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24 Sep 2016

Lotus “Lotus” 1974 + Lotus “Vera O'flera”1976 Swedish Prog Jazz Rock Fusion







Lotus “Lotus” 1974 Sweden Prog Jazz Fusion first album
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Classic 70’s progressive rock reminding me quite a bit of CAMEL at times with some succulent instrumental breakouts and lovely 70’s warbled sounds. Music is soft and yet quite dynamic with some great musicianship. Songs are all rather short (4 min range'ish) but do still seem to satisfy the listener without sounding to abrupt in conclusion. Although albums contains dual guitarists, LOTUS still remains a heavily symphonic album with some choice guitar stabs and solos throughout. Still freaks me out a bit that such a great album is not commented on more often… IMHO a great album! …… 

The style of this little-known Swedish quartet from the mid-70’s is hard to describe as it escapes most comparisons; the closest would be FINNFOREST, and perhaps Danish fusion band SECRET OYSTER. This is fusion at its best: energetic instrumental jazz-rock featuring dual guitars, electric piano/Hammond organ, bass and drums, and stunning musicianship all around. After the release of their second album in 1976, the band, alas, split up. 

Although the tracks on their first album are rather short, each one is chock full of ideas and beautiful catchy melodies based on tight, 70ish-like jazzy grooves, all charmingly and distinctively Swedish. Their second album, “Vera O'Flera”, which features a guest musician on sax, is in the same vein but much more fusion oriented and perhaps a bit less convincing. The CD versions of both albums contain extra tracks: 5 live bonus tracks on the first (among them a scorchy 10-minute number) and two studio tracks on the second. 

If you’re a fan of early ZAPPA, circa “Hot Rats”, or like bands such as KEBNEKAISE, FINNFOREST, KULTIVATOR or TRETTIOARIGA KRIGET, don’t let LOTUS pass you by, especially their first album. 

“You can play any note you like, but you’ve got to know why you’re playing it.” 

So says Chico Lindvall, guitarist of Lotus. Good advice for up and coming guitarists who are obsessed with speed playing. I cannot believe this fabulous instrumental album has but one other review. 

This is a monster of melodic, grooving fusion instrumentals. What a shame that these Swedish lads never reached a wider audience. Their material is compelling and well played, they sound like an early version of what are today referred to as “jam bands.” This is one of those vocal-less albums where the individual playing is colorful enough that you never miss singing. 

The remastered CD versions includes 5 live bonus tracks recorded in 1975 along with a band history. As the bio says, if you enjoy energetic dual guitar rocking fusion played with obvious joy, you must hear Lotus…. 

LOTUS were a Jazz / Fusion band from Sweden who put out two albums in the mid- seventies. This is their debut from 1974. Tom Hayes describes them this way : “There’s a unique charm contained within the melodies that are distinctly Swedish and recall bands such as TRETTIOARIGA KRIGET, KEBNEKAISE, AUTUMN BREEZE and KULTIVATOR”. Two lead guitarists, bass, drums, piano and organ round out the sound of this five piece band. I really like the picture of the band on the album cover because it reminds me of my friends and I when we were younger just hanging out having a good time. 9 of the 10 tracks were composed by the two guitarists, while the keyboardist created one song. 

“Eelas-Ooles” has an aggressive intro with the guitar and drums really standing out for me. Organ takes the lead after 1 ½ minutes. “Bonnalat” features relentless drumming and check out the guitar 1 ½ minutes in. “At El-Yago 9-3” is the one I like the least although I do like the organ to end it. “Zero” is much better with some great guitar. Organ takes over the lead role for a minute. “Mac” is a guitar led tune with some nice bass. “Musen” is really the only laid back song on here. 

“Ungersk Dans” is the song the keyboardist composed and he leads the way with his organ before keys and bass come in sounding really good. “Gatta Gatta” has a good raw sound to open as the guitar and drums lead the way as the organ floats in the background. Great song. “Marschvals” sounds amazing, especially the guitar solo that goes on and on to end it. “Chico’s Shuffle” reminds me of the DIXIE DREGS early before the piano arrives a minute in as the bass throbs. The guitar then comes in lighting it up. Chico by the way is Anders (the main guitarist) nickname. I like the story in the liner notes of him playing as a guest at this pub and blowing everyone away with his loud and ripping blues styled playing. He was 16 years old. 

This is an energetic Jazz / Fusion album with a unique charm…by progarchives.. 

