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Beggars Opera - Close To My Heart CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.69 | 21 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Noughty

Founding guitarist Ricky Gardiner has kept the Beggar's Opera name alive for over 40 years now. Releases in the band's name pretty much dried up after their excellent early albums for Vertigo and a few less memorable releases in the mid to late 70's. Since then, there have been albums from time to time, including one, 'The final curtain', appearing in the 90's.

In 2007, Gardiner decided the time was right to resurrect the name for another release. None of the other founding members are here, but Gardiner's wife Virginia Scott, who played mellotron on the excellent 'Waters of change' among others, is the second of the trio. The line up is completed by Tom Gardiner on drums.

After a fine burst of opening guitar, the first thing we notice is that it is Scott who provides the vocals. In their early days, it was the distinctive rich voice of Martin Griffiths which was one of the distinguishing features of the band. A female lead vocal immediately notifies us therefore that comparisons with those days are futile.

Scott's vocals are a little like those of Sonja Kristina with tinges of Debbie Harry too. The songs here are not of the symphonic style of the early days either, but there is an electronic/space rock element. 'Passing Her' for example has Hawkwind like swirls alongside a new wave style riff.

Elsewhere, while 'Warm eyes' is based around an acoustic guitar riff with piano accompaniment, it has an underlying power and indeed beauty. The spoken word on 'Apparently Uncontrolled' against some stellar guitar and keyboard sounds offers something different and innovative. The following 'Senselessness' is more Floydian, the drifting vocals (including a backing male voice) and emotional lead guitar offering a sense of ambience.

There is a delightful underlying menace to 'You Stranger', the lyrics being surprisingly frank at times. For me though, the best track is 'Meet me', a song with a stunning echoed chorus and a wonderful arrangement. The closing track, 'Here comes everybody' is the only instrumental on the album, and is much closer to the band's traditional material. Synthesised pipes take us back to 'From shark to haggis', while the synth mellotron sounds remind us of much of 'Waters of change'. A superb closer.

It may seem an odd thing to say, but this album will probably appeal less to those who followed the band through their 'Act 1' and 'Waters of change' days. There is little if any connection musically between that band and this. This is certainly not the music of a 70's band resting on their laurels, on indeed trying to recreate the old days. This is effectively a new band with prog leaning using an old name while making the music of the noughties. With that in mind, this is an excellent and highly contemporary album.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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