December 2, 2019

If you’re a casual listener – this is probably all you’ll need. If you’re a fan, that Reading track you’ve been after is finally here…

Greenslade are one of those peculiarly ‘1970s’ prog bands who had a fairly high profile in that decade yet dropped of the proverbial cliff as the ‘80s dawned (much of the ‘80s might have made many of us want to drop off a cliff, but that’s by the by). Ask someone now who isn’t a reasonably knowledgeable prog listener about the band, and chances are you’ll be met with wither ‘Who?’ or possibly a vague ‘oh yeah, I think that name might ring a bell’. Sometimes people will laughingly ask about Merry Xmas Everybody, but then we pretend it’s the first time we’ve heard THAT one.

And yet, in the mid-70s, Greenslade had Roger Dean designing their album covers, were selling out reasonable sized venues and were among the darlings of the prog-friendly media. With that in mind, perhaps it could be argued that they are one of the bands most worthy of a decent compilation album which is more affordable to a bumper box set, to give some of these people an easy taste of just what they’ve been missing. And this does the job.

In fairness, there are no ‘hits’ of any description to be automatic selections, so this would have been a blank piece of paper to start with. That’s never going to please all of the fans, of course, but there’s a good balanced cross section for the newcomer or someone just wanting a sampling of the band on their shelves. There are three tracks apiece from their first three albums, and five from the fourth, Time And Tide, and a good job is done of representing the very British, very ‘polite’ and fairly mellow sound of the band. Unusually, they were guitarless, and had two keyboards to make up the sound, which certainly made them unlike any other bands of the time.

Ah, but the trick with this releases can be to give the fans something to interest them as well – not only to hook in more buyers but also to reward those completists who will buy anything by a particular band regardless. On that front there is a masterstroke here. Back in the day, an album of highlights from the 1973 Reading Festival was issued titled, imaginatively, Reading Festival ’73. Among the selections from such luminaries as Status Quo, Rory Gallagher, The Faces, Lesley Duncan, Strider, Andy Bown and Tim Hardin nestled a track by a band who had just released their first album, namely Greenslade. That performance of Feathered Friends from the first album is included here, in a noteworthy example of ‘thinking outside the box’, as not only is it an excellent rendition, but also the original Reading album has not been released on CD since the early ‘90s, and is hard to track down.

So, essentially, if you’re a casual listener – this is probably all you’ll need. If you’re a fan, that Reading track you’ve been after is finally here. And there’s a nice booklet with a detailed new essay as well. Good news all round!