Sunday, 15 December 2013

"Perilous Journey" by GORDON GILTRAP (2013 Esoteric Recordings CD Remaster With 4 Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...


Starting out as a UK Folkie on Transatlantic Records in 1968 - virtuoso guitarist Gordon Giltrap (if you'll forgive the pun) 'progressed' into the arena of instrumental Rock with his 1976 "Visionary" album on the ever so slightly odd "The Electric Record Company" Label. A single released off it in February 1977 called "Lucifer's Cage" didn't do much business.

Touring the UK with Wishbone Ash - Giltrap’s ear-catching and infectious instrumental "Heartsong" was released in November 1977 on Electric WOT 19 one month after the album with "The Deserter" as its B-side - and despite heavily advertised UK tours in October, November and December 1977 - again no joy. But then it was reissued in January 1978 (same Catalogue number and B-side) and suddenly Radio went crazy for it - shifting as many as 20,000 copies a week - catapulting the single and album into the charts. February 1978 saw "Perilous Journey" the LP and Cassette rise to 29 - while the hugely popular single of "Heartsong" went even higher in January 1978 to 21. In fact “Heartbeat” was so catchy, upbeat and Summer-Inducing - it was picked up by the British TV program "Holiday" (featuring Judith Chalmers) and used as their theme music for a whole 10 years after. The album "Perilous Journey" has been on varying CD reissues before - most of which have been OK and deleted as quickly as they were released - garnishing a hefty price tag ever since.

Well at last - along comes Cherry Red's subsidiary label ESOTERIC with a fabulous new remaster, decent presentation, reasonable price tag and 4 bonus tracks thrown into the bargain. 

UK released 29 July 2013 - "Perilous Journey" by GORDON GILTRAP on Esoteric ECLEC 2401 (Barcode 5013929450141) is an 'Expanded' CD Remaster. 

PASCHAL BYRNE and MARK POWELL have handled the audio and the sound is wonderful. The instruments are clear and full - not overly loud – with details now popping up everywhere (it runs to a generous 75:53 minutes). The 16-page booklet has liner notes by MALCOLM DOME with input from the artist himself and pictures trade paper reviews from "Sounds" and "Melody Maker" of the time.

1. Quest
2. The Deserter
3. Pastoral
4. Morbio Gorge
5. Heartsong
6. Reflections & Despair
7. Cascade
8. To The High Throne
9. Vision
Tracks 1 to 9 are the album “Perilous Journey” – released October 1977 in the UK on The Electric Record Company TRIX 4

10. Heart Song (Original Version)
11. Quest (Orchestral Version)
12. Guitar & Piano Demos (Recorded During The “Perilous Journey” Sessions)
13. Oh Well – non-album single A-side (a cover of the old Fleetwood Mac hit) – released April 1978 in the UK on Electric WOT 21 (the album track “Reflections and Despair” was its B-side).

Describing the whole album as “Opus 2” - it opens with the multi-layered acoustic/keyboard assault of "Quest" sounding not unlike English Pastoral Folk music meets Sci Fi. The lovely meandering of "The Deserter" has always been a favourite - as has the plaintive "Reflections & Despair". The magical "Heartsong" now sounds gorgeous - and that almost YES keyboard break always brings a smile to my face. It ends with the epic "Vision". Very impressive stuff and easy to hear why it's been a firm fan favourite ever since.

The 4 bonus tracks are a mixed bunch - the 'Original' version of "Heartsong" is interesting but can't compete with the polish of the finished cut. The 'Orchestral' version of "Quest" sounds huge but the limp cover version of Peter Green's "Oh Well" was a big mistake (he admits this himself). The "Guitar & Piano Demos" are a lovely listen - even in their raw state. And it's a shame that the 7" single edit that everyone knows (3:08 minutes) wasn't included on here but you can almost chop it into existence by edited it on iTunes anyway.

This remaster of "Perilous Journey" is a blast and it’s so good to hear this criminally forgotten nugget back in such good shape. Recommended.

Esoteric have also reissued as remasters:
1. Visionary (1976) on ECLEC 2400
2. Fear Of The Dark (1978) on ECLEC 2402
3. Live At Oxford - ECLEC 2409
4. Ravens And Lullabies (with Rick Wakeman of Yes) - EANTCD 1013

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