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10 Jun 2016

Titanic “Eagle Rock” 1973 Norway Heavy Prog



 Titanic “Eagle Rock” 973  Norway Heavy Prog

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wzAZ3H1-0I

Created in the end of 1969, the Norway prog-rock band Titanic, no doubt, is one of the most interesting group of the European prog-rock scene in the beginning of 70s. Accelerated by Roy Robinson, a British vocalist, the band had a tremendous success in Norway and West Germany. As a style the musicians are combining progressive, hard-rock and blues in a very interesting manner.

Being a Symphonic fanatic, my relation with Hard Rock (even if Prog Oriented) is a mixture of love and distrust, mostly because I’m not too fond to the extreme loudness, but the first time I listened “Eagle Rock” by the Norwegian band TITANIC, was only able to say WOW, while rising my jaw from the floor.

Their sound is a mixture of late 60’s Psyche, based in frenetic but brilliant Hammond performance, Hard Rock with outstanding guitar solos and Progressive Rock with chorus a la URIAH HEEP, a structure close to DEEP PURPLE and very elaborate arrangements.

After their second release “Sea Wolf”, the keyboardist Kenny Aas leaves the band and is replaced by “Helge Groslie” who obviously feels more comfortable with Progressive Rock and the Hammond than his predecessor, and incredibly has no problem taking the place of a capable musician and long term friend of the rest of the members.

“Eagle Rock” is opened by “One Night in Eagle Rock”, the soft introduction doesn’t prepare us for the superb expression of power that is coming, “Roy Robinson” with his correct vocals leads easily towards a Hammond section that introduces us in Psyche/Prog territory, while the rest of the band goes on with the strong Hard Rock so emblematic in the early 70’s.

But that’s not all, after several changes, some of the extremely dramatic, haunting chorus clearly reminiscent of URIAH HEEP, supported by the psychedelic Hammond and the powerful drumming of John Lorck, prove that this band is in an extreme high level. the guitar solo at the end by Janne Loseth closes brilliantly an already fantastic track with a touch of DEEP PURPLE.

At this point it’s necessary to slow the revolutions and TITANIC takes care of this with “All Around You”, a softer track that reminds of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD combined with LED ZEPPELIN, now the Groslie plays a much more fluid and less frenetic organ, more in the vein of early Prog with touches of “Tommy”

“One of Your Kind” starts soft again with Roy Robinson singing in a style that reminds me a bit of Robert Plant, bit after a short intro the bands hits us again with their heavy artillery, again Janne Loseth does a spectacular guitar solo that changes radically into a melodic passage and the song ends as it started,

“Heia Valenga” destroys any preconception we could have of the band, because it’s a weird experimental interlude based in percussion and tribal shouts that works as an intro for “Dying Sun”, another brilliant mixture of Hard Rock and Psychedelia with more changes, dissonant performances, haunting chorus, frenetic Hammond and tribal percussion somehow similar to OSIBISA, this song has everything you can ask for.

“And it’s Music” calms the moods again, a power ballad with melodic piano but not without changes and some stronger sections, for the first time the band uses harmonica to enhance the Blues based sound, by this point nothing surprises me anymore.

“Richmond Express” is pure Rock in the vein of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, and despite the excellent vocals I have to recommend special attention to the precise drums and radical changes, another great moment.

“Maureen” is a track that has everything, from a melodic opening to passages of lush keyboards and more dramatic changes, closer to Prog than the previous two tracks but still strong and vibrant prepares us for the grand finale that again breaks the structures entering to a Jazz territory (not Fusion, pure piano and bass based jazz), simply an unexpected and excellent closing for a great album.

My version has four more songs, the rhythmic “Rain 2000”, dramatic “Blond”, Latin oriented “Macumba” and the orchestral “Midnight Sadness”, but as usual I only review the albums as they were originally released, this doesn’t mean the bonus tracks are bad, by the contrary all are excellent, but the author created the album with only 9 songs, and that’s what I review.

Now, I have to rate an album, and I’m very reluctant to give a perfect score to a Prog Related album, in this case I won’t make an exception, even when “Eagle Rock” has the best of several different genres and that’s a great achievement for a band in Norway back in 1973,

Four stars that should be 4.5 at least. ……..

As usual with “Titanic” the opening number is a real gem.

All the power of the heavy Hammond organ is present during these fantastic eight minutes (almost). This band has a real sound of his own even if their style are quite reminiscent of the great hard/heavy rock bands of the era (I already pointed this out in a previous review of their work).

Not only is the rhythmic and keys superb: Janne Loseth delivers an excellent and wild guitar break. This track is full of energy and again it reminds me lot of the great “Atomic Rooster” (but not only). “One Night In Eagle Rock” is a gigantic track.

The band was also quite successful in terms of hit singles, and “All Around You” is a good example on how good the band was in writing catchy songs. This one is on the rocking side to say the least. A vigorous beat all the way through, convincing vocals and a great backing band. Not bad, right?

The heavy sounds are back again with “One Of Your Kind”. Seriously psychedelic, it demonstrates all the strengths of these guys. Gosh! Having developed such type of music in these ancient times (they started in ‘69) in a country as Norway is quite remarkable.

