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Red Jasper - Anagramary CD (album) cover

ANAGRAMARY

Red Jasper

 

Prog Folk

3.94 | 24 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Less Folk and more Neo-Prog, but still Red Jasper

Red Jasper is a criminally underrated band with roots that go back into the 80's. Sadly, they appear to not exist anymore as the present album from 1997 is their last to date. However, you never know these days when many unlikely reunions of progressive Rock bands from the 60's, 70's and 80's actually happen!

Red Jasper is a rather unique band blending British/Celtic Folk Rock with hard edged Neo- Progressive Rock. On the band's two previous albums, A Midsummer Night's Dream and A Winter's Tale, they achieved the perfect mix of these elements to great effect. Anagramary, on the other hand, clearly emphasises the Neo-Prog side of the equation. This is not necessarily a bad thing and this is also a very good Red Jasper album, but it inevitably is a little bit less original and slightly less unique compared to what came before. However, the Folk Rock side is not entirely absent here and Strawbs still appears to be a strong influence as is 70's Genesis.

The very strong vocals of Davey Dodds remind alternately of Peter Gabriel and Dave Cousins as well as Neo-Prog singers like Marillion's Fish and Galahad's Stuart Nicholson. Dodds has nothing to envy from these latter singers. For some reason, drummer Dave Clifford takes lead vocals on In Her Eyes and Through The Dawn. These songs sound very much like Strawbs numbers with a slight Moody Blues feel.

The rest of the band are just as competent with the traditional Prog Rock line up with electric guitars, bass, drums and assorted keyboards being enhanced with acoustic guitars, tin whistle, bodhran and fiddle. The mandolin that was so strongly present on the two previous albums is, however, wholly absent here, as are the more traditional Fairport Convention-like jigs. This, I think, is a great loss as the mandolin was such a strong trademark of the band's sound that I have come to know and really appreciate and those jigs from previous albums were really good. But you have to accept a band's evolution!

The album opens with Perfect Symmetry, a good song with great vocals. This song reminds a bit of Virtual Reality from A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was the least folky and most typically Neo-Progressive song of that album. The distinctive vocals of Dodds immediately give it away what band it is despite the absence of any Folk influence. Babylon Rising is next up and is one of the better songs of the album. Here we have some folky elements like tin whistle and some "Oriental" sounds. In The Name Of The Empire is probably the most Genesis influenced track with some very Gabriel-esque, almost spoken vocals - so very British. Flag is an instrumental based on guitar and keyboards - a decent interlude. Some of the songs here are as fantastic as the material on the previous two albums, and the present album is not that far behind those. Indeed, in some respects, Anagramary is perhaps even a slightly more mature album but also inevitably a bit less astonishing than those earlier albums.

The closer, Waterfalls (Rhaeadreau), stands out as being almost New-Age! Otherwise the album continues pretty much in the same vein and there are no bad songs on this album.

Red Jasper is a very interesting and solid band that I really enjoy. This underrated band clearly deserves much more attention! Anagramary is certainly a recommended album, but make sure you start with the amazing duo of A Midsummer Night's Dream and A Winter's Tale.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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