Saturday, March 30, 2019

Pegasus - 1982 - Nuevos Encuentros

Nuevos Encuentros

01. Conga Con Ganas
02. Cosmopolis
03. L'Enanito Trist
04. Gritos Y Susurros
05. Ball De Gegants
06. Tema Del Müll
07. Arístides Y El Gato
08. El Turista

Bass – Rafael Escoté
Drums – Santi Arisa
Guitar – Max Sunyer
Keyboards – Kitflus
Piano – Kitflus

Pegasus was THE Fusion supergroup of Spain with a high-octane line-up, which comprised of former Iceberg bandmates Max Sunyer (guitar) and Josep Mas "Kitflus" (keyboards), ex-Fusioon and Tribu drummer Santi Arisa and bassist Rafael Escote from the legendary Gòtic.The band was found in Barcelona around 1981/82 and even established its own eponymous label to promote the discs.First in the row was ''Nuevos encuentros'', recorded in three different session at the Audiofilm Studios in Madrid and released in 1982.

This is a typical 80's Latin-colored Jazz Fusion album and not exactly what you'd expect from such a smoky line-up filled with talented and virtuosic players.Pegasus had taken a different path in this album compared to the members' past, it's more of an atmospheric Latin Fusion album with emotional plays than fiery interplays and a bit of a letdown for what these guys were known for in the past.Don't get me wrong, but the last thing to hear from such a line-up was some stabdard 80's, completely formulaic jazzy tunes blended with Latin touches and quite frequently based on pedestrian synth sounds.Where the hell re the edgy electric pianos and organ parts?The 80's have affected Sunyer & co., but this is not bad music, it's just a bit slick, recalling all these breezy and tropical period German groups.Sunyer's guitar work though is pretty excellent with plenty of light but still flawless guitar soloing and I like more the piano parts of Kitflus compared to the tasteless synthesizers.Overall the album offers a rather soft approach on Latin Fusion with laid-back tunes and careful solos, without delivering any sort of proggy vibes.''Gritos y susurros'' stands out here for Sunyer's impressive guitar executions, although the discreet funky elements are not very welcome, while ''Ball de gegants''suffers from some period keyboards, but offers some great breaks and gears throughout.
Slick Latin-spiced Fusion from a veteran Prog line-up, where the commercial tendencies and radio-friendly plays overpowered the technique, proggy themes or virtuosity elements.For fans of the style.

Max Sunyer - 1978 - Babel

Max Sunyer

01. Autopista 10:30
02. D'Una Manera Silenciosa (In A Silent Way 9:50
03. Reflexions ( A Sobre D'Una Cançó Anónima) 5:47
04. Les Maquinaries De L'Alegria 5:45
05. Jo Crec (Partes I y II) 9:00

Bass – Carles Benavent
Drum – Santi Arisa
Electric Guitar – Max Suñé
Electric Piano – Alvaro Is
Electric Piano, Synthesizer – Josep Mas "Kitflus"
Percussion – Manoli
Percussion, Rhythm Guitar – Tito Duarte

Excellent Jazz Rock from Iceberg Founder Max Sunyer

Trust me when I include Max Sunyer's name along with the likes of Al DiMeola, Jorge Strunz, & John McLaughlin. Here is a fusion guitarist from Spain, one the held that instruments position in the little known fusion band from Spain called Iceberg. Sunyer's solo cd Babel, really reminds me of the multi-national fusion ensemble Caldera, in that there are strong leanings towards a latin feel, using percussions, flutes, saxes, acoustical and electric guitars, synths as well as the type of chordal progressions that represent the very substance of this cultural music phenomina, and Sunyers' romantic, expressive style of playing, seems to evoke the very passion of his soul. He also tears into a similar frenetic pizzicato technique used by Al DiMeola and Jorge Strunz. The fact that Sunyer is an accomplished musician in no way deters from what his true admiration of fusion music is, and that is building themes from melody, and a solid musical backdrop with which the soloists are able to release their utmost passionate expressions via their instruments.
This is most certainly a cd that is well worth tracking down if the artists mentioned are in the style of music you like, and I should mention the Iceberg cds are also excellent fusion, also present on this cd is Iceberg's fine keyboardist Josep Mas, who, like Sunyer, is able to play in the styles of the greats, Corea, Zawinul, Del Barrio, etc.
This is vintage fusion, from 1978, and from an artist that was sadly overlooked in his day, but as many readers, prog/fusion heads already know, rediscovery of these retro gems of music are seldom disappointing, and those that long for the heyday of fusion's onset will really find this music very gratifying.

Iceberg - 1979 - Arc-en-ciel


01. El caminant nocturn (8:21)
02. Càntics de la carn (11:18)
03. Riu d'agost (7:41)
04. Embrujo (6:14)
05. Crisàlide (6:30)

- Joaquín "Max" Sunyer / electric & acoustic guitars
- José "Kitflus" Mas / piano, electric piano, synthesizer
- Primitivo Sancho / bass
- Jordi Colomer / drums

 Here's another unjustly overlooked band that never received the wider attention it deserved, a victim of geographic isolation (despite their English name, the group hailed from northeast Spain), or maybe the fierce competition between likeminded musicians for a loyal but dwindling fan base in the late 1970s.
ICEBERG played instrumental Fusion in the spirit of early MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, but Jazz Rock is too mild a term for the type of music on tap here. This is Fusion more akin to Edward Teller's Cold War fantasies: a Latin-flavored thermonuclear warhead able to detonate a musical fireball bigger than the one that vaporized Bikini Atoll in 1946. All right, so that's a tacky analogy, but you get the point: these guys had serious chops.

The quartet was led by guitarist Max Suñé, playing with a passion and skill equal to any guitar hero of his time. He could solo with the pinpoint precision and white-lightning speed of Al DiMeola (always the yardstick used to measure any Fusion axe-man in the 1970s), but favored a raw, emotional guitar tone more reminiscent of "Birds of Fire" era John McLaughlin. Match this with the virtuoso mini-moog runs of Josep Mas and the results could turn even the most unlikely time signature into a thrilling, and often surprisingly graceful, adventure.

Listen to the guitar and keyboards trading solo spots during "El Caminant Nocturn", a song almost guaranteed to blow your socks off and dry-clean them in mid-flight. Or the 11-minute "Càntics de la Carn", another album highlight, beginning with a furious percussion workout under which Primitivo Sanchez (the name makes him sound like a Catalan punk rocker) lays down a speedy flamenco bass line for Suñé and Mas to race across in perfect stop/start unison.

The homegrown Spanish influence surfaces even more strongly on the remaining tracks, adding the warmer textures of acoustic guitar and piano but sounding no less dynamic than the earlier all-electric salvos. My only complaint is with the unresolved fade-out at the tail of the curtain closer "Crisàlide" (and in the middle of another monster Suñé solo too!). But in retrospect it's probably fitting that the band's last studio album should end this way, giving the impression that they never really stopped playing.that maybe someday, on another album, they might simply flip a switch and continue the same track right where it left off here.

 Arc-En-Ciel was the last album from the great spanish fusion band Iceberg before its two main members guitarist Max Sunyer and keyboardist "Kitflus" would form the catalan fusion supergroup Pegasus together with ex-Gotic bassist Rafael Escote and ex-Fusioon drummer Santi Arisa (with some solo albums in between, the first Pegasus album was released in 1982).
The musicianship is top-notch as ever, and any fusion lover not knowing their previous albums might easily rate this album with 4 or even 5 stars, it's only by comparison to their previous works such as Coses Nostres and Sentiments that I limit my rating of this album to the 3 ? 3.5 stars level.

