Greenslade - Large Afternoon

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Mystic Records
Catalog Number: MYS CD 142
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:19:00

I'll admit up front that my only familiarity with Greenslade is through this disk, Large Afternoon, which means I don't have any "historical baggage" or "historical context" to put it in. I have done enough reading since receiving this disk, though, including Bobo's own review, to tell you that Greenslade were a 70s UK prog band, named for Dave Greenslade, who had previously been a keyboardist with Colosseum. Greenslade released five albums, beginning with their self-titled album in 1972, and of which the Gilbraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock states "is very representative of the organ/guitar dominated UK progressive rock of that period, comparable to bands such as Fields, Cressida, etc." Large Afternoon marks the band's reformation, with original and founding member Tony Reeves on bass, John Young (ex-Asia, Qango) on vocals and keyboards, and Chris Cozens on drums along side, of course, Dave Greenslade on keyboards.

The bright, parpy keyboards remind me of Mannheim Steamroller. There, I said it. I was hesitant to make that comparison, but there it is. I can say it no other way. There are points through out where I'm brought to mind of other bands. The very first notes of the opener "Cakewalk" made me think of Supertramp's "Long Way Home," but it is just for the briefest of seconds. Then it almost becomes something from an Andrew Lloyd Weber score, but again, not quite and not for long. The keyboards, as may be expected, take the lead, both in concert and counterpoint, while bass gurgles and throbs in the background, and percussion bashes. There are hints of Emerson Lake and Palmer and Procol Harum in the track as well. Throughout, the track reminds lively and energetic, a good start to a terrific sounding album.

Heard out of context, you'd swear "Hallelujah Anyway," was the Flower Kings, mainly because Young sounds like Roine Stolt sounding like John Wetton. Which is an interesting conjunction as Young was once a member of Asia, as was Wetton...and together the two were in Qango. So anyway, this sly little tune picks on what must be this month's theme - the creation of the universe...and the people in it. My favourite bit of lyric is this:

But such success led to excess
on Saturday at noon,
for then you made the tribe of man
a billion years too soon.
Before he barely learned to crawl
he trampled on the moon
well, Hallelujah anyway! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

This also could almost be a mellow Squeeze tune.

The title track has, for its first few moments, a Steely Dan feel about it, before churning keyboards come in, not unlike the opening riff to Jethro Tull's "Steel Monkey." But here again, the overall feel is of Mannheim Steamroller. So what do I mean by that? Well, as I said above, perky keyboards of a certain tone - sometimes bordering on shrill, with a somewhat tinny sound ... deliriously happy keys.

"No Room - But A View" is like a Mike and The Mechanics ballad, or a Paul Carrack ballad at the very least. But, rather than a ballad, this is the lyrical kin to Phil Collins' "Another Day In Paradise" and, to a lesser degree, Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" (and for those who are also prog metal inclined, add Pain Of Salvation's "People Passing By"). In other words, a homeless man becomes a microcosm for the disenfranchised in our modern society.

The instrumental "Anthems," is anthemic, with a very memorable melody, that is as epic as it is warm and personal. The arrangement is careful and deliberate, as the circular pattern of the repeated refrain takes its time, making sure each note is there - no compromises for the sake of expediency.

The bluesy "In The Night" is next, with a keyboard intro (I'm thinking it's a Rhodes) and Young sounding even more like Wetton... I couldn't help but think of "Starless and Bible Black," but it is more in line with what I think of as "late night at the club jazz." A soft-shoe, mid-tempo beat, everything laid back, the bass gentle pulsing, drums snicking, each keeping time. Beautiful, and a perhaps my favourite track here. Not in the least progressive, of course, as it would fit nicely on the smooth jazz stations.

"On Suite" starts with some churning keyboards that hint at latter day Keith Emerson (more along the lines of Black Moon than their earlier stuff). In fact, here John Young doesn't sound like Greg Lake, but has an essence of Lake, all the while making me think of the classic soft-rock hit "Captain Of Your Heart" just a bit; and of "Starless and Bible Black." It's that same smooth, warm mode. Oddly, the same can almost be said of "Lazy Days," except the bits about Emerson and Lake. You could find this one along side almost any so called smooth jazz artist (in other words, the ones who rise above the tag). It's another warm arrangment, beautiful symphonic keys, interesting bass patterns, here barely heard.

So, here's who will like this release: fans of contemporary jazz, Tangerine Dream, Mannheim Steamroller (obviously as I've name-checked them), the more pastoral moments of ELP, and MOR rock. Not what I was expecting, but quite a pleasant surprise. I can't tell you what I was expecting, but learning that the album covers of their first two albums were done by Roger Dean, and the typography of their logo, I was thinking something along the lines of Yes, I suppose. Or at least, something a little trippier. But I'm not displeased at all, and folks who are like me, will like this.

Cakewalk (4:56) / Hallelujah Anyway (6:46) / Large Afternoon (4:34) / No Room - But A View (3:38) / Anthems (6:09) / In The Night (5:19) / On Suite (6:46) / Lazy Days (4:18) / May Fair (4:13)

Dave Greenslade - keyboards
John Young - keyboards and vocals
Tony Reeves - bass
Chris Cozens - drums

Greenslade (1973)
Bedside Manners Are Extra (1973)
Spyglass Guest (1974)
Time and Tide (1975)
Live (1999)
Large Afternoon (2000)
Live 2001 - The Full Edition (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: December 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1843
Language: english


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