Greg Northrup    6-August-2001 Garden Shed

The only problem with England's magnificent Garden Shed is that it was released about five years too late. Granted, England's style is not particularly original, being not much more than a supremely enjoyable amalgamation of Yes and Genesis, except that Garden Shed truly lives up to some of the strongest works by those two bands. This is phenomenal English symphonic prog, truly inspired and immaculately performed.

"Midnight Madness" already opens the album in fine form, with some bright rhythmic work and vocals that sound, fittingly, like a mix of Peter Gabriel and Jon Anderson. Occasionally, the rest of the band will jump in with complementary vocal harmonies that further remind one of Yes. "All Alone" is a fairly short ballad that actually sounds extremely reminiscent of Queen. "Three Piece Suite" is a prog mini-epic running at about thirteen minutes, an extremely enjoyable track with some phenomenal sections. "Paraffinalea" has a great vocal melody and has a whimsical English feel that would not have sounded particularly out of place on Selling England by the Pound. The real gem however is the phenomenal "Poisoned Youth", the album's centerpiece as well as the most unique track on the album. The song is much darker in tone than the rest and includes utterly amazing moments scattered throughout its sixteen minutes.

Basically, if you're familiar with Yes and Genesis you know what this sounds like. It's an extremely good album, not particularly original but also not overly derivative either. Make no mistake, this does not approach the more hard-edged cloning tendencies of the neo-progressive movement, rather Garden Shed is a firmly 70s symphonic album with beautifully textured arrangements. Due to the relative obscurity of this album, it's not surprising that this gem has been dubbed a true "lost classic" by many. Personally, I wouldn't go so far as to call it a classic, but it's definitely a superb late 70s release that must have gotten lost in the shuffle of progressive rock as a commercially viable entity.

Sjef Oellers 3-Mar-2001 Garden Shed

For this band, I think the term "Genesis clone" is safe. That said, one has to admit that England lay down an excellent album of Genesis-styled symphonic rock. Occasionally they also remind me of Yes (especially some vocal sections), but overall you will have the feeling that you are listening to (late) Gabriel-era Genesis. Well done, but the lack of originality gets on my nerves at times.

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