It’s been 41 years since the last album by Gryphon. Everyone talks about Gentle Giant making a come back but why not Gryphon? When last we heard from them it was 1977 and the album was the vastly underrated “Treason.” I’ve always loved that album and while it’s not the landmark album that “Red Queen to Gryphon Three” is, it was still was a fine album.
With half of the current Gryphon lineup made up of original members, “ReInvention” is indeed a true Gryphon album. The band are even more medieval sounding that ever on the album which starts off with dueling recorders on “Pipe Up Downsland Derry Dell Danko.” How many albums do you know that can boast that? This of course means that Brian “Phoebus” Gulland is still very much a centerpiece for the band. Whether its the recorder or the bassoon or the crumhorn, Phoebus is the guy that made Gryphon sound different from the other bands. It’s nice that’s still the case!
In addition to him, guitarist Graeme Taylor and drummer/lead vocalist Dave Oberlé are also in the lineup. Oberlé’s vocals are still very Canterbury sounding and while that can be a bit too posh for my taste, it’s still important on this album. The epic “Haddocks’ Eyes” heavily features his voice along with the violin of new member Graham Preskett. It’s breezy and even silly at times. Good fun.
“Hampton Caught” is something that could have been written in the Middle Ages. And that’s one reason why Gryphon is so interesting. This isn’t just folk prog, this is medieval prog. The track is a nice slow jig that wouldn’t sound out of place on any of their 70s albums. And that’s why the title “ReInvention” seems odd to me. They aren’t trying to reinvent anything, least of all the Gryphon sound.
Rather, this sounds very much like a band picking up EXACTLY where they left off or at the very least backing up to somewhere between 1974 and 1975. I do prefer the instrumentals to the tracks with vocals though. This is not to say that Oberlé or Phoebus can’t sing, but rather his style has not always been my favorite. In many ways the vocals remind me of Richard Sinclair especially on tracks like “Hospitality At A Price… Anyone For?” and many people will love that.
For me, Gryphon is at their best when the music is flying around and you feel like they are playing for King Arthur or something. “Dumbe Dum Chit” and “Bathsheba” are two solid tracks that, while different in style, showcase the band at their best. “Sailor V” is another nice rollicking jig while “The Euphrates Connection” is the biggest sounding track with some serious church organ.
Is “ReInvention” on the same level as “Red Queen to Gryphon Three”? No. But it’s definitely as good as anything else the band has done. It could have released instead of “Raindance” in 1975…and I like that album a lot. I think it’s amazing that a band can make a comeback album like this after 41 YEARS and have it sound like no time has passed at all. That just proves how amazing Gryphon is. Welcome back! Now where is Gentle Giant?
1. Pipe Up Downsland Derry Dell Danko (4:49)
2. Rhubarb Crumhorn (5:56)
3. A Futuristic Auntyquarian (5:58)
4. Haddocks’ Eyes (10:58)
5. Hampton Caught (5:12)
6. Hospitality At A Price… Anyone For? (3:11)
7. Dumbe Dum Chit (3:08)
8. Bathsheba (5:37)
9. Sailor V (8:37)
10. Ashes (3:32)
11. The Euphrates Connection (4:43)