Gryphon’s unique take on British folk would change significantly for their third album ‘Red Queen to Gryphon Three’, a full blown progressive rock concept based on the game of Chess.
Written by: Eric
ALBUM: Red Queen To Gryphon Three
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Richard Harvey – keyboards, recorders, krumhorn * Brian Gulland – bassoon, krumhorn * Graeme Taylor – guitar * David Oberle – drums, percussion, tympani * Philip Nestor – bass
TRACK LISTING: 01 Opening Move * 02 Second Spasm * 03 Lament * 04 Checkmate
WEBLINKS: Site Link
These wandering classically trained minstrels started out as a pretty good folk band on their first album while picking up a few rock tendencies on the second whimsically titled record ‘Midnight Mushrumps’. With bassoon, recorder and krumhorn front and center, the band performed concerts at museums, art galleries and universities while playing barefoot for effect.
In their wiliness to innovate were a step up from Pentangle and Steeleye Span in this scribes opinion. Gryphon’s unique take on British folk would change significantly for their third album ‘Red Queen To Gryphon Three’, a full blown progressive rock concept based on the game of Chess.
With just four long tracks, the band pull out all the stops and ‘Opening Move’ hits all the right squares. At first glance, having a bassoon as a lead instrument might seem a bit odd, but they combined the progressive rock aesthetic and Baroque classicalism like no other in their field.
Some comparisons to Gentle Giant can be made on this album, and it’s entirely instrumental and on ‘Second Spasm’ – very medieval in approach. I particularly like ‘Lament’ which in several movements builds into a gorgeous piece of classical rock while ‘Checkmate’ ends the album with a prog rock tour-de-force very much in the style of Rick Wakeman and his early solo records.
Gryphon would tour both the UK and North America with Yes in support of this album, but lost momentum with a variety of line-up changes for their last two releases ‘Raindance’ and the stellar ‘Treason’ with the group finally calling it a day in 1978. Since then there have been several compilations, BBC recordings and reissues with the band reforming in 2008 and playing their first reunion show in June 2009.