Gra-Gran

 

Graal (France): Secrets Of Now (Stringbird BJLP 33001, CD, 1997)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Mina de Vertolaye (joint lead vocals, keyboards, psaltery)
Although this obscure album was promoted as ‘Mike Oldfield-style progressive’, in reality it’s nothing of the kind. In fact it’s acid-folk with a few mediaeval touches, somewhat recalling Stone Angel (especially in Mina de Vertolaye’s vocals) with a glossy modern production including some metal-influenced guitar and programmed drums. Some psychedelic folk diehards may find it too slick and too uneven in mood, but to my mind this is the best album of its kind released since the seventies, peaking on the breathtaking ‘The Opening’ and ‘The Horses Of Her Hero’. GRADE: A–.

Cary Grace (USA): Book Of Rhymes (Door 13 Music D130000, CD, 2004)
Singer/Songwriter/Rock
Cary Grace (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, harmonica)
Radically different from the records that would follow, this is basically singer/songwriter fare with country-tinged rock backing. The arrangements vary from delicate acoustic settings to comparatively heavy rock with some powerful guitar leads, and the songs are uniformly superb. With such great melodies and arrangements, Grace was unlucky not to become a major star with this album – but her subsequent career would take her in a very different direction. GRADE: B–.
Cary Grace (USA): Where You Go (Door 13 Music D130001, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, inner and booklet, UK, 2007)
Singer/Songwriter/Rock/Progressive
Cary Grace (lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser, percussion, effects, samples)
Grace’s second album is both similar to and different from her first. Once again, it’s rock-based singer/songwriter fare with a rural feel, hinting at someone like Sheryl Crow (but with much greater talent for composition). However, the slower tempos, dreamy instrumental breaks, sound effects and extensive use of synthesisers indicate Grace’s growing interest in progressive music. In particular, the nine-and-a-half minute closer ‘Summer’ is quite sublime, and as a bonus the disc is sumptuously packaged. As with its predecessor, this is a great album in a genre I generally don’t like. GRADE: B–.
Cary Grace (USA): Mendip Rock (Door 13 Music D130002, black CDR, with minisleeve, UK, 2008)
Progressive/Psychedelic
This mini-album (about 26 minutes) features four originals and a cover of ‘2000 Light Years From Home’ and sees Grace moving away from her original singer/songwriter style into more of a progressive rock direction. A good album throughout, it peaks on the trippy cover, which closes the disc in fine style. GRADE: B–.
Cary Grace (USA): Projections (Door 13 Music, download, UK, 2008)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Cary Grace (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, loops, singing bowl)
Whilst making obvious Grace’s singer/songwriter roots, this download-only album displays a strong influence from Pink Floyd at their softest. With some long, dreamy tracks linked by sound effects, it’s a charming and very atmospheric record, peaking on the superb extended closer ‘Eye’, although there are few surprises here. GRADE: B–.
Cary Grace (USA): Perpetual Motion (Door 13 Music D 1300005, double black CDR, with minisleeve and booklet, UK, 2009)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Cary Grace (lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser)
This is Grace’s magnum opus: an epic double album with cuts stretching up to 24 minutes. At the same time, it reveals the limitations of her style: endless hypnotic jams with a late-night feel, poised somewhere between Pink Floyd’s ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’ and the gentlest end of Krautrock. A few changes of pace or instrumentation might have enlivened the album enormously, but arguably that’s missing the point, as the disc creates a sustained flow as it deftly weaves instrumentals and songs together. The physical version of the disc (in a handmade, individually numbered sleeve with plain black inners and a booklet) was limited to two runs of 150 copies each. GRADE: B–.
Cary Grace (USA): Green Carrot Jam (Door 13 Music D130010, black CDR, with minisleeve, strip of photographs and cloth bag, 2009)
Progressive/Psychedelic
This short 24-minute album (or long EP, depending on one’s perspective) consists of a single track that was recorded during the Perpetual Motion sessions. It’s a high-octane, guitar-driven instrumental jam that’s far more uptempo and energetic than Grace’s usual work, and would ironically have lifted Perpetual Motion considerably if judiciously placed into the set. GRADE: B–.
Cary Grace (USA): Constant Things (Door 13 Music D130015, black CDR, with gatefold minisleeve, 2011)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Cary Grace (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards)
This is another excellent album from Grace, although as usual the songs, whilst beautiful, are a touch soporific. However, the ten-minute instrumental ‘Nightfall’ is quite superb, and easily among the finest things she has recorded. GRADE: B–.

Cary Grace (USA): Tygerland (Door 13 Music D130016, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, booklet and insert, UK, 2015)
Progressive
Cary Grace (lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser, electronics)
With an impressive cast of guest musicians, including Stephan Lewry and Graham Clark, Tygerland offers Grace’s usual mid-paced, Pink Floyd-like psychedelic and progressive blend, whilst at times hinting at everyone from Patti Smith to New Order. The album culminates with the eerie, Krautrock-like 20-minute ‘Windsong’, rounding off another atmospheric and impressive set. GRADE: B–.

Cary Grace Band (USA/UK): Live In Glastonbury, May 2016 (Door 13 Music, download, 2016)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Issued by Grace as part of her Bandcamp subscribers package, this features half an hour of prime psychedelic jamming, strongly recalling You­­-era Gong. Why we only got part of one set, I have no idea – and it’s a minor tragedy, as this is superb stuff and extremely well recorded too. GRADE: B–.

Cary Grace (USA): The Uffculme Variations (Door 13 Music 0130017, red CD, with gatefold minisleeve, inner and booklet, 2016)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Cary Grace (lead vocals, synthesiser)
Recorded live, with Gong alumni Stephan Lewry and Graham Clark again in tow, this is perhaps Grace’s trippiest set, focusing on long, relaxed, spaced-out jams. The beautiful packaging is the artwork on a deeply satisfying and psychedelic set. GRADE: B–.

Cary Grace (USA): Covers Volume I (Door 13 Music D130019, black CDR, with minisleeve, UK, 2018)
Rock/Progressive
I’d only previously heard two numbers from this odds-and-sods compilation: her excellent version of ‘Archangel’s Thunderbird’ and the superb ‘Fat Old Sun’ (the latter running for 15½ minutes and previously issued as an ultra-collectible 12" single). Along with ‘2000 Light Years From Home’, ‘Tales Of Brave Ulysses’ and ‘Cirrus Minor’, they make up the portion of the album that sounds like a normal Cary Grace release. However, the set opens with four pretty straight rock covers – three by David Bowie and one by Bob Dylan. These are decent enough, but she doesn’t lay much claim to any of this material – just compare her version of ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ to Marianne Faithfull’s chilling interpretation. GRADE: B–.

Cary Grace (USA): Live At The King Arthur Glastonbury, 10 November 2018 (Door 13 Music, download, 2018)
Psychedelic/Progressive
This later set, featuring Gong’s Mike Howlett, is rather more substantial than its 2016 Glastonbury counterpart, featuring five songs totalling 72 minutes. It’s more varied too, from numbers with prominent violin recalling It’s A Beautiful Day and other late sixties West Coast acts through to funky bass sections hinting towards zeuhl. GRADE: B–.

Cary Grace (USA): Lady Of Turquoise (Door 13 Music D130010, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve, booklets and obi, UK, 2020)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Cary Grace (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, sequencer, sampler, electronics, effects)
Cary Grace doesn’t do things by halves: this elaborately packaged double album offers more than 90 minutes of songs and jams, all in her typically relaxed Pink Floyd-cum-Krautrock style. Does Lady Of Turquoise represent any kind of artistic step forward for her? No. Does it matter when the music is this good? No – and that’s the really pertinent question. GRADE: B–.

See also F/i, Monday Machines, Yamma

Grace Pool (USA): Grace Pool (Reprise 9 25754-2, CD, 1988)
Folk/Rock
Elly Brown (lead vocals)
Although the production is eighties in every way, with AOR edges and lots of electronics, Grace Pool’s musical style is rooted in a more innocent era. Halfway between sixties hippie folk/rock and Fleetwood Mac-style seventies soft rock, they turn into some lovely, mellow grooves. In fact, all this lacks is the truly memorable songs that could have made it a commercial success. GRADE: C+.

Grace Pool (USA): Where We Live (Reprise 9 26228-2, CD, 1990)
Folk/Rock
Elly Brown (lead vocals), Beki Brindle-DeMyer (guitar, backing vocals)
As with their first, this has a lovely, mildly trippy mood coupled with notable AOR elements. But once again, an album like this lives or dies on its songs, and this crop is merely serviceable. GRADE: C+.
See also Windopane

Graced Lightning (USA): The Graced Lightning Side (WRPI GL-1, one-sided LP, 1975)
Progressive
Joan Burnstein (joint lead vocals, keyboards, mandolin)
As its title suggests, this is a single-sided demo featuring three mainly instrumental compositions. Using quite a bit of piano and mandolin, the sound is rather folky, but there are also some strong guitar leads (as well as some jazzy edges on the final cut ‘The Tot’). It’s a pity the band didn’t get to record more than these eighteen minutes of music, as they clearly had considerable talent. GRADE: B–.

