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Barra: Eternal Magus

With a short life span that included three names, Barra was an English quartet with influences ranging from early British prog to Celtic rock to Middle-Eastern rhythms to the Renaissance era. Starting life in 1984 as Kingfishers Catch Fire, morphing into Holy Trinity and finally evolving into Barra, these three men and one woman broke up in the late Eighties after failing to hit the big time.

That's no surprise, really, given the material on Eternal Magus. These 15 tracks, remixed and remastered, constitute most (if not all) of Barra's output and some of Kingfishers Catch Fire's work. The songs occasionally show signs of life ("Blushing Red," "Power of Three," "Gnosis," "Universe"). More often than not, however, the music is bogged down with Tracey-Anne Sparkes' smoky warbling about who knows what. At times, she sounds like ex-Fleetwood Mac songbird Christine McVie; at others, she recalls Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano. Good enough if you like that sort of thing, but an acquired taste if don't. Worth noting, however, are Alan Wishart's ethereal electric and acoustic guitars, which meander in and out with seasoned fluidity.

Eternal Magus isn't a bad record; in fact, it's charming in its own quaint way. Still, I can name, off the top of my head, five albums by female-fronted progressive-rock bands I'd spin before popping this one back into the player. RIP, Barra.

Added: March 7th 2003
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Hits: 2508
Language: english

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