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Beggars Opera - Waters Of Change CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.63 | 188 ratings

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4 stars Like entering a great and ancient abbey, the second long-player from the legendary Scots is an intriguing, sometimes haunting collection of treasures and despite (or perhaps with the help of) Martin Griffiths' melodramatic moaning, gives us one of the most heartfelt and fully textured records in progressive rock's early history. As though almost literally plucked from time, Waters of Change has soul, man, and porously exudes the brown, peaty atmosphere of a crumbling but vital Scottish estate complete with graveyard, thick fog, and the ghosts of the restless. It is one of a kind.

New member Virginia Scott's 'tron grinds open 'Time Machine' and everything knits together like that of a group who'd been together for many years, melodic, uptempo and taking from the best of British rock, folk and Pop. Brief 'Lament' hands us off to initially blah 'I've No Idea' which holds some nice surprises from Alan Park's keys and a delicate arrangement. A mistuned acoustic provides the base for range-striding 'Nimbus', not a completely necessary cut but adds some extra color before romantic and quite well-done 'Festival' with its baroque tonalities and tight group playing reminding of Jethro Tull circa 1970. Bach rocks on 'Silver Peacock', an organ showcase for Park with plenty of delightfully strange and acid-drenched imagery from Griffiths and good development by the band. Aptly named 'Impromptu' was probably nice in 1971, not so much now but its tailed by 'The Fox' as it follows a reluctant participant in pursuit of wild game.

I don't think of this six-piece as symphonic though psychoclassical elements are abundant; they kinda invented their own category. Further, Waters of Change is forty-two minutes with only about thirty minutes of worthy stuff so I wouldn't blame a listener for feeling flat upon hearing this one. But that thirty minutes is among the most flavorful and rich the vintage Prog era had to offer. Beggars Opera were not virtuosos. They were not geniuses or innovators or in great demand. But they yielded some of the most savory, toothsome recordings in what was an increasingly technical rock field and Waters of Change has only improved with age. At least most of it has.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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