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Glover, Roger: The Butterfly Ball (remaster)

Having parted company with Deep Purple in 1973, bassist Roger Glover was looking for an outlet for his songwriting skills. Hence the opportunity to turn the children's book The Butterfly Ball And The Grasshopper's Feast (based on the poem by William Roscoe) into the soundtrack of a proposed film, was too tempting to turn down. Depending on which version of events you believe, Glover was first inspired by the wordless book and then cajoled by his manager into make his musical version of it, or he was asked to produce the project, which was to be undertaken by his ex-Purple band mate Jon Lord, but when the keyboard player couldn't find the time, Glover then took over control.

Whichever is true, the well connected Glover opened his contact book and got dialling, as he turned the tweest of ideas into an underrated, if unusual, gem. With most of the twenty tracks featuring a singer taking on the role of one of the animals from the book (where British countryside beasts put their differences aside to attend The Butterfly Ball), there's no denying that it all sounds like it should have been a recipe for embarrassing disaster. However, Glover masterfully straddled the territory between kid's book and rock star cool by writing songs that actually fell into neither bracket. Instead a quirky collection of tracks based round the band of Les Binks (Judas Priest) on drums, Ray Fenwick (Ian Gillan Band) on guitar, hugely respected session bassist Mo Foster, Spencer Davis Group keyboard player Eddie Hardin, and of course, Glover himself on synth, piano, guitar, bass and percussion, were crafted. Although they also featured brass, a string section, bassoon, and amongst other things, saw. The results are rock music, but it sure isn't heavy rock, with swing, funk, jazz and at times a smoother, easier lilt brought by Glover's new found love for synths. All of which was incorporated in a way that somehow matches a cast of moles, frogs and spiders.

Lyrically, we are introduced to Glover's take on these characters, while broader themes of acceptance, understanding, togetherness and concern for the environment are also covered. Bringing this aspect to life Glover recruited singers from two ends of the spectrum, some were rookies, or people not exactly known for their singing prowess, while others either were, or would go on to be, some of the biggest names in rock. Interestingly the writer and producer managed to coax some excellent vocal performances from Mickey Lee Soule (at the time of the band Elf and later to be keyboard player in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow), who does a great job on the environmentally conscious "No Solution" and Roxy Music bassist John Gustafson on "Watch Out For The Bat", while Judi Kuhl (Glover's wife), is superb taking on the spider's role in "Aranea". Others such Helen Chappelle, Barry St. John and Jimmy Helms also put in cracking vocal displays, but in truth, it is Glover's rock music mates who all steal the show, Glenn Hughes (Purple, Sabbath, Trapeze) providing the album's first vocal with the stunningly controlled "Get Ready", David Coverdale (Purple, Whitesnake) digging deep for "Behind The Smile", while Ronnie James Dio, who Glover was working with at the time with his band Elf, is undoubtedly the star attraction. Fronting, as he did, the single, which would dent the UK charts and hit the top spot in The Netherlands, "Love Is All", adding a touch of class to the closing, melancholic "Homeward", while his reserved approach to "Sitting In A Dream" is, to me, one of the best vocals the great man ever put to tape.

A one off live show was performed (and recorded, but it isn't included here, unfortunately) at The Royal Albert Hall, by which time Dio had teamed up with Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow. With the latter not on the best of terms with Glover at the time, he forbade Dio to perform at the show and so his place was taken by Lucifer's Friend and Uriah Heep vocalist John Lawton (and Ian Gillan), with subsequent reissues of this album featuring the singer on the newly added track, "Little Chalk Blue", which is a tremendous show tune.

While much praised, the album struggled to find an audience, with the proposed film never made (although a video was created to accompany the album's single) and the obvious rock audience often viewing the project as merely kid's music � which does this excellent album a disservice. And while Glover has over the years mentioned revisiting The Butterfly Ball (the latest idea being to produce a stage show), the Royal Albert event was very much the end of it. Often reissued over the years, this latest versions brings together on a separate disc a selection of previously available demos and alternate mixes and instrumentals alongside a hugely enjoyable 1974 radio recording of Glover detailing the history of the project, how he put it all together and his (ambitious) hopes for its future; none of which ever came to pass.

With a third disc adding the three track EP/single "Love Is All" alongside the other album tracks, "Old Blind Mole" and "Magician Moth", the only thing missing here is the live show, which really would have been a very welcome addition indeed. However, with excellent, interesting liner notes from Malcolm Dome and Glover himself, there's no denying that this is a beautifully put together and excellently remastered version of what is an admittedly niche, but richly rewarding album.


Track Listing
DISC ONE:

ROGER GLOVER AND FRIENDS: "THE BUTTERFLY BALL AND THE GRASSHOPPER'S FEAST"
1. DAWN

2. GET READY (featuring Glenn Hughes)

3. SAFFRON DORMOUSE AND LIZZY BEE (featuring Helen Chappelle & Barry St. John)

4. HARLEQUIN HARE (featuring Neil Lancaster)

5. OLD BLIND MOLE (featuring John Goodison)

6. MAGICIAN MOTH

7. NO SOLUTION (featuring Mickey Lee Soule)

8. BEHIND THE SMILE (featuring David Coverdale)

9. FLY AWAY (featuring Liza Strike)

10.ARANEA

11.SITTING IN A DREAM (featuring Ronnie James Dio)
12.WAITING

13.SIR MAXIMUS MOUSE (featuring Eddie Hardin)

14.DREAMS OF SIR BEDIVERE
15.TOGETHER AGAIN (featuring Tony Ashton)

16.WATCH OUT FOR THE BAT (featuring John Gustafson)

17.LITTLE CHALK BLUE (featuring John Lawton)

18.THE FEAST

19.LOVE IS ALL (featuring Ronnie James Dio)

20.HOMEWARD (featuring Ronnie James Dio)


DISC TWO:
BONUS TRACKS
1. LOVE IS ALL [DEMO VERSION]

2. DAWN [ALTERNATIVE MIX]

3. MAGICIAN MOTH [ALTERNATIVE MIX]

4. HARLEQUIN HARE [ALTERNATIVE MIX]

5. MAGICIAN MOTH [ALTERNATIVE MIX]

6. NO SOLUTION [ALTERNATIVE MIX]

7. WAITING [ALTERNATIVE MIX]

8. FLY AWAY [ALTERNATIVE MIX]

9. ARANEA [ALTERNATIVE MIX]
THE ROGER GLOVER BUTTERFLY BALL RADIO SPECIAL [1974]

10. BAND 1

11. MUSIC: OLD BLIND MOLE

12. MAGIC MOTH

13. BAND 2

14. MUSIC: ARANEA

15. BAND 3

16. MUSIC: SITTING IN A DREAM

17. BAND 1

18. MUSIC: WATCH OUT FOR THE BAT

19. BAND 2

20. MUSIC: LOVE IS ALL


DISC THREE:
ROGER GLOVER AND GUESTS: LOVE IS ALL EP
[PUR125 � RELEASED: 8th NOV 1974]

1. LOVE IS ALL (featuring Ronnie James Dio)

2. OLD BLIND MOLE (featuring John Goodison)

3. MAGICIAN MOTH

Added: May 2nd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Butterfly Ball at Cherry Red
Hits: 921
Language: english

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