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"Hallmark Achievment"

For quite a few of the cognoscenti this stands as the hallmark achievement in American symphonic rock (with courteous nods to many others notwithstanding). Doubtless, it is a brilliant example of a band who not only understood how to assimilate their influences – of King Crimson, Genesis, or Yes – but knew well how to build upon them and create and impressionistic whole, which was thoroughly unique, remarkably Cathedral.
In short, there is not a naff note or dispensable moment to be found, even though their ability to develop themes might be heard by some critical ears as posturing or even pretentious. The music unfolds and issues forth like a raging river, while setting forth on a journey which is neither predictable or ponderous but one which constantly engages the listener. The five pieces, though individual expressions by themselves, manage to seamlessly flow together in an almost suite-like fashion – always evolving, never stagnating – yet somehow always appearing to be part of a larger conceptual context, which they are. Lyrically, this is dense and melancholy subject matter about a man’s self-actualization, delivered in a tortured style not unlike John Wetton in his days with King Crimson. Musically is where this quartet really shines. Simply put, Stain Glass Stories is a veritable wet-dream for mellotron fanatics the world over, and Doncourt’s incessant deployment of the veteran sampler is crucial to the orchestral impact of Stain Glass Stories, not only because he opted to use many different tape-patches but also because he knew how to play with the unwieldy machine and make it sound truly impressive. His work on Hammond is noteworthy, but his tonal lexicon is concentrated on the majesty of the mighty ‘tron! Doncourt’s cinematic orchestrations are further accented by the guitar mastery of Perrone, where we can hear him phrasing like Hackett at one moment, then plucking like Howe the next, only to delight us with a line from the Fripp book of tricks not long after, just when we thought he was running out of ideas. The rhythmic qualities of the band are enormous and not to be dismissed – what with the metrical complexity of their music and varied changes in mood, the bass is accordingly resonant, the use of pedals spectacular, and the additional variety of percussion instruments adding much to the final product and fleshing out the orchestral sweep. None of this, I will add, strikes of contrivance or of a band unsure of what they set out to do. No, they are the near-perfect sum of their influences. Their follow-up offering, then to be called Epilogue, never came to be. Having heard samples of this, it is a shame they called it quits (for reasons of practicality and family issues, I’ve heard). It was equally excellent! Guitarist Rudy Perrone did manage, with a little help from his friends, a wonderful solo effort called Oceans Of Art, which reminded many ears of a Steve Hackett release. This, or especially an original of Stained Glass Stories, are very rare, but back in 1991 Syn-Phonic reissued the Cathedral masterpiece, which included great packaging. I believe it has been deleted from their active catalog, but I know a few copies are still to be found. - Progressive Ears

"The Bridge"

Talk about taking a long time to record a second album! After a 31 year break Cathedral return for the follow up to Stained Glass Stories. All of the original members are back with the exception of Rudy Perrone who is replaced by virtuoso guitarist David Doig. When you hear about these reformations your expections are automatically set pretty low since very few of them are successful. Cathedral actually pull it off!

The band took the core Cathedral sound (Mellotron is everywhere on this disc) and modernized it a bit - primarily due to current technology. It doesn't sound like it was recorded in 1976 - it has a rather crystalline clear sound. The album kicks off with the 13 minute three part "The Monsterhead Suite" which basically sounds like...Cathedral. In other words a taste of King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Genesis and Yes. The rest of the album follows suit. As you relisten to it you really pick up on a lot of the nuances that made Stain Glass Stories such a classic - but again I have to emphasize that this isn't a retro sound. For me the only downer is drummer Mercury Caronia's decision to use an electronic kit - a standard one would have been much more effective. Here's hoping we don't have to wait another 31 years for album number three - I might not be around! - Laser's Edge Catalog


Cathedral: Stained Glass Stories (1978)
Reviewer: Ben Miler | See all reviews by Ben Miler
Section: Reviews | Category: Music | Area: New York | Topic: Music
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There were several bands named Cathedral. One was a British metal band, another was a 1990's Washington, D.C.-based neo-prog rock band, and then there's this Cathedral, a 1970s prog rock band out of New York. This band only released one album, Stained Glass Stories in 1978, but it's incredible!
Usually little good can be said about America's prog rock scene. Many American bands were accused of being derivative of British bands (Starcastle, as much as I like them, were frequently criticized as little else than Yes clones), or selling out to AOR (Kansas and Styx are that example, although I think Song For America by Kansas, is great, as well as most of what they did up to Point of Know Return). But Cathedral isn't like that. You won't find any traces of AOR or anything like that (this band wasn't interested in having those huge FM hits like their AOR contemporaries like Boston, Styx, Foreigner, etc.).

