Ravens & Lullabies - Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman
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- Progarchy Best of the year '13
- 69 Faces Of Rock website review
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Progarchy.com Best of the year review '13 • (see original here)
Two musical powerhouses in their respective fields, guitar maestro Giltrap and keyboard supreme Oliver Wakeman combine their considerable talents on this magnificent concept album on Esoteric.
With Giltraps effortlessly beautiful playing and Wakemans beautifully fluid keyboards, any album with one of them on is a joy; with them both together you're getting a masterclass in collaborative performances.
With Oliver's vocalist of choice the incomparable Paul Manzi on board (seeing Oliver and Paul perform together sends shivers down your spine) and with Wakeman and Giltrap trading licks, exchanging riffs and building things of beauty around each others talents, has to be heard to be believed.
This album is a thing of great power and great beauty and is one which you'll find you keep returning to again and again, and each time you'll discover something new, one of the best albums either man has put their name to, and this is one of those collaborations you hope continues.
James R Turner
69 Faces Of Rock review - 4.5/5 • (see original here)
The pairing of Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman is simply wonderful. The veteran guitar player, and still fresh keyboard player are a perfect match and complement each other. Giltrap is of course more known in Europe, but this release should definitely bring a lot of attention to this seasoned player. Wakeman made his name playing with The Strawbs and Yes, and is a son of Rick Wakeman. He definitely proved he could play his father's classic parts in both bands, and add his own flavor here and there, but it's really here that we see how versatile Oliver really is.
The songs on this album give a lot of space for each player to shine in a very natural way. And each player just adds exactly what the song needs, nobody is overplaying, but just adding the right colors. Vocalist, Paul Manzi, does a great job singing, and gives the songs a lot of personality. Even, Benoit David, with whom Wakeman played in Yes adds his vocals to one of the tracks.
'Ravens & Lullabies' is the surprise of the year! The album comes out of nowhere, and quite unexpectedly delivers the goods. The combination of players is right, and the potential is enormous here. The songs move through different moods, and the varied choice of sounds adds to the overall picture. There is a lot of musical intelligence here, and the album can easily appeal to a variety of listeners.
While Giltrap is already an established player, and this is another solid release he can add to his catalog, it's Wakeman who really stands to gain the most here. This album establishes Oliver as a very creative player with strong composing abilities. Wakeman emerges here as a fine musician in his own right. But that's what hard work gets you.
Excellent effort from Giltrap and Wakeman!
Rock 'n' Reel magazine review - 5/5
Some thirty five years ago folk guitarist Gordon Giltrap produced a trio of (sadly under acknowledged) orchestral prog-rock albums.
Hopefully, his latest venture back into the prog world should gain greater recognition. On Ravens & Lullabies he teams up with Oliver (son of Rick) Wakeman to produce a baker's dozen tracks augmented by full band and, unusually for him, vocals.
Wakeman Jr is the perfect foil for Giltrap's intricate picking and the arrangements across the album are stunning. Each gives space for the other to exercise their virtuoso skills but never at the expense of the song. Throughout, vocal and instrumental tracks alternate - the darker 'ravens' with their lyrics of economic meltdown and personal failings contrasting with the instrumental 'lullabies'.
Wakeman's flowing piano flourishes and squelchy synth lines are as evocative as his dear old dad's ever were, while Giltrap stretches his playing into electric areas uncharted since his former progressive-rock days. With assistance from members of Yes, Arena and Threshold, the album's prog credentials are secure.
The fact that it's an immersive and beguiling listening experience, too, is a revelation. This is a blend of young and old that easily exceeds the sum of its (not inconsiderable) parts.
Record Collector magazine review - 4/5
Acoustic guitar maestro meets prog keyboard whizz.
Back in the 70s, Gordon Giltrap wasn't averse to clasping an electric guitar and fronting a prog-leaning rock band, and there's more than a nod to yesteryear here, as demonstrated by the opener, Moneyfacturing. Giltrap's deft finger-work is matched on ivories by ex-Yes keyboardist (and son of Rick) Oliver Wakeman, the duo assisted by a rhythm section comprising Steve Amedeo (Aynsley Lister) and Johane James (Threshold) and Arena vocalist Paul Manzi.
Prog is to the fore on the likes of 'Is This The Last Song I Write?' and 'Anyone Can Fly', while 'Credit Carnival' should please fans of Greg Lake. 'From The Turn Of A Card' adds a whimsical 60's tone to the album, while onetime Yes-man Benoit David guests with some dulcet vocals.
A good half of the 13-song set spotlights the protagonists, both individually and collectively, as on the elegant Fiona's Smile, trilling LJW and A Perfect Day. Well, it's a perfect match.
amazon.co.uk review #15 - 5/5
I've often thought that Gordon Giltrap is one of the most under-rated British musicians in contemporary history.
Listen to one of his own albums and unlike the aimless meanderings of most (non-folkie) contemporary acoustic guitarists, Giltrap has that strange ability to not just compose one key melody/memorable piece, but to pack the entire album with the same, release-after-release.
I have never worked-out quite how he does it. Listen to his contemporaries on either side of the Atlantic and beyond, such as Clive Carroll, Preston Reed, Doug Smith, Al Petteway, Tommy Emmanuel, Kaki King etc. reveals that although some might be more 'technical' than Giltrap, they don't even come close when it comes to have the 'composing chops'. Basically they can play wonderfully, but invariably what they play is just some complex doodling.
Of course with Giltrap we get the trademark legatos, the blingdingly swift lead runs, the gorgous tones he entices from a guitar...but always it is the piece/song which takes precedence. No showing-off for showing-offs sake.
