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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Excalibur II - The Celtic Ring CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.46 | 26 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Alan Simon is a French musician (I learned his nationality by watching the companion DVD "Making of Excalibur II") but he has taken a very British subject for his album trilogy, the Arthurian legends. I have now listened to this second CD only but I think that by choosing the best tracks from each there would be a very nice if not great mucical voyage into Avalon, or Anwynn. This is comparable to MANDALABAND's Eye of Wendor (1978) - there even are some guest artists appearing in both.

As the subtitle "The Celtic Ring" underlines, the music has a strong Celtic folk flavour, which in practice means mostly the instruments familiar from the British / Celtic Folk Rock tradition. Also the cast is chosen in order to bring the connection to both progressive rock - its original generation of the 70's - in general and to the folk department in particular. Fairport Convention stars in two tracks. Female vocals are by Maddy Prior (known from Steeleye Span), Jacqui McShee (Pentangle), and very beautiful (and yet standardish) voice of Karan Casey from the new folk generation. These emotional tracks are among the highlights. McShee is accompanied by the Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider.

Of the male vocalists it's Justin Hayward (the Moody Blues) with his two tracks, 'Earth & Sky' and 'Celtic Heart', who makes the best appearance. John Wetton does a good vocal in 'Lugh' but he's not quite as well at home with this folky album as others. The biggest problem is with Jon Anderson. Maybe it's just the arrangement and mixing that I dislike in 'Circle of Life', but the track sticks out of the whole in an unpleasant way, to me. BJH's Les Holroyd's fragile voice is way too nasal in 'Call' to sound good.

As for the compositions, this album is mostly quite pleasant, at times very beautiful, if you like Celtic, New Agey rock, but far from unforgettable. One might say it's all very expectable, close to being one big cliché. Don't expect progressive rock! The 45-minute DVD is a nice addition, showing all these legendary musicians (turned grey) giving their participation. What they speak is not that interesting, just the usual blah blah about the Arthurian legends that they read in school and the great experience of working together with these great musicians etc. Oh no, Justin Hayward gives an acoustic fragment of 'Nights in White Satin' (I just mean I'm getting tired of seeing that song popping up wherever Justin is shot into a DVD). The liner notes include lyrics and narrative introductions to each track (for which I find very little interest, but which of course can bring an additional value if you're a big fan of these legends).

Matti | 3/5 |


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