Lee Speaks About Music… #172

Get Out Of My father’s Car! – Gryphon

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Introduction…

Since Gryphon reinvented themselves a couple of years by putting out their first album in some 41 years they are now back with another new album and a slightly different line-up. But not to worry folks! because the same three core members of the band who have been there from day one and who appeared on their last album ReInvention along with Andy Findon are still with us. I am just grateful that I never had to wait another 41 years for another album to arrive 😁😁😁.

I have to admit that I was a bit concerned and sad to hear that the multi-instrumentalist Graham Preskett had let the band in order to further pursue his own personal projects. Simply because like the bands former member Richard Harvey, he was very much a tremendous talent and gifted musician who gave such a lot to the band and slotted in and filled Harvey’s role quite comfortably. 

For their latest album Get Out Of My Father’s Car! It now appears that the band have found themselves a new star and a female one at that. Bringing a female into the band was perhaps the most unexpected thing I could possibly think of and I personally never thought it would have worked in a million years. How wrong was I to even think that?

Well, I can tell you now that I was very wrong simply because this band have just come up with one of the most unusual folk albums I have ever encountered before in my life. This is that fresh it’s never been done before and you could say that they have reinvented folk and gave it a new lease of life. But before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

Packaging & Artwork…

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The CD comes in a 2-panel cardboard Digipak with a plastic tray to hold the disc in place and a die cut pocket to store the booklet. The 8-page booklet contains all the usual linear credit and production notes along with all the lyrics. It also includes some additional informative information on a track-by-track basis and overall, it’s a very neat and tidy well-made package.

I pre-ordered my copy from The Burning Shed on the 9th of November and it arrived 3 days after its release. It’s the first time I have used the online store for quite a while due to them overcharging on the postage and packaging and its nice to see now that they have made a few changes. I ended up paying £12 plus £2.20 p&p making a total of £14.20 which was a very reasonable and respective price point.

Artwork.

Like the bands previous album, the artwork and design was done by the English psychedelic artist John Hurford and I quite like the way he’s made it look colourful. It’s also well apt to the albums title and reflects on some of the humour that is injected into the bands music. Additional photography was by Andy Holdsworth.

The Album In Review…

Gryphon’s 7th studio album Get Out Of My Father’s Car! was released on the 25th of November 2020. It contains 11 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 47 minutes, 37 seconds which is a very comfortable time slot making it easy to digest. It’s very much a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks with all of the new line-up of the band contributing to all the written material on the album.

Like the bands previous album, the new album was recorded, mixed, mastered and produced by Graeme Taylor at his own studios Morden Shoals Studio. The studio over the last year has been relocated from his attic to where it had been for the past 22 years and he’s now purposely built a 42 sq. mt. totally soundproofed and treated outhouse at the end of his garden.

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Morden Shoals Studio

The new building is fully air-conditioned and features a completely isolated 3.6 sq. mt. recording area at the far end, with an open control area at the other, also housing the ISO booth, which is now often used for vocals or guitars whilst a drummer might use the far end booth.

I can tell you now that the new album sounds GREAT! and Graeme’s new studio is not the only thing of his that contributed to it. The new female star I mentioned earlier happens to be his daughter Clare Taylor and what a talented musician she really is and it must run in the family. Clare is very much a classically trained violinist who can turn to anything including the fiddle and many other instruments. She also comes with a voice and a fine one at that.

Due to an incurable neurological illness, which renders it impossible for him to play. Rory McFarlane had to step down from playing the bass and has been replaced by another old friend Rob Levy. Over the many years Levy has played in jazz, rock and even folk-blues bands and has worked with many artists including the likes of Helen Shapiro, Sacha Distel, Jerry Lewis, Petula Clark, Max Bygraves, Russ Conway, Tony Hadley, Jimmy Tarbuck and Des O’Connor.

The material that makes up and found its way onto the new album was put together over the last couple of years and all band members with the exception of drummer Dave Oberlé contributed to it. Some of it even stretches way back to the late 60’s and it’s all been skilfully arranged to fit in with the bands formidable style.

Gryphon have always tried to come up with something a bit musically different for each of their albums and they may of even excelled themselves with this new fresh approach. The other thing that is always present is their sense of humour, and even though they are quite remarkable musicians they never like to take themselves seriously. This new line-up of the band I feel have come with something quite special so let’s now take a look at the musicians and credits.

Musicians & Credits…

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Produced by Graeme Taylor. Recorded, Mixed & Mastered at Morden Shoals Studio between 2018 – 2020. Recording Engineer  Graeme Taylor. Art & Design by John Hurford. Photography by Andy Holdsworth.