So that is Giltrap, the virtual Lennon-and-McCartney of the instrumental guitar world. What about Oliver Wakeman, is he an equal cohort?
Well, despite being a Yes fan from the age of (no need to reveal that) I have easily resisted any desire to see Yes live for several years now, since the hilarious merry-go-round with vocalists commenced. So I missed all of Oliver's Yes career in its entirety. I knew of his dad, having seen him live with Yes and on his own (I remember watching a rib-splitting gig in Coventry when Rick accidentally thumped his lead vocalist with a microphone). So I was a bit apprehensive about Olivers contribution to Ravens'.
In the end, that concern was all unnecessary. Oliver manages to step beyond his fathers (somewhat lengthy) shadow and assert himself on this recording. And that's no mean feat when your 'oppo' is a composing machine like Gordon Giltrap.
Raven's was the second of two CD's I purchased the same month with 'ravens' in the title, the other being Stephen Wilson's 'The Raven That Refused To Sing'. Wilson's album, recorded live in a studio and packed to the eyebrows with top-notch musicians is a wondrous thing, except in one regard - regrettably Wilson just doesn't have the 'composing chops'. The musicans on the album are fine, but the tracks, though superby arranged, just aren't memorable.
Giltrap and Wakeman's Raven's is different beast altogether. Here the pieces/songs are distinctly memorable. Wakeman avoids the 'Richard Clayderman Trap' with his piano playing, whilst his composing skils and playing match those of Giltrap. On their solo pieces, each contributes equally fine works to the album, but together, particularly with the albums standout track 'Is This The Last Song I Write' they have not just the chops but also the technical ability to match anything Wilson thought his band was capable-of. The pick of additional musicians is adroit, particularly the vocalists.
If there is any weakness, its the same that others have noted - that the release jumps across too many genre's, as if Wakeman and Gildtrap were fearful of being pidgeonholed. Perhaps writing to a concept (this is after all 'progressive' music) might be better for another project they pursue. There are some particular instrumental highlights for me - Oliver's lead work which is speedy, confident and accurate, and Giltrap on a nylon guitar, which is a real treat. Some pieces could have done with a bit of beefing-up, but live renditions invariably fix this. A female vocalist for at least one track might have been an idea.
Otherwise though, the criteria for whether a release gets a 5-star or not from me is simple; does it get played more than once? For me, months after purchase, Ravens & Lullabies still gets played. Poor young Mr. Wilson's release has diappeared somewhere deep into my CD collection, gathering dust.
Rock Journalist Dmitry M. Epstein website dmme.net review - 4+/5
A vibrant union of two kindred spirits throwing the chamber out their window.
The 'like father, like son' maxim seems to be easily applicable to Oliver Wakeman who's been following Rick in and out of STRAWBS and YES, and now to this collaboration with prog 'n' folk veteran Giltrap, but the younger keyboards wizard plays it differently. His manner strikingly close to that of Wakeman Sr.'s whose 2010's linkup with Gordon, 'From Brush And Stone', didn't really gel, the two masters' vignettes rather complementing each other.
Here, though, the alchemy works up a philosopher's rock which, with instrumental passages expectedly exquisite, is shaped with songs to the fore. Not a concept album per se, closer 'Ravens Will Fly Away', careening to the maudlin mire as all goodnight ballads do, connects on the lyrical level with the riff-rubbing 'Is This the Last Song I Write?' lifted by the soulful vocals of ARENA's Paul Manzi, and a harmonies-harnessed 'Anyone Can Fly', topped with Giltrap's soaring solo.
Yet one can't escape from hard stanzas of the organ-fuelled 'Credit Carnival', and once the actual agenda allocates guitar strum and synthesizers' wave in 'Moneyfacturing', there's a contrast between light melodies and heavy subject matter of finance vs. feelings, plus a symphonic suspicion that 'From The Turn Of A Card', written by Oliver while in YES and eloquently voiced by his former bandmate Benoit David, might, in fact, imply the payment medium.
Still, gentle pieces such as electric, if soft, 'Wherever There Was Beauty', or 'A Perfect Day', where acoustic guitar and piano weave a Renaissance web, tug on the heart strings in equally irresistible fashion. Most sensitive souls will well up with tears of joy while spinning this; others will simply spread their wings.
amazon.co.uk review #14 - 5/5
I bought this on the strength of hearing one track featured on the Prog magazine cover CD plus I have long enjoyed Oliver's Mothers Ruin album and was very pleasantly surprised. Remaniscent of (ex IQ keyboardist) Martin Orford's first solo album this is an album that has wide stream appeal and will satisfy the prog fan without alienating the rest of the household.
Great vocals from Arena/Oliver Wakeman Band vocalist Paul Manzi plus an appearance by Benoit David (ex Yes/Mystery) make this a hugely enjoyable listen.
amazon.co.uk review #13 - 5/5
This is an unashamedly Prog record. Buy it.
OK it is not about to change the face of the Top 40 nor will it take a degree in musicology and advanced psychology to "appreciate" it. This is just great music to enjoy, brilliantly played and easily goes well beyond the simple/confining structure of normal pop/rock etc. I suppose an accurate description would be "pastoral" - akin in some ways to recordings by Anthony Phillips. More recently, Big Big Train plough similar furrows.
Both of the main players have acquired well desrved reputations as solo artists on their respective instruments, that much is abundantly clear from the instrumental passages. That said, the supporting players (esp Paul Manzi - also singer with Arena) provide fine backing; so much so that the album often comes over as a brilliant debut from a new band. Perhaps that was the aim. Whatever, I want a second studio album - pronto. As a wise man (that would be me)once said " 2013 is a cracking year for Prog." Well done to Cherry Red/ Esoteric Recordings for making this a quality product.
