290:- (2CD, 24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition. Outgivet album som skulle ges ut på "spiral" Vertigo. Utgången utgåva.)
This album was in fact made by the progressive encarnation of Kaleidoscope, whose name was Fairfield Parlour, though it was shelved and released only in 90's. In fact this one was recorded in 1971. At the early stages, the band had the help of Moody Blues' Mike Pinder, who was setting a studio at his home. Unfortunately, at that time, the band was not so popular and lost their deal at Vertigo shortly after the completion of the album. They tried to move to RCA, but the company didn't want to risk the release of a double album by a relatively unknown band. They finished the album, but couldn't get another deal and it was shelved till the nineties, when the interest in old psychedelic and prog rock resurfaced.
The sound is different from psychedelic beginning, more folk and symphonic, though with some psychedelic influences still evident. The songs are mostly short, but their themes are connected, since the album was made to be an opera-rock, with lyrics and a history of the concept in the booklet, about the life of the White-Faced Lady, an innocent girl that becomes a movie star by accident and eventually has achieved the stardom, but lately only faced the downsides of life.
Overture is a complete orchestral-instrumental piece, with a very beautiful brass and strings, along with the band, which enters in the middle of the track. The song is a very beautiful beginning to the album. Broken Mirrors is attached to Overture, and starts with good acoustic guitar, inventive bass lines, some bits of flute and excellent singing. The lush orchestral arrangements come back during the chorus, along with electric guitar, plus some percussive sounds working as effects.
Next song is Angel's song: "Dear Elvis Presley...", a "homage" to Elvis, which in fact turns to be a not proper "homage" because the in lyrics, the White-Faced Lady, nicknamed Angel, is pregnant and hoping Elvis is going to marry her. By reading the booklet, you discover that she was only "psychologically pregnant". The song is very mellow, with good acoustic guitar riff and drumming. There is an orchestral interlude in the middle of the song, that goes with the song till the end.
Nursey, Nursey starts with horns and sound effects, then turning in an electric folkish song with good guitar riff, drumming, some harmonica sounding like a brass instrument and a somewhat catchy chorus. The first "rocker" of the album.
Then comes Heaven in the black row with good piano and harpsichord intro, plus electric guitar and drums in the chorus and gorgeous orchestral arrangements, as usual appearing during the song. The vocal melody is very beautiful, both during the verses and during the chorus, that has some good bass lines.
The next song, Burning Bright, is another beautiful ballad, and is rather short, with acoustic guitar and percussion intro and orchestral arrangements and electric instruments in the chorus and instrumental interludes. The vocal and orchestral arrangements are very delicate and beautiful.
The Matchseller has a long and good classical acoustic guitar intro before comes the singing and then keyboards, good bass lines, drums and some flute in the bridge and the chorus. The vocals are superb as usual.
The Coronation of the Fledgling is a short orchestral interlude, though some versions of the album list this song as the orchestral interlude plus the first part of the next song.
All hail to the hero starts with good guitar (electric and acoustic), along with great bass sound and keyboards. Then the song changes in another part, less folk and more psychedelic rock, with remarkable chorus, good lead guitar, bass, flute, along with good brass arrangement.
White-Faced Lady is an organ based song, with beautiful piano, bass and drums added progressively. The vocal work is top-notch, with changes and a pompous chorale. The chorus is guitar based and different from the rest of the song. The song marks the end of the first part of the album, dominated by folkish mellow songs.
The second part of the album has longer songs, more rocking, including some jamming. The first song is Freefall, that starts with sound effects and then with acoustic guitar riff and horns. The chorus has lush orchestral arrangements. The song has some changes in the rhythm and the end is a instrumental part (except for some repeating of the name of the song), with good piano, orchestral arrangements and bird sound effects.
Standing has two parts also, that are split in some versions of the album. The first part is a psychedelic percussive part, with very unusual percussion riff, along with a good bass riff. The second part has organ and electric guitars as the main sounds, some interesting bass and flute. With some changes, the song is notably psychedelic, including some short jamming in the end of the song.
Diary song: The indian head is a short song with a woman singing like in a prey, though in some versions of the album The Indian Head is the second part of Standing and the woman part is part of the next song.
Song from Jon is much different from the overall mood of the album, being the most elaborate of the album, with a somber mood. It starts with a dense acoustic guitar riff, along with some piano. The vocal melody has a tense mood. The song adds electric guitar, sitar, flute, percussion, keyboards, even going into an instrumental part with indian flavor. The song end in an instrumental jam, with guitar solos, variations, different sounds, etc. The song represents a turning point in the concept history, when the things start go wrong for the protagonist, which will be furthered in the next songs.
Long Way Down is a song with great bass lines and good guitar riff. The mood of the song reflects something more serious and philosophical, reflecting the tone the song has in the history of the rock-opera. The guitar and bass interplay is excellent.
The locket returns to the mood of the first part of the album, but it is a rather sad song. The song has beautiful acoustic guitar, piano and chimes, plus some beautiful flute in the chorus. The vocal melody is superb.
Picture with Conversation is based on guitar, both acoustic and electric. The piano is beautiful and delicate. There is some strong bass lines and good drumming, both regular and percussive effects. The song has an instrumental ending that returns to the first musical themes presented in the album, with different arrangements.
The last song is Epitaph: Angel, is the coronation of the album as a masterpiece. Better ending to it would not be possible. It starts with singing only, and goes building over the same theme, introducing a beautiful female chorale, acoustic guitar, bass, drumming, electric guitar, piano and orchestral arrangements, peaking three times in a superb way. Pay attention to the superb classical guitar and bass interplay and feel all the beauty of the vocal melody (one of the best vocal melodies ever) and lush orchestral arrangements.
The best rock-opera I've ever heard and one of the best concept albums ever, White Faced Lady unfortunately was unreleased at the time, leading to the collapse of the band, making the prog world lose one of its early promising bands. Fortunately for today's fans, this masterpiece of progressive rock is available. Unfortunately for everyone, the fate prevented the band to make more masterpieces like this one and we could never see how Kaleidoscope would evolve in the "golden age of prog".
01. Overture 2:48
02. Broken Mirrors 2:50
03. Angels Song: Dear Elvis Presley 2:39
04. Nursey, Nursey 3:47
05. Small Song - Heaven in the Back Row 3:22
06. Burning Bright 2:03
07. The Matchseller 3:50
08. The Coronation of the Fledgling 0:21
09. All Hail to the Hero 5:03
10. White Faced Lady 4:41
11. Freefall 5:13
12. Standing 6:12
13. Diary Song: The Indian Head 0:54
14. Song from Jon 6:56
15. Long Way Down 4:06
16. The Locket 2:58
17. Picture With Conversation 3:38
18. Epitaph: Angel 7:48