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The Minstrel's Ghost - The Road To Avalon CD (album) cover

THE ROAD TO AVALON

The Minstrel's Ghost

 

Crossover Prog

3.71 | 83 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars I have the pleasure of owning a physical copy of this album courtesy of Colin Tench (Corvus Stone) who is guitarist on this project, and I have to say that as well as Corvus Stone's, the package of this CD is very good and appears to have been quite expensive for the band as it includes a nice booklet, a pictured CD and all the paintings and photos are excellent.

This is the only contact point, other than the concept with the famous Wakeman's album. The Minstrel's Road To Avalon doesn't pass by a philarmonic orchestra and a chamber choir. The whole album is played by a standard lineup (drums, bass, guitars and keys) and tries to be rock more than symphonic.

Of course, like most of the concept albums there are "circularities": pieces of songs which are recurring, sometimes too often, maybe. The album is structured like a vinyl, a thing that's starting to be frequent enough, with two "macro" parts made each of several songs, plus a bonus track which contains the recurring piece of song which I have mentioned above.

Regardless the musicianship which is above the average, I have to confess that I don't like the opener too much. I understand that an ouverture is made of small parts of the following suite tied together in order to provide the crowd with an anticipation of what is coming. At least in the opera it's so, but in this case we have to wait about 6 minutes before the excellent guitar solo arrives. The sound of the keyboards doesn't sound good enough to me, however the second half of the ouverture is better than the first. Be patient.

The main theme, the recurring one, comes just after the ouverture. The chorus is nice but it will be repeated several times, including the bonus track so at the end one can get tired of it, but as in all the good concept albums/suites the story starts with no solution of continuity: after the main theme, Merlin is the first character to be introduced. My mind goes to the omonimous album by the Dutch Kayak. The major chords and the slow rock atmospheres are quite similar even with the differences due to the different backgrounds: The Minstrel's Ghost is an American band and this can be clearly heard.

"The Lady Of The Lake" is, if we can call it so, one of the most psychedelic moments of the legend, full of magic and wizardry. The guitar solo accompanied by a 12 strings acoustic guitar fits well in it. What I have called "the live sound" of the Corvus Stone album is partially present in this track.

"Excalibur" proceeds on this line. Light rock with keyboards in foreground, then there's the first reprise of Avalon which closes the "Side A" this version is the best of the four in the album.

Side B opens in Camelot. People's voices and what seems a medieval tournament, but on the applause instead of a fanfare there's an excellent drums solo. The rest is a good song, but again I see no minstrels nor ghosts in this music.

Now Guinevere betrays Arthur, we all know the story. The track begins with a dialog, likley Lancelot and Guinevere. The rhythmless bluesy mood is between the intro of Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Blade Runner Blues. The fretless bass sounds a bit 80s and when the vocals arrive I hear echoes of Camel. Surely, it's the best track of the album

"The Son" brings in some more rock. It's probably because I like Colin's touch, but it's when the guitar is in foreground that the album deserves more.

After the last reprise of Avalon, and I have to say that the three Avalon's are different enough one from each other, we arrive at "La Morte D'Arthur" (Arthur's Death in French). The keboards remind again to the main theme, but it's the acoustic guitar that makes the work here. The song is good in its entirety. This is where the vocals work better.

"The End" is an accelerated version of the previous song's coda and a coda to the album.

After three "Avalon"'s the fourth is a 15 minutes song, almost an epic. Not bad but we have already had other 15 minutes of that.

I'm aware that my review has been a bit negative, but looking at the bads is sometimes easier and more immediate than looking at the goods. There are goods in this album, so my rating is not totally negative. The last time I have listened to it I was driving and my sensations haven 't been bad.

It can have three stars

octopus-4 | 3/5 |

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