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Principal Edwards Magic Theatre - Captain Lifeboy (as Principal Edwards) CD (album) cover


Principal Edwards Magic Theatre


Prog Folk

4.05 | 2 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Between 1968 and 1971 there was Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, an eccentric and rather unique collective (featuring as many as 14 people) of Exeter University students that made performances of theatre, music, poetry and light show. The group also recorded a couple of albums, before inevitably collapsing due to the lack of money. Three members of the original group joined forces with three new musicians and formed a more cohesive folk/psych rock band called Principal Edwards. This single - produced by Nick Tauber, whose name I remember from Marillion's early releases - was their fresh start in June 1973. I listened to these tracks (as well as the A-side of the next single, 'Weekdaze', released two months later) as bonuses on the Esoteric Recordings' re-issue of the album Round One (1974) which remained the last release of the band.

I haven't heard Magic Theatre's albums, but compared to Round One, I actually prefer the music on this single. 'Captain Lifeboy' features lots of recorders and mandolin, and the female member Belinda Bourquin adds her vocals to a greater degree than on the album. The song is lively but not silly like some album songs. Basically their combination of rock and folk is not very far from e.g. Steeleye Span, only with a notable role on the mentioned recorder and mandolin. A slight reminiscense to the folkiest Jethro Tull can also be sensed in the overall atmosphere.

On the B-side is another delightful non-album song, which simply makes this single easily worth at least four stars. The first bars of 'Nothing' reminds me of the beginning of Jethro Tull's 'Too Old to Rock'n'Roll, Too Young to Die', but only briefly. The pretty progressive instrumental intro ends with a nice recorder solo just before Nick Pallet starts singing. The composition shifts dynamically between relaxed, dreamy sections (a bit like a Caravan or Hatfield & the North ballad) and more energetic moments. And again, the recoder makes its magic on the sound.

If you're willing to get the Round One album, make sure it contains the 7" songs too, they really are a great bonus.

Matti | 4/5 |


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