Angel Air 2015
“A Collection Of Original Recordings” opening a closet full of non-skeletal demos to be fleshed out with ensemble but beautiful in their embryonic realization.
It’s easy to underestimate Dave Greenslade importance in the field of art rock: he might have composed COLOSSEUM’s magnum opus “Valentyne Suite” and created an eponymous two-keyboard band but, concentrating on music, has always lacked the visual flash of Wakeman or Emerson. The same goes for Greenslade’s prototype tapes, yet these blueprints for collective arrangements aren’t tentative piano tunes – they come full-fledged, with most of melodic elements already in their place. So while Dave’s not the best singer around, there’s charm and sincerity to his vocal delivery which turns the title of “Hallelujah Anyway” into a listening sentiment.
This piece was planned as a main theme of the follow-up to 1979’s “The Pentateuch Of The Cosmogony,” yet it never happened and the song eventually landed on GREENSLADE’s comeback album, but its source demo – less soulful, perhaps, than the group’s take on it – is somehow more stately embroidered with detail. “Large Afternoon” housed the upgraded cuts of a few more tracks gathered here, including the dry “No Room – But A View” that, given the guitar-like synthesizer licks and harmonic moves, taps into the ’80s power pop, whereas “Blues In The Night” would enrich the initial intimacy of a translucent one-man version. The wild, jazzy, handclaps-helped “Val Suite II” goes as deep emotionally: composed for Dave’s old ensemble’s reunion, their classic’s continuation wasn’t used – nor was the samba of “Talking Point” – only to find an airing on the aforementioned album, in a slightly softened form, as “On Suite” which explains the epic’s lyrical references.
Still, “Koblenz” didn’t need words to be touching, although they color its final result, COLOSSEUM’s “I Could Tell You Tales”, as Dick Heckstall-Smith‘s sax solo does most expressive talking on the original recording, one harking back to Greenslade’s other band’s oeuvre without sounding dated. This can’t be said of the ska-kissed “Time To Make Hay,” another candidate for an aborted “Hallelujah” project, that unfurls into an orchestra-demanding court dance and gains momentum along the way to live up to its title. Such a charting of Dave’s back story requires much more investigation, and possibly a box-set treatment, and it is time indeed to reassess his contribution to popular music.