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Magna Carta

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Magna Carta Seasons album cover
3.42 | 37 ratings | 8 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Seasons (22:14)
- Prologue
- Winter Song
- Spring Poem
- Spring Song
- Summer Poem
- Summer Song
- Autumn Song
- Epilogue
- Winter Song (reprise)
2. Going my Way (2:55)
3. Elizabethan (2:38)
4. Give me no Goodbye (3:10)
5. Ring of Stones (3:49)
6. Scarecrow (2:17)
7. Airport Song (3:41)

Total Time: 40:44

Line-up / Musicians

- Chris Simpson / acoustic guitar (steel), vocals
- Lyell Tranter / acoustic guitar (nylon), guitar arrangements
- Glen Stuart / harmony vocals, narrator, vocal arrangements

- Davy "Shaggis" Johnstone / electric guitar & sitar
- Rick Wakeman / organ, piano
- Derek Grossmith / flute
- Tim Renwick / recorder
- Peter Willison / cello solo
- Tony Visconti / bass, recorder, arranger & conductor
- Spike Heatley / double bass
- Barry Morgan / drums
- Tony Carr / drums (4)
- London Symphony Orchestra
- Gus Dudgeon / producer

Releases information

Artwork: Linda Glover @ Design Machine

LP Vertigo ‎- 6360 003 (1970, UK)

CD Vertigo ‎- 846 447-2 (1990, Europe) Remastered by Gert van Hoeyen

Thanks to tuxon for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MAGNA CARTA Seasons ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

MAGNA CARTA Seasons reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars It was a very good year

Magna Carta present something of a quandary when attempting to pin them down to a sub-genre. Their roots are very much in the same folk rock territory as bands such as FAIRPORT CONVENTION and THE STRAWBS, perhaps even extending as far west as SIMON AND GARFUNKEL at times (Glen Stuart's voice is similar to Art's). In their early days however, they signed to the Vertigo (swirl) label for this their second album, finding themselves alongside such bands as BEGGAR'S OPERA, BLACK SABBATH, and COLLOSEUM.

It is a chicken and egg question as to how much the label influenced their direction, and to what extent their already planned direction led to their signing for Vertigo, but the results are a unique blend of folk and progressive elements. The first track we are presented with here is a 22 minute suite based on the four seasons of the year. After a spoken prologue, the gentle acoustic "Winter song" introduces us to the wonderful vocal harmonies of the band, seductively accompanied by acoustic guitar. Various themes are explored as the suite moves quickly along. For this album, the band is a trio, but various guest musicians such as Rick Wakeman, Dave Johnstone and Tim Renwick, plus the London Symphony Orchestra create sympathetic but never intrusive sound-scapes on which the band build their supremely melodic pictures. The suite is primarily based around vocals and occasional spoken word, any instrumental breaks being brief and usually in the form of segues. This is though a magical work, spellbinding in its unique beauty.

Side two consists of six short, unconnected songs. Tracks such as "Going my way" and "Give me no goodbye" are light Simon and Garfunkel like pieces, harmonic, infectious and perfectly performed but not the sort of thing visitors to this site are seeking. Special mention should be made of "Elizabethan", one of the most beautiful songs I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. "Ring of stones" is a mini-suite in four minutes, with mysterious lyrics and a wonderful, if all too brief, organ solo by Wakeman.

The album closes with the band's minor hit single "Airport song". This is "Homeward bound" part two, with pleasant orchestration. The lyrics and light melody make a fog bound delay sound positively desirable.

Bearing in mind this album was released in 1970, well before many of its contemporaries, it shows Magna Carta to be a band of great imagination and ambition, unafraid to make the type of highly melodic music they came to develop over the coming years.

A wonderful album of deceptive simplicity. Nice sleeve too.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Debut album from this Folk rock group that will always be on the fringe of prog rock, but never really be part of it in terms of music. Their blend of folk rock was sometimes close to epic and reached some dramatic heights, even writing multi-movement suite (like the title track of this album), but their music was never complicated.

