Galahad - When Worlds Collide

Galahad – When Worlds Collide

“30 years down the line and we’re still hanging on!” is the opening line of Stuart Nicholson’s sleeve notes for this outstanding set encompassing Galahad’s career, summing up their tenacity, commitment and a sense of their own self-deprecating humour. However, this retrospective of finely crafted and powerful songs, many of them re-recorded for this release, also makes a very strong statement that this is a fine band with a great future as well as a past filled with excellently written and performed classic progressive rock music. The Galahad vocalist has subsequently explained:

“The album is called When Worlds Collide because it is a mixture of old and new, meaning that, the ‘old’ Galahad is mixing/merging with the new Galahad, as in new recordings using the current Galahad ‘sound’ but recording old songs if you get my drift, thus it really is a clash of different Galahad eras.”

My own relationship with Galahad has only been relatively recent with an initial entry into their world with their two excellent albums of 2012, Battle Scars and Beyond the Realms of Euphoria. I also saw them at their excellent ‘Proguphoria’ mini-festival in Poole that year and was struck by their high quality as a live outfit… and it left me wondering ‘Why have I not explored these guys before?’

Both of those 2012 albums included bonus re-recorded tracks from their extensive back catalogue, indicating a rich history to be seamed. Sleepers and Richelieu’s Prayer from those albums re-appear on the second CD of this set and showcase the excellence of their dramatic song writing and skilful playing. Stuart Nicholson’s voice is a particular strength of Galahad, shown in the vocal dexterity needed as he performs in multi-faceted voices the World War Two drama on the sinister Sleepers. There are hints of Fish’s voice in some instances, which may have led him apparently to audition for Marillion after the Scotsman left, but he is no ‘sound alike’ and has his own distinctive character with a great range of power and sensitivity.

The first CD consists of brand new recordings of old Galahad songs including one track, City of Freedom, which was written about Berlin in 1985 but not recorded properly until 2015. Nicholson notes the irony being that the Berlin wall was still up when they wrote it but down when they actually got round to recording it! Re-recording the older songs is an interesting and engaging approach, framing vintage songs in a new light with more modern technology. Galahad have been a remarkably consistent band in terms of membership with 4/5 remaining the same throughout their career since 1989 with only one change in keyboards with Dean Baker taking over from Mark Andrews. However, in a nice nod to their history Andrews reappears on this retrospective on piano for three songs, including the delicate Dreaming from the Inside, alongside the excellent producer Karl Groom with a lovely acoustic guitar piece. In a very consistent first CD the other standout songs are Exorcising Demons and one of the best songs on the whole set, Room 801. This slow building atmospheric science fiction tale about alien incursions is illustrated with fascinating historical speech clips and sound effects. In another affectionate and respectful nod to their past this dark epic fades out with the voice of The Friday Rock Show on BBC Radio One, Tommy Vance, whose inimitable tones announce the band members and intone “Who’s to say we’re alone in this Universe…”, bringing back so many memories for listeners of a certain age glued to their radios in teenage bedrooms in the 1980s.

The second CD brings us more up to date largely and the quality just gets better. The excellent and pounding Empires Never Last features the now renowned solo artist Lee Abraham on bass on his one and only album with the band. Tim Ashton handles the bass superbly on nearly all the re-recordings on CD One. The great majority of the outstanding bass work in Galahad’s career was originally performed by the now sadly deceased Neil ‘Big One’ Pepper. He was also a significant song writer for the band, as exemplified on the emotional Singularity, which poignantly illustrates his thoughts on his own mortality as he was approaching the end of his struggle with illness:

“In a state of calm reflection, it’s just a matter of time
Lost in infinity, I’ve reached singularity, You can’t touch me now
Lost in eternity, I’ve reached singularity, You can’t touch me now
I’m at one with my universe, I’m on my way home, where my heart lies
You’ll always be with me.”

There are so many highlights on the second CD that it is impossible to identify them all in great detail. The beautiful 21st Century Painted Lady is updated from 1985 with feeling and sensitivity, serving as a more peaceful interlude after the intense narratives of Sleepers and Richelieu’s Prayer. Nevertheless, we soon return to dark epic drama in the outstanding Bug Eye. Many bands that have been going for as long as Galahad have often been seen to decline in quality of output but the later songs on this album indicate that this is an outfit that is still brimming with ideas and imagination, with a strong desire to keep producing exciting progressive rock. This is very evident in the remarkable Guardian Angel which rocks out powerfully, initially with Roy Keyworth on guitars before being transformed by Dean Baker’s pulsating dance oriented keyboards, reminiscent of Faithless, and Spencer Luckman’s wonderfully judged drumming driving along this wonderful hybrid of a song – trust me, it works! It works because whilst Galahad are a progressive rock band they have never forgotten that amidst all the musical dexterity and ornate productions of ‘Prog’ rock that the song itself is paramount with memorable melodies, catchy hooks and lyrics which can touch as well as entertain.

