Review Archive

'Excalibur' from Alan Simon - a musical vision

(November 19, 2012)

At the time of writing this review the BBC TV series ‘Merlin’ is riding high in the UK viewing charts and will also go some way in explaining our on-going fascination with arguably one of the most popular Excaliburmyths of all time. Frenchman Alan Simon has combined stories of the Arthurian legend to create 'Excalibur' using a ‘who’s who’ of artists from the Celtic folk-rock genre to promote his musical vision.

Now, if you’ll indulge me a few minutes of your time I’m going to list some of the artists from a British perspective that I think might whet your appetite for this most prestigious project. Roger Hodgson & John Helliwell (Supertramp), Fairport Convention, Bohinta, Alan Parsons, Flook, Maddy Prior, Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle, Karan Casey, Justin Hayward plus guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub.

It’s OK…you can take a deep breath now. For those of us that have followed the folk-rock genre from the early seventies you already know that you are in for a treat and although, for some the recording of ‘Excalibur’ may at times be a little indulgent there’s never a case of excess to answer. Along with excellent vocal performances there are some show-case instrumental set-pieces including a powerful sax driven ‘Dragon Breath’.

As the project was started in 1999 somewhat confusingly the whole concept is packaged as a trilogy with the first two disks being the studio recordings and completed with an in-concert disk. If you want the ‘origins of Excalibur’ CD (with the addition of artists including Moya Brennan, Billy Preston and Mick Fleetwood) this is available as a separate disk. This proves a veritable smorgasbord of talent and for anyone who enjoys the genre a ‘must have’ for your collection and you can find ‘Excalibur’ on Sony Music - Cat# 88697952522.

Reviewer: Pete Fyfe

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