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Beggars Opera - Get Your Dog Off Me ! CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

2.44 | 60 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Big changes arrived with Scottish band Beggars Opera's fourth album, the absurdly titled `Get Your Dog Off Me!' in 1973! Bass player and flautist Marshall Erskine had departed before the recording of the previous album `Pathfinder', but more crucially, distinctive and charismatic singer Martin Griffiths was gone this time around too, robbing the band of one of their most defining features. In came new vocalist Linnie Paterson, and now their music was mostly stripped of many of the more interesting prog-rock qualities for something definitely aimed at American audiences. It's not quite the total disaster it's often made out to be, but it will certainly be a disappointment for many of those who enjoyed their previous albums.

The opening title track is a fiery pop-rocker that holds some of the playful cheekiness of those breezier Caravan tracks like `Behind You', although Linnie's gutsy vocals are a world away from Martin Griffith's pomp and it really alters the identity of the group, despite the playing from many of the same musicians clearly still being up to scratch. `Freestyle Ladies' is book- ended as a fairly throwaway piano-pounding retro rock n'roller, but it delivers an ambitious chorus and a rip-roaring brief Hammond solo burst in the middle, while `Open Letter' is an angry tirade against critics and reviewers (uh oh!) that boasts a proud and defiant lead vocal, shambling guitars and thick murmuring bass. `Morning Day' is buoyant country-lite pop, but at least teasing instrumental `Requiem' offers searing electric guitars that have just a little taste of early Seventies Pink Floyd to them, although it sounds underdeveloped and like a fragment of something larger cut down to the scant two minute interlude here.

The second side's opener delivers an unexpected highlight with `Classical Gas', but rather than a tired acoustic remake, the band deliver a pimped-out, progged-up version! Throwing in everything from ravishing piano, sparkling harpsichord, spiralling Moog, frantic drumming, red-hot guitar wailing and searing Mellotron veils, it would have been a complete standout on any of the earlier defining Beggars Opera albums. `Sweet Blossom Woman' is an easy-to-enjoy but throwaway country-flecked rocker (lifted by some breakneck Moog and electric piano soloing in the finale), and confident rocker `Turn your Money Green' slides into ballad-like moments of dreamy chiming guitars and ruminative bass. `La-di-da' is a romantic sing-along with a Joe Cocker-like quality with the warmest of humming Hammond organ, and `Working Man' is a final husky R n'B bluesy rocker that may not be a particularly memorable closer, but it at least allows for nice soloing moments from the players.

Recent CD reissues include two bonus tracks of both sides of an exclusive 1973 single - `Two Timing Woman' is a roaring horn- powered grooving scorcher, and `Lady of Hell-Fire' opens as a baffling screeching AC/DC-ish belter before carrying on as an Atomic Rooster-like heavy metal rocker! These two pieces would have probably jarred with the sound of the proper album, but they might actually be stronger than several of the tracks on it!

Despite the arrangements mostly becoming less intricate and the singing being entirely different to what came before, careful listening to the instrumentation means `Get Your Dog Off Me!' is still recognisable as coming from the musicians who delivered those first three classic Beggars Opera discs. Prog purists will want to stick to those first few, but repeated listens of `Dog' at least reveals an undemanding and enjoyable rock album with very strong melodic qualities and great playing, which is more than enough to gently recommend it.

Two stars as a prog album, but three for a perfectly decent rock album.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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