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Craft — First Signs (Definitive Edition)
(Explore Rights Management ExM020, 1984/2021, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-09-20

First Signs (Definitive Edition) Cover art

The early 80s must have been a tough time to be a member of a band like The Enid, known for a decidedly symphonic, though not entirely reverent, take on rock music. After being with The Enid since 1979, William Gilmour and Martin Russell decided to go their own way and form Craft with drummer Grant McKay Gilmour. Rather than aiming at a more popular style than their former band, they doubled down on the keyboard-centric symphonic elements, both handling keyboards and Russell contributing bass. Their self-titled album came out in 1984 and was promptly ignored by most of the world. I certainly never heard of it until this reissue (but then The Enid wasn’t really on my radar until much later either). The decades have been kind to Craft, now titled First Signs and packaged with eight tracks that weren’t on the original LP. Free of the stylistic prejudices of the mid-80s, Craft is revealed as a really fine album, full of engaging compositions credited to William Gilmour and Martin Russell. The musicianship is really solid, and the production is excellent, mercifully free of some of the less appealing aspects of the decade. As a unifying theme, they chose the signs of the zodiac, presenting six tracks. I don’t know if the original plan was to produce a second album with the other six, but the revised title, First Signs, implies that such might have been the case. The original album’s six tracks are combined with two tracks that appeared on the first CD issue of the album, remixed versions of the album tracks, and two new tracks which had never been released before. I’m guessing that anyone familiar with this album would love to hear this new version, as it sounds amazing. For listeners who haven’t heard it before, it’s a bit like a Rick Wakeman instrumental album without the over-the-top technical displays or the forays into ragtime and old-time rock and roll. As to the 1989 remixes of the six main tracks, I’m not sure they’re necessary, as the originals sound so good, but there was room on the CD, so I guess they might as well be included. In any case, any fan of good keyboard-centered melodic music should relish this chance to pick up a nearly-overlooked gem.

Filed under: Archives, 2021 releases, 1984 recordings

Related artist(s): Craft


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