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Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture CD (album) cover





3.99 | 590 ratings

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5 stars Let there be no doubt - this is a tremendous album! On first hearing this, I wasn't so sure about it as it is not quite so easy to listen to as the previous two albums; but that is only my opinion! Nevertheless, once you have heard it two or three times, you realise the incredible compositional skills of Mr Barrett. A concept album ( the concept I will leave to you to discover as I don't like to spoil these things!) it is in the great tradition of The Lamb, (still maybe the greatest concept album of all time, from the greatest prog group of all time!) The opener is a truly operatic affair, and may deceive the first time listener, but it is pure quality. Then comes Mr Nolan's quite piano, followed by the bursting into life of As Good As Gold. Tremendous. This is an excellent track. Then comes one of the highlights for me, Paintbox. Beautifully constructed, with an excellent melody and absolutely superb layered guitar in the beautiful solo, leading into the end of the song, this is sheer class. (The acoustic work at the beginning is something else too!) I have always felt that, in some ways, this band are far closer to the spirit of Genesis than Marillion, even in the Fish-era days. And a lot of this is down to the acoustic guitar work, I think. Steve Hackett could easily be playing on some of these tracks. Next comes The Pursuit Of Excellence, which conjures up precisely what it is supposed to, a turn of the century family, sitting round a table in an old barn, drinking ale and staring out at a dusty road. (Well, that is what it brought to my mind!) Then comes Guardian Of My Soul. Another wondrous piece, though maybe more fragmentary than the others, probably because of its sheer size. Lots of changes in the time signatures here, with supreme guitar and keyboard work, especially the nice tinkly piano near the beginning. Now comes another highlight for me, The Shadow! As another reviewer has already said, this is prog at its best! Very Genesis in its feel, with brilliant acoustic guitar, a memorable melody, and a guitar solo to weep for in the middle. Awesome! Masters Of Illusion finishes off the album in grandiose style and brings to the fore the other major influence in Pendragon's music, one I have often detected - Pink Floyd. Something to do with the girly backing vocals I think, and the cutting Gilmourish solo. The song almost reminds me at the beginning of Run Like Hell, from The Wall. Then comes a quiet, and quite mysterious, ethereal middle, followed by a classic prog ending, with a fabulous guitar solo and heavy chords fading out. This is unmissable. Buy it! Hard to improve on this!
chessman | 5/5 |


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