Engineering the neo-progressive movement of the eighties, Pendragon's recipe of suited songs that sometimes wandered off in fairy tale-like voyages remained popular within the boundaries of prog rock and flourished straight into the next decade. Much like early Marillion, Pendragon's serious pageantry and illustrious instrumental loftiness consisted of an organized yet vibrant merger of keyboards and guitar, set afloat with the storytelling assertiveness of Nick Barrett. The eight tracks that make up Overture 1984-1996 can hardly be labeled a worthy compilation, but they do offer up a delicious taste of Pendragon's style and atmosphere. Their brand of clean, cultivated progressive rock seldom veers off on unnecessary tangents, and the pretentiousness is satisfyingly kept under control. Two of the songs on this set are from EPs -- "Midnight Running" from 1996's As Good as Gold and the enchanting "Sister Bluebird" from 1994's Fallen Dreams & Angels. Their progressive wizardry takes charge in the captivating "Ghosts" from The Window of Life album, augmented by some mesmerizing guitar playing from Barrett. "Dark Summer's Day" is a perfect example of how the band remained distinct among other artists of the same era, and "The Black Knight" is a previously unreleased track that was taken from a live BBC performance in 1983. Overture is an admirable assembly of their music, but their studio albums, especially Kowtow and The World, offer a more complete spectrum of their work.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne