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Mostly Autumn - Catch The Spirit - The Complete Anthology CD (album) cover

CATCH THE SPIRIT - THE COMPLETE ANTHOLOGY

Mostly Autumn

Prog Folk


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Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Mostly magic

With five albums recorded over a period of six years behind them, Mostly Autumn decided to revisit what they considered to be their strongest material. The first CD contains almost exactly the same songs as their previous collection "Heroes never die", which was deleted upon the release of this album.

They re-recorded this double CD of tracks in order to, as they themselves put it, improve upon the original recordings. Since I am unfamiliar with their back catalogue, I cannot comment on whether they achieved this goal. What I can say though is, it is difficult to see how the original recordings could be any better than these. This album is a collection of absolutely essential music, it is quite stunning from start to finish.

Mostly Autumn switch between male and female lead vocals, with the tracks often alternating between them. The contrast makes the album constantly interesting. Heather Findlay has an exquisite voice, at times not unlike Sandy Denny's, while Bryan Josh has a more orthodox rock one.

Mostly Autumn make melodic prog similar at times to, but much more rock orientated than, Renaissance. The lead guitar work is excellent. On "We come and go", there are echoes of Ritchie Blackmore in his Rainbow days. On many other tracks, there is a marked comparison with Dave Gilmour ("Evergreen" and the magnificent "The night sky" to name but two). The band's marketing has offered them as "The new Pink Floyd". While I can see where this lofty claim comes from, it is inaccurate, and perhaps even misguided.

The sound is full of rich textures, layered on a foundation of organ and synthesiser. It switches from sensitive acoustics to full force feedback lead guitar solos with startling efficiency. The band are not afraid to suddenly rock out when the mood takes them, the aforementioned "Evergreen" being a stunning example of not just "Autumn", but all four seasons in one track.

Apart from the undoubted musicianship of the band members, the other stunning talent they have is in the song writing. While Josh features heavily in this department, the other band members participate on about half the tracks. The music they create is so amazingly melodic and original, it must be the case that even if they did not record themselves, they would find immense success is creating music for other artists.

I could wax lyrical on and on about this double album. Suffice to say, if you enjoy the type of music described, discover this collection and you will be an immediate convert to this fine band. The only tragedy is that a band of this quality do not in this day and age, get the recognition they deserve outwith enlightened places such as this.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#24321)
Posted Sunday, June 06, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars For starters this is an excellent item to meet the greatness of Mostly Autumn. This is really a best off from te beginning up (but not including) their fantastic album called 'Passengers'. The only remark is the lack of information track-by-track but musically this is all superb. All their essential tracks from 'For All We Shared' to 'Lord Of The Rings' is included. For contractual reasons all tracks on this compilation are re-recorded. Fortunately this is done carefully. All masterpieces Mostly Autumn have created before 'Passengers' are included on this selection. Because Mostly Autumn has dissolved their contract with the label Classic Rock it is possible that this double-CD will be withdrawn within a few months. So, if you can get one, don't hesitate to buy this collection.

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Send comments to versnick (BETA) | Report this review (#45188)
Posted Thursday, September 01, 2005 | Review Permalink
dr.wart.hoove
5 stars Mostly Autumn are a gerat band to watch. Their back catalogue contains many excellent songs. Each studio album had failed to make it to classic status, but this collecction brings the best togeher.

Put Evergreen and Shrinking Violet on the same CD and you have excelled almost everyting else in the genre, whatever that may be.

The rest just displays what a great band MA are. If you have waited since the '70's for someone to take up the gauntlet, then you have waited for MA. Fans of Yes, Genesis, Floyd, etc will lap this up. Anyone who attendas a concert with an open ear will be blown away. This is the album to get into the spirit of MA.

On that basis, 5 stars

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#54708)
Posted Friday, November 04, 2005 | Review Permalink
Kotro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars COMPILATION OR SOMETHING NEW?

First, a story:

After hearing this compilation's version of "The Gap is Too Wide" on Internet Radio, I rushed to one my usual music-shop and ordered this album. After three months there was no news of it. So I went to another music shop and ordered "The Spirit of Autumn Past". It arrived in two weeks. Then I purchased another. Then another. By the time I realised, I had all studio albums up to Storms Over Still Water plus two DVD's. Then one day I get a phonecall: "Hi, it's 'that guy from said store'. That CD you ordered, 'Catch The Spirit', is here. Still want it?" This was TWO YEARS after I had originally made the order, but being the good-spirited fellow I am, I actually went and bought the damn thing. Figured it had a good selection and would make a fine travelling companion, instead of dragging all those CD's along.

I was in for a surprise.

With four albums to their credit by the time this was released, Mostly Autumn had managed to mantain a high level of musical quality that overshadowed their not so great production. This the band admits when they say they re-recorded most songs in this compilation as they would have done originaly, had they the means. As a devoted fan of the originals, I am not commenting on this point, but there were certain improvements made that make this compilation interesting even to those who, like me, already possessed the first four albums.

There are four main types of noticible changes in the versions, with most songs bearing at least one of them: new intro, new vocals, new middle section, new ending. Let's make a round-up of some.

