Home
reviews
album list
albums
Pallas, 'Arrive Alive'

Arrive Alive  (1981 cassette,  62.34)  *****/TTTTT

Five to Four
Queen of the Deep
Flashpoint
Heart Attack
Crown of Thorns
The Ripper

[later copies add:
Paris is Burning]
Pallas, 'Arrive Alive'

Arrive Alive  (1983 LP)  ****½/TTTT½

Arrive Alive
Heart Attack
Queen of the Deep
Crown of Thorns
The Ripper
Pallas, 'Arrive Alive'

Arrive Alive  (1998 CD,  73.57)  ****½/TTTT½

Five to Four (live)
Queen of the Deep (live)
Flashpoint (live)
The Ripper (live)
Crown of Thorns
Paris is Burning
The Hammer Falls
Stranger on the Edge of Time
Pallas, 'Paris is Burning'

Paris is Burning EP  (1983,  20.06)  ***/TTT

Paris is Burning
The Hammer Falls
Stranger on the Edge of Time
Pallas, 'The Sentinel'

The Sentinel  (1984 LP,  45.10)  ****½/TTTT½

Eyes in the Night (Arrive Alive)
Cut and Run

Rise and Fall
Shock Treatment
Ark of Infinity
Atlantis
Pallas, 'The Sentinel'

The Sentinel  (1992 CD,  57.31)  *****/TTTTT

Shock Treatment
Cut and Run
Arrive Alive

Rise and Fall (Part One)
East West
March on Atlantis

Rise and Fall (Part Two)
Heart Attack
Atlantis
Ark of Infinity
Pallas, 'Eyes in the Night' EP

Eyes in the Night EP  (1984,  18.33)  ****/TTT½

Eyes in the Night (Arrive Alive)
East West
Crown of Thorns
Pallas, 'Shock Treatment' EP

Shock Treatment EP  (1984,  17.50)  ****/TTT½

Shock Treatment
March on Atlantis
Heart Attack
Pallas, 'The Knightmoves' EP

The Knightmoves EP  (1985,  17.46)  ****/TTT

Strangers
Nightmare
Sanctuary
Pallas, 'The Wedge'

The Wedge  (1986,  38.29)  ***/T

Dance Through the Fire
Throwing Stones at the Wind
Win or Lose
The Executioner (Bernie Goetz a Gun)
A Million Miles Away (Imagination)
Ratracing
Just a Memory
Pallas, 'Throwing Stones at the Wind'

Throwing Stones at the Wind EP  (1986,  21.19)  ***/T

Throwing Stones at the Wind (extended mix)
Cut and Run (live)
Crown of Thorns (live)
Pallas, 'Live in Southampton'

Live in Southampton  (1986)  ****/TTT½

Dance Through the Fire
Cut and Run
Throwing Stones at the Wind
The Executioner
Rat Racing

Just a Memory
Crown of Thorns
Sanctuary
Atlantis
Pallas, 'Sketches'

Sketches  (1990?, recorded 1985?-89?)  ***/T

Voices in the Dark
The Real World
Hide and Seek
Win or Lose (acoustic)
Man of Principles
Ghosts
Meanwhile...
All or Nothing
North Tonight
Wall to Wall
I Believe in Father Christmas
Morning Fleet
Bleak House
Submarine
Dinosaur
Holiday
Tibet
Tokyo Detective
Syanara
Pallas, 'Knightmoves to Wedge'

Knightmoves to Wedge  (1992,  56.15)  ***½/TT½

Strangers
The Executioner (Bernie Goetz a Gun)
Throwing Stones at the Wind
Win or Lose
A Million Miles Away (Imagination)
Ratracing
Sanctuary
Just a Memory
Dance Through the Fire
Nightmare
Pallas, 'Mythopoeia'

