Eyes of Blue: fans of Gentle Giant and Man need to pay attention

28th February 2017

Title: In Fields of Ardath

Label: Wah Wah

A fascinating LP and one that I admit has passed me by but one that appeals distinctly to my interest in music history and archeology.

This band were no fools. In fact, they hit upon the jazz rock fusion (Graham Bond wrote their first album’s liner notes) and entered the film industry (Quincy Jones worked with them on the film, Toy Grabbers) before many of their contemporaries and had contracts with Deram and then Mercury to prove that others believed in the band. They were one of the earliest bands to concentrate upon albums too, at least during their Mercury career. If further proof was needed of their pedigree, all I have to add is that band member, John Weathers, would end up with the group, Gentle Giant via Pete Born while Phil Ryan joined Man.

This 1969 album, which features liner notes from Quincy Jones, takes its title from a book on reincarnation, written by Marie Corelli in 1897: so someone was hitting the local library on a regular basis then. With this album, the band never felt that the label backed them with support, though, which may be why the LP never really took off in terms of sales while the band saw very little money in return.

In terms of content, according to the band, this album represented what they were trying to accomplish creatively. And that is? A mature and adventurous combination of prog and jazz-tinged rock, each track packed with ideas, varying time signatures and attractive vocal harmonies with an organ-based rhythm track but with enough hard-edged electric guitar to please rock fans.

For the time and considering the relative low key nature of this release, remastering is superb, neutral and balanced in tone with enough clarity and detail to please any audiophile.

This edition is limited to just 500 copies and includes two bonus track rarities from a 45rpm single plus a booklet.