I commend this CD to the House.
amazon.co.uk review #12 - 5/5
To call this album an outstanding debut is misleading when writing about two established performers with the exceptional track records of Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman. However, it is the first time they have worked together and the result is an excellent debut album.
Gordon Giltrap's outstanding and unique guitar work and Oliver Wakeman's masterful piano and keyboard playing complement each other perfectly. Paul Manzi and Benoit David add their own vocal talents to a consistently strong album. Personal favorites include Fiona's Smile, From the Turn of a Card, LJW, Wherever There Was Beauty, Anyone Can Fly, One for Billie and Ravens Will Fly Away, but there isn't a weak track.
If you can get the limited edition 2-disc version you should, because the second disc with studio and live tracks includes stunning versions of Bach's Praeludium and Roots. It also includes Gordon's signature pieces On Camber Sands and Isabella's Wedding and Oliver's Natures Way which brilliantly integrates Gordon's Nursery Chimes. Either disc would be a worthy addition to any music collection, but together they are a must buy!
iTunes store review #1 - 5/5
I read the review of this album in 'Prog Magazine', and liking Oliver Wakeman's collaborations with Clive Nolan, l took a punt on this after hearing the intro track on the Prog mag cover CD. lf you like music with a progressive leaning, but also with quieter moments of crystal clear acoustic guitar and piano and lots of light and shade and dynamics in your music, then this is for you.
I think Oliver is now excelling his Dad on the keys, which is no mean feat (his old man is one of my keyboard heroes). This is the first album of Mr Giltrap's that I ever purchased, but I think we all know parts of his back catalogue (Heartsong!). Based on this album, it looks like I have more back catalogue purchases coming on!
In conclusion, this is one of my favourite purchases this year, at a time when progressive and original music is very much no longer constrained by what the record companies want to force feed us.
amazon.co.uk review #11 - 5/5
I have not been able to listen to all of the album due to interruptions - just waiting for a quite couple of hours to do justice to the work put in by the musicians. I have listened to the first 8 tracks and, so far, wow! Superb!
I saw the live performance of 'Ravens & Lullabies' by Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman in October 2012 and spent around two hours walllowing in the music and performance of two consumately supreme musicians. How could that be bettered? Well, this album delivers above and beyond the live performance. The addition of vocals enhances the performances though Gordon and Oliver deliver in their inimitable way music of almost hypnotic quality. There are some very familiar pieces of music on the album and others not previously heard. I must find the time to sit, in peace, and listen to the whole album.
Although Gordon Giltrap is, in my opinion, the pre-eminent guitarist of our time, the combination of his and Oliver Wakeman's keyboard skills produces music and an album far above the sum of those two individuals. I highly recommend this album.
Fireworks Magazine review
This debut collaborative venture between guitar legend Gordon Giltrap and keyboardist Oliver Wakeman has produced a highly listenable and hugely enjoyable album for those amongst you who admire and have within your musical collections previous releases by either or both of these two fine musicians. You would not be expecting a rabble-rousing assortment of tunes, and nor (I am sure you will be relieved to know) do you get anything approaching this. What you do get, however, is an album of two halves: wonderfully considered and thought-provoking band numbers complete with vocals alongside generally shorter keyboard/guitar instrumentals showcasing the more restrained and evocative talents of Giltrap and Wakeman, all arranged to perfection.
Six of the seven band tracks feature vocalist Paul Manzi (also the vocalist in the Oliver Wakeman Band), bassist Steve Amadeo (new to me, but apparently an in-demand session guy) and Threshold's ever wonderful drummer Johanne James. The other full band track 'From The Turn Of A Card' alternatively features a great vocal performance from Benoit David - a colleagues of Wakeman's from his recent tenure as keyboardist with Yes: the song apparently written during the 'Fly From Here' sessions. The other six tracks divide into three compositions each from Giltrap and Wakeman and alternate with the band tracks. It's all wonderful music, but it does produce a blend that works better in some places than others and truthfully leaves me wishing for more of the upbeat band numbers.
The very best of these is album opener 'Moneyfacturing' and along with 'Credit Carnival' and 'Maybe Tomorrow' lyrically captures the impression of how unsavoury society is becoming and between them issue damning indictments of greed, envy and self-centredness. The epic 'Is This The Last Song I Write?' is an absolute tour-de-force, its impact having grown with each listen of the album: a song of bitter sweet sadness from which the album's title is lyrically extracted. Manzi's vocals are an absolute triumph, and emotionally just so apposite
I had rather lost track of Giltrap's career; I have all of his stunning 70s releases such as 'Perilous Journey' and 'Fear Of The Dark' and it is good to know that he retains the trademark guitar tones I loved so much back then. As a CRS member, I am very familiar with Wakeman's own band and other recent engagements and I am frequently amazed at what a chip off the old block he is! Combined - and courtesy of a great mix from Karl Groom - the pair have produced a wonderful album that comes warmly recommended, bearing in mind the parameters mentioned above.
Paul Jerome Smith
Progmeister Website review
I acquired this album on the strength of a a blind listening to the first song. I was asked who I thought it was that was playing. Of course I did't have a clue, though i knew that i liked it a lot. Once i that was put out of my misery I was smitten. I have to admit that much of Oliver Wakeman's work has passed me by. Having experienced Hound Of The Baskervilles and Jabberwocky i decided that Oliver's work just simply wasn't for me. The collaboration with understated guitar legend like Gordon Giltrap has proved to be a master stroke. Giltrap's contribution is best appreciated on the double disc version of the album which includes some live pieces as well as some acoustic based studio track. Oliver Wakeman's playing throughout the album is exemplary and exudes a rich heritage complete with the flourishes passed down from father to son.
