Sjef Oellers 11-Feb-2001 Gravy Train/Ballad of a Peaceful Man

Gravy Train's self-titled debut album from 1970 consists mainly of bluesy hard rock rather typical for that time in the UK. I can hear similarities both to May Blitz, the first Free album, and Uriah Heep. However, in contrast to those bands, flute is featured extensively and occasionally saxophone can be heard. The weakest point on this album is the lack of variety. Mostly the band is playing rather longish guitar or flute-led jams. While not unpleasant listening, I find this first Gravy Train album rather average.

Their next albums showed the band trying to change their style into a more symphonic or otherwise progressive direction. The second album, The Ballad of a Peaceful Man, tries to incorporate orchestration/strings in their sound, which for me does not work. The vocalist sounds downright irritating here, with a high pitched, screeching voice. An uneven album shooting in various directions, sometimes sounding like an uninspired Jade Warrior, then like a proto-symphonic band, and they also return to the bluesy hard rock of their debut. Altogether, I found it pretty boring. What I have heard of their later albums, I found even more disappointing.

If you like bluesy hard rock with some marginal progressive touches, try their debut album. For something in a more UK proto-progressive style, try The Ballad of a Peaceful Man, although I would not recommend either of the two albums.

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