I bought the vinyl LP more than thirty years ago, but finally decided I ought to get a CD as well. Just playing The Odyssey again, after not hearing it for years, brings home how striking it is, and also shows its longevity. I am no musician, but it still strikes me as one of the great modern symphonic pieces, deserving to be ranked alongside other classics.
It tells a great story, without using any words, and the entrance of Odysseus in The Battle in the Hall never fails as one of my all-time spine-tingling musical moments.
David Bedford was a truly brave composer, over his musical odyssey he ventured to walk that dangerous path between classical composition and rock and pop music. Only few have dared and fewer still have triumphed.
The pop/rock of the time was prog and of course this album is conceptual being Homer's Odyssey set to music. That Bedford manages this so effectively without using any lyrics is credit to his masterful ability with composition. My personal experience with this album is that rather than add to the potential prog-rock pomposity, it's classical influence actually tempers it giving us something more tasteful, enduring and interesting. What really draws me in every time are those mysterious chord progressions on tracks such as Sirens and The Phaeacian Games. The melodies are strong throughout the album though and the 1970's synth sounds have a real charm and character.
The appearance of guitarists Andy summers and Mike Oldfield will interest some, for me though it is Oldfield who really shines. Bedford and Oldfield were always really great together and no less so than on The Odyssey. Oldfield gives us some blistering guitar solos and melodies that sound esoteric in their conception, as though they were born in secrets passed down from Homer and Plato themselves!
In a "if you like this try that" vein I have a recommendation; someone who has clearly soaked up plenty of David Bedford and Mike Oldfield influence is a new composer on the block, Andrew Taylor. His Mohribold album gives us more mysterious chord progressions and multi-instrumental layering like those guys were doing back in the 70's (google it). I downloaded it from a site called bandcamp.
I was at this one and only performance and what a performance it was! The recording is excellent with superb clarity and definition. The music is in places beautiful, exciting and mysterious. Mike Oldfield's guitar playing is stunning, the choir and solo's are wonderful - the various percussion is well recorded and provides lots of energy. I remember the impact of the Albert Hall's Grand organ as it emphasizes sections within "The Battle" - this doesn't come across with the same impact on this recording - maybe that's a good thing. Otherwise it's a beautifully balanced recording. I'm just a bit disappointed that the amazing encores were not included. A wonderful recording and keepsake of a magic evening.
I originally had this album on vinyl and loved it. Have not heard it for many years but when heard again still think it is a fine album. One of the many thematic albums around in the 70s. I would suggest that you need at least a nodding acquaintance with the story of the Odyssey - once you have that Bedford's music brings it to mind and lends description. Possibly will not appeal to everyone but I still love it!!