GRAVY TRAIN – Second Birth

Dawn 1973 / Esoteric 2016

GRAVY TRAIN - Second Birth

GRAVY TRAIN –
Second Birth

Lancashire lads landing a new lease of life and gloriously failing to elevate it.

By 1973 most of classic prog rock bands had delivered their defining statements, but the GT locomotive, as good as the ensemble were, lagged behind competitors in the land of eclecticism. Switching from Vertigo to Dawn didn’t help the group up the charts, yet for all the greyness of this album’s cover, the music inside is great, if quite dated. Under the patina, though, there’s a nice sway to the polyphonic dirge of “Morning Coming” where choral harmonies are whipped by a heady pairing of guitar and flute that weaves a folk tune around a double-edged riff, plus a pop allure to “Strength Of A Dream” which rolls a slider across unsophisticated strum, with much more arresting moments strewn across the record.

At the same time, numbers like “Motorway” and, to a certain extent, the boisterous, sax-splashed “Peter” misplace the collective chug to simplify the overall approach, and whatever concept the pieces hint at stumbles on rocky routes, lyrical detours notwithstanding. So acoustic transparency of “September Morning News” may marry romance to imaginary routine, and “Fields And Factories” is where hymnal hope meets pastorale and dystopian protest in a quasi-jazzy setting, yet all the disparate strains are strung together in a mini epic of the title track, a dark dramatic tapestry of medieval stripe that could really signal a second birth for the band.

This wasn’t to be, because success still proved elusive, and after one more album – aficionados’ favorite “Staircase To The Day” – and another single, the ensemble split and never returned. “Second Birth” still has its charm, but revelatory it isn’t.

***1/2

March 13, 2017

Category(s): Reissues
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