Beggars Opera Raymond's Road

Scottish progressive rock band founded in Glasgow in 1969.

Defiantly cast in the shadow of the then-recently defunct Nice, but brimming with their own ideas and imagination, Beggars Opera emerged in 1970 with a debut album that still stands as one of the crown jewels of prog. Five tracks long in its original (Vertigo label) form, but bolstered with both sides of their debut single for the Repertoire CD, Act One is an audacious blending of hard riffs, Heep-esque vocals, and crazed organ and Mellotron, and it's those latter elements that most distinctly flavor the album. The opening "Poet and Peasant," based on Franz Von Suppe's overture of the same name, sets the scene with its multiple shifts in tone and tempo; the same composer's "Light Cavalry" then closes the disc in similarly dramatic style. "Raymond's Road" is the climax, however. An 11-minute orgy of sound that rides a "Rondo" rhythm, then sets a slew of classical snatches dancing above it. It's a breathtaking effort, a cross between a mad medley and a free festival freakout that so firmly establishes Beggars Opera's credentials that it seems impossible to believe that things never got any better for them.
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