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Articles Home » 2010 Articles » Wally - 2010 Montpellier
Wally - 2010 Montpellier

ALBUM: Montpellier
LABEL: Gonzo Multimedia
YEAR: 2010
CD REISSUE: Originally released in 2010 by Wally Music
SPONSOR: Gonzo Multimedia


LINEUP: Roy Webber - vocals, guitars * Paul Middleton - vocals, bass, slide guitar * Pete Sage - violin, mandolin, guitar * Roger Narroway - drums * Will Jackson - guitar, piano * Nick Glennie-Smith - keyboards * Frank Mizen - bass, pedal steel, guitar

Guests: Phil Dean - guitar 'Human' * Rob Reynolds - vocals 'Giving' * Teri Sullivan, Kate Peters - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Sailor * 02 Sister Moon * 03 Thrill Is Gone * 04 Surfing * 05 In The Night * 06 Human * 07 She Said * 08 Giving


WEBLINKS: www.wallymusic.co.uk

It's been a long time in between drinks for Yorkshire proggies Wally. Best known for their 1974 self titled album on major label Atlantic, the band didn't last long after that, and disappeared off into the sunset, only to return 36 years later befitting a second coming of sorts. Most of the original crew are back, with the addition of a few extras, one of which Will Jackson, has the added responsibility of producing the latest Wally offering 'Montpellier'. In fact, Roy Webber and Jackson put out an album together back in 2006 entitled 'What It Is', so their union was established before Wally's comeback. Though recently issued by UK label Gonzo Multimedia, the album was in fact released in 2010, despite Gonzo landing it two years later. Whereas the first Wally album was considered to be 'pastoral progressive' (not my quote, read it elsewhere), 'Montpellier' is a modern album but keeps true to 70's ideals and attributes. I'd like to think that you don't need a degree in progressive rock to understand what Wally are all about at the lyrical level. One look at the simplicity of the songtitles should be a clue as to their intentions. And though some of the songs are long, they don't bore you either. Yes, you'll need to play a couple of these tracks to bed into the consciousness, but that needn't be an onerous task. As much as I love Barclay James Harvest, Wally have now supplanted BJH as my fave Brit prog outfit at the moment, though no doubt that will change next week, month etc..

The Songs
If the debut was considered pastoral, then 'Montpellier' judging by the first track 'Sailor' should be considered 'coastal' or 'nautical'. We get sweeping synths and seagull calls suggesting a day at the beach. Eventually we get into the body of the song, an introspective piece that is both lush and lilting. It does pick up pace and energy through its 7 min 40s playing time, sort of like Pink Floyd in style and delivery.

'Sister Moon' is just as lush, a mournful tune though not without melody. The chorus stimulates, with rushing guitar chords and vocal harmonies. Very nice.

'Thrill Is Gone' takes on an organic flavour, in fact this is quite rock-oriented, with some gritty and grunt-laden guitar keeping it real.

Aah, a song about my favourite sport.. 'Surfing', though it sounds like it was recorded in a back-room somewhere. There is a lot of percussion and rhythmic parts, the vocals are more spoken word than singing - courtesy of Paul Middleton, but overall it sounds like a load of fun.

For something different, 'In The Night' is loaded with organ and twangy guitar, and is subdued mostly until the powerful chorus sets in, and from that point on, this song rides a wave of its own and careers off into the dark.

'Human' is another reflective piece with lyrics from Paul Middleton once again. His contributions act as a counterpoint to Webber's material which is more melodic and flowing.

'She Said' has a new country feel, with a hint of slide guitar thrown in for good measure. This one is very mellow and sounds like it was conceived in Nashville, though by songs end, Wally retrieve the situation and place their British prog/pop style back all over it.

The closer 'Giving' is sung by guest Rob Reynolds, and drifts on an easy melody, again with a hint of new country.. so perhaps that 'pastoral' label wasn't too far off the mark after all? lol!

In Summary
The tracks on this album are a combination of material that was originally earmarked for their unreleased third album for Atlantic back in 1975, plus some more recent collaborations among the band members. Even if it took 36 years to return to the public eye, Wally should be commended for giving it another go. Seeing this is a 2010 release, surely we must be in line to receive a 2012 offering? Let's hope it doesn't take another lengthy period of time to deliver a follow-up to this lovely slice of melodia.

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#1 | Eric on April 09 2012 12:46:19
Very good and happily not what I expected. With so many veteran bands taking on a 'heavy' direction these days, 'Montpelier' is a nice soft prog surprise.
#2 | Eric on April 12 2012 00:29:03
Sadly the Wounded Bird reissue of the Wally debut is out of print- glad I got my copy!
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