The photo of the band (at least on the insert that was included on the 1989 Syn-Phonic label LP reissue) makes them look like a bunch of rednecks who should play country music at a bar, but the minute you hear this album, all your fears will simply vanish. This is straight-up classic prog rock that rivals many of the great of British prog rock. And if you're a fan of the '90s Swedish band Änglagård, you'll be completely flattered over Stained Glass Stories. Cathedral sounds very similar, except without the Scandinavian/Nordic influences, of course. Influences from Cathedral include bands like Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant.

The album is loaded with Mellotron, the band used the small white M400 model, and they tended to use a lot of that choir sound (like what you hear on Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway). The album opens up with "Introspect", and once you hear the electric piano and the Mellotron, you know right away, you're in for a real treat. The next four songs are all in this vein, more or less. My other favorite included the instrumental "Gong", "The Crossing", and "Days and Changes".

I thought the final cut, "The Search" drags on a little too much. The only real criticism this album gets are in the vocals, but they never seem to bother me any. Stained Glass Stories was originally released on the Delta label, which was a very small label. Very few copies of the original LP were made, so it will run you in the three digit price range. Luckily it's been reissued, by Syn-Phonic. Regardless, I think this album is a real masterpiece, and perhaps the greatest prog rock album to come out of the USA. I especially recommend it to all Änglagård fans, especially because Stained Glass Stories shows where Änglagård got their sound. Incredible album that no prog rock fan should go without. -

"Cathedral- Stained Glass Stories"

CATHEDRAL (70'S) — Stained Glass Stories
Review by Steve Hegede (Steve Hegede)
CATHEDRAL is usually mentioned with other 70s American prog bands like YEZDA URFA and MIRTHRANDIR. Those three bands played symphonic-prog influenced mostly by YES and early GENESIS (although YEZDA URFA showed a strong GENTLE GIANT influence). And it had a profound influence on CATHEDRAL. The listener will instantly notice that CATHEDRAL were quite aggressive for a mid-seventies prog band, and the band wastes little time exploring action-packed sections in each track. The bass/drum interplay was one of the first things to catch my attention. Not only does the bassist and drummer lock into complex and aggressive grooves, but the drummer was also allowed to fill most of the tracks with additional percussive instruments. The guitarist is the next musician to stand out. Try to imagine Robert FRIPP as an American guitar player. The guitar-riffs are dissonant, yet have a twangy, Southern, sound to them. The keyboardist is also impressive. Along with the standard hammond organ, and assorted instruments, he uses a very unusual mellotron (maybe it was sick or something that day) which gives the album a unique sound. The two complaints that I tend to hear about this band includes that the vocalist was rather average, and that the band borrowed heavily from YES. Personally, I have no problems with the singer. Yes, he is the weakest member of the band and he strains through a few parts. But, especially if you're familiar with MIRTHRANDIR, after repeated plays your ears quickly get use to his style. It's also true that a few parts sound exactly like some parts from "Relayer" (especially the intro here). But, to be fair, the majority of album sounds original. Aside from a few riffs that remind me of some YES melodies, the majority of the themes here are unique. Anyway, this impressive album was carefully crafted from beginning to end, and it is a perfect introduction to the seventies American-prog scene.

Posted Monday, March 22, 2004, 17:22 EST | Permanent link

CATHEDRAL (70'S) — Stained Glass Stories
Review by lor68
An important, great reference for bands such as ANGLAGARD or SHYLOCK, enriched with tasteful light dissonances and captivating passages in the vein of YES. The only defect regards the weak vocals, but the quality level of the whole composition is very good!! Recommended, even though it is not a masterpiece...

Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004, 16:48 EST | Permanent link

CATHEDRAL (70'S) — Stained Glass Stories
Review by Proghead (Ben Miler)
Not to be confused with any other band named CATHEDRAL, this New York-based prog rock band released this one and only album in 1978 then, of course, vanished. As far as I'm concerned, this is by far one of the best American prog bands ever. There's a reason for that: while many other American prog bands of the era seem watered down, like adding bar-band influences or AOR with their music, CATHEDRAL completely avoided that, and sounds very much like British prog rock. The music is absolutely loaded with Mellotron, with lots of Rickenbacker bass. And if any of this sounds a bit familiar, well, the music sounds a lot like highly acclaimed '90s Swedish prog band ÄNGLAGARD, except of course, the vocals are much more dominant (in ordinary English), and none of that Scadinavian/Nordic influences, obviously.

So basically their music is influenced by the same bands as ÄNGLAGARD: YES, GENESIS, KING CRIMSON. While I thought the last song drags on a bit, I feel "Stained Glass Stories" is the ultimate prog rock masterpiece, and if you like ÄNGLAGARD, or you want a Mellotron-heavy album, you can't go without this!