The formula is still the same, a fantastic rhythm section (Jordi Colomer was really a hell of a drummer and Primi Sancho a great bassist) on which Max and Kitflus develop their melodies and solos, the keyboards taking the more musical side (not forgetting solos either) and Max's guitar taking care of the hardest soloing in the footsteps of McLaughlin or Di Meola. However the general tone is softer, more polished than in their previous albums, and there is a shift towards a more latin sound.

The opener "El Caminant Nocturn" (The Night Walker) is the best track, with Kitflus trademark Rhodes piano, very good melodies and a killer guitar solo by Max followed by a no less impressive synth solo by Kitflus. 5 stars for this song.

"Cantics De La Carn" (The Singing Of The Flesh) is based on a samba-like rhythm, a style I don't fancy much so even if the development is clearly proggy being the longest track clocking at 11:18, and the musicianship outstanding, it drags a bit too much for me. Just a matter of taste, if you can enjoy a prog-samba it can be an excellent track.

"Riu D'Agost" (August River) has a beautiful piano and acoustic guitar intro, then all the instruments come in and develop into a great latin jazz track with piano reminding of Michael Camilo and very good acoustic guitar, and impressive alternating solos of keys and guitar, really great stuff, just a bit too latin for my taste.

"Embrujo" (Enchant) is again latin featuring nice piano parts, a killer guitar solo and a good keys solo too.

"Crisalide" starts atmospheric with piano and acoustic guitar, after 1 min all the instruments come in and it sounds more like their older albums, electric guitar on Rhodes, then some funky feel and a killer guitar solo which sounds like Santana mixed with McLaughlin. If this was not enough we still get a great Rhodes solo, but this is a bit the problem, it's like there's too little melody, just great solos.

In summary 2 thoughts: 1. this album is undoubtedly good and has terrific solos but fewer and weaker melodies than their previous albums. 2. There is a clear shift to a more latin style, this is a purely personal taste matter but personally I prefer the previous more standard fusion style.

Iceberg - 1978 - Iceberg En Directe

Iceberg En Directe

01. Oh! Un ánec simfónic Ones (17:40)
02. Cançó per qualsevol orquestra (7:30)
03. Históries (10:54)

- Jordi Colomer / drums
- Josep "Kitflus" Mas / electric piano, synthesizers
- Primitivo Sancho / bass
- Joaquim "Max" Suñe / electric guitar

Recorded live in January and February 1978.
Mixed at Studio Audiofilm de Madrid during February 11, 12 & 13, 1978.

 I must admit it seems strange to me to release a live album that is only 35 minutes long, but apparently they only wanted to release the live songs that weren't on any of their studio albums. So we get three long tracks.This was recorded live in Madrid and released in 1978. It doesn't measure up to the studio albums "Coses Nostres" or "Sentiments" but there's enough here to warrrant a low 4 star rating in my opinion.The guitar and keyboards are the focus as usual with this band and they certainly do not disappoint on this one.The album cover appeals to me as well.
"Oh ! Un Anec Simfonic Ones" is the almost 18 minute opener.The home crowd can be heard cheering wildly as the album starts. It then turns quiet as the guitar comes in followed by bass, drums then synths.This actually reminds me of BRAND X here. A calm after 2 1/2 minutes as the piano leads.You can hear the crowd cheering in the background.The sound builds and this does sound pretty amazing. Love the guitar. Another calm with synths before 7 1/2 minutes as the crowd noise becomes evident once again. It builds and we get some ripping guitar 8 1/2 minutes in then it's like the song ends but then they start up again with a different melody before 10 1/2 minutes.This is more laid back.It settles more 12 minutes in then the guitar starts to light it up 13 1/2 minutes in. It settles back again 15 1/2 minutes in.Great tune !

"Canco Per Qualsevol Orquestra" has a bit of a funky rhythm to it. Piano before 2 minutes then the guitar leads. Piano is back as they take turns leading.

"Histories" is the almost 11 minute closer.This actually reminds me most of what I like about this band. Cheering to start then atmosphere with piano to for about a minute, then the guitar and drums kick in hard. Great sound here. Synths to the fore at 4 minutes.The guitar is back after 5 1/2 minutes and he proceeds to rip it up. A calm after 8 minutes with atmosphere then it kicks back in again. It ends before 10 minutes but then they return for a short piece that seems to end abruptly.

Just simply some killer playing on this one and it's cool to hear these new tracks as well.

Iceberg - 1977 - Sentiments


01. Sentiments (1:50)
02. Andalusia, Andalusia (5:37)
03. A Sevilla (5:13)
04. Ball De Les Fulles (5:30)
05. Magic (6:23)
06. Joguines (3:00)
07. Alegries Del Mediterrani (9:17)

- Joaquín "Max" Sunyer / electric & acoustic guitars
- José "Kitflus" Mas / piano, electric piano, synthesizer, clarinet
- Primitivo Sancho / bass
- Jordi Colomer / drums

After the superb Coses Nostres, how can one follow up and still appear as on top of their game? Iceberg found the easy (but not so obvious) answer, to make another superb album, and believe me they did. The album actually veers a bit more jazzy in the fusion sense sometimes approaching the over-demonstrative Return To Forever or even a bit Weather Report and still the better Santana (Caravanserai) and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Some moments are so powerful that I cannot help but thinking of Journey's superb jazz-rock debut album with the incredible Ainsley Dunbar on drums.

Right from the opening title track, you know this album will strike all the rights chords if you like the above-mentioned bands, and the Spanish feel is present but nothing obtrusive (hardly any flamenco hints, but more of Rodrigo (Aranjuez) feel. Again Sunyer and Mas take the stage by storm, but the rhythm section is really on top of its game. The only small gripe I might have is that the synths sounds are a bit more "modern", but at least on this album they have been correctly reproduced during the CD transcript. To separate one track and raise it above the rest is simply impossible to this reviewer, because the album is incredibly even, with maybe Magic a bit under par. However, if I must name just one track, listen to the closer Alegries Del Mediterraneo.

A smoking album, just as excellent as the previous Coses Nostres but better rated because of no avoidable sound flaws. Among my top 40 jazz-rock albums,

 Another incredible example of Jazz / Fusion from this Spanish band. Their previous album "Coses Nostres" along with this album are really must-haves for Fusion fans out there. They're one of those bands where each member is outstanding on his instrument and isn't afraid to show it.
"Sentiments" opens rather quietly as sounds come and go seemingly in the background. It's building though until the guitar comes to the fore after a minute. "Andalusia; Andalusia" opens with electric piano followed by some scorching guitar. Chunky bass and pounding drums follow. The keys and bass sound great 2 1/2 minutes then the guitar comes in. He's lighting it up a minute later. "A Sevilla" opens with piano and the sound eventually gets fuller. The guitar stars to solo before 2 minutes then the synths take the lead. Back and forth between the guitar and synths the rest of the way. You need to check out the keyboard / drum intro on "Ball De Les Fulles". Fat bass and guitar follow. It settles after 2 minutes, electric piano comes in. Themes are repeated.

"Magic" opens with the sounds of dogs carrying on. They don't sound like real dogs though (haha). A funky beat takes over and it stays funky throughout. Synths and guitar come and go. "Joguines" calms down quickly with acoustic guitar before a minute. Piano, bass and drums help out as well. "Alegries Del Mediterrani" is my favourite track. It reminds me of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA especially the atmospheric sections. Drums to open then it settles with that atmosphere. Deep bass, drums and electric piano are outstanding here. The tempo picks up after 3 minutes then the guitar joins in. Piano replaces the guitar 4 minutes in as the bass and drums impress big time. The guitar and piano continue to trade off. It settles again 6 1/2 minutes in. Amazing ! More guitar after 7 minutes as drums pound. This is really incredible.

