“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”
And with that classic line the true identity of the Great and Powerful Oz had been revealed to Dorothy and the Yellow Brick Road Gang in the 1939 classic movie “The Wizard Of Oz”.
In 2011 a wizard of another sort … 'studio' wizard, Robert McClung was revealed to be the man behind the curtain on Telergy's brilliant concept album “The Exodus” - a biblical tale retelling the enslavement and plight of the Hebrew people from ancient Egypt (reviewed here at Prognaut 3/26/12).
McClung is a talented composer/multi-instrumentalist with a knack for bringing together international musicians from all walks of life to create grandiose music projects combining a potpourri of musical styles including progressive, metal, jazz, classical, and World music.
And with the 2013 release “The Legend Of Goody Cole” McClung has created another epic concept album recalling historic events of days gone by. But on this journey McClung changes hats from biblical scholar to objective historian as he transitions from 6th Century B.C. theology to the Puritan witch trails of 17th Century America, and the tale of Eunice “Goody” Cole, one of the first British colonist to settle in America, who was wrongly convicted of witchcraft in the New England town of Hampton in the year 1656.
McClung's tale goes beyond her bogus witch trial and fifteen year imprisonment, and chronicles her life after prison, where the poor woman continued to be hounded by the ignorant townspeople who had since seized her home, leaving her with a small shack in the marshland to live out her wretched life. Upon her death she was buried in an unmarked grave with a stake driven through her heart. Yet even after death stories persisted, as her restless ghost was said to be wandering through town searching for her grave. Centuries later redemption was at hand, and during the town's 300th anniversary in 1938, Goody Cole was exonerated of any wrongdoing and restored to a citizen in good standing. And in 1963 an unmarked memorial stone was erected in her honor.
Narrative word concept albums (albums containing narrations and voice overs as well as singing) continue to be something of a staple for the progressive rock genre. Examples such as Clive Nolan's “Alchemy” and “She”as well as his collaborations with Oliver Wakeman which have produced “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” and “Jabberwoky”; and of course we have the early concept albums of Rick Wakeman: “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”, “Return To The Centre Of The Earth”, and “The Myths & Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table”; as well as Jeff Wayne's “War Of The Worlds”. Storytelling set to music … 'Books on Tape' taken to the next level.
McClung is a master storyteller and has assembled a fine cast of performers:
- Robert McClung (narrator)
- Wanda Robidas – Goody Cole
- Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) – The Judge
- Doug Greene – Ship Captain
- Joe Cairney - William Saiter (Jailor)
- Peter Kelley – John W Perkins (town councilor)
- Melissa McClung - Mary Marston (accuser)
- Sabrina Lichtenwainer – Susannah Palmer (accuser)
- Kathy Dolan – Bridget Clifford (accuser)
- Tom Doyle – Thomas Philbrick & tenor choir vocals
- Laura Sanscartier – Sobriety Moulton & soprano choir
- Jenna Greene – Ghost vocals & Ghost Poem
- Yamica Peterson – Ghost vocals
- Medieval Madrigal Vocal Choir Performed by Myschyffe Managed:
Val Phoenix, Rick Carkin, Gary Finger, Bruce Hoskins, Pam Hoskins, Tamara McShea, Anne Smith, Alan Witt
The list of performing musicians is quite impressive – including members of Spock's Beard, Porcupine Tree, King's X, Night Ranger, Hawkwind, Magellan, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Celtic and Folk bands, as well as the Illinois & Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra.