One also has to listen to this track and succumb to the charm of the mood changes: from wild to melodic and harmonious in a couple of seconds. Impressive to say the least. This is another very good song (but so far, there aren’t any weak ones).

The fully heavy-prog oriented “Dying Sun” is definitely another highlight from this work. It is a wonderful kaleidoscope of crazy percussions and admirable Hammond organ (yes, I ’m quite found of this). IMO, it is really one of their top ten songs that deserves to be listened to. I will soon upload some MP3 so that you can share the experience and enjoy.

“Titanic” was also the type of band who were writing some fine rock ballad to break the overall heavy mood: “And It’s Music” is such a song. The band is back to its roots though with the energetic “Richmond Express”. A killer rock song that kicks quite a bunch. Helge Groslie on the organ is really performing a great job and the percussions (another genuine characteristics form “Titanic” ) are closing the track jolly well.

It could also apply to “Maureen” but this song is more elaborate and is much more than just a rock ballad: there are several theme changes, great instrumental interplay and as always, this convincing and warm vocals from Roy Robinson (who reminds me of Gary Brooker from’'Procol Harum’’).

The CD release offers four bonus tracks of which “Rain 2000” shares some similarities with “Sultana” (percussions mainly). This one is no instrumental though. Some sort of Norwegian samba! A nice experience by all means.

This song was released as a single in 1972 and was backed by “Blond” which is a decent rock ballad. Maybe somewhat mellowish, but that’s another side of their work. Fine organ anyway (but at this time, this is no surprise) and moving vocals.

The other two songs were released on an EP in 1973 (together with “Richmond Express” and “Rain 2000”). As far as I know, it was only released in Mexico (the band was quite popular in Latin America).

As its title indicates “Macumba” is quite a rhythmic tune with serious Latin accents. Don’t expect any “Sultana” but it is not a bad song (although the “chants” are not really great).

No need to tell you that “Midnight Sadness” is totally different. The smooth “Titanic” side is shown here (very close to “Procol Harum” again).

If you consider that only two short tracks would have been best avoided (“Heia?” and “Skeleton”), this album sits perfectly between their great debut and their good sophomore work. Four stars then…..

Having enjoyed unexpected singles success with “Sultana”, an album track from their previous album “Sea wolf”, Titanic did what their name implies and attempted to scuttle themselves. Founder Kenny Aas, whose organ playing had been the sole reason for the success of “Sultana”, left the band to be replaced by Helge Groslie.

The change was however not the shipwreck that might have been expected, indeed it could be argued that Groslie breathed new life into the band. The opening “One night in Eagle rock”, which runs to almost 8 minutes, sets out deceptively as a downbeat affair but quickly transforms into an absolute classic piece of early 70’s heavy prog. There are strong hints of Uriah Heep and Deep Purple in the Hammond driven rhythms, the incisive lead guitar, and the high vocal harmonies. The mysterious tale the song tells is complemented perfectly by the subtle complexity of the piece.

While the following pair of tracks are more orthodox heavy rock numbers, “One of your kind” has a structure which varies from driving rock to soft ballad. The first half closes with a brief avant-garde piece of chanting preceded by an amusing phone call.

Side two opens with “Dying sun”, a highly melodic number with a brisk pace, a little reminiscent of Uriah Heep’s “Look at yourself”, especially in view of the Osibisa like percussion which supports the main organ solo. We do however find time to catch our breath during Arica Siggs’ ballad “And it’s music”, on which he sings lead vocal. The harmonica and whistling added to the track show yet another dimension to the band’s imagination.

“Richmond express” leans more towards the more straightforward heavy rock which was being developed on the western side of the Atlantic in the early 70’s, and is in many ways a “Sing fool sing part 2”. “Maureen” sets out as what appears to be a rather drippy love song, before mutating into something altogether more majestic. There is an “I want you/She’s so heavy” like guitar section, an organ solo and choral vocals to transform the song into a wonderful mini-suite in six minutes. The album closes with “The skeleton”, an extremely out of character jazz piano boogie.

For an album which takes us way back to 1973 and to a country (Norway) which had still to embrace prog to any real extent, “Eagle rock” shows a confidence, competence and maturity which the band’s peers in the prog pioneering nations might envy. Make no mistake, this is a mighty album. ……

Line-up / Musicians

- Roy Robinson / vocals
- Helge Groslie / keyboards
- Janne Loseth / guitar
- Kjell Asperud / percussion
- John Lorck / drums
- Arica Siggs / bass

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. One Night In Eagle Rock (7:46)
2. All Around You (3:56)
3. One Of Your Kind (5:28)
4. Heia Valenga (1:37)
5. Dying Sun (6:17)
6. And It’s Music (3:16)
7. Richmond Express (3:36)
8. Maureen (6:12)
9. The Skeleton (2:31)

Total time 40:39

CD bonus tracks:
10. Rain 2000 (3:47)
11. Blond (5:36)
12. Macumba (3:52)
13. Midinght Sadness (3:44)  

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..