Mythopoeia [CD-ROM]  (2002, recorded 1981?-2001?)  *****/TTTTT

Five to Four
Crown of Thorns

Radio Silence
Playground / Interview
The Ripper
Birth of Arrive Alive
Stranger on the Edge
The Hammer Falls
Paris is Burning / Cut and
  Run
Rise and Fall
A New Age Dawns
Scrolls
The Cell
Flashpoint 2
East West
Calm Before the Storm
March on Atlantis
Atlantis
Ark of Infinity
Early Shock Treatment
Cut and Run
Lighthouse
Logo
12 String
Birth of Win or Lose
Nightmare
Stranger in a Strange
  Land

Mad Machine
Time Wheels
Dance Through the Fire
The Executioner
Imagination
Rat Racing
Call to Arms
The Knightmoves on
Insideoutsidein
Win or Lose
Dinosaur
Sound and Vision
The Reedotron
Falling Apart at the Seams
Voices in the Dark
Refugee
War of Words
Never Too Late
All Go to Heaven
Birth of Ghosts
Children of the Bomb
Beat the Drum (demo)
Beat the Drum
Blood and Roses
Insomniac
Dreamland
Early Cross and the Crucible
Who's to Blame
The Blinding Darkness
Generations
Midas Touch
You'd Better Believe it
Real World (fretless)
Real World
The Cross and the Crucible
Pallas, 'The River Sessions 1'

The River Sessions 1  (2005, recorded 1983,  55.00)  ****/TTT½

Queen of the Deep
Arrive Alive
Crown of Thorns
The Ripper

A Little Bit of Culture
Pallas, 'The River Sessions 2'

The River Sessions 2  (2005, recorded 1985,  47.27)  ***½/TTT

Shock Treatment
Crown of Thorns

Imagination
Dinosaur
Sanctuary
Atlantis (Finale)
Stranger in a Strange Land
/Eyes in the Night
SI Magazine, 'Compilation Disc'

SI Magazine: Compilation Disc  (1991,  5.55)  *½/½

[Pallas contribute]
War of Words

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Pallas' discography, as you can see from the above, is an almost hopelessly tangled mess, with one album being released in three entirely different versions on three different formats, so the 'CDs only' crowd are going to be a little disappointed. Time to dig out your old turntables and tape decks...

As recounted in my UK '80s Prog page, Pallas formed way back in 1975 in Aberdeen, Scotland, but apart from a rather 'formative' EP in '78, released nothing of any consequence until 1981, when the original six-track hour-long Arrive Alive cassette slipped out. A short feature in an early edition of 'Kerrang!' upped their public profile, and probably sold them a good few copies of the tape. Despite a rather rough sound, Arrive Alive is an absolute classic, and really can't be lumped in with the rest of the neo-prog Genesisalikes at all; Rush would be a closer comparison, although bits of Genesis do leak through every now and again. Five To Four is a killer opener, Mellotron to the fore, and the band quickly stamp their own sound onto the music, despite their influences. Queen Of The Deep has a more major-key feel, with some excellent 'Tron choir pitch bend in the 'underwater' section. Flashpoint has more than a little of Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies about its riff, but again, much Mellotron all round. By The Ripper, you wonder whether they can squeeze any more 'Tron onto the album, but keyboard man Ronnie Brown absolutely excels himself with it here, creating a real masterpiece of creepy 'Tron strings underpinned by Graeme Murray's doomy bass, slightly reminiscent of Poisoned Youth from England's Garden Shed opus.

