This is a very different album for me, although I knew of Mr Giltrap and his brilliance on the guitar, somehow I’d never really explored his work much beyond buying the single of Heartsong when it was originally released back in the 1970s. Well this album addresses that lack of knowledge and serves as a good introduction to some of his later work, and also it’s for a very worthy cause. Basically this is Gordon’s ‘thank you’ album, released in order to help raise funds for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where he underwent major surgery on two separate occasions in 2016, to do something to show his gratitude to the people who saved his life.
This is where it becomes more personal as Gordon turned to an old school friend of mine, Peter Bonner, who he knows well, a man who runs his own label and a fine record shop called Psychotron Records in Sutton Coldfield, where I grew up (as did Greg Spawton of Big Big Train). Peter had previously commissioned Gordon to record a song for his lovely wife Linda, The Stars Look Down On Linda, which also appears on this album.
Heartsongs is released on Pete’s own Psychotron Records label, and very fine it is too. It’s really a re-release of an older album, Shining Morn from 2010, but with a few extra tracks that were personally selected by Gordon to show a more rounded picture of his works. In addition, Gordon has written the very interesting and informative sleeve notes detailing why each piece was chosen and his recollections of them. The album opens with a 1993 re-recording of Heartsong, featuring Brian May, Steve Howe, Midge Ure, Neil Murray and Rick Wakeman no less, all of whom give the old classic a thoroughly modern and timely reboot, and by doing so prove what a fine piece it always was.
We continue in a more gentle manner with some delicate acoustic guitar pieces, mainly acoustic but several featuring contributions from other musicians, including violin, keyboards and accordion. One of the more spectacular pieces is the live recording of The Dodo’s Dream on which Gordon delivers a soaring electric lead break that simply staggers in its lyricism, elevating the piece to greater glory.
Several of the pieces were commissions for Gordon and he tells the story behind each song. It is especially refreshing to hear these tales and to hear these tracks which hold special meaning for both Gordon and the commissioner. The final song on the CD is the title track from Shining Morn that features Prog’s own star Rick Wakeman on some lovely piano parts.
It is quite astounding to think that Gordon is not more widely appreciated and given more prominence and credit for his musicianship. He certainly knows his way around the strings and has progressed far beyond his humble folk beginnings in London in the mid-1960s and his trio of more Progressively inclined albums, Visionary, Perilous Journey and Fear of the Dark in the late 1970s.
Heartsongs shows the many sides of Gordon Giltrap, a gentle listen but most certainly a worthy one, and one I would highly recommend to readers. Gordon has a vast back catalogue of releases to explore and this album will possibly set you off on your own journey of exploration.
In summary, this is a very enjoyable album made by a very gifted musician for a truly worthwhile cause and is to be appreciated and enjoyed by all. I heartily commend it, a really beautiful and heartfelt album of sublime grace and beauty, and with a lovely cover too boot.
[You can order Heartsongs directly from the charity at Queen Elizabeth Hospital HERE].
01. Heartsong 93 (4:26)
02. Rachel’s Reflections (2:17)
03. Prayer For Philippa (3:30)
04. Five Dollar Guitar (2:33)
05. Lazy Sunday (2:19)
06. Simply Margaret (2:29)
07. Joy Ride (3:37)
08. Ladies of Lichfield (2:16)
09. The Passing of a Queen (3:39)
10. The Dodo’s Dream (7:42)
11. Em’s Tune (3:33)
12. The Stars Look Down on Linda (4:19)
13. Forever Gold (3:39)
14. Night (3:25)
15. By Angle Tarn (3:54)
16. Minus One (2:49)
17. Paula’s Passion (2:27)
18. Ring of Kerry (5:18)
19. Tears of Joy (3:28)
20. Shining Morn (2:07)
Total Time – 69:22
Gordon Giltrap – Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Electric Bass, Guitar Synthesizer, Mandola
RIck Wakeman – Keyboards (track 1), Piano (track 20)
Brian May – Guitar (track 1)
Midge Ure – Guitar (track 1)
Neil Murray – Bass (track 1)
Steve Howe – Guitar (track 1)
Iain Carnegie – Arrangements & Keyboards (various tracks)
Andrew Bernadi – Violin (various tracks)
Paul White – Additional String Layers (track 11)
Stuart Jones – Keyboards (track 12 and others)
Hilary Ash Roy – Flute (tracks 3,6 & 7)
Record Label: Self-released via Psychotron Records
Catalogue#: PR 1007
Date of Release: 12th July 2018