Babaika Productions [Release date 03.11.17]
The first reference I saw to Alan Simon was the credit on Sonja Kristina’s recent anthology – it’s the track that’s also included here called ‘The Passion’. Then an Alan Simon compilation arrives to add to the stack of promos. So where does he come from?
In truth for nearly 25 years, Simon has peddled a strain of Gallic prog, mostly evidenced in the Excalibur series of which this is the latest development. He’s also collaborated with the likes of Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) although remaining an essentially Franco phenomena.
Excalibur IV is an ambitious project which brings together – virtually – a cluster of “name” musicians to add credibility. So we get John Helliwell (Supertramp) on saxes, Martin Barre on guitar whilst Michael Sadler (Saga), Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep) and Moya Brennan (Clannad) add vocals on various tracks. Tull/Barre fans should be warned, though, that Martin doesn’t let rip and his contribution should be viewed as supportive rather than centre stage. Even on a couple of excellent instrumentals.
There is a gentle Celtic theme underpinning the project as you might expect and reinforced by the presence of both Brennan and the legend and fellow countryman that is Alan Stivell.
Musically, it is very well executed and beautifully orchestrated. Stylistically, the widescreen prog proportions of Alan Parsons comes to mind and tracks like ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ sung by Roberto Tiranti (ex-Labyrinth) and the two Moya Brennan pieces are strong enough when taken out of context. I shall now treat that compilation, hidden in the stack of promos, with more respect and anticipation. ****
Review by David Randall
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