It's very true, Gravy Train were never considered as a 'top shelf' prog act, but they have given us some memorable moments (I'm not familiar with 'Second Birth, but own the other 3 LP's) - with 'Staircase To The Day' we have a stunning Roger Dean gatefold sleeve to enhance the listening experience, which may contain some vocal short-comings (Norman has a rather abrasive quality to his voice, and he is often very passionate in his delivery, this makes his vox quite an acquired taste).
Opening with the dynamic track 'Starbright Starlight', it suggests that the listener may have a winning hand with this album. Pete Solley's synth work being a treat, and the tune itself quite memorable. 'Bring My Life on Back To Me' is a rather standard tune, but Norman sings in a very emotionally distraught fashion, you almost feel his anguish and disappointment, his pain....or is it just painful to listen to ?? 'Never Wanted You' is an excellent tune featuring some odd meters and mellotron (always exciting prog embellishments) and finishing the first side is the beautiful title song - 7 and a half minutes of prog bliss, with Mary Zinovieff (possibly related to Peter Zinovieff of E.M.S. London ??) on synthesizer.
'Going For A Quick One' starts off with a decent riff leading into one hard-rockin' tune with more of Solley's synth work - the backing vocals by the 'Gospel Ayres' gives it a commercial touch though. 'The Last Day' is a light tune with some nice flute playing, but lacks excitement, 'Evening of my Life' is a pretty, piano driven ballad and closing track 'Busted In Schenectady' is quite an epic, full of heavy riffing, exceptional guitar playing, and even some shimmering electric violin.
Norman Barratt (guitar, vocals)
Barry Davenport (drums)
J.D. Hughes (keyboards, vocals, wind instruments)
Lester Williams (bass, vocals)
1 Starbright Starlight
2 Bring My Life on Back to Me
3 Never Wanted You
4 Staircase to the Day
5 Going for a Quick One
6 The Last Day
7 Evening of My Life
8 Busted in Schenectady
A great album. If you love the catchy and melodic Prog "Staircase To The Day" is a perfect album. Not perfect because the songs are great but perfect because the atmospheres are great!!! In my opinion this album deserves increase consideration. Yes, is true, the production not helped this situation, today is only one of the more good 70's Prog albums. But the atmospheres... Ethereal, rarified, sweets... And the songs..? Maybe, I think yhat the songs aren't bad at all. Correctly: The songs are good because wrote for the atmospheres. That are too come for pure case. But this is the magical art of "Staircase To The Day". "Starbright Starlight" is my preferred song. A correctly balance of emotions and Prog. But this is this album. And I conclude this review with a good consideration: "Staircase To The Day" is a dreaming album.
Rip from CD 256@ (full artwork included)