Release Date: 1974

Track Listing
1)  Opening Move 9:44
fast
2)  Second Spasm 8:21
fast
3)  Lament 10:45
fast
4)  Checkmate 9:50
fast

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Member: progfellow (Profile) (All Album Reviews by progfellow)
Date: 7/31/2001
Format: CD (Album)

This is Gryphon's third release and is generally regarded as their best. While still heavily in the English medieval/folk vein, this album shows Gryphon taking one more stride towards the progressive rock sound while not copying any of their contemporaries of the genre in the least.

Red Queen to Gryphon 3 is broken down into four entirely instrumental tracks, supposedly representing an imaginary chess match but musically is much grander than that. Most melodic passages are played on non-rock instruments such as the bassoon, crumhorn (similar sound to the bassoon), recorder and some sort of bright-sounding organ. This is backed by acoustic guitar (sometimes coming into the foreground), bass, drums, piano and augmented by some powerful lead keyboard/synth work. The compositions are rather symphonic in nature and I would describe many of the passages as soaringly beautiful, and others as intricate and intertwining, some as soft and contemplative, and a few as comical (in a good way!)

The overall effect is very satisfying. I would classify this as the most essential Gryphon recording and as one of the 25 or so essential progressive rock recordings. Although the sound is quite different, I would guess that fans of Jethro Tull's "Songs From the Wood" type compostions or Gentle Giant's medieval-type pieces would very much like this recording. Gryphon played these pieces opening for Yes in the mid-seventies. Now that would have been an incredible double-billing!
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Member: maribor
Date: 7/14/2006


It has never before happened to me that I liked an album from the get-go but didn’t really think it’s all that great, only to be completely blown away by it a couple of years later. This happened to me with this album. When I first bought it, I thought it was okay but didn’t really understand why some people rate it so highly. I thought it was too ambitious, pretentious and, dare I say, at times even boring. But man was I ever wrong. Returning to this album some time later, I suddenly discovered a new charm about it that didn’t seem to be present before, it was as if I was listening to a different record. I naturally wondered if perhaps I had misplaced another disc into this case. However, I was really “hearing” this music for the first time. When I bought it, I listened to it once then again after three months and then again after six months but this album needs to be heard, at least once a week for the music to start having an effect.

I suppose that I mistook the complexity of this work for over-ambition, the beauty for tediousness but with repeated listening, this album just kept getting better and better. At moments, the melodies resemble the romantic and folk elements Mike Oldfield used in his early work. The beauty of some of the melodies is almost a match for the melodies on Ommadawn or Hergest Ridge. The folk elements in Gryphon’s music have always been in the foreground, so it’s not really that surprising that some segments might resemble some of Mike Oldfield’s themes. Even the fast change of themes seems to come from the same book of ideas that Oldfield was studying at the time. Most of the time, however, Gryphon’s style is a bit more energetic and dynamic than Oldfield’s works at the time and this provides a nice contrast to the beautiful quiet passages. The complexity of the song-writing, the fast changing of themes, the constant changing of tempo are a match for any top progressive band of the 1970s. And even when it appears that some passages will be extended for too long, the band members have such a vast array of instruments at their disposal that they can repeat the same theme with different instruments and make it appear as fresh as when it was first played.

Gryphon, although usually placed in the folk-rock category, created with Red Queen To Gryphon Three a truly magnificent symphonic rock masterpiece with lots of folk elements. The arrangements, just like with Mike Oldfield, remind of some of the best classical pieces. The instrumentation is so interesting and unique (instruments like the bassoon and krumhorn) that the record never suffers from being too tedious and the same sounds are hardly ever repeated. On some of the other Gryphon albums, Richard Harvey, the keyboard player, seemed to have been the predominant figure, both in the song-writing department and the overall sound but on this record, the roles are much more even. Every instrument gets a word in, so to speak and this makes for a much more balanced work.

This album is usually sold as a 2 for 1, together with Raindances. If you ever get a chance to buy this, you won’t regret it. You’ll get two great albums for the price of one.

9 out of 10. This has become one of my favourite albums of all time.
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