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Articles Home » 1996 Articles » Beggars Opera - 1996 The Final Curtain
Beggars Opera - 1996 The Final Curtain

ARTIST: Beggars Opera
ALBUM: The Final Curtain
LABEL: Membran Music/Noble Price
YEAR: 1996


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


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 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 eighties 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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#1 | englandashes on December 23 2010 19:19:59
Picked up a load of cheap stuff from clearance, one being the re-issue version of 'Beggars Can't Be Choosers', not bad, probably another turn from the classic sound from what is written in the booklet, also from the same era, Gryphon - Raindance, good...but strange
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