Now, here the confusion starts in earnest; two years later, an LP emerged with the same title, and similar sleeve artwork. However, only four of the cassette's six tracks appear, with a studio version of the title track (not on the tape) tacked onto the beginning of the album. OK, that's four out of six easily available, but whither Five To Four and Flashpoint? In late 1998 (yes, fifteen years later...), a CD crept out, adding to the confusion still further. Again, four tracks from the tape, with two different to the album... OK, it's great that various single-only tracks are now on CD, but what about the other two live tracks? The version of Crown Of Thorns on the CD is the later EMI studio version, so although all six tracks are available in one form or another, only four of them are the original versions. Wouldn't it have been better to have put out a double CD with one disc being the original tape, and the other being single-only tracks and the odds'n'sods they must have lying around somewhere? I suppose that ups the cost and reduces the sales; plus ça change.... Anyway, the other tracks on the CD are worth hearing, but none of 'em are a patch on the missing live tracks. So... in order to get all six original tracks, you'll have to buy the CD and find a copy of the LP, too. Confused? You should be...

Pallas with Novatron, 1984, from 'The Sentinel' CD

By 1984, Pallas had been signed to EMI in the wake of Marillion, and immediately entered into an argument over what exactly they were going to put on their first album for the label. The band wanted to record their entire 'Atlantis' suite, parts of which had been around since Arrive Alive days, but EMI refused to sanction a double album, so the concept was ruthlessly slashed to two (admittedly lengthy) tracks, with another two recorded for b-sides, along with Crown Of Thorns and Heart Attack. The Eddy Offord-produced The Sentinel sounds like a bit of a compromise, to be honest, although it's still an excellent album; Arrive Alive turns up again, rearranged, with a new title (copyright problems, I believe), and there are two other shorter tracks, but Ark Of Infinity manages to be suitably grandiose, and the 'Atlantis' tracks, Rise And Fall and Atlantis itself are both superb, although Atlantis was cut from fifteen minutes plus to about eight for the album.

The 1992 CD changes the running order drastically, including slicing Rise And Fall in two, and adding 'Atlantis' tracks East To West and the brooding March On Atlantis. Whether the 'concept' makes any more sense can only be a matter for conjecture; without unrecorded gems such as Calm Before The Storm it's never going to sound right anyway. In the sleeve notes, the band claim that everything from the first part of Rise And Fall on are included in the story, but some of the connections are tenuous, to say the least. Pallas' live double CD from 2000, Live Our Lives, includes a 25-minute version of the 'Atlantis Suite', which is probably the nearest we're ever going to get to hearing it as originally intended, albeit without Mellotron. As far as the 'Tron (actually a Novatron) is concerned, there are some fantastic choirs, and good string bits here and there. I think the church organ on Ark Of Infinity is 'Tron (I saw them use the sound live), but since they also used a Synclavier on the album, it's hard to tell.

Unfortunately, The Sentinel highlighted vocalist Euan Lowson's shortcomings, so after touring the album, he was quietly replaced by Alan Reed, the diminutive singer from Scotland's second best-known prog band, Abel Ganz. Their first release featuring him was the Knightmoves EP, featuring future Pallas classic Sanctuary, with some wonderful choirs in the closing section. Nightmare has some suitably doomy strings, but although initial live versions of lead track Strangers (then still known as Stranger In A Strange Land) featured a Mellotron church organ run on the intro, the song was completely rearranged for the studio, and a rather lesser synth part replaced it.

By 1986's The Wedge, Pallas had moved towards what their detractors later accused them of; Stadium Prog. The album does actually have its moments, but too much of it is only tangentially progressive, with radio-friendly melodies allied to fiddly arrangements, in the (vain) hope of keeping everybody happy. The only 'Tron to be heard is some sustained strings chords on opener Dance Through The Fire; the last Mellotron to be heard on a Pallas studio album, in fact. They carried on using it live for another couple of years, and it can be heard in this guise on the Throwing Stones at the Wind EP, the Live in Southampton cassette, and even on a dodgy cover of Greg Lake's I Believe In Father Christmas from another cassette-only release, Sketches, by this time featuring Ronnie Brown's predecessor, Mike Stobbie, back on the keys.

