Gracious was an English symphonic/art-rock band that released a self-titled album on Vertigo in 1970, followed by This is…Gracious!! on Phillips in 1971. Each album contained one multi-movement sidelong suite and four short-to-medium-length songs and instrumentals. The band had already split by the time their second album hit the shelves. Drummer Tim Wheatley later surfaced in rustic-rockers Taggett.
Members: Alan Cowderoy (guitar), Sandy Davis (vocals), Robert Lipson (drums), Martin Kitcat (keyboards, 1968-71), Mark Laird (bass, 1968-69), Tim Wheatley (bass, 1969-71), Chris Brayne (drums, 1971)
In 1965, students Alan Cowderoy (guitar) and Paul ‘Sandy’ Davis (drums, vocals) assembled the beat group Satan’s Disciples — quickly shortened to The Disciples — which performed covers of the day’s pop hits for fellow Esther pupils. Other members passed through the lineup as the band outgrew the school circuit and progressed into blues and psych-rock. By 1968, the band included keyboardist Martin Kitcat, bassist Rick Laird, and drummer Robert Lipson, whose presence allowed Davis to concentrate on vocals. They changed their name to Gracious at the insistence of manager David Booth.
In 1968, Gracious toured with The Who and drew the interest of producer Norrie Paramor (Cliff Richard & The Shadows), who arranged a recording session with Tim Rice at the helm. The band recorded some early Davis/Kitcat originals, including a suite based on the four seasons. However, the only release to show for this liaison is the Polydor single “Beautiful” (b/w “Oh What a Lovely Rain”). When Laird left the band in 1969, roadie Tim Wheatley assumed the bass slot.
Gracious released their self-titled debut album in 1970 on Vertigo’s legendary “swirl” label. It features five songs, the bulk of side two claimed by the multi-movement suite “The Dream” (16:58). Davis plays timpani and 12-string in addition to vocals while Kitcan handles an arsenal of keyboards (Mellotron, piano, electric piano, harpsichord). The album was produced by Hugh Murphy (Jody Grind, Justine, Gerry Rafferty, Stray, Diabolus, Sunday) and engineered by Roger Wake (The Move, Czar, Cochise, Linda Hoyle, Beggars Opera, Nucleus).
The slanted exclamation mark that graces the cover was affixed to the Gracious nameplate. The image is credited to Teenburger Designs (Cressida, Brinsley Schwarz, Red Dirt, Quintessence), the novice firm of Barney Bubbles. The inner-fold depicts a giant pink stripper crawling through marble walls.
1971: This is…Gracious!!
Spirits soured in the Gracious camp when Vertigo rejected their second album. This is…Gracious!! was ultimately released on Philips in 1971 after the group disbanded. Side one features the four-part suite
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