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Magna Carta - Lord Of The Ages CD (album) cover


Magna Carta


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3.49 | 47 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Lord of the ages, whither he goes, nobody knows"

After the excellent "Seasons" had been followed by the decidedly average "Songs from Wasties Orchard", the challenge for Magna Carta was to push themselves once again, and come up with something memorable. It is fair to say they met that challenge head on and with some relish.

Davey Johnstone left the band to join Elton John (an astute move indeed from a financial perspective!) his place being taken by Stan Gordon. The line up was augmented as usual by some worthy musicians, including Gerry Conway (drummer with Cat Stevens) and Graham Smith who would join the band shortly afterwards.

The signature track of the album, and indeed arguably of the band, is the epic title track. This is Magna Carta's "Stairway to heaven". The comparison with that song is appropriate on a number of levels. Like "Stairway..", "Lord of the ages" starts off as a soft acoustic piece. The verses here are spoken over a stunning melody, with a haunting sung refrain. The theme is vaguely theological, being based on the Book of Revelations and the musings of Nostrodamus. As the track develops, the serene atmosphere is suddenly broken by a lead guitar burst. This introduces a much harder, rock based section. While the track has undeniable parallels with "Stairway.." it is also quite different, and certainly one of the most atmospheric piece of prog folk ever created. This one song has been the subject of books, the lyrics being the essence of early 70's prog. The image is only slightly tarnished by the fact that the poem on which the song is based was composed on empty cigarette packets left on a London underground train!

Prior to the title song though, we have two typical Magna Carta softly melodic acoustic songs. Side two continues the gentle atmosphere of these tracks, "Song of evening" having a inspiring, perhaps Celtic refrain. "Father John" has some striking high harmonies before the pace quickens for a Simon and Garfunkel like section. The song's intricate structure belies the apparent lightness of the music.

The final track "Falkland Grene" was recorded for a Scottish TV series called "Castles in the air". The folk influences so intrinsic to the song are accentuated by some fine harmonies.

In all, a beautifully crafted album with a sensational title track. Those seeking to learn what Magna Carta were all about should start here. The icing on the cake is that the album is housed in a sleeve bearing one of Roger Dean's finest pieces of artwork.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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