There was just something so special and intriguing about the early British progressive bands. Many of them had an element of pure class, punctuated with some astounding songwriting and musicianship. Lancashire's Gravy Train were one such band. Formed in 1970 by vocalist/guitarist Norman Barrett ( he replaced Jimmy Page in Screaming Lord Sutch's " and heavy friends " band ). They were signed to the Vertigo label, alongside Beggars Opera, Cressida, Jade Warrior and a whole bunch of other equally good bands - did those people at Vertigo know how to recognize a good band or what?! - and released their debut self-titled album in January 1971. Encompassing elements of folk, blues and hard rock, this debut album, although not selling in droves, established Gravy Train as a band to look out for. They released their second and final album for the label, "Ballad of a Peaceful Man" in December of that year. This was in all respects a better album, but still didn't sell in the numbers that the powers that be were happy with, and the band was dropped, only to be snatched up by Dawn Records. The third album, "Second Birth", released in 1973, is generally believed to be their weakest album, although it did have its moments. This fourth album was a masterful return to form, and it featured stunning sleeve artwork by none other than the great Roger Dean. Barrett moved on into Christian music when the band split ( although he did feature with Mandalaband ), and little has been heard from or of him since. By the way, mint copies of '' Ballad of a peaceful man" command upwards of between 150 and 300 Pounds on the collectors market. Get your own slice of British rock history by boarding the Gravy Train.
Gravy Train - Staircase to the Day, the title track of their 4th and, sadly, final album, released in 1974. Gravy Train have also been well documented in these pages in the past, so we won't repeat their history again here. Suffice to say that it's a great pity that they folded after this album was released, as it would appear that they were really reaching their peak at this stage. Their first two albums, "Gravy Train" and "Ballad of a Peaceful Man", were also very good, but they never received the acclaim they deserved. Both albums, released on Vertigo Records, are fairly collectible today.
Gravy Train - Messenger, from "Ballad of a Peaceful Man", probably one of the most fondly remembered and cherished albums of the entire Vertigo "swirl" catalogue - (original mint copies of this legendary album are worth upwards of 100 Pounds). This was the band's second album and last for the label - they moved to Dawn Records for their final two albums, "Second B irth" and "Staircase to the Day", an album we've featured on a number of o ccasions in the past. In fact, you can read up on this memorable UK outfit e lsewhere on these pages. This album contained the beautiful "Alone in Georgia/Ballad of a Peaceful Man/Jule's Delight", which took up the whole of side one on the original vinyl. Gravy Train were a fine example of British progressive folk/blues/rock (don't let the 'folk' part confuse you - they could kick serious butt when they needed to, make no mistake!) Founder/guitarist/vocalist Norman Barrett later ended up in the Mandalaband and ultimately became a reborn Christian, but his and his band's contribution to British rock music shouldn't be underestimated or forgotten. All four Gravy T rain albums are available on CD and are essential listening.
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