Their commitment to writing excellent songs whilst pushing the boundaries is perhaps best illustrated by their anthemic Seize the Day which sees them fuse prog rock musicality with a driving dance beat synth and a memorable chorus that is a real ‘ear worm’. The sentiments of Seize the Day and the closing song’s refrain “This Life could be my Last, at least we had a Blast” could very well sum up the philosophy of this band. Stuart Nicholson writes in the sleeve notes: “We just wanted to write and perform our own songs, have a bundle of fun and bring a few people along for the ride.”

Their more mischievous side is also demonstrated by their subtle insertion in the re-recordings of nods to some of their influences, with hints of Led Zeppelin, Rush, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, etc., plus a few others either in the music, lyrics or style incorporated in some songs. This reviewer will not spoil the fun identifying them (and I may not have spotted them all!) – I will leave that puzzle to the listeners.

Galahad have NOT simply released a routine compilation of old songs – they have bravely re-recorded many of their songs, re-inventing them with imagination whilst respecting their past. Older fans will be able to find new aspects in loved favourites whilst newer fans have a fascinating and exciting window on Galahad’s past through a modern prism. As this was released right at the end of 2015 it is more or less an album of 2016, and such is the excellence of this album it is hard to imagine many better retrospective sets being released this year. Do yourself a favour and Seize the Day!

[You can read an extensive interview with Galahad singer Stu Nicholson on TPA HERE.]

CD 1:

01. Lady Messiah
02. The Chase
03. City of Freedom
04. Chamber of Horrors
05. Dreaming from the Inside
06. Ocean Blue
07. Don’t Lose Control
08. Exorcising Demons
09. Karma for One
10. Room 801
CD 2:
01. Empires Never Last
02. Sleepers
03. Richelieu’s Prayer
04. 21st Century Painted Lady
05. Bug Eye
06. Singularity
07. Guardian Angel
08. Seize the Day (Single Mix)
09. This Life Could Be My Last

Stuart Nicholson – Vocals & Backing Vocals
Roy Keyworth – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass Guitar (21st Century Painted Lady)
Spencer Luckman – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Dean Baker – Keyboards, Programming, Backing Vocals
Tim Ashton – Bass Guitar (CD 1, tracks 1,3–10)
Neil Pepper – Bass Guitar (CD 2, tracks 2,3,6,7,8), Additional Keyboards (Ocean Blue)
Lee Abraham – Bass Guitar (CD 2, tracks 1 & 9)
~ with:
Karl Groom – Acoustic Guitar (Dreaming from the Inside)
Mark Andrews – Piano (Dreaming from the Inside, Richelieu’s Prayer & Don’t Lose Control)
Daryl Watts – Bass Guitar (The Chase)
Sarah Bolter – Backing Vocals (Ocean Blue)

Record Label: Galahad / Avalon Records
Year of Release: 2015


· Nothing is Written (1991)
· In a Moment of Complete Madness (1993)
· Sleepers (1995) (Remastered 2015)
· Classic Rock Live (1996) (Remastered 2008)
· Other Crimes & Misdemeanours II (1997) (Re-released 2009)
· Following Ghosts (1998) (Remastered 2007)
· Other Crimes & Misdemeanours III (2001) (Re-released 2009)
· Year Zero (2002) (Re-released in expanded version 2012)
· Resonance – Live in Poland (2006)
· Empires Never Last (2007) (Re-released Deluxe edition – 2015)
· Other Crimes and Misdemeanours (2008) (CD version of 1992 Cassette only release)
· Sleepless In Phoenixville – Live at Rosfest (2009)
· Whitchurch 92/93 – Live Archives Vol. 2 (2012)
· Battle Scars (2012)
· Beyond the Realms of Euphoria (2012)
· Seize the Day EP (2014)
· Guardian Angel EP (2014)
· Mein Herz Brennt EP (2014)
· ’30’ EP (2015)
· Solidarity – Live in Konin (2015)
Galahad Acoustic Quintet:
· Not All There (1995)
Galahad Electric Company:
· De-Constructing Ghosts (Re-mix album) (1999)

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