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Beggars Opera - Act One CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 200 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The debut release from Scottish outfit Beggar's Opera, 'Act One' mines a distinctly neo-classical vein, offering up a familiar brand of symphonic progressive rock that comes complete with modern baroque rock interpretations of Franz Von Suppe both opening and closing the album. Issued in 1970 on the Vertigo imprint, original copies of 'Act One' are now actually quite sought after, the album's less-than-spectacular commercial performance rendering it quite rare. Now, however, and thanks to German reissue label Repertoire Records, the colourful discography of Beggar's Opera is readily available in classy mini-vinyl replica editions, granting a pair of interesting albums from the group's early days a timely revaluation. The first of these, their debut 'Act One', is pure symphonic grandstanding, a fast-paced fusion of rock and classical ingredients taken right from the the ELP school of progressive rock. The second, however, showcased just what Beggars Opera were about. Gone was the overt classical influence; in came guitars and sharper, shorter tracks for 1972's enjoyable 'Pathfinder'. Completely different from each other, 'Act One' and 'Pathfinder' both defined and illuminated the other, exhibiting two very different sides to the same collective. 'Act One', with its strings, fast-paced instrumental sojourns and almost reckless abandon, proved the more expansive of the pair, an album coated in musical ambition. 'Pathfinder', however, was far more accessible, a genuine rock album and arguably the group's most cohesive overall effort. For anyone interested in taking a closer look, both 'Pathfinder' and 'Act one' - in that order - represent Beggar's Opera at their very best. Later albums, although still resolutely offbeat, failed to scale the same lofty heights of curiosity engendered by the continued and highly-varied work of founding member / leader Ricky Gardiner, and it should also be noted that throughout two incarnations the beggar's Opera name has continued to write, record and release music well into the 21st century. Neither album is a masterpiece, though both feature some excellent moments; 'Act One', which features Martin Griffiths(vocals), Alan Park(keyboards), Ricky Gardiner(guitar), Marshall Erskine(bass) and Ray Wilson(drums), is definitely the more ambitious of the two; fans of ELP, Refugee, The Nice etc should all find something here. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
stefro | 3/5 |


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