Ronnie Brown at the Novatron, 1984, from 'The Sentinel' CD

The Southampton tape proves that the band actually used the 'Tron live on several Wedge tracks, presumably as Ronnie's live rig only consisted of two DX7s, an Oberheim poly, a sampler and the 'Tron, so it came in useful for several parts doubtless originally played on something very expensive. Be warned, however; Throwing Stones, The Executioner and Rat Racing only have short bursts of the instrument, so don't expect some sort of 'Tronfest. Saying that, Atlantis has choirs ripping through almost its entire length, making the tape worth it for this track alone.

In late '88, Pallas disappeared from view, leaving most of us thinking they'd quietly called it a day, but five years later they suddenly lurched into view at a UK prog festival, sans 'Tron. They promptly disappeared for another five years, before reappearing in 1998 with a new album, Beat the Drum, sadly in a similar vein to The Wedge, plus the aforementioned Arrive Alive CD. This presaged a veritable flurry of activity from the band; at the time of writing (late 2001), there has been the previously-mentioned Live Our Lives and another studio album, The Cross and the Crucible, with gigs now occurring annually. Oh, and Ronnie Brown's back, meaning each keyboard player has now had two stints in the band. Careful, chaps, you might start getting (un?)favourable comparisons with Yes...

In early 2002, Pallas suddenly sprung Mythopoeia on an unsuspecting public. Well, who'd have thought that a progressive band from the outer reaches of Scotland would be the first to come up with such a revolutionary idea? Maybe because they feel they've got nothing to lose, Pallas decided to release six hours of demos, live tracks etc. to the general public in the form of a CD-ROM of MP3s, plus videos and stills, all tied together with a nice little CD-ROM presentation. And all for twelve quid. Despite the rather ropey (read: un-commercially releasable) quality of most of the tracks, this disc is an absolute triumph; many unreleased tracks, including, at last, the full 'Atlantis' concept as it was originally conceived. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but don't I recognise a few of those tracks from bootlegs, right down to the same type of hiss? No matter; not only is much of the music magnificent, but there's a raft of previously-unheard Mellotron material, particularly on the live stuff. The disc is sub-divided into no less than seven sections covering different periods of the band's career, including two so-called 'lost albums'. Oddly, I've discovered five tracks that aren't listed on the interactive menus; four of them are listed at the end and appear to be late-period demos, but the fifth is Calm Before The Storm, part of the 'Atlantis' suite that I know from a bootleg. I can only assume that this is one of those technical hitches commonly known as a 'mistake', which is a shame, as I can imagine many users won't bother to go into their file manager to access tracks individually.

Of the early material, studio demos of Five To Four and Crown Of Thorns are smothered in Mellotron, although surprisingly, the magnificent twenty-minute version of The Ripper isn't; the 'Tron's such a prominent feature of the live version that I suspect this recording predates their Novatronic purchase. A couple of previously-unreleased tracks from this period are rather excellent, though sadly 'Tronless; incidentally, Interview is a song (of sorts) rather than, er, an interview, although the disc also contains a few of them (unlisted above). The Paris Is Burning/Cut & Run track is a straight cross between the two pieces, presumably work-in-progress from around 1983, although The Hammer Falls is the only other 'Tron track in the first section.

So, to 'Atlantis'. As mentioned above, Pallas wanted their first major-label outing to be a double album of their entire 'Atlantis' concept, nixed by EMI on (presumably) cost grounds. Listening to this material in sequence, their decision is revealed to be an artistic error; many of the tracks are tied together by common themes, in true concept album style, and at least one track (The Cell) is an absolute classic, better than several Sentinel tracks. Calm Before The Storm is built around the 'Atlantis' Mellotron choir part, and Rise And Fall is so 'Tron-heavy that it seems inconceivable that the studio version has none. Most of the pieces that ended up on The Sentinel are in extended versions here, or rather, non-edited. I have a bootleg of March On Atlantis/Atlantis that hits the twenty-minute mark, which is about right going by these versions. Sadly, there are no proper studio versions of much of this material, and there's zero chance that Pallas will ever re-record this material properly; anyway, the Mellotron parts would be played on anodyne generic string and choir samples, so be thankful for this disc!