The musicians include:
- Robert McClung – guitar, bass, violin, viola, mandolin, ukulele, lap steel guitar, piano, organ, keyboards, flute, Balalaika, Bodhran, baritone & tenor choir vocals
- Chris Bonito – drums
- Emmanuel De Saint Meen – bass (French progressive band Delusion Squared)
- Colin Edwin – bass (Porcupine Tree)
- Joel Hoekstra – guitar (Trans-Siberian Orchestra , Night Ranger)
- Ty Tabor – guitar (King's X)
- Ryo Okumoto – keyboards (Spock's Beard, K2)
- Trent Gardner – keyboards (Magellan)
- Nik Turner – saxophone (Hawkwind)
- Mattan Klein – flute
- Ryan Thomson – accordion
- Valerie Vigoda – violin (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Cyndi Lauper, Groovelily)
- Andy Reiner – violin (Earth String Band, Blue Moose)
- Tim Nunes – violin (The Nero Complex)
- Adam Nunes – cello (The Nero Complex)
- Hol Yan Joyce Pang – violin
- Kristen Miller – cello
- Jennifer Lanter Larson – French horn (Illinois Symphony Orchestra)
- John Cardin – trumpet (Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra)
- Rory Makem – Bouzoiki (The Makem Brothers)
- Jaimee Joroff – Celtic harp
The album kicks off with “Rumors” an epic bombastic track propelled by tribal drums and the driving prog/metal flourish associated with bands like Symphony X, Dream Theater, Metallica, Opeth, Threshold, Coheed and Cambria, Queensyrche, and Spock's Beard. A bone crunching wall of sound and pyroclastic laser light-speed arpeggios exchanged between guitar and keyboards are augmented by the haunting medieval choir of Myschyffe Managed. Its an eerie awe inspiring concoction one part Jerry Goldsmith's “The Omen” filmscore and one part kinetic symphonic metal.
“Accusation” is more of the same – hard driving rock and roll that should appeal to the Dream Theater crowd, but at the 6:36 mark the track takes a moody Pink Floyd turn highlighted by the smoky sax of Nik Turner, conjuring up memories of Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon”.
“Meeting House Green Pt. 2,3,4” is a complete departure and very reminiscent of the Celtic/prog/folk band Red Jasper and their vocalist Davy Dodds; as well as early pre-”Grave New World” Strawbs, and the acoustic moments of Jethro Tull.
“Incarceration” is a beautifully composed piece of chamber music for violin and cello. Something you might hear on a Karda Estra album.
“Voyage” combines elements of traditional Celtic music from bands like The Chieftains, Planxty, Rare Air, Cherish The Ladies, Lindisfarne, and Gaelic Storm with the heavier hybrid bands like Scotland's Wolfstone and and the aggressive American Irish punk band Black 47 who combine Highland and Irish music, traditional folk, and hard driving rock and roll. Something you might expect to hear in an Irish Pub run by a head-banging proprietor on Saint Paddy's Day.
“Ghost” is another cinematic track with shifting moods and movements ranging from the eerie opening with ghostly soprano vocals from Jenna Greene and Yamica Peterson and amazing flute-work of Mattan Klein, which transitions into a dynamic guitar driven symphonic metal assault, complete with a bit of funky 'talk box' guitar-work made famous by guitarists Peter Frampton and Joe Perry.
“Exoneration” is an melancholy chamber piece for guitar, violin and cello that tugs at your heartstrings much like composer Samuel Barber's “Adagio For Strings”; bringing Robert McClung's somber tale to its conclusion.
At the conclusion of this years it's going to be tough for me to come up with my list of Top 10 CDs because 2013 has been a great year for new music … and as of right now “The Legend Of Goody Cole” is right up there at the top of the heap.
Robert McClung and Telergy continues to impress with each new outing. And “The Legend Of Goody Cole” is not only a worthy follow-up to “The Exodus” but in many ways surpasses it.
On a side note, Telergy is a completely independent project that receives no support from major record labels and is supported by friends, family, and loyal fans to cover the large costs of mastering and duplication. And a portion of the profits from this album will be donated to the Hampton New Hampshire Historical Society in an effort to update and restore Goody Cole’s currently unmarked memorial stone. Do yourself, Telergy, and Goody Cole a big favor and support the band by buying this amazing project. You won't be disappointed.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on August 11th, 2013