Collection II

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The Collection II (1994) works well as both a companion to the 15-track Collection (1991) or simply a stand-alone single CD overview of the folky-gone-progressive rockers Gryphon. While the primary source for these 19 cuts are the band's first four long players: Gryphon (1973) , Midnight Mushrumps (1974), Red Queen to Gryphon Three (1974), and Raindance (1975), also included are the otherwise unavailable "Spies," "Failing to Demonstrate the Necessarily...," "Something to Do With T.A.R.D.I.S.," and "Ashes." Much in the same vein as their contemporaries the Incredible String Band and Pentangle, Gryphon's sound is an eclectic blend of whimsical acoustic folk and more complex, electric progressive rock. The eponymously titled Gryphon is well represented with nearly half the original album's dozen sides included here. Prominent among these are the brief yet intricate "Tea Wrecks," the regal "Sir Gavin Grimbold," the spirited "Three Jolly Butchers," as well as "Crossing the Stiles" -- the sole track to have been left off of the Gryphon/Midnight Mushrumps (1996) double-play CD. Representing the Midnight Mushrumps album are the stately and melodic "Last Flash of the Gaberdine Taylor" and the involved "Gulland Rock," as well as the Baroque-flavored "Dubbel Dutch." Gryphon's next release, the thematic Red Queen to Gryphon Three, is a much more densely constructed effort. While the entire record consists of four extended movements, due to the constraints of time, only three are excerpted here. Although none of the works are presented in their entirety, these portions are adequate enough to relate the album's strength and sonically realize thematic chess-playing parallels on which Red Queen to Gryphon Three was devised. Raindance -- the final long player represented on Collection II -- allowed Gryphon to return to shorter compositions, although they retained much of their prog rock musicality. Four of the platter's nine numbers are here, including the funky, up-tempo clavinet-driven opener "Down the Dog" and the diminutive instrumental "Le Cambrioleur Est dans le Mouchoir." According to the liner notes the four previously unearthed tunes were excavated during a 1990s tape vault excavation. The tunes were recorded and readied for release, though they remained unheard until now. Hardcore enthusiasts will want to find Collection II if for no other reason than the availability of both "Crossing the Stiles" and the bonus materials.

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