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GALLEY BEGGAR

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Galley Beggar biography
GALLEY BEGGAR originated in the collaborations between David Ellis and
Mat Fowler, who had originally played in a LED ZEPPELIN tribute band. Their interest in one particular track, The Battle of Evermore, featuring Sandy Denny on guest vocals, sent them down that irresistible path of acid folk. The band self produced their first two albums and, by the time they were signed to doom metal (!) label Rise Above, they had a stable lineup which included lead vocalist Maria O'Donnell, who is married to Fowler; Paul Dadswell; Bill Lynn, and Celine Marshall.

They have recorded and performed both traditional and original tunes, and have a following that spans aged hippies, metal fans, and the open minded prog community. Influences range far and wide but favor the gone but not forgotten late 1960s British folk rock of FAIRPORT CONVENTION, TREES and COMUS, as well as more current groups like ARCADE FIRE.

Galley Beggar belongs in progarchives for their modernized take on the electrified prog folk of a bygone age, and their enthusiasm at revitalizing that sound in the 21st century, having demonstrated a commitment to evolution through 4 releases as of mid 2017.

Galley Beggar official website

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Buy GALLEY BEGGAR Music


Heathen HymnsHeathen Hymns
RISE ABOVE LIMITED 2017
Audio CD$10.83
$10.82 (used)
Silence & TearsSilence & Tears
RISE ABOVE LIMITED 2015
Audio CD$7.98
$11.05 (used)
Silence & Tears by Galley Beggar (2015-08-03)Silence & Tears by Galley Beggar (2015-08-03)
RISE ABOVE LIMITED
Audio CD$40.08
Silence & Tears by Rise Above LimitedSilence & Tears by Rise Above Limited
Rise Above Limited
Audio CD$40.22
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GALLEY BEGGAR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GALLEY BEGGAR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Reformation House
2010
3.00 | 1 ratings
Galley Beggar
2012
3.38 | 4 ratings
Silence and Tears
2015
4.00 | 1 ratings
Heathen Hymns
2017

GALLEY BEGGAR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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GALLEY BEGGAR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

GALLEY BEGGAR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Silence and Tears by GALLEY BEGGAR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.38 | 4 ratings

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Silence and Tears
Galley Beggar Prog Folk

Review by Tonbridge Man

4 stars Silence and Tears marks a quantum leap for Galley Beggar and in truth this their third album is the first one that prog fans and prog folk fans should consider adding to their collections. Everything is an improvement on their second effort - mixing, production values, song-writing, quality of vocals and most of all a greater tightness and focus in their approach. Their second album was an interesting but disjointed set of folk songs. Here they are reaching for greater things, still drawing on the influences of heroes of the great days of folk rock , Fairport, Steeleye and Pentangle but stamping their own mark. There is no weak song here and several standouts including a gorgeous version of Geordie, the poignant self -penned title track, the opener Adam & Eve, the haunting Empty Sky and the 9 minute long Pay My Body which references a Sailors Life slightly but is none the worse for that. Go check it out - you'll be surprised.

 Silence and Tears by GALLEY BEGGAR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.38 | 4 ratings

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Silence and Tears
Galley Beggar Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars With this 3rd release, GALLEY BEGGAR found themselves signed to "Rise Above Records", which sounds like a protest folk label but is actually skewed to doom metal and its ilk. While part of the improved exposure of "Silence and Tears" is simply due to the muscle of a major label, another effect is that every doom metal blogger in every man cave was asked to review this (gasp!) folk rock album. These assessments, some well written, others not, are a joy to read because they offer an outsider perspective. As a folk rock "insider", I relish the humility that comes with acknowledging that some reference points for the sound of GALLEY BEGGAR emanate from the 2010s and not 1968-1971! Two such examples are ARCADE FIRE and FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE.

I need to make reparations for ever saying that GALLEY BEGGAR was trending in the TREES direction with each release. I had another cursed listen to the primordial sludge fest that is "On the Shore", and, if any point of comparison is possible, it is in how GALLEY BEGGAR has deftly sidestepped the busy work that was TREES' stock in trade, and that they do cover that band's "Geordie" oh so much more succinctly, with the one lead guitar running circles around the feuding twins of that long ago release. Maria O'Donnell's voice is more emotive and dynamic than Celia Humphries', while every bit the technical equal.

