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Saturday, 13 August 2016

Manar “Manar” 1971 Iceland Prog Rock

Manar “Manar” 1971 excellent Iceland Prog Rock ...recommended...!
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Group from Iceland, combining in his album heavy blues - rock (Songur Satans and Eg Horfi A Brimid), hard (Lif Pitt) and heavy prog. There is also a ballad Litli Fuglinn and symphonic instrumental Preludia I A-Moll with violins and flutes . Top tracks are at the end of the album - heavy prog Sandkorn Pridja Heimsstyrjoldin. Manar were one of the groups that followed Trubrot, but the self-titled album Manar surpassed any albums of Trubrot. 11 songs cover a wide range of northern senses, offering powerful electric guitars gashes and melancholic vocals and Hammond. Some tracks are closer to folk-rock with their vocals, acoustic guitar, flute and piano (“Litli Fuglinn”). This classic album is recommended to fans of Old Man & The Sea and Junipher Greene. ...~

The band Mánar was formed in Selfoss in 1967 by guitar players and singers Ólafur Þórðarson and Guðmundur Benediktsson who had played together in the trio Bimbó since they were 13 years old, drummer Ólafur Bachmann and bass player Stefán Ásgrímsson. 
Stefán soon left the band and was replaced by Björn Gíslason. In the summer of 1967, Arnór Þórhallsson sang with the band and bass player Smári Kristjánsson also played with them. Soon after that Guðmundur Benediktsson left and was replaced by organ player Björn Þórarinsson. Mánar recorded three songs in 1970 and two of them were released on a single the same year. 
After the album was released Ólafur Bachmann left the band and was replaced by Ragnar Sigurjónsson. That line up recorded two songs that were released on another single in 1970. Singer Mary McDowell sang with Mánar that summer. 
The band then wrote some songs for an LP. They got Gunnar Þórðarsson to assist them in the last rehearsals before they went on a trip to Denmark in November 1971 to record the album. In1974, Mánar recorded two songs that were released on a compilation album and in 1975 the band split up....~ 

Oiafur Porarinsson (vocal, guitar, flute) 
Bjorn Porarinsson (organ) 
Guomundur Benediktsson (vocal, piano) 
Smari Kristjansson (bass) 
Ragnar Sigurjonsson (battery) 

01. Líf Þitt 2:21 
02. Hvers vegna? 3:08 
03. Söngur Satans 3:21 
04. Litli fuglinn 2:19 
05. Ég horfi Á brimið 2:28 
06. Leikur að vonum 2:55 
07. Haustregn 3:47 
08. Villi verkamaður 2:49 
09. Sandkorn 3:14 
10. Prelúdía Í a moll 2:11 
11. Þriðja heimstyrjöldin 4:31 

Svanfridur “ What’s Hidden There” 1972 Iceland Prog Rock

Svanfridur “ What’s Hidden There” 1972 Iceland Prog Rock


watch review from psychedelic baby

Hailing from Iceland, SVANFRIDUR were a four-piece who in the summer of 1972 recorded a single album, titled “What’s Hidden There?”. The album, recorded in London and released at the time only in a few dozen copies, can be considered one of the most interesting examples of heavy progressive rock mixed with influences from local folk music. SVANFRIDUR’s compositions feature complex vocal harmonies and an original, inventive use of violin and Moog synthesizers, courtesy of guest musician and arranger Sigurdur Johnsson.
One year of life and a collectable album was what this Icelandict act left behind.Svanfridur were formed in 1972 by ex-Náttúra singer/keyboardist Petur Wigelund Kristjansson, guitarist Birgir Hrafnsson, bassist Gunnar Hermannsson and drummer Sigurdur Karlsson.They toured around Iceland for numerous live shows, including also two trips to the Faroe Islands, but they were unable to get a contract on a proper label.Still they travelled to London and record their only album “What’s hidden there?” at the Majestic Studios.The album was pressed there, but released only in Iceland in late-72’.
Swirling around as a rare Psych/Prog release, this is actually a Hippy/Psychedelic Rock album sung in English with minor progressive touches and a pretty versatile sound.They were heavily influenced by British Psych Rock and their sound was more into a late-60’s mood than into a reputed progressive spirit.Lots of impressive vocals, balanced guitar solos and leads and a steady rhythm section are the elements characterizing most pieces towards a rather melodic and laid-back atmosphere.Some tracks contain a few rural vibes performed on strings and flute, while the use of piano and Moog synthesizer are the only true connections with Prog Rock, pretty limited and not very pronounced to say the truth.Leave any expectations for intricate material aside and the album ends up to be a trully enjoyable listening with memorable parts and occasional instrumental flashes with jazzy, bluesy and folky touches.Certain parts with a neurotic synth edge do sound quasi-progressive, but the dominance here is the nice use of guitars, sometimes with a heavier sound, and the clean vocals.

The album sold only a few hundred copies, leading the band to a decision for dissolution in mid-73’, even if veteran guitarist Bjorrgvin Gislason (also from Náttúra) appeared to have join them.Kristjansson and Gislason went on to form Pelican and two years later Kristjansson rejoined forces with bassist Gunnar Hermannsson on Paradis.Birgir Hrafnsson and Sigurdur Karlsson formed the Rock band Change.

Very good Psychedelic Rock with discreet signs of proggy textures.Well-played, full of nice melodies but also secure arrangements, propably a great addition for fans of the style.Recommended anyway. …..

Icelandic prog-rockers Svanfridur formed from the ashes of various rock bands in the early 1970s and released exactly one album, 1972’s newly reissued What’s Hidden There? What’s striking. listening to it close to 40 years after its original inception, is not how “Icelandic” it sounds, but just the opposite. Forget Sigur Ros, these boys could be from San Francisco or London, given the careful lyrical phrasing and slavish devotion to the musical conventions of the era (right down to the “To be Played Loud” injunction in the liner notes). All the familiar hippie-prog elements are here: trippy album art, meandering guitar lines, folk-rock interludes and cod-philosophical lyrics. “It’s easy to get hurt when you’re human,” we are told, “You just have to search your own heart”. Cue the recorders. The best musician by far is bass player Gunnar Hermannson, who restlessly propels the songs while never overwhelming them. The band is at its best when settling into straight ahead rockers like “Give Me Some Gas” and “What Now You People Standing By.” Unfortunately, the era demanded various side trips into folky strumming, and after a while Peter Kristjannson’s Bowie-ish stylings grow pale. For fans of the era, or of psych/prog-rock curiosities in general, this is worth a listen; the musicianship is certainly competent enough. Rarely, though, does the band elevate itself to something more than mimicry… pop matters……

This one and only album by Icelandic band SVANFRIDUR is really a very rare gem in early progressive rock. I was very lucky to find a copy of a re-release by a Brazilian!! label. The liner notes are saying: “What’s Hidden There?” is one of the most original and innovative of the albums released in 1971 and 1972. And I have absolutely to agree to that opinion.The opener “The Woman Of Our Day” is mainly guitar-based Art Rock, neither symphonic nor harsh, certainly the least progressive one on here, but nevertheless a good one. All the other compositions are definitely progressive. “The Mug” is a rather quiet song with guitar, bass, piano and some synthesizer sounds, very well-done and a rewarding listen. “Please Bend” is more in a hardrock vein but with an awesome electric violin added on, again they’re using here some synthetic keyboard effects and finish the song with some weird vocal tunes, quite original and absolutely another highlight. The title song is an acoustic one with guitar, flute and violin, very pleasant one as well! “What Now You People Standing By”, longest track of the album is a bit harsher and more up-tempo song containing a short but excellent percussion solo and great guitar / bass play. “Give Me Some Gas”, again an up-tempo one exhibits a brilliant virtuosity of all musicians on their instruments, especially the bass play is very intense. “My Dummy” is basically a hard rock song with the add-up of some synths keyboards and here like as well in the last track once again Gunnar Hermannsson shines with his bass play.As a summary I just can say that it’s absolutely worth trying to find this rare album. I’m seduced to give the fifth star!….

The Icelandic prog-rock band Svanfrídur released only one album, recorded six months after they played their first gig. This short-lived band rapidly rose to fame, receiving rave reviews for live performances, but in fact, their music was way ahead of its time. They were unable to seal a recording contract, so they formed their own label – Swan Records. When the album What’s Hidden There? was released in autumn 1972, it got mixed reviews and sold only a few hundred copies, leaving the band with a great album, but sadly, not the income they had been hoping for. Recorded at London’s Majestic Studios, the album was cut and pressed in England. Perhaps one of the best heavy prog/underground albums from Scandinavia, with amazing guitar and all English vocals. Would have been a famous and successful album on Decca UK. Includes a 12-page booklet.

Line-up / Musicians

- Birgit Hrafnsson / electric & acoustic guitars, back vocals (2 & 4)
- Gunnar Hermannsson / bass guitar, back vocals (2)
- Sigurdur Karlsson / drums & percussion
- Petur Kristjansson / lead vocals

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Woman of Our Day (3:12)
2. The Mug (4:50)
3. Please Bend (4:47)
4. What’s Hidden There? (4:06)
5. Did You Find It? (2:08)
6. What Now You People Standing By (7:58)
7. Give Me Some Gas (5:12)
8. My Dummy (4:15)
9. Finido (3:44)

Octopus “The Boat of Thoughts” 1976 Kraut Rock

Octopus “The Boat of Thoughts” 1976 Kraut Rock


Strong debut album by this German quintet, one of the better items on the Sky label. In the continuum of female-fronted prog bands, this one does follow on in the tradition of Frumpy, Ruphus, Joy Unlimited, Earth & Fire and the like.

Lead vocalist Jennifer Hensel does have a rather gruff alto voice that won’t be to all tastes, but which is definitely unique, and which suits the music well. This is high-energy prog with a bit of a hard-rock edge. Instrumentally, this relies on heavy interplay from guitarist Pit Hensel (no relation) and keyboardist Werner Littau. Littau’s organ work is the primary force, he also adds lots of spacey Moog synthesizer and a few layers of Mellotron. Of course, the nine-minute title suite is the apex of the music here, but not the only game in town. “The First Flight Of The Owl”, “If You Ask Me” and “We’re Losing Touch” all feature superb stop-on-a-dime changes.

Incidentally, the line-up provided above is wrong. Winfried Kowallik and Sepp Niemeyer were NOT in the band yet! Pit Hensel is the guitarist on this album, Frank Eule is the drummer….

This is one of those albums that I enjoy listening to from time to time. Jennifer’s alto vocals remind me a little of Janis Joplin except she’s a lot smoother and doesn’t strain her vocals at all. This record features mellotron, moog, organ and synths, although for me the guitar steals most of the show.

The first song “The Flight Of The Owl” opens with an amazing 2 ½ minute instrumental, very CAMEL-like.The same intro comes back to close the song. Love the guitar as bass, drums and synths fill out the sounds in the intro. This is my favourite song on the record. “Kill Your Murderer” is led by organ, drums and mellotron early before the guitar comes in and rips it up.The vocals that follow are excellent and they trade off with the guitar for a while. I like the instrumental interlude 3 minutes in and the guitar solo that goes on and on late. “If You Ask Me” sounds really good early with some nice drum work. Guitar a minute in and vocals before 2 minutes. Organ comes in later. This song isn’t as good as the first two.