Grajo (Spain): Grajo (Nooirax NOAX - 104, CDR, 2016)
Metal
Liz (lead vocals)
Raw, powerful and sludgy yet melodic, this is a fine album of stoner doom with slight psychedelic and shoegaze edges. It’s not what you’d call mould-breaking, but it wins through on sheer heft and heaviness. GRADE: B–.

Grajo (Spain): Slowgod II (Underground Legends, CD, with poster booklet, 2018)
Metal
Liz (lead vocals)
Their first album was good sludgy doom metal; this is great sludgy doom metal, equal to peak Blood Ceremony or Windhand. Those who love those bands will adore this, whilst those who find doom metal a wall of plodding noise will be better advised to move on quickly. GRADE: B.

Gramigna (Italy): Gran Disordine Sotto Il Cielo (Ultima Spiaggia ZPLS 34011, 1977)
Progressive
Françoise Goddard (joint lead vocals)
This very rare album is frequently described as avant-prog and often compared to Henry Cow. Whilst there is certainly a resemblance (particularly on side two’s openers ‘Ombre Rosse’ and ‘Per Il Bene Della Patria’), Gramigna are gentler and folkier, with a more song-based style and sometimes a greater pop sensibility. With some well-structured songs and ornate woodwind work, this is a very accomplished and unassuming album. GRADE: C+.

Sylvie Granger & Daniel Lepage (Boule De Son) (Canada): Just’En Passant… (Miscal Boule De Son MS-11690/1, with booklet, 1975)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Sylvie Granger (principal vocals, percussion)
The debut album from the Québecois singer/songwriter duo of Sylvie Granger and Daniel Lepage is an absolutely exquisite progressive folk set. The electric band arrangements are beautifully mellow and perfectly judged, with subtle mediaeval and psychedelic touches bringing the well-composed material to life. Granger has a wonderful voice to boot, sounding like a more sensual Olivia Newton-John, and the overall style of the set reflects the best mid-seventies work of artists like Catherine Lara and Véronique Sanson. GRADE: B–.

Sylvie Granger & Daniel Lepage (Canada): Le Refuge Du Père Cloé (No label 33-148, with booklet, 1979)
Spoken Word
This later album by the duo is similar to Mother Gong’s Fairy Tales, released the same year. The big difference is that whereas Fairy Tales had music throughout (and excellent music at that), much of this is spoken word without any accompaniment. Singing is even more sparse than music or effects, which is a waste of Sylvie Granger’s magnificent voice, and overall this is likely to have limited appeal to anyone who isn’t a French child or parent. GRADE: D+.

Sylvie Granger & Daniel Lepage (Canada): À L’Ombre De Nos Saisons (Éditions Perce-Neige 84-33-01, 1984)
Singer/Songwriter/Progressive
Sylvie Granger (lead vocals)
Unlike its predecessor, this consists entirely of songs (and three fine instrumentals), harking back to their Boule De Son days. It’s almost the equal of their first, offering beautiful chamber music backing that perfectly complements Sylvie Granger’s magnificent singing. GRADE: B–.

Sylvie Granger (Canada): Quelque Part Dans Le Temps (Éditions Perce-Neige P-N883301, with inner, 1988)
Singer/Songwriter/Chanson
Sylvie Granger (lead vocals)
This later album by Granger (and her collaborator Daniel Lepage, who writes most of the material) offers orchestrated chanson fare. Whilst the LP isn’t high on variety, the material provides some lovely settings for her rich and sensual voice. GRADE: C+.

Grannie (UK): Grannie (SRT SRT 71138, 1971)
Rock/Progressive
Jan Chandler (flute, backing vocals)
Song titles like ‘Romany Refrain’, ‘Saga Of The Sad Jester’ and ‘Coloured Armageddon’ tell their own story: this is well-crafted light progressive rock with nimble guitar-led arrangements and extensive use of flute adding an evocative note. The occasional amateurish or hesitant moment only adds to the period charm, and given their considerable talent it’s surprising that they only issued this 99-copy private pressing, which is now one of the rarest and most expensive albums of its era. For live gigs, Jan Chandler was the band’s keyboard player as well as its flautist. GRADE: B.