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Magna Carta - Lord Of The Ages CD (album) cover


Magna Carta


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3.54 | 54 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars MAGNA CARTA's long and illustrious career spans six decades, from the release of their first self-titled album in 1969 through to their most recent album "The Fields of Eden" in 2015. Chris Simpson is the principal songwriter and the main driving force behind the band. There have been many line-up changes over the years with Chris Simpson always there at the helm as the mainstay of the group. Guitarist Davey Johnson featured in an early line-up of the band, who later went on to achieve great success with Elton John. Linda Taylor joined the line-up in the mid-1980's and she later went on to marry Chris Simpson in 1990. MAGNA CARTA's best-known song is "Highway To Spain", released as a single from their "Midnight Blue" album in 1982. Three albums preceded the release of "Lord of the Ages" (1973). These were:- Magna Carta (Aka Times of Change) (1969); Seasons (1970): & Songs from Wasties Orchard (1971). "Lord of the Ages" is the "proggiest" of all of MAGNA CARTA's albums and represented a pinnacle of their career. The stunning 10-minute-long title track with the spoken voice introduction is the real highlight of the album. The principal three-piece line-up for the "Lord of the Ages" album consisted of:- Chris Simpson (guitar, vocals); Glenn Stuart (vocals, spoken word); & Stan Gordon (guitar, vocals), with a number of session musicians providing back-up. The only thing missing from the album is a sweet-voiced female vocalist, which would have given the album five-star masterpiece status. The fantasy artwork on the album cover was designed by Roger Dean, who famously produced album covers for YES, ASIA & URIAH HEEP, amongst others.

This charming album is as English as a game of croquet with strawberries and cream on an English summer's day. The opening song "Wish It Was" sets the scene where the wistful singer paints a picture of an old man longing plaintively for lost love in these heartfelt lyrics:- "I'll find an old man lonely, In the autumn of his years, I'll find a young girl hoping, To lose herself in love, And to both I'd give a rainbow, For neither side can make it on their own, Young and old come together." Beautiful! The second song "Two Old Friends" is a sad refrain that wears its English heart on its sleeve and opens with these words:- "Two old friends of mine, I saw them only yesterday, They where there, But I got the feeling, They had gone away, And I was alone, Killing time, A stranger in the silence of their company." It's a gentle yet emotional song that really tugs at the heartstrings. Now comes the piece-de-resistance of the album, the title track "Lord of the Ages". This epic 10-minute-song opens beautifully in a long spoken word introduction in a charming cut-glass English accent. This magnificent song conjures up crystal-clear images of fantasy castles filled with goblins, elves, unicorns, and other such mythical beings. The songs opens in magical style with these words:- Lord of the ages rode one night, Out through the gateways of time, Astride a great charger, In a cloak of white samite, He flew on the air, Like a storm, Dark was the night, For he gathered the stars in his hand, To light a path through the sky, While the hooves of his charger, Made comets of fire, Bewitching all eyes, Beheld them, Lord of the ages, Nobody knows, Whether he goes." It's a bewitching song of phantasmagorical splendour, designed to transport you to a magical place during 10 minutes of sublime delight, including a wild acid guitar break. The album continues with the quaintly titled "Isn't It Funny (And a Little Bit Strange)", which ambles along nicely and features these silly and whimsical lyrics:- "I asked a coalman just for a laugh, How many times did he take a bath, As many times said he, as the bath takes me, Isn't it funny, and not a little bit strange, Like a biscuit on a plane, going south to the sun." It's a silly little song that delights in its English frivolity. We now come to Song No. 5 on the album, "Song of Evening" a very pleasant ballad with a countrified slide guitar sound, which opens with these lovely lyrics in the chorus:- "Then the song of the evening comes in, gentle harmony and lingers 'til the closing of the day, Just a song of evening flows on, Like some tumbling river, and like a river, flows away." It's another lyrical song guaranteed to charm and delight the listener in equal measure. The next song "Father John" is a heartfelt plea to a parish priest, which opens with a beautiful rare female vocal lead. The only pity is that the unknown female vocalist wasn't featured more on this superb album, which could have elevated the album to a five-star classic. The penultimate song "That Was Yesterday" features the nostalgic vocalist imploringly wishing for times gone by with these appealing words:- "Hopes and schemes, Like old men's dreams, Some have gone astray, The world could never change you said, But that was yesterday." A song with a powerful message that times don't always change for the better, which will resonate with many listeners. The final song "Falkland Grene" is a traditional acoustic Folk ballad, which was recorded way back when people still thought the Falkland Islands were somewhere just off the coast of Scotland, long before they were put on the world map in 1982.

This is timeless English Folk music with charming lyrics that wouldn't have sounded out of place at the signing of the original Magna Carta treaty in 1215. This marvellous album is truly the "Lord of the Ages" that will linger in the memory for a long time to come and is sure to garner new fans of classic Prog-Folk in the decades ahead.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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