“The Delayable Rise Of Glib” opens with organ before the vocals come in and become the focus. It’s an ok track. “We’re Losing Touch” opens with a good beat as synths join in. It gets a little meaner a minute in as guitar arrives. Vocals 2 minutes in then it turns almost jazzy. Guitar and drums end it. Nice. The last track “The Boat Of Thoughts” opens with acoustic guitar with drums pounding in the background.The guitar is replaced with piano, then a nice guitar melody swings through until it is flooded out by a flood of mellotron ! Ah, yes. It changes 6 minutes in to a darker more aggressive flavour. More mellotron later. The first two songs and this title track are my top three.

I notice a few people who have trashed this record on other sites, personally I like their sound and am glad to see the positive reviews here……

OCTOPUS is one of gems from the seventies with their far-reaching music composition and style. The sound is probably no stranger at all as the sound represents the seventies era. You can imagine the sound: quite dominant mid range, truncated treble and dry bass. Can you imagine? Hope you get what I mean. Honestly, I love this kind of sound and it influences me on my rating of the album (my big apology on this issue). Simply put, if the music quality is at par excellent between two bands of different eras, I would prefer those created in the seventies than the one created in 2000s. It’s not fair actually. But that’s what I call with “There is no true value of nearly everything!” so is the case with music review, especially prog. Why prog is so special? I can view it from two angles. One: from the musicians’ perspective, prog music is wide and free in terms of chords selection or structure or composition to be chosen by particular band. There are bands who create compositions with nice melody and simple arrangement (eg. neo prog or symphonic prog). There are bands who create compositions with no particular or rigid structures (eg. PHISH in some songs, Gentle Giant). It boils down to “choices” made by prog musician. Two: from listener (like me) point of view, there are many differing opinions / perceptions in interpreting any segment of the music. Having this in mind, how can you expect same rating of particular album? It’s hard, my friend. Let’s accept different opinions in reviewing prog albums.

The above novel-long write-up brings me to my views with respect to this album by OCTOPUS. The first time I listened to this album, it “clicked” me right away and there was signal submitted by my ears to my brain saying something like: “Mr. Brain, this is the kind of music you have been longing for. Enjoy it!”. Oh man .. the stream of music offered by this album is truly mind boggling. “The First Flight Of The Owl” is packed with guitar fills and inventive bass guitar work in blues-rock style, upbeat tempo. Powerful and transparent voice of Jennifer Hensel enters the music brilliantly and her voice reminds me to Babe Ruth’s singer. Her voice is not basically my main attention - but the music that accompanies really blew me away! I feel like I’m living in the seventies now. (Hello! This was 76 indeed!).

On top of stunning guitar work and dynamic bass lines, the music is mellotron-drenched as well. “Kill Your Murderer” starts off dynamically with excellent combination of keyboard and guitar. The tempo suddenly changes faster with pulsating keyboards and it is slows down to give vocal’ entrance. Guitar solo is stunning, augmented with keyboard / organ. Excellent organ work can also be heard on “The Delayable Rise Of Glib”. “We Are Loosing Touch” is a symphonic prog rock with classic rock elements. IT’s an excellent track!

This vintage band has in a way influenced MUSE directly or probably indirectly. “The Boat Of Thoughts” proves it well. At approximately minute 3:28 I can hear clearly the pulsating keyboard sound at the back which fits exactly with one of MUSE songs. They are not exactly the same but they are alike. This concluding is probably the most complex arrangements and changing tempo. It’s so enjoyable listening to the combination of acoustic guitar and keyboard work.

You may want to discount my overall rating about this underrated album. But for me, this is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin’ ..!……

Who likes Camel in nyar?

First of all, don’t get confused. There are a bunch of shitty metal bands with the same name. These Germans however, are amazing. The mellotron and guitar work on this album is fantastic, and even sounds incredibly similar to Camel at times. Lead vocalist Jennifer Hensel does have a rather gruff alto voice that won’t be to all tastes, but it does suit the music very well. For comparisons sake, imagine a cross between Janis Joplin (without the grit) and Jennie Hahn from Babe Ruth.

Consider this a warning: if you don’t “do” female vocals you might want to look elsewhere. If however, you “do” high energy prog with a mean hard rock edge, look no further! The instrumental passages are the high points here, and believe you me, they are oh so tasty! ….

Line-up / Musicians

- Pit Hensel / guitars
- Werner Littau / keyboards
- Jennifer Hensel / vocals
- Frank Eule / drums
- Claus D. Kniemeyer / bass

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The First Flight Of The Owl
2. Kill Your Murderer
3. If You Ask Me
4. The Dejelable Rise Of Glib
5. We Are Loosing Touch
6. The Boat Of Thoughts

Locanda Delle Fate ”Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più” 1977 Italy Prog Rock

Locanda Delle Fate ”Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più” 1977 Italy Prog Rock

one of the best Italian Prog Rock älbums in 70′s…recommended..!


