Monday, February 12, 2007

The Parlour Band "Is a Friend?" 1972


Review by bristolstc:
How far I go back with loving this album should tell you something about it. Nearly 30 years old I am, and I became addicted to this record's sweeping beauty when I was only 17. I own an original copy that I lucked into a few weeks ago in my collectiion, but I've owned it in as an original, CD, and reissue before and only for one year was I ever without it, the worst time of my life. Forming in the Channel Islands was something very unusual, I mean, how many bands can you think of from there? The group were the combined talents of vocalist/ keyboard player/songwriter Peter Filleul (pronouned Fill You- a French name), and a local Jersey band who played hard rock. Combining Filleul's love of Beatle esque lush melodies and the band's love of American West coast hard edged rock, they were both a psychedelic pastoral pop band and a heavy progressive group, something very unusual, but something that was going on in the British Isles at the time. This album I have had mixed reactions from people about. I rave about it, and some love it as well or can't understand it. My own opinion is all that matters to me, but I really do think this is about the best melodic album there is along with the shamefully ignored Deep Feeling, Fickle Pickle, and Dog That Bit People (sadly, I only own a CD of this one). Every song is masterful, filled with great melodies, rich soaring flowing textures of great guitars and keyboards, and the vocals especially harmonies are really great. My favourite tracks here if asked to choose a few highlights are the short yet complex rocking opener "Forgotten Dreams," the proto Queen epic within a short time length darkness of "Evening' (sung by Pix), and the highly original and remarakable closing suite "Home." Every track though is outstanding. Very laid back, but actually rocking out at the same time as well. This is a subtle and complex album, it may take you a few listenings to fully appreciate it and it must be said in all honesty that people who don't like pop overtones to their symphonic prog will not like this, but if you have an open mind you really need to find this album and treasure it. Everyone in the band is an outstanding musician, particularly the twin guitars of Pix (full name Jonathan Pickford- I knew him once) and Craig Anders. Mark Ashley Anders is also a great bass player, and Filleul's solid down to earth approach to the keyboards is a refreshing diversion from all the pompous bashing that was going on then. One of the best things about Is A Friend? is that it not only is a brilliant album in itself, but will open up a world of great music to you if you like it. I would say that this album was also a once-in-a-lifetime thing for the band, with Filleul who wrote every track pushed in the background the group became The O Band- an extremely inferior and even at times downright irritating attempt to imitate the American bands of the the era such as Little Feat and The Dead or even perhaps Quicksilver. While there is a strong US influence to some of The Parlour Band, it is never painful and never contrived. Had the group gone back to their day jobs after this album we'd be left with a one album masterpiece legacy. This album is one of my all time favourites and a magical experience. It is among the best ever.

6 Comments:

Anonymous ALEX said...

SPIKE DRIVERS re-post?.Thanks-ALEX

13 February, 2007 19:47  
Blogger Jenerator said...

I never new they were a Jersey group, You would have thought i would have being from Guernsey.Funny how you miss these things!

14 February, 2007 02:28  
Blogger rockness said...

springs sweet comfort is beautiful. when that acoustic solo kicks in with the thick harmonies it is like heaven.

28 February, 2007 05:56  
Blogger Bèr said...

I've never heard of this band, but given the taste for great music you always show over here, I'm curious.

09 August, 2007 02:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I''m 54 and bought the 1972 release 35 years ago and it's right here in my hand. I'm getting old, the Parlour Band forever... It's touching to read the comment. Thanks for the comment (also for the digital thing), Peter

02 September, 2007 21:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year I saw Pix Picksford and asked if he was back living in Jersey and he said that he was staying for a while. He said that in France where he had been living, he was putting his music onto CD format. Well last week I met a friend who was also in the music scene and we spoke of Pix. I said that I had bought a record all those years ago and Pix has autographed it for me. It was called Within Reach. Well I just bought the CD from Amazon and it has taken me back in time. The track called A Smile is Diamond is great. If it was launched today, I am sure it would do really well. It was the days when music was great music and actual instruments being played. Boy they had talent. I had heard that Pix was playing and sing in some pubs around Jersey so I'll have to find out where. He is such a nice guy and has never forgotten me even though I did not know him well. I have full admiration for him and the music he has produced. Keep on going! and I hope to catch up with him again.

05 February, 2009 07:12  

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