Fireworks

Clive Nolan - 'Alchemy' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/c4/d6/f5/clive-nolan-alchemy-47-1380569933.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 30, 2013    
 
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Those expecting a Prog extravaganza might be surprised by its "West End" stylings.

Amazingly, it's been five years since I reviewed Nolan's first Rock Opera, 'She', which appeared under the project name of Caamora. It was a fine piece of work that one could easily imagine being a full West End production at some point; hitherto it's reached the rather less exulted and smaller stages of the West Country. My only reservations about that album were the strength, or otherwise, of a couple of the vocal performances, namely Nolan and Agnieszka Swita who were completely overshadowed by the contributions of Christina Booth (Magenta) and Alan Read (ex-Pallas).

From my perspective Nolan's voice doesn't really have either the depth or gravitas to carry the role of lead vocalist, richer more sonorous and versatile tones are required; whilst Swita's exaggerated English pronunciation, highly accented delivery and frequent use of a heavy vibrato can be rather distracting. Unfortunately, whenever I hear her voice I just can't shake the thought from my mind that she's the sister of the undercover gendarme in the TV comedy series 'Allo, Allo'!

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That is rather regrettable because aside from this there is much to enjoy within the two discs and twenty seven tracks on offer in which strong themes and fine melodies abound thus ticking all the right boxes for a musical, as do the duet pieces which Nolan has absolutely nailed. The libretto is a tad cringe-worthy in places, but having seen a lot of musical theatre that's par for the course. The narrative sections expose a lack of acting expertise at times and lyrically some of the rhymes do feel a bit contrived. There are a significant number of cast members and it includes some new names from the theatre world but the well-known contributors include Damian Wilson (Threshold), Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq), Paul Manzi (Arena) and Paul Menel (ex-IQ) so you can see the talent is undeniable.

However, I feel this album is one of those that needs to be sampled before purchase as those expecting a Prog extravaganza might be surprised by its "West End" stylings.

Gary Marshall

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