I highly recommend this album from ICEBERG and the previous one as well.

Iceberg - 1976 - Coses Nostres

Coses Nostres

01. Preludi I record (2:14)
02. Nova (musica de la Llum) (8:56)
03. L'acustica (referencia d'un canvi interior) (9:10)
04. La d'en Kitflus (6:49)
05. La flamenca electrica (5:56)
06. A Valencia (8:45)
07. 11/8 (Manifest de la follia) (6:54)

- Joaquín "Max" Sunyer / electric & acoustic guitars
- José "Kitflus" Mas / piano, electric piano, synthesizer
- Primitivo Sancho / bass
- Jordi Colomer / drums

Under this Mafiosi title comes one of the better jazz rock fusion albums from Spain (at least among the few I know), the second one from this mid to late-70's Catalan band. Gone is their frontman sax and singer Angel Riba and they are down to your standard prog quartet, but this hardly seem to stop them, quite the opposite, becoming entirely instrumental.

For the most part this album seems to be lost between Maha's Inner Mounting Flame and Santana's Caravanserai with some KB coming more from Weather Report and RTF or even Jan Hammer, but this is more due to the instruments chosen than the actual playing, although some guitars are a cross of De Lucia and Di Miola on one side and McLaughlin on the other. I think this sets you with a good idea of the sound of the album, if you want more get the album, you.....proghead! ;-)

The first side is really awesome in musical execution with some particularly astounding moments where you'd swear Nova (as well as its prelude) should be on Inner Mounting Flame or on Cobham's Spectrum, simply because the playing and writing are of the same quality. Acustica, as its names suggest, is much calmer and tamer (but valid only for the guitar since there are synths halfway through) although the incredibly high quality is maintained and the subtle flamenco and Catalan influences appear towards the very end. The remark that my colleague reviewer makes about the sound quality is unfortunately correct, although the first side of the record is relatively spared.

Kitflus brings us back to the Mahavishnu world and the second track and only congas are missing to take us into the Sahara Caravans of Santana. Flamenca Electrica is an aptly named track but is only taking the usual formula and adding some Andalusian feeling to it. Unfortunately, this is where the bad vinyl transfer to Cd gets irritating about the synth layers (and it gets worse in the following tracks). I assume this last comment because I cannot possibly conceived this was recorded so on the master tape and therefore think that they worked from vinyl. The last track is... you guessed it in 11/8 (which does not mean it was recorded on August 11, you wisearses).

Since this record only exist in CD form under this version, I knock off almost one star because of the inexcusable sound problems, which unfortunately does ruin the enjoyment of an otherwise superb record. Sounds a bit severe? Check it out for yourselves if you do not believe me!!! As soon as I find the vinyl or a re-issue, I will jump on it.

This excellent Spanish four piece band delivers outstanding, very melodic instrumental music in the realm of the jazzrock along some fusion. You will be carried away by the seven dynamic compositions with lots of interesting musical ideas: fiery guitar, swinging bass, subtle Fender Rhodes electric piano and sensational Minimoog flights in Preludi I Record, a strong Andalusian undertone, captivating shifting moods and spectacular wah-wah guitar and dazzling Minimoog runs in Nova, John McLaughlin inspired acoustic guitar and swinging jazzy piano in L'Acustica, flashy synthesizer flights, fiery electric guitar in the songs and an amazing rhythm-section in the songs La D'En Kitflus and 11-8 and an exciting pitchbend- driven Minimoog solo in the mellow A Valencia. My highlight is the song La Flamenca Electrica (Prog Andaluz!): first soaring keyboards and strong clavinet runs, then a swinging rhythm with strong Andalusian undertones featuring spectacular work on guitar and keyboards. If you like jazzrock, this band should be yours!

Iceberg - 1975 - Tutankhamon


01. Tebas (1:16)
02. Prologo (3:08)
03. Sacerdotes de Amon (2:53)
04. Amarna (2:56)
05. Lying on the sand (5:27)
06. Amenofis IV (3:05)
07. Himno al sol (4:35)
08. La muerte (4:19)
09. Close to God (4:08)
10. Too young to be a Pharaoh (3:35)
11. Tebas (reprise) (1:49)

Recorded at Estudios Kirios, Madrid, on May 1975.

- Ángel Riba / vocals, saxophone
- Joaquín "Max" Sunyer / electric guitar
- José "Kitflus" Mas / electric piano, organ, synthesizers, Mellotron
- Primitivo Sancho / bass
- Jordi Colomer / drums

I really recommend this album to those who search for that feeling of really authentic prog rock which can only (or mostly) be found in the 70's. This is the debut album by this spanish band and their most symphonic-rock one, with emphasis on "rock". After Tutankhamon they would loose singer Angel Riba and their music became instrumental and more fusion oriented (still great btw).
Rock came late in Spain due to the dictatorship of general Franco, and therefore this album although dating from '75 sounds in many ways as earlier records from the UK (american rock was not much influential in Spain at that time). As with many 70's records what is lovely here is the sense of authenticity. It was still too early to talk about influences, genres, clones and things like that, as we excessively do today. The guys simply did what felt right to them at the time, and there and then this happened to be simply wonderful music.

The core of Iceberg were keyboardist Josep "Kitflus" Mas and guitarist Max Sunye, both coming from a jazz environment, but the times were prone for symphonic rock and they embraced the genre eagerly, resulting in a delighful album which blens symphonic, jazz- fusion, still a few atmospheric psychedelic traces and pure 70's rock. This is not symphonic similar to the big ones Genesis, Yes, ELP, Floyd etc.This is authentically personal music, not trying to copy anybody. No long suites, no excessive focus on virtuosity, no bombastic feeling, just simply great music.

It's a concept album about the famous pharaoh although it does not tell a specific storyline but just assorted themes around his figure. It's sung half in spanish half in english and unfortunately the voice is not the strong point, but the composition and instrumental work more than compensate for it.

The starter "Tebas" is a great short instrumental overture, reminds me somehow of the wonderful debut album of Ted Rundgren's Utopia. "Prologo" has a delightful 5/4 jazzy time signature and much wah-wah guitar, very 70's. "Sacerdotes de Amon" starts with a hard guitar riff but soon shifts to more atmospheric moods. "Amarna" is an instrumental delight of that sort you think that it could only be made in the 70's. "Lying on the sand" is a great slow-mid tempo song again mixing rock with jazzy elements. "Amenofis IV" is instrumental, again a beautiful sample of what the unadelturated mood of the times could produce. "Himno al Sol" has a great 7/4 ? 3/4 rhythm. "La muerte" contains a drum solo as was the fashion in those times, although not too long and not by any means the best in the song, the short fragments where all the instruments play are awesome. "Close to God" is a more pop song, very melodic with great Rhodes piano and wah-wah guitar. If only all pop songs were like this. "Too young to be a pharaoh" is hard-rock-prog at its best, and the reprise of the opening "Tebas" puts the symphonic cherry on the cake.

Again, this is not Genesis, Yes, ELP or PFM. This is more jazz-rock-oriented prog, the voice is not great and the production is improvable by today's standards, but this is really wonderful authentic music very worth knowing about for a prog fan.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Gotic - 2016 - Gegants i Serpentines

Gegants i Serpentines

01. Gegants I Serpentines (3:17)
02. Funky (4:18)
03. Suite (6:22)
04. La Noia Que Tenia Els Ulls Verds De Tant Mirar El Mar (8:42)
05. Record De Rosa (1:02)
06. Carnaval (2:12)
07. Variacions (7:14)
08. Gotes De Gel (5:28)

- Eugeni Gil / guitar
- Jordi Vilaprinyó / keyboards
- Agustí Brugada / concert flute
- Rafa Escoté / bass
- Jordi Marti / drums

Releases information
The 1978 Unreleased LP revised and remastered by the group with Enric Catalá;
With different titles and track order from the previous bootleg releases.