Locanda Delle Fate - Live At RAI (1977) Full Show

This is the best prog album of all time. Music does not get any better than this. Genesis is good, PFM is excellent, but Locanda delle Fate’s first album is THE essential album you must get. Melodies are awesome, music is rich, and the voice is… superb! You listen to this music and then you understand what music is at its best! ……

Talk about a delicious morcel of progressive recording…check this one out. Lots of beautiful, highly romantic influenced prog with great vocals (Leonardo Lasso). Each song is perfect and flows nicely together making this one of the all time best Italian prog releases. In many ways LDF have a “YES-like” approach but do not necessarily sound like them! This is a very well recorded considering the year of its origin and has nice audio seperation. It is very hard to believe that this was their only complete studio work!! Mellow records has released a real jem capturing LDF live which will please all fans of this studio work, but the sound repro is slightly below the best of standards. ……

This is my favorite Italian progressive rock album. 1977’s “Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piu” is a beautiful masterpiece that few other albums can match. LOCANDA DELLE FATE were a 7-piece band consisting of two keyboardists, two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, and a singer. Unfortunately, they began their careers as a band just as prog was starting to die in Italy. After the album was released, the band found little to no demand for live performances and little interest for their music. So after a short tour, and a couple of failed singles, they quit. The music here is colorful in a symphonic way, and emphasizes intensely melodic interaction from the various instruments. What really impresses me about this recording is the attention that went into detail. I’m still discovering new melodies, countermelodies, and harmonies every time the CD gets played. Themes are stated, developed, go through variations, and resolved in such a majestic manner that it’s tough to compare LDF to other bands. Leonardo Sasso, the singer, reminds me a bit of Ian ANDERSON. His voice is warm, and at times close to operatic. Overall, music doesn’t get much better than this! ……

Well I like to add something about this pretty and controversial album, regarding of the major Polygram, the label under which this ensemble from Piemonte District (Northern West Italy) produced this melodic and quite pop stuff,anyway characterized by a strong Romantic mood as well:probably it should deserve an half star below, at least, whenever you like to compare it to the masterpieces by Banco and PFM;nevertheless this production was over the average and often regarded as an essential Italian progressive rock album of late seventies,cause it represents the bridge between the melodic pop of the early eighties and the complex symphonic genre within the Romantic Progressive Scene of the early seventies. Except on the performance by the Italian vocalist, very different from that one of his reference Mr Di Giacomo from BANCO,which doesn’t convince in all the circumstances, all the other harmonic and melodic lines are quite remarkable.The Romantic mood of the album, sometimes dramatic, is memorable!!


Not much to add to this one….I just ADORE this album, put the best of Banco and PFM…mixed a bit with Yes/Genesis and Camel and you will have Locanda; no kidding!. Does progressive music can give you more pleasure or get any richer than this..?

Dual guitars, dual Keys, seven members,a vocalist (that put so much passion in his singing that makes your head spin) and the right chemistry between them; because I have to be honest, nobody shine more than the other…and, that is probably what makes this band as great as it was…at least for a split second in time!!!…Maybe?, that is the formula…there is a tip on all this, I guess….. I have read many comments regarding this one, some exellent..other good and some others pretty bad; specially regarding the voice of Leonardo. IMHO, this is a MASTERPIECE!!!!! all the way thru (see my definition of that on GG/“In a Glass House”).

While driving today and listening to this CD, I could not stop to think about how come?, is that some bands, will take forever to get this success and there are some others like Locanda Delle Fate that with their first attempt reach a Classic Achievement…I really can not explain that; I just will have to say that is a shame that like many other ESSENTIAL Italian progressive Acts of the 70’, they made ONE album and then disappeared in obscurity (their 1999 release is good but will not stand against this one..)

You will regret if a copy of this album is not in your collection..Highly Recommended!!!!……

Sounding nothing like BANCO in my opinion, but a little like a mixture of PFM with early GENESIS, this album is a peach. Rich, melodic music with vocals having that very typical Italian male singers’ slight gruffness at times (but definitely pleasant on this album).

Waves of keyboards, guitars, flute and vocals flow over you. Listening to the music makes me feel slightly melancholic and nostalgic. I can’t speak Italian and don’t understand the lyrics, so for the music alone to be able to actually evoke such emotions illustrates its power. I think this is an album for the romantic (not in the love sense). If you enjoy rich, melodic, symphonic rock with vocals then you will like this album a lot.

This highly melodious, very sentimental symphonic rock music may not be to everyone’s taste, but I find it outstanding and play it often. I’m dithering: 4 or 5 stars? Oh, to Hell with it: 5! I just can’t bring myself to give it less…….

Locanda delle Fate’s album is one of the finest symphonic prog works from Italy. I cherish it as a stunning exposure of well crafted melodies, counterpoints, performed with finesse and emotional involvement. The grand piano is the lead instrument, since it handles a starring role in the intro of main melodies and harmonies; once the other musicians join in, the listener is given a delicious feast of stunning interplay between pianos, moog and string fake synths, flute, and even some effective touches on vibes. the solos on guitar, flute and synth are developed to a subtle degree, never to shatter the overall instrumental balance. Nevertheless, unlike many other reviewers, I won’t give it a perfect rating, since I perceive a minor flaw in the album as a whole. I feel that there is some slight formulaic tedency in this album’s repertoire, which makes it one step shorter of perfection: once you’ve listened to and enjoyed the first three tracks, you’ve already got the whole picture. It doesn’t mean that tracks 4 and 7 are not splendorous: they are full of clever chord progressions, counterpoints,… but somehow I find that all those tricks have already been used in the previous tracks, and now are becoming a bit (just a little bit) tiring. One exception is the beautiful brief acoustic ballad ‘Non Chiudere a Chiave le Stelle’, which drifts apart from the symph pompousity in order to convey a more bucolic ambience. I love Leonardo Sasso’s vocal range and singing style: Alusa Fallax’s singer (also drummer-percussionist) has a similar range, though his style was a bit less romatically driven. All in all, this Locanda delle Fate’s album is one awesome item in any prog collection. In a time when Le Orme and PFM were starting to lose their own identity, BMS was increasingly less productive, and most of all other good-to-great Italian bands had simply disappeared after recording one album (or two), Locanda delle Fate managed to do a terrific thing in a genuine symphonic prog vein. …….

Ahh! what a great album!

