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Pendragon - Acoustically Challenged CD (album) cover

ACOUSTICALLY CHALLENGED

Pendragon

 

Neo-Prog

3.41 | 65 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The next track has acoustic guitar, vocals and a keyboard

With Pendragon being such a bastion of pompous neo-prog, the decision to strip down their sound and perform an unplugged set could be perceived as a brave one. They had however set the groundwork for such a venture over the years, notably on the bonus CD which came with "The Masquerade Overture" which included acoustic reworkings of parts of tracks from that album.

Reduced to a trio for this recording due to the complete absence of Fudge Smith on drums, the instrumental line up extends to twin acoustic guitars plus a keyboard (complete with a tell tale electric cable!).

The recordings here are taken from a special acoustic show performed in Poland during the 2001 "Not of this world" tour. The tracks come from a reasonable selection of the band's albums, including two tracks from "Not of this world" and a couple from "The world".

The absence of Clive Nolan's banks of keyboards leaves the overall atmosphere sounding rather one dimensional. Indeed Nolan's role is very subdued throughout, generally consisting of low in the mix atmospheres. This, combined with the absence of lead guitar, means that instrumental solos are few and far between. This in turn places a great emphasis on the vocals of Nick Barrett, which dominate much of the album. I enjoy Barrett's singing, but for me the singularity of the sound quickly becomes wearing.

The selected tracks have a certain uniformity too, leading to the conclusion that this album can be enjoyed best by listening to a couple of selected tracks, rather than the complete performance in one go. For me it is the shorter tracks such as "The pursuit of excellence" which work best, with longer pieces such as "The voyager" and "Alaska" crying out for some aggressive pruning.

The album is completed by an old Peter Gee song "Unspoken words" which was rehearsed for the show, but is not actually a live recording. It is actually a lovely little song, sung with appropriate emotion by Barrett.

It is difficult to know who to recommend this album to. Fans of the band will generally prefer the volume driven sound of the full band versions of the songs, while those who enjoy stripped down acoustic music will be unfamiliar with the songs (which it has to be said do not necessarily lend themselves to the adaptation).

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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