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Gryphon in the 21st century? Surely not? These medieval revivalists captured the popular imagination back in 1973 when they performed in doublet and hose and were mobbed by schoolgirls outside the V & A. They faltered a little in the late seventies when they imploded up their own crumhorns. But, in spite of several reunions in the past decade or so we never expected a new album (although one was mooted back in 2007).
The problem with a “reinvention” is which way musically do they go? A return to Henry VIII rock style or perhaps reflecting their later, more progressive leanings after they’d toured with Yes.
‘Reinvention’ is perhaps best described as an amalgam of their previous styles but with a bit more folk-tinged humour (and vocal) thrown into the mix. Oh, and a bit of parlour music.
Mainstay now is original guitarist Graeme Taylor, but the irreplaceable Brian Gulland thankfully remains together with fearless drummer Dave Oberle. They are joined by the multi-instrumentalist Andy Findon, bassist Rory McFarlane (who supplies the attractive ‘Bathsheba’) and long-standing “new” member Graham Preskett on violin and keyboards.
Lapsed Gryphon fans should find something appealing here whether it’s the catchy ‘Rhubarb Crumhorn’ and ‘A Futuristic Auntyquarian’ or the more “serious” ‘Haddock’s Eyes’ which sets Lewis Carroll to music.
At times it all sounds like chamber music for a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, to be enjoyed in wood panelled rooms whilst gorging on cream cakes.
If ‘Reinvention’ does lack the sheer flamboyance of Richard Harvey’s earlier contributions it is nevertheless a fine statement and in keeping with the band’s traditions. Curiouser and curiouser.
Review by David Randall