All that said, and notwithstanding the shining fiddling of "Adam and Eve" which compensates for its shockingly misogynist lyrics, the sweetly uplifting MERLIN BIRD like "Sanctuary Song", and the stop-me-in-my-tracks beauty of MR FOX-like closer "Deliver Him", this is a downbeat affair that is not the better for it. Particularly the 9 minute "Pay my Body Home" is as moribund as the most bloated JETHRO TULL epic, and until GALLEY BEGGAR can deliver sadness with a smile - see the STEELEYE SPAN classics for the ultimate guide - they will remain just shy of the 4 star hump. Too bad, so sad.

 Galley Beggar by GALLEY BEGGAR album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Galley Beggar
Galley Beggar Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars This self titled release is actually the second by GALLEY BEGGAR, a characteristic that seemed more common in the 1970s. Only 2 years had elapsed since "Reformation House", but they ushered in a 50% changeover in personnel and a decidedly more rock attitude to admittedly very folk based selections. New lead singer Maria O'Donnell is well suited to the harder edged delivery, and new fiddle player Celine Marshall adds moxie. The purity of the mandolin remains central to their sound, but much more electric guitar rides the arrangements. This still isn't quite in the realm of TREES but is trending in that direction. The primary creditors are still FAIRPORT CONVENTION/STEELEYE SPAN.

The album opens well with "Willow Tree" which borrows a bit from early CLANNAD in meter and gentility until the lead guitar bust out for the last couple of minutes, dialing up the urgency. Several other traditional oriented pieces are not only well chosen but, most importantly, arranged in a manner that pays respects to prior standards while establishing their own brand in the lexicon. "Two Magicians" will be difficult to displace from your musical memory, and, while it can't quite approach the perfection of the IAN ANDERSON-produced STEELEYE version, it's nonetheless a triumphantly told tale of conflict, and ultimately, loss. "Nottamun Town" is wisely most faithful to that of FAIRPORT which was one of that band's best ever performances, and, while "John Barleycorn" is revved up in comparison to TRAFFIC's standard, it's far rewarding than the STEELEYE version. They even manage the unthinkable, a chorus that does little more than chant the title a few times and somehow augments the impact of this pre pre pre prohibition treatise.

Once again, though, it's an "R" song that snatches the prize, the energetic "Rendall", with a near a capella chorus of exquisite male and female harmonies, that shifts away from the narrative of the verses; glistening mandolin bridges, and finally an accomplished lead guitar outro over bubbling percussions like something out of early HORSLIPs.

While "Lady Grey", "Hymn to Pan", and "Birds and Fishes" all occasionally approach the above standards, overall they seem less stimulating and dynamic, while "Daverne Lamb" is in the vein of "Matty Groves" or even "Byard's Leap" by DECAMERON off their debut, but lacking their epic qualities. As a result, the heavier instrumental breaks don't sprout organically from the roots of these song, instead spread at the end like a 5th coat of paint in a different color.

While about half the tracks point the way to an ever more exultant future, this album lacks the consistency and balance to tip the scales into the "excellent" zone. Still, I recommend it to most fans of the above bands. 3.5 stars it is, rounded down.

 Reformation House by GALLEY BEGGAR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Reformation House
Galley Beggar Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars It's probably not that uncommon for two members of a LED ZEPPELIN tribute band to decide to go rogue, and I'd even wager that it's not terribly rare for them to parlay their love of a particular LED ZED style into their own mashups. But the seeds of GALLEY BEGGAR were nurtured by a love of one particular track, "The Battle of Nevermore", which cued Mat Fowler and Paul Ellis to dwell in the shrouded moors and epochs of British psych folk for the last 7 years and release 4 albums in that span. Now that's kinda weird amiright?

"Reformation House" is the first of their efforts, self produced and released, with a slapdash blend of the traditional, the covered, and the original. The requisite tales of often supernatural woe, offering female vocals (Francis Tye) generally backed by clean mandolin, acoustic guitar, and violin, evoke the distant works of FAIRPORT CONVENTION, STEELEYE SPAN, and PENTANGLE, in a format far tighter than any of those bands ever were, and perhaps wanted to be. This tightness is as much in the hips and lips as in the ensemble interactions, and, while only the repetitive "Sir Richard" and the lethargic "farewell Nancy" really fall short, I should also add that only the traditional ballad "The Outlandish Knight", with its marvelous fiddle work particularly in the coda; the haunting SALLY OLDFIELD like "Rowan", with its glorious chorus and flutes; and the urgent and more relatively contemporary "Arise Arise!" which closes the disk really step up and announce that GALLEY BEGGAR is here and now, and more just than another form of tribute band.

While at this stage GALLEY BEGGAR has not found its unique voice, "Reformation House" is a more than competent debut from an embryonic lineup that nonetheless establishes the group's key credentials and keeps them out of the reformatory long enough to fight another day.

Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition.

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