Andy John Bradford’s Oceans 5 “Return to Mingulay”

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Yes, the title is a mouthful, but Andy John Bradford and his band Oceans 5 are awesome. In fact, I think Return to Mingulay is my favorite album of 2013. Their sound hearkens back to the British rock of the 1970s, with a calmer, thoughtful progressive feel to it. The band is made up of Andy John Bradford, a British folk singer/songwriter/solo artist, on vocals and 12 string guitar, Colin Tench on lead guitars, Stef Flaming on bass guitar, Marco Chiappini on keyboards, and Victor Tassone on drums. Originally, these guys got together to just make one song, “The Mingulay Boat song.” This song is a 200 year old song that Andy John Bradford wanted to perform in a new and unprecedented way, and he certainly accomplished that. In doing so, they discovered that as a group, they really clicked. And so, Oceans 5 and Return to Mingulay were born. Their website describes the process of creating Oceans 5:

When you think of Progressive music, you are unlikely to imagine a 200 year old tune with sea shanty lyrics. However this is what Folk Singer/Songwriter Andy John Bradford had in mind when he approached Progressive musician Colin Tench from Bunchakeze and Corvus Stone with the idea. The band actually formed around this one song. Despite the fact that they were all busy with their own bands already, more ideas kept flying backwards and forwards. Andy has a great feel for songwriting and Oceans 5 have proved to be rather good at twisting those songs into a whole new form. From bouncy and silly to epic rock. The 9 songs add up to one hell of an album that even the band members never imagined at the start of this.

 The album flows out of “The Mingulay Boat Song,” with many images and themes from the sea evoked. The ocean themes are fitting, as Mingulay is an island off the coast of Scotland. Originally an island inhabited by fisherman, Mingulay was abandoned in 1912; thus the title, Return to Mingulay. Their sound recalls the sounds of the sea, and it also recalls the sounds of Pink Floyd, The Strawbs, David Gilmour, and even Big Big Train. There are many Gilmouresque guitar riffs and solos throughout the album. The biggest connection to Pink Floyd, however, is the appearance of Lorelei McBroom on arguably the album’s best song, “6000 Friends.” (Lorelei McBroom is known for touring with Pink Floyd, and is most recognizable on the Dark Side of the Moon’s “The Great Gig in the Sky.”) The song addresses the issue of technology and online “friends” versus reality and real friendships. While the song may feel out of place amongst the rest of the album, it fits by creating a juxtaposition of the older, sea shanty type songs with the problems of the new technological era. Overall, the music relaxes the listener, much like The Dark Side of the Moon or Wish You Were Here. The music probably fits best into the genre of Progressive Folk Rock, mainly because of its overall theme of the sea. Throughout the album, it feels like this music could not have been produced in 2013. Return to Mingulay honestly sounds and feels like something produced in the 1970s in what many consider to be the golden age of prog. It would not be out of the ordinary to hear Genesis, Pink Floyd, or even Jethro Tull play some of these songs. Andy John Bradford and Oceans 5 have created an excellent masterpiece that should be considered one of the best albums of 2013. I look forward to seeing more from them. 

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18 thoughts on “Andy John Bradford’s Oceans 5 “Return to Mingulay”

  1. John Deasey

    I’ve had this album since release and it’s a wonderfully joyous listen …. sometimes the ‘folksy’ vibe gets a bit too much, but overall it’s a raucous, sea-shanty-esque belter played at loud volume …. cracking stuff :-))

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    1. We really hoped we got a good balance and not kill the folk base of it. I am no fan of folk and love the result. The album slowly becomes King Crimson by the very end tho. Ha ha. Thank you everyone! Yes play loud.

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  2. I am listening to this The Episode of the Year – January 14, 2014
    Tom insists you listen to this chat with Brad Birzer, co-founder of Progarchy.com.
    This is a great listen!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I will tell everyone to take a listen. Such a positive and fun conversation Brad!

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      1. Hi Brad, thanks for the reply. One can clearly hear you both are happy talking to each other. I loved the fact that you mentioned 70’s music (the bands mentioned happen to be my favourites too, inc. Genesis Gabriel era) and thereafter said that there are many good recent bands of which some these current ones might be even “better” because although they bring back that old prog, reminiscent from that era, they equally progressed since then. The show was so fun and insightful to listen; in fact the time passed too quickly, 30min felt too short hahaha 🙂

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      1. Hi Bryan, thank you very much for that huge compliment, it means a lot to me. You are very good at describing the album, very creative and most articulate, the reader clearly will have a very good feel for the music in the album and its concept.

        I see that you like history 🙂 so do I! The music from this album inspired me so much, I also did a lot of research regarding the history of The Outer Hebrides and fell in love with the whole place. Such a beautiful, mystical place, from Vikings who ruled that place thereafter in 15th century ruled by Clan McNeil, all very interesting, taking me back trying to imagine how life was like before during the 18th century when The Barra Isles inc. Mingulay were inhabited, everything revolved around shipping, all ships departed from there to America. This sea route equally played a big rule during world war 2, all ships went from there in convoy to America to received and supply goods, they were protected during the convoy by the navy against U-boats. Ok I must stop now because I can go on and write a whole encyclopaedia about the place, the stories, the myths etc. hehehe ….
        Again, thank you very much, for your very kind and big compliment.

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  3. WOW Thank you for this review. As the man behind forming the band ans the singing, it was always a dream to be able to create something like this and with the likes of Colin and the other members of the band, I think we have produced something to be really proud of. It only strengthens our resolve to make more when we read reviews like this 🙂 haha

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  4. Marco Chiappini

    Thank you so much, this is a great review! I am so glad I am part of the Ocean 5 family and to sail across the world with ducks and funny noises. I can never be thankful enough for all the love you are showing us!

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  5. Pingback: Corvus Stone II – A Belated Review | Progarchy: Pointing toward Proghalla

  6. Pingback: Another Belated Review (Sorry Colin): Corvus Stone Unscrewed | Progarchy

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