I was so surprised when I’ve listened to such an album for the first time! An outstanding musicianship, based on a twin guitar and twin keyboards line-up. Great vocals provided by the duo Ezio Verey and Alberto Gaviglio. What a pity the band arrived too late, on a declining progressive scene (1977).they should have been great! It seems to me to hear to some refences of Genesis and Jethro Tull, a mixture I’ve always thought it would have been fantastic to reproduce! Locanda delle Fate did it, building up one of the most beautiful efforts in all the Italian prog-rock history! A melodic one, as the italian tradition, but brilliant, fresh and (somehow) powerful!

A Volte un'Istante di Quiete (Sometimes a moment of quiet) is an impressive instrumental opener with catchy melody, sweetness and great contribution from all the band. Pure piano and dreaming keyboards in a dominant position, both well interlaced!

The title track (Perhaps fireflies don’t love each other nevermore) is my favourite of the album: another interesting piano intro with a softer first part.then starts all its progressiveness 10 minutes long! They’ve tried to captivate audience with the delicacy of their well refine lyrics.

Profumo di Colla Bianca (white glue’s parfume) is more melodic and introvert than the previous one. But doesn’t lack in mordant!

Cercando un Nuovo Confine (Searching for a new border) is an intense soft one with some highlights of poetry! “.You’ve remained here just a moment, silently watching. and the stars will love you without asking who you are.”.

Sogno di Estunno (Estunno’s Dream) is a great highlight of the album, soft and powerful at the same time (as all the album indeed!) with some references from Jethro Tull: “.it’s strange, you know, the summer with thousands of colours but I cannot see them!…”.

Non Chiudere a Chiave le Stelle (Do not key-locked the stars) is another astonishing soft piece, shorter than all the previous (it was the album’ single published in 1977).

Vendesi Saggezza (Wisdom On Sale) is the album closer: 9,30 mns of pure great melodic prog: “.I wonder if when the rope will press my neck, mouth wouldn’t cry.”.

“New York” is a bonus tracks of the omonimous single released in 1977. You can find it on the 1994 digitally remastered cd! This one has good and polite melody, but it’s not at the same level of the previous stunning pieces!

This album is great, I recommend to all you out there, Italian-prog-lovers!……

I don’t know why I never noticed this WONDERFUL Italian symphonic progressive album in the 80’s, even in the 90’s: what a miss I must admit! Actually, this record must be considered at the same level as the really best progressive albums, like Selling England by the pound, Thick as a brick and Close to the edge. I believe this record is the BEST work of the Italian progressive subgenre. Completely sung in Italian, all the songs are never less than OUTSTANDING!! Seriously, this record belongs to the RARE ones in which EVERY MOMENT is INTERESTING: I cannot think about just one ordinary or boring minute! The tracks are EXTREMELY well balanced, the instruments are very well distributed all through the tracks, and, like Genesis, the instruments work together instead of going into different directions, trying to show off. Among the influences, let’s mention PFM’s “Photos of ghost”: indeed, the numerous mellow flute parts and some floating keyboards bits clearly remind it. The singer can be considered a bit as an expressive & theatrical Italian version of Ian Anderson himself. The electric guitar is surprisingly omnipresent and rather rock, reminding a bit Jethro Tull circa Thick as a brick. One of the main strength is the VERY OMNIPRESENT, elaborated and melodic piano a la Tony Banks: that’s why a comparison with Selling England by the pound is not exaggerated. The mini moog sounds very Italian, like the other famous progressive Italian bands of the 70’s. There are some very pleasant harpsichord parts, giving a bit the Baroque style to the ensemble. Sometimes the tracks contain delicate acoustic guitars, giving a folkier touch to the song. Surprisingly, the good Hammond organ is rather discreet. The elaborated bass and the refined drums perfectly complete this true masterpiece. The best track is “Vendesi sagezza”. especially the VERY complex and refined second part beginning just past 4:00: notice the fully interlocking bit full of clavinet a la Gentle Giant! IMPRESSIVE! The last track “New York” reminds me a bit the band Il Volo. This record should have been named: “Never a dull moment!”


Locanda delle Fate was an Italian band from Asti that had been playing covers and listening to other prog band’s music for a long time before the release of this album with their own compositions. You can find here many influences but all these influences are blended together with a romantic and “original touch” and the result is quite good.

The opener “A volte un istante di quiete” (Sometimes a moment of quiet) is an instrumental track that every now and then reminds me of BMS and Genesis and that shows the great musicianship of the members of the band. Anyway, in my opinion, the inspired lyrics and the wonderful vocals are the strength of the album. “Dragged by a theft of conscience / Dazzled by myths and legends / Our dreams full of miracles / Are not enough anymore / When the light comes.” : the title track “Forse le lucciole non si amano più” (Maybe the fireflies don’t love each other anymore) is about the contrast between dreams and reality and leads you in a world of quiet where to look for “the illusions and the dreams that nobody buy anymore”. The following “Profumo di colla bianca” (Smell of white glue) is about a man that, after having found in the attic an old notebook and some old toys, longs for the dreams and the illusions of the childhood. “A thousand glasses reflect the memories left by a child / I pick up a book of pictures faded by reality / Immense wish of closing the doors on my age.”…

The album goes on in his dreamy mood. The music and the well balanced arrangements exalt the oneiric images created by lyrics and vocals: the contrasts between illusions and disillusions and between dreams and reality are described in many poetical ways as in a kind of concept album.“Cercando un nuovo confine” (Looking for a new border), “Sogno di Estunno” (Dream of Summer/Autumn), “Non chiudere a chiave le stelle” (Don’t lock the stars) and “Vendesi saggezza” (Wisdom for sale) are all wonderful tracks and there are no weak moments. “I don’t want explain anymore / You will be greater than Icarus / You will watch yourself flying”. After all I think that the beautiful album cover describes very well its contents, probably better than all my words.