The 1984-5 'missing album' has several tracks with bits of 'Tron thrown in; on Lighthouse it's almost inaudible, but the demo of Nightmare and the early Stranger are loaded with it. Stranger In A Strange Land is particularly interesting as a prime example of well-played Mellotron pipe organ; I remember seeing them play this version live, and was rather disappointed that it was so heavily rearranged on the Knightmoves EP. After this period, the 'Tron use tails off sharply; as you can see, there are a handful of tracks from the Wedge/Voices in the Dark period, but nothing to write home about, really, particularly including War Of Words, originally available on the piss-poor SI Magazine: Compilation Disc. By this time, the music had taken a sharp lurch towards the 'pop-prog' style Pallas would unfortunately make their own in the late '80s. Recent works are slightly more back on track, but I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for another Arrive Alive or Sentinel.

In 2005, a company called River Records released a pair of live discs from Radio Clyde's archives, nicely filling a couple of gaps in the band's discography. The River Sessions 1 was recorded in early '83, featuring Euan on vocals, of course, playing a similar set to when I first saw the band a few months earlier. We get three (or four, depending on what you're counting) from Arrive Alive and, at long last, a decent recording of their 'classical medley' encore of the time, A Little Bit Of Culture (which seems to have more of a Scottish bent than the version I used to hear). Mind you, when I say 'decent', what I actually mean is 'good bootleg'; I've heard better-sounding boots, to be honest, although this is invaluable for fans of Pallas' early material. The Mellotron parts on Queen Of The Deep (without its original piano intro), Crown Of Thorns and The Ripper are present and correct, with nothing to be heard on Arrive Alive (still under its original title) or A Little Bit Of Culture.

The River Sessions 2 dates from their Uriah Heep support slot from mid-'85, and apart from a re-run of Crown Of Thorns, is barely recognisable as the same band as on 1. Replacing Euan with Alan Reed lost the band some character but gained it someone who could actually sing, his voice harmonising well with Murray's, while the new (as in 'post-Sentinel') material marks their shift towards the 'stadium prog' sound with which they've doggedly stuck to the present day. Unfortunately, the album exchanges sonic clarity for tracklisting accuracy, completely missing the Atlantis finale segued into from Sanctuary; I mean, it's even got its own track number... Ronnie plays the expected Mellotron parts on Shock Treatment, Crown Of Thorns, Sanctuary and Atlantis, with a few unexpected choir chords at the beginning of the Stranger (In A Strange Land)/Eyes In The Night segue, although it's less Mellotronically-worthwhile than the previous volume. It's interesting to note that the band obviously had considerable input into these releases, with insightful sleevenotes and artwork taken from singles sleeves of the period.

So! Buy the vinyl and CD versions of Arrive Alive, at least until the band decide to put all six live tracks out officially. Get the Sentinel CD, the Southampton tape, if you can find it and the River Sessions discs. The Knightmoves EP is worth it, too, but don't spend too much on the Wedge/Knightmoves to Wedge CD. To save you the trouble of trying to sort out the EP confusion, the Paris is Burning tracks are on the Arrive Alive CD, the two Sentinel EP's extra tracks are on either that album's CD or Arrive Alive, the Knightmoves tracks are on the various Wedge reissues, and the Throwing Stones live b-side tracks are currently unavailable. And of course, get the Mythopoeia CD-ROM. Some of it's almost unlistenable, but you're still getting a good three albums of essential material. BUY!

Incidentally, it seems that after Mike Stobbie left the band for the second time, he took the Novatron with him (it apparently always belonged to him, anyway). I believe it sat in a state of disrepair for some years before he sold it to UK electronicists Add N to (X), who used it on three albums before splitting and selling it on to I Monster.

links

Official site

See: SI Magazine


previous pagenext page