Exposé Online banner

Alan Simon — Songwriter
(Babaïka Productions AS-001-C, 2017, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-01-19

Songwriter Cover art

If you’ve never heard of Alan Simon before, you are probably not alone, and might well be forgiven unless you are into the very specialized sort of music he does. A French composer who specializes in Celtic rock operas performed in collaboration with noted rock musicians, many of whom you probably do know well. His works are very ambitious, focusing on themes that are assocoated with Celtic myths and history, encompassing folk, rock, and symphonic styles, and the two-disc compilation at hand presents a solid 40 track cross-section of his work excerpted from his many releases. Those would include his Excalibur quadrilogy, Gaïa, Tristan & Yseult, Cap’taine Kid, and Anne de Bretagne. For completists there is even one previously unreleased cut “Adela,” and it’s an outstanding one. The guest list is quite impressive, and I could run this review up to 600 words or more listing them all, but I’ll just limit the list to some of the more recognizable names, including Fairport Convention (the entire band on some cuts, as well as individual members on others), Maddy Prior, Ric Sanders, Jon Anderson, Martin Barre, John Wetton, Supertramp members Roger Hodgson and John Helliwell, Dan Ar Braz, Mick Fleetwood, Jeremy Spencer, Justin Hayward, Les Holroyd, Alan Parsons, Jean-Luc Chevalier, Didier Lockwood, Dave Pegg, Billy Preston, Andreas Vollenweider, and Midnight Oil (the entire band). As far as what Simon plays, the only credits I see are acoustic guitar, Merlin whistle, and harmonica, though I might have missed something in all the fine print. More importantly though, Simon composed nearly every note and lyric here and is responsible for all the arrangements, while Lee Holdridge is credited with the symphonic orchestrations. Disc One is subtitled ‘My world and symphonic side’ and starts out with an abundance of symphonic excerpts from his many releases, though just about the time one tires of all the bombast, he starts interspersing folk pieces including “Beltaine” and “Castle Rock,” both featuring Fairport, “The Vision” featuring the late John Wetton and closes the side with the aforementioned “Adela.” Disc two is subtitled ‘My British side,’ though exactly what that means is unclear; the second disc contains almost none of the heavy symphonic material, and a lot of excellent songs that straddle the lines between folk, rock, and pop. Here you will find “Peace on Earth” featuring Heather Small and Billy Preston, “Circle of Life” with Jon Anderson singing, “Secret Garden” featuring Maddy Prior, and the disc two closer “A Prayer for My Lover” featuring Siobhan Owen. There is a lot of variety across this two disc set that represents the many facets of Simon’s craft, and a solid introduction to his work thus far.


Filed under: Archives, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Jon Anderson, Christian Décamps, John Wetton, Fairport Convention, Dan Ar Braz, Martin Barre, Cesária Évora, Didier Lockwood, Alan Simon

Latest news

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tipographica - God Says I Can't Dance – As well covered in Exposé, Tipographica are one of the best new music ensembles around, a band better suited to those with largely experimental tastes. After a superb debut and equally interesting...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues