CHRIS DE BURGH – Moonfleet & Other Stories (Ferryman Records Ferry444P)

In much the same way that Robert Louis Stevenson captured the imagination with his ‘boys own’ adventures “Treasure Island” and “Kidnapped”, John Meade Faulkner created the 1758 based smugglers tale “Moonfleet”. Indeed this piece of fiction makes as interesting a backdrop as either of Stevenson’s offerings (both of which subsequently became musicals in their own right) and form the major part of this recording. Ever the storyteller, Chris De Burgh’s fascination with his subject matter is obvious from the opening track by introducing the sounds of rushing surf followed by no less than the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra setting up the story with the grandiose harp led “Moonfleet Overture”. As is the case in most folk-rock operas there is narrative interjection peppered throughout the album provided by fellow musician Chris Porter’s thespian vowels and the ‘folk’ instrumentation of Geoffrey Richardson on viola, banjo, mandolin and whistle who comes into his own on the fiddle driven “The Escape”. Creating a sound-scape that vividly brings to mind the story’s rustic setting proves no obstacle for De Burgh who after all is steeped in the art of theatrics and even the visual image conjured by the CD booklet proves testament to that. I suppose that comparisons may be drawn to Jeff Wayne’s adaptation of “War Of The Worlds” or Alan Parson’s “Tales Of Mystery And Imagination” but I for one (being of that generation that loved rock operas) am ready to embrace any project that employs a full-on production and trust me, there’s plenty of that showmanship on display here. With a cheery reference to “Drunken Sailor” included on the track “Have A Care” Chris nails his ‘folk’ colours firmly to the mast and if you don’t mind the odd bit of plagiarism will bring a wry smile to your face. There’s plenty on offer and, if you hadn’t guessed it already I’m sold on this album and couldn’t recommend it more highly. Christmas has come early…what a cracker!


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