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Beggars Opera - Pathfinder CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.36 | 151 ratings

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3 stars Though not their most progressive, this third offering is perhaps these Scots' most successful. That is if success can be measured by a band's ability to further develop, hone, and in some cases strip down their material. Pathfinder is an enthusiastic performance of some very good songs and showed a well-muscled outfit in Alan Park's obvious keyboard skills & guitarist/founder Ricky Gardiner who would go on to work with Bowie, Iggy Pop and other button-pressers of the era. The album may have been a touch radio friendly but almost every artist has gone through a period like that, and there are some downright inspired passages here that deserve attention, surely having had impact on the British post-underground scenes of the 1970s.

Though the sounds of classic prog and early art rock pervade the music, a folk element is strongly felt from Gardiner's & Gordon Sellar's acoustics and the fabler's crooning of Martin Griffiths. A highly pleasing mix of eerie folktale, quality musicianship and catchy songsmithing is heard throughout the album as on slightly lackluster 'Hobo', the uneventful but sincere opener as it marches along, ending with fine flurries from Alan Park's keys. Eight-minute 'Macarthur Park' is an improvement with the quintet reinterpreting the Richard Harris hit from 1972, kitsch harpsichord tones leading to a battlefront that softens into a throaty upscale ballad and screams "It's 1972 and this stuff sells!"-- Shakespearian in tragedy, Carpenters-like in tone. Deepening the chill is 'The Witch', a macabre tongue-in-cheek gallows that sends shivers, and the title track is a fine roadside rocker that foreshadows the pseudoclassical swing of Iron Maiden. In 'From Shark to Haggis' the dry humor comes out in full, ends on a jig, and 'Madame Doubtfire' is an absolutely hilarious Satanic send-up.

A lot of fun and some good music from these guys, the albums nicely repackaged on Repertoire, and perfect for those retro weekends when The Nice and old Rick Wakeman just won't do it.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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