Musicians.

Brian Gulland: Bassoon – Recorder – Soprano Saxophone – Whistle – Melodicater – Piano – Organ – Harpsichord – Harmonium – Vocals – Bell Holder – 16-panel quick fold rainbow coloured Golf Umbrella.
Graeme Taylor: Santa Cruz OM Acoustic Guitar – Reproductions of 1952 Telecaster Blackguard & 1957 Sunburst Stratocaster by Alan Kennedy – Vocals – Keyboard & Drum Programming.
Dave Oberlé: Drums – Percussion – Vocals – Bell Shaker.
Andy Findon: Flute & Piccolo(With and without Abell Whistle Headjoints for Boehm-System Flute) – Soprano Krumhorn – Soprano Tenor & Baritone Saxes – Clarinet.
Clare Taylor: Colin Mezin 1871 Violin – Francois Nicolas Violin Bow – Joseph Alfred Lamy Bow – Vocals – 8-panel quick fold 25 inch multicoloured Golf Umbrella -Percy Prius Carhorn & Door Slams.
Rob Levy: Sadowsky & Musicman Bass Guitars.

The Album Tracks In Review…

Gryphon are a band who like to do things different and each album they have made over the many years of their career can reflect that as they have gone along. Sometimes it can be quite hard to pigeon hole their music although I would say that there has always been an element of folk or traditional folk that has followed them along since they kicked off their career back in 1973 with their self-titled debut album. Their unusual choice of instruments date back to the renaissance period or medieval times and their debut album was a combination of renaissance dance music and traditional folk songs.

As the band progressed along many more genres of music started to come out of the woodwork and appear in their music, such as the classical influences that were injected into the self-titled track on the bands 2nd album. The combination of influences from other bands that made the bands 3rd album more of a PROGMATIC! affair. There was even a little touch of funk injected into their 4th album and forms of popular music was introduced into their 5th album. After a 41-year hiatus we got some more jazz and even a bit of blues thrown in for good measure on their 6th album.

The band have always been tagged with the genre of Medieval Prog-Rock and that is perhaps the best way to describe the biggest output of the music they have put out over the years. Although if you were to go back to the 70’s when we had far less genres to categorize music, it would not be unusual to find their albums in a record store filed under the genre of “Folk” and even today its quite evident that folk is still present and exists within their music.

Folk is very much the essence that is contained within their latest album Get Out Of My Father’s Car! Though there are many other ingredients that have gone into how the music is constructed, and it’s the way they have combined and incorporated many of the other genres that we have seen from them in the past so differently that make this album quite unique and sound fresh. To be honest I have never come across anything quite like this before and it really is like they have created a new direction for folk music to exist and breathed new life into it. It really is a breath of fresh air and the way forward for folk music in many respects.

To be perfectly honest I am still racking my brains out of how they have managed to come up with this new approach and the only thing I can put it down to is the sheer class musicianship that was involved in making it. I thought the musicianship was very much the strength behind their last album more so than the actual composition side of things, but here the strength is very much measured in equal terms I feel, making it a much better album to sit with. So, let’s now go through the album tracks and see how it all pans out.

Track 1. Get Out Of My Father’s Car!

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The album kicks off with its self-titled track and this is more of an instrumental piece with a few words of humour (along the lines of the sentence of its title) thrown in for good measure. This particular piece was penned by Graeme Taylor & Brian Gulland and the bit of fun they are having with the words goes back to an incident that happened when the band had more or less formed way back in 1972.

The four original band members were returning home from a meeting in London with Brian at the wheel who was putting up with more than his fair share of barracking in particular from Graeme in the back seat which caused him to blow his top and tell him to “get out of my car!”. To which Graeme cheekily replied “it’s not your car it’s your father’s car”. Amity was quickly restored and the memory of the incident popped back up last year in a kebab shop in Liverpool before they were about to play a gig and Graeme suggested it as the title for their net album.

Musically although its mostly a funky piece it crosses quite a few styles of jazz, rock, classical, folk, you name it, it’s got it, and it’s got as many transitional changes as a leopard changing its spots😁😁😁. The interesting thing about the funky side of this particular piece is that it’s not constructed from the bass line and it’s more or less centred around the harpsichord, bassoon and electric guitar. The other styles including the bands formidable style are flying out of the woodwork and different time signatures are all over the shop.

It’s very cleverly been put together even to how well Clare Taylor’s violin intermingles and weaves its way into the piece and it’s almost like they have injected big band music into it and it even has a sort of Broadway musical showcase feel to it.  Apart from the funky side of things it’s very difficult to describe just what we have here because there is so much going on. The musicianship is TOP NOTCH! and effectively this piece is more PROG! than PROG! and how they got all of this into 4 minutes is quite mind boggling and it’s a very fascinating and intriguing piece of work that has a touch of BRILLIANCE! and is a very strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 2. A Bit Of Music By Me.

