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Lord of the Ages

Magna Carta

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Album Review

Lord of the Ages, Magna Carta's fourth studio album (and fifth overall, as it had been preceded by a live LP), had them breaking in new guitarist Stan Gordon after the departure of Davey Johnstone, with ubiquitous session great Danny Thompson on string bass. Varied and ambitious in scope, it's nonetheless at its core somewhat milquetoast folk-rock, more pop-influenced and lyrically lightweight than most of their early-'70s British folk-rock peers. Although the strong Simon & Garfunkel influences present on earlier albums were fading, "Two Old Friends" couldn't help but sound a little like a featherweight Paul Simon derivative. The ten-minute title track has a self-consciously pompous epic quality, and while the setting is reasonably attractive and pleasing, the theatrical tale-telling spoken narration and Greek-chorus somber backing vocals make it easy to make fun of as well. Elsewhere, very light country touches are heard on a couple cuts; "Isn't It Funny (And Not a Little Bit Strange)," in which the singer reports a conversation with a glow worm, is (probably unintentionally) too-cutesy folk-rock for the kiddies; "That Was Yesterday" gets close to prototypically sappy early-'70s singer/songwriterness with saccharine orchestral parts; and "Falkland Greene" is almost jarringly trad British folk-generated, with its sad, stark melody and recorder. The album was combined with the subsequent Martin's Cafe on the 1999 single-disc CD reissue Lord of the Ages & Martin's Cafe.

Biography

Formed: 1969

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In progressive rock circles, Magna Carta are a bit like the Little Engine That Could — from relatively modest beginnings in 1969, they've endured across 36 years and counting, even as their louder, more heavily amplified rivals from the same era have long since been consigned to history. Acts such as King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer may be better (and much more widely) known, but Magna Carta have stayed together, making music decades longer. The group was founded in 1969 by Chris...
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Lord of the Ages, Magna Carta
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