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13 May 2017

Asgaerd “In The Realm Of Asgaerd” 1972 UK Prog Art Rock






Asgaerd “In The Realm Of Asgaerd” 1972 UK Prog Art Rock
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In The Realm Of Asgaerd, originally released in 1972 by the British band Asgard - not to be confused with the Italian and French bands with the same name - is another re-release of Esoteric Recordings. The only album of the band was released on the famous Threshold-label of the legendary The Moody Blues. Asgard then consisted of Rodney Harrison (guitar, vocals), Dave Cook (bass guitar), Ian Snow (drums), James Smith (vocals), Ted Bartlett (vocals) and Peter Orgitt (violin). At first they got a lot of support from drummer Graeme Edge and keyboard player Mike Pinder, two founder members of The Moody Blues.

The music is probably inspired by Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings-trilogy. The theme of this famous book can easily be heard in symphonic rock pieces like the title track, Friends and Town Crier. The title track contains a short violin solo as well as a short guitar solo. The lyrics are well-sung; it's typical early seventies prog rock. Friends starts with an 'easy' Deep Purple- riff; the combination with the violin solo at the end is a rather strange one. Town Crier and Austin Osmanspare are two good rock songs with catchy melodies. Children Of A New Born Age strongly reminded me of the overture from Tommy by The Who and the more up-tempo piece Time is in the vein of the hard and heavy rockers of Uriah Heep with a country violin (!) at the end. The final song Starquest is a kind of blend of The Moody Blues, especially in the verses, and Deep Purple's Child In Time. Well, if you like old school prog from the seventies you won't be disappointed with this album. .....Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)........

Almost passed over this one, thinking it was one of them early KING CRIMSON LPs I’ve consciously overlooked for the past quarter century or so. But then it hit me: just who the fuck are ASGÆRD? I don’t know what an ASGÆRD is, and I’ve never, ever heard even a peep about this ASGÆRD record before. Perfect reason to buy it! And low and behold but this is decent folk/fantasy (rather than classical/symphonic) prog rock in a lighter URIAH HEEP vein. They do lay the vocal harmonies on thick, but they don’t go overboard with the mellotron and they ain’t afraid to rock out (albeit politely), so I’m happy. Oh and they do a song about Austin Osman Spare wherein they “kiss the cloven hoof.” Yes there are still little treasures buried deep within this fair isle..................

Not to be confused with the French prog folk group of the later 70's or the Italian neo- prog group of the early 90's, this English band (spelling the name differently) released just one album in 72 that is sometimes considered a hidden gem of the UK's early 70's proto-prog. And indeed this impressive heroic-fantasy gatefold artworks hides some pretty good hard prog that is strongly guitar-driven heavy progressive rock (all tracks bar one are guitarist Harrison-penned) often oogling in the direction of Uriah Heep with Hensley's organ replaced with Orgil's violin. Another particularity of the group is that it had two full-time singers in Smith and Bartlett. Made of short songs (only two just barely over 5 minutes), the album is not a very long one either, but sweet enough that even after a few years, a second consecutive listen is not out of the question for this writer.

Right from the first seconds of the opening title track, you just know this album will be aimed at those that like dramatic organ-driven prog, even if in this case the group is organ-less. But this doesn't stop them from sounding like the best Uriah Heep moments between Salisbury and Look at Yourself and in particular July Morning. Also coming to mind at times is Vanilla Fudge's Renaissance album without the psych influences: mid- tempo with strong throat-grabbing multi vocals that appeal to most young males in their late-teens or just after. Town Crier is a bit more of a Beatles-inspired track, partly because of Orgil's double-tracked violin, sounding Rigby-ish (all things considered of course) but this is due to the descending violin line. All of the tracks are fairly even in quality and are contagious in terms of enthusiasm. In some tracks, Kansas is not too far away either, but this mostly due to the violin again. Among the better tracks is the Children Of A New Born Age and its follow-up Time.

On the downside of things, the fact that there is only one person involved in the songwriting fails to renew enough the succession of tracks that rely a bit too much on the guitar riffs, the keyboards are very absent, even if there seems to be odd bit here and there. While this album is indeed a small gem, there is nothing really all that unforgettable, groundbreaking or unforgivably over-looked by the public either. Not essential by its nature, but still quite worth the occasional spin or two.....by.....by Sean Trane ......

 A sound very reminiscent of the Wooden Nickel era Styx, Asgærd combine Dennis deYoung-like vocals with Uriah Heepish guitars and the overall pastiche of bands like Rhapsody, only at the height of the progressive (aka art) rock era. In other words, they were dead-on for their time. The sound doesn’t wear all that well with time, but some accommodation must be made since this album was released in the very early seventies.
This is one of those bands that’s impossible to find on the original vinyl, but Progressive Line reissued it as a pretty decent quality CD. From what I’ve read the original vinyl gatefold was pretty ostentatious – I’d like to get a look at that someday.

Nothing special here though, mostly just fairly mainstream guitar and rhythm section and lyrics that range from fantasy to pseudo- folk to heavy-rock. The violinist is a very nice touch though, and at a time when that instrument was not nearly as prevalent in prog music as it is today.

When hearing the opening title track I can’t help but picture Spinal Tap’s ‘Stonehenge’ scene: wildly pretentious, way too serious, and grandiosely Tolkeinesque. Great stuff!

