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Mostly Autumn - Catch the Spirit - The Complete Anthology CD (album) cover


Mostly Autumn


Prog Folk

4.43 | 40 ratings

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Prog Reviewer

First, a story:

After hearing this compilation's version of "The Gap is Too Wide" on Internet Radio, I rushed to one my usual music-shop and ordered this album. After three months there was no news of it. So I went to another music shop and ordered "The Spirit of Autumn Past". It arrived in two weeks. Then I purchased another. Then another. By the time I realised, I had all studio albums up to Storms Over Still Water plus two DVD's. Then one day I get a phonecall: "Hi, it's 'that guy from said store'. That CD you ordered, 'Catch The Spirit', is here. Still want it?" This was TWO YEARS after I had originally made the order, but being the good-spirited fellow I am, I actually went and bought the damn thing. Figured it had a good selection and would make a fine travelling companion, instead of dragging all those CD's along.

I was in for a surprise.

With four albums to their credit by the time this was released, Mostly Autumn had managed to mantain a high level of musical quality that overshadowed their not so great production. This the band admits when they say they re-recorded most songs in this compilation as they would have done originaly, had they the means. As a devoted fan of the originals, I am not commenting on this point, but there were certain improvements made that make this compilation interesting even to those who, like me, already possessed the first four albums.

There are four main types of noticible changes in the versions, with most songs bearing at least one of them: new intro, new vocals, new middle section, new ending. Let's make a round-up of some.

New Intro:

"Nowhere to hide" - features and some hard oriental-sounding guitar riffing complemented with keyboard effect, starting from a slower to a slightly faster pace before giving way to the original compositon (or at least, a re-recording sounding just like the original - in some cases is hard to spot the diference...)

"We come and we go" - this spares us to the original acoustic guitar intro and jumps right into electric, before exposing us to the pleasent surprise we'll see ahead.

"Winter Mountain" - a nice, repetitive but not long-lasting drum and bass intro.

"Spirit of Autumn Past" - this is one of the few cases where they should have left the song alone. Originaly divided into two parts, clocking at a total 9:15 minutes, it's cut short to 4:34 with part 1 completly non-existant and overall spead-up of the music.

New Vocals:

"We Come and We Go" - a brilliant idea of making a song originaly sung by Josh into a Findlay-led track. One of the most pleasant surprises of the album, and a real upgrade to an allready great song.

"Evergreen" - no, it doesn't feature Josh singing, it's still Heather, but a slight change in the way she sings is noticible. It calmer and more paused, loosing some of the raw power of the original.

New Middle Section:

Most songs got a cosmetic treatment throughout their lenght, be it the appearence of strings or the of the electric guitar earlier than expected, a slow down or acceleration in rythym, or the addition of new musical and vocal bits. Here are a few very notcible:

"Please" - a slight change in pace, aprox. 1:30 minutes left till the end, where an almost spoken part with heavy drumming is introduced.

"Heroes Never Die" - the whole song, guitar solo included, appears to have been slown down.

"Prints in the Stone"- this song was made more vivid by the additions of some flute playing after the first chorus, faster drumming sections, and a generaly more electrified aproach to the whole song.

New Endings:

"The Night Sky" - a somewhat annoying and repetitive banging is added to the final section, where the guiter solo alse received a slight "facelift".

"Never the Rainbow" - a faster paced and harder guitar ending, with previous vocals cut- off.

"Porcupine Rain" - a new guitar solo was added where the song originaly faded. Nothing too fancy, but still a nice touch.

"The Gap is Too Wide" - in comparisson to the original, this song was given a slightly faster treatment, which made it loose some of the "funeral march" feel it previusly had. However, this is swiftly compensated by a new guitar and Uilleann pipes ending, where Josh finally proves what a great guitarrist he is, by making is guitar sound tremble till the point we think it's weeping. Very emotional stuff.

"Mother Nature" - if you are familiar with the way this song is played live, they you know what to expect. While the original began fading away into its end pretty early, this version gets an electrefied rebirth and new ending guitar solo some 3 minutes into its end, which is basicaly a transposition into studio of the power the band had already displayed live.

To my knowlage and perception, apart from "The Return of the King", which is give a new, quiter middle section, none of the the songs from "Music Inspired by The Lord of the Rings" were re-recorded. It's a pity, because a couple of them definitly needed it.

Now, I usally think all compilations rate between Poor and Non-Essential. But when they are this carefuly done and and present so surprising alternatives, then the bar slightly rises to the status of Excelent addition to any Prog Music collection. While it is a job worthy of five stars, this time I set a limit and state that no compilation can be a masterpiece. But because this is so pleasing to both avid and first time listeners of the band, the 4-star mark is well deserved.

Kotro | 4/5 |


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