Gotic's 1977 Escenes is one of the most praised symphonic prog albums from Spain, and for some 30 years the only available release by this band. There had always been talk that they had recorded a 2nd album which never saw the light of day, but it remained quite a mistery, for many just a myth.

Somehow a couple of years ago the japanese label Tachika got hold of those tapes and released them under the name Maqueta, spanish word for "demo recording". A dream come true, what all fans considered already a secret treasure forever buried in lost history finally became available to the world.

And fortunately the material is much more than just a demo, it's clear that the album was practically ready to be released, the sound quality is not amazing but I have heard official albums sounding worse, the tracks are completely arranged and they all have their proper names in catalan language. Only the last bonus track is actually a demo with clearly inferior sound quality.

Like Escenes, Maqueta is entirely instrumental but it is more energetic and less pastoral, more jazz-rock but still a very symphonic kind of jazz-rock. Some people found Escenes too mild and pastoral, well they should love this one. The closest well-known reference would still be Camel, in big part due to the prominent flute. The recording is credited as being from 1978 and there are a couple of line-up changes, flutist Jep Nuix had moved to Mirasol Colores (together they would release their great fusion album Linea 5) and was replaced by Agusti­ Brugada who plays with perhaps a bit less personality but still very proficiently, and they got reinforced by a full-time guitarist Eugeni Gil which undoubtedly contributes to the rockier sound.

The first 3 tracks are excellent symphonic jazz-rock, upbeat with some interspersed calmer section. By the way a version (unfortunately without flutist) of the 3rd track Juventut Audac played live at the spanish TV show Musical Express can be seen in YouTube, just search "Gotic 70's progressive fusion from Spain".

4th track Amanda d'Estiu is soft and 5th track Bulerias is again upbeat. Like in Escenes, the flute takes a starring role, but keyboards are also prominent and there is much more guitar. 6th track Somniant is a short keyboard interlude and the last album track Pluja Sabatina is a beautiful song played in piano solo which reminds me of some songs by Chucho Valdes (albeit less virtuoso). The bonus demo track Jugant Amb El Gat has a clearly worse sound quality which is a shame because it's another great symphonic jazz- rock track and in terms of arrangements it feels as good as nearly finished.r

Gotic - 1977 - Escenes


01. Escenes de La Terra en Festa I de La Mar en Calma (4:02)
02. Imprompt I (5:53)
03. Jocs d'Ocells (3:33)
04. La Revolucio (4:08)
05. Danca d'Estiu (3:30)
06. I Tu Que Ho Veies Tot Tan Facil (5:39)
07. Historia d'una Gota d'Aigua (10:14)

- Jep Nuix / flute, piccolo flute, handclaps
- Jordi Vilaprinyó / piano, Fender electric piano, clavinet, Mini-Moog, violin, Hammond, handclaps
- Rafael Escoté / bass, gong, handclaps
- Jordi Martí / drums, percussion, handclaps

- Jordi Codina / Classical guitar (7)
- Josep Albert Cubero / acoustic & electric guitars (2,6,7)
- Jordi Vidal / effects

"Escenes" is an album that never ceases to amaze me, revealing more intricate beauty over the years every time I hear it. It is one of the very best melodic instrumental Symphonic albums and it has a bit of a jazzy flavor as well in spots. This is a flute lovers dream as the flute and keys are the prevailing leads whereas guitars are used mostly as relish but to great effect when present. Drumming is crisp and inventive without ever being showy and the bass playing is solid.

Emotion is every bit as important as technical prowess and Gotic exude emotion in melody even though they have a rather clean, reserved style on the surface. There is SO much care taken to crafting intricate and delicate melody you feel that nothing has been left to chance. This is one of those albums that just make me feel great joy at being alive and I can lock in directly with what the musicians were expressing, meaning they are successful with the prime objective.

I De La Mar begins in a very upbeat moody with energetic flute and strong bass before calming into a dreamy sequence. "Escenes" is mostly an upbeat album but there are moments of calm reflection like here. It picks up again at close and then Imprompt continues with this theme of playful sparring by the musicians and these perfectly timed and very bright cymbal crashes. At about 4 minutes in we get a nice electric guitar solo before the flute and piano take over again. Jocs D'Ocells explores a haunting melancholy but also never lets the bright side get too far away. "Escenes" will show you brief glimpses of the dark side but it never wallows there, it wants to keep your heart joyful. The 10 minute closer Historia is the icing on the cake. It begins with lovely Steve Howe (circa TFTO) style acoustic guitar and soft, mournful flutes playing harmonies over each other. Beautiful. At 3.5 minutes we get some subdued aching electric guitar. Half way through the most effective and stunning part begins, this melody that is uplifting and telling you to have hope that all will be OK. That while the world is imperfect there are reasons to believe that life can be happy and secure again. This passage is pure joy that is right up there with the best moments of Camel or anyone else for that matter. What a finish!

I experience many feelings listening to Escenes. There are passages that make one nostalgic for happy moments in the past, that make one remember old loves or childhood or a magical place. The artwork in the Fono tri-fold digipak is nothing short of stunning and perfectly compliments the music. This is one of those albums on my special shelf and one of the reasons why I love music so much. Quite recommended especially to flute fanatics and 70's Camel fans.

The music on GOTIC's 1977 release "Escenes" surprised me at first. While I was expecting prog rock with strong Spanish influences and a dark "Gothic" sort of sound, what I got instead was optimistic-sounding instrumental music with a strong French-prog sound. GOTIC's light, yet complex, style of jazz-prog is mostly led by flute and Rhodes piano. Once in a while I hear Hammond organ, violin, and Moog synth, but the majority of the music is led by flute while the Rhodes piano sketches out countermelodies and jazzy chords underneath. After my second listen, this band reminded me of a less complex version of the French-Canadian band MANEIGE mixed with the flute-heavy riffs from French band DÜN (without the Zeuhl factor), and the jazzy sounds from Spain's ICEBERG around the time of "Coses Nostres". GOTIC put out one of the best albums from the Spanish prog scene of the late 70s. I wouldn't rate it as high as MEZQUITA, or ICEBERG's "Sentiments", but something about this music pushes it above FUSIOON's MINORISA and IMAN CALIFATO INDEPENDENTE..

Catalonia - 1981 - Catalonia


01. Mistela 4:30
02. Lorelai 6:30
03. Una Mica De Res 6:09
04. Bolero 5:21
05. En Un Reco Del Cor 5:06
06. Un Sueco En America 8:22

Bass – Rafael Escoté
Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone – Angel Pereira
Piano – Lluis Vidal
Saxophone – Antonio Peral

Obscure Spanish fusion-progressive band from Barcelona founded in 1978 by musicians previously in Gotic, Musica Urbana and Pegasus: Rafael Escoté (bass), Ángel Pereira (drums, percussion), Lluís Vidal (piano) and Antonio Peral (sax).

Group formed in Barcelona in 1981 after the disintegration of its previous band, Gotic. Its components were Rafael Escoté (bass), Ángel Pereira (drums and percussion), Lluís Vidal (piano) and Antonio Peral (saxo). 

If Gotic drank in the sources of symphonic rock, Catalonia would do so in the avant-garde jazz promoted by the German record label ECM and musicians such as the Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek or the guitarist Path Metheny, but he assumed his own idiosyncrasy and expressiveness. 

At the dissolution of Gotic, Catalonia is formed, but temporarily overlapping. In fact, Lluís Vidal and the guitarist Josep Albert Cubero were on the verge of entering Gotic, for which nothing else to separate a group, the walking of another new one began.