The rest of the album doesn’t quite rise to that level though. A couple tracks like “Austin Osmanspare”, “Lorraine” and “Children of a New Born Age” have some very good vocal harmonies ala CSNY, and “Starquest” features decent fuzz guitar and a decidedly Moody Blues vocal influence. Not surprising since this was originally released on Threshold.

The rest of the album is pretty much generic anonymous art rock from the age of art rock. Not bad, but not really memorable either. Pretty much the definition of a three star album in my opinion. So let’s give it that and move on to something new.......by ClemofNazareth ........

Short-lived British band, formed at the dawn of the 70's by already experienced musicians of the Psychedelic Rock scene.Guitarist/singer Rodney Harrison had been playing with Bulldog Breed next to future T2's leading man Keith Cross, while singer James Smith and drummer Ian Snow played together in Stonehouse.The line-up was completed with a second vocalist, Ted Bartlett, along with Dave Cook on bass and Peter Orgil on violin.Among the very first signings of The Moody Blues Threshold label, they recorded their debut ''In the Realm of Asgard'' partly at Decca Studios and partly at Threshold Studios and the album was released in 1972.
The Threshold label was not the only connection of Asgard with THE MOODY BLUES, because their music contained also strong hints from the style of the British Art/Psych Rock veterans, having evident and outdated psychedelic influences, while the presence of Orgil on violin either connects with the string orchestral and deeply romantic side of THE MOODY BLUES or bursts a weird combination of Folk and Classical influence akin to EAST OF EDEN.The music in general alternated between 60's-influenced Psychedelic Rock with melodic vocals and soft arrangements and harder parts with some impressive in-your-face guitar lines, strong soloing and more bombastic passages.Apparently the album was lyrically inspired by Tolkien's ''The lord of the rings'' in another album listed in the countless catalog of Tolkien-inspired works.Dual vocal lines and some nice orchestral segments combined with the pure power of electric guitars are often in the forefront, but the album rarely escapes from this basic matrix.

As aforementioned, Asgard were short-lived and it seems that they disbanded after the album.Reputedly Harrison had done some sessions with The Moody Blues, but it appears he never became an official part of the band.

Energetic Psych Rock with some progressive touches, destinated for fans of early-70's Proto-Prog stylings.Half about of the tracks are very good, but do not expect a killer release.Either way, this is a recommended obscurity.........by apps79 ..........

 I got an original of this which was my most wanted UK LP for Christmas and on first listening I was knocked out. I have played the album probably over 100 times since and it continues to be out of this world. There is no other album or band like Asgard in any time period. Their sound and lyrics are dark, menacing, powerful, and filled with a sinister quality lacking lyrically and musically in a lot of other prog rock bands. It is the thoughtful and literate writing of Rodney Harrison (Ex Bulldog Breed) and the soarng multilayered vocals (especially ex Stonehouse James Smith's high pitched wail) that really make this album as well as the very inventive rhythm section. No other band sounds like Asgard so it would be fruitless to try and compare them to another group, but the only two bands who very slightly resemble this music are early Genesis and early King Crimson. Be warned though, this may be my very favourite progressive/ psychedelic crossover album and if you don't like psychedelic effects or guitar or influences intruding you may want to opt for something else. Anyone with an open mind however needs to discover this masterpiece. It also might just as easily be said that this album does what a lot of 80s metal tried and failed at. For anyone who loves different and challenging music this is essential!... by bristolstc............

The band was built around the talents of singer/lead guitarist Rod Harrison who had previously recorded with the bands Please and Bulldog Breed. Taking their name from an ancient Norse religion, as Asgaerd, Harrison was accompanied by singers Ted Bartlett and James Smith, bassist Dave Cook, violin player Peter Orgil, and drummer Ian Snow. They somehow attracted the attention of Gerry Hoff who made them one of his fist signing to The Moody Blues newly formed Threshold Records.

Like The Moody Blues catalog, most of these eight tracks featured a distinctive progressive vibe, and while Asgaerd's take on the genre was just as pretentious and over-the-top as The Moodies, for the most part they avoided over-orchestrated, hyper-romanticism in favor of an odd, but engaging mixture of Tolken-esque (or Norse) fantasies coupled with some surprisingly nice pop flavored touches. Okay, okay 'Starquest' found them venturing into deep space ... Harrison wrote most of the material (he shared writing credits on one track) so he deserved both the credit and the criticism. The good news is the while there wasn't anything particularly earth shattering here, most of the set was quite enjoyable. The collection certainly benefited from having two decent lead singers in Bartlett and Smith. Fr what it was worth, to my ears Bartlett had the better of the two. Smith was good, but his occasional detours into falsetto territory were best avoided. In case anyone cared, these guys exhibited far better group harmonies than The Moodies (check out their performance on 'Austin Osman Spare'). Perhaps the biggest surprise for me came in the form of Orgil's violin. I'm usually not a big fan of violin in rock and roll and while I wouldn't rave over Orgil's contributions to the collection, his work wasn't without its charms - check out 'Town Crier (Hear Ye All)'....Bad Cat...........

Line-up / Musicians
- Ted Bartlett / vocals
- Dave Cook / bass
- Rodney Harrison / guitar, vocals
- Peter Orgil / violin
- James Smith / vocals
- Ian Snow / drums

The tracks:
1- In The Realm Of Asgaerd (4:25)
2- Friends (4:39)
3- Town Crier (3:59)
4- Austin Osmanspare (4:15)
5- Children Of A New Born Age (3:13)
6- Time (5:11)
7- Lorraine (4:45)
8- Starquest (5:17) 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..