Beau

Creation/Beau

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Beau's two albums for the Dandelion label, 1969's Beau and 1971's Creation, were combined onto one CD for this 1995 reissue. Beau was a bit of a throwback to circa 1964-1965 records by the likes of Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, and Donovan, the singer/songwriter's 12-string guitar serving as the only instrumental accompaniment. In comparison with the best of those performers, however, Beau was far blander both melodically and vocally. The songs were sincere, thoughtful, and kindly, but musically rather dull. An exception was "1917 Revolution," both for its more ambitious subject matter (the Russian communist revolution) and its more urgent, darker-toned setting, with its descending major chords reflecting the chaos of the scene described by this first-person historical narrative. Elsewhere, "Fishing Song" slightly recalls Donovan's most lighthearted acoustic compositions, and "Pillar of Economy" is another political tune, observing the closing of a mill that helped fire the industrial revolution even as it exploited its workers. "You must understand that though most of the rain will flow straight down the drain, it will come back again in an equal supply, by the sewers, the rivers, the sea and the sky," he assures listeners in "Rain" -- well, try telling that to drought-stricken regions suffering famine. For Creation, fellow Dandelion artists the Way We Live provided full-band backing on some of the cuts, which made for a substantial improvement and greater variation in the arrangements. At its heart, though, it remained average-at-best folk-rock troubadouring fare, the work of a sensitive observation-oriented composer without much vocal distinction or force. The chugging "Nine Minutes" was one of Beau's best efforts, but his more subdued numbers were hindered by unmemorable standard folk melodies (though these at least had a darker hue than those on his debut) and reserved, colorless singing. On "Creation," the music did take an unpredictable turn into quasi-psychedelia, with whispered spoken narration on top of swirling discordant organ, in a manner not too far removed from some of early Pink Floyd's spacier interludes. "Silence Returns," too, goes in an unexpected direction when its basic doomy riff is joined by scorching distorted hard rock guitar some ways into the track, and these two songs alone make Creation a more interesting effort than its predecessor. This two-fer reissue does include historical liner notes, but gets no kudos for packaging that does not make it clear which songs come from which album -- the first 14 are from Beau and the final 11 from Creation, though the inexplicable title Creation/Beau infers that it's programmed the other way around.