Cathedral - Stained Glass Stories (1978, US, great Yes / Crimson sound, Syn-Phonic CDrip, flac, cue, log, artwork)

Around 1978 Progressive Rock was suffering their first crisis and the iconic British bands were leaning more and more towards AOR and later POP, but in USA an obscure band named CATHEDRAL, dared to release one of the most elaborate Symphonic albums I ever heard.

"Stained Glass Stories" ´resents us a complex blending of YES and KING CRIMSON styles, as if somebody was blending "Relayer" with "Lark's Tongues in Aspic", in a style that sounds almost as ANGLAGARD would do 15 years later.

Even when Tom Doncourt does a great work with the keyboards and the rhythm section formed by the drummer Mercury Caronia IV and Fred Callan in the bass works as a perfectly oiled machine, the star of the band is Rudy Perrone, who manages to combine the radically different styles of Steve Howe and King Crimson, to create a unique and incredibly strong sound very hard to imitate.

But a review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the peculiar vocals by Paul Seal, who creates dissonances in the vein of Derek Schulman but much more controlled and respectful of the melody, simply an excellent band without a weak spot.

The album starts with "Introspect", a 12 minutes epic that after a short and melodic intro, changes radically into some sort of "wall of sound" where the constant and aggressive keyboards collision with the different moods that the guitar keeps adding, the multiple changes are absolutely radical and shocks the listener with some sort of "Relayer" meets "Lark's Tongues in Aspic " with vocals from "In a Glass House" pure Progressive Rock at it's best.

"Gong" is even more adventurous than the opener,. this time they jump from acoustic to electric guitar with incredible skills, and the Mellotron adds a bit of GENESIS atmosphere, but with a much more elaborate and complex structure.

"The Crossing" is the shorter and the closer CATHEDRAL gets to GENTLE GIANT, with an incredibly crafted vocal work that creates a "troubadouresque" atmosphere only broken by the lush keyboards and the aggressive guitars.

The last two tracks "Days & Changes" and "The Search" privilege the melody over the extreme complexity of the first three songs, but still the sound is absolutely unique and adventurous.

Surprisingly, this excellent band almost vanished in the thin air, and it's only after 29 years that we would see a second album in the stores, just when nobody expected it.

As rarely happens, I have no problem with the rating, because if a band releases a brilliant album, with a unique sound and not a single weak moment, I don't have any other alternative than go for the 5 stars.

I recommend "Stained Glass Stories" without hesitation.
(~progarchives) by Ivan_Melgar_M

Cathedral - Gong

01.Introspect 12:39
02.Gong 07:00
03.The Crossing 05:59
04.Days & Changes 08:39
05.The Search 11:24

- Mercury Caronia IV / drums, percussion
- Fred Callan / bass, bass pedals
- Paul Seal / lead vocals, percussion, bass pedals
- Tom Doncourt / keyboards, percussion
- Rudy Perrone / 6 and 12 string guitar, vocals

(Rip and Scans by gigic2255)

Link: 308 mb/file

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  1. Apparently from Long Island, New York (our guess given their album was recorded in New York’s Delta Studios)Co-produced by Caronia and Bernard Zimney, 1978′s “Stained Glass Stories” featured five original extended pieces.
    Group penned, material such as the title track and “Introspect” was very much in keeping with the likes of better known contemporaries such as Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson and Yes. Propelled by Callan’s nifty bass (his bass patterns are so prominent they give Chris Squire a run for his money) and Doncroft’s occasionally clumsy synthesizers, the album featured a series of largely instrumental numbers that sported rather complex and intricate arrangements. Perhaps not the most original set of the year, musically the material was quite good, instrumentals such as “Gong” and “Days & Changes” sporting strong and attractive melodies (guitarist Perone’s playing gave the latter effort a distinctive resemblance to the Yes catalog). Somewhat less inspired were the pompous lyrics and Seal’s voice. At least one review we’ve seen compared Seal to Gentle Giant’s Derek Shulman. To our ears he sounds more like ELP’s Greg Lake with a bad head cold. Seals limited range and a penchant for pushing his voice beyond it’s capabilities left something to be desired. The set also suffers from a slightly dull production sound – turn up the volume and blame it on limited recording funds. In spite of those flaws, if you’re into 70s progressive moves, the set’s well worth tracking down, though you may think twice given the asking price.

    The album is loaded with Mellotron, the band used the small white M400 model, and they tended to use a lot of that choir sound (like what you hear on Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway).