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The elegance of BEAUTY! springs to mind with this next instrumental piece of music and although its title suggests that it was written by one person it is in fact credited to two. It is credited to both Gary & Andy Findon and part of it goes back to around 1969 and was composed originally by Andy’s long lost brother Gary to which Andy has now revived by reworking part of the original piece into it so to speak. The original short piece is based upon material that came from some of Gary’s final works before his tragic death and was a short trio written for 2 flutes and clarinet.

This is very much a classical structured piece and it’s been quite skilfully and masterfully arranged to incorporate and include all 6 musicians of the band. The way it opens up with the flute very much put me in mind of Elton John’s 1971 soundtrack album Friends to which utilises the woodwind section of an orchestra very well especially on “Michelle’s Song“. I’ve always loved the woodwind section of an orchestra and it is that section that quite often articulates the real beauty that can be found in most classical music. The tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss is a perfect example and there is a lot more beauty in that piece of work than its opening Fanfare that became more widely known after its use in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

On this particular piece the flute is very much paired up with the bassoon and the interplay between Findon and Gulland is a real playful treasure to behold. It’s also beautifully embellished by Taylor’s acoustic guitar and his daughter’s violin in sections to which both instruments have more of classical presence and feel to the notation. This is a piece that should have no problem being aired on classical radio stations such as BBC Radio 3 and Classical FM and its quite a GEM! It’s my personal favourite track on the album and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 3. Percy The Defective Perspective Detective.

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The shortest track on the album and this is another fine instrumental piece that was penned by Brian Gulland and came about from him noodling out some fine riffs on the harpsichord. I have to say that Brian’s keyboard skills have come on in leaps and bounds since the early days of Gryphon to which were mostly left to Richard Harvey to play. I certainly have not missed Harvey on this album or the previous album and the band are doing just as well without him and have brought in the right musicians to step into his shoes so to speak. Though I mean no disrespect to him because he is without doubt another outstanding multi-instrumentalist and musician.

This is another playful piece and is perhaps verging more towards the medieval folk or familiar side of Gryphon’s music and is a combination of folk and classical styles and I quite like how well Rob Levy’s bass lends support by playing around the same notes of the harpsichord on the intro. The sound of Findon’s flute around the 1:30 mark also has a familiarity with the theme tune to the TV comedy series Some Mothers Do Have Them and this is another wonderful piece that has been skilfully arranged for all the members of the band to fit in somewhere along the line and is very skilfully done. It’s easily another strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 4. Christina’s Song.

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You could say that this is the first song on the album and it is more along the lines of English traditional folk music with how its delivered. The song is credited to Clare Taylor & Christina Rossetti and the latter of the two is credited for the words which come from one of her poems entitled “When I am Dead, My Dearest“. Rossetti was a 19th Century English poet who also wrote poems to be put to song such as this “Song”, that appears in Goblin Market and other Poems, first published 1862.

Clare wrote the music on a Casio keyboard many years ago whilst she was at school studying Christina’s poem and now, she gets to be the first female singer of the group and her voice is well suited to the song and its familiar folkie style. I also think the characteristics in her voice and violin gives it a slightly different edge to the bands usual approach to English traditional folk music. Both Graeme Taylor’s acoustic guitar and Andy Findon’s flute also feature very well throughout this fine song.

Track 5. Suite For ’68.

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This is another piece that Andy has rejuvenated with the band and is based on a three-movement suite written by his late brother Gary back in 1968. I have to confess I did not do a lot of research on Findon when I reviewed Gryphon’s previous album ReInvention and the informative information in the booklet, I found very useful. Apparently, Andy’s brother was a classmate of the British journalist and former politician Michael Portillo. Back in 2008 he made a documentary entitled “Death of a School Friend” to which unearthed some of Gary’s music that had laid dormant and unnoticed for 40 years.

The program was originally broadcast on BBC 2 on the 7th of November 2008 and it’s unfortunate like many old series that they have not been screened again or have found their way on Youtube. I cannot locate anything from it as I would of loved to have seen it. However, I did find this write up of it that goes into more detail about the program if you want to read more about it. https://www.jeffreymaynard.com/Harrow_County/Death_of_a_Schoolfriend_Gary_Findon.htm

This is another playful instrumental piece and the first section merrily waltzes and dances its way along and features some lovely interplay between the two wind players Andy & Brian and also Clare’s violin. There is even a bit of humour that reflects from the strings possibly played by Graeme on the guitar that replicate the sound of a car horn and some of the notation from Brian’s bassoon adds to the comical side of things in this merry waltz. As it transcends its way along Andy switches from flute and clarinet to the krumhorn for the second and sweeter section of the suite and back for the final section. The harpsichord also features heavily throughout the piece and both Rob and Dave are also playing their part in holding up the fort here. It really is a wonderful piece done in GREAT! Gryphon style.

