Fuchsia, Mahagonny & other gems reviews

Freak Emporium - June 2005

From one of the greatest 60's/70's progressive/psyche folk outfits comes this fantastic CD. A long awaited release it includes 3 Fuchsia demos (all 3 unreleased songs!), 5 tracks recorded in 1975 and based around Brecht-Weill works, 2 tracks from Bob Chudley (ex-Louise with Tony Durant and Chris Cutler) and 1 track, a beautiful Albion Band-like ballad composed by Durant, but actually sung and played by the real Albion Band.

Rockerilla - Luglio/Agosto 2005 (di Enrico Ramunni)

...Questa compilazione...si apre infatti con due demo che colgono il gruppo subito dopo la realizzazione del citato LP, precari nella veste acustica ma puntuali nel fotografarne la deriva dal folk progressivo originario in direzione di un suono più marcatamente teatrale, un po' come avvenne per i Kaleidoscope nel passaggio verso i Fairfield Parlour; il contrasto è reso ancor più palese dall'inclusione del primo acetato del trio, una vibrante "Ring of Red Roses". Il cuore della raccolta è dato dalle tracce a nome Mahagonny, progetto post-Fuchsia concepito come omaggio a Brecht e Weill, in bilico tra opera rock alla Tommy, canzone mitteleuropea del primo dopoguerra e vaudeville. In coda, due brani attribuiti a Robert Chudley, con i Fuchsia schierati al completo alle prese con un frizzante psyche-pop proprio di scuola Kaleidoscope, ed il dolcissimo tema folk a nome The Golden Medallion con fisarmonica e chitarra acustica ("I'll Remember Her Face, I'll Remember Her Name"), affidata all'espressiva voce di John Tams della Albion Band

Gerald VanWaes - June 2005

The first two Fuchsia tracks “The Band” and “Ragtime Brahms” still have the recognisable Fuchsia sound, including the orchestrations mixed with the, for them, typical early Electric Light Orchestra bass power folkrock touch. The recording is slightly damaged but luckily still is enjoyable. “Ring of Red Roses” is a bit rougher and rockier as an idea, like a song still in progress. The Mahagonny Project is a rockopera with some orchestrations. It was made in a time when music companies had enough of ideas going away from the basics of expression (in punk, pop, rock). It sounds more like a poprockopera which is slightly wordy. Even if it has orchestrations, it's more a ‘Tommy’ kind of rock’n roll-for-the-public storytelling element. The two Robert Chudley tracks are in an early 70’s rock song style with end of 60’s harmony vocals, of which "Mary used to play the piano" is I think a nice attractively arranged song. The last, nice concluding acoustic track by The Golden Medallion confirms the feeling of melancholy towards some of these so easily lost days. It still is a shame no contract was given to the Fuchsia group for a second album. We know the times already had changed too much. So this compilation still is the best of what can be offered of an after-story after a very good debut. The extensive liner notes tell how the story of Fuchsia evolved and how the members got into new projects and groups.

Shindig - July 2005 (by Paul Martin)

This disc collects together a group of material with the central link of Fuchsia main man Tony Durant. All titles are written by him except for two tracks by Robert Chudley. The first three numbers are Fuchsia proper numbers, written after the release of their lone LP in ‘71(reissued by Nightwings and reviewed here a few months back). If you enjoyed the original Fuchsia album, you will have no problem with this collection ‘The Band’ is an uptempo and intense number that pushes your adrenaline upwards; ‘Ragtime Brahms’ is for me the best of three Fuchsia tracks however. It is a perfect example of the integration and parity that Durant was striving for of the string section within a rock format. A great staccato rhythm driven by the strings with an urgent vocal riding on top, you’ll want to hit the replay button on this one as soon as it ends. ‘Ring Of Roses’ is a swirling guitar led number with a subliminal eastern vibe. The next section features five songs by Durant’s Mahogany group from ‘75. These were written for a project based on two Brecht plays. ‘Prologue’ sounds like a Fuchsia tune through and through whilst ‘Pirate Jenny’ and ‘Mr Munch’s Interminable Lunch’ are sung by Jan Pulsford (whose sister Angela was in the string section). These have a folky-cum-torch song vibe with plaintive strings weaving through them that works well. Bob Chudley’s two contributions (he co-wrote ‘Another Nail’ on the Fuchsia album) are song writers demos. The keys led ‘Absent Friends’ and the bitter-sweet ‘Mary used To Play The Piano’ sit well alongside everything else and deserve to have been taken up by someone. Finally, Durant’s ‘I’ll Remember Her Face, I’ll Remember Her Name’ (written for a film production called ‘The Golden Medallion’) is tastefully sung by The Albion Band’s John Tams and has, to my ears, an aesthetic affinity to the ‘Wicker Man’ soundtrack. All in all, a tastefully and well sequenced selection of Durant’s post Fuchsia 70s work which makes the perfect companion piece the Fuchsia album, buy with confidence.

Ugly Things - issue n.23 - August 2005 (by Mike Stax)

...For fans of the Fuchsia album, and I count myself among them, the CD is worth buying for the first three tracks alone. "The Band" and "Ragtime Brahms" were recorded nine months after their debut's release in the hope of finding a new album deal. Sadly, there were no takers, but both songs (particularly "The Band") have all the elements that made Fuchsia so appealing, with engaging melodies and arrangements (fully integrating a rock trio with a three-piece string section) and an overriding mood of English gothic-romanticism. "Ring of Roses" comes from a demo acetate which predates the first album-and the string section-and is equally wonderful.
Five songs from Durant's Mahagonny (sic) project date from 1975-76 and were intended for a theatre show loosely based on Brecht and Weill's Threepenny Opera. The Downliners' Keith Grant-Evans played bass on the session. While some of the old Fuchsia flavor is still present, the songs are, not surprisingly, more theatrical in nature, at times recalling mid-'70s Kinks, with a dash of Bowie in the vocals. The slightly precious, nautically themed "Pirate Jenny" could even be said to prefigure the Decemberists' trip by about 30 years. The CD is rounded out by two demos by Robert Chudley (who wrote "Me and My Kite" on the Fuchsia album) and one by a '78 Durant project, the Golden Medallion, all pleasant enough melodic fare

Record Collector - May 2007 (by Derek Hammond)

...The three non-LP tracks are more or less consistent with the released work, full of strings, strident melody and time-lapse whimsy. They will certainly thrill the fans who have picked up on the previous Night Wings issue...From there we move on to five tracks from Durant's ambitious Mahagonny project from 1976...these are segments of a doomed rock opera...