Posted Saturday, May 01, 2004, 18:53 EST | Permanent link

CATHEDRAL (70'S) — Stained Glass Stories
Review by progmonster (Domenico Solazzo)
There is definitely a Yes touch on this one shot ; something circa "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "Relayer" (not their best, but hey, they did really really worse). The warmth and a bit too baroque voice of Paul Seal sweeps away any other common points. Again, the general feel of the album ain't light and enchanting as Yes does, and if the musicianship is great, their melodic hooks worked fined with me ("Gong" and "The Search" are probably the ones i like the most). But come on ; there is no case of plagiarism. Anyway, it can't be worse that the whole Starcastle catalog...

Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004, 07:17 EST | Permanent link

CATHEDRAL (70'S) — Stained Glass Stories
Review by hdfisch (Dieter Fischer)
Edited 09/27/05!

This album is an absolute hidden gem and when I was listening to it the first time, I’ve got the impression as if YES and KING CRIMSON would have released a Mega-masterpiece together. On their one and only album US band CATHEDRAL is offering long and very intricate compositions with heavy demands, Mellotron tunes and - ProgArchives

"All out on the "Tron" front"

Cathedral (US)

Stained Glass Stories (1978, 45.25) ****½/TTTT½

The Crossing
Days and Changes
The Search

Current availability:

Syn-Phonic (US)
For anyone who's heard Sweden's Änglagård, the Cathedral sound will have a strange ring of familiarity to it; that 'play a riff twice, then move on to something else before boredom sets in' approach. However, they predate the Swedes by nearly fifteen years, and can probably be said to have actually invented the technique. It's impossible to pick a standout track, although album opener Introspect may just possibly be the best example of their sound, with Mellotron church organ as well as the more familiar sounds.

Keyboard player Tom Doncourt goes all-out on the 'Tron front, with more string section and (male voice?) choir than you can shake the proverbial stick at, including a possibly over-ambitious choir melody that stretches the machine, er, slightly past its design limitations. Fantastic use all round, though, making this one of the American Mellotron albums. Doncourt still has his machine, unlike so many of his contemporaries, and is talking about putting out some of his post-Cathedral work at some point. So, if you want to hear one of the best US prog albums EVER, buy! - Planet Mellotron

"Kurt Loder on Cathedral 1978"

With a lush, intricate sound made up of multi-voiced Gothic chants, razor sharp stop time breaks, tricky tempo turnarounds, wizzo guitar runs, kickass Rickenbacker bass lines, cascading keyboards and the able tones of a very Anglo singer, Cathedral is not your run of the beer mill copy band. Inspired by such art-rock aggregations as King Crimson and Genesis, this East Islip group is determined to make it on the strength of their own music and toward that end they’ve already recorded their own album, Stained Glass Stories, due out on Delta records by the end of this month and are promoting their own showcase concert at the Islip Theater Feb. 23. If the tapes I’ve heard are any indication, this is one Long island band that may find success unavoidable.
- Good Times Music and Entertainment Paper

"Interview by Acid Dragon"

Hi Thierry,
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to tell the story!

here it is. Thanks!


Cathedral was America's best kept secret as far as symphonic prog of the 70's is concerned.
Their "Stained Glass Stories" is a crystal clear gem, a must for all Yes-like music fans.
Thanks to Syn-Phonic this CD was reissued in 1991. And thanks to Internet, we could meet them.

Hi Cathedral! The original line up was:
- Mercury Caronia IV / drums, percussion
- Fred Callan / bass, bass pedals
- Paul Seal / lead vocals, percussion, bass pedals
- Tom Doncourt / keyboards, percussion
- Rudy Perrone / 6 and 12 string guitar, vocals.
When was the band created? By whom? And where are you from?

Fred was in an original progressive rock band called Odyssey that had been around since 1965. Tom was asked to join as mellotronist in 1974. When, in 1975, organist Vinny Kusy left the music scene, Fred and Tom formed Cathedral. Tom and Rudy had been working in a previous project with Foreigner bassist Ed Gagliardi, so Rudy was brought on board. A year later Paul and Mercury signed on. Last year, jazz and classically trained musician, David Doig, founder of the Bayport school of Music became our guitarist. He's played solo at Carnegie Hall and other prestigious venues and has really propelled the band forward.
We all live within miles of one another in Long Island, a suburb of New York city.

You recorded your sole and unique album in 1978. can you tell?

Our management made a deal with Delta Records to record our material and then shop it to larger labels.
Delta was primarily a jazz label and had a recording studio above the Palace theater in Times Square, the heart of Manhattan's Music district. Duke Ellington's band was recording in the room next to us. We set up and played just as we would for a live performance(very few overdubs). All the tracks were laid down in one session and then mixed in one other. The vocals
that preceed The Crossing were recorded in a stairway.

Why this title?

The title is related to the name of the band. Our lyrics tell stories and our music "illuminates" them.

Was it successful?