    Stained Glass Stories was originally released on the Delta label, which was a very small label. Very few copies of the original LP were made, so it will run you in the three digit price range. Luckily it’s been reissued, by Syn-Phonic. Regardless, I think this album is a real masterpiece, and perhaps the greatest prog rock album to come out of the USA.

    Cathedral’s first and only album “Stained Glass Stories” is the definitive American symphonic progressive rock release for many people. It’s a very complex album that takes quite some listens to get fully into. Their influences was the traditional stuff (Yes, Genesis and King Crimson) but they were able to create a style and sound of their own, and they were undoubtedly a big inspiration for Änglag?rd when that band recorded and released their legendary “Hybris”-album 15 years later. The opening track “Introspect” was a 12-minute journey that goes from atmospheric and melodic beauty to distorted and noisy parts. The mellotron was used in a quite original and often disharmonic way. The superb and powerful bass-work of Fred Callan was mixed very much in front of the music, and drummer Mercury Caronia IV contributed with lots of complex and original drumming, using a very large battery. The tasty guitar-playing of Rudy Perrone was clearly inspired by Steve Howe, and you can hear this especially on the instrumental “Gong”. The only weak link in the band was singer Paul Seal who sounded like a strained and weaker version of John Wetton. But it’s really not much to care about, as the focus of the music is on the instrumental side most of the time. The only exceptions are “The Crossing” and the excellent closing-number “The Search” that features some of the strongest melodies on the album. “Days & Changes” is an amusing demonstration of how many different ways you can play a simple and atmospheric theme. “Stained Glass Stories” was ignored upon its release due to the time and period, but has now got the attention and respect it deserves from progressive rock fans.

  2. The first track, “Introspect” begins with a calm intro that lasts for about 45 seconds before exploding with outstanding guitar/Mellotron interplay that provides one of the album’s best moments, although it’s over rather quickly, replaced by a mellow but likeable vocal section, which after a while makes way for tribal-sounding drums and bass riffs; these in turn lead into further interplay with intricate arrangements and a somewhat ominous atmosphere. Unfortunately, the moody melodic part that follows the strange-sounding Mellotron interlude is ruined by the weak, inexpressive vocals , but the following sections make up for this shortcoming with more great ideas and playing. The first several minutes generally constitute the stronger part of the song, but it’s as a great an opener as one could hope for.
    Following “Introspect” is “Gong”, an instrumental number and probably my favorite on the album, mainly because of the superb sinister section guided by Doncourt’s ominous organ work that occurs in the early part of the track. But it has lots more to offer, from the sweet, mellow guitar riff that is repeated throughout to the great transition sections, and is a towering achievement of 70s prog.
    “The Crossing” would have to be the weakest song on the album, although it’s not bad at all. A choral arrangement opens the song, unfortunately followed by an annoying funky section; it’s redeemed, once again, by the tasteful guitars and keyboards, just not to the point where it can compete with the rest of “Stained Glass Stories”.
    The album gets back on track with “Days and Changes”, although it too starts in a somewhat disheartening fashion as the singer decides to open the track unaccompanied. Perhaps I’m too harsh on the guy – after all, he does have a fine voice and could’ve been a capable singer had he taken some proper vocal training; unfortunately, it appears that he hadn’t , and the results aren’t satisfying. But soon the music takes over with a mighty guitar riff , once again displaying the bands ability to pull outstanding ideas out the ass. The song continues meandering through various impressive parts, ranging from Yes-like melodies to jazz guitar interludes, and is another majestic prog number.
    Finally, we have “The Search” , an epic track that certainly doesn’t disappoint . It begins with Perrone bouncing tasty guitar fills off Doncourt’s Mellotron, following which is a great verse section (I love how the tonality changes from light and optimistic to unexpectedly ominous ). From there we are treated to more great prog rock music, full of interesting, intricate ideas and great instrumentation, making the song a fine way to end a fantastic album.
    To sum things up, I repeat that while the “Stained Glass Stories” does have it’s shortcomings, it easily surpasses the vast majority of what most consider to be classics of prog rock. It’s a shame that these guys threw in the towel so early – I’m quite sure they had the potential for at least one more classic prog masterpiece,were trying to release a second unreleased album called “Epilogue”. 22 years later and it still remains in the vaults as the band couldn’t agree on terms.

    Gigic,perfect job!

  3. What a great album. I have both on CD and vinyl--good editions now in print from a US label/dist. I think this is the summit of 70s US prog or close to it!


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