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Mostly Autumn - Fiddler's Shindig (Live Serie's So Far) CD (album) cover


Mostly Autumn

Prog Folk

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3 stars This is apparently some sort of 'authorized bootleg' live album the band released in 2003, and is one of three such live albums put out that year. The disc doesn't appear in the band's available catalog any longer, but it can be found fairly readily through on- line retailers without too much trouble. The packaging is pretty sparse and has the feel of a bargain bin issue, but the recording quality is actually excellent.

The song selection is a pretty even sampling of the band's first four studio albums, plus one track originally released on the also no-longer-available Heroes never Die anthology. It's a little hard to tell if the album represents a contiguous part of the actual concert or has been spliced together somewhat, but for the most part it flows pretty well. Apparently there was a DVD of the show released later as well, although I haven't seen that myself.

The recording kicks off with the opening tracks from the band's Music Inspired by the Lord of the Rings album, "Overture - Forge of Sauron" and "Greenwood the Great". Both are pretty faithful renderings of the originals, and I must say the Pink Floyd influence is most apparent in the guitar work, particularly on "Greenwood the Great".

Next is a slightly shortened version of "Dark Before the Dawn" from the band's third album, also well constructed but it seems to be hurried along just a bit. This is followed by "Spirit of Autumn Past" from the album of the same name, although the two-part extended version has been considerably shortened here with quite a bit of the instrumentation either abbreviated or left out altogether. Still, this version shows quite a bit more development on keyboards and wind instruments than the much more brief version on the band's two previous anthologies.

"Evergreen" seems to appear on just about anything the band does live or as a compilation, so it's no surprise it shows up here as well. Heather Findlay seems to enjoy lapsing into a kind of folksy trance with the vocals on this song, and in this particular show the crowd seems to show their approval.

"Last Climb" from the band's debut album follows, along with "Shindig" from the Spirit. album. The former is fleshed out with extended strings from Angela Goldthorpe and a couple of short guitar flashes by Bryan Josh, but is otherwise pretty close to the original. "Shindig" on the other hand gets an extended treatment of instrumentation, including a long and charming flute passage by Goldthorpe combined with some sort of soft-sounding Celtic percussion (is this a bodhran? Not sure).

The song that first turned me on to Mostly Autumn was the very accessible and almost poppish "Never the Rainbow", which is a nearly note-for-note faithful reproduction of the original studio version here, including Findlay's vocals which are very strong throughout the entire record.

"Noise From My Head" was first released (to the best of my knowledge) on the now- unavailable anthology Heroes Never Die (that record was later packaged with the Catch the Spirit record to form a two-disc anthology). I didn't really take to this song when I first heard it on the anthology, and it doesn't improve live. Pretty simple folk- influenced structure and rather trite lyrics.

The concert closes with "Shrinking Violet" from the Last Bright Light album and the ubiquitous "Heroes Never Die", which like "Evergreen" seems to show up on everything the band releases. Neither version is noteworthy, but "Heroes." is a very catchy tune and the extended guitar and keyboards draw the show to a close with a flourish. "Shrinking Violet" reminds me quite a bit of some of the more mellow early Fleetwood Mac songs from the 70s, particularly those where Christine McVie sang and played piano. I've read Findlay is a big Mac fan, so perhaps there was some inspiration there, who knows.

This is definitely a must-have for collectors, and is otherwise a very decent representation of the band's early output. I found it to be a bit pricey on-line though, and the two-disc Catch the Spirit anthology goes for about the same price and has pretty much all these tunes plus several more, so I'd have to say that this is certainly not essential for any collection. Three stars is probably right.


Report this review (#86653)
Posted Friday, August 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars The story goes on...with this MA live album...

This album starts with two songs from their "Lord Of The Rings" inspired (?) album. I had quite mixed feeling about that one, but I have to say that these are the most interesting songs of the album, because almost all the other ones were already featured on previous live releases. So, what's the use of this live album ?

I might have found interesting to get the full of "LOTR" being played live. At least some least interesting numbers would have sound catchier while played live, since this band is rather more effective on stage than in a studio.

"Dark Before The Dawn", "Spirit Of (Autumn) Past", "Evergreen", "Never The Rainbow", "Shrinking Violet" and "Heroes Never Die" are all featured on their extraordinary first live album "The Story So Far". Versions were better and more powerful than on this one (especially "Spirit"). "The Last Climb" was available on "Live At The Canterbury Fayre".

So only two new live versions to be discovered from their ealier repertoire : "Shindig" from their second album "The Spirit" and one of the weakest : a frankly useless celtic gigue. It it almost double in lenght here, which does not improve it by any means. The violin seems to been replaced by the flute and after the original song (three minutes), MA will add another pure folkish traditional song. To be avoided.

"Noise From My Head" was an unreleased track on their fantastic compilation work "Catch The Spirit". It is a good (but short) song.

All this is a bit of a disillusion for the fan. I confirm that "The Story So Far" remains their best live ... so far. This effort is not even selling for cheap... For die-hard fans. Two stars.

Report this review (#123797)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | Review Permalink

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