Clive Nolan is one of the greatest musicians in the modern Progressive Rock music scene. And with this new exciting release (“King’s Ransom”, a musical opera), he is on top of his creativity!
His name is involved in a rather big number of bands or projects, such as Pendragon, Arena, Casino, Shadowland and others.
However, as Clive told me once, he had always been a great fan of musicals.
In 2008 he released his first musical named as “She”, under the name Caamora (the story was based on the book with the same name, written by H. Rider Haggard)
His second musical was Alchemy and it was released in 2013, under his name this time.
The plot took place in Victorian England, in “Alchemy Universe”, and it was based on a fictional story, written by him.
When I bought Alchemy, I couldn’t believe how wonderful it was, and I have no idea how many times I listened to it! (even today, it still is one of my most beloved albums of the last decade).
When I learned about King’s Ransom, which is the sequel of Alchemy, I wasn’t very surprised, mainly due to the fact that at the end of Alchemy there was a hint that the story could be continued in the future.
I was also a little bit worried, because Alchemy was a really great album and I wasn’t sure if he could repeat something like that again.
Thankfully, my fears were unfounded…
I pre-ordered King’s Ransom, and what I received was a box set, including 4 CD’s, 1 DVD and 3 booklets.
A very impressive and expensive production as it seems (the 4 cd-edition only was available for pre-order. The normal edition includes 3CD’s plus 1 DVD).
Now, let’s take a look at the album itself.
It is divided in 2 parts (Act I & Act II), and includes 33 tracks in total.
Don’t forget that it's not a Progressive Rock album; it’s a musical.
For the recordings of the album, Clive used 6 musicians and 11 singers who play the different characters of the story.
In comparison with Alchemy, I think that King’s Ransom is more sophisticated and a bit “darker”.
The music is astonishing once more and it changes according to the situations that the characters find themselves in.
As for the performance of the singers, it is excellent on most occasions (although that’s totally a matter of personal taste).
I will not get into details for each song separately, because that is an unfair thing to do.
The songs follow a story line, and each of them has something to offer to the story.
Therefore, there might be some songs not so “strong” like others, but they add something and they move the story forward.
I also enjoyed the dialogues that bind the songs together, because they offer the album a theatrical touch.
Despite the fact that I put the CD’s in my CD player and listened to them without skipping not even a song, there are several songs that I enjoy more than others. Some of them are the following: “Act I: Poison Runs the Course”, “Silent Army”, “The Deal is Made”, “Legend of the Unicorn Orchid”, and of course the wonderful “Solitary Man” with the fantastic voice of Gemma Ashley (goosebumps; anytime…!), “Act II: In Harm’s Way”, “Stand Fast”, “Turning the Tables”, “St Paul’s” and “Epilogue”
I will conclude this post by saying that King’s Ransom is a definite must-have for every fan of Clive Nolan, but not only for them.
Every person can enjoy this because it is definitely a serious piece of art!
I don’t know about you, but I know that I am going to enjoy it for a long-long time.
And as Clive Nolan writes in the first page of the booklet; “Turn the lights down, and the speakers up… and immerse yourself once more in the ‘Alchemy Universe’…
In case you are interested, check here: www.kingsransomthemusical.com
My rating: 5 solid stars without a second thought.