--- Country of Origin: Scotland ---
--- Active Years: 1984-1989, 2011-present ---
--- Record Label: Plane Groovy ---
--- Genres: Progressive Rock, Neo-progressive Rock ---
--- Similar Artists: Sean Filkins, Introitus, Also Eden, Cosmograf, Knight Area, Konchordat ---
Band: A comedy of errors is a narrative work (often a play) that is light and often humorous or satirical in tone, in which the action usually features a series of comic instances of mistaken identity, and which typically culminates in a happy resolution of the thematic conflict.
Comedy Of Errors is a Glasgow-based progressive rock band formed in January 1984 with a first line-up of Jim Johnson (keyboards, vocals), Joe Cairney (vocals), John McPhee (drums), Mark Spalding (bass) and Mike Barnard (guitar). Their first recording is a three track demo cassette called “Ever be the Prize”, which is recorded at a studio in Blanefield (Scotland) in 1985, and followed by a mini album in 1986. A contribution for the Exposure album, a compilation album of new progressive rock bands compiled by Steven Wilson (No-Man, Porcupine Tree, Blackfield) is made with Time There Was, one of the tracks from the Mini Album, in 1986 as well.
Mike Barnard leaves the band soon after the release of the Mini Album and Mark Spalding switches from bass to guitar while Barry Henderson becomes the new bass player. Following performances in both the UK and Europe, another demo tape called “24 Hours” is recorded in 1987, which in 1988 is combined with the Mini Album to form the band’s only CD release under the French MSI label.
Unfortuantly this release got a pressing mistake. The song The Student Price Part 1, closing song of the Mini Album, is replaced by another version of Behold The Knight (also from the Mini Album). The last recordings released by Comedy of Erros sees the light in 1989 with therelease of the three track cassette Hold On. By this time the band had made a musical change from progressive rock towards hardrock and Joe Cairney has left the band and is replaced by John Cowden.
After an hiatus of nearly 23 years Disobey is released in 2011. During all those years Jim Johnson kept writing music and finally found the time to record those songs with some old and new members of Comedy Of Errors. The current line-up of the band is Joe Cairney (vocals), Jim Johnson (keyboards), Mark Spalding (guitar), Bruce Levick (drums) and John Fitzgerald (bass). Former bass player Hew Montgomery is best known for Abel Ganz.
As of February 2013, the recording of the follow up to Disobey, entitled Fanfare and Fantasy is now complete. Final mixing is underway at Aubitt Studios in Southampton and the album is scheduled for release in spring 2013.
"Matters our actions, more than our years" -- [5 out of 5]
Having taken several decades(!) to release their first album, "Fanfare and fantasy" is Comedy of Error's second album in as many years. Since the release of "Disobey" in 2011, Bruce Levick has become a full band member has become a full band member, with John Fitzgerald also joining the line up. Fitzgerald joined late in the recording of the album, so his contribution is limited to backing vocals here, but he is now fully installed as the band's bassist. The founding trio of Joe Cairney, Jim Johnston and Mark Spalding remains intact, with Johnston once again writing all the material.
While "Disobey" was a landmark album of "neo-prog", "Fanfare and Fantasy" takes a more symphonic approach, the nine magnificent tracks here being carefully crafted masterpieces of the genre. While there is a wonderful familiarity in the style of the music, it is actually rather difficult to offer comparisons or to cite influences. At times there is a Pendragon feel in the lush keyboards, the superb lead guitar solos and indeed in the vocal style. At the same time though, one could mention bands such as Yes, Genesis, Camel etc., but all the while there is something different and refreshing about what we hear that offers genuine excitement.
In terms of the songs themselves, each stands alone as a symphonic masterpiece; collectively they form a truly wonderful whole. Lyrically too, Johnston has clearly spent many hours crafting each piece. "The cause" for example highlights the ubiquitous blight of religious divide. While the song clearly describes the problems that afflict his home country, the song remains the same the world over. The power and depth of the album, both lyrically and musically, is never more acute than it is here.
A cursory glance at the track listing by a prog fan may lead to a focusing on the three 9+ minute tracks but in reality all nine of the songs here are prog epics. Looking at the other long tracks though ("The cause" is mentioned above), "Fanfare for the broken hearted" makes for the ideal opener, building from a fine a cappella introductory vocal by Joe Cairney through every more uplifting lead guitar (Mark Spalding) and dazzling synth bursts (Jim Johnston). "The answer" closes the set with a suitably anthemic atmosphere, cumulating in an early Genesis style mellotron finale.
"Time's motet and Galliard" is interesting in that it is a two part piece with a traditional feel. The first part, "Time's motet" is a delightful instrumental, apparently dothing a cap to the 16th century composer Thomas Tallis. This becomes the folk influenced "Galliard", a fine Strawbs like number with mellotron style synths.
Completing the set, we have "Something she said", a 7 minute piece that sets out with something of a Yes feel, including Wakeman style organ. Here we are also treated to a wonderful blend of Emerson style keyboards and Pendragon-esque lead guitar. Try hard as I might to resist singling tracks out, this is a truly wonderful composition. "Going for a song" contrasts a distinctly upbeat melody with some decidedly stark lyrics. Johnston's Tony Banks like keyboard bursts punctuate the searing guitar and synth interludes and layers of chorale keyboards. "In a lifetime", "Merry dance" and "Remembrance" are the three shorter songs, but each nonetheless stands as a mini prog epic.
I am aware that I may appear to be overdoing the superlatives here. Believe me though, this is a truly special album. Anyone with a love of traditional prog would be well advised to partake of its delights, you will not be disappointed.
Fanfare & Fantasy (2013) -- "The Cause"
1985 -- Ever Be The Prize (Demo)
1986 -- Comedy Of Errors (EP)
1987 -- 24 Hours (Demo)
1989 -- Comedy Of Errors (Full-length)
2011 -- Disobey (Full-length)
2013 -- Fanfare & Fantasy (Full-length)
Current Line-up: Joe Cairney -- Vocals
Jim Johnston -- Keyboards
Bruce Levick -- Drums
Mark Spalding -- Guitars
John Fitzgerald -- Bass
2013 -- Fanfare & Fantasy
1. Fanfare For The Broken Hearted -- 09:09
2. Something She Said -- 07:19
3. In A Lifetime -- 04:43
4. Going For A Song -- 08:36
5. Merry Dance -- 04:59
6. The Cause -- 09:30
7. Time's Motet* And Galliard -- 08:08
8. Remembrance -- 03:59
9. The Answer -- 09:58 Total time: 01:06:23
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