They published an LP of the same name in 1981 through the Cúspide label (discophon subdivision), recorded in the Gema 1 studio in Barcelona, ??where they exhibited highly developed instrumental pieces as exclusive as 'Mistela', 'Bolero', 'En un recó' del cor 'and' A Swedish in America '. They completed the album 'Lorelai' and 'Una mica de res', all composed between Vidal and Escoté at fifty percent. 

During this time (1981-82), Escoté was part of the big band Factoría Musical.

For no apparent reason, they split up in 1982. Rafael Escoté continued making recordings as a session musician with Santi Arisa (Tribu), Max Sunyer and Josep Mas "Kitflus", which gave rise to the idea of creating Pegasus. After the experience of Pegasus, he joined forces again with Rafael Escoté, Santi Arisa and Kitflus to assemble the group Aldebarán, with whom he records an album in 1989. After several years retired from active musical life, but fully immersed in the teacher In 2002, Escoté reunited with Kitflus in his Kitflus Kuartet group and in 2007 he participated in the Pegasus meeting to mark his 25th anniversary.

Lluís Vidal formed the group Onix in 1983 and in 1987, another band known as Ictus. In 1985, together with Josep Pons and Jaume Cortadellas, he founded the Orchestra of Cambra Teatre Lliure, a training aimed at the interpretation of twentieth-century music with which he has performed at the most recognized festivals in Spain and Europe. In the 2001-2002 academic year, the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC) was created, joining the teaching team as a professor in the department of Jazz and Modern Music. 

Solar Plexus - 1974 - Det är inte båten som gungar - Det är havet som rör sig

Solar Plexus
Det är inte båten som gungar - Det är havet som rör sig

01. Det är inte båten som gungar - Det är havet som rör sig 6:51
02. The Girl of the Dawn 3:37
03. Man skall tala idag 3:51
04. Fåglarna i Nam Dinh 7:57
05. This is the Place 3:51
06. Jorden är ett underbart ställe 17:17

- Tommy Körberg / vocals, guitar, percussion
- Bosse Häggström / bass, vocals
- Tommy Borgudd / drums, percussion, vocals
- Carl-Axel Dominique / keyboards, flute, sax, vocals
- Monica Dominique / keyboards, vocals

As some of you may already know many bands of the Swedish progressive scene in the 70's were highly political. The politics sometimes mattered more than the music.The songs were simply a means to an end, to get the word out so to speak. By way of a socialist and communist struggle on all fronts, be it through the media of art or protest in pther forms, the main goal was hopefully overthrowing and demolishing all capitalist structures of power, bringing forth a new society buit on equality and void of the stock market.
There are quite a few stoies that by now seem comical. Tomas Bolme, a well known actor in Sweden who took part in the movement, told story once of such a story. He and others of the FNL- movement was collecting Money or the people in Vietnam, then struggling during the war with the USA. A colonel (or something of that kind) in the Swedish army approached them, intending to give some Money tothe cause. When he approached Bolme he put away the Money-box, saying "You can't give any money". Well, that was all in the past and what's left are the remnants of an era, still echoing out it's views. Sometimes it's good and sometimes outright bad.

Solar Plexus is one of those great bands to whom he music mattered just as much as the lyrical content. This was my first venture into the world of Solar Plexus and to me it still is their greatest achievement.

The band consisted of very well known, no less today, members. The singer is a very eclectic performer who has crossed the borders of all genres and done it with exceptional brilliance. The couple Dominique are very well known jazz and classical figures in Sweden. All still active. With two keyboard players in the band it is safe to say that there are alot of great electric piano and organ to enjoy. The Wurlitzer electric piano is often distorted and played through a wah-wah pedal, giving it a very distinct and powerful sound. The organ is superbly played.

This album consists of jazz rock of a typical Swedish kind, which also brings in quite a big dose of folk and that is really enjoyable. (They kept this course throughout, before and after this album.) The opening track, however, is a storming piece of hard jazz-rock, driven by a powerful riff and awesome keyboards. The title translates "It is not the boat that's rocking, it is the ocean moving", meaning the People ae getting ready to overthrow the Ship (i.e. the capitalist forces). Quite a statement. Regardless of your political point of view, the song remains as powerful as ever. Equally powerful is "Man skall tala idag", translated into "One must speaktoday". Also political it is in similar vein as the opening title track.

The tracks "Girl of the dawn" and "Fåglarna i Nam Dinh" (The birds of Nam Dinh) are very beauiful pieces. Dreamy and spacious I love those tracks, giving the listener some time out from the very powerful tracks I have reviously mentioned.

The epic of the album is the 17 minutes long "Jorden är ett underbart ställe" (The world is a wonderful place), which is made up of several sections. It covers every aspect of the Solar Plexian vision of what music ought to be, a perfect blend of lyrical importance and musical perfection.

This album is very dear to me and remains a staple in my collection of Swedish progressive music. The lyrics are almost entirely in swedish but that ought not discourage anyone from discovering this piece of superior jazz-rock. A pinnacle of it's genre.

Solar Plexus - 1973 - Solar Plexus 2

Solar Plexus
Solar Plexus 2

01. Buddah Sade (0:54)
02. Don't Believe (5:15)
03. Diktens Port (2:50)
04. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (8:49)
05. Sommarsång (Vad P.-B. Slapp Se) (2:50)
06. La Folia (4:05)
07. Tankar (2:35)
08. Smackwater Jack (3:48)
09. Silent Worship Ur Ptolemy (1:47)
10. Dance Russe Ur Petrusjka (7:23)
11. Spider (1:44)

- Tommy Körberg / vocals, acoustic guitar, congas, electric guitar
- Bosse Häggström / bass
- Tommy Borgudd / drums, congas
- Kerstin Bagge / backing vocal
- Gunnar Lindqvist / flute
- Carl-Axel Dominique / organ, flute, electric piano, backing vocals
- Monica Dominique / organ, electric piano, backing vocals

George Wadenius left after recording their fantastic debut and it was obvious he took most of what was good about this band with him. This time the music is far less challenging with annoying cover versions (especially the horrendous rendition of "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy") and horrible English lyrics. Very depressing, especially since the first one is so good. Buyer beware, the cover of this one is almost identical to their debut, just with an orange cover and a small sticker denoting this as their second album. The Stravinsky cover (Danse Russe) is about the only interesting and inspired moment on this album.

Solar Plexus - 1972 - Solar Plexus

Solar Plexus 
Solar Plexus

01. Bouillabaisse 6:52
02. Polska Från Orsa 0:38
03. Den Tanklöse Spelmannen 3:27
04. Sköna Låten 8:20
05. Wallenberg 6:07
06. Odins Öga 4:59
07. Jag Är Glad Jag Är Svensk 0:58
08. Som Ett Klarblått Klot 6:13
09. Concerto Grosso För Popgrupp Och Symfoniorkester 24:03
10. Dom Bygger En Stad 6:00
11. Frygisk Samba 4:41
12. Tänk När Vi Bor Allihopa 2:57
13. A Real Goodun' 3:48

English version released under the name "Concerto Grosso"

01. Bouillabaisse
02. A Polska From Orsa
03. My Song Is For Her
04. Loveliness
05. Wallenberg
06. The Eye Of Odin
07. Like A Spinning Sun
08. Concerto Grosso For Pop Group And Symphony Orchestra
09. Phrygian Samba
10. Think When We Live All Toghether
11. They´re Building Their Cities
12. A Real Goodun´

