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SUDDENLY AHEAD AHEAD

Beggars Opera

Symphonic Prog


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Windhawk
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4 stars The Scottish band BEGGARS OPERA had its heyday in the early 70's, back then issuing a trio of albums that are generally well regarded. Their recording career went into decline after that, however, and after 1980's "Lifeline" they went on a hiatus. A partial reformation by some members resulted in the less than thrilling effort "The Final Curtain" in 1996 as something of a last whimper. Then in 2007 original guitarist Ricky Gardiner and vocalist Virginia Scott returned with the album "Close to My Heart", and in 2009 this was followed by "Touching the Edge". And these days this reformed version of Beggars Opera seems to have reached some sort of creative peak, issuing no less than 3 full albums in 2010. "Suddenly Ahead Ahead" is the first of these.

Beggars Opera continues exploring pretty much the same territory on this album as on their previous two efforts, art rock compositions with distinct symphonic tendencies and occasional proclivities in the direction of bands like Pink Floyd. Perhaps slightly more mainstream-oriented on this CD, possibly reaching out to a wider audience, but those who enjoyed their previous two efforts should find this first of their 2010 productions to cater for their musical tastes quite nicely.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#377556)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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3 stars Cranberry jam

The third album since the Beggars' Opera name was resurrected in 2007, "Suddenly ahead ahead" (sic) is a natural progression from the two albums which precede it. Once again, there is really no connection here with the pioneering symphonic prog of the 1970's Beggar's Opera, indeed the tendency here is even more towards melodic electronic pop. The line up remains unchanged, the trio being joined by a fourth member of the Gardiner family when Leonora Gardiner sings backing vocals on "Sad songs".

The opening title track has a nice lead guitar motif, the track being driven along by an upbeat pop rhythm. Only the imaginative arrangement stops this from being a simple pop song though. This template is followed on most of the following tracks. There is generally less experimentation here than on the comeback album "Close to my heart", the results being a sort of blend of The Cranberries, Blondie and Hazel O'Connor.

"Towers Falling" is a bit different in that it is based on a rockabilly rhythm while featuring some nice guitar interludes. The track develops superbly, the drama of the piece being revealed with subtlety. The aforementioned "Sad songs" is a highlight of the album. The track is slightly slower, with a generally more relaxed feel. The drifting lead guitar and multi-part vocal arrangement contribute to the appeal.

With every track being within a few seconds of five minutes in length, it is clear that Ricky Gardiner was working to a well planned template here. While the arrangement of the tracks takes them beyond simple pop statements, each is kept well reigned in, and not allowed to develop beyond its strict boundaries. Overall, and enjoyable album, but one which fails to move things on and as such is simply more of the same.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#413249)
Posted Wednesday, March 09, 2011 | Review Permalink

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