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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Excalibur III: The Origins CD (album) cover

EXCALIBUR III: THE ORIGINS

Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

 

Various Genres

3.52 | 8 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars This would appear to be a case of "Third time lucky". The final installment of the "Excalibur" trilogy masterminded by ALAN SIMON comes closest to a coherent musical concept in its own right, and not just a tribute to the versatility of world renowned prog and Celtic acts, although it is that too. This strikes me as an improvement not only on its immediate antecedents, but going back to the ambitious but naively flawed MANDALABAND "Eye of Wendor" epic of the late 1970s.

"The Origins" is the most star studded of the "Excalibur" series, with members of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, FLEETWOOD MAC, CLANNAD, THE SILENCERS, SUPERTRAMP, FAIRPORT CONVENTION, RUNRIG, JETHRO TULL and JOHN WETTON (I didn't know whom to put him with these days) all excelling in the delivery of superior compositions. The melodies of "Saman", "Evil Day", "Fame and Glory", "The Promise", and especially "Motherland" and "The Legend of Oisin" are more memorable and committed than we have come to expect. The instrumentals like "Tamlah" and "Iron Age" project the "take no prisoners" and the stately orchestral and choral visions respectively. But it is in "The Lost Season" as the end of the opus approaches that we are led to frame "Excalibur" as a rock opera/musical best communicated live. I know it has been performed, and that Mr Simon has written other theatrical pieces, but he seems to have cranked it up a notch here, and one can sense the immediacy even through layers of studio-level soundproofed insulation. Sure, one begins to wonder if Moya Brennan can sing above a whisper anymore since younger sister ENYA went multi multi platinum, and "Fir Mhor" is a dreadful hard rock misstep, but these voices don't really have the floor.

While it still helps to have a minor in Rock or Keltia, preferably both, to fully appreciate the treasures herein, and even "The Origins" cannot match the glory of the legends on which it is based, but it is certainly the prime portal to the Excalibur Trilogy.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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