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Mabel Greer's Toyshop – The Secret album review

Pre-Yes vets keep the fires burning.

mabel greer's toyshop

The death of guitarist Peter Banks in March 2013 was the catalyst for Clive Bayley and Bob Hagger to reform Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, some 45 years after the psych prog outfit morphed into Yes. Since then, with a line-up fleshed out by Max Hunt and Hugo Barré, the band have issued a new album and an EP of remastered numbers from 1967-68. The Secret once again plunders the past for inspiration, most poignantly on its title track, which Bayley has constructed around guitar parts bequeathed by Banks. Dedicated to Banks and Chris Squire, the song is a fitting testament to both mens’ legacies, shifting through atmospheric passages of depth, weight and daring. The other standout is Big Brother, Little Brother, a savage critique of the systematic destruction of Native American culture, Hagger laying down a crisp drum sound over which Hunt creates a heady swirl of keyboards and Bayley offers well-paced, erudite guitar lines. Elsewhere, Bayley draws from the classical realm (Tchaikovsky on Swan; Beethoven on Turning To The Light and Angel Sent) for a collection of seeker’s songs that tap into Sufi mysticism and the works of William Blake for their stately power.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.