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Beggars Opera - Act One CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.67 | 252 ratings

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5 stars There seems to be a strong love/hate dynamic for this band and especially for this record, the band's first. Having lived through the first wave of prog and knowing how this record sounded in the context of that period, as well as now, I offer the following: Beggar's Opera, Act One was and still is a great record. BUT, is it 'classic' prog as many would define it? Depends on how you look at it. It has all the earmarks of the genre (with distinct lingering psychedilc traits): long songs, lots of keyboard-guitar instrumental interplay, quoates from classical epics, a clear nod to Emerson/The Nice's 'Rondo' template, and of course that sense of taking a musical journey, some would say 'TRIP', when listening to it. But in this case the trip is to a carnivalesque atmosphere where the band are the nightmarish creatures who greet us on the cover of this unique and truly one of a kind record. For younger listeners under age 30, think of a kinder & gentler Mr Bungle... decades before said Bunglers existed. Lets take it apart: a guitarist who sounded very much like Ritchie Blackmore, an organist who sounded like Keith Emerson without the 'cock' (testosterone) and aggressive tone, and a decidedly melodramatic 'London music hall' singer with a beautiuful & unique voice who conjures up images of what Dracula might sound like if he were a singer. Put all these together and you have the essential components of Beggars Opera on the Act One album, their debut. If you were to find yourself at a carnival, one of those magical older and picturesque kind found in the late 60s and early 70s, the Beggars Opera on this record would be the band you'd hear playing there....and you'd stumble onto them with great amusement and instant love, playing to a mesmerized little crowd on a makeshift stage next to the haunted house. You'd be amazed.You'd laugh and shake your head from side to side...I don't believe this! you'd say to yourself. You wouldn't want to leave and you'd wish they'd play forever as you watched & smiled & listened with utter astonishment and amusement. Is Act One cheesy? Yes, in a way.... but delightfully, lovably so. Is it fun? Hell yes. Exciting? YES! Great? YES, YES!! But you'll laugh WITH them, and hopefully not at them. Because thats the spirit here. And as many have keenly observed, there is a wonderful innocence and naivete to this band, who possessed no little amount of charm that has brought a smile to the face and glow to the heart of many a listener over the years. When and if you 'GET' what Beggars Opera were doing, especially on this record (the only one like it for them) then you'll be a fan for life. There never was or will be anothe band like them. But are they 'prog'?? In my book, YES. With a capital P.
jonsilence | 5/5 |


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