Rob Reed - Variations On Themes By David Bedford album review

Luminous EP from one multi-functional composer to another

Rob Reed - Variations On Themes By David Bedford album artwork

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Mike Oldfield has long been a musical touchstone for Magenta mastermind Rob Reed. This latest release arrives on the back of the multi-instrumentalist’s live Sanctuary project that he conceived as an Oldfield homage.

The late David Bedford knew Oldfield well too, lining up alongside him in Kevin Ayers’ Whole World band and orchestrating both Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge. Composer in residence at Queen’s College London, a role he juggled with a solo career and studio work for Roy Harper, Camel, Edgar Broughton and various others, Bedford was also an extraordinary talent in his own right. Reed marks what would’ve been Bedford’s 80th birthday by covering three songs, padded out with variants, that showcase both men’s diversity. Beautifully sung by Angharad Brinn, Rio Grande is a wistful seafaring ballad that’s carried away by Reed’s tremulous guitar notes. King Aeolus is a masterclass in eddying electronica, with Terry Oldfield (Mike’s brother) on flute, while the symphonic Nurses Song With Elephants features another Oldfield hand, Les Penning. Tubular Bells producer Tom Newman plays bodhrán and remixes these songs with a grandeur that’s suitably Oldfield-esque.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.