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Magic Carpet - Magic Carpet CD (album) cover


Magic Carpet


Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.45 | 36 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars MAGIC CARPET were a British Psych-Folk band who - along with Quintessence - were one of the early pioneers of Indian- influenced Raga Rock. The band were led by Clem Alford, a classically trained player of the sitar, tamboura and esraj(?). The band released the self-titled "Magic Carpet" album in 1972, but broke up shortly afterwards, due to poor album sales. This rare album has since been described as "a jewelled crown in the treasure trove of psyche-tinged folk music", and deservedly so. It seemed as if the band had disappeared without trace until 1996, when Clem Alford got the band together again to record the aptly-titled "Once Moor - Magic Carpet II" album. A 1990's CD reissue of the first Magic Carpet album added the 20- minute-long "Raga" as a bonus track to the original twelve songs. Let's take a "Magic Carpet" ride to the Indian subcontinent now and have a listen to the album.

The album opens with the instrumental title track "The Magic Carpet", which sets the scene (and the table) very nicely indeed. Imagine, if you will, that you've just sat down and ordered a meal at your local Indian curry house. The waiter arrives with your chicken vindaloo curry and a plate full of poppadoms with a turban-headed man dressed in a dhoti robe playing away merrily on his sitar next to your table. That's the kind of hot and spicy image this music conjures up. The next track is like "The Phoenix" rising from the ashes because that's the title of the song. It's an uplifting song featuring an Indian tabla drum and we get to hear the beautiful lilting tones of Alisha Sufit for the first time. It's a gorgeous spiritual song full of radiant beauty and love and Alisha's warm and delightful voice will carry you away to a warm and exotic place somewhere in the distant land of the Raj. "Black Cat" is another lovely Indian-themed song, served up hot and spicy at your table. Alisha Sufit's dulcet tones are very reminiscent of some of Sally Oldfield's exotic songs from her first album "Water Bearer" (1978). We're still in the exotic land of a thousand and one Indian nights with "Alan's Christmas Card", a nicely laid-back instrumental guitar and sitar number, although there's nothing particularly Christmassy about it. This charming piece of spicy exotica will put you in a mellow mood with the sound of an Indian drummer gently tapping away on his tabla drums. Try not to get too laid back and fall asleep though because we're not even halfway through the album yet. It's time to gather in the "Harvest Song" now as angelic Alisha sings "You reap what you sow, You sow what you reap". Her mellifluous rich tones are part of what makes this a very special album indeed. We're still in the land of The Far Pavillions for "Do You Hear the Words", another hot and sultry sitar number to close out Side One.

A gong announces the arrival of "Father Time" to open Side Two. It's four and a half minutes of sheer delight with the ever- present sitar player and Alisha Sufit's charming voice bringing to mind evocative and exotic images of India. We're in La-La Land next for "La-La". There's no need to ask what the lyrics are about, because as you've probably guessed, the only "lyrics" are "La-La" repeated ad infinitum until the sitar player finally runs out of steam. It's still a jolly nice tune though. If you're not in a peaceful mood already, then you will be after the next spiritual song, because it's the Magic Carpet "Peace Song", which is just as relaxing and peaceful as the song title implies, so just lie back and think of India. It's time to order your "Take Away Kesh" now, because that's the title of the next song on the album. If you can't afford a trip to exotic eastern lands, then close your eyes and let this side order of Indian exotica take you there. It's time to take a trip down to your local Indian restaurant now on the "High Street", which, as I'm sure you'll guess by now, features a tabla drummer and a sitar player to entertain you while you dine on curry and poppadoms. You'll need something to quench the thirst after all that hot and spicy food, so take a good long swig of your favourite aperitif and have a listen to "The Dream", the final song on the album. Alisha's passionate and mellifluous tones are a real dream and delight to listen to and she's in unusually high voice for this divinely spiritual closing number. Wait a minute though, our magic carpet ride is not quite over yet, because there's the long bonus track "Raja", which is 20 minutes of heavenly sitar bliss!

"Magic Carpet" really IS an Indian "Jewel in the Crown". It's a hot and spicy spiritual adventure, conjuring up images of exotic and distant foreign lands somewhere in the Indian subcontinent. It's not an essential prog album, because it's not in the least bit proggy, but it IS an essential Raga Rock album. Give it a listen. It might just spice up your life.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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