My A to Z Music Challenge: Letter P – Pendragon

I have been a fan of the music of Genesis since 1981. Their wonderfully unique  music was my introduction to progressive rock. For me it is only natural that I seek out bands that have been influenced by Genesis. Among the many Genesis influenced progressive rock bands out there Pendragon is a standout.

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For a time Pendragon was producing excellent progressive rock heavily influenced by 1970’s Genesis, Pink Floyd and Camel. Over their last few albums Pendragon radically changed their sound. They still remain a progressive rock band, however they have opted for a more modern, guitar driven approach. The new sound is not to my liking so, for now, I have stopped buying their new releases. I do try to keep up, perhaps something will change. Either the band will return to their prior sound, or I will grow to like their new approach.

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The band’s original sound was amazing. Their songs were full of incredibly lush keyboards, melodic bass playing and stellar extended guitar solos. All of this was wrapped in modern, pristine production. The band’s leader, Nick Barrett, had an excellent vision. He combined his love of 1970’s progressive rock bands Genesis, Pink Floyd and Camel to create new and fresh sounding progressive rock in the 1980’s and 1990’s. His love of those band’s guitarists is quite apparent in his own extremely skillful playing. The influence of Steve Hackett, David Gilmour and Andy Latimer is clearly heard in Barrett’s playing.

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Pendragon is clearly Barrett’s band. He is the band’s focal point as singer, guitarist and songwriter. Like any great team he could not do it alone. For many years he has been faithfully assisted by Clive Nolan on keyboards and Peter Gee on bass. Over the years the band had has a several talented drummers. Nolan and Gee are both highly talented musicians who have ably done their part to produce the Pendragon sound. Both members are the epitome of team players. They may not write in Pendragon, but both have released their own solo projects over the years. Clive Nolan has proven to be quite prolific with several projects and bands of his own over the years.

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Of all of their albums The Masquerade Overture (1996) is Pendragon’s masterpiece. It’s one of those albums where everything came together. First and foremost the songwriting is king here. Barret put together his best collection of songs that melded accessibility with complexity. The song arrangements are elaborate and the musical performances stellar. Each member of the band shines throughout. Song like Guardian Of My Soul and Masters Of Illusion are over twelve minutes long. These songs give the band ample opportunity to stretch out musically and showcase their abilities. Clive Nolan’s keyboard and piano work is especially stellar throughout the album’s mix of songs.

Another outstanding aspect of Pendragon over the years has been some incredibly  eye catching album cover art. Over the years the band had worked with an incredibly talented artist named Simon Williams. Williams produced some stellar artwork for the band. His artwork for several of Pendragon’s albums is absolutely stunningly in their detail.

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Pendragon may not be a household name, but among the prog underground they have made their mark. Nick Barrett has been guiding this band since 1978. In that time Pendragon has produced some exceptional progressive rock. With albums like The Masquerade Overture and Not Of This World (2001), the band has created genre classics.

Troy T.

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