Band members Related acts
- David Bedford -- keyboards
- Chris Cutler -- percussion
- Mike Oldfield -- bass, guitar
- The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra -- various
- Kevin Ayers
- The Coxhill-Bedford Duo
- Will Dandy and the Dandylettes
Rating: 2 stars **
Title: Star's End
Country/State: London, England
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: minor crease lower right corner
Catalog ID: 6280
I'll admit to buying this one for two reasons; 1.) it was released on Virgin Records (always a source of interesting, non-mainstream material, and 2.) the cheesy space themed cover art (courtesy of Chris Callis).
So it turns out that David Bedford was a well known avant-garde and classical composer, conductor and orchestator. I'm not going to bother going into his resume - you can look it up if interested. His 'rock' credentials came as a result of his work on Kevin Ayer's solo debut "Joy of a Toy". In addition to orchestrating the album, Bedford joined Ayers recording and touring band. That job introduced him to bassist Mike Oldfield and when Oldfield was signed as a solo act by Virgin Records, Bedford orchestrated and conducted the material on his album "The Orchestral Tubular Bells" as well as several follow-up collections. The unexpected success of the Oldfield collaboration got him signed to Virgin where 1974's "Star's End" served as his second solo offering.
Reportedly commissioned by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), the album was co-produced by Bedford and Oldfield (the latter provided bass and guitar). Initially entitled "The Heat Death of the Universe", the collection was inspired by Bedford's interest in astronomy (the title borrowed from Isaac Asimov's novel Second Foundation. Based on the title, I'm guessing Bedford was trying to capture the chaos associated with the collapse of a star ... okay, that may be total crap on my part. Anyhow, be forewarned these two extended instrumentals showcasing the RPO with Vernon Hardley conducting reflect 45 minutes worth of modern avant garde themes. Musically there was absolutely nothing remotely rock or progressively oriented here. In fact, large segments of the album were pretty discordant (try sitting through the first couple of minutes of side two), if not outright dull with the RPO seemingly heading off in random directions whenever they got bored with a particular passage. While there wasn't much in the way of melody, or rhythm, the album was full of ominous dronings, abrupt starts and stops, and occasionally interesting sound effects. Oldfield's bass and guitar made occasional appearances, but with the exception of the closing segment of side one and a brief segment on side two where his instantly recognizable 'chiming' guitar took the spotlight, for the most part he simply didn't add a great deal to the proceedings.
I'm not sure why, but for some reason Virgin elected to slap modified cover art on the US release. The original and superior UK cover is shown below:
Virgin catalog number V 2020
To be totally honest, I've only managed to get through the set three times and each and every time it's reminded me of the incidental music to an Aliens or Star Trek film. The album has its admirers, but I'll readily admit I'm just not sophisticated enough to enjoy it.
End" track listing:
1.) Star's End (instrumental) (Part 1) (David Bedford) - 23:18
For anyone interested, Bedford has a web presence at:
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