New Intro:

"Nowhere to hide" - features and some hard oriental-sounding guitar riffing complemented with keyboard effect, starting from a slower to a slightly faster pace before giving way to the original compositon (or at least, a re-recording sounding just like the original - in some cases is hard to spot the diference...)

"We come and we go" - this spares us to the original acoustic guitar intro and jumps right into electric, before exposing us to the pleasent surprise we'll see ahead.

"Winter Mountain" - a nice, repetitive but not long-lasting drum and bass intro.

"Spirit of Autumn Past" - this is one of the few cases where they should have left the song alone. Originaly divided into two parts, clocking at a total 9:15 minutes, it's cut short to 4:34 with part 1 completly non-existant and overall spead-up of the music.

New Vocals:

"We Come and We Go" - a brilliant idea of making a song originaly sung by Josh into a Findlay-led track. One of the most pleasant surprises of the album, and a real upgrade to an allready great song.

"Evergreen" - no, it doesn't feature Josh singing, it's still Heather, but a slight change in the way she sings is noticible. It calmer and more paused, loosing some of the raw power of the original.

New Middle Section:

Most songs got a cosmetic treatment throughout their lenght, be it the appearence of strings or the of the electric guitar earlier than expected, a slow down or acceleration in rythym, or the addition of new musical and vocal bits. Here are a few very notcible:

"Please" - a slight change in pace, aprox. 1:30 minutes left till the end, where an almost spoken part with heavy drumming is introduced.

"Heroes Never Die" - the whole song, guitar solo included, appears to have been slown down.

"Prints in the Stone"- this song was made more vivid by the additions of some flute playing after the first chorus, faster drumming sections, and a generaly more electrified aproach to the whole song.

New Endings:

"The Night Sky" - a somewhat annoying and repetitive banging is added to the final section, where the guiter solo alse received a slight "facelift".

"Never the Rainbow" - a faster paced and harder guitar ending, with previous vocals cut- off.

"Porcupine Rain" - a new guitar solo was added where the song originaly faded. Nothing too fancy, but still a nice touch.

"The Gap is Too Wide" - in comparisson to the original, this song was given a slightly faster treatment, which made it loose some of the "funeral march" feel it previusly had. However, this is swiftly compensated by a new guitar and Uilleann pipes ending, where Josh finally proves what a great guitarrist he is, by making is guitar sound tremble till the point we think it's weeping. Very emotional stuff.

"Mother Nature" - if you are familiar with the way this song is played live, they you know what to expect. While the original began fading away into its end pretty early, this version gets an electrefied rebirth and new ending guitar solo some 3 minutes into its end, which is basicaly a transposition into studio of the power the band had already displayed live.

To my knowlage and perception, apart from "The Return of the King", which is give a new, quiter middle section, none of the the songs from "Music Inspired by The Lord of the Rings" were re-recorded. It's a pity, because a couple of them definitly needed it.

Now, I usally think all compilations rate between Poor and Non-Essential. But when they are this carefuly done and and present so surprising alternatives, then the bar slightly rises to the status of Excelent addition to any Prog Music collection. While it is a job worthy of five stars, this time I set a limit and state that no compilation can be a masterpiece. But because this is so pleasing to both avid and first time listeners of the band, the 4-star mark is well deserved.

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Send comments to Kotro (BETA) | Report this review (#109122)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars When I reviewed their fantastic live album "The Story So Far", I was really thankful to the band to have chosen their best numbers and released them in an excellent (five stars) album. What they are doing in this compilation, is pretty much similar.

One has to recognize that instead of just being a collection of their best songs, MA will record them in a newer, fresher, rockier version than originally. I can not remind one single great track that is not featured here. So far, MA has produced four studio albums. All of them are going to be represented here at different levels.

Their debut album is represented with five tracks :

"Nowhere to Hide", "Heroes Never Die" absolutely fabulous and even more extended (over eleven minutes and definitely one of the very highlight of this sublime compilation.

"The Night Sky" which was the closing number and which sounded a bit too melancholic there. On this release, it is punchier and very pleasant, "The Last Climb" which will both sound as Genesis during the very quiet section "How Dare I Be So Beautiful" from "Supper's Ready" and to the Floyd thanks to a great Gilmouresque guitar solo and finally "Porcupine Rain" (very much Crosby, Stills & Nash oriented).

"Spirit Of Autumn Past" their second album counts six tracks:

" Please" one of the best track of this album and a true MA tune with superb vocal parts, "The Spirit of Autumn Past" which features a great chorus, "Evergreen" with its Floydian sound and fantastic guitar break (this is really a trade mark for this band).

"This Great Blue Pearl" is another Gilmouresque influenced song (subsequently, good of course), "Winter Mountain" was the hardest song form this release. I never thought that this type of songs did fit their style and "The Gap Is Too Wide" the best track from "Spirit" : great vocals from Heather and a sublime guitar work. One of my preferred MA songs, all time.

"The Last Bright Light", their third opus is almost fully played, with no less than seven tracks (out of thirteen but several tracks were really short ones).

