The Great Balloon Race


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Kevin Peek
guitars

Steve Gray
keyboards

Herbie Flowers
bass

Tristan Fry
percussion

Guest Musicians:
Ron Aspery (Saxophones & Flutes on Peter's Wedding)
Adrian Brett (Pan Pipes)
Lee Fothergill (Guitars)
Tony Hymas (Synthesiser & Vocals on Desperate For Your Love)
Clare Torry (Vocals)

Released: April 1985

Availability: If you're looking to buy this album, you're out of luck. It's not been available for a very long time, since shortly after its release.

There is usually at least one copy floating around on eBay at any given time, but be prepared to pay collectors' prices for it on CD (you can usually get it on vinyl or cassette for a fair price). If the seller isn't aware of the CD's potential value, then be prepared to find stiff competition from other bidders.

In the track listing below, each track title is a link to a short MP3 sample (approx. one minute). Don't ask me to include full tracks on this site - it'll never happen for a multitude of reasons.

Short Review: The first album to be released after John Williams' departure and over a year in the making, this is perhaps the most jazz-influenced of all Sky albums. The opening track by modern classical composer Tony Hymas doesn't fit the mood of the remaining tracks and is a jarring incongruity. Allegro, The Lady and the Imp, Caldando and Roleystone are pretty typical of many Sky compositions - workmanlike, tuneful, but nothing to write home about. Peter's Weddding (probably the least "Sky-like" track from all their recorded output) and the title track are two of the highlights for those who enjoy Herbie Flowers' humour, while "The Land" is definitely up among the best of their work, very evocative and atmospheric. The album closes with the obligatory "simple" piece, which certainly deserved to do better on its release as a single, although it's hardly dance music, is it? Agree? Disagree? Have your say in the Forum!

Track listing (including original liner notes from the band):

Desperate For Your Love (Hymas)
It's inevitable that The Voice comma whether it be talking comma singing comma or la-la-ing comma would crop up on the band's repertoire full stop After all it is a musical instrument full colon and as such should be written for full stop
Tony Hymas - an English composer - wrote this so he recites the poetry at the front: it would sound too arty-farty if we got a professional actor to do it and no one sings one's own stuff like one's self (eh!) 'Caliban' is a monster from Shakespeare's 'Tempest'. Say goodnight to the folks, Gracie! H.F.

Allegro (Gray)
This is a quick piece. "Allegro' means quick. Would that all titling decisions were so simple. S.G.

The Land (Peek/Spencer)
Perhaps it should have been titled 'The Timeless Land' but the whole thing about the Australian Aboriginal "Dream-time' legends and the timelessness of the Australian bush has been a little overdone of late (not, of course, in any way that degrades the items mentioned). When Trevor and I wrote the piece we were trying to maintain in our minds the vast feeling of native Australia (and the native Australian, the Aborigine) blended with the arrival and enterprise of the first European settlers (mainly British). The hardships that those first settlers endured has always been a point of wonderment and interest to me (I don't think I would have survived) and even now many years on, the land and the climate remain virtually as harsh and impregnable as ever. The Australian white man/woman/persons are, in many cases, slowly learning to blend in with the country and not fight it - to preserve rather than destroy. K.P

Peter's Wedding (Flowers)
Peter married Isobel on a boat in Sydney Harbour last year. It was a really windy day and it was a lady that did the ceremony and on the video it looks as if everybody was tipsy because of the swaying of the boat.
All the band, crew and friends were there with a smattering of children, plus hundreds of seagulls, and it was the most magical day.
What a smoothie, our Peter. He's SKY's manager, by the way. Without him - well, who knows? Me - I couldn't manage a dog fight. H.F.

The Great Balloon Race (Flowers)
I haven't got the pluck to go up in a hot air balloon, so how dare I write a piece called 'The Great Balloon Race'? Instead I sit at home watching people doing it on television and say to myself "God, I must have a go at that". More pie in the sky. H.F.

The Lady And The Imp (Flowers/Gray)
Herbie and I noticed that our sales in Ballymacarbry and Boston, Massachusetts weren't all that they should be so we came up with this one. It's a bit of scurrilous mischief, really: of which there can never be too much. (I find the six bars after the drum solo particularly naughty). S.G.

Caldando (Gray)
There is (I hope) no such word as CALDANDO, although the New Oxford Companion to Music lists Calando, Calcando and Calmando as meaning, respectively, "lowering", "trampling"(!) and "calm".
Originally when we recorded this piece in Australia I simply repeated the tune at the end of the first chorus. On reflection this seemed to be quite a lot of a not very good thing so when we got the tapes back to London I wiped the first 17 bars of the second chorus clean: chopped one bar's worth of tape out altogether and inserted the 16 bar pan-pipe interlude. Fortunately the mechanics all worked: although there was a time half-way through the operation where we all needed nerves of steel and an absolute conviction that we were doing the right thing. The pan-pipes are played by Adrian Brett; the electric guitar that accompanies them by Lee Fothergill who, with Ron Aspery, was SKY's guest for our 1984 U.K. and Australian tours. S.G.

Roleystone (Peek)
That's where I live in Australia. I wasn't thinking about Roleystone at all when I wrote it but I was sitting in it. In my usual style (or lack of it) I hadn't a clue as to what title to give the piece and rather than call it KP 496 Herbie said "call it 'Roleystone' you stupid !&@@!!!**$$!." K.P.

Night Sky (Gray)
We wrote this originally to tuck up a television station for the night and it came on the album as an afterthought. When we reviewed what we had done we thought it would be nice to have one simple piece-with no tricks. So this is it: guitar, bass, drums and piano. (There is an electric piano overdub on the last section, actually, but then keyboard players always need a bit more help). 5G.

By popular demand, you can download your choice of high-resolution scans of the record cover sized for use as your computer desktop picture. Click on the resolution which your computer uses for the right size. If you're using MSIE or Netscape as your browser, right-click on the picture when it comes up and select "Set as Wallpaper".

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