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Craft: First Signs (Definitive Edition)

Having both departed The Enid in 1980 William Gilmour (keyboards) and Martin Russell (bass/keyboards) would team up with Pride Of Passion’s Grant Gilmour (drums/percussion) in the one-off project Craft and release their First Signs albums in 1984. With that history it’s difficult not to go looking for The Enid influences here and there’s no surprise that you’ll find them in abundance. However, this instrumental, symphonic keyboard led fare feels, by 1984 standards, much more contemporary and rock inclined. Links musically to ELP, Vangelis and the neo-prog scene of the time abound and as such provide a rather tantalising mix of wistful meanders and driven pulsating rock. The original release of First Signs was a six track affair where each piece looked to embody a sign of the zodiac, and with a mainly grandiose attack where the keyboards dominate in the best possible way, it pretty much succeeds in doing exactly that. It would, with hindsight, be easy to imagine these tracks with the addition of a singer being taken into the kind of areas that Marillion, Pallas, Pendragon and IQ were exploring back then, but it has to be said that the whole approach is much fuller and richer than that might suggest.

This definitive edition reissue adds a whole host of bonus material, with two previously unreleased tracks, “Despina” and “Dmitri’s Lament” suggesting a lightness of touch that in all honesty isn’t immediately apparent on the main album, with the former being especially impressive. The rest of the extra content comes in the shape of the 1989 (the last time this album was in print) remix of four of the First Signs tracks. It would, obviously, have been good to have had all of the album’s remixed versions rehoused together, but with the unreleased tracks and previous 1989 bonus cuts “Branislava” and “And So To Sleep” included, it looks like space simply ran out on the CD. Which is a shame, because there are some real points of difference between the two mixes, with the original version almost always coming out on top for my money. That said, all four new and old bonus cuts are more than worth their places here.

It’s a real pleasure to have this excellent, under appreciated album reissued with some interesting liner notes and visuals in the accompanying booklet, and, of course, a host of extra tracks. For the uninitiated - as I was - it’s quite the discovery.

Track Listing
1. Aries

2. Taurus

3. Gemini

4. Cancer

5. Leo

6. Virgo


7. Despina

8. Dmitri’s Lament

9. Taurus (1989 remix)

10. Gemini (1989 remix)

11. Cancer (1989 remix)

12. Leo (1989 remix)

13. Branislava

14. And So To Sleep

Added: June 15th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Craft @ Cherry Red
Hits: 258
Language: english

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