Dave Greenslade

Cactus Choir

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After his eponymous band Greenslade fell apart in the wake of 1975's Time & Tide, keyboardist Dave Greenslade set off on his own path, constructing a loose concept album based on the American West. For listeners unfamiliar either with Greenslade or his first band Colosseum, the Roger Dean cover art for Cactus Choir functions as a good tipoff that this 1976 LP should not be seen as a companion to the Western fantasia of Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection. This is a thoroughly British prog rock record but it isn't as dense as the keyboardist's previous projects, possessing a jaunty sense of humor -- one that surfaces clearly on "Country Dance," along with the "Oh! Susanna" quotation on "Finale" -- and a lightness that keeps the nearly cinematic sense of drama somewhat humble. Make no mistake, this is certainly an album that will only appeal to aficionados of '70s prog rock -- the record sounds precisely like the Roger Dean artwork looks, filled with densely saturated colors and intricately detailed curlicues -- but Greenslade's whimsy does keep Cactus Choir interesting and not too pompous. [Edsel's 2014 reissue of Cactus Choir contains a bonus track called "Gangsters."]

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