In a genre that loves complexity, Kestrel are an example of how I’ve always liked my prog – short and sweet with plenty of melody and this is an album made to order for those with a similar palate.
Written by: Eric
LABEL: Cube Records
SERIAL: Cube 19
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Dave Black – guitars, vocals * John Cook – guitar, synthesizer, mellotron, vocals * Tom Knowles – vocals * Fenwick Moir – bass * Dave Whitaker – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Acrobat * 02 Wind Cloud * 03 I Believe In You * 04 Last Request * 05 In The War * 06 Take It Away * 07 End Of The Affair * 08 August Carol
In a genre that loves complexity, Kestrel are an example of how I’ve always liked my prog – short and sweet with plenty of melody and this is an album made to order for those with a similar palate. Kestrel featured three players of note including Dave Black who backed David Bowie in the Spiders From Mars and went on to release a not so well-received LP of the same name which we’ve previously reviewed here at Glory Daze.
Keyboardist John Cook spent some time in a later version of Love Affair (remember ‘Everlasting Love’?) and drummer Dave Whitaker was previously heard in Ginhouse, a band that released a collectable heavy blues rock album in 1971. With more than capable vocalist Tom Knowles and mysterious bassist Fenwick Moir, Kestrel originally from Newcastle, gigged around the London area before being signed by the smallish Cube Records and although the album sold very few copies at the time, these days the original pressing will set you back more than a few pay checks.
Fortunately for those of us with more modest budgets, the group’s only release has been reissued several times over the years and is currently in print via the Second Battle imprint.
Unmistakably English, ‘The Acrobat’ seamlessly combines Gentle Giant‘s instrumental dexterity and early Yes before they lost the plot with tedious album sides. Sensational stuff and ‘I Believe In You’ hits the spot as a gorgeous organ-driven slice of sunny mid-70s pop rock and a solid reminder of why I find the style of bands like Kestrel as well as Cressida, Capability Brown, Cirkus and Spring so much more attractive than the bloated biggies of the day.
‘In The War’ returns to the pre-topographic Yes sound although no one would ever mistake Kestrel for similar pretensions. Shaking off the album’s darker moment ‘Take It Away’ is a stonking hook-fest while ‘End Of The Affair’ is my favourite cut here with John Cook’s understated Mellotron giving the 10cc-ish ballad an exquisite orchestral feel that simply shimmers with soft-rock beauty. August Carol’ closes the record with even more glorious Mellotron while bridging the musical divide between pop and progressive rock on a level rarely seen or heard before.
From here Dave Black pushed the aforementioned Spiders From Mars project and released the band’s first single in late ’75. With no love from the press and seriously poor sales from the 1976 Spiders long player, Black with vocalist Peter McDonald formed Goldie, recording a couple quality singles and scored a tasty chart hit with ‘Making Up Again’ in 1978. Although just when we thought we heard the last from Dave, both he and McDonald reappeared in 747 and the 1985 single ‘Slip Away’ which is truly one of the great but sadly forgotten treasures of British AOR.
Kestrel on Video
Entire Album (Select Tracks)