There have been a couple of changes in the Gryphon line-up since their last outing. First there is a new bass-player in the shape of Rob Levy and second…the unprecedented presence of a woman. Clare Taylor (no relation but she has worked with Graeme in The Green House Band) plays violin and composes but she also sings, something that seems to have drawn out Dave Oberlé and Graeme’s hidden vocal talents. Get Out Of My Father’s Car! is in some ways a rather different Gryphon album although in others it is happily familiar.
There is a story behind the title track which opens the set and inspires the cover art but you’ll have to buy the album to read about it. It makes its presence felt immediately, roaring off the disc in an explosion of saxes and initially sounding like the theme from a 60s comedy film. The second track is ‘A Bit Of Music By Me’, a flute and clarinet trio put together by Andy Findon and based on compositions by his late brother Gary which had lain unnoticed for forty years. It’s the first of two such pieces, the second being ‘Suite For ‘68’ which Andy first played as a twelve-year old.
Brian Gulland has a penchant for strange titles and ‘Percy The Defective Perspective Detective’ is no exception – neither is ‘Normal Wisdom From The Swamp’ which benefits from some odd lyrics but is a very fine example of Gryphon’s ensemble playing. ‘Percy…’ begins with a heavy riff which lets something gentler take over before coming back with a bang.
Clare’s first track is ‘Christina’s Song’ with words by Christina Rossetti. Clare’s setting removes any possibility of it being soppy and that is in line with her characterisation of the poem as “unsentimental”. In other hands, who knows? Graeme Taylor’s ‘The Brief History Of A Bassoon’ is a bit strange but it makes perfect sense after a couple of plays – comparing the evolution of the instrument to the growth of a man. Trust me.
Rob Levy gets his turn with ‘Forth Sahara’, a surprisingly delicate tune for a bass guitarist to compose, and then Taylor and Findon supply the almost obligatory set of fake renaissance dance tunes under the title ‘Krum Dancing’! Clare’s second song is ‘A Stranger Kiss’, a description of a break-up and its aftermath in three short verses. Finally, Graeme wrote ‘Parting Shot’, originally an instrumental, then a song with words by the late John B Spencer and now a beautiful love song for his wife, Sue.
I will admit that I winced slightly when I saw the title and cover design but, in fact, Get Out Of My Father’s Car! is one of Gryphon’s best albums. The fact that there is so much going on makes it a real joy to listen to.
Artists’ website: www.thegryphonpages.com
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