- Monica Dominique / organ, vocals, electric piano
- Carl-Axel Dominique / electric piano, piano, flute
- Georg Wadenius / electric guitar, electric bass, vocals, Spanish guitar, tambourine, maraca
- Tommy Borgudd / drums, tambourine, temple block
- Norrkoping Symfoniorkester / orchestra on track 9
-Tommy Korberg / vocals

This is the debut double album from Sweden's SOLAR PLEXUS released in 1972. The band featured the drummer and guitarist from MADE IN SWEDEN along with vocalist Tommy Korberg who was very well known in Sweden, as well as Monica a very accomplished keyboardist and vocalist and finally Carl-Axel also on keyboards. You know I was reminded of "666" by APHRODITES CHILD not because the music is at all similar or that both are double albums but because this is unique and all over the place and for some strange reason I'm blown away by it all. I have the English version which I'm thankful for because the vocals are not forced and I detect no accents.
"Bouillabaisse" is one of many standout tracks on this recording. The electric piano, drums, bass and organ sound amazing to start and the guitar joins in before a minute but it's brief. It settles down and the contrasts will continue. Some cool bass lines in this one and the guitar does return late. "A Polka For Orsa" is less than a minute of flute. "My Song Is For Her" is my favorite. Tommy on vocals kills this and he reminds me so much of another Prog vocalist that I can't put my finger on and it's been driving me crazy. The lyrics are so meaningful in this smoky, jazzy tune and I really dig the guitar style. I can play this over and over. "Loveliness" sounds pretty amazing with all the atmosphere with the cymbals clashing slightly and the bass and flute. Beautiful stuff. It's slowly building and the guitar becomes prominent after 4 minutes. It calms right down before 6 minutes like the beginning right to the end. Great track!

"Wallenberg" is one of those songs that you have to move to, so catchy with those vocal melodies. Check out the distorted keys before 2 minutes after the vocals stop. So good as drums and pulsating organ support. A change 3 1/2 minutes in as it settles down and male and female vocals arrive. This reminds me of Canterbury even the humerous lyrics. It kicks back in with those vocal melodies around 5 1/2 minutes. "The Eye Of Odin" has shimmering keys, bass, percussion and a relaxed horn. Gorgeous sound here. It does pick up and turn fuller but not by lot. Piano to the fore after 3 minutes as the horn stops temporarily. "Like A Spinning Sun" opens with piano and I think Spanish guitar as Tommy comes in on vocals. When it picks up at 1 1/2 minutes it's so catchy and uplifting. It's like this band has a gift for being melodic and funny and experimental, they do it all so well. I like the pulsating keys and the guitar after 2 1/2 minutes. Back to the opening soundscape after 3 minutes.

"Concerto Grosso For Pop Group And Symphony Orchestra" is the over 23 minute orchestral piece with an actual orchestra helping out. I'm not really into orchestral music but they add enough "Rock" elements to keep me happy. I like the bass after a minute and the picked guitar and flute around 3 1/2 minutes all while the orchestral sounds lead the way. A change before 7 minutes as the orchestral stuff stops and drums and organ lead the way. Check out the bass solo 8 minutes in then the organ leads as the brass and strings come and go. It turns classical before 10 minutes then the drums and distorted keys join in. Nice. A drum solo is fairly brief then the strings return after 11 minutes. Guitar around 14 minutes. A change after 18 minutes as the guitar stops and strings take over. Dual keys only before 19 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in to an orchestral mode at 20 minutes with bass and piano too as drums follow. Many aren't thrilled with this suite but it adds to the charm in my opinion.

"Phrygian Samba" is another killer track with bass and electric piano to start as drums and more join in quickly. Great sound! Guitar joins in before 2 minutes. Catchy is the word. "Think When We Live All Together" is another silly song sounding like it's out of the thirties or something especially the male and female vocals that are channeling that vibe. The laughter to start the song is a clue what's to follow. Piano support the vocals. "They're Building Their Cities" is another memorable song that opens with mono- tones female vocals and an experimental backdrop bring RIO to mind right away. It does change before 1 1/2 minutes as it picks up with drums, organ and bass as the male vocals join in. Electric piano too. An instrumental break before 3 minutes and the guitar joins in as he starts ripping it up. Male vocals are back after 4 1/2 minutes then it ends like it began. "A Real Goodun'" is the jazzy closing number with bass, drums and organ leading the way as the guitar joins in around 2 minutes.

Sure this isn't perfect just like "666" isn't perfect but I'm a sucker for electric piano and it's played by two of the members so it's prominent, but also the talent that is featured in this band just boggles my mind. The compositions, playing and singing all clicked with me from the very first listen.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Neon Rose - 1975 - Reload

Neon Rose

01. Dead Eyes 3:50
02. Night Birds 2:40
03. Too Long. 4:45
04. The Race For Knowledge 4:35
05. A Man's Not A Man 4:00
06. A Smell Of Death 5:10
07. Reload 6:35
08. Dust And Rust 4:000
09. Tears Of Pain 4:15

Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals – Benno Mengarelli
Chimes – Gunnar Hallin (tracks: A2, B2)
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Thomas Wiklund
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Gunnar Hallin, Piero Mengarelli
Lead Vocals – Roger Holegård
Mellotron – Roger Holegård (tracks: A2, B2)

Neon Rose from Stockholm is said to have been among the first Swedish hardwear bands that sang in English. Neither were they on any shit company whatsoever but at Vertigo, the same company that gave out great things like Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep to name just a few. Three plates made the band release during the years 1974 and 1975, of which the first two were not particularly remarkable. The third album Reload on the other hand, where all the pieces had fallen into place and was very remarkable - but by then the members were apparently so furious that there were no more disc releases.

As a Thin Lizzy fan, you wonder if Phil Lynott & Co, who at that time was also on Vertigo, was inspired by a bit of Neon Rose when they did the Jailbreak album from 1976, that is, the year after Reload . Listen from 0:53 in Night Birds and then compare with Warriors around 3:15. Completely conspiratorically far-fetched, it is probably not.

There is a video recorded for Dead Eyes , automatically a good choice as the whole album is fully cast. But there are still three other tracks that stand out extraordinarily: The Race for Knowledge, A Smell of Death and the album's title track (with the wonderful base song after introt). All three songs are exemplarily arranged with their alternating hard and soft parties. Listen and enjoy the beginning of the Swedish hard rock!

Yep, I'm pretty sure this is their best as well. It's definitely the best written and most consistent album of the three. Even the tracks here that take some time to get going... actually go somewhere interesting. A4's second half has a guitar solo that smacks of late 70s Rush, complete with an oddly syncopated, aggressive bass n' drum pattern behind it. B1's another track that starts kicking ass/briefly becomes what might as well be a totally different track with its guitar solo, and it's also got a recurring riff that sounds eerily similar to the opening music in the original Doom. 

A1, A3 and A5 are all great mid-70s dumb fun 'n riffs hard rock. A2's at *almost* the same proto-metal speeding train tempo as Queen's Stone Cold Crazy and Sweet's Set Me Free. And those last two tracks are fantastic, with at least one mighty riff each. B2's really the only dud, though it does feature an unaccompanied electric bass solo in its first third, which is a bit unusual. But the rest is SOLID. Dual lead guitar, cowbells, and big ol' burly riffs.

Well worth hearing.

