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Beggars Opera - Act One CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.62 | 207 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Pass me a valium, I need to calm down. Scottish Proggers Beggars Opera never repeated themselves from album to album. They started out strong, but gradually lessened their impact as the 70's rolled on. This debut release of theirs, 'Act One', features a fine blend of hard- rocking, psychedelic and classically inspired music. Fans of the Rod Evans line-up of DEEP PURPLE as well as THE NICE (featuring Keith Emerson) should look into this album. Heavy with keyboardist Alan Park's virtuosic Hammond organ chops and a Blackmore-esque flavour with Ricky Gardiner's searing lead-guitar runs, this is a sure treat for many prog-heads. The rhythm section of Ray Wilson and Marshall Erskine (drums and bass respectively) are quite able and energetic too. Lead vocalist Martin Griffiths has a fine voice and delivery but it hasn't aged very well, actually, this album hasn't aged very well but it still delivers some superb musical arrangements ; only 1 song clocks in under 4 minutes, 2 tracks around the 7 minute mark, and 2 tracks on side two almost 12 minutes long each. Right from the get-go this is clearly a proto-prog adventure, and one of the finest. 'Poet and the Peasant' sets the album off in a big way with those classical organ lines and Griffiths' vocals - the instrumental passage is reminiscent of Deep Purple's Mandrake Root (live versions anyway, to draw a similar comparison). 'Passacaglia' offers some great melodies and a cool guitar work-out in the middle. The organ and bass work really well together, creating fugue- like complexities. One of my personal faves from this band. 'Memory' is the shorter tune here and very catchy with an 'underground' vibe and bluesy riff - the wah-wah organ is quite psychey. It does tackle some intricate territories to make it a bit more substantial. Finishing off side one is me staring into the Vertigo swirl label which looks like some sort of void with a cone in the middle....... Emersonian organ crashing and pitch-bending kicks off 'Raymonds Road', an extended, jammy instrumental featuring many classical licks from Bach to Sibelius, Rossini to Greig, along with some abrasive guitar soloing. The bass-line is reminiscent of The Nice's 'Rondo'. And on it goes. 'Light Cavalry' leans towards the psychedelic with a colourful wah-wah organ section. More classical riffs along the way. So, nothing too revolutionary nor original, but definately a near-masterpiece in my ears. 4 stars.

Tom Ozric | 4/5 |


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