Track 6. The Brief History Of A Bassoon.

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A fun comical song penned by Graeme Taylor to which the words were inspired from his visit to India last year having come across some banyan trees in a dream that sparked up some of his memories from decades ago when Brian used to think he was a tree. The comical story he jotted down whilst in a car on his travels through India and the tune he wrote a few months later on his guitar.

The story is very well written and Brian himself takes on the vocal duties to put it across and is extremely funny how he projects part of it with the lower regions of his voice to reflect how he changed from a krumhorn to a bassoon. I also noticed that Brian does not play the krumhorn on this album and he’s left that too Andy to play, and once again the band have done another GREAT! job.

Track 7. Forth Sahara.

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This next instrumental piece was written by Rob Levy and it’s a tune of his that has been through quite a few incarcerations over the years and originally started out as a Spanish Sahara with an improvised bit in the middle and has now been given the Gryphon treatment. It’s a lovely piece that contrasts between styles of classical, folk and rock and features some GREAT! interplay between violin flute and bassoon. I like how Graeme also weaves his electric guitar into the interplay along with Rob’s bass and Dave’s drums and they help to rock it up a bit and this is another super job they have all done.

Track 8. Krum Dancing.

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This next instrumental piece does hark back to the bands earlier renaissance-style and this is a series of four dance tunes they have stitched together and the individual tunes are “Krum Dancing“. “Rum Bust“. “Escalade” and “Village Thrump“. It was penned by Graeme Taylor & Andy Findon and it kicks off in GREAT! Gryphonish! style and I like how well Clare’s violin easily fits into place throughout and Dave’s drums and percussion also hold everything up so well. Graeme gets to rock things up on his electric in particular on the second part whilst Rob’s bass lines also play more of a dominant role in particular on the third part and both Brian and Andy battle it out in duel on the final part with them both playing soprano saxes. It’s very much another GREAT! track and one I would put in contention for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 9. A Stranger Kiss.

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It’s time for another song and this is another of Clare Taylor‘s contributions she wrote that was inspired by a piano piece written by Gary Yershon for a Royal Shakespeare production of Hamlet that she got to see in her teenage years. The is another folky song with her fine voice and violin at the helm and the words are pertaining to a failed relationship. It’s quite a lovely ballad of a song to which the flute, bassoon and even the violin in parts give it a touch of a classical feel and her father’s acoustic guitar also adds very well to the melodic feel of it all. There is also a dramatic feel to it which was most likely inspired by Yershon’s original piano piece.

Track 10. Normal Wisdom From The Swamp…(A Sonic Tonic) 

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The is another piece that crosses many contrasting styles and can be quite PROGMATIC! in parts and was written by Brian Gulland. It also features him playing the piano and he’s doing a GRAND! job on it I will say and this was very much constructed around the instrument. It is mostly an instrumental piece but does have some spoken words delivered by Brian, Dave and Clare who take turns with each sentence in the dreamy comedown organ section. They are also very strange words of wisdom coming out of this swamp too and I have to admit when I first seen the title I thought it said “Norman” not “Normal” and that would have been even stranger 😁😁😁.

 It’s a piece that goes through many transitional changes and time signatures and was stitched together by umpteen different tunes which happily seem to have found sympathetic neighbours according to Brian’s notes in the booklet. It does seem like a mishmash of tunes put together but it works extremely well and the instrumentation is flying out of the woodwork and weaving and meandering its way along in quite a mesmerising magical way and skilfully played. It’s very much another strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 11. Parting Shot.

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The album ends off with a beautiful song written by Graeme Taylor and this is a tune he knocked up some 35 years ago and later wrote some tender lyrics to it for his wife. The tune itself was quite often used as an encore to introduce the members of the band Home Service at the end of their gigs to which Graeme also plays in. It’s the longest track on the album weighing at just under 6 minutes and is now getting the Gryphon treatment by appearing on this album and is beautifully sung by Dave.

In some ways this song could be a bit out of place with the rest of the material on the album and it perhaps harks back to some of the popular material that found its way on Gryphon’s 5th album Treason back in 1977 which was an album that Graeme was not on. However, it does round up the album very well being placed here and I have always loved Dave’s sweet voice since I heard him sing “The Astrologer” and “The Unquiet Grave” on their debut album. He still is my favourite singer of the band and I was glad that he was not completely pushed aside by the bands new rising female star 😁😁😁.