Moneyfacturing couldn't have been a better opener if it tried. Gordon Giltrap's crisp acoustic guitar starts off the proceedings which soon gives way to Oliver Wakeman's deft touch with classic synth lead. I was quite taken by the message of this song especially in the present economic climate. I was surprised to read in the rather swish booklet that Oliver is credited with the lyrics which are nicely sung by OW band member Paul Manzi. Paul's voice reminded me of Lenny Zakatek (Alan Parsons Project) on occasions throughout the album and seemed to fit like a glove with Gordon Giltrap's subtle electric guitar playing and Oliver Wakeman's choice of keyboard textures and technique.
This is demonstrated perfectly in the beautiful Fiona's Smile where the sound-stage is pared down to piano and acoustic guitar. the subtle and delicate nature of this piece allows both musicians to be heard with vivid clarity and contrasts well with the electronic laden songs elsewhere throughout the album. Modern day YES front man Benoit David makes a brief guest appearance singing From The Turn Of A Card which. A damned fine job he makes of it too. Reminiscent of The Doors this chirpy little ditty is too short by far and helps fuse a fun element with the next rather serious piano and guitar piece LJW to flow and maintain the wonderful contrast throughout the whole journey.
Maybe Tomorrow may well be my favourite song on the whole album. Paul Manzi's voice taking on a more melancholy inflection sounding more like Colin James Hay (whom i absolutely love). Giltrap's sumptuous acoustic guitar augmented by a wonderful Moog Voyager though once again, far too short for my liking. Speaking of sumptuous, the next piece so aptly titled is just what it says it is Wherever There Was Beauty, it is just that beautiful. This is a piece of music that you would expect to find on a Steve Hackett album. Oliver Wakeman orchestrates Giltrap's steely metallic acoustic guitar allowing in to stand proud of grand foundation of string accompaniment. A Mayfair Kiss finds oliver on his own at the piano. It is when you get a musician playing one unaccompanied instrument like this you can hear their most basic talent. Oliver Wakeman's touch here fair near left a lump in my throat. oddly enough with certain chord structures i could hear influences of journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Though i have to say, i prefer Oliver's lack of pomposity to Wakeman senior's gattling gun piano outings.
Credit Carnival really hits home the message of our present buy now pay later culture and really is a balls to the wall Prog outing. Johanne James drumming gets him well noticed as does Steve Amedeo's bass playing, adding weight and dynamics to the serious message. Keyboards take on a truly retro feel to them here and Giltrap's gritty guitar help to further capture the mood. To bring things back down to Earth before the title song One For Billie a short acoustic guitar piece by Mr Giltrap allows you to hear just how spacious his playing is compared to fellow guitarist messres Howe et al. The concluding song Ravens Will Fly Away is as much of a joy as the rest of the album and when it's finished you simply want to press the start button and listen to the whole thing again.
The album is available in both CD and Mp3 format though a two disc special edition is available that i thoroughly recommend. The second disc contains five live pieces recorded during the Ravens & Lullabies tour in October 2012. In addition to this there are a further three new studio recordings Prelude (From The Well Tempered Clavier), The Forgotten King and Roots. The latter being of the old fear Of The Dark Giltrap era that we all know and love him for ith some serious Wakeman synth. The special edition version also contains an autographed insert to further enhance pride of ownership. Artwork by Liliana Sanches and presentation are both first class. I have no idea if Oliver Wakeman and Gordon Giltrap have any plans to repeat this amazing collaboration, i can only hope they do. If not this capsule of their collaborative work will be a fitting archive of shear genius.
amazon.co.uk review #10 - 5/5
This album is superbly put together. From the opening track "Moneyfacturing" right through to the last track "Ravens will fly away". Here we have a broad spectrum of virtuoso musicianship,great vocals and an outstanding rhythm section. This album should appeal to all music lovers,not just fans of Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman and should find a following of anyone who likes Prog/folk rock. It's great to hear artist's working together & enjoying it
If you can go & see Gordon & Oliver you will not be disappointed.It is a show not to be missed!
amazon.co.uk review #9 - 5/5
This collaboration between two outstanding musicians has resulted in a superb album that comtrasts - musically - the darker parts of life ( Ravens ) and the corresponding lighter moments that uplift ( Lullabies ). The talent, skill and musicianship of both Oliver and Gordon shines through - and the lyrics - delivered by the melifluous voice of Paul Manzi - are both meaningful and enunciated beautifully. This album will be appreciated by fans of both Mr.Giltrap and Mr.Wakeman but deserves to introduce a wider audience to their music. The sum result of this combination is most assuredly greater than the individual parts.
ProgArchives website review - 4/5
Guitarist GORDON GILTRAP appears to have an "in" with the WAKEMAN family, having collaborated with the patriarch in the past, including a 2009 album, and following it up in 2013 with OLIVER. My only prior exposure to Rick's eldest son was through his respectable performance on STRAWBS' last studio release "Dancing to the Devil's Beat". "Ravens and Lullabies" is similar to that effort in the sense that Wakeman's flourishes tend to be tasteful and complement the other instrumentation rather than co-opt leadership. Where it differs, to its credit, is in being a true collaboration, with both artists participating in generally thoughtful songwriting and dividing musical labours more or less down the middle. The inclusion of PAUL MANZI scales the vocals to the same elevation as the music.
