Andy John Bradford’s Oceans 5 is a progressive folk rock band fronted by UK singer songwriter and solo artist Andy John Bradford. For his debut album release, “Return to Mingulay”, Andy approached guitarist Colin Tench (BunChakeze, Stone & The Minstrel’s Ghost) to help out. They assembled an unlikely band, purely to record this one song, and they produced a version of The Mingulay Boat Song unlike any version before. This lineup clearly had great chemistry and despite the fact that they were all busy with their own bands, and they all agreed that this band had something to say.
Rock critics are quick to dismiss the progressive era as contrived and full of excess. They are wrong, and the best example of progressive genius, without having to go back over 40 years ago, is to be found in this album. The music is absolutely stunning, featuring gorgeous melodies and fabulous musicianship. The great point about “Return to Mingulay” is that there are no weak songs. No doubt Andy John Bradford holds the torch and leads the way, but it’s a group effort and although different members contribute to different parts it all fits together really well.
It’s a shame that music has taken such a downfall these days, and that people have forgotten the capabilities of the creative mind. “Return to Mingulay” is a genre of its own, compared with current musical trends, combining the discipline and format of folk music, and merging it with the addictive sound and heavy rhythms of rock. I suppose that would be folk-rock, wouldn’t it? Alas, the answer is no. Oceans 5 have paved a sound so original and powerful, that it harks back to the creative progressive-rock era, when music escaped boundaries and limitations.
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“Return to Mingulay” enchants, enthralls and captivates the imagination, and does so with an economy of words and music. Just beautiful and well produced music with so much detail and layers of sound. Pretentious? Not by a long-shot. It’s like taking an adventure to a serene place full of soft, sweet fragrances and effervescent sounds, which tickle, then pound and astounds the senses. The album represents the folk-rock movement, pioneered by bands such as Fairport Convention, Magna Carta and early Renaissance, taken to its logical limit today, all within the progressive rock idiom of the seventies made famous by bands like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd,Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer. Does this make sense? Maybe not, but then music is not about making sense, it’s about making sound. And Oceans 5 know how to do that perfectly!
Featured Guests on the album include Lorelei McBroom (Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones & Rod Stewart): Vocals (6000 Friends) and Andres Guazzelli (Solo Artist, Corvus Stone): Piano & Orchestration (6000 Friends, Fly Away). Standout tracks abound and some of my favorites include: “Empty Hands”, “5 o’clock Line”, “Sails off the Bay”, “6000 Friends” and “Fly Away”.
Andy John Bradford’s incredible Dave Cousins sound-alike vocal timbre, drifts in and out beautifully throughout all the tracks, with a haunting power and presence, while the band provides a solid backing alongside Colin Tench’s tasteful guitar work. “Return to Mingulay” certainly has left an impression on me. Intense prog-folk-rock; a pinch of The Strawbs, a dash of Procol Harum, a touch of Emerson Lake & Palmer and a whole lot of other stuff. A great album indeed!
The Oceans 5 Band:
Andy John Bradford (Solo Artist): 12 String Guitar and Vocals
Colin Tench (BunChakeze, Corvus Stone & The Minstrel’s Ghost): Guitars
Marco Chiappini (Gandalf’s Project): Keyboards
Stef Flaming (Murky Red): Bass Guitar
Victor Tassone (Unified Past): Drums & Percussion
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