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Magic Bus - The Earth Years CD (album) cover


Magic Bus

Canterbury Scene

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3 stars Magic Bus has come a long way since its inception. The rhythm section (bass / drums) which tinkered with the first two albums was replaced from the "Philipp The Egg" album by a line that holds up. The result matures and goes wonderfully with keyboard, guitar and Paul Evans' delicate vocals. On "The Earth Years", Caravan's paternity is still present but as on the previous album, the influence of David Allen's Gong colors the songs. The pieces alternate between pastoral ballad à la Caravan (Setting Sun / We Are One), psychedelic parts (New Day), burlesque à la Gong (Easy Om, The Road To mesquita), or more adventurous (Bareley Corn). Note that contrary to what is announced in the line-up above, flutist Viv Goodwin Drake has left the formation. This absence is very regrettable, it added a touch of freshness to the whole and would have reinforced the album which does not reach the four *. In the end, an honest 3.5 * and an album recommended to fans of accessible Canterbury.
Report this review (#2437776)
Posted Saturday, August 15, 2020 | Review Permalink
3 stars 1/3 Caravan 2/3 Gong

This album is a little different then the previous albums which have been quite similar. The focus is on shorter songs which are a tad sillier then before.

Most of the songs are Paul Evans singing in his unique inflection. The first half of the album is largely similar, happy harmonies introduced by their unpaired vocals and brief guitar solos.

On Barleycorn something a little different happens. The song opens with some lovely janky guitar work then goes into vocals accented by a tamboura supplying an eastern flavour.

Squirrel, the longest song clocking in at 7:01 obviously deviates as the other songs are all around four minutes. Opening with a short guitar intro, vocals quickly come (I believe this song is actually about a Squirrel). After the vocals comes a calm chanting section which is not excessive because the vocals are mixed not very loud and doesn't last long. When this is done some guitar chords provide a backing over which e piano solos. The ending to this song is gratifying instrumental work and something the rest of the album lacks.

The last song We Are One is back to the standard style of the album although it has a noticeable kick drum.

Overall this album is alright. It reminds me of old music like 1967-68. 3/5

Report this review (#2577695)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2021 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Earth Years - the most recent Magic Bus album at the time of writing - continues the band's ongoing tribute to the lighter, fluffier side of the Canterbury scene. Don't expect intense, complex jazz-rock like Soft Machine or avant-garde experimental proto-RIO like early Henry Cow - this takes early Gong and Caravan as its main lodestones, and adds on some West Coast folk rock harmonies to spice things up. It's good, but it's the sort of good we've heard from Magic Bus before; if you're heard their preceding albums, you know what the deal is here, and if you haven't I think they're a bit more fresh than this, which risks tipping over into being outright formulaic.
Report this review (#3036661)
Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2024 | Review Permalink

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