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Beggars Opera - Get Your Dog Off Me ! CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera

Symphonic Prog

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars It's ruff!

Suddenly with this album, the innovation and experimentation which had made Beggars Opera such an original and appealing band, had evaporated.

All that was left was a collection of average pop rock songs, devoid of any great instrumental work. The contrast between the wonderful classically based improvisations of "Act one" and this album could not be more stark. Even the lush mellotron based symphonic prog of "Waters of change" and "Pathfinder" has been set aside with undue haste . This might have been a more acceptable route to take had the band had definite ideas about the direction they did wish follow. Unfortunately though, it is all too obvious that the inspiration which had brought them to this point had simply vanished.

The sole exception is the reworking of Mason Williams' "Classical Gas", which is an excellent interpretation of the 60's classic. This instrumental stands however as a single beacon in a wilderness of mediocrity.

The album as a whole is not worthy of bearing the same band name as that which made such magnificent previous albums.

Report this review (#21696)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is not as good as their 2 first the 3rd the band begin to search a new direction in a more rock way with the band is moving again in folk rock the style of early 70s Poco & Eagles high days... There s nothing wrong in this... If you dont like album as Desperado (eagles'73) and you are only a progressive rock fan... This album will deceive you... it s normal If you re a 70s folk rock fan ...this album will surprise you and maybe your Fave Beggars Opera record... It depend from which star you listen to it... There s no revolution out here the band style use sometimes prog elements and keyboards but it only can be frustratin 4 prog fans ...that their beloved band as choose to move again...too far from them... Song as 'Freestyle Ladies' and his heavy guitars or the (too) simple & good instrumental 'Morning Day' & the more or less prog 'Classical Gas' R all there for music belovers without frontiers... Some will hate the country vocals in 'Sweet Blossom Vocals' as me but the mid track solo is tasty and the end quite good... 'Turn your money green' & 'Working man' are very good 70s rock songs... This album is all about from where you hear it... If you compare it to their past work this is a little deception (even more for fanatic prog ears) If you listen to it with some Distance & if this was the 1st ever album by Beggars Opera this album will have a kinder review... 'Hey where did you go like that' this was maybe the 1st reaction of old fans... Good album for people who like prog rock as much as other styles in the rock n roll of the 70s...
Report this review (#100348)
Posted Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars Having been an avid Beggar Opera fan since day one, this was an album I avoided when it first came out in the 70s based upon negative word of mouth reports. But having recently heard the instrumental 'Classical Gas' for the first time and fallen in love with it, I decided I needed to get this album which I'd otherwise never heard. Maybe I was missing out on another classic in the vein of the band's first three records, all personal favorites. Having purchased this album, I can say that my reaction to it is summed up precisely by its title: 'Get your dog off me!'

In decades of music listening I'm not sure I can think of any downward-spiral transformation by a band that is as dramatic and disappointing as the one demonstrated here. Other than the wonderful 'Classical Gas' (worthy of 'Pathfinder' but certainly not this record), the only thing on this album that remains from the Beggars Opera of the first three albums is the band name. That's it. Were it not for 'Classical Gas', any Beggars Opera fan hearing this record would simply think this was another unrelated band using the same name. First, there are significant personnel changes: Gone are the wonderful, melodramatic vocals of Martin Griffith (alone enough to derail them) and the relaxed & fluid drumming of Raymond Wilson. But along with the departure of these founding members, those who remained decided to simply throw out everything about the band's original musical identity in favor of a new direction entirely: Southern-fried, country boogie rock.'down home' honky-tonk kind of stuff.

Progressive rock? Gone entirely, except for the oddly out of place 'Classical Gas', the only old-style Beggars Opera track on the record. I can be a Lynyrd Skynrd fan on occasion, but this isn't even anywhere near being a good record of its kind, let alone as a 'coming out' statement from a band re-emerging with an entirely new sound. Overall, it is just faceless, average stuff done by a thousand other bands whose names were never known let alone forgotten. I have to wonder what the remaining members of Beggars Opera, as well as the record company, were thinking when they attempted something like this. New vocalist Linnie Patterson was as different from Griffiths as was humanly possible, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever; sheerly mediocre and unremarkable, way out of his league and severely underqualified. Think of Yes replacing Jon Anderson with a third rate Bob Seger wannabe and maybe you get the idea.

Only one bonus track, "Lady of Hell Fire" is of note, not because it is anything like the old Beggars Opera, but because it is yet another change of direction for the band, this time towards a decidedly hard rock/heavy metal sound. But it is also marred by pedestrian, run of the mill songwriting and delivery. Since it was not included on the original album and released subsequently as a single, it indicates that the band were confused about where they were going and tying yet again to find some new kind of sound.

Clearly, with the departure of Griffiths and Wilson, this was a band that lost virtually everything that made them what they were. They were struggling to stay afloat, but were really just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Whether they were musically kidnapped by the new members or willingly participated in the band's 'identity reassignment', the founding members who remained sound here like they have lost their minds, along with all the components that made the original Beggars Opera so charming, unique, and 'progressive.' As such, "Get Your Dog Off Me" should be avoided unless you want to spend the money just for one track. This is not any kind of 'progressive' album but rather a strongly regressive one.

