Magna Carta - Martin's Cafe,
Possibly one of the worst album titles and covers of all time, this album was the band’s sixth studio album, although it should have been their fifth (recorded in 1974 it wasn’t released until 1977). The previous album, 1973’s ‘Lord Of The Ages’ had been a major success, but by now the band was back down again to the duo of Chris Simpson and Glen Stuart. Working with producer Tom Allom (Black Sabbath, Strawbs) they again had access to some great musicians, including keyboard player John Mealing (ex-Soft Machine) and Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention). They even convinced Davey Johnstone to come back to play on “You Are Only What You Are”. That song appears as track seven on this 11-song album, but according to the sleeve notes Chris thinks that it is best to play that first, then follow it up with track three (“Mixed up Sensations”), and then play the rest of the album. Certainly, those two songs show very different sides to the band, but both are very clearly Magna Carta.
Chris says that out of all the albums the band has made over the years, this is still very much one of his favourites, and one can see/hear why. It is incredibly diverse for the band, yet there is a strong continuity of great songs, one of which wasn’t written by Chris! As with the other Talking Elephant reissues, the sound is wonderful, and this one again has wonderful sleeve notes that takes the listener inside the story of the album and the recording. Coming back to Magna Carta after a few years away has reawakened my interest in their music, looks like I have some catching up to do. If you have never previously come across this great British institution then you owe it to yourself to do so now.