This is a superb crossover prog album with symphonic, folk, and neo prog adornments, which is apparently a return to this genre for Giltrap after decades in a purely folk realm. It brims with emotional lyrics, intoxicating melodies, and pellucid production. "Moneyfacturing" is a born opener driven by a 12 string attack and acerbic lyrics. "From the Turn of the Card" includes BENOIT DAVID, ex of YES, on guest lead vocals and its initially awkward lyrics are quickly forgotten by the time the vibrant chorus enters. I assume "LJW" is dedicated to a Wakeman, perhaps Oliver's other half, and its essentially a marvelous piano solo filled in by delicate acoustic guitar. "Maybe Tomorrow" is a radiant PENDRAGON styled ballad driven primarily by voice and Giltrap's acoustic guitar. "Wherever There was Beauty" reprises the style of Giltrap's late 1970s olde Englishe instrumentals but with amelioration in orchestration thanks to Oliver.
Other highlights include the jaunty piano led "A Perfect Day", which blends the folk and classical roots touchingly; another optimistic ballad "Anyone can Fly" and the closer "Ravens will Fly Away", both of which count the two gentleman as partners in every aspect. The latter reminds me of ELTON JOHN at his best, or maybe the gentler solo work of DAMIAN WILSON.
"Credit Carnival" has the foreboding aspect of the orchestrated studio version of the BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST classic "Medicine Man", or early ALAN PARSONS, but with blazing keys that clearly set it apart, and surprisingly heavy guitars. It presents as a companion to "Moneyfacturing". But the most absorbing track is by far the longest, that being "Is this the last Song I write", a song within a song that lays bare the artist's insecurities in a manner not heard since STRAWBS' "Hanging in the Gallery". You are only as good as your last concert, your last album, your last autograph, and you cannot know your legacy during your lifetime. Perhaps the most triumphant aspect of this relatively complex and gratifying piece is how it avoids sounding self important or melodramatic. It is relevant for anyone who strives for any achievement in life, in whatever form, especially if one loves one's work and derives a degree of self esteem from it. From a well arranged gentle song it transforms into a more enigmatic rocker and back again. The only constant is attention to detail and emphasis on inducing receptivity to the album's title theme through the melody and arrangements.
While clearly influenced by all the aforementioned artists and many others, this association by two of the the best in their fields paradoxically yields far more than it has any right to, which ought to be a testament to the purity of the motivations of Mr Giltrap and Wakeman. They are even going on tour. Whether the lullabies put you at ease or the ravens set you on edge, they are who they are, and they know themselves.
amazon.co.uk review #8 - 5/5
This album is music for everyone.
The instrument playing, the vocals, writing and production are all top notch. I feel that if you like music,any music, you will love this. Nice packaging takes me back to what we used to call sleeves. Great value for money.
Web http://rockshot.co.uk review
Austere times are prevailing, repeating from one generation to another. The same battles between workers, owners, unions and management, re-occur in a consistent way ever since factory production began. 'It's all about money, money, moneyfacturing.'
This last word is created by Oliver Wakeman, one of the son's of Rick and he is credited for all of the lyric writing on 'Ravens and Lullabies' which is collaboration between Oliver and Gordon Giltrap.
Giltrap gives full control to Wakeman on the lyric writing, which focuses on the modern issues of society, now more prevalent than ever with the passing of a recent Prime Minister which has divided the Nation.
'Steel workers get turned away; meanwhile you fill you Bentley up to the Brim. You drive it home with your head held high. Tell me what you bring to the table; don't care if your black or white, as long as you are here all day and night'. Giltrap opens with his famous classical guitar style which turns into an angry vocal provided by Paul Manzi.
'From The Turn Of A Card' turns out well as Oliver brings in his former Yes compatriot David Benoit. On this performance Benoit sounds like Gene Pitney and pulls off a neat song which is a unique demonstration of his abilities. Put out to the vote, most Yes fans declared that the voice was akin to Neil Diamond, but all were pleased that Benoit has found his own voice and place, not trying to imitate Jon Anderson.
'Is This The Last Song I Write?' is a haunting and very beautifully crafted number about a man who is sensing and almost fearing the end of his life and his life's-work. The story unfolds of a very lonely person the end result being 'is that it?' . Parallels here can be sought in the life of the Yes guitarist Peter Banks who recently passed away. He left no family and it took weeks for his affairs to be sorted out, in the end it was one of his fans who took control and worked with the coroner. A sad tale indeed. Clearly it is not always what it seems in the world of rock and roll and there can be lonely times.
'A Perfect Day' is reminiscent of the greatest Yes track from Fragile the 'South Side of the Sky', a chip of the old block Oliver Wakeman certainly is, but things were not like that as Oliver grew up. He has his father's talent and genes but grew up independently. Oliver and Gordon give a neat interview about their partnership which can be found on You Tube video from backstage at the Trowbridge Arts Festival. Oliver informs us though that Rick was not always around n the early days and it was his Mother who pushed him to go to piano lessons. Oliver was playing excellent keyboards before Rick came back home.
We hear on 'Credit Carnival' that 'where religion has no hope, in the city of light, you are going home lonely tonight' the subject matter juxtaposed by the fact that it is a very catchy number. 'One For Billie' turns in to the finale 'Ravens will Fly Away' which conjures up all the black spirits. There is always a danger that a famous father gets the musical credit and overshadows the offspring's offering but here Oliver Wakeman writes interesting lyrics and one of the reasons that Gordon Giltrap wanted to work with him was because of the vitality and freshness that Oliver brings to projects.
'Ravens and Lullabies' is an album of modern social comment served in a dish of progressive rock styles mixed up from two mates, one on a continuing journey and one on a return ticket.
Review by Tim Price for Rockshot. April 2013.
amazon.co.uk review #7 - 4/5
And now for something completely different...
Gordon Giltrap never does the same thing twice. I can't offer higher praise to a musician and writer. That perhaps explains why his two hour concerts of guitar instrumentals can remain engaging to people other than guitar technique junkies. He can call on an arsenal of guitar techniques, alternate tunings, guitar synths and delay pedals, and always manages bring something fresh to the table.
Long time fans will know the same is true of his solo albums. The compare the bright and jolly melodies of Perilous Journey that gave way to the darker tone Fear of the Dark, or contrast rich acoustic tones of Drifter with bright synthesised shades of Shining Morn. Where most artists develop a signature sound and rely on it, Gordon Giltrap really does push himself into new territory with every new album. So it was probably a mistake for me to hope that his collaboration with Oliver Wakeman would be a sequel to the excellent From Brush and Stone, the collaboration with Rick Wakeman that kick started my serious interest in acoustic music. Both Oliver Wakeman and Gordon Giltrap clearly wanted this project to be something different.
The slightly sinister artwork is the first clue. The girl covering her eyes as ravens wheel around her. A hand bleeding, pierced by a black quill pen (in my case the artwork was signed, thanks guys!) The second is the growling modern guitar sound that backs Gordon's powerful acoustic strum on Moneyfacturing, a savage attack on the world of modern finance. The portmanteau suggests both the creation of nothing but money and the unreality of the circumstances that surround it's creation. Credit Carnival offers a similar theme, depicting people desperately throwing away their lasts chances in the hopes of finding happiness, and the growl and whine of synth and guitar leads into some blistering solos spots. Paul Manzi's vocals are spot on for both these songs and Gordon's guitar work sounds distinctly modern. But why be surprised, he was a real prog rock guitarist back in the day.
Is this the Last Song I Write? is an epic composition about fame and creativity with a rich, detailed background of layered synths, built around an acoustic riff, that prove Oliver Wakeman is really creative keyboardist, who is capable of leaving the right amount of space for vocals and guitars. I was less keen on From the Turn of the Card, with its cheesy mysticism about Tarot. Maybe Tomorrow pairs thoughtful lyrics with detailed acoustic guitar parts as does Anyone Can Fly. Fiona's Smile and One For Billie are examples of the acoustic Giltrap that we know, backed by sensitive piano work, while A Mayfair Kiss and LJW show off Oliver's skills. Ravens Will Fly rounds off the album with a gentle song.
This edition also features a bonus track of live material and bonus material from the same sessions. Classic Giltrap repertoire like Isabella's Wedding and On Camber Sands is always good and there is an interesting take on Roots too.
If there is a downside to this album its that the mix of styles and song structures keeps you guessing about what is coming next, but each of the compositions feels true to itself, definitely not just pieced together in a studio, but real performances by musicians in collaboration. The lyrics evoke modern concerns as well as timeless themes of fame, friendship, and forgiveness, so this album offers lots to enjoy. I also think this material will be great live. If you're already a fan of either artist there is no reason not pick this one up. I'll be fascinated to see what they do next.
Gordon Giltrap Web forum review #4
Got cd. Thanks. Wow! made me cry. When I hear something that is perfect it always does. Your electric guitar playing for me is pure joy. Oliver is a rare talent. Can't say much more.
amazon.co.uk review #6 - 5/5
One word. Superb! Just like his dad Rick, and I,ve admired Giltrap since the 70's. Truly a great album.
Classic Rock Society magazine review
Let me be truthful here. I expected to like this album. I expected to use words like "pleasant" to assess it, and to give it a decent review. Job done. What I didn't expect was to love it. But I do. Let me explain....
"Ravens and Lullabies" is the result of a recent collaboration between legendary troubadour Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman, most recently to be seen in Yes. Some of you may have seen their charming gig for the CRS at the Wesley Centre last year. It also marks Gordon's return to extensive electric playing, while Oliver mixes his excellent synth leads with some delicious piano.
It is, I realise, a cliche to say that he sounds like his Father, but here he really does channel Rick on several occasions. In fact, up tempo opener "Moneyfacturing" is one of those, a powerful and classy statement of intent most definitely in the "rock" camp, with vocal by Oliver Wakeman Band and Arena singer Paul Manzi. "Fiona's Smile" is more along the lines of what I was expecting with acoustic guitar and piano weaving around each other, before the infectious "From Turn of the Cards" sung by Oliver's former Yes cohort Benoit David. Hereon, the tracks pretty much alternate between the acoustic - mainly duos, although each man has a solo piece - and excellent songs recorded with rhythm section Steve Amadeo and Johanne James. On the quieter vocal tracks Manzi is deliciously and unusually restrained behind Gordon's sensitive finger picking and Oliver's well-judged keys.
However, two full-band tracks stand out - the 10 minutes out-and-out prog of "Is this the Last Song I will write" and the shorter but no less impressive "Credit Carnival". Both pieces ought to surprise and delight, with Gordon blending acoustic and electric textures and Oliver contributing swirling organ and synth pyrotechnics.
And here's the thing. What might have been a tuneful and pleasant album has been transformed into something of genuine beauty and substance by real care over the quality of the material and the arrangements, and the undoubted enthusiasm of the two protagonists. Fans of the acoustic side of both men's past work will be kept happy, of course, but it is when the band kicks in that this album really flies, and it's particularly wonderful to hear Gordon unleash those trademark lead guitar lines as if it were 1978 all over again!
amazon.com review #2 - 5/5
Virtuosic piano, virtuosic guitar
An album for people, who appreciate the highest class of virtuosic guitar and piano (you will love the instrumental compositions). The songs: intriguing vocals and melodies that sound in your ears long after the CD stopped playing. For those into the good, old progressive rock - some parts may remind you of YES and early Genesis (surprised?).
PROG Planet web review
What a pleasant surprise, an album from Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman (yes it is he, son of the keyboard master), I didn't see that coming, the collaboration between these 2 fine musicians! Gordon Giltrap, guitarist de luxe, singer songwriter and musical Icon! The maker of some 30 + albums, from 1968 until now!! Very impressive body of work!! Oliver Wakeman, keyboard de luxe, despite the young age with a fine body of work too, several solo releases, also Oliver has worked with Yes, Strawbs, Steve Howe and Clive Nolan.
This release brims of beauty, delicious songs and excellent delivery from all involved!! Produced by Oliver himself, mixed and mastered by none other than Karl Groom, adds up to one perfect top notch sound package! Talking about package, the cover art here, are as beautiful as the music! Let me present the rest of the band: Lead vocals (on most tracks) Paul Manzi, Bass by Steve Amadeo, Drums by Johanne James and last but not least, lead vocals on "From The Turn Of A Card" Benoit David. The contents of this fine release is what I call semi-acoustic folk/rock/prog! There are NO screaming guitars, no thunder chords, no high pitched vocals, no complex time signature themes, no power-play whatsoever!
What you get, is beautiful soundscapes, great compositons, superb delivery and in a very laidback fashion. My first impression of this album was... ahem...boring, but after several listening, this release grew on me and now I find it quite irresistible and relaxing! Imagine if you will, spring taking over, blue sky, sun shines on your face, birds singing and the wind whispers softly in the trees! If that made you nod in joy, then this release are very much for you!! ENJOY!! Not groundbreaking, not progressive, but very very beautiful music!!
amazon.co.uk review #5 - 5/5
Ravens and Lullabies take you to dreams
I've received this ABSOLUTE pearl (which no-one should ever miss in his/her records collection) two days ago, and that day my journey through particular and magical emotions started. Being a Gordon's fan since 1976 I should regard myself a little bit unobjective, but the matter is that this is an absolute masterpiece of poetry. Imagine two extraordinary and highly talented musicians, capable to explore both side of your dreams and to show them as one...sweetness and rhythm, majesty and waving sounds, sheer ballads and imposing prog tracks...here for any taste!
Like twins in spirit, Gordon and Oliver can take you higher, letting you go to follow everchanging atmospheres. When you touch the ground you'll want to rise up again. The same way two different kind of grapes join to form a King's Wine! Highly recommended....to have it ABSOLUTELY, better still! :-)
amazon.co.uk review #4
Somewhat nervous as i placed the cd in the machine. Was this a pastiche of the genre that is prog rock? No this is a full blown band sound, producing some dam beautiful music, with very fine songs. The soaring vocals are strong and full with passion. Guitar and keyboard join together to rock; or to sooth with gentle caress. As for the drumming, I had forgotten how good they can sound when played at their best.
I would be happy to call this the Giltrap, Wakeman band, cos that is what it sounds like. Disappointed I am not, my faith in music has been restored.
Gordon Giltrap Web forum review #3
The Raven Has Landed!
In fact, a certain pair of Ravens landed yesterday evening in Wroclaw! It seems that the combined forces of the UK and PL posts did not break a world record in letter delivery ;-) (sent out on 1 March), but that matters not!!!
What matters to Ania and I is this: we have been fans of Gordon's for a long time, and now we are fans of Oliver Wakeman as well! The album meets our expectations; it is really hard to stop listening to the songs, so a repeat mode is a useful feature. It is amazing, how well the guitar and the piano "work" together. Other musicians did a great job too and the vocals certainly belong to those you never forget.
Superb music beautifully arranged and played. It is not easy to talk of favourite pieces (both CD's are great!), so let's name just some of those "favourite favourite" ones: Fiona's Smile, Is This the Last Song I Write, Ravens Will Fly Away, The Roots in a new arrangement, Progress of the Soul, On Camber Sands).
We feel privileged to be able to listen to "Ravens and Lullabies". Thank you for your music!
amazon.com review #1 - 5/5
Outstanding Debut Pairing!
This is the first time Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman have recorded an album together, but they each have an exceptional musical heritage that is put to great use here. Gordon's unique and brilliant guitar work and Oliver's masterful keboard playing complement each other perfectly. The main CD has many pieces worthy of mention including Turn of the Card, Maybe Tomorrow, Wherever there was Beauty, Anyone Can Fly and Fiona's Smile.
The Bonus CD, that is included on the Limited Edition pack, is as strong as the main CD with Natures Way, Isabella's Wedding, On Camber Sands and outstanding arrangements of both Bach's Praeludium and Roots an earlier work by Gordon. Get the Limited Edition while you can!
amazon.co.uk review #3 - 5/5
What a fantastic collaboration
An incredible collection of tracks. I am a long-time GG fan who still likes Fear of the Dark and Perilous Journey at full volume and this is most definitely a full volume album. That's not to say that there are not beautiful under-stated and low key tracks but there are melodies and songs that scream 'turn me up'. Moneyfacturing is a great opener and Ravens a luscious final song.
Inbetween there is the glorious Wherever There Was Beauty and the maddeningly too short Anyone Can Fly featuring solo keyboard and guitar in an incredible last two minutes. If you get the bonus cd then you are in for more treats from some live and studio tracks.