On the CD edition there’s also a bonus track (“New York”), but it is not at the same level of the other tracks. Anyway, in the whole I think that “Forse le lucciole non si amino più” is a little masterpiece………

Originally released in 1977, “Forse le lucciole non si amano più” is an LP for which the term ‘masterpiece’ is never wasted. Perhaps the last true album of Italian Progressive Rock, before the genre was completely overshadowed by waves of ‘new’ music, and then come back strongly in vogue in the new millennium.

Reviewed hundreds of times and as many incensed, it is a record that has stood the inexorable passage of time, due to its perfect balance among its parts: guitars, keyboards, flutes, voice and text: in “Forse le lucciole…” there probably isn’t a single note that needs to be changed. Unfortunately, since it was published with a discrete delay in comparison to the period of maximum splendor of the genre, the LP was not appropriately advertised and sold, and as a result the group, after a couple of new 45rpm’s, broke up shortly thereafter.

Despite his fame, “Forse le lucciole…” has never been reissued on vinyl in Europe in almost 40 years. This re-release on Vinyl Magic record label, faithful in every detail to the original of ’77, finally fills a gap that many progressive Italian fans anxiously waited since too long!…..

Line-up / Musicians

- Leonardo Sasso / lead vocals
- Alberto Gaviglio / electric guitar, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Ezio Vevy / electric guitar, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, flute
- Michele Conta / piano 
electric Piano, synthesizer (Polymoog), harpsichord, clarinet 
- Oscar Mazzoglio / Hammond organ, Fender electric piano, synthesizers (Moog, Polymoog)
- Luciano Boero / bass, Hammond organ
- Giorgio Gardino / drums, vibraphone

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A volte un istante di quiete (6:31) 
2. Forse le lucciole non si amano più (9:48) 
3. Profumo di colla Bianca (8:25) 
4. Cercando un nuovo confine (6:41)
5. Sogno di Estunno (4:41)
6. Non chiudere a chiave le stelle (3:34)
7. Vendesi saggezza (9:37)

Total Time: 49:17

Bonus track on 1994 Polydor CD (523 688-2):
8. New York (4:32)

Bonus tracks on 2001 and 2010 Japanese CDs:
8. New York (4:32)
9. Nuove Lune (4:14)

Satin Whale ” Desert Places“ 1974 Kraut Rock debut album

Satin Whale ” Desert Places “ 1974 Kraut Rock debut  album


First album by this rather late Krautrock band was undoubtedly their very best one. Actually the only point of criticism one could quote is the fact that it might have sounded already a bit dated in its year of release. Being much in the vein of early Tull, Iron Butterfly, Cream or The Doors the tracks presented here are a wonderful demonstration of this early Art Rock or Proto-Prog style. The title song is the one reminding the most to Tull with a soaring flute and heavy organ. It’s a very powerful and grooving one with a sort of psychedelic blues guitar play that’s bringing Cream back to mind. “Seasons Of Life” is even in a stronger psychedelic vein, kinda The Doors meet Cream or Iron Butterfly, very groovin’ stuff as well. This record doesn’t let your foot stand still only for one second. Though it might be not considered as that much progressive for the year of 1974 “Desert Places” was nevertheless a brilliant album in organ driven Art Rock typical for beginning seventies.

Probably not essential for any prog collector in general, but highly recommended for fans of jammin’ and groovin’ early 70s psychedelic blues rock!……

Found in 1971, German band Satin Whale originated from the Cologne area with Thomas Brueck on bass, Gerald Dellmann on keyboards, Horst Schöffgen on drums and Dieter Roesberg on multiple instruments and vocals.The rumors say that they started as an all instrumental group, before adding vocals in their repertoire, then signed with the legendary Brain label and released their debut “Desert Places” in 1974.

Despite heading to the mid-70’s, Satin Whale played a typical, old-fashioned Kraut/Progressive Rock, a bit like TOMMOROW’S GIFT or EILIFF, with also references to the British scene, mostly because of the English lyrics and the evident bluesy influences.On their debut album they present a rich and energetic Progressive Rock with long tracks, characterized by the extended instrumental themes, the good interplays, the dynamic jams and the powerful rhythmic parts.Their music is based on the strong rhythm guitars, the jazzy rhythm section, the sharp riffs and the constant use of Hammond organ in quite a psychedelic mood.There are also some JETHRO TULL-eque flute bits and more discreet Classical inspirations in some preludes or the use of harsichord, but the main force of the release remain the abstract jamming sessions, the Hard Rock parts and the solid solos on guitars and organ.Surely there are a few sudden surprises to be found in the album, which is heavily influenced by the German monsters of the recent past.But the band delivers some good breaks and “Desert places” contains plenty of shifting climates to satisfy the Prog listener.

Consistent and well-performed Kraut Rock with decent performances and lots of psychedelic moments in a Hard Rock enviroment.Not outstanding, but definitely rewarding.There is also another vinyl release out from 1979, again on the Brain label, featuring a different cover.Recommended…….

Satin Whale’s debut album Desert Places is a very solid guitar-driven progressive rock record with blues rock elements. There are some jazzy influences one some of the songs as well. These five tracks here are all more or less great. The guitarwork is just pleasure to my ears on this LP. It’s pretty hard to choose any favourites because the whole record is so consistent and highly balanced.

In case you’re into prog with tremendous guitarwork then this album is made for you. Highly recommended album for any fan of this kind of music. ….

