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PopTop review: 'Dr. Dee' should be sterner stuff

Published May 15, 2012 11:13 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

GRADE: B-

CD • Damon Albarn, frontman for Blur and Gorillaz, has created the most esoteric concept album in ages with "Dr. Dee," a pop-opera based on the life of 16th-century polymath John Dee, an adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. The opera debuted at Manchester's Palace Theatre in 2011, and it's an album that's more to be admired than enjoyed. Using Elizabethan English instruments such as the crumhorn, recorder and lute, Albarn's still able to craft contemplative pieces of delicately beautiful songs, especially those with an affecting chorale. No one should ever be faulted for being ambitious — though he comes close to being off-puttingly pretentious.

David Burger