by Prog Nick
Galahad are considered to be one of the more important bands of the ‘Second Wave of British Prog’ that took place n the 1980’s, together with Marillion, Pendragon, IQ and Twelfth Night. Fiercely independent, Galahad have released 11 studio albums, (12 including one CD release) with their 12th, ‘The Long Goodbye’, making it in time for release in late 2023. Each album has sold many thousands of albums, despite the absence of a major record deal, and ‘The Long Goodbye’ is likely to be Lucky No. 12.
The band’s line-up, now stable for two studio releases, comprises vocalist Stuart Nicholson, drummer Spencer Luckman, keyboardists Dean Baker, bassist Mark Spencer and the highly-rated Lee Abraham on guitar. The album presents a good mix of elaborate Prog and some more direct compositions, but all tracks are colored with highly melodic progressions and stylings. Of the seven songs on the album, the first three are quite accessible and the last four are more complex and progressive.
It would be remiss of me not to state the obvious fact that fans of Fish-era Marillion will be the first to find great appeal in this album. It has a similar sense of drama, vocal delivery and phrasing, and an equally adventurous approach to composition and lyrical relevance.
From the simple but effective directness of ‘Behind the Veil of A Smile’ to the electronica of ‘Everything’s Changed’, from the funky stylings of ‘Shadow In The Corner’ to the fable-like storytelling of ‘The Righteous and the Damned’ (in which Nicholson questions global power from the perspective of a man with dementia), the first four songs augur well for the album. They are quite direct and accessible, but never veer far from the classic 1980’s Prog sounds that gave this band its genesis (no pun intended.)
It is in the last three tracks, however, that the album truly shines. The 13-minute title track, whilst still echoing the best parts of classic Marillion, allows the band to show its versatility and emotion. It is certainly the high point on the album. Presumably, the following lyric will sound familiar to you: ‘I don’t remember, I don’t recall, I’ve got no memory of anything at all.’ If so, you will know that this is a re-worked Peter Gabriel lyric, only now given Galahad’s own melodic treatment and 2023 production. That lyric gives way to an acoustic passage that is eminently beautiful, centered around strings, an ascendant Abraham solo, a choir and just about everything else you can imagine. Excellent.
‘Darker Days’ and ‘Open Water’ do not deserve the descriptor ‘bonus tracks,’ which they appear to carry. For me, they are both integral parts of the album, and they round it off beautifully. The former is eight minutes of catchy Rock delivered by the band in full stride, and the latter is a lilting and melodic stripped-down ballad featuring Nicholson’s versatility and sensitivity.
All in all, the album presents the Janus-like two faces of the band: the progressive side and the electronic side. Whilst I personally prefer the former, it has to be said that the latter is also delivered with great professionalism and aplomb. Both sides present much gratification and beauty. Lyrically, the album is quite aggressive, a fact that is further enhanced by Nicholson’s distinctive delivery. This may take some getting used to, but it cannot be denied that he is an accomplished vocalist and lyricist who is clearly influenced by the likes of Peter Gabriel and Fish. There is nothing wrong with that. The album’s production is very good for an avowedly independent release, and will impress even the most critical ears.
2023 has been a great year for Prog, and Galahad’s album ‘The Long Goodbye’ deserves to be counted amongst those that have made it so good. It is notable that this band has now delivered, in just over one short year, two very high-quality albums indeed. Galahad is a versatile and prolific band and, dare I say it, deserving of more attention.
Released on November 10, 2023
1. Behind the Veil of a Smile (6:19)
2. Everything’s Changed (7:39)
3. Shadow in the Corner (5:28)
4. The Righteous and the Damned (8:37)
5. The Long Goodbye (12:58)
– CD bonus tracks:
6. Darker Days (7:45)
7. Open Water (4:08)
Stu Nicholson / vocals
Lee Abraham / guitars
Dean Baker / keyboards
Mark Spencer / bass
Spencer Luckman / drums & percussion