Neon Rose - 1974 - Two

Neon Rose 

01. I´m A Entertainer 5:45
02. False Star 3:11
03. Thoughts 4:15
04. My Lady 7:58
05. Waiting For The Train 4:30
06. Bloody Wellfare 9:45
07. Is There An Eden 4:52

Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Mellotron, Backing Vocals, Mixed By – Benno Mengarelli
Drums, Percussion – Stanley Larsson
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals – Gunnar Hallin, Piero Mengarelli
Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Mellotron, Percussion, Mixed By – Roger Holegård

This is a good, solid, heavy metal style hard rock album; of that there should be little argument. However, I found their sound too substantially biased in the commercial direction. Fans of underground progressive hard rock might not find what they are looking for here. The album is rather typical of its time, though it could be debated it was a couple of years early, as this type of record didn't really proliferate until the later 70's. The guitar playing is stellar, though the material used to showcase it isn't always as outstanding. Indeed, I found a few of these tracks particularly undistinguished, even though I enjoy this type of rock. But then again, it certainly has its standouts, of which the epic "Bloody Wellfare" is probably my pick. It was recorded in Sept, 1974 in Stockholm, and the original issue came with a lyric sleeve.

Neon Rose - 1974 - A Dream Of Glory And Pride

Neon Rose 
A Dream Of Glory And Pride

01. Sensation 3:58
02. A Picture Of Me 7:29
03. Love Rock 4:45
04. Primo 6:37
05. Let's Go And Get That Boy 5:40
06. Julia's Dream 6:24
07. A Dream Of Glory And Pride 9:52
Bonus Tracks
08. C'Mon Everybody (Single B-Side) 4:58
09. War Song (Unreleased Studio Track) 5:41
10. Julia's Dream (Live) 6:24
11. Love Rock (Live) 4:57

Bass, Vocals – Benno Mengarelli
Drums – Stanley Larsson
Guitar – Gunnar Hallin (tracks: 10, 11), Piero Mengarelli
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Roger Holegård

Track 1-9 recorded at Decibel Studios, Stockholm in December 1973
Track 10-11 record live at Ragna Rock, Holmenkollen, Norway, June 16, 1974

Neon Rose was an hard rock band from Sweden formed in 1969 by bandmembers Roger, Piero and Benno under the name Spider; when Stanley Larsson joined the group in 1973 they took the name Neon Rose. Signing with Vertigo Records, their debut album was released in 1974, and was quickly followed with a sophomore effort early in 1975. Following the recording of this album, Stanley Larsson left the group and was replaced by Thomas Wiklund, formerly of Uppåt Väggarna. The group's final album, Reload, was released in 1975 and the group split, with Roger going on to join Wasa Express. 
Piero attempted to reform the group with all new members in 1977, but this incarnation disbanded after recording a few demos. In 1981, the group reformed with Piero and Benno and several new members. They recorded one single for Rosa Honung Records which was never issued.

In 1969 Roger, Piero and Benno formed the band SPIDER. In 1973 drummer Kenta "Krull" was replaced by Stanley Larsson and Neon Rose was born. Their first gig was to open for Dr.Hook.
Neon Rose is concidered to be one of Sweden´s best hard rock bands of all time. The first single was only released in 500 copies and is very sought after item that gains a high price.
On their first album "A dream of glory and pride" released in 1974, Gunnar Hallin was not a member of the band, but a guitar roadie!
After the second album "Two" (1975) Stanley had quit to join the blues outfit Nature. His replacement was Thomas Wiklund who in 1971 recorded a single with the band Uppåt Väggarna. Now Roger left the band too, but was persuaded to return. Their third and last album was named "Reload" recorded and released in 1975.After that album Roger quit and joined Wasa Express. He later formed the band Truck in where Thomas also was found.
In 1977 Piero made another attempt to get the band rolling with himself as the only original member left. They recorded some demos, but never took off. They reform in 1981, now with Piero, Benno, Joaquin Calafell (drums) Erik Svensson (keyboards) and Conny Bloom (guitar and vocals). They recorded a single for Rosa Honung Records, but it was never released.
Today Neon Rose is in the limelight again. 15 new songs is recorded featuring the Reload line-up and a compilation album is also planned.

Jerusalem - 1981 - Krigsman


01. Ständig Förändring 5:48
02. Krigsman 6:17
03. Du Är 4:14
04. It's Mad 5:36
05. Moderne Man 4:26
06. Sodom 12:10
07. Domedagsprofeter 4:36
08. Farväl 6:08

Bass – Peter Carlsson
Drums – Klas Anderhell
Keyboards – Dan Tibell
Vocals, Guitar – Ulf Christiansson

Jerusalem - 1980 - Jerusalem - Volym 2

Jerusalem - Volym 2

01. Pass På 5:35
02. Bara Rock 'N' Roll 4:19
03. Kärlekssång 3:38
04. Getsemane 3:45
05. Jag Behöver Dej 4:41
06. Introduktion 8:04
07. Dialog 4:30
08. Ajöss Med Dej Värld 5:30
09. Jag Vill Ge Dej En Blomma 4:15

Bass – Anders Mossberg
Drums – Klas Anderhell
Keyboards – Dan Tibell
Vocals, Guitar – Ulf Christiansson

With the release of Volume Two (1980), Jerusalem matured and took significant strides forward as musicians.  The recording depth of this second album sounds as if it was recorded in a high dollar studio with each instrument and vocal perfectly placed in the mix for maximum clarity and sonic depth. From the beginning track “Wake Up,” Jerusalem sound like a real rock band, and Volume 2 becomes a momentous stepping stone for believers who like their music played at full volume! This is full-throttle Jerusalem with tracks like the epic sounding “Gethsemane,” and the 8-minute track “Introduction” showing the band’s progressive edges.  Jam packed with hit song after hit song, the album sounds like it could be a Greatest Hits album! Volume Two is worthy of the elite spot it holds in the hearts of late 70’s/early 80’s hard rock fans!  Jerusalem - Volume Two never got a proper CD reissue in English until now.  With several compilations having songs from the album, this 2018 Retroactive Records reissue is the first time the album has been made available on CD in English featuring all the original songs!  This Rob Colwell (Bombworks Sound) Legends Remastered version adds warmth, depth, and sonic clarity to perfection. Retroactive Records has packaged this gem in a jewel case with a 12-page insert featuring band pics and lyrics. Great pains were made to make sure this classic was given the full reissue treatment, knowing Jerusalem fans have waited decades for a proper CD reissue!  Well, here you have it! For fans of Deep Purple, Boston, Bad Company, Resurrection Band, Daniel Band, Barnabas, and Nazareth!

Jerusalem - 1978 - Jerusalem - Volym 1

Jerusalem - Volym 1

01. Tänk Om Jesus Har Rätt 3:34
02. Noa 3:30
03. Kanske 4:22
04. Pappa Vem Har Gjort 3:50
05. Mr Ego 3:22
06. Kom Till Mej 3:40
07. Om Du Lyssnar 4:08
08. Dagarna Går 4:54
09. Jesus Är Det Underbaraste 2:23
10. Hög Tid 5:26
11. Fångsång 2:48
12. Neutral 2:42

Bass, Vocals – Bertil Sörensson
Drums – Danne Gansmoe
Keyboards – Dan Tibell
Vocals, Guitar – Ulf Christiansson

It all began in 1975 with a fifteen year old transit bus, bought from a surplus stock at the Swedish Telecom. It was a miracle that they even got out of Gothenburg. The water leaked out of the bus very quickly. Sometimes on tours they had to stop in the middle of nowhere and the guys had to wade in swamps to get water for the bus. But that didn’t keep the enthusiasm away. Every second weekend they took all the equipment and went on tour. The mission was to tell young people about God. In clubs, discos, schools.

They had to face a heavy resistance doing this.

Playing hard rock and being a Christian was very controversial at the time. Hard rock was connected to drugs, aggression and Satanism. Furthermore the music was ear-splitting. Being the first Christian hard rock band in Europe, Jerusalem had to endure a lot of criticism. They weren’t welcome at all to some churches. Smoke-bombs, long hair and luxury equipment was more than some people could accept, even if Jerusalem radically proclaimed Jesus. Hard rock was considered devilish.