Record companies did not seem to be looking for new progressive acts by 1978, at least not in N.Y..
Atlantic/Swansong and R.C.A. were interested but not committed. Delta ended up distributing it. The album made it to record store shelves across the U.S. but without promotion. No, it was not commercially successful, but it somehow endured.

There are evident Yes influences (a compliment!). Do you agree?

Certainly Yes is a favourite band and King Crimson at least as much so. We were listening to the Moody Blues, Procul Harem, Genesis and Van der graff Generator as well.

Did you gig a lot at that time?

We are very much a live band and in the two years before the album we played many clubs in the N.Y. area. We still remember the faces of people coming to disco dance and getting "Gong" instead.
After "Stained Glass" we rented theaters and put on our own concerts. We would build our own stages and lighting rigs - sometimes working 24 hours and going on to perform without sleep.


We would have loved to. It's definitely in our future plans.

Any contacts with other bands?

Most of the bands we knew in the 70's are long gone. People we've played with moved on to play with
Pink Floyd, Bryan Ferry, and Foreigner. Mercury formed "Industry" , backed up INXS and toured Europe. Tom has contact with Jerry Marotta, other members of Peter Gabriel's band, and Garth Hudson of "the Band" from his days in Woodstock, New York. Jerry used many of Tom's hand built instruments on Susan Vega's "98.7" .

A few details and anecdotes about the CD reissue…

It came as a surpise to most of us. Fred had a "reunion" party and we exchanged tapes and photos.
It was really nice to have "Stained Glass Stories" on CD since most of our turntables had broken down. It suddenly seemed that it would be possible to do progressive music again.

I read you just reformed. Great news! Can you tell?

We got it all together in 2003. Our musical values are very much the same but the technologies have dramatically changed (still using the Mellotron and Rickenbacker though). It took us awhile to sort all the new ideas into a clear and cohesive whole and now the band is really strong.

For a gig?

We plan to tour extensively. Nothing short of traveling the world.

An album in perspective?

For the past year we have been recording at Ian London studio and have an hour of new music ready to be mixed. Decisions are being made on how to distribute it at this moment.

What do you think of today's progressive scene ?

This is an amazing time! Since we have put up our MySpace page we have heard so much fresh progressive music from our new friends and have been put back in touch with many old sources and influences. The intern - Acid Dragon progressive rock magazine


"Stained Glass Stories" 1978

"The Bridge" 2007

"Satellite" from "The Bridge" has been played on FM radio. Both albums are featured on online radio stations.
Samples from "The Bridge" can be heard on, iTunes, CDbaby and various other sites.



Cathedral’s music is a labor of love. That love is embedded in the “Majestic" School of the Progressive Rock Movement. The band may add or take away elements but that essence will always remain. Cathedral is dramatic. It is dynamic. Cathedral creates beautiful, huge walls of sound. “Retro” would be the wrong word, although many of the classic analog tools have been dusted off and put to use. The new work represented on this CD, “The Bridge”, examines the roots of progressive music, but true to that school, it “progresses” into new sounds and combinations of forms all woven around the original Mellotron and hard-core bass fueled engine.

Cathedral was formed in 1975 out of the ashes of a psychedelic band “Odyssey”. Fred Callan was their bassist and Tom Doncourt was signed on as mellotronist. When Odyssey disbanded, Fred and Tom inherited it’s “progressive legacy”. The new group, Cathedral, plowed through the Long Island club scene, a unique thing for a primarily original band to do.

By 1978 Cathedral had recorded and released “Stained Glass Stories” through Delta Records. Delta records was basically a studio located in Times Square above the Palace Theater. They had access to distribution with major chains, making them a kind of prototype to the independent labels. Cathedral had Duke Ellington’s band doing sessions in the room next door and Allison Steele, the famous “Night Bird “ of 70’s radio, popping in to listen to mixes. Some foley sound effects devices were found in an old music store around the corner and used on tracks. New York City was a very rich environment for a progressive band. “At this point we were taking old movie theaters and turning them into concert halls for a night. We built stages, lighting and sound rigs, whatever it took to get up and play” says keyboardist, Tom Doncourt. 10,000 copies of “Stained Glass Stories” were printed and sold. Cathedral had interest from and meetings with Atlantic and RCA records.

The Progressive movement seemed to end in 1979, but interest in the “Stained Glass Stories “ album did not. It became a sought after collectable, eventually being hailed as “the best American progressive rock album ever”. In 1990 Syn-Phonics rereleased it on CD. With the growth of the internet, interest in Cathedral was rekindled. It was not until 2003, however, that Fred Callan called all his former band mates to resurrect the group. They experimented for three years. After a year in the studio “The Bridge “ was completed.

Cathedral has recently returned to the concert stage to premiere their new work and to pay a tribute to the old. The audience that filled the Boulton Theater for the Performing Arts on August 25, 2007 found it obvious that Cathedral is a live band and belongs in the spotlight!