‘The burly Aussie tenor is now even more identified with this ill-fated protagonist than Peter Pears, the first Grimes. And everywhere Skelton has sung the part, whether at English National Opera, the Proms, the Edinburgh festival or now on this international tour of a concert staging mounted by the Bergen Philharmonic, the conductor has been Edward Gardner. Theirs is one of the great musical partnerships, and they continue to find compelling new depths in this tragic masterpiece.’ – Richard Morrison – The Times. This studio recording was made following the acclaimed production at Grieghallen, in Bergen, in 2019 (repeated in Oslo and London and reviewed above). Luxuriant playing from the Bergen Philharmonic and a stellar cast under the assured direction of Edward Gardner make this a recording to treasure.
The debut album by one of Britain's lesser-starred supergroup is a markedly different beast than fans of their former bands, the Remo Four and Creation, might have expected. Heavily influenced by the trio's shared love for jazz-rock, its nine songs are moods as much as music, only occasionally stepping out into something instantly recognizable – distinctive covers of the Bee Gees' "New York Mining Disaster 1941" and Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues" are highlights. But the album peaks with its closing track, "As It Was in the First Place" a lengthy Ashton adaptation from the classical "Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez."
On his debut album, Cabinet of Curiosities, Jacco Gardner showed himself to be the best kind of revivalist. He didn't just unearth the paisley-clad bones of '60s psychedelia, he added a clean perfectly arranged modern feel that made the record sound timeless and up-to-date as well. Like that record, Hypnophobia sounds like a freshly polished psych-pop rarity that was rescued from some musty vault, with loads of Mellotron-colored songs ("Outside Forever") and stately ballads ("All Over") to keep the psych-pop hordes satiated. This time out there's a little more folk-pop in the mix, with tracks like "Brightly" and "Face to Face" having some Brit folk in their brightly strummed guitars and swirling Mellotrons.
In 1970, Ashton, Gardner & Dyke somehow ended up supplying the soundtrack music to an obscure Western starring football star Joe Namath. Also important to the soundtrack's composition and performance was Deep Purple's Jon Lord, who co-wrote the score with Tony Ashton and shared keyboard parts with Ashton as well. Like many soundtracks, it's a jumble of pieces that might have served adequately as background music to specific scenes, but doesn't sustain much interest for a record listener. The musicians tap into a wide variety of styles and moods, mostly instrumental with occasional vocals, from good-time laid-back bar band boogie and dramatic pseudo-spaghetti Western orchestrations to atonal keyboard patterns, tedious hard rock-funk, and Latin cocktail jazz with bizarre scatting. The individual tracks, though, are neither too good on their own, or too similar to each other, failing to create an inviting mood.