Satin Whale is one of my all-time favorite bands and this is one of my all-time favorite recordings. There is lots of great wah-wah guitar and tons of rippin Hammond on this album. This is German psychy proggy hard rock from the early 70’s with well written and well played tunes. I really like this album and I consider it a masterpiece, you may not. A buzz and headphones make this a glorious recording. …..

The German band ‘Satin Whale’ was founded around 1971 in the region of Cologne by Thomas Brück (bass, vocals), Gerard Dellmann (keyboards), Dieter Roesberg (guitar, sax ,flute, vocals) and Horst Schöffgen (drums). Their first record 'Desert Places’ was released in 1974 on the green 'Brain’ label, musically a typical example of German Seventies rock not unlike their stablemates 'Grobschnitt’ and 'Jane’ for the harder edge, with guitar and organ jams.

During a rock contest in 1974 ('Rocksound 74’) 'Satin Whale’ was elected the most popular German band. For the second release 'Lost Mankind’ 1975 new drummer Wolfgang Hieronymi joined and the band changed to the 'Teldec’ label, continuing musically in the same direction as their first record, with 'Jethro Tull’ inspired flute-work. The band then went on tour as a support act for 'Barclay James Harvest’. This had a direct influence on their music and their third record 'As A Keepsake’ was inspired by BJH, less rock and more symphonic influenced pop.

Their consequent tour served for the double live 'Whalecome’, which showed the good musicianship of the band, giving room to extended improvisations, especially on the 17-minute long 'Hava Nagila. In the same year 'Satin Whale’ released 'A Whale of Time’, a good record especially the title track, an instrumental with a great string arrangement. In 1979 the band composed the soundtrack for the German movie 'Die Faust In Der Tasche’ by director Max Willutzki. As the film was a popular and with their popularity rising the band released the same year 'On Tour’. In 1980 'Satin Whale’ released 'Don’t Stop The Show’,their last and commercial record, together with Ex Triumvirat singer Barry Palmer and the band split up in 1981.

Satin Whale was one of those bands that never managed to transcend the 1970s, and because their sound was less original than their more adventurous Krautrock cousins they merit barely a footnote in Prog Rock history.

Which is a shame, because not every German band needed to be as seditious as CAN (to cite the obvious example: both groups hailed from the same vicinity of Cologne). To their credit, Satin Whale would later riff all over the Hebrew folk song “Hava Nagila” on their 1978 live album “Whalecome”, which I suppose might be considered almost a daring act in a country notorious for its anti-Semitism, especially when juxtaposed against the old minstrel tune “Camptown Races” (dooh-dah, dooh-da, so forth).

But that would be years later. The band’s debut album in 1974 was a hard-hitting, heavy rock effort driven by the blazing guitar of Dieter Roesberg and the Hammond organ grunge of Gerald Dellman, with some breathy flute for added variety. Comparisons to early JETHRO TULL wouldn’t be out of order, but any similarity is most likely coincidental.

On its own merits the album is surprisingly vital, perhaps too light on memorable melodies but full of muscular jamming, with the best moments reserved for when the singer takes a back seat and the music is pushed to center stage, as in the 13-minute album closer “Perception”. The English language titles and lyrics don’t lend it any distinction, however, and the band certainly doesn’t sound very German, perhaps the key to their enormous success in their native country at the time. But that anonymity of style works against them in the long run: they might be just about anyone (except maybe Tull). ……

Line-up / Musicians

- Thomas Brück / bass, vocals
- Gerald Dellmann / keyboards
- Dieter Roesberg / guitars, saxophone, flute, vocals
- Horst Schöffgen / drums

Songs / Tracks Listing

1.Desert Places (6:48)
2.Seasons Of Life (6:41)
3.Remember (9:38)
4.I Often Wondered (7:15)
5.Perception (12:56)

Charles Earland “Black Talk! “ 1969 US Jazz Funk

Charles Earland “Black Talk! “ 1969 US Jazz Funk 

This CD reissue of a Prestige date is one of the few successful examples of jazz musicians from the late ‘60s taking a few rock and pop songs and turning them into creative jazz. Organist Charles Earlandand his sextet, which includes trumpeter Virgil Jones, Houston Person, on tenor and guitarist Melvin Sparks, perform a variation of “Eleanor Rigby” titled “Black Talk,” two originals, a surprisingly effective rendition of “Aquarius,” and a classic rendition of “More Today Than Yesterday.” Fans of organ combos are advised to pick up this interesting set. allmusic…. 

One of the all-time classic soul-jazz records gets its turn at remastering by Rudy van Gelder, the original engineer of the 1969 session. 

Charles Earland had a strong affinity for the organ, though he didn’t start on the instrument. He began his career as a saxophonist, playing in groups with organists like Jimmy McGriff and Gene Ludwig before making his unconventional instrumental switch, eventually joining Lou Donaldson’s group. His playing exploits the organ’s capacity for sustain and timbral effects (though on “More Today Than Yesterday” his fleet playing often sounds like a transposed piano solo). 

The soul-jazz format tends toward popularity, even populism. Indeed, Black Talk! was a hit record in its day; DJs played the title cut and “More Today Than Yesterday,” in spite of their length, even before Prestige had released radio-friendly edited singles. Earland’s group nevertheless avoids the narrow clichés of the genre. While they may not have pushed the format as far as their contemporaries in Tony Williams’ Lifetime, the ensemble sound is nevertheless subtly an advance on the early-sixties style in which Earland received his apprenticeship. 

