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22 Sep 2016

Alquin “Marks” 1972 Dutch Prog Rock debut album









Alquin “Marks” 1972  Dutch Prog Rock debut album
Alquins debut album is their most versatile album. You can hear snippets of calypso, circus music, Dixieland and country music. But most of it is progressive rock with a jazzy feel. It is largely instrumental, but there are some tracks with vocals. It is produced by Hans van Oosterhout who has earned his credits as a producer with bands like Supersister and Drama. 

The album opens slowly with some nice flute playing by Ottenhof, half way the track the tempo goes up, we hear some guitar, a piano and suddenly we are in Louisiana. When the main theme returns, this is segued into the second track. Here the focus is on the sax. Soft royce starts laid back, with some nice guitar and organ playing. This is also the first track with vocals. Next is the circus of Mr. Barnum, very up tempo with violin, flute and sax. 

The absolute highlight of this album is the long I wish I could. It is built up very slowly with a very spooky sound, after a few minutes the track sort of restarts. It contains great solos and several tempo changes. This is followed by a ballad and a Canterbury-ish track. The last track has again the electric violin as the main attraction. 

(Agemo, Dutch Progressive Rock of the Seventies) 

Alquin were the first Dutch band that I heard; I still remember the first time I played their “Mountain Queen” album, it was way back in 1972, Xmas eve. I subsequently saw them playing on the British TV programme “The Old Grey Whistle Test”, they were playing a large part of the album, playing it magnificently. 
Now to back track. “Marks” was their first release. The music can be complex at times but it’s melodic with excellent flutes, sax, electric guitar, keys, Hammond organ and the occasional violin. Great examples of the melodic side of “Marks” are “Marc’s Occasional Showers” and the tremendous opener “Oriental Journey” with its haunting flute and jazzy tinged late night keys. This track bursts into life halfway through in a style similar to early Camel. The theme of the opener carries forward into track 2; this really is quality music with some tremendous sax. As for vocals, there aren’t many but when they appear they are perfect; check out “I Wish I Could” and “You Always Can Change”. 
The track “Soft Royce” is, in some ways, a taster for what was to come on Mountain Queen, it’s quite complex but again melodic, let’s mention that superb sax again, amazing. 

(European Progressive Rock Reviews) 

The Dutch band Alquin took influences from a wide range of various progressive rock bands. This can be heard on their debut “Marks” that reveals a technically competent and tight bunch of musicians. The opening instrumental “Oriental Journey” starts with some Camel-like flute, but transforms quickly into a jazzy piece with catchy melodies played on various horns. The opening part of “Soft Royce” has saxophone and el-piano reminiscent of their countrymen Supersister, but changes to a Latin part in the middle before the vocal part and an organ solo. The track then stabilizes itself with a laidback, jazzy beat with wah-wah guitar and a very cool telephone effect at the end. “Mr. Barnum Jr.’s Magnificent and Fabulous City” is a lengthy jam recorded live where the band lets loose. “I Wish I would” opens with some very spacey organ and guitar and also includes a slightly Pink Floyd sounding vocal part. Then they turn to another band from their own country in “You Can Always Change” that sounds like pop-oriented Kayak (even the title is very Kayak!). The best of the shorter tracks on the album is the instrumental “Marc’s Occasional Showers” that starts very energetic and catchy before the soprano saxophone plays a beautiful theme over a chorale. The album then closes with another instrumental in form of the cheerful “Catherine’s Wig” that is mostly dominated by violin. With all these different influences, you could perhaps say that and that Alquin lacked some focus on this album, but most of the songwriting is good and the musicianship is very solid. 

(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog) 

Very interesting debut album by Dutch band Alquin. On “Marks” they sound like a mix of fellow Dutch band Finch with Caravan, the latter because of the gentle style of the compositions and the use of saxes and flutes. 

The highlight is the mini-suite “Soft Royce/Mr. Barnum Jr’s Magnificent and Fabulous City” where you can hear passages that wouldn’t have been out of place on Caravan’s finest records. The album opener “Oriental Journey” is also very Caravan-like. The album ends with two nice instrumental tracks: “Marc’s Occasional Showers” and the sax/violin driven “Catherine’s Wig”. 

(Victor Josue, Progarchives) 

Like most young bands, Alquin proudly wore their influences on their sleeves, but unlike most of their fellow progressive rockers, the Dutch group eschewed opulent arrangements and showboat soloing. Simplicity seems to have been the byword for their 1973 debut album, Marks, recorded while the members were still attending Delft’s Technical University. 

This understandably led to the album being tagged as jazz-folk, but that label does injustice to the breadth of Alquin’s vision and wide range of styles, with their songs encompassing everything from a conga line to disco, Dixieland to Gypsy violin. The unadorned arrangements counterintuitively make Marks sound far less adventurous than it actually is, but correspondingly far more accessible than it might otherwise have been. It’s also a reflection of the set’s lack of improvisation, but live the band soared into more experimental territory, as “Mr. Barnum Junior’s Magnificent and Fabulous City” well illustrates, an extended piece that giddily shape-shifts through numerous genres and styles. 

Contrast that number with the lilting in and out of pomp rock and jazz during “Oriental Journey,” the cheery jazz-pop of “The Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers,” or the moody jazz fusion of “Soft Royce”; it’s like night and day. Positioning themselves between the Canterbury scene, the jazz clubs, West Coast psychedelia, and the rock greats, Alquin took the best of all worlds and threaded it into a sound uniquely their own. They had much growing to do, but this was an impressive start. 
by Dave Thompson …… 

Alquin 
*Hein Mars - Bass 
*Paul Westrate - Drums 
*Job Tarenskeen - Saxophone, Percussion, Vocals 
*Ronald Ottenhoff - Saxophone, Flute 
*Ferdinand Bakker - Guitar, Electric Violin, Piano, Vocals 
*Dick Franssen - Organ, Piano, E-Piano 

Tracklist 
Oriental Journey
The Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers
Soft Royce
Mr. Barnum Jr’s Magnificent & Fabulous City
I Wish I Could
You Always Can Change
Marc’s Occasional Showers
Catharine’s Wig 



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