Once And Future King
Part One
Frontiers Records
FRCD 161
· Produced By: Gary Hughes

· Running Time: 50.42

· Release Date: August 25

· Released: EU

· Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock

· Links: Frontiers
Songs: 93%
Sound: 93%
The work and time that has gone into writing and recording this double album set is easily evident.
For fans of Gary Hughes, Ten and his work with other artists, this is an absolute must have release. It also offers plenty for newcomers and general melodic rock fans.
I must say that I am no big fan of concept albums and/or rock operas, but this album is something a little different. There are not too many such releases I can think of that allow the listener to take any given song out of the flow of the album, allowing it to be enjoyed on it's own.
But each and every track here - and indeed on Part 2 also – is enjoyable on its own.
The production quality is nothing short of superb, the songwriting is obviously first rate and the backing from the guys in Ten perfect.
While there are parts of the album that naturally sound like Ten or a Hughes solo project, there are other parts that are completely different and offer the listener a new experience.
Best of all, much like the debut solo album from Hugo, Gary Hughes has put together music and performances that bring out the best in the guests involved.
The story is of King Arthur and the myths behind the legend. It is told through a series of songs spanning two separate albums and guest vocalists playing the parts of various figures involved in the story.
I'll leave the rest of the details for those that buy the album and read through the excellent and rather special liner notes and CD packaging.
Damian Wilson (Threshold, Ayreon) opens the album, with a traditional uptempo European rocker titled Excaliber setting the scene.
Gary Hughes is up next on Dragon Island Cathedral, another rocker which sees the album's author performing on a track pretty close to the style we have come to expect from him – which mirrors early Ten. New Ten guitarist Chris Francis gets his first chance to shine, doing an admirable job.
Lana Lane duets with Gary on the next track, which is an enjoyable haunting ballad.
The Reason Why sees Danny Vaughn at the mike for the first of two tracks. Following the mood of the ballad before it, this track is all atmosphere and builds during a solid chorus and continues to do so as the song progresses. Great to hear Danny singing such a style, which he handles with ease.
Irene Jansen (Karma) is the second female lead vocalist featured. Shapeshifter is a dramatic and somewhat bombastic pomp rocker, which changes the tone of the album and adds some impressive variety to the line up of songs.
Bob Catley, playing the role of Merlin appears on the first of two tracks on King For A Day. This is a typical Gary Hughes written Bob Catley tune, which is a dark mid-tempo rock track with an epic chorus will appeal to fans of Bob's first few solo records. Another typically flawless performance by Bob.
Stand out track of the album is the second track featuring Danyn Vaughn. This is melodic rock at its very best and is reminiscent of classic Tyketto. Avalon is a classic feel good uptempo pop rocker. One of the tracks of the year to date.
Diamond Head/Notorious vocalist Sean Harris appears on Sinner. Great to hear his voice again on this track, which is another mid-to-uptempo moody rock track.
Bob Catley returns for another dramatic and slightly epic track In Flames.
Lies closes Part 1, with Gary Hughes, or King Arthur himself, on lead vocals. This track is a mid-tempo moody track, with another memorable chorus. Another classic Hughes number, this one offering fans a lot to like.
And that is the body of Part 1. A little of a departure for Gary Hughes, but there's certainly a lot of familiar elements also present.
Part 2 offers a little something different again, but the two albums piece together perfectly. Part 1 is comprised of simpler more direct songs, with some fine catchy melodic hard rock tracks for fans to appreciate.
The Bottom Line
One of the best concept albums I have ever heard - and certainly one of the catchiest. I can say that with confidence as I listen to it back to back with Part 2, which will be reviewed soon.
Together they highlight the brilliance of Gary Hughes the songwriter and producer, while giving the guest talent enlisted, something very positive to put on their resumes.
Selected Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Gary Hughes - Precious Ones
· Ten - Babylon
· Ten - Far Beyond The World
· Once And Future King - Part 2

Line Up
· Gary Hughes, Bob Catley, Danny Vaughn, Damian Wilson, Irene Jansen, Sean Harris, Lana Lane: Vocals
· Gary Hughes, Chris Francis, John Halliwell: Guitar
· Greg Norgan: Drums
· Steve McKenna: Bass
· Paul Hodson: Keyboards

