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Beggars Opera - Waters of Change  CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.62 | 177 ratings

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4 stars Waters Of Change is one of those lovely efforts that is worthy of the "little-known masterpiece" tag that is so freely applied to the literally hundreds of obscure recordings in progressive rock circles. Not having heard either the debut album Act One or the lauded successor Pathfinder (aside from the delectable cover of MacArthur Park) I can't comment on how this album matches up to the rest of this Scottish sextet's output, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if this was the finest Beggar's Opera album.

At the heart of the group is an understated but effective dual keyboard attack of mellotronist Virginia Scott, whose sounds paint crucial colours that help the other musicians shine, and organist/pianist Alan Park, who gets the lion's share of the many fine solos that puntuacte this recording at regular intervals. If pushed I'd say that Park's organ solo in I've No Idea is very narrowly his finest moment, but as overall songs, it is Time Machine and Silver Peacock that really clinched the deal for me. Here the vocals of Martin Griffiths (which don't always work) and the subtle guitar work of Ricky Gardiner come into play.

Although there are 9 tracks listed here, the album's core is 5 strong pieces. There's the scintillating, beautifully paced Time Machine (with a guitar hook that just sticks in your head) and the throbbing I've No Idea (with surprisingly poppy lyrics). There's Festival (which redeems itself after a poor start and contains some flute playing by original bassist Marshall Erskine who had been replaced by Gordon Sellar for this album) and the lovely Silver Peacock, which starts off with some baroque organ (Bach surely?) and then rides on a beautiful melody before concluding with some more majestic melodic solo work from Park. The fifth "main" song is the thrill a minute jazz-rock conclusion The Fox, which like Festival seems to have to overcome some weak passages to sit comfortably alongside the other excellent tracks on the album ... some spacey guitar lead work from Gardiner eventually does the trick!

Three of the other tracks function as brief introductions to some of the main fare (although the string/guitar exchange between Scott and Gardiner is quite special), while the fourth Nimbus is a pretty, but unremarkable instrumental (although for some reason the string attack of the Britpop phenomenon Verve's Bittersweet Symphony comes to mind).

Beggar's Opera is not one of those slick "audiophile" prog groups ... indeed there are rough edges to this album. I don't think it needs any smoothing out though. ... 73% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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