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Beggars Opera - Act One CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.67 | 199 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Little more than an extended jam session starring Alan Park's Hammonds and Ricky Gardiner's guitars, this debut album bridges the gap between late 60s heavy psych and the burgeoning keyboard oriented trio configuration. I would not be surprised to find that this album was hastily assembled and recorded, but in any case it sounds that way. Classical riffs chug incessantly occasionally punctuated by stoned vocals, with no hint as to the compositional and arranging prowess that would rise to the fore on their very next album. The pace is rarely below break neck, as if the rush to end is on, the pleasure of the journey forsaken.

I'm dubious as to how fresh this sounded on release but it certainly shows its age now. There is a general lack of conviction and a total lack of restraint and/or finesse. Any individual passage might sound fine in a proper setting, but that's another area where Beggars' Opera seems lacking. If pressed to pick a highlight, I choose the frontier abandon of "Light Cavalry", where at least the mood suits the historical themes.

If you want to hear how a similar sound could be parlayed into a real piece, even more miraculously given its live setting, have a listen to "Where is this Dream of Your Youth" off STRAWBS' "Antiques and Curios" album. But I'm sure there are dozens of examples you could pick that are comparably superior and more tasteful.

I'm teetering on the brink of an operatic death by consumption on this one, but have to beg off before I can fairly make up my mind, so 1.6 stars it is.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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