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Richard III: no longer merely rhyming slang, but one of our best known kings thanks to the recent (and quite remarkable) discovery of his grave in Leicestershire where he'd been resting ever since his death in The Battle Of Bosworth Field over 500 years ago. Now the last of the Plantagenets is one of the best known kings in the British Isles, despite only reigning for two years. What better time for a folk-rock concept album about his life! Has someone been listening to too much Rick Wakeman? Is this some strange humerous idea thought up over a few pints one night? Is it all a bit ridiculous on the whole? Well, yes and no. It's certainly not the regular type of project you'd expect a band to take on, and there is an element of humour involved in places. Plus it does seem like there was an urge somewhere along the line to go out and record an album in such a quirky manner.
The Legendary Ten Seconds are actually members of Torquay indiepop band The Morrisons, and what your regular punter doesn't know (unless they're familiar with the Shakespeare play or pretty hot on the history of the Middle Ages) is that Richard of York had an eventful, interesting and slightly crazy life. On 'Loyaulté Me Lie', The Legendary Ten Seconds take us through this journey, from his young life in York ('York City Fayre'), to the beginning of the Wars Of The Roses ('The Battle Of Barnet Song'), the death, and possible poisoning, of his brother Edward IV ('Lord Anthony Woodville', 'The Lord Protector'), his own coronation ('Fanfare For The King'), the death of his wife ('The Lady Anne Melville') and much more, all culminating in events in his brief tenure as king and his untimely death in battle, right through to the discovery of his remains ('The King In The Carpark'). So, yeah, there's plenty of material to sustain a lengthy biography of the man; both Shakespeare and The Legendary Ten Seconds know that, along with The Richard III Society which was founded 90 years ago.
Musically we're in the realms of trad-folk, and little else would fit. However, the band do allow more modern aspects to creep in. 'Lord Anthony Woodville' is pretty much a modern rock song with rock drumming and electric guitars. There's also the use of synths throughout the album to flesh-out the sound and touches like this prevent it from becoming too much like an olde-worlde folk album. The humour helps too, and serious folkies might not have included the post-celebration hangover that comes with the mutterings of "Ah, my head hurts, I'll have extra duties for a month for this one. I wonder who won?" at the end of 'The Battle Of Barnet Song'. For a man whose media coverage this past year has been so great, and who's had plays and societies dedicated to him, divulging the whole story here would be lengthy. Musically The Legendary Ten Seconds successfully combine their modern guitar sound with traditional music of long ago. The instrumental 'Fanfare For The King' is indeed a grand brass fanfare, but it also includes modern instruments, and like much of the album sees two worlds colliding. There are plenty of surprises in terms of sound and much thought to the lyrics. A folk-rock opera about a historical figure might not look good on paper, but by bringing past and present together musically and having a great command of atmosphere, The Legendary Ten Seconds have managed to pull it off.
The Legendary Ten Seconds' website
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