England - Garden Shed

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Si-Wan Records (Korea)
Catalog Number: Arista UK 153/ Si-Wan SRM
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:45:00

Like many other progressive rock groups who showed up late to the party, England released one album on Arista (1977) and were not to be heard from again. Another collection of unreleased tracks and studio out takes, Last Of The Jubblies, is said to exist, but it defies my best efforts to find a copy, so I will not be able to comment on it.

Garden Shed was released in 1977. It contains six songs, ranging from the 1:50 "All Alone," a brief piano interlude really, to the 16:15 of "Poisoned Youth."

The music of England is full of references to Yes, Genesis and Supertramp. None of this is in any way surprising, as these bands were all very popular in Britain in the late 70s, and their shadows covered that landscape, and their influence would be hard to escape.

The shortest songs on this release, "Midnight Madness," "Pariffinalea" and "Yellow," all sound a great deal like Genesis in their most melodic and upbeat moments. I also hear a bit of 10cc in these tunes as well. They are all very bouncy and cheerful sounding numbers and they will not inspire a great deal of deep though or analysis from the listener.

The previously mentioned "All Alone," barely a song at all, would not sound out of place on an Elton John recording, and that is not meant to slight this tune, or to complement Elton John, either.

The two songs here that will be of most interest to the collector of progressive rock are "(Introducing) Three Piece Suite," at nearly thirteen minutes, and the final cut, "Poisoned Youth," a bit more than sixteen minutes of very nice symphonic style rock. The first of these two, "Three Piece Suite," begins with a repeated figure played on electric piano, soon accompanied by mellotron and beautifully swelling guitar notes. Followed by a nicely played single note line by guitar and bass in unison, the first theme begins. This part of the suite is reminiscent of Yes, with harmony vocals and powerful B-3, played in a Wakeman-esque fashion. All too short, this section gives way to the next, then another, and another, and another. The problem with this, and England's final lengthy number, "Poisoned Youth," is their failure to fully develop their many, many good ideas. "Three Piece Suite," and the title's meaning is not lost on this writer, contains many more than three themes. There are a half dozen good songs to be made out of the musical contents of this piece. A great idea is presented, then abandoned to move on to the next. The musical ideas on the two most lengthy songs on Garden Shed could have provided England with material for several albums.

This criticism aside, I do like this CD quite a bit. The shorter songs are examples of what could have been done with their longer ones, and in fairness, the two others are very enjoyable themselves.

"Poisoned Youth," especially, shows off the talents and high level of musicianship possessed by the band members. The drummer, Jode Leigh, in particular, is quite good, playing in a fashion similar to that of Bill Bruford, but with more power, and less restraint. All the members are good players indeed.

I cannot end without mentioning the vocals on this CD. All the members of England sing, and sing well. No one is listed as being a lead vocalist, so I cannot credit any one member with the use of playful, light hearted, falsetto vocals on more than one track. It is, overall, a good CD, one that could have been a great release if a bit more maturity and control had been excercised.

Finally, congratulations to Si-Wan Records of Korea, for reissuing this and other hard to find albums from the 1970s, as part of their European Rock 1000 series. I just wish I could read the liner notes.

Midnight Madness (6:54) / All Alone (1:50) / (Introducing) Three Piece Suite (12:57) / Paraffinalea (4:11) / Yellow (5:23) / Poisoned Youth (16:15)

Martin Henderson - bass, vocals
Franc Holland - guitar, vocals
Robert Webb - keyboards, vocals
Jode Leigh - percussion, vocals, bass

Garden Shed (1977/1997)
The Last Of The Jubblies (1978)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1849
Language: english


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