Essential for fans of:
· Ten - Name Of The Rose
· Gary Hughes - Precious Ones
· Bob Catley - The Tower
· Danny Vaughn
· Nostradamus
Track Listing
· Excaliber
· Dragon Island Cathedral*
· At The End Of The Day
· The Reason Why*
· Shapeshifter
· King For A Day*
· Avalon*
· Sinner
· In Flames
· Lies
--*Best Tracks

19/01/06: Csaba Fozo -
Rating: 100
I don't understand, why everyone tells that this is a perfect album in every way but only one reviewer gave it 100 rating! Also Andrew take it to the heavens in his review, and only gave 93. For me, this record is absolutely perfect, awesome, superbly crafted piece of heaven. I'd be curious if no bad sides were mentioned, one why doesn't give it (at least a near) 100 score.

29/11/03: Hanuk Baac - Temporarily Unavailable
Rating: 95
Gary Hughes has never really disappointed me coming into this massive rock opera and this time he's no different, Gary delievered another masterpieces. Chris Francis, the new TEN guitar player, turned out to be a great addition. He's more skilled than Vinny Burns and more of a heavy metal guitarist with aggressive guitar tone, I believe he'll take Gary's band to another level. This album will appeal to everyone who loves good music.

22/10/03: Jim Dunlap -
Rating: 100
All it took was one listen and I was blown away. I would give a perfect 100 rating to a very select few albums -- but this is one of them. It is simply awesome from start to finish. Brilliant songwriting and vocal performances. Gary Hughes compiled a stellar cast to perform his rock opera. Some of the vocalists I was not previously familiar with, but after hearing them here I now want to hear more of them. The album has somewhat of a Ten epic feel to it, but of course it's more diverse with so many different singers influencing the album with their styles. It is hard to even choose favorite tracks because they are all so good. But "Excalibur", "The Reason Why", and "Lies" especially stand out for me. I can't wait for Part 2!

14/09/03: Capt Kaos -
Rating: 90
Ive been a Big Fan of gary Hughes's songwriting since he appeared with Ten and what i think that makes him such a great songwriter is his to write on absolutely anythin from dragons to love.... But this rock opera Hughes has outdone himself an excellent topic to right about the much loved King Arthur unlike Catleys middle earth was an interesting album but quite honestly i dont no the story of tolkens novel but King ARthur is well known and most people at least no the myth or have seen Excalibur the movie...
Well anyway the album starts of with excalibur pomp into keyboards which leads to the excellent dragon island cathedral sung by the man himself excellent hard rock new guitarist chris francis seems to be comforteable plating the sword and sorcery topics unlike vinny burns who'd rather play songs about fun times... next comes the obligatory ballad duet sung by hughes and lana lane typical hughes probably one of his best ballads with excellent heartfelt lyrics.. Next come one of 2 danny Vaughn tracks for some reason i dont think dannys voice fits in the opera for some reason but the songs are excellent AOR....
Bob Catley sings on King for a Day.. My theory is that the songwriter usually does a better version of a song cos he knows what his trying to say but Bob catley is one of the very few singers in the world who can interpret a song better than anyone else he does an amazing version of Merlin on both the tracks that he sings the album ends with the Hughes sung ballad Lies another highlight...
Excellent album a must buy for any rock AOR King Arthur fan

04/09/03: ANTONIO -
Rating: 97
I'm a Ten fan since their debut album and i think this "once and future king" album is the best thing Gary Hughes have done since "The Name Of The Rose ALbum". I think the album have something for everyone, from the heavy of "Excalibur" to the aor of "Avalon" or "The Reason Why", not to mention the feeling of ballads like the beautiful duo between Gary Hughes and Lana Lane in "At The End Of Day" or the epic of the closer "Lies".
In my opinion, the best songs of the albums are "Dragon Island Cathedral",a great hard rock song with great epic feeling tipical from Ten, "At The End Of Day",the best ballad a hear from mr. Hughes in a long time, "The Reason Why", "Avalon",a great melodic rock song with a strong feeling, "Shape Shifter",another rock song with ten taste and a incredible interpretation of Irene Jansen, and "Lies", a dramatic mid-tempo song with a strong feel.
In other way i think it's remarcable the great work of Chris Francis, the newest Ten's member( I can´t wait til i hear him in the next Ten album).
At Last, i would like to recommend this album to everyone who simply likes good music.

