November 11, 2010

Gracious! Got a little lost in the shuffle.

For all the bands who pioneered genres and went off to become legends, either as groups or solo artists, there is a massive majority of bands who recorded one album or two, didn't catch on with an audience, maybe got critical acclaim but no commercial acclaim, and quietly faded from the scene.

Those were the bands who had label deals - we're not even talking about the hundreds and thousands of bands who never got out of the starting gate. The bands I'm talking about had potential, made all the right moves, issued singles as well as albums and still couldn't get arrested for the effort.

One of those bands was Gracious! (the ! was their idea, not mine). Initially starting off as a blues band, morphing into hard rock before landing on riffs, Mellotrons and Symphonic Rock as their legacy.

They lasted from 1969 until 1971 and had two albums to their credit, both for Vertigo, the adventuresome subsidiary of Philips Records in the UK.

Tonight's track comes off their debut album Gracious! (S/T). This track opens the album and is appropriately called Introduction.

I'll be dead-honest and say that a lot of what was considered Symphonic Rock was pretty pretentious, rolling in self-conscious grandiosity with a short shelf life with listeners. Some of it morphed into mainstream pop (a-la ELO), but even those were eventually given over to more conventional presentations, usually dropping the references to Vivaldi and Bach in the process.

Symphonic Rock was a short-lived phenomenon, an outgrowth of Psychedelia and touching on Progressive, but it did exist and Gracious! were busy practitioners as tonights track illustrates.

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