Dave Greenslade – Cactus Choir (1976)

FrontCover1Dave Greenslade (born 18 January 1943) is an English composer and keyboard player. He has played 20 years with Colosseum and in his own eponymous band, Greenslade, and others including If and Chris Farlowe’s Thunderbirds.

Greenslade was born in Woking, Surrey, England. Among his works are Cactus Choir, The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony (with art by Patrick Woodroffe) and From the Discworld. Television work includes music for the BBC series Gangsters (1975–1978), Bird of Prey (1982–1984) and A Very Peculiar Practice (1986).

After this he “virtually vanished from sight”, becoming, as his friend Terry Pratchett proclaimed, “the man every TV producer in England would call when a new TV theme was needed”. Greenslade’s association with Pratchett, brought him back out into public view, with the 1994 release of From the Discworld, an album of music inspired by Pratchett’s novels. Greenslade was active, between 1994 and 2015, after the re-forming of the band Colosseum.

Two more solo albums appeared, Going South and Routes/Roots, in 1999 and 2011 respectively. (by wikipedia)

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After the break-up of COLOSSEUM in ’71 and then GREENSLADE in the mid-70’s, keyboard player Dave Greenslade decided to go solo. As such, he has somewhat strayed from his prog roots to move into a gentler territory, abandoning his organ and electric piano for a vast array of synthesizers, creating intensely surrealistic sounds that permeate his albums.

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The best of his four solo efforts are unquestionably the first two, “Cactus Choir” (76) and “The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony” (79). On the first, he dishes out everything from waltzes to classical to blues and throws in odd rhythms, fascinating progressions and a few other goodies, in a style often reminiscent of VANGELIS or Mike OLDFIELD. The second release, a fantasy-concept album often referred to as simply “Pentateuch”, may be less aesthetically pleasing but is still a monumental triumph of surrealism. All 21 tracks feature rich, imaginative synth explorations; Phil Collins and John Livingston each play percussion on a few tracks and Dave G. himself throws in some church organ and even tubular bells. However, the last two releases, “From the Discworld” (94) and especially “Going South” (99), are quite disappointing: highly digitalized, unimaginative and a sad waste of talent – the latter album features only synths except for bits of piano on a couple of tracks.

Fans of both COLOSSEUM and GREENSLADE are advised to stay clear, but the first two albums could be of some interest if you’re into heavily synth-oriented prog. (by progarchives.com)

CD

After his eponymous band Greenslade fell apart in the wake of 1975’s Time & Tide, keyboardist Dave Greenslade set off on his own path, constructing a loose concept album based on the American West. For listeners unfamiliar either with Greenslade or his first band Colosseum, the Roger Dean cover art for Cactus Choir functions as a good tipoff that this 1976 LP should not be seen as a companion to the Western fantasia of Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection. This is a thoroughly British prog rock record but it isn’t as dense as the keyboardist’s previous projects, possessing a jaunty sense of humor — one that surfaces clearly on “Country Dance,” along with the “Oh! Susanna” quotation on “Finale” — and a lightness that keeps the nearly cinematic sense of drama somewhat humble. Make no mistake, this is certainly an album that will only appeal to aficionados of ’70s prog rock — the record sounds precisely like the Roger Dean artwork looks, filled with densely saturated colors and intricately detailed curlicues — but Greenslade’s whimsy does keep Cactus Choir interesting and not too pompous. [Edsel’s 2014 reissue of Cactus Choir contains a bonus track called “Gangsters.”] (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Dave Greenslade (keyboards, synthesizer, clavinet, effects, vocals on 3.)
Simon Phillips (drums, percussion)
Tony Reeves (bass)
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Steve Gould (vocals on 02. + 05.)
Mick Grabham (guitar on 03.)
Lissa Gray (vocals on 03.)
Bill Jackman (flute, bass clarinet on 07.)
Dave Markee (bass on 03. + 04.)
Chris Farlowe (vocals on 08.)
John Perry (bass on 06.)
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handclaps on 01.:
Dave Greenslade – Gregg Jackman – Rupert Hine
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unknown orchestra on 07.
arranged by Simon / conducted by Martin Ford

Reviews

Tracklist:
01. Pedro’s Party (Greenslade) 2.35
02. Gettysburg (Greenslade/Hiseman) 3.35
03. Swings And Roundabouts (Greenslade) + Time Takes My Time (Greenslade/Hall) 10.00
04. Forever And Ever (Greenslade) 4.04
05. Cactus Choir (Greenslade/Hall) 6.02
05.1. The Rider
05.2. Greeley And The Rest
05.3. March At Sunset
06. Country Dance (Greenslade) 5.25
07. Finale (Greenslade) 8.24
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08. Gangsters (Greenslade) 2.56

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