Shadowland - Ring Of Roses

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Verglas
Catalog Number: VGCD006
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:19:00

Shadowland is one the many projects of that stalwart of British prog, Clive Nolan. Ring of Roses was originally released on the ill-fated S.I. Music label where it was their best selling release [That cover shown above -ed]. It has been unavailable for a couple of years now, and it is nice to see that Verglas Music have decided to re-package and re-release it with a couple of bonus tracks to boot.? Ring of Roses was the first Shadowland album, released in 1992. The version has new artwork and packaging by Peter Nichols, the IQ singer, and this certainly does enhance the lyrics sheets inside the CD cover [That cover at left -ed.].

"The Whistleblower" is a classic album opener.?A quiet vocal starts: "I'm blowing the whistle on people I trusted before, I'm blowing the whistle because they cannot be trusted anymore ... " before launching into the high tempo song.?A great start to any album. It is followed by a nine minute epic "Jigsaw" which has a definite Fish-period Marillion feel to it. Lyrically it is a strong track, and it has been growing on me each time I hear it. Peter's artwork with the lyrics - all three (CD-sized) pages of them - adds to the ambience of the track. "Scared Of The Dark" continues to showcase Clive's strong lyrical ideas: "I can hear a tear drop shattering like porcelain."?Another very powerful song that grows with each hearing. "Painting By Numbers" is one of those track which flows over you without really leaving an impression.?Perhaps it needs a few more listens.

"Hall Of Mirrors" shows Clive's song writing at its best.?A brilliant song with excellent interplay between instrumentation and lyrics.?The meshing of guitars and keyboards is comparable to Genesis, Marillion or Pendragon at their best. This has emerged as my favourite track so far, although this may change over time. The "Kruhulick Syndrome" is the only instrumental on the album.? Here Karl is finally allowed lose on the guitars, and the result is another cracking track with soaring guitars overlaid with a solid foundation of keyboards and drums. "Ring Of Roses" is the title track; another strong track with great lyrics and catchy chorus. Cannot suss out what the song is about at all, but the lyrics come over very well: "I see the mark of roses; it's painted on with colours from the endless flow of lies! Is someone there misguiding me, dealing insecurity like poison from a smile?" Great lyrics - whatever they mean![*]

The last two tracks "Dorian Gray" and "I, Judas" are the bonus track on the CD. "Dorian Gray" is a track which relies more on its lyrics than on the song as a whole.? Probably the weakest track off the CD which is perhaps why it comes as an bonus track. ?"I, Judas" is a much more powerful track. It could have come straight off Marillion's Script album with some very Fish-like lyrics, both in their style and in their presentation.?Perhaps it does go a little over the top: "...with protection as a feature of your altruistic mask" Is this serious, or maybe a little tongue in cheek??Still the song does work with some very nice guitars work from Karl.?The chant at the tail of the song is an ideal ending to an album, as it leaving you humming it and wanting to play the album again.

This album is already acclaimed as a classic, so in a way I am probably already preaching to the converted.?In a way this shows very little progression from the prog of the mid-eighties, but if that is what you like then this is what you get. The music is of the highest quality, and Clive's lyrics shows he is a master wordsmith.?Also it is an album that will grow with more and more listenings. If you are not already familiar with the works of Clive Nolan, then here is as good place to start as any.

Ring Of Roses (VGCD006) is released on Verglas Music and is distributed by Pinnacle in UK and Ireland, and by SPV in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.? This means it should be available in most stores or at least they will be able to be order it for you.? It has been released to be sold as mid-price which is ?10-00 in the UK which is not bad for nearly 70 minutes of music.? Alternatively you can order the CD directly from Verglas Music at P.O. Box 19, Virginia Water, Surrey GU25 4YE, UK; tel/fax: 44 (0)1344-845873, e-mail: ? The release is the first of a series of re-releases featuring Clive Nolan's projects which Verglas will be releasing over the coming year [1997 or 1998]. Through The Looking Glass to be the next release and that should be ready roughly by the end of July. You can also check out the Verglas website at

[By the way, "Dorian Gray" originally appeared on a 1991 comp disc celebrating SI Magazine's 10th Anniversary, which also includes Pendragon, Egdon Heath, etc. The timings below are based on, and the album cover above is, the 1992 release of Ring Of Roses; Frank hadn't included them with his initial review. -ed.]

[As of Aug '05, I've added the new cover art, too, and will now include the * that I never ever followed up on. The ring of roses refers to... well, iirc, the bubonic plague... and roses uses to hide the smell of rotting corpses... and thus the "nursery rhyme" heard in the song also refers to that... or... As references float up through the mists of time, that the... evidence of the plague that appeared on palms looked a bit like roses... At least, something along those lines... Anyway, I need to tell you also that this review comes courtesy Frank Blades of Alternative Review, an ezine that has disappeared sadly, as of now... - ed.]

The Whistleblower (6:33) / Jigsaw (11:06) / Scared Of The Dark (6:09) / Painting By Numbers (6:35) / Hall Of Mirrors (14:24) / The Kruhulick Syndrome (inst.) (6:07) / Ring Of Roses (6:32) / Dorian Gray (2:49) / I, Judas (6:04)

Clive Nolan - vocals and keyboards
Karl Groom - guitars and bass pedals
Ian Salmon - fretted/fretless bass and acoustic guitar
Nick Harradance - drums

Ring Of Roses (1992/1997)
Through The Looking Glass (1994/1997)
Mad As A Hatter (1996)

Genre: Neo

Origin UK

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Frank Blades

Artist website:
Hits: 1260
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]