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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





4.05 | 686 ratings

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3 stars Re visiting the earlier (mid?) catalogue of Pendragon I'd forgotten what stunning music they had been producing. 'The World', 'The Window Of Life' and 'The Masquerade Overture', are three superb albums by anyone's standard, soaring guitar work, tempered by ethereal keys and excellent melodies; though, unsurprisingly some were better than others. Moreover they have withstood the test of time as displayed by their current live set (Concerto Maximo (2008) and more recently Lorley (2009)). I shall review each in turn.

The Masquerade Overture: 3 stars

Arguably continuing where 'Window Of Life' left of (in parts)?

'The Masquerade Overture' purely that an overture set in a classical style however using keyboard generated orchestration followed by a full operatic choir warbling at will ? not what Pendragon are about ? a peculiar introduction, though many groups are employing this as a way start an album? 'As Good As Gold' returning to the more accustomed sound and style of Pendragon, after a short introduction the listener is brought up to speed 'kicking and screaming into the world' typical Pendragon that is eventually brought to a peaceful end. 'Paintbox' another gentle track that ambles along pleasantly before Mr. Barrett's guitar gets going once again. A wall of sound is created that immerses the listener in its cocoon wishing for the option to play again the middle section before the vocal returns. The ending is a bit strange, having thought the song concluded we get a few more moments of noodling that really isn't needed. 'The Pursuit Of Excellence' The Pogues minus Shanes voice. Not quite sure what Pendragon were thinking with this one? Diversification is or well and good but to go this far? Dosen't fit in the scheme of things at all. Thankfully very very short! 'Guardian Of My Soul' Another of those tracks whilst thoroughly Pendragon doesn't quite sit naturally. It starts with the 'noodling' feel again, hinting at but never really arriving clocking in at 12:41 this track never gets under your skin as you would it too. Only three quarters of the way do we get anything resembling what Pendragon are about (personal viewpoint), for brief period. The whole feel of this track is rather disjointed. 'The Shadow' with overly complex keyboards, (Clive attempting to throw the kitchen sink into the mix) and more than a generous nod to Genesis, this track wends its way amiably to the half way stage before the guitar is introduced to superb effect, with the onset of 'King of the Castle', the complexity and muddiness of the earlier part is forgotten, the vocals and direction become much brighter and slicker. The variation and interplay become something of a wonder, great stuff (second part that is?) this second part is visited again as the final track. 'The Masters of Illusion' superb epic that is still part of the main stay of the live set. The start sets off at a pretty frantic rate before settling into the instantly recognisable keyboard riff and the line, 'I'm the master of illusion, the master of all disguise' The track develops and follows a number of twists and turns before reaching the extended finale where the firstly the tempo is drastically slowed, a hint of what is to come is provided before the full glorious aural expansion of a wonderful guitar solo is given full reign. Here Nick uses the whole range of the guitar frets to demonstrate his mastery of the instrument. Unfortunately the solo and the track fade all too soon. 'As Good As Gold' Edit (bonus track on re-release) far too short a version one assumes this was for radio play not that I recollect it being played. 'Master Of Illusion' Edit (bonus track on re-release) it begins as the recognisable keyboard riff begins and ends as a fade out How a 13 minute track can be edited to only 3 though? listen to the original. 'Schizo' (bonus track on re-release) not of the same standard as some of the other tracks, a rather muddy sound drenched in feedback guitar over plodding drums and perhaps reminiscent of latter Floyd, when you here the backing vocals half way through you will understand what I mean, additionally when the guitar break arrives you'd be forgiven for thinking Gilmour was playing. 'King of the Castle' (The Shadow part 2, bonus track on re-release), a sort of acoustic (if electric keyboards can be termed as acoustic?) with no bass or drums present. Very Genesis sounding rendition of the latter part of The Shadow, welcome addition to the alternate version but in my opinion too similar to what Genesis had been doing many years earlier.

This album falls far short of their previous apart from a few exceptions and because of the disparity I feel I have to only award three stars for this release.

huge | 3/5 |


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