Monday, 5 November 2012

New review of "The Way It Was" in Flashback Magazine...

The #2 issue of the excellent Flashback Magazine includes a great review of the vinyl release of "The Way It Was".

This transcribed version is reproduced with the kind permission of the editor, Richard Morton Jack.

The Way It Was
(Ritual Echo LP)
Few musical veterans from the 1960s have staged a comeback comparable to that of 12-string maestro Beau, the performing alter ego of Yorkshire-born Trevor Midgley. After releasing two compelling LPs for John Peel's short-lived Dandelion Records (and scoring the company's only major hit single, albeit in the Lebanon), he fell off the radar. Unlike Syd Barrett and Nick Drake, his withdrawal wasn't the result of indifference, substance abuse or mental health issues. Indeed, while Midgley pursued a successful career in the home loan industry during the 1970s and 1980s, Beau was relentlessly writing and recording new material - literally hundreds of compositions - but without a label to give him exposure. Things began to change, however, with the release of the well-received Edge Of The Dark CD in 2009, which featured songs recorded between 1972 and 1985. Its appearance was the opening of a long-closed musical floodgate.

The Way It Was marks Beau's first album of all-new recordings since 1971, and finds him in remarkably good form. There are no awkward attempts to update the music's sound; in similar fashion to his first Dandelion LP, it’s an intimate affair with voice and guitar providing the only instrumentation. The unique tunings on his beloved Harmony Sovereign H-1270 produce a full and warm tone that perfectly complements his robust voice. The performances range from lyrical narratives to biographical tributes to musical morality plays to personal meditations on the human condition. The title track ponders the price of success, while Castle Song deals with willful ignorance of unpleasant matters. Cry For The Priest, Where Is Your Gun, My Son?, The Titanic Tragedy, The Part We Have To Play and At The End Of The Day respectively pertain to the murder of Polish anti-Communist activist Jerzy Popieluzko, life in Stalin-era Russia, the 100th anniversary of the luxury liner’s sinking, the Presidency of Ronald Reagan and the senseless deaths of three soldiers during World War I. The Rabbi At The Gates Of Prague imaginatively revisits a well-worn tale, and Kiss Me With Your Eyes finds the singer performing a rare love song (originally part of a musical about the life of Andy Warhol). Web Of Tangled Reason and Songs You Sing represent Beau at his self-contemplative best. All in all, this is an excellent listening experience for anyone who enjoys thought-provoking material.

Ritual Echo have done a fantastic job of repackaging what was originally a download-only release. The sepia-toned sleeve is most appropriate for the mood of the music, and lends the product a nicely vintage appearance. The LP also boasts Beau's informative liner notes, complete lyric transcriptions, and a commentary on each song. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl, it possesses a comforting natural sound that will soothe ears ravaged by excessive MP3 exposure. Here's hoping that we hear more from Beau and the good people at Ritual Echo. (Scott D. Wilkinson)

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