KESTREL - Kestrel

For some reason I always thought that Kestrel were a folk-rock band in the vein of Lindisfarne, but on hearing this CD re-issue of their sole album I realise just how wrong I was. What we have is a fine progressive rock band, formed in Whitley Bay in the summer of 1971, and recording their only album a couple of years later. Influences include Yes, Santana, Focus, and Genesis - in fact many of the classic prog bands of the 70's. Guitarist Dave Black composed the lion's share of the songs, and with the band including keyboards and mellotron their influences are easy to spot. 'The Acrobat' opens the album with the twisting melody and time changes loved of progressive bands, and Tom Knowles vocals perfectly enhance the song. Quite jazzy in places, and with an a cappella chorus it sets the scene for the rest of the album. 'Wind Cloud' and 'I Believe In You' are a couple of more commercial pieces, but for 'In The War' they pull out some of their best jazz licks and give the mellotron its head, making for another great song. 'August Carol' ends the album in fine style with some searing guitar-work on another progressive gem, making it all the more frustrating that I did not try this album much, much earlier. Don't make the same mistake as I did.