6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A folk-rock take on a literary fairy tale,
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This review is from: Bob Johnson & Pete Knight - King Of Elfland's Daughter (Digipak) (Audio CD)
Released in 1977, this album is an adaptation of the 1924 fantasy novel of the same name by Lord Dunsany. Consisting of nine songs, plus nine brief segments of narration (taken directly from Dunsany's text), The King of Elfland's Daughter relates what happens when the men of Erl, bored with their mundane lives, go to their lord and request to be ruled, in future, by a "magic lord". The Lord of Erl duly sends his son, Alveric, to Elfland, there to woo and win Lirazel, the King of Elfland's daughter.
Bob Johnson and Pete Knight (both at the time, fresh out of Steeleye Span), have recruited a talented cast of singers here, including Mary Hopkin (who sings the part of Lirazel), Alexis Korner (who provides the voice of the Troll), P P Arnold (as the Witch) and, presiding over the whole album as both narrator and King of Elfland, the great Christopher Lee. Although each singer plays a specific part, this is not a dramatisation. Each song gets one singer, and manages to tell a section of the story from that point of view entirely. And some songs, such as the finishing "Beyond the Fields We Know", sung with a beautiful air of never-never longing by Mary Hopkin, aren't strictly sung by a character at all. (Lee's "Rune of the Elf King" is the magnificent exception -- he half sings, half acts the part, delivering the line "Why should my daughter be taken by pitiless years?" with aching despair.) The general tone is folkish, but within a wide variety of styles, ranging from the rocky and bluesy to the more traditional. P P Arnold's wild vocal performance on "Witch" is wonderfully mad, while "Too Much Magic" is like an old-fashioned knees up, complete with children's choir. Although all the songs form part of a story, they certainly work on their own as songs.
This has been a difficult album to find for rather too long. Second Harvest's CD release is a no-frills digipack (with no lyric booklet, or background information), and I don't know if it has been digitally remastered, but the sound is certainly good enough, to my ears. One minor annoyance is that the narration and music haven't been divided into separate tracks, which I'd have preferred. But I'm very glad they have re-released it. Wonderful to hear this album at last.