The original album really featured some of their best songs ever written, like "We Come And We Go"and "Half the Mountain". "Shrinking Violet" is a quiet and good number that kicks off during the second half, "The Dark Before the Dawn" a bit harder than usual but very powerful.

"Prints in the Stone" a sweet track but a bit monotonous in the context of the original album. Since it is mixed here with fantastic nubmers, one does not have the same feeling, "Never the Rainbow" which I compared to a Purple track thanks to its rather hard side and the great organ work sounding as Jon Lord and finally "Mother Nature" a long number with some great moments but also with some lows.

We'll get four songs from LOTR.

I have said in my review for this album that MA missed an opportunit to create a great album with such a good script as the one generated by Tolkien. So four tracks is OK. At least we'll get rid of some useless and pure traditonal folk numbers present of this effort.

"The Riders of Rohan" which is a pleasant folk ballad, "Goodbye Alone" another pure folkish number, "Overture" which is one of the very few tracks which I preferred in its original format and "The Return of the King" and its Floydian sound was one of the good songs from LOTR but this is the album from which the track list is more questionable.

This double CD is a fantastic companion to "The Story So Far". I wouldn't bother in purchasing their four individaul efforts which might deceive some listeners. Get this one instead, and you'll get the essence of the band. Anf with their live album, you'll get an incredible overview on how the band is sounding live. Even if almost every songs is featured here, except "Dark Before Dawn" my preferred track from "The Last Bright" (so, yes there is actually one great track not featured here) !

If you enjoy folk rock, beautiful vocal harmonies and a certain Floydian atmosphere, this album is for you.

I can only think of one rating : five stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#122806)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars CATCH THE SPIRIT!

Once you catch the spirit, you will be mesmirised by Mostly Autumn.

I was introduced to this criminally underappreciated, but nevertheless phenomenal, prog band last year. I don't know where they had been hiding, but no magazine or TV show had even mentioned them. I saw the clips on a Classic Rock magazine compilation DVD. I loved 'Never The Rainbow', with Josh's heavenly guitar and the crystalline angelic vocals of Heather Findlay. I had fallen in love instantly with their folk-rock peaceful up-beat brand of prog and knew eventually I would get hold of their albums. I had adored Findlay's stage presence and her soaring high octave vocal range on Ayreon's brilliant 'The Human Equation'. She played the stereotypical role of "Love" and was a highlight of the album everytime she appeared.

So a place to start for a new fan is a compilation and this seemed as good as any from the list. The first thing that springs to mind as the album launches into one classic after another is Pink Floyd meets Jethro Tull. I am not suggesting they are copying these eclectic artists but they have a feel, a style, and a symphonic ambience similar to these bands. It is a welcome relief that the songs are not focused on dark or disturbing themes, rather there is a decidedly upbeat positive atmosphere mainly instigated from the virtuoso lead guitar work, shimmering Hammond passages and those beautiful heartfelt vocals. The flute complements the wall of sound generated, and there is a relentless pounding bass. Every track has something new to offer and some are absolute masterpieces. I have not heard the entire albums the tracks are taken from but I was pleasantly surprised and count this as one of the best compilations I have heard. The remastering is excellent quality sound, as good as I have heard and there are extra bits added to enhance the tracks, so the liner notes claim, making it a worthwhile purchase for those who already have the albums the tracks are taken from.

Highlights? There are many. From the debut album "For All We Shared" there is "Nowhere to Hide", and "Heroes Never Die". "The Night Sky", and "The Last Climb". All are worthy of listening to and great to hear the early work of the band.

From the "Spirit Of Autumn Past" album the tracks improve and their second album is represented by "Please", "The Spirit of Autumn Past" and "Evergreen" which features on youtube as an institution in itself, so many live versions and all equally brilliant. The excellent "Winter Mountain" is here, and "The Gap Is Too Wide", which is absolutely essential listening.

"The Last Bright Light", their third album features seven tracks, therefore very much the most represented album on this compilation. The best tracks from this are "We Come And We Go", "Half the Mountain" and my favourite, "Shrinking Violet". "Never the Rainbow" is still one of the best I have heard from the band and as my official intro to the group will always be a sentimental favourite. I have to mention the lengthy sub epic "Mother Nature", a journey in time sig changes and mood swings.

Now for the weirdest tracks, namely the four from "Music Inspired by The Lord of the Rings". This a folk oriented sound unlike other tracks with the rock edge sawing across. "The Riders of Rohan" is a balladic Tolkien slice of melancholia, and is pleasant to the ear. "Goodbye Alone" is pastoral folk with Celtic influences focusing on Findlay's vocal prowess, and "Overture" is a typical beginning of an album, bombastic and promising on a grand scale. "The Return of the King" sounds like Pink Floyd again and is heavily enveloped by Celtic influences and symphonic sounds with injections of scorching guitar.

So overall a solid compilation featuring an excellent collection of MA thus far to the release date. Since this there have been many albums I have yet to discover, and if they are as good as the selections on this comp, the skies the limit for Mostly Autumn.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#272674)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2010 | Review Permalink

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