Last year, I reviewed The Last Great Adventurer by classic British progressive rock band, Galahad, and this was accompanied by an interview with Stuart Nicholson, which can both be viewed by visiting my website at .

About 12 months later, the band have released The Long Goodbye, an album for which the word thoughtful falls a long way short. This band started off in 1985, those heady days of a renewal of British progressive rock, and 38 years later are making music every bit as relevant as then.
I am going to concentrate in this review in detail on two tracks, before giving an overview of the remainder of this essential purchase. I have had a couple of weeks listening now since the CD plopped through the door, and it simply gets better with each listen.

I will start with the title track. This is a band composition musically (so, Stu Nicholson vocals, Dean Baker keys, Spencer Luckman drums, Lee Abraham whose guitar work has never sounded better, and Mark Spencer bass), with the deeply personal lyrics provided by Nicholson and boy do they ooze with emotion.
The track deals with that medical scourge of our age, dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease to give it its formal title, which is better because there are different types. My late father-in-law had dementia with Lewes Bodies, which is very similar to Parkinson’s Disease, and his lucidity was kept alive by the medication he had, albeit alongside some extremely frightening nightmares. We cared for him at home, but he did go into care homes for respite periods, and he was usually (incorrectly) placed in the dementia wards, and the sight of once healthy and vibrant human beings disappear into an internal fog and essentially lose their self was heartbreaking. Nicholson obviously has seen this at first hand, and his words are so poignant that they leave you stunned.

Included in the words is a tribute to Peter Gabriel, with lyrics from that classic “Melt” album, now 43 long years old:
“I don’t remember, I don’t recall
I got no memory of anything at all
Anything at all”

The only words after this are “goodnight, goodbye, goodbye” repeated in choral impact against a backdrop of the most incredible music. I looked at the band’s website this morning whilst preparing to finish this review, and they have posted a link to a fan’s video of the track, so impressed with it were they. I share that admiration, and you can see it at I defy anyone with a questing mind and passionate heart to fail to be moved by the old man in his chair, with his mass of jumbled thoughts running through his head, and suddenly everything goes blank as he sits slumped in the hairdresser’s salon.
Musically, this is one which builds up. The dystopian effects and words regarding the wiring inside him becoming faulty are devastatingly effective before the piece expands, with Baker’s keys especially prominent set against a rumbling rhythm section.

After Gabriel’s words, the epic extended instrumental kicks in with a lovely acoustic guitar followed by some achingly beautiful orchestration. This six minutes of music has, in a very short space of time, become one of those “if you could name your top five all-time favourite tracks, what would they be?” responses. The musicianship from this collective, the emotions wrung out of their instruments and voices simply takes the breath away. It also really defies words, so before you click on that video, let me simply say that if Galahad never record anything again (and one hopes very much they do), they have imprinted a classic, something impossible to categorise excepting as genius. It is a piece which will stay with me for as long as I have on this earth. Enjoy.

I am sat in the same room as the love of my life. There are tears in my eyes. How could anyone fail to be moved by that man blowing a kiss to his love, that staggering guitar piece, and Nicholson’s final words?

The other track I would like to discuss in detail is, in fact, a bit of a departure from usual practice on this website, in that it is a “bonus track”. I must be honest when I say I have never really seen the point of these “bonuses”. If music is good enough to be on an album, and both here are, why not simply market them as part of said album? It must be me, because it seems everybody is at it, presumably to persuade the dear old punter that they are getting something for nothing.

The two on the CD (the digital version is not released yet, so I do not know yet if they will be on that), are Darker Days and Open Water. The former is a decent rock track with dark techno washing all over it and a very catchy chorus showing the band have lost none of their commercial sensibilities. The latter, though, is a snorter.
Open Water is a Galahad Electric Company track (from When The Battle Is Over, released in 2020), that offshoot of Nicholson and Baker’s. There is an official video for this at The cello is particularly evocative. Nicholson’s vocals are full of feeling, tuneful, mournful, and he sounds as good as he ever has in a track which portrays fear and fragility before the strong sense of self reasserts itself at the end on dry land. Baker shines on the piano in my personal ballad of the year.

And so, to the remainder of this fine album. Behind The Veil Of A Smile is a strong opener which deals with betrayal by a friend, and, again, it really must be stressed that Nicholson continues to do what he does so well, namely write words which resonate with real-life experience. We went into business with a so-called friend a few years back, and his conduct and betrayal were a disgrace, behind the veil of his particular smile, so this one has a bit of a personal meaning to this listener. Baker’s effects on this are impressive, as are the crunching drums produced by Luckhurst just over three minutes in, and the six minutes as a whole race along on a track which, if it had a single version, would not be out of place on a decent commercial radio station.

There is an innate sadness lyrically to Everything’s Changed, talking about a life changing moment caused, as many are, by innocuous actions such as leaving an envelope on the mantelpiece to be opened by someone who should never see its contents. There are some more of those pulsing techno notes (quite why some critics continue to lazily call Galahad “neo-prog” is completely beyond me) and, indeed, this is a track which I think wouldn’t sound out of place on a Numan or Foxx album, very much a complement, incidentally. The bass grooves are wonderful, the drums push matters along nicely, and Abraham produces some excellent ghostly guitar notes. The closing forty seconds are an orchestral delight.

Shadow In The Corner follows. There is more of that deep electronica feel to Baker’s work, and this is a brooding rocker.

Politically, there has never, sadly, been a more appropriate time for The Righteous and the Damned. The nightly news and the following morning’s newspapers are deeply depressing at the moment, with, as is usual, the innocent being the victims of assorted lunatics, megalomaniacs, elected leaders who should know better, and those whose ticket to eternal damnation is surely booked. The track opens with a nod to 2007’s Empires Never Last before the main event itself starts with an Eastern European folk flavour, appropriately enough given what is going on there. The track then expands into a more traditional western rock number, with Nicholson ranting against these people to great effect. As the “lies, lies, lies, lies” passage takes root, you close your eyes and visualise Nicholson jumping across the stage in costume left to right and back again in the best theatrical tradition. Very enjoyable, but a track which reminds you of the horrors wrought on our fellow humans every time you listen to it.

When Galahad first started performing, it was an exciting time for us twenty-something progressive music fans. There was a set of very exciting British bands who refused to apologise for making intelligent and extended music, but also took into their orbit some of the musical lessons learned during the punk, new wave, and new romantic period. Back then, we were full of it, emotionally, socially, and politically. Sadly, as far as the last bit is concerned, we still have cause, as Nicholson does, to rant and despair at the evil wrought on us by inadequate men (and it is mainly men, I am afraid). Bands such as Marillion, IQ, Pallas, Pendragon, and Galahad spoke to us as slightly geeky young men.

Galahad are a band who have truly progressed, certainly in their sound. What comes across so strongly, though, in this fine work is the fact that they are just as relevant in 2023 as they were back then. If you have not purchased this fine album yet, do so. Not to be streamed but owned. As good an album as you are likely to hear this year.