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Fuchsia - Fuchsia, Mahagonny & Other Gems CD (album) cover



Prog Folk

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars This archives disc is of a high interest if you enjoyed the sole Fuchsia album, and the only thing I can be negative about is that the sessions that are really related to their debut could have been added as bonus material on that eponymous album. But record labels are always out to make an easy buck, and in this case, one can doubt if they will because of the confidential nature of the group featured.

The first three tracks are demos that were recorded for their second album (they were looking for another label), and if the sound quality is acceptable for an archives album, they certainly have a finished songwriting feel and are closely related to the debut album, with the same line-up for the first two of them, the third being a pre-debut acetate. All three tracks still have that upfront string section reminiscent of pre-classical music and the very early ELO feel. Even if the Ragtime Brahms might indicate a much later period, we are talking of folk in the popular tradition here. But unfortunately Fuchsia was not able to record again and folded.

The group saw a second incarnation in 75 under the name Mahagonny, but in a fairly different line-up (only leader Durant and drummer Gregory are left) and slightly different instrumentation (added a keyboard), but spiritually this session was very close to the Fuchsia realm. Those five tracks make-up a small opera or conceptual suite based on the Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny (a bit in the style of an updated PF Sorrow from Pretty Things) and the suite is rather a happy and funny affair even if the events in the storyline are not always so. Again the spirit is very folkish and sounds between Eleanor Rigby, early-ELO and somehow a bit like Queen also. Clearly this is Fuchsia's best works here. These tracks actually did not get an issue either and remained dormant for over 30 years, until this release, but if it was a shame that it took so long, I can guarantee you that the wait was worth it.

The next two tracks are pre-debut album, back in the college/uni days, where Durant was mostly playing with his buddy Robert Chudley (they were also playing with future Henry Cow's Chris Cutler at the time) and although not recorded under or attributed to the Fuchsia banner, these two tracks (with the original trio of Durant, Day and Gregory is present) are also very worthy, even if the late-60's feeling is present on these two) but they are also strongly related to the group. Mary Used To.. is a hilarious piece. One last track closes this archive album on a minor note and is not indispensable. As I said above, those last three tracks were expandable and I would've rather have the first 8 tracks as bonus on the official album reissue.

With the booklet giving us a fairly complete overview of the Fuchsia story (and updates us on their later musical adventures), a few pictures and the lyrics, this release is almost (if not more) as essential as the only official album. As I have written in the other review, this obscure group deserved much better back then and even today. Hopefully progheads will one day discover this progressive folk rock group that only sites like ours can feature properly.

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Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 | Review Permalink

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