Graeme plays some lovely lead lines on his electric guitar on this song and I like how he has brought that back into the fold and not gone completely acoustic on the album. I have always loved both his acoustic and electric playing. Quite often on the few occasions I have seen him play live with the band over the recent years he does bring his electric along but sometimes its only there for display on a stand and he never picks it up 😁😁😁. When they eventually get back out there and play live, I feel he will have to for quite a bit of the material that is on this album and that is something I will look forward too.

Summary…

To sum up Gryphon’s 7th studio album Get Out Of My Car! I personally think that the band is as strong as ever and have come up with a very strong body of work of material to make up this new album. Although it’s very much a different album in some ways I would put this almost on par with the bands first three albums for its strength. I would even go as far as to place this album as my 4th favourite album out of the bands discography. It’s very much a folk album that has a strong classical influence thrown into the pot and that is what makes it work so well.

In musical terms of the way some of the music has been structured it is without doubt more PROG! than PROG! Although I would not vote it for the PROG! album of the year like I did with Wobbler’s latest album for example, and that is down to how it sort of gives folk music a fresher approach with the progressive side of things that have been thrown into it. It’s hard to explain what it is and perhaps the best way I could describe it is by saying that it’s taken the progressive aspect that bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span put into their music many years ago onto another level or plain so to speak.

My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Get Out Of My Father’s Car!“. “A Bit Of Music By Me“. “Percy The Defective Perspective Detective“. “Krum Dancing” and “Normal Wisdom From The Swamp… (A Sonic Tonic)“. Though in reality I could easily add all 11 tracks because it really is such a GREAT! album and one that is easy to sit with and simply enjoy.

Conclusion…

In conclusion Get Out Of My Car! is an album that has a lot more under the hood than one might think and is far from just another folk album. It could even be seen in some respects as a fresher approach to folk music. Though be warned, because to pull off an album like this it does require a great deal of technical skill and timing and this is a band that are as tight as a bear’s arse. This is also a band that will have no problem performing the material from this album live on stage and I am eagerly looking forward for this pandemic to blow over so I can get to see them again.

It might not make the PROG! album of the year but it’s certainly one of the best albums I have brought this year and is pretty much a solid album and has been very well produced. It should easily satisfy all the GRYPHONIONS! out there and appeal to all FOLKIES! and other sorts who have a eclectic taste. I have nothing but high praise for the album and they really have come up with something quite special and unique in that it sounds fresh yet still maintains the bands formidable style.

The band did put out a 3-mintute sampler of the album as you can see above. Personally, I do not think this does the album any real justice and it’s a shame they never put out a full song from the album that really shows what the band have injected into all the album tracks. It is without doubt one of the bands better albums and for all you vinyl lovers there is a vinyl edition scheduled to be released sometime in January. Though what I would love to see is a 5.1 release because this bands music would be most fitting to that format and I would love Steve Wilson to get his hands on their albums and do them.

A Car To Get Out Of And An Album To Get Into And Enjoy The Ride…

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Get Out Of My Father’s Car!. 4:06.
02. A Bit Of Music By Me. 4:47.
03. Percy The Defective Perspective Detective. 2:30.
04. Christina’s Song. 3:41.
05. Suite For ’68. 5:04.
06. The Brief History Of A Bassoon. 2:58.
07. Forth Sahara. 3:45.
08. Krum Dancing. 5:25.
09. A Stranger Kiss. 4:19.
10. Normal Wisdom From The Swamp… (A Sonic Tonic). 5:11.
11. Get Out Of My Father’s Car!. 5:51.

Packaging Rating Score. 9/10.
Price Point Rating Score. 9/10.
Album Rating Score. 10/10.

2 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #172

  1. I know, that this is one of your favourite bands, so it’s twice as interesting for me to check them out. I have listened to the medley on Youtube and I think you are right, that their appraoch here is something new. I think I have never heard something similar and it does not fall into the ususal Prog-categories. The acoustic instrumentation is lovely and right from the start I register that humour, which makes the music even more sympathetic. Most progressive bands seem to be very serious and often too serious. I like this even more than Wobbler, because – as you said – they are exploring new directions and modernizing the genre. I will take a look at the Vinyl-edition 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s certainly one of the best albums I have brought this year and quite different even from Gryphon’s own output but still manages to maintain the bands formidable style. The one thing I did not mention was it’s diversity and that is some this album certainly has as well and it’s certainly got a fresh feel about it.

    Like

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