Thursday, July 14, 2016

Kayak - 1973 - See See the Sun

See See the Sun

01. Reason For It All (6:29)
02. Lyrics (3:42)
03. Mouldy Wood (5:16)
04. Lovely Luna (8:19)
05. Hope For A Life (6:49)
06. Ballet Of The Cripple (4:39)
07. Forever Is A Lonely Thought (5:26)
08. Mammoth (2:57)
09. See See The Sun (4:13)

- Ton Scherpenzeel / piano's Synths, organ, harpsicord, vocals, accordion
- Pim Koopman / drums, percussion, Marimba, vocals
- Johan Slager / guitars, vocals
- Max Werner / mellotrons, percussion, vocals
- Cees van Leeuwen / bass, harmonica

KAYAK is a Dutch band, originating from the early seventies. The band began as a symphonic progressive rock act with an emphasis in songwriting, but from 1977 on KAYAK changed direction moving into crossover territories. KAYAK revived in the 21st century, recording new albums and touring again.

The original line-up of KAYAK was quite strange. Most members were trained musicians at the conservatoriums of Holland. Max WERNER was a professional drummer that had to sing and Pim KOOPMAN was a professional piano-player that had to play the drums (which actually was his true love). Luckily Ton SCHERPZEEL was able to play on the keyboards, which was his profession. Later on, from 1977, Pim KOOPMAN left the band and Max WERNER became the drummer. A long-time fan, Edward REEKERS became the new vocalist.

Their debut "See See The Sun" (1973) is often seen as their biggest contribution to the symphonic prog genre. Their mix of naïve, but very melodic symphonic songs is attractive and evokes early GENESIS, YES and some have mentioned SUPERTRAMP (which I never fully understood). KAYAK has two main composers, Ton SCHERPENZEEL and Pim KOOPMAN. The typical classical influenced style of SCHERPENZEEL remained recognizable throughout KAYAK's long career. The vocals of Max WERNER ('73-'77) are very distinctive because of his high-pitched voice that has a powerful strength-through-weakness appeal. KAYAK used many of the recognizable symphonic prog key-instruments, such as Moog and Mellotron. KAYAK's second album in 1974 was a good continuation of KAYAK's melodic/symphonic prog style, but it had a bigger focus on long compositions which was profitable for the music. "Royal Bed Bouncer" (1975) continued this course, whilst "The Last Encore" (1976) has a distinctive atmosphere with lots of great progressive songs that were perhaps the most original the band created in their progressive period. The first four albums of KAYAK are recommended to fans of the symphonic progressive rock genre.

After this the band wanted to have better sales and changed direction in to pop-territories with "Starlight Dancer" (1977), which only had the title track as a progressive song. The 1979 album "Phantom of the Night" became the biggest hit in the charts, but in the beginning of the eighties they disbanded after making their last progressive effort; the 1981 semi-prog/semi-pop "Merlin". Though KAYAK had made seven albums at this point, it's members had never seen a penny earned by it.

In the new millennium KAYAK was resurrected from a twenty years pause and came back with the strong symphonic crossover album "Into the Fire" (2000) with again Max WERNER on vocals. After the mixed bag "Night Vision" (2001) (with new vocalist Bert HEERINK of VANDENBERG fame) the band re-invented itself with a prestigious mediaeval/symphonic concept album called "Merlin - Bard of the Unseen" with assistance of real orchestrations and female vocals by the amazing Cindy OUDSHOORN. New guitarist Joost VERGOOSSEN also turned out to be a great addition to the already great guitars of Rob VUNDERINK. VUNDERINK was called "the secret weapon" of the band, because of powerful backing vocals - if not his part in lead vocals on KAYAK's rock-operas and live shows. The "Merlin - Bard of the Unseen" album is the most attractive KAYAK album of 21st century for fans of the progressive genre.

After that "Nostradamus - Fate of Man", their second rock-opera, saw daylight. In 2008 the band again changed direction and recorded the conventional symphonic rock album "Coming Up for Air". This time Edward REEKERS returned for vocal duties (before he had been replacement during the Merlin and Nostradamus theatre tours). He had to share his place as a vocalist with Cindy OUDSHOORN, whose performance on the "Merlin" album and tour was very well-received by fans of the band. After that "Letters from Utopia"(2009) was released with the same line-up. A big tour was planned to celebrate this brand-new 2CD album, but as a total surprise drummer/pianist/composer Pim KOOPMAN died. Since then KAYAK paused, not knowing how to deal with the much missed KAYAK pillar that was KOOPMAN. In the end of 2010 they found a new drummer and the band has decided to continue.
Biography written by Friso and edited by Ian Cownie

Kayak is one of Holland's major prog acts. The line-up of the band had always been a bit strange. Conservatory drummer Max Werner did the vocals/mellotrons and conservatory key-player Pim Koopman played the drums. Luckily conservatory key-player Ton Scherpenzeel played on his own instrument. Cees van Leeuwen en Johan Slager played bass and guitar.

The band was centered around the friendship of Koopman and Scherpenzeel who both wrote songs and compositions for the band. Some might argue that some of the stronger Kayak songs were written by Scherpenzeel, but I disagree.

The band-members of Kayak never thought about playing progressive rock, but the compositions were innovative and sophisticated at times. There are many classical music influences and some influence of Genesis and Yes (mainly some vocal parts). Besides these influences Kayak had it's own sound with tremendous songwriting, combining catchyness and innovation. The sound of Kayak has a focus on keys and vocals, but the band sounds as a whole. Most of the songs have instrumental parts with an melodic approach. The vocals of Max Werner have been a point of debate. It is one of my favorite vocalists because of his high pitched sound and his specific sound. It's strength threw weakness.

Reason for it All has some obvious Yes elements, but the songs has an original atmosphere and a good instrumental solo's section. Lyrics is a feel-good crossover prog track with nice melodic piano composition. Mouldy Wood is very very progressive with it's dissonant guitar parts and Jaw's like couplet theme. The melodic theme in the middle and end section make the song totally worthwhile. Lovely Luna is a symphonic rock masterpiece written by Koopmans. The intro of the song is abstract, but as soon the symphonic parts begin I'm amazed by this beauty. The distorted bass guitar with a melodic function during this symphonic parts is very innovative. The pastoral vocals of Werner are strong.

On side two Hope For A Life is another crossover prog song with lot's of different melodies. . Ballet Of The Cripple is an emotional composition with superb lyrics! The bridge section is very atmospheric and the main instrumental theme nostalgic. Forever Is A Lonely Though is perhaps one of Kayak most beautiful songs. A brilliant melodic couplet/intro theme and an adventurous refrain with great mellotron sounds. Mammoth was a bit hit in Holland and has an intro theme played on street-organ and some catchy strong melodies in the couplet and refrain themes. See See The Sun is also one of my favorite Kayak tracks. The adventurous intro/refrain with it's multi-layered vocals are superb! The couplet theme with only piano and vocals is intimate and effective. Listen to this song!

Conclusion. Kayak had this great debut that combined progressive music with some hit-potential. Kayak has an own sound and a fresh approach on symphonic rock. This record is recommended to fans of melodic prog, symphonic prog and crossover prog. It's a great seventies record with memorable songwriting!

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