Beggars Opera - The Final Curtain

edited August 1 in year-1996

Taken at face value this is first rate AOR that should appeal to a broad range of listeners, and those with a liking for synthesizer can't go wrong with this one.

Beggars Opera - The Final Curtain
ARTIST: Beggars Opera
ALBUM: The Final Curtain
LABEL: Membran Music-Noble Price
SERIAL: SCRCD015
YEAR: 1996

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Scotland Flag
LINEUP: Linnie Patterson - vocals * Gordon Sellar - bass, vocals * Alan Park - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Overture * 02 Lifeline * 03 Yes I Need Someone * 04 Africa.. At Last * 05 Atmosphere * 06 Bad Dreams * 07 I Gave You Love * 08 Showman In A Showdown * 09 Now You're Gone * 10 Four Moons * 11 Poet And Peasant

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

Attempting to piece together the history of this Scottish progressive act is often confusing due to various lineup changes, splits, reformations and musical shifts. But it was a worthwhile challenge in order to highlight this excellent final retrospective of unreleased and re-recorded tracks from the bands history.

Starting in 1970 as a pure prog act with large helpings of hammond organ, Beggars Opera recorded five albums between 1970 and 1974 before splitting. Upon reforming in 1979 the band no longer resembled their original selves, and the majority of the tracks here are culled from the bands final proper studio album, 1980's 'Lifeline'.

The tracks here date from 1980 to 1991, with Sellar and Park the two surviving original members. Patterson was enlisted in 1979, and the resulting music was AOR, with no shades of the much vaunted prog years. This appalled traditionalists, but this is an impressive collection of melodic rock delights which was merely a band updating their style.

The Songs

Patterson, who died in the late 80's, shares the vocals with Sellar. Seven of the eleven tracks are from 'Lifeline', and whether or not they were recorded again for this set is uncertain. What is certain is the staggering synthesizer driven content of 'Lifeline' the title track itself, which is close to Trickster, only more blatant and richer in true AOR arrangements. Quite a classic and perhaps more listenable than the early material.

Along the same lines is 'Yes I Need Someone' from the same album, powered by synth runs that will keep fans of such elements sweating. Often compared to Genesis during their early years this also has shades of Genesis' similar sound during 1980, only more melodic, by a mile.

'Africa At Last' is obviously a late 80's outtake, and a working class anthem near to the spirit of Joe Fagin and Jimmy Barnes. Magnificently handled, the keyboards are in the thick of things again with sentimental guitar fills. 'Atmosphere' has an open pop sound, guitar barely noticeable, but 'Bad Dreams' is yet another AOR highlight.

'I Gave You Love' stands out because of heavier guitar additions, 'Now You're Gone' meanwhile giving Patterson a chance to belt out some gutsy, hoarse vocals. The surging keyboard run of 'Four Moons' is another standout, but the reworking of 1970's 'Poet And Peasant' is another late 80's attempt, with some comedic synths so typical of those years, sort of a latter-day Asia or Emerson Lake And Powell.

In Summary

This has been derided by hardcore Beggars Opera loyalists who consider it an insult to the original focus of the band, who dealt in music completely opposed to this commercial fare. However I don't know of too many prog acts circa 1970 who were still writing ten minute, mellotron and organ inspired epics in the early to late 80's. Taken at face value this is first rate AOR that should appeal to a broad range of listeners, and those with a liking for synthesizer can't go wrong with this one.


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Comments

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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia

    I think I'm going to pick this up on the weekend. Darkblue, being a Scotsman yourself, do you have an opinion on BO at all?

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    Being honest, they're not really a band I know much about at all. A bit Uriah Heep meets ELP in their early years but I haven't heard this album or era at all.

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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia

    I did pick up Lifeline earlier today. Certainly nowhere near their early 70s heyday. I kinda like it though, if that pre neo-prog scene is your bag. As Alun says, plenty of synth in abundance. Anyone interested just say the magic word (which is Mega, btw).

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