This is mostly due to the leader’s playing, and to that of guitarist Melvin Sparks and drummer Idris Muhammad. Sparks reminds us of the organic link between the blues and the avant- garde (like James Blood Ulmer or Pete Cosey), his scratchy playing and always- approximate timing adding delightful texture to a format that could otherwise be conservative and monochromatic. Muhammad, meanwhile, can provide a driving rock 'n’ roll beat, or a pleasing shuffle; but his drumming on “Aquarius” could almost be mistaken for Art Blakey’s 

The contributions of tenor saxophonist Houston Person and trumpeter Virgil Jones, though competent, are often merely ornamental rather than substantive. Sympathetic conga accompaniment on a couple of tracks is furnished by Newark convenience store owner Buddy Caldwell (“the musicians dug him,” according to Bob Porter’s liner notes). 

The set list is quirky but successful. “Aquarius,” from Hair, cannot help but sound a little kitschy, but the modal groove in the middle of the cut over which the solos are played, is among the record’s finest moments, and Person sounds more imaginative here than elsewhere. One-hit wonder Spiral Starecase’s “More Today Than Yesterday” is not Black Talk!’s most adventurous moment, but it is certainly the most winsome. 

Jazz is, and always has been, a music fueled by other people’s compositions. Time-tested standards like “Summertime” and “Autumn Leaves” provide a fertile ground for improvisers. Contributions from jazz luminaries make up another large portion of cover material. But with Black Talk!, organist Charles Earland rejects this jazz hierarchy—the tradition of playing only serious or old tunes—and looks to a list with a more contemporary feel: the ‘60s popular music charts. 

Black Talk!—a re-issue of Earland’s 1969 Prestige debut, re-mastered by Rudy Van Gelder—presents the organist’s approach to the cover song: superficial, passively involved, and full-out homage. Three tunes on the album each represent a different aspect of his cover strategy. Earland gives voice to his philosophy with the help of a sextet featuring Houston Person on tenor, trumpeter Virgil Jones, and guitarist Melvin Sparks 

“More Today than Yesterday” represents the first level of Earland’s interpretation: mimicry. The song was a hit in 1969 for the one-hit-wonders Spiral Starecase, and on Black Talk!, Earland plays the original melody pitch for pitch. He gives this poppy love song a standard reading: the tempo is the same, and the only huge difference is in the added solo sections. A short, atmospheric, muted trumpet improvisation introduces the song, and Earland enters with the melody. After nine minutes of solos, the melody comes back and the tune fades out. It’s a simple structure and is fairly easy to follow. 
If “Yesterday” represents the straight rendition—the equivalent of a Spiral Starecase cover band, instruments supplanting vocal lines—“Aquarius” is a step toward creativity. Originally featured in the 1967 musical Hair, “Aquarius” is a song about free love and embraces a communal, earthy feeling through its ensemble refrain. Earland takes this idea of freedom, and starts the tune with a floating samba pattern alternated with a laid-back swing beat. The melody is harder to follow than on the original—a solo break is added in the middle of the chorus—but it’s still the same piece. 

The most interesting tune on the release, the cover Earland was striving for, is the title track. “Black Talk”—a reworking of the 1966 Beatles song, “Eleanor Rigby”—is the record’s crowning achievement. It’s a full realization of the cover song as an homage to the original artist. In the end, Earland’s version is connected to the original only by feel. This hints at his respect for the Beatles. Instead of regurgitating a melody and adding a few solo breaks, he took the time to compose, to make something new.On “Black Talk”, Earland focuses on a simple three-note theme, a succession of pitches not in the original. Off-beat bass drum hits wedded to a short hi-hat punch—boom-ti boom-ti boom-ti boom-ti—follows the opening phrase. This forward motion takes the idea of the marching string parts from “Eleanor Rigby”, and is the most apparent similarity. Beyond that, Earland leaves only the Beatles’ chord progression intact, opening each verse with a quick tremolo followed by a smooth descending melody 

The solo section is the first chance for his sidemen to stretch out, and Person, on tenor, takes the tune as his chance to shine. While Earland is a masterful accompanist—alternately providing gospel shout and short chordal bursts—and his solos are a study in laid-back style; he mostly creates atmosphere. Person, on the other hand, shouts his themes with a supported belly-tone. It’s the sound of a tree: tall, imposing and forceful. This tone—an aural perception of razor-cut cane, the harsh choke of a heavy, dry reed put into sound—is juxtaposed against Earland’s liquid tones. Person is the fire, the heat to Earland’s smooth lava flow. 

It’s ironic that the best track on what is essentially a cover album is an interpretation that sounds almost nothing like the original. This wasn’t imitation, and it wasn’t plagiarism. This was taking an idea—a sound that reverberated with Earland—and transforming it to his own aesthetic. To Earland, creation, not imitation, was the highest form of flattery….by pop matters…~

The young organist Charles Earland converted the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” into an anthem called “Black Talk” and came up with one of the huge soul-jazz hits of the early-70s. In this album, Earland worked the same magic with two other pop songs, “Aquarius” and “More Today than Yesterday,” giving them the urgency and forward movement of R&B but managing to inject them with jazz values. He was greatly aided by a pair of soloists - trumpeter Virgil Jones and tenor saxophonist Houston Person - who added fuel to Earland’s fiery concept. Guitarist Melvin Sparksand the quintessential soul jazz drummer Idris Muhammad helped keep the blaze going. It is not coincidence that his blues composition, and Earland himself, were called “The Mighty Burner.” Black Talk! went on to become an enormous hit, spending most of 1970 on the best-seller charts. …~

Charles Earland (organ) 
Melvin Sparks (guitar) 
Houston Person (tenor saxophone) 
Virgil Jones (trumpet) 
Idris Muhammad (drums) 

1. Black Talk 
2. The Mighty Burner 
3. Here Comes Charlie 
4. Aquarius 
5. More Today Than Yesterday 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..







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“A Revolutionary New Triumph in Tape” 1958

“A Revolutionary New Triumph in Tape” 1958