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Beggars Opera - Get Your Dog Off Me ! CD (album) cover

GET YOUR DOG OFF ME !

Beggars Opera

 

Symphonic Prog

2.44 | 60 ratings

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jonsilence
1 stars Having been an avid Beggar Opera fan since day one, this was an album I avoided when it first came out in the 70s based upon negative word of mouth reports. But having recently heard the instrumental 'Classical Gas' for the first time and fallen in love with it, I decided I needed to get this album which I'd otherwise never heard. Maybe I was missing out on another classic in the vein of the band's first three records, all personal favorites. Having purchased this album, I can say that my reaction to it is summed up precisely by its title: 'Get your dog off me!'

In decades of music listening I'm not sure I can think of any downward-spiral transformation by a band that is as dramatic and disappointing as the one demonstrated here. Other than the wonderful 'Classical Gas' (worthy of 'Pathfinder' but certainly not this record), the only thing on this album that remains from the Beggars Opera of the first three albums is the band name. That's it. Were it not for 'Classical Gas', any Beggars Opera fan hearing this record would simply think this was another unrelated band using the same name. First, there are significant personnel changes: Gone are the wonderful, melodramatic vocals of Martin Griffith (alone enough to derail them) and the relaxed & fluid drumming of Raymond Wilson. But along with the departure of these founding members, those who remained decided to simply throw out everything about the band's original musical identity in favor of a new direction entirely: Southern-fried, country boogie rock.'down home' honky-tonk kind of stuff.

Progressive rock? Gone entirely, except for the oddly out of place 'Classical Gas', the only old-style Beggars Opera track on the record. I can be a Lynyrd Skynrd fan on occasion, but this isn't even anywhere near being a good record of its kind, let alone as a 'coming out' statement from a band re-emerging with an entirely new sound. Overall, it is just faceless, average stuff done by a thousand other bands whose names were never known let alone forgotten. I have to wonder what the remaining members of Beggars Opera, as well as the record company, were thinking when they attempted something like this. New vocalist Linnie Patterson was as different from Griffiths as was humanly possible, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever; sheerly mediocre and unremarkable, way out of his league and severely underqualified. Think of Yes replacing Jon Anderson with a third rate Bob Seger wannabe and maybe you get the idea.

Only one bonus track, "Lady of Hell Fire" is of note, not because it is anything like the old Beggars Opera, but because it is yet another change of direction for the band, this time towards a decidedly hard rock/heavy metal sound. But it is also marred by pedestrian, run of the mill songwriting and delivery. Since it was not included on the original album and released subsequently as a single, it indicates that the band were confused about where they were going and tying yet again to find some new kind of sound.

Clearly, with the departure of Griffiths and Wilson, this was a band that lost virtually everything that made them what they were. They were struggling to stay afloat, but were really just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Whether they were musically kidnapped by the new members or willingly participated in the band's 'identity reassignment', the founding members who remained sound here like they have lost their minds, along with all the components that made the original Beggars Opera so charming, unique, and 'progressive.' As such, "Get Your Dog Off Me" should be avoided unless you want to spend the money just for one track. This is not any kind of 'progressive' album but rather a strongly regressive one.

In summation, "How the mighty have fallen." RIP

jonsilence | 1/5 |

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