In summation, "How the mighty have fallen." RIP

Report this review (#156600)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I can't really understand what pushed the band in delivering such a weak release. So far, they were quite consistent and offered two good and one very good (their debut) album. Symphonic music with a good dose of heavier sounds was quite a fine mix.

This album is no such work. It is filled with easy listening music. Some might seem OK like the boogie Freestyle Ladies or the rock ballad Open Letter but other ones are of the poorest vein. But some other ones are on the minus side really: the straight forward pop music oriented Morning Day for instance. It holds passionless vocals, a simple structure but at least a fine guitar solo to close (there won't be many).

While the band is proposing the awful country style Sweet Blossom Woman, the trouble is pretty serious amongst earlier hour fans. It ends up in some jazzy jam. Press next of course.

The bluesy style is not forgotten either with Turn Your Money Green: it could have been a Procol Harum song; vocals are close to Brooker. But alas, the song writing is not on par.

It seems that Beggars Opera did exactly what Strawbs will do some years later with Nomadness and Deep Cuts: to produce a rock album for American audiences and radio-friendly music. It is not the type of music that I like.

There are actually only two song that deserve a mention: the instrumental and enjoyable Classical Gas and the heavy-rock closing track Working Man. Frenetic keyboards, strong beat, solid bass play and aggressive guitar. At least a song with a good texture!

Beggars Opera is even flirting with pure hard-rock on Lady Of Hell Fire (one of the CD bonus tracks) and it sounds superior to most songs from the original album. Two stars.

Report this review (#185463)
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Big changes arrived with Scottish band Beggars Opera's fourth album, the absurdly titled `Get Your Dog Off Me!' in 1973! Bass player and flautist Marshall Erskine had departed before the recording of the previous album `Pathfinder', but more crucially, distinctive and charismatic singer Martin Griffiths was gone this time around too, robbing the band of one of their most defining features. In came new vocalist Linnie Paterson, and now their music was mostly stripped of many of the more interesting prog-rock qualities for something definitely aimed at American audiences. It's not quite the total disaster it's often made out to be, but it will certainly be a disappointment for many of those who enjoyed their previous albums.

The opening title track is a fiery pop-rocker that holds some of the playful cheekiness of those breezier Caravan tracks like `Behind You', although Linnie's gutsy vocals are a world away from Martin Griffith's pomp and it really alters the identity of the group, despite the playing from many of the same musicians clearly still being up to scratch. `Freestyle Ladies' is book- ended as a fairly throwaway piano-pounding retro rock n'roller, but it delivers an ambitious chorus and a rip-roaring brief Hammond solo burst in the middle, while `Open Letter' is an angry tirade against critics and reviewers (uh oh!) that boasts a proud and defiant lead vocal, shambling guitars and thick murmuring bass. `Morning Day' is buoyant country-lite pop, but at least teasing instrumental `Requiem' offers searing electric guitars that have just a little taste of early Seventies Pink Floyd to them, although it sounds underdeveloped and like a fragment of something larger cut down to the scant two minute interlude here.

The second side's opener delivers an unexpected highlight with `Classical Gas', but rather than a tired acoustic remake, the band deliver a pimped-out, progged-up version! Throwing in everything from ravishing piano, sparkling harpsichord, spiralling Moog, frantic drumming, red-hot guitar wailing and searing Mellotron veils, it would have been a complete standout on any of the earlier defining Beggars Opera albums. `Sweet Blossom Woman' is an easy-to-enjoy but throwaway country-flecked rocker (lifted by some breakneck Moog and electric piano soloing in the finale), and confident rocker `Turn your Money Green' slides into ballad-like moments of dreamy chiming guitars and ruminative bass. `La-di-da' is a romantic sing-along with a Joe Cocker-like quality with the warmest of humming Hammond organ, and `Working Man' is a final husky R n'B bluesy rocker that may not be a particularly memorable closer, but it at least allows for nice soloing moments from the players.

Recent CD reissues include two bonus tracks of both sides of an exclusive 1973 single - `Two Timing Woman' is a roaring horn- powered grooving scorcher, and `Lady of Hell-Fire' opens as a baffling screeching AC/DC-ish belter before carrying on as an Atomic Rooster-like heavy metal rocker! These two pieces would have probably jarred with the sound of the proper album, but they might actually be stronger than several of the tracks on it!

Despite the arrangements mostly becoming less intricate and the singing being entirely different to what came before, careful listening to the instrumentation means `Get Your Dog Off Me!' is still recognisable as coming from the musicians who delivered those first three classic Beggars Opera discs. Prog purists will want to stick to those first few, but repeated listens of `Dog' at least reveals an undemanding and enjoyable rock album with very strong melodic qualities and great playing, which is more than enough to gently recommend it.

Two stars as a prog album, but three for a perfectly decent rock album.

Report this review (#1709811)
Posted Monday, April 10, 2017 | Review Permalink

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