It is hard to believe, but there was time in my life when I had not heard of the band Galahad, but at the tender age of 28 that all changed when I was lent their debut CD and I purchased both that and their previous cassette. I’m 60 next year, so have known this band for more than half my lifetime, yet every new release is treated with the knowledge that these guys have no idea on how to rest on their laurels and keep pushing forward. Singer Stu Nicholson is the only original left, although drummer Spencer Luckman has been there nearly as long, and with long-time keyboard player Dean Baker they have been pushing boundaries together for more than 20 years. There have been a few changes in bassist and guitarists over that time (including of course the untimely death of Neil Pepper, who is never far from the band in many ways, and this album includes “Another Life Not Lived” which he co-wrote with Stu), but with Lee Abrahams on guitar and Mark Spencer on bass (plus the important “second triangle”), and Karl Groom again engineering, recording and co-producing, we have a band who has been playing together for a few years, albeit this is Mark’s first appearance on an album.
Dean and Stu wrote most of the material together, and it never ceases to amaze me just how much impact Dean has had on the overall sound since his appearance on 1999’s ‘Following Ghosts’ as there has been a consistent reliance on guitar, which Lee is happy to oblige with and Karl of course is more than happy with that. This kicks off with a synth bursting into guitar, and the high energy “Alive” and I found myself immediately being reminded of ‘Year Zero’. Unlike the last album, here we have a collection of individual songs, packed full of what I expect from the boys in that we have superb musicianship, great hooks, and songs which take us on a journey. Then over it all we have Stu’s vocals which do not appear to have changed much since I first came across them all those years ago – he is one of the most consistent singers around, and in Dean has found a songwriting partner he can really work with, as be heard on every album they release.
Spencer continues to be one of the most under recognised drummers in the business, as he is the beating heart of the band, and thanks to Karl we can really hear the work he is putting in with plenty of variety and drive. Musically this is one of their more varied albums, which even finds them adapting an 18th century nursery rhyme, certainly not something one would expect from these guys, but they have taken the basis and turned it into something which is dramatic and proggy as opposed to folky and twee. The title track is a personal tribute to Stu’s father, Bob, who not only inspired the words but also appears on the cover. Biographical in nature, the lyrics here certainly describe a very special person indeed, and we even get some words which sound as if they were recorded by the man himself.
Immediate, yet with depths which become clear the more this is played, Galahad have yet again returned with an album which is a sheer delight from beginning to end. More than 30 years down the line from when we first made each other’s acquaintance, Galahad continue to be a step above so many others in the prog scene.