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Greenslade: The Birthday Album-Live Switzerland 1974

Recorded on January 18, 1974 in Prilly, Switzerland, what you have here is the last known live recording of the prog rock band Greenslade, and also happened to be the 31st birthday of leader & keyboard maestro David Greenslade. Formed in 1972 after Greenslade and bassist Tony Reeves left Colosseum, they were joined by ex-King Crimson drummer Andy McCulloch and vocalist/keyboard player Dave Lawson to form what would become a short-lived but still formidable progressive rock unit. Playing selections from their first two albums, Greenslade and Bedside Manners Are Extra, the band are in fine form, delivering their brand of rousing, keyboard dominated progressive rock.

While he doesn't quite get the recognition he has always deserved, Greenslade for decades has been a hell of a player, right up there with Emerson, Wakeman, Lord, Hensley, and Banks, and he's on target along with Lawson throughout this thrilling live set. Hammond organ, Moog, Mellotron, electric piano, it's all here and just dripping with early '70s prog splendor. "Pilgrim's Progress" is just amazing, a rousing number featuring rampaging Hammond and wild Moog, with the rhythms just supercharged underneath, while numbers such as "Sunkissed You're Not" and "Bedside Manners are Extra" show just how tight this band were at delivering complex, symphonic prog rock. The atmospheric "Drowning Man" has a certain ELP feel to it, featuring some killer drumming courtesy of McCulloch, and "Time to Dream" ups the energy with intricate rhythms, passionate vocals, and wild keyboard explorations. The 17-minute "Sundance" is a keyboard lovers dream, as the duo pull out all the stops for a spirited jam, and McCulloch gets to solo with reckless abandon on the extended percussive romp "Drum Folk". Toss in the hard rocking "Feathered Friends" and you have an energetic, virtuoso performance from fiery prog act who sadly, never really made it to stardom like some of their contemporaries.

The sound quality on The Birthday Album-Live Switzerland 1974 isn't the greatest, but considering how long this has been sitting in the vaults and the age of the source material, that's not surprising. Regardless, this is a killer show, and one that fans of vintage '70s prog rock will want to seek out.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1 An English Western 5:05
2 Sunkissed You're Not 7:12
3 Bedside Manners Are Extra 5:38
4 Pilgrim's Progress 7:43
5 Drowning Man 6:09
6 Time To Dream 4:00
7 Sundance 17:20
8 Feathered Friends 5:21
9 Drum Folk 14:07

Added: August 30th 2017
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Angel Air Records
Hits: 1948
Language: english

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Greenslade: The Birthday Album-Live Switzerland 1974
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-08-30 01:06:21
My Score:

After the progressive fusion rock band COLLOSEUM called it a day the band Greenslade rose out of the ashes. Formed by Dave Greenslade (keyboards) and Tony Reeves (bass) the band also included Dave Lawson (keyboards and vocals) and Andy McCulloch (drums). They released their self-titled debut in 1973 and later that year came out with their sophomore effort Bedside Manners are Extra.

The Birthday Album was recorded in Prilly, Switzerland in 1974 as the band was touring Europe in support of Bedside Manners Are Extra. This live album happened to be recorded on Greenslade's birthday, hence the title. According to the liner notes this concert was one of the last featuring the band's original line-up making this a special release. The recording quality is just okay but that's just fine given the time period. It is certainly an album of its time and I wouldn't want it any other way. Greenslade was a pretty unique symphonic prog band given the fact there are no guitars to be found in any of their music. Don't fret as often the keyboards are played like a guitar and the players are able to generate some diverse sounds out of their equipment. Hammond organ, electric piano and Mellotron are used to great effect throughout the recording.

The disc begins with the bluesy instrumental "An English Western", an organ drenched affair with added electric piano and off kilter drum patterns as the band really starts to heat up. The keyboard driven "Sunkissed You're Not" includes an excellent organ solo and reminds me of something E.L.P. might have done. "Bedside Manners Are Extra" starts mellow before the keyboard, used like a guitar adds extra power. Some really beautiful melodies highlight "Pilgrims Progress" and "Drowning Man" with both tracks featuring outstanding keyboard work. An extended version of "Drum Folk" ends the disc with excellent musicianship being the order of the day. The drumming, in particular is showcased. The Mellotron flutes and organ are also quite wonderful when the music turns in a softer direction.

If you are into 70's prog or are a fan of the band The Birthday Album should be an important disc in your collection. The fact is these guys could play and this album proves it. Another recommended release from Angel Air Records.

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