Saturday, 31 January 2015

Grand Tour - Heavy on the Beach

Being Scottish myself, I am always on the look out for prog from my homeland. There never was a prog scene in Scotland as such. In fact it wasn't really till the time of neo-prog that a band from Scotland got any notice. Pallas sort of followed the template of Marillion, by initially signing with a major label. In Pallas's case this was the legendary Harvest label, where they released The Sentinel album. Produced by Eddie Offord of Yes and ELP fame and sporting a cover by Patrick Woodroffe, this was a major prog statement. Well, maybe in the 70's it would have been, but this was 1984 and times had changed.

Anyway, back to 2015 and here we have an album by a new Scottish band Grand Tour, which is the brainchild of ex-Abel Ganz keyboard player, Hew Montgomery, backed by musicians from excellent Scottish band Comedy of Errors. Both bands existed in the mid 80's but failed to make much impact as prog was off the radar. But now, prog has come out of the shadows and both bands have become active and produced some very good music. This new project is in a similar territory to both Abel Ganz and Comedy of Errors which is not surprising. It is very strong melodically, musically tight, with Montgomery's keyboards very much to the fore and the guitar of Mark Spalding adding a harder edge. Vocals by Joe Cairney are excellent and it is good to hear a slight Scottish accent in the delivery. I do hope Montgomery can develop this project further as bands like this and others are showing that Scotland can produce very good and distinctive prog.

Here is a quick list of some of my favourite Scottish prog.

Abel Ganz - Abel Ganz
Comedy of Errors - Fanfare & Fantasy
Pallas - The Sentinel
Citizen Cain - Somewhere But Yesterday
Crooked Mouth - Hold in the Sun

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