I guarantee you that if you like early GG you are going to love this. I'm new to OW but you just have to see this guy play to recognise talent. He writes some great tunes too! Buy it.
Facebook review #1
To anyone and everyone...GET THIS! Absolutely wonderful album. Can't stop playing it. In my car CD player constantly. After seeing the guys together live last October, I was aware of just how well they blend and complement one another BUT...oh boy, does this album certainly confirm that. Pure class.
For any Yes fans who want to have their bottom lip all a-quiver and a big lump in their throat...'Is This The Last Song That I Ever Write?'...
amazon.co.uk review #2 - 5/5
The year is 1978 and Gordon Giltrap with his own band, including a young Simon Phillips on drums, releases the highly acclaimed album "Fear of the Dark". The power of the opening track "Roots", intensity of "Fear of the Dark" and the soaring guitar solo on "Visitation" help to make this progressive rock album something very special. Fast forward to 2013 and we find Giltrap returning to his prog rock days, although this time the dynamic is somewhat different......
"Ravens and Lullabies" is a collaboration between Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman, the virtuoso keyboard player formerly of The Strawbs and Yes. Anyone fortunate enough to catch one of their live performances together in 2012 will already know how these two performers work VERY well together.
The first striking feature of the CD is the artwork, which is cleverly themed, well thought out and overall very impressive. Next, onto the music itself. Those familiar with Giltrap and Wakeman as solo artistes will know that their music can be very diverse; a solo Gordon Giltrap acoustic set can on one hand contain a reflective piece of music such as "Em's Tune", and then finish with the full-blooded power and intensity of "Lucifer's Cage". Well more of the same here too, as this 13 track CD consists of a collection of rock songs interspersed with lighter acoustic pieces. It opens with the excellent "Moneyfacturing", featuring the full band sound, followed by the reflective "Fiona's smile", an acoustic track which is already well-known to Giltrap fans. The contrasts continue all the way through the CD ,which reflects the "Ravens and lullabies" theme.
As you would expect from these two musicians, all of the material is strong in it's own right whether individually or jointly written and certainly Wakeman's lyrics are meaningful, and I suspect somewhat personal. The playing too is top-notch - Wakeman equally impressive on synthesisers and piano, while the electric guitars of Giltrap are powerful and expressive, and may come as a surprise to those more familiar with his acoustic work. There is a worthy supporting cast too - vocals are provided by Paul Manzi (Arena) and Beniot David (Yes), with Steve Amadeo on bass. Special mention must go to Johanne James (Threshold) on drums, whose playing is always very robust and yet precise, and contributes much to every track he plays on. The album was recorded and mixed by "Threshold" guitarist Karl Groom - good job done here too.
For me the highlights of the CD are "Moneyfacturing" and the EPIC "Is this the last song I write", although standards are high throughout and there are many instances of musical excellence, in fact too many to mention here.
For those lucky enough to purchase the limited edition package, the bonus CD includes live recordings from the Giltrap and Wakeman 2012 tour plus some new studio recordings. The live material is well-chosen and provides a good representation of those excellent gigs from last year, while the studio recordings include Wakeman's fine "The Forgotten King" and a stunning version of "Roots" from Giltrap's "Fear of the Dark" - fast rewind back to 1978!!!
Some might say that this was an ambitious project to undertake - after all, Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman are still relatively new to each other and it's a long time since Giltrap's prog rock days. Question is do they pull it off? Well in my opinion yes they do in fine style!
To conclude this well-crafted offering deserves recognition and success. Let's hope it marks the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership too! BUY IT!
Web forum review #2
This is an incredible piece of work from you both, an amazing collaboration. I have to declare favourites: Wherever There Was Beauty blew me away at Band on the Wall and you've added to it here, the second half of Anyone Can Fly is you both at your best (only spoiled by it ending after 4 minutes and not 6), love Moneyfacturing, love Ravens and I could go on.
Oliver's songs such as From The Turn of a Card and Is This The Last Song I Write and Natures Way are equally superb. And everytime I hear it I hear something new. I hope it brings you the success it deserves. See you on the road. Get to the North-West please.
amazon.co.uk review #1 - 5/5
This album has been well worth the wait.Right from the opening track "Moneyfacturing" to the closer "Ravens will fly away" it's a broad spectrum of virtuoso musicianship,great vocals and a superb rhythm section.
This album should appeal not only to fans of Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman but should find a following of anyone who just likes well written and well performed acoustic/electric rock.
Web forum review #1
At the risk of setting myself up to be the most envied/hated person on this forum, I got a pre-release review copy of the new album through the post yesterday. I've only had a chance to listen through twice so far but... WOW! You are really going to be blown away when you hear it.
I had wondered how the alternating ravens and lullabies feel across the track listing would work but it really draws you through the album creating a great mood across it. The songwrtiting from both G and O (and G&O) is amazing and the arrangements are stunning. Lots of classic Giltrap playing and lots of fat, squelchy synth from Wakeman (alongside the fluid piano playing). the full band approach to the tracks works really well too with all really enhancing the sound.
I wondered how the vocal tracks would sit in a heavily Giltrap album but they work so well - and the singer (Paul Manzi from British proggers, Arena) has a really great rock voice. There certainly aren't many other Giltrap albums which contain swinging social commentary on the decline of our industrial and manufacturing base or the 21st C credit culture... Both great tracks by the way.
Also, I think that collaborating with Oliver has pushed Gordon to excell in his playing. I think that it's definitely stretched Gordon's electric playing into areas he's not really explored before - and that's a really good thing from a listener's perspective.