Comedy Of Errors – Fanfare & Fantasy

2013 (COE Music)

1: Fanfare For The Broken Hearted (9:06)
2: Something She Said (7:17)
3: In A Lifetime (4:40)
4: Going For A Song (8:33)
5: Merry Dance (4:57)
6: The Cause (9:29)
7: Time’s Motet And Galliard (8:05)
8: Remembrance (4:00)
9: The Answer (9:30)

Apart from a few demos and an EP with a resulting compilation CD in 1988, the Scottish prog band Comedy Of Errors did not succeed in becoming a meaningful band at the time and eventually went up in smoke. The band under the direction of keyboardist Jim Johnston made a resounding restart with the album “Disobey” which brought them their succes in 2011, almost a quarter of a century later.  “Fanfare & Fantasy” is their second piece of work since the comeback and you really wonder why it didn’t work out at the time. Comedy Of Errors knows how to make great music.

Besides some great songs on “Disobey”  there are also a few at most reasonable tracks, on “Fanfare & Fantasy” all material is good-better-best. The album shows a beautiful fusion of modern and retro symphonic prog through which tasty elements folk and classical are interwoven. It is a cross between Yes, Pendragon and say the Celtic side of Mostly Autumn. The keys of Jim Johnston play the parent party and the high-pitched voice of Joe Cairney gives the band a clear face of its own. The wonderful guitar interpretations of Mark Spalding are all over and add to that the fact that the man has played all the bass work aswell. Who also can put an approval check mark after his name is drummer Bruce Levick, he always provides a suitable groove. John Fitzgerald completes the line-up, albeit only as a background singer. Later he will emerge as a bass player.

The album starts strong with the moody Fanfare For The Broken Hearted that with its sparkling piano and its endearing vocals immediately demands all your attention. What follows is a piece driven by rhythmic keyboard sounds in which a sharp guitar theme can be heard. The whole thing just swells on and on to finally degenerate into a Marillion-like ending with typical bass guitar. The song makes you curious for the rest of the album.

With the subsequent Something She Said, the level certainly does not go down partly because this bombastic track has a strong melody as its backbone. The beautiful interlude, a moment of slowing down, fits wonderfully into this composition and The Cause, which deals with the separation in education on the basis of religion, also goes through the sound barrier of the average progfan. The guitar sounds awesome in all its forms. Such a delight.

With songs like Going For A Song and The Answer, the thumbs also go high up again. With Time’s Motet And Galliard, Comedy Of Errors delivers a special song. The first minutes are quite orchestral (or cinematic if you like), while the last piece is based on folk. It brings a nice contrasting shade to the album.

“Fanfare & Fantasy” also has three shorter songs to offer. In A Lifetime is one of them. The composition may be a bit simple, but the interpretations are simply blissful and that certainly also applies to the steaming Merry Dance. In my opinion, the album has no weak spots.

I haven’t been able to find out exactly what the band means by the album title, but I still want to share how I interpret it. Because I have been in the local brass band for years and at the same time played saxophone in some bands, I felt the difference between walking on the beat and the ultimate freedom of doing things as an independent musician. For me, the album is about the autonomy of the mind.

Joe Cairney: vocals
Jim Johnston: keyboards, backing vocals
Bruce Levick: drums
Mark Spalding: guitar, bass, backing vocals
John Fitzgerald: backing vocals

© Dick van der Heijde 2022