Jerusalem addressed the youth. Hard rock was a way of bringing faith in Jesus to them in their own language. The lyrics described their relation to God in an ordinary, but radical way. Ulf Christiansson wrote as much as he could, and at almost every concert he had a new song to present. Heavy music delivered a heavy message and between the songs Ulf preached. In that way the concerts were more than just concerts, they turned into revival meetings. Side by side, hard rockers and confirmands were rocking. But also old people who were touched by God in a new way.

“One night, an old lady came to us after a concert and wanted to beg our forgiveness. She said that she had turned terribly mad when we started playing. She wanted to grab her purse and leave. But then she saw Jesus walking from the stage down towards her. He sat down in front of her, turned around and said: Those are my guys. Tears were streaming down her eyes when she told us.”

As time went by, prejudice seemed to disappear. The band was conductive to that by not giving up. After three years of touring record companies began calling. “I had told God and the guys that we won’t knock on anyone’s door, but wait for a record company to call”. The Christian record company Prim did, but they didn’t believe in too much success. They were wrong. The record “Jerusalem” became an instant hit among the audience. In just a few months the record sold 30 000 copies and kept on. Jerusalem reached far outside the church walls, drawing both believers and non-believers.

Jerusalem continued growing as a band. They toured both in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia. And Ulf Christiansson continued writing songs. Ulf’s lyrics was captivating, demanding and brought many people into a real relationship with Jesus. The next album was released already in 1980 and was named “Volume 2?. This record, which was made both as an English and Swedish version, opened the doors to the surrounding world. All of a sudden their working schedule was filled with tours in Germany, France, England, Belgium and Scandinavia. They decided to leave their jobs and go fulltime. From the Christian Greenbelt festival in England, where Jerusalem participated during the summer, Americans brought the record to USA and Glen Kaiser, leader of one of the largest rock bands there. He gave the record to Pat Boone, who owned the record company Lamb and Lion. They released the records in the USA.

 As time went by and Jerusalem joined forces they released the record “Warrior”. “Third time lucky!” the newspapers wrote. “Warrior” became a sales success in Sweden, Europe, USA and Canada. As a result of this music videos were recorded of the songs “Constantly Changing” and “It’s Mad”. Both songs made it the following year to American MTV.

The nights in narrow tour buses were gone. In the fall of 1981, Jerusalem took the plane to USA and went on tour. It became a success. European, radical Jerusalem, with their heavy hard rock took USA by storm. At this time the band consisted of Ulf Christiansson on guitar and vocals, Dan Tibell keyboards, Peter Carlsohn, (replacing Anders Mossberg on bass) and finally Michael Ulvsgard on drums (replacing Klas Anderhell).

The thought of reaching even higher was thrilling. The success made way for commercial thoughts. But the world of Christian music had changed, sales numbers became more important than preaching the Gospel. With the fourth album: “Can’t stop us now”, a new era started. Not only the music changed and became more melodic, but the lyrics didn’t speak as radically about God as before. The album, recorded in Ireland, lead to another tour in USA including Canada and Puerto Rico.

The success was enormous. During the following years, Jerusalem mostly toured abroad, with their huge equipment that weighed five tons. That was more than any other Swedish hard rock band could show at the time. Between 1983 and 1985 Jerusalem made several very successful tours in USA, which finally resulted in a live album: “In His Majesty’s Service”, recorded in Shreveport and Dallas. Showing Jerusalem’s radical presence on stage with Ulf shouting a heart piercing “Wake up Mr. Christian”!

Eventually it all became too much. Jerusalem pulled the emergency brake. The glamorous life had become too much. Family life was suffering. The band was tired and in some way the commitment they once had was gone. In the fall of 1985, Jerusalem took a break from touring. A new journey began, where the music had to stand back. Jesus was once again put first. And focus on the mission started to grow back, to find the “first love”.

Then as a reaction to the growing Satanism in Europe of the 80's they made the record “Dancing on the head of the Serpent” in 1987. Reidar Paulsen played the keyboards. On the sleeve there was an army boot, trampling on a demon. This shocked the Swedish Christianity. The record stores sold the record under the counter. But the record made #1 on the American radio charts with a following Dove Award nominee. After this the band was quiet for a while. Ulf did some solo albums instead. But the vision and the dream was still alive. In 1992, the band moved back to Gothenburg and recorded the “Prophet” album. It became the album to get the most favorable reviews following a European tour.

After this Jerusalem has made several albums. 1997 they came out with Volume 3 and the year after that Volume 4, both as a longing to capture all the songs Ulf wrote during the vinyl days. “It was impossible to record all songs we wrote during that time, a vinyl record could only hold 22 minutes on each side and we had far more songs than that, that’s why we did Volume 3 and 4?.
rensvenskaThe following year Jerusalem did a tour in Scandinavia including the Baltic States called “På ren svenska” (In pure Swedish) where they did most of the songs in Swedish. During the tour they also made a live recording in Sweden and Norway, “Jerusalem Live, på ren svenska”. The record captivated in a great way the bands presence and radical voice. In 2001 Ulf decided to move to America and record his solo album: “Entertainers & Soldiers”. He stayed in Florida for 3 years with his family. During this time Jerusalem only did some festivals in Europe and in Sweden. In 2006 Jerusalem did a very successful anniversary tour in Sweden called “Tretti” (Thirty) where they played 3 sold out halls in Sweden. The tour was done in 2 sets on stage. One from the earlier years and one from the latter years. A video was made from the tour including the history of 30 years of the impact and groundbreaking pioneer work of Jerusalem.

2009 Jerusalem decided to go into the studio as a 3-piece setup with Ulf, Michael Ulvsgard and Peter Carlsohn. They made the album “She” as a reaction to the growing lukewarm condition of the church in the west. With “She” Jerusalem instantly made #1 on Scandinavia’s Ginza (Scandinavian internet sale list). In a review by Sweden Rock Magazine (Scandinavia’s largest rock magazine) Ulf was granted the title as having one of the best rock voices in the Rock´n´Roll world.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wasa Express - 1979 - Schack Matt

Wasa Express
Schack Matt

01. Schack Matt 6:41
02. Borderline 4:43
03. 1-2-3 3:25
04. Devil's Danceland 4:57
05. Midnight To Six Man 3:24
06. A Teenage Werewolf 3:54
07. Slow Down 4:01
08. Work With Me Annie 2:59
09. A Question Of Temperature 2:44
10. Wang Dang Boom Slang 4:26
11. The Cocovoodoobana Song 3:33
12. In I Dimman (Bonus Track) 6:02
13. Victor Vibratoo (Bonus Track) 9:19
14. Kom Ut I Kväll (Bonus Track) 3:52
15. Check Mate (Bonus Track) 6:38

- Bo Hallgren / keyboards
- Bo Häggström / bass
- Cary Sharaf / guitar
- Roger Holegård / vocals, guitar
- Åke Eriksson / drums

Swedish act WASA EXPRESS was founded in 1976 by Aake Eriksson (drums), Cary Sharaf el Din (guitars), Bo Häggstöm (bass) and Bosse Hallgren (keyboards). Roger Holegaard (vocals) joined the band in 1978, and participated on the last two productions by the band. 

In four active years the band recorded and released four albums in addition to being an active live unit; starting out playing a heavy form of jazz rock and evolving towards a more mainstream oriented sound towards the end. 

In 1979 the band folded, just after issued the album “Schack Matt” (In English: Check Mate). 

However, after the millenium Wasa Express reformed, and 25 years after folding a new album was released, titled “Psychedelic Jazz Trance”. One year later “Wasa Express Goes to Hollywood” was issued, and the latest news from the band is that they’re working on an album to be called “OS 2032”…