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David Bedford - The Odyssey CD (album) cover


David Bedford


Crossover Prog

3.26 | 28 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars In the 1970s, David Bedford gravitated towards producing more melodic fare than the avant-garde style that had been his stock-in- trade in the 1960s. 'The Odyssey' is the first of his solo projects where melody takes centre stage throughout. It is also the most well known of his four Virgin albums, and by all accounts caused quite a stir on its release, with full page ads in the music press and a star- studded live performance at the Royal Albert Hall no less (including Dave Stewart, Neil Ardley, John Lord, Mike Ratledge, Mireille Bauer, etc.).

Alas, as an album, it doesn't really work. There are some decent enough tunes ('King Aeolus', 'The Phaeacian Games'), some pleasant enough textures ('The Sirens'), but is "enough" enough? Mr Bedford was by all accounts less than happy with the results and one has the sneaking suspicion that he had reluctantly bowed to pressure to be a bit more commercial. Needless to say, Mike Oldfield turns up, twice in fact - first time bad, second time good - as he was clearly a selling point in those days.

'The Odyssey' sits at the end of Prog's golden period, just as punk cynicism came and spoiled everything. Compared to, say, The Damned's 'New Rose' or the first Clash album, it must have seemed very tame fare, breathing the air of private school privilege rather than gobbing in the face of authority. ('The Odyssey' is hardly unique in that regard, but the Ommadawnish full-beard head shot on the front cover adds a distinct touch of yesteryear. The BBC 'Omnibus' programme about Bedford's 'Song of the White Horse' made the following year began with Bedford shaving off said beard, bidding adieu to the 70s two years early.)

So why if 'The Odyssey' is not that good does it get a four star rating? Simply because the album has one superb track which transcends its historical moment. 'Circe's Island' is a stunning piece of music: creepy yet seductive, with ethereal voices, an incongruous yet highly effective slide guitar (Andy Summers) and a hypnotic synthesiser sequence, all backed by tuned wine glasses. It is one of the strangest and yet most beautiful creations that 70s prog has to offer. It's just such a shame that none of the rest of the album can match it.

Ratings: Circe's Island: 5 stars; everything else: 3 stars

trout.phosphor | 4/5 |


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