Line-up / Musicians 

- Anders Lindvall / guitar, vocals 
- Robert Larsson / guitar 
- Claes Ericsson / keyboards 
- Stefan Berggrensson / bass 
- Henning Öfverbeck / drums 

01. Eelass-Ooles (3:11) 
02. Bonnalåt (2:16) 
03. At El-Yago 9-3 (2:50) 
04. Zero (3:47) 
05. Mac (2:12) 
06. Musen (1:41) 
07. Ungersk Dans (2:29) 
08. Gatta Gatta (3:05) 
09. Marschvals (4:43) 
10. Chicos Shuffle (2:59) 
11. Sketan (Live) (5:29) 
12. Tappen (Live) (3:00) 
13. Gatsby (Live) (1:50) 
14. Baldakinens Skräck (Live) (10:39) 
15. Chicos Shuffle (Live) (2:05) 
Lotus “ Vera O'flera”1976 Sweden Prog Jazz Rock fusion second album
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Their debut self-titled album of two years prior was great and I gave it four stars. I think I like this second one even better. Whereas the first album’s shorter punchier songs were more immediate the marvelous Vera is more mature. These songs are longer with more room to expand, slightly more refined, moving more towards jazz fusion but no less exciting. This album ROCKS and the playing is incredible. All of these guys, but especially guitarist Chico Lindvall, have to be some of the most criminally under-rated musicians of their day. I keep having to lift my jaw back up after it hits the floor. But, this is not just a technical noodle-fest, the songs are very pleasing and emotional. As Chico said, “you can play any note you like, but you have to know why you’re playing it.” Exactly! 

We start with the longest song “Dance Hall Frenzy” at near 8 minutes with a mid tempo groove. The jamming begins as the solos are traded back and forth from guitar to keys with ease. The bass is well to the forefront on this recording and the drums not so overwhelming, kind of the opposite how they do things today when you generally hear all drums and whimpy bass. Next is “Conflicts” and this is mostly a keyboard showcase with the big bass again. “Poor Man’s Beat” picks up speed and keeps rolling, first with keys and then Chico lets rip with the electric. We even get a funky bass solo in this track! “F-ck, I Give Up” is next (title edited for modesty!) and features some nice alto sax, piano, and acoustic guitar in a laid back traditional jazz mode. “Rain” begins with piano mimicking the sound of falling rain I suppose. Just after two minutes the band comes roaring in and we get some wild solos over driving rhythms. Some of the nuances this drummer pulls off just thrill me. “For Jenny” is a short expressive guitar showcase (electric and acoustic) no doubt inspired by someone special to Chico. The man can play magic. “The Fountain” is a very tight jazz rock number. “Bah Bah Little Lamb” is a strange one-minute joke that shows the boys may have toked up a little before the session. “Red Whortleberry Jam” is an even shorter acoustic guitar ditty to close the regular album. 

Two bonus tracks are included on the 2004 reissue. “Oh No I Give Up Again” is another acoustic solo piece that is quite nice. “Last Rehearsal” sadly appears to be just that. A poorly recorded live studio piece that was likely their last jam? It features a nice Chico solo. Very sad that this marvelous group made only two albums. 

This is an album that deserves a proper reissue. The 2004 DYM version sounds OK but features a criminally lame slip cover and nothing else! They don’t even give you an inner sleeve for the disc. Just the outer cardboard cover…by progarchives….. 

Lotus was a Swedish five piece band with additional musicians on saxophone, piano, bass and drums. In 1974 they released their eponymous debut album, in 1976 followed by this second effort entitled Vera O'Flera, the CD release (Duck Your Music label) contains two bonustracks. During my first listening session I was blown away by Lotus their melodic and jazzrock oriented sound and the skills of the musicans of this unknown band: a swinging and powerful rhythm-section, an excellent guitarist (an often flowing and fiery style) and an outstanding keyboardplayer who reminds me of Jan Hammer and Chick Corea but he’s not a copycat. Especially the wonderful soli on the synthesizer and the sparkling work on the piano (from jazzy to classical) are really stunning, what a talent! The 11 songs on this CD (running time around the 40 minutes) sound tasteful and varied, this album should be embraced by the many jazzrock aficionados on this site, a big hand for the unknown Swedish formation Lotus! … 

Line-up / Musicians 

- Anders Lindvall / guitars, vocals 
- Claes Ericsson / keyboards 
- Lerker Allgulander / bass, vocals 
- Hakan Nyberg / drums 

Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. Baldakinens skrack (7:39) 
2. Knoflickter (2:28) 
3. Fattinmansbeat (3:57) 
4. Naa Jag ger Upp (4:19) 
5. Regn (7:09) 
6. Till Jenny (6:28) 
7. Fontanen (1:44) 
8. Ba ba vita Lamm (?:??)

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..