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Back in the 1970's the term 'concept album' was very popular and covered everything from the loose concept of Sergeant Pepper to the fully dexterity of Tommy and everything in-between. Roger Glover's The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast certainly fits somewhere in-between these two. Glover was / is the bass player for Deep Purple and this was his first ambitious solo effort - the first of four to date. It certainly isn't a small scale album in the slightest - it's a full blown rock opera.
Originally conceived as a project for Jon Lord, Butterfly Ball is based on a short poem that was produced into a children's book by Alan Aldridge. The album was supposed to form the basis for an animated feature which eventually did not materialise, but the songs here form the basis for the story. Glover managed to get his friends from Purple to help with the album - specifically Ian Gillan, David Coverdale as well as Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio.
From my initial introduction you might think that the album is going to be hard, heavy rock, but you would be wrong. The album covers so many bases and as a soundtrack to a proposed cartoon it works incredibly well. Actually, songs like Harlequin Hare and Saffron Doormouse wouldn't be out of place on the Mary Poppins soundtrack! But that's not detrimental by any sense of the word, its because this album is so full and brimming with ideas and elements that actually makes it so good.
The whole album segues into one nicely and each song is well crafted. Standout tracks include the beautiful 'Fly Away' and 'Waiting' which are soulful classics. Its amazing really that the songs are so good seeing as they are basically just about spiders, moles, moths and butterflies!
I was initially quite worried about the album when I first started this week because the first track 'Dawn' reminded me a lot of the god-awful Dr Who incidental music from the Tom Baker era. There is that symphonic, synthesised sound which is quite dated, but on the whole you wouldn't expect anything else.
Other highlights included the brilliant blues inspired 'Old Blind Mole' and 'Sir Maximus Mouse' which distorts Ian Gillan's voice really cleverly - you just have to hear it to understand what I mean here, but fans of Purp will certainly get it.
Of course, being a massive Coverdale fan I really got the album and found out about it down to his vocals on 'Behind the Smile'. Its a very restrained performance on which he sounds very much like a rock god Peter O'Toole. Dio also turns in a great restrained vocal performance.
I really loved The Butterfly Ball. Its a fantastic opera which is brimming with great ideas. No song goes on too long and although its dated - its a perfect time capsule of 70's rock. Almost forgotten nowadays - it IS a lost classic.
* "Dawn" (Glover) 1.21
* "Get Ready" (Glover) 2.06
* "Saffron Dormouse and Lizzy Bee" (Glover) 1.25
* "Harlequin Hare" (Glover/Dio/Soule) 1.26
* "Old Blind Mole" (Glover) 1.11
* "Magician Moth" (Glover) 1.33
* "No Solution" (Glover) 3.28
* "Behind The Smile" (Glover) 1.46
* "Fly Away" (Glover) 2.22
* "Aranea" (Glover) 1.37
* "Sitting In A Dream" (Glover) 3.40
* "Waiting" (Glover) 3.11
* "Sir Maximus Mouse" (Glover) 2.35
* "Dreams of Sir Bedievere" () 4.09
* "Together Again" (Glover/Dio/Soule) 2.05
* "Watch Out For The Bat" (Glover) 1.41
* "Little Chalk Blue" (Glover/Hardin) 3.44
* "The Feast" (Glover) 1.48
* "Love Is All" (Glover/Hardin) 3.14
* "Homeward" (Glover/Hardin) 4.12
Butterfly Ball is available now for £7.17 from amazon.co.uk