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Judge Smith - 'Orfeas, A Songstory' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/de/3d/4e/2336_judgesmithorfeasasongstory_1339776860.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 15, 2012    
 
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An interesting concept album.

Judge Smith was the co-founder of Van der Graaf Generator (oh yes) and has since released ten albums as a solo artist or bandleader. Out of these releases, three have been ´songstories´ (otherwise known as concept albums) including his current album, “Orfeas”. Orfeas (or Orpheus as known by the Romans) charmed people with his music, went to the underworld to retrieve his wife and was later torn apart by following of Bacchus.

The album commences with a flamenco guitar-driven track with a very clear and half spoken introduction confirming Orfeas not as the Greek mythological character but a bandleader from Potters Bar. The next track, ‘Rundown Rudi’, is a nice instrumental with a meaty guitar and sax sound which depicts Orfeas live on stage at Wembley Arena. The following short tracks depict the band at subsequent gigs and again are instrumentals interspersed by a half-spoken narrative. Of note, the vocal is matched note for note in places by a number of different instruments (think of a folk-rock version of Blackmore/Gillan interplay).

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The album has multiple contributions from a range of eclectic musicians including Lene Lovich who joins in Act 2 on the song ‘Orfeas and Eurydice’. The half-spoken dialogue becomes a duet, Lene´s part sung in her distinctive way. ‘Orfeas´ Audition’ towards the end of Act 2 is a very rock guitar based instrumental with nice playing and a bit of high suspense thrown in leading to the final track depicting an escape from hell entitled ‘Don´t Look Back’. The famous part of the Orpheus story is narrated where he turns around to look at his wife and of course she is then lost for ever. Act 3 (the final act as per all good Greek tragedies) features instrumentals based on numerous musical themes from rockabilly to an Eastern sounding duel between sax and guitar. One of the more accessible tracks is ‘Don´t Deafen Me, Persephone’ which features an authentic sounding rap. The final track, ‘Tear Him Asunder’, depicts a Death Metal band called Bacchus entreating the audience to kill Orfeas.

In all, this is an interesting concept album which has clearly been a labour of love for Judge Smith. It takes some perseverance though as it is quite unstructured and quirky, as you have probably determined from my comments!

Rob McKenzie

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