02/09/03: Apostolos Kaponis -
Rating: 95
Gary Hughes for one more time prove that he is an excellent songwriter. A perfect album that covers the distance between power metal and melodic rock creating bombastic hymns that we can sing from long time from now.


31/08/03: Britny -
Rating: 95
Ok so no surprise that I was going to be keen on ths album, its no secret that I'm a big fan of Mr Hughes and Ten. However I think it is set to prove all the doubters wrong. Much has been made of the fact that it is a concept album, and the album has been ridiculed long before it came out. Well those of you who are still laughing uncontrollably should give the album a spin and be prepared to eat humble pie.
To be honest I haven't had chance to pay much attention to the lyrics yet so I am observing the album purely on musical rather than lyrical merits.
Quite simply it is the best thing Gary has done in a while, Far beyond The World was not quite the Ten album I expected and I was beginning to wonder if maybe Gary was stretching himself a bit thin and exhausting his ideas.
This album puts an end to such thoughts, the album has everything you could want, the perfect aor of Avalon (quite possibly the best thing Danny has sung on since Don't Come Easy, songs reminiscent of y favourite early Ten tunes and the heavier Excaliber and Sinner.
I also have to admit to being impressed with all the vocalists on show especially Irene Jansen and lana lane who I have to admit to being totally unfamiliar with.
Also the album is the perfect opportunity for Chris Francis to show what he can do without the pressure of making his first appearance on a Ten album, again I'm sure he has proven his doubters wrong.
So why not 100%, afraid its due to Bob Catley, sadly I just can't get over my loathing of him ;-)

Roll on part 2

26/08/03: John Ferguson -
Rating: 96
Gary Hughes, mastermind of the UK’s finest classic melodic rock act Ten and the man behind Bob Catley’s first three solo albums, not to mention Hugo’s much heralded debut, has woven a delicate tapestry of sonic pleasure with his long awaited rock opera, “Once And Future King- Part 1.” All backed by Hughes’s Ten band mates, the masterful conviction with which the array of guest vocalists deliver their lines brings to life the mystical and mythical legend of King Arthur. Through the mists of time, everything that is great about the music of Ten collides with a progressive potency and Jim Steinman-like theatre to result in an album to enthral, to excite and to delight lovers of the melodic, the majestic and the dramatic.
With Part 2 of this superb piece of work due in October, together they will surely stand as the year’s monumental melodic release.
Aryeon’s Damian Wilson takes up vocal duties on the hard rocking opener “Excalibur,” with a magnificent and pompous keyboard intro courtesy of keyboard wizard Arjen Luassen. The man himself, Gary Hughes, steps forward on the highly Ten flavoured “Dragon Island Cathedral,” a crunching melodic anthem featuring superb guitar work from new Ten man, Chris Francis. The sublime ballad “At The End Of Day,” a classic duet between Hughes and the wonderful Lana Lane, projects a tangible sense of melancholy and transcends the confines of the standard rock ballad. Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn takes the microphone for two tracks, the mid-paced AOR of “The Reason Why” and the excellent “Avalon,” a more up tempo number which allows Danny to really shine as only he can. Irene Jansen of Karma fame delivers the highly dramatic “Shape shifter,” a dazzling moody rocker that suits her strong vocal style and shows a different side to Gary Hughes’ song writing. Gary’s old mate Bob Catley does his usual great job on two tracks in the role of Merlin the Wizard. The epic “King For A Day” is close to the style heard on Catley’s “Middle Earth” opus and the expansive “In Flames” prove yet again he is the master when it comes to pompous and dramatic rock. Sean Harris (Diamond Head) turns back the clock twenty years as he belts out the upbeat “Sinner” and Part 1 of the story closes with the Gary Hughes sung “Lies,” another classic mid-paced epic, true to the feel of early Ten.
Great song writing, great production and faultless performances all round make this a highlight of this and any other year. Needless to say, Part-2 will be equally as essential as this. Magnificent.

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