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Tracklist: 1. When I Awoke 3:21 2. Though I May Be Dreaming 3:18 3. Get Together 2:56 4. Joy In the Finding 3:15 5. Going Home 2:34 6. All My Life 3:00 7. Mirabella 1:45 8. Take Me There 2:38 9. Lisa 2:40 10. Dawn 3:24 11. Barn Owl Blues 3:09 12. Kind Sir 3:04 13. Through the Eyes of a Lifetime (in 3 parts) 5:21 Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 11, & 12: written by Howell; tracks 6, 7, 8, 10, & 13: written by Ferdinando. Arranged & produced by Agincourt. Line-up: Peter Howell - acoustic & classical guitars, mandolin; piano & organ; recorder; percussion John Ferdinando - vocals & vocalizes; electric, acoustic & bass guitars; auto harp Lee Menelaus - vocals & backing vocals Guest musicians: Andrew Lowcock - flute (on 4, 10, & 12) Brian Hussey - drums (on 7 & 11) Engineered by Brian Croney at "H & F Recordings", UK.
Prologue. In all, there are four albums in the discography of Howell, Ferdinando, & Menelaus. Stylistically and structurally, all these albums are in many ways similar among themselves. Nevertheless, the band's name was changed thrice during its existence. Here is the complete discography of Howell, Ferdinando, & Menelaus: 1969 - "Alice Through the Looking Glass", 1970 - "Tomorrow Comes Sunday" (both as S.N.P.), 1971 - "Fly Away", & 1973 - "A Game For All Who Know" (as Ithaca). The review of "A Game For All Who Know" album will be published next week.
The Album. With regard to the level of progressiveness, "Fly Away" is close to that of the only album by July (to read the review of it, click >here.). However, the music of Agincourt is for the most part acoustic. There are not that many of the organ and electric guitar solos on this album. As for the parts of drums, they are present only on a few tracks. An acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, recorder, flute, and percussion are the basic instruments here. In that way, varied interplay between these instruments play a prominent role in the arrangements that are featured on most of the compositions of "Fly Away". However, an acoustic guitar is the only instrument, the passages and solos of which are featured on all the tracks of this album. Two songs, Though I May Be Dreaming and Take Me There (2 & 8), were performed without percussion instruments. On the whole, Agincourt's "Fly Away" is an original album, containing eleven songs and two instrumental pieces. Overall, the music that is presented here can be defined as a blend of proto-progressive Symphonic Rock and Folk Rock. However, both the instrumental pieces, Join In the Finding and Barn Owl Blues (4 & 11), the last of which contains a male vocalize, and three songs, Dawn, Kind Sir, and Through the Eyes of a Lifetime (10, 12, & 13), are definitely progressive. (In other words, almost all the best tracks of this album are bunched up in the end of it.) The third and the final part of the last track on the album, Through the Eyes of a Lifetime, is especially impressive. This is nothing else but a piece of Classical Academic Music, consisting of diverse interplay between passages of piano and string ensemble. When I Awoke, Though I May Be Dreaming, and Going Home (1, 2, & 5) are also very good compositions. Though, unlike all three of the aforementioned songs where the instrumental arrangements flow nonstop regardless whether there are the vocals, only the separate instrumental parts of these songs sound progressive. All five of the remaining tracks, namely Get Together, All My Life, Mirabella, Take Me There, and Lisa (3, 6 to 9), are simply nice songs. In my view, an angelic voice of Lee Menelaus fits this music more than that of John Ferdinando. However, she shares the lead vocal parts with John only on five out of eleven songs, and only one of them, Take Me There, was entirely sung by Lee. On all five of the remaining songs, John sings alone. His vocals are excellent by all means, though they're not as beautiful and touching as those of Lee.
Summary. Overall, "Fly Away" is a very pleasant album. If you like Renaissance Mark-I and Illusion, both of which are actually the same band (with Jim McCarthy and Jane Relf on lead vocals), Curved Air's "Air Cut", and (of course) Ithaca, which, in its turn, is just the renamed Agincourt, you should like this album as well.
VM. June 14, 2002
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