Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast – Roger Glover and Guests


What if I told you that shortly after leaving Deep Purple, Roger Glover wrote a concept album based on a children’s poem. And what if a young Ronnie Dio, as he was known at the time, co-wrote some of the songs and did some vocals. Oh, and let’s throw in Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale and their vocal talents as well. Michael Giles, a co-founder of King Crimson, played drums. Before you think I wrote this on 4/20, check out the album online, and you’ll see that all of this and more is true.

I had no idea this album existed before stumbling across it at a used record store. I saw Roger Glover’s name attached and thought that it certainly had to be worth four dollars to check it out. It is a cool album and has some very interesting music. One song from the album, “Love Is All”, was a number one hit in the Netherlands and Belgium, and an animated video for the song has gotten a lot of play on television over the years. There was even a one-off concert in October 1975 performing the whole album in running order with an all star cast, including Jon Lord and Ian Gillan, and Vincent Price as the narrator.

This is a fun album to listen to and definitely shows off a different side of Roger Glover. He certainly has some songwriting skills that didn’t see enough of the light of day in Deep Purple. The album was released in 1974 and a lot of it is in the vein of the pop and psychedelic pop that was all the rage back then. There are a couple of tracks, though, that would be right at home on a Deep Purple album of that time period, and one song is positively ELP-esque, so Glover was obviously drawing on several influences. It says a lot for Glover that he wrote or co-wrote the entire album, produced it, and convinced many of the leading British rockers of the time to take part.

There are several songs on this album that I really like. The first track, “Dawn”, is all synths, and first few seconds make you wonder the direction of this album, but it resolves into what you think it would be. Track two, “Get Ready”, is a nice little rocker that gets you in the flow for what is to come. “Old Blind Mole” is barely over a minute but its a cool song, with a half spoken, half sung delivery over tablas and finger snaps. Its almost what you imagine a beat poet reading would be. I really like “No Solution”, another straight ahead rocker with a horn section and a message about pollution and the damage that mankind was doing more than 40 years ago. Lastly, “Sir Maximus Mouse” rails against the evils of commercialism and letting a mind for business  take precedence over any other concerns.

This album is really surprising and the more you listen the more you get out of it. There's a lot of meat to these songs and you can hear how this seemingly innocuous work based on a children's poem really tackles some of the larger concerns of its time. And there are some damn fine performances here to boot. Ronnie Dio could have been a straight up pop singer if the heavy metal thing hadn't worked out, but I think we're all glad that it did. For me, this is a lost gem of the 70's and I'm glad I dug it out of the discount bin. This will provide some great listening time and time again.

-ODIN




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