In terms of influences, one can say that vocally, they were often very comparable to what Simon And Garfunkel did. So they sounded more often like a US folk rock, rather than a more British/Celtic folk band, although they delved on both sides on the border. Their sidelong title suite is the main attraction for proigheads, but somehow (if beautiful) the track really fails to convince us. Never does the music get wild or even involved with itself. It is almost like it was afraid of its potential passion, so no matter how much space it was given, it would never allow itself to expand musically even ifd Mr Wakeman and the London Symphonu Orchestra help out. However, I find that the string arrangement only add a coat of sugar on top of the music and is suffocating it rather than spicing it up

But nowhere did their music really get off on the shorter tracks of side 2 as well, and I guess that this pretty well gives you an idea of the group's real potential seen from poroghead's eyes. Plenty of pleasant moments, but the album lacks depth , grits and tripes.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Seasons represents one of Magna Carta's top three albums.If only for side one with the " Season Suite' taking up the whole of the vinyl side in one event. Two key factors to Magna Carta's brand of folkish prog music are Chris Simpson, the creative force behind the group and also Glen Stuart whose blend of vocals with Chris Simpson helped create that trademark sound and harmonized vocal sounds. Compared to Simon and Garfunkel they are,I think the main reason being Chris Simpson's wispy sounding voice being similar to that of Art Garfunkel more than Paul Simon.They are quite similar sounding to an american duo from the 70's called Aztec Two Step.

The "Season suite" has a great pastoral feel starting off with the Winter Song, with poetic narration from Chris Simpson through to the Autumn song with the combined vocals of Simpson and Stuart throughout. Light folk in parts two but undeniably a concept piece with some great guitar, mainly accoustic. The second side seems to be more of a haphazard affair with a few shiningg songs like ' Give Me No Goodbye' and the closer ' Airport Song'. It is great to see that Tim Fenwick of Pink Floyd fame played recorder not to mention contributions from Davey Johnstone, the infamous Tony Visconti and last but not least a Mr. Rick Wakeman. Recommended to those people who like Steelye Span, Fairport Convention, Aztec two Step and Simon and Garfunkel.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Almost as good as Lord Of The Ages, Seasons is a very pleasant & sane progressive folk album. The progressive folk songs are quite catchy and easy to enjoy. The lead & backing vocals are excellent, being among the strongest points of the record. It globally sounds a bit like Simon & Garfunkel in a more progressive & refined manner. It is definitely an major album for 1970. One can recognize Rick Wakeman's organ solo on "Ring of Stones". There is a narration on some traks. There are some excellent orchestral arrangements on a few tracks, courtesy of the "London Symphony Orchestra". The warm acoustic bass and the omnipresent acoustic guitars contribute to enhance the overall value of this record. Usually, I'm not very fond of country music but I must admit that the such part on the "Seasons" track is very good. The delightful last song "Airport Song" reminds me the excellent Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "San Jose".
Review by kenethlevine
3 stars MAGNA CARTA's "Seasons" is a pleasant and almost entirely acoustic "concept" album replete with gorgeous vocal harmonies, a side long suite, and a back to nature vibe that permeated so much music of its day.

Apart from the unavoidable and justified SIMON & GARFUNKEL references, comparisons can also be made to AMAZING BLONDEL, but Magna Carta's sound is even less edgy and progressive, and only occasionally ventures into that group's Elizabethan strongholds. Even if the "Seasons" suite is a mere seasonal song cycle, it does flow clear and free, with nothing to interrupt the sweet sentiments for better or worse. The band are clearly accomplished singers and instrumentalists, but rarely if ever bust out in either category.

The shorter tunes actually uncover several gems of succinct pastoral folk rock, particularly the cello-led "Elizabethan" reminiscent of STRAWBS circa "Dragonfly"; and the surprisingly moody "Ring of Stones" including Rick Wakeman on organ. "Airport Song" was apparently a hit in some European ports of call, and is a ringer for Boxer-era S&G.

I have been known to give high ratings even to albums with such a low prog content simply because of their high quality and a willingness to take risks. The quality of this minor delight is not in question, and this is certainly a solid 3 star + effort, but it doesn't brave the elements enough to make me spring for a fourth star.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is just perfect. Nicely crafted progfolk with lots of beautiful melodies and harmonies. The lower of voice Chris Simpson and the higher voice of Glen Stuart fit so perfectly. Sometimes it's so beautiful it makes me cry. The comparison to The Moody Blues is also a valid one. Especially ... (read more)

Report this review (#1890658) | Posted by Kingsnake | Sunday, March 4, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Too much sugar for my liking....... But it still works. This album consists of one long suite (twenty two minutes long) and some shorter songs. The music is a blend of pop backed up with sugar sweet orchestral production and some good vocals in the vein of Art Garfunkel. Yes, the Simon & ... (read more)

Report this review (#290599) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Labelling Magna Carta as prog related is rather questionable. They may not have any great instrumental virtuosity or complex rhytms, but their un-orthodox songstructures and chordpassages nicely influenced by classical music make them pretty clear prog folk. Title-track is epic, with great lyrics ... (read more)

Report this review (#159425) | Posted by delirium | Monday, January 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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