The Best Prog Bands You’ve Never Heard Of (Part Eight)


This next band is from a place not too far from my home state of Connecticut- New Jersey.  In 1976, six guys from the Garden State formed Mirthrandir (a happy Gandalf?) and released their first and only album, For You the Old Women.  It’s a shame they never released another, because this album features top notch musicianship.  Mirthrandir was composed of: John Vislocky III (vocals, trumpet), James Miller (bass, flute), Richard Excellente (guitar), Alexander Romanelli (guitar), Simon Gannett (keyboards), and Robert Arace (drums).  With six talented and versatile musicians, Mirthrandir was bound to put forth an excellent album-and they did. No two songs sound alike, thanks in part to the diverse harmonies produced by trumpet, flute, and two guitars.  The group certainly created a distinct sound: an amalgam of Starcastle and Gentle Giant.  Mirthrandir mixed the Yes-like (and more accessible) sound of the former with the complexity and versatility of the latter, creating a fantastic album.  Here is a brief review and description of each song:

For You the Old Women– the first song on the album bursts forth with energy, smoothly transitions to a more tranquil mood, then picks up the pace again; solid drum work by Arace throughout the piece

Conversation With Personality Giver– another quirky title for a quirky album; explosive opening featuring a barrage of drums and keys; fine bass work from Miller

Light of the Candle– shortest, most accessible, and most “radio friendly” song on the album, yet it is as complex as all the other pieces; great guitar work from both guitarists

Number Six– wonderful flute intro for this fun, rocking instrumental piece; great work on the trumpet from Vislocky; keys and synthesizer sound similar to Richard Tandy’s work (of ELO fame)

For Four– sadly the last song on the album, but the best; a sweeping epic featuring great keyboard, bass, and guitar work

Few bands (even in the progressive realm) featured both trumpet and flute in their repertoire, but Mirthrandir pulled it off with amazing dexterity.  Unfortunately, like so many other under appreciated prog rock bands, they produced only one album.  The band did reform in 2005, however, and played at BajaProg in 2006 and ProgDay in 2008.  I suggest giving Mirthrandir’s fine album your undivided attention.  You won’t regret it.  Here’s For You the Old Women:

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