. Shortly afterwards they recruited guitarist Graeme Taylor and drummer/percussionist Dave Oberlé. The four musicians began work on this, their debut album.
The album was produced and recorded at Riverside Recordings and Livingston Studios and the sound is excellent. The album cover has a very striking image by Dan Pearce.
There is an earthy, rustic, medieval, folk and folk rock feel to the album, It is the most folk like of the albums by the group. Much of the music comes from traditional sources. "Kemps jig", "Sir Gavin Grimbold", "the unquiet grave", "Estempie", "The astrologer", "Tea wrecks" and "The Devil and the Farmers wife" all originate from Tradition.
There is a rich sound on this recording with instruments such as Bassoon, Crumhorn, Recorders, Keyboards (Brain Gulland) Recorders, Crumhorns, Keyboards, Guitar, Mandolin, Harpsichord, Harmonium Glockenspiel, (Richard Harvey) Drums, Percussion, gong cymbal, (David Oberle) Guitars, Keyboards, Recorder, Harpsichord, (Graeme Taylor).
There is strong emphasis very much on the acoustic and 'early music' instrument sounds on this recording. Later albums move towards a stronger element of Folk Rock and Progressive Rock music styles.
The whole album is very creative and a joy to listen to. It is a terrific piece of early 1970s British music.
Midnight Mushrumps is the second studio album from the band Gryphon. It is a great album that is both creative and very original throughout. The album was released on Transatlantic Records in the UK.
The album was recorded at The Chipping Norton Recording Studio, Oxfordshire, in January 1974.
After the success of the first album, "Gryphon", with its medieval folk sound, this second album retains some of those elements but expands the style by taking a further step towards Rock and Progressive Rock.
After the success of the first album the group gained new band member Philip Nestor.
For this second album, "Midnight Mushrumps," they expanded their sound to include electric guitars and electric keyboards. They still used wind instruments, such as bassoons and krumhorns as before. And as they became more Rock based those instruments gave the group originality in the Rock world. The group had a clever mix of sound that meant that they sounded as much like rural English folk or renaissance music as it did rock, at least on their early recordings.
The project had influences of Progressive Rock with the majority of the album being instrumental and the long title track Midnight Mushrumps being the centrepiece of the whole thing. This was a piece that had been commissioned by Sir Peter Hall for his production of "The Tempest" at the Old Vic Theatre in London.
However this second album still has a strong Folk feel to it as well and the mixture of music influences gives it strong credibility as an original Rock album. This is helped even further with the fact that most of the music originates from the band itself with only "The ploughboys dream" credited as from Tradition.
The album has a rich sound using instruments such as Recorders, Krumhorns, Harmonium, Pipe organ, Grand Piano, Harpsichord, Electric Pianos, Toy Piano, Keyboard Glockenspiel, and Mandolin. (Richard Harvey) Bassoon, Bass Krumhorn, Tenor Recorder electric Keyboard, (Brian Gulland) Acoustic Guitar, Semi Acoustic Guitar, Classical Guitar, Electric Guitar, 12 String Guitar. (Graeme Taylor) Bass Guitar, (Philip Nestor) Drums, Timpani, Percussion. (David Oberle)
I really loved the sound on the debut album "Gryphon" with its more acoustic folk flavour, and would have loved another album like it. But this album that introduced electric instruments into the mix proves to be completely justified because it created a new album that had its uniqueness. Therefore both of the first two albums have their own originality.
This second album is wonderful and a real music treat. It is a very creative and interesting project.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The debut album is very heavily influenced by the art music of the English Middle Ages and Renaissance period and as such, there is little rock to be found. Archaic instruments are featured exclusively and include harpsichords, crumhorns, the harmonium, bassoon, and recorders along with acoustic guitars and light percussion. In addition to this instrumentation, there are vocal parts that sound authentic for the period. From a musical perspective, I found their approach to be very interesting and a refreshing change of pace. The 11 pieces are fairly short and range in length from 1'06" - 5'40". The musicians on the debut include bandleader and former Royal College of Music student Richard Harvey (recorders, crumhorns, recorders, keyboards, guitar, mandolin); another Royal College student Brian Gulland (bassoon, crumhorns, recorders, keyboards, and vocals); David Oberle (drums, percussion, and vocals); and Graeme Taylor (guitars, keyboards, recorder, and vocals). All of the musicians are very good and clearly well-trained in the style of early music. Overall, this is a great album that interprets traditional English folk music.
This album shows the band incorporating the melodies and harmonies of rock music into their early music compositions and might be said to be their first "proggy" album although it is still pretty far removed from what I consider to be rock music. The lineup is similar to the debut with the exception of the addition of Philip Nester (electric bass guitar). Although archaic instruments are used predominantly (especially the keyboards - including pipe organ), instruments more in keeping with rock music are also used. Vocals are not as big a part of the compositions as they were on the debut. The pieces are longer and range in length from 2'58" (The Ploughboy's Dream) to 19'00" (Midnight Mushrumps) and range from moody to sprightly/upbeat. Overall, this album shows the band starting to move closer to the progressive rock style, which would reach it's fullest expression on the Red Queen to Gryphon Three album (1975) - in fact, this is the album most proggers cite as their favorite Gryphon album.
This package is highly recommended to folks that would like to explore a different approach to the progressive rock style - namely one that incorporates early English music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Recommended.
Clever and funny the first album was not as popular as it might have been except with the folkies.
The second album, Midnight Mushrumps was different again, featuring longer pieces and a "suite" very much in the mode of the times. Everyone was recording concept albums, rock operas and the early 70s were when groups were playing tracks that took up an entire side of an album (ask yer dad). A very different composition. Gryphon were super-progressive in as much as their sound was shifting under the fans feet.
This recording allows you to obtain both those albums for a less-than-exorbitant price, at the cost of losing one track from the first album (Crossing the Stiles). It's a shame something had to go, but what is left is excellent. And like I say, the price won't break the bank. The original album is hard to find and is only to be had as a rare import - at rare import prices usually.
The recording is decent, with no obvious flaws I could hear when I got mine some years ago. For albums this old, that is pretty amazing. No digital techniques were used to master the original and often the original tapes can be in very poor condition. But that didn't seem to be the case on my copy.
Recommended to those who enjoy "Folk Rock" and would like to hear what it might have sounded like if invented during Henry VIII's reign.
I remember going to the Renaissance Fair many years ago in 4th grade with my class, and the music on this album brings back those memories.
I can't compare this band to anything else. It's just so DIFFERENT from every other band I've ever heard. A band that truly stands out, in a positive way.
Now, the music will probably start wearing you out after a while, but really, the album is only about 40 minutes long so it shouldn't wear you out THAT much.
The 18 minute monster that opens the album is quite the tune. A folk/progressive rock tune that's just amazing. Lots of melody, lots of feeling, and just a really spectacular song that goes through what seems like a hundred instrumental melodies flowing seamlessly from one part into the next. I love it.
There are some weak moments on the album though. I'm not particularly fond of the closing song even though everyone says it's the best song on the album. To me it just repeats more or less the same sequence of notes for several minutes. Maybe I just can't get into it, who knows.
But yeah, you need to check out this album, and hear a band that stands out from the rest.
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