Cressida
Asylum


4.0
excellent

Review

by JamieTwort CONTRIBUTOR (27 Reviews)
June 25th, 2012 | 32 replies | 2,330 views


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An excellent symphonic prog album from a criminally underrated band.

The story of Cressida is in many ways a frustrating one. Formed in 1968 the band was active for a mere two years before they broke up in late 1970 prior to the release of their second album, Asylum. Despite being short-lived the band would later be recognised as pioneers of symphonic prog, a form of progressive rock which, as its title suggests, incorporates elements of classical and orchestral music.

The band’s self-titled debut was made up of fairly short, melodic and predominately mellow tracks that were reminiscent of sounds associated with the Canterbury scene. It was after the release of their debut that the band suffered their first real setback when guitarist John Heyworth left the band. Heyworth had been heavily involved in the song writing of their first album penning half of the album’s twelve songs. Heyworth’s replacement was found in the form of John Culley who was recruited before the band began recording their second album.

Asylum begins in a similar fashion to their debut with title track featuring some excellent keyboard playing courtesy of Peter Jennings. The song, which has a similar feel to some of Caravan’s shorter compositions, provides a perfect introduction to the album and also showcases, for the first time, John Culley’s subtle yet effective guitar lines that complement the rest of the music perfectly throughout. Following the title track we are greeted with the first of the album’s two epics, Munich (or to give its full title, Munich 1938: Appeasement Was the Cry; Munich 1970: Mine to Do or Die). At almost ten minutes long, Munich stands as one of the band’s finest songs featuring some brilliant orchestral arrangements that sit perfectly alongside Angus Cullen’s excellent vocals and John Culley’s beautifully melodic guitar playing. Driven by haunting vocal melodies and outstanding musicianship, the song manages to incorporate everything that the band have previously shown themselves capable of into one well thought out composition that stands as one of the band’s finest achievements.

The album’s middle section is mostly comprised of shorter, simpler and ultimately less memorable songs that feel somewhat weaker in comparison to what came before. The one and a half minute Survivor, composed by vocalist Angus Cullen, is perhaps the most forgettable of these songs but it still manages to remain interesting, mostly due to Jenning’s excellent use of the Hammond organ. Cullen’s strongest composition comes in the form of Lisa, which features a guest appearance from jazz flautist Harold McNair who provides an extra dimension to a song which is already rich in depth thanks to Graeme Hall’s orchestral arrangements.

While Munich is for many reasons considered the definitive Cressida song, album closer, Let Them Come When They Will is arguably just as good if not better. Opening with an infectious vocal melody accompanied only by Cullen’s acoustic guitar, the song soon progresses into an incredible jam session with John Culley and Peter Jennings, on guitar and keyboards respectively, in particular showing what talented musicians they are. The song is once again graced with some excellent orchestral arrangements and also features a superb vocal performance from Angus Cullen particularly during the song’s middle section where he is able to show the true extent of his vocal range with an almost operatic style. Like Munich, Let Them Come When They Will is a masterpiece of symphonic prog that shows the large amount of talent present within this sadly short-lived band.

While not without its flaws (the dip in quality towards the middle of the album being one of its most notable) Asylum remains an excellent and truly fascinating progressive rock album which, when at its most captivating, could rival anything accomplished by more well-known acts making similar music around the same time period. The album’s two standout tracks, Munich… and Let Them Come When They Will, deserve to be hailed as classics within the symphonic prog genre and are undoubtedly the highest points of the band’s career. In a way it’s these extreme highs that contribute to the album’s biggest downfall; it’s feeling of inconsistency. In comparison to these two epics some of the other songs feel as though they could be classed as filler despite none of them being particularly weak per se.

Sadly Cressida was one of those bands that never achieved the level of success that their music warranted and as a result their music is often overlooked, but for those interested in the origins of symphonic prog or indeed the history of progressive rock in general, Asylum is an album that shouldn’t go unnoticed.



Recent reviews by this author
Bob Dylan Nashville SkylineVenn Rain Crepuscular Raze
Ian Anderson Homo ErraticusPeter Green In the Skies
Peter Green The End of the GameGimu Countryside Summer Nightmares
user ratings (11)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As always any comments or contstructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.

TheNotrap
June 25th 2012



8029 Comments


Great review JT, have a pos.
Will check this out.

Digging: Savage Grace - Master Of Disguise

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks dude.

I think you'll dig it.

johnnydeking29
June 25th 2012



9011 Comments


Pos'd, nice one Jamie
Will maybe have a look at this, sounds cool

Digging: Naked City - Radio

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, much appreciated.

RunOfTheMill
June 25th 2012



1432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ooooh, this looks interesting :D
I always had a knack for listening to extremely obscure stuff (that makes me sound like a hipster :/ ), so I might add this to my list...

Great review. Just a side-note, in the before last paragraph you wrote "two standout tracks, Munich… and Let the Come When They Will, deserve". Otherwise excellently written! Pos'd.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha I know what you mean, I too have a knack for finding obscure bands/albums, especially when it comes to 70's stuff.

Thanks for pointing that out, I'll edit it now.

CaptainDooRight
June 25th 2012



28731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review bro, I pretty much agree with what you said. My fav track is actually the opener, it's so catchy and tasty. I almost 3.5'd this at first but settled with a low 4 due to the importance. The second half is def much weaker.

Haha I shoulda known you'd review this bro. Again excellent job and pos.

Digging: Tukaaria - Raw to the Rapine

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Captain.

The opener is my 3rd favourite track, it really is a great way to start the album. I would agree with you about the second half being weaker but the more I listen to Let Them Come When The Will the more I love it, that track is definitely a grower.

CaptainDooRight
June 25th 2012



28731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I can def see it growing. I know I'll keep this in my listening party for years to come so the potential will definitely be there.

ZedO
June 25th 2012



1096 Comments


obscure bands/albums? Ha, that why I must dig it!

pos'd...

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Captain: Pleased to hear it bro.

Thanks for the pos Zedo.

AllGabrielsAreGlass
June 26th 2012



431 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review pos. Jamie have you got other obscure prog bands to rec at all? I thought this was really legit.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 26th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks bro.

Try these:
Culpeper's Orchard - Culpeper's Orchard (heavy prog rock)
Gracious - This is... Gracious!! (eclectic/symphonic prog)
Ragnarok (SWE) - Ragnarok (instrumental progressive folk)
Procol Harum - Shine on Brightly (early prog, not that obscure but well worth checking out if you haven't already)
Steve Hillage - Fish Rising (psychedelic prog, again not that obscure but his solo work is criminally overlooked on Sputnik)

Jethro42
June 26th 2012



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review Jamie. While I havent listened to this album that often, it's safe to say that this is a great classic prog album reminiscent to Barclay James Harvest to some extent, and like you said, to some Caravan as well...which is a good thing.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 26th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Jethro. Yeah there's definitely some similarities between these guys and Barclay James Harvest. That reminds me, I still need to get Once Again, the only one of the 4 BJH albums you rec'd me that I haven't manged to get yet.

BirthRite
June 26th 2012



1318 Comments


good review pos

Jethro42
June 26th 2012



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah Once Again is a must have indeed. And I have to thank you too for showing me Cressida. In another topic, I could see you digging Clearlight - Clearlight Symphony. Made in 1973, it's some gorgeous sympho prog with psychedelic leanings.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 26th 2012



20270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks BirthRite.

@Jethro: You're welcome man. Clearlight sounds right up my street, I'll definitely check it out. Thanks dude.

RunOfTheMill
June 27th 2012



1432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Let Them Come When They Will" is pretty damn incredible.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy