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8 Jul 2017

Eden Rose "On The Way to Eden" 1970 France Prog Rock









Eden Rose  "On The Way to Eden" 1970  France Prog  Rock
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On the Road to Eden’ is a pretty decent debut (and only release) from the pre-Sandrose group known as Eden Rose. The main thing missing in this version of the band is singer Rose Podwojny (aka Laurens), who would join up with the quartet after Eden Rose’s demise to form what would become Sandrose (a lot of Rose’s in this band’s story). And indeed, all the tracks here are instrumentals, so it appears the presence of Podwojny/ Laurens may have been the missing ingredient considering that lineup achieved far greater notoriety than this one. 
The music is surprisingly similar though; fusion-tinted and mildly psych-inspired, upbeat tunes with plenty of wailing and fuzzed guitar and Hammond organ aplenty throughout. If you’re a fan of that free-flowing, piped late sixties Hammond sound you’ll definitely get a kick out of this thing. Virtually every track is awash with Hammond bleating, interrupted or augmented only on tastefully few occasions by Jean-Pierre Alarcen and his blistering electric axe. 

This is sometimes referred to as a psych album but it really isn’t; indeed, the guitars are all a blend of modern jazz sounds and simple fuzz (but not too much), and the Hammond sounds both improvisational and rooted in contemporary blues riffs. There are a few exceptions, most notably “Walking in the Sea” which is both the longest and most indolent tune on the record with both electric reverbed riffs and acoustic strumming, as well as a lighter, more laidback keyboard arrangement than on any other song. The closing is rather subdued as well, but otherwise these songs are all exercised in keyboard foray and guitar soloing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but honestly the sound is as dated as the album’s copyright statement (1970), and maybe even a little older than that as most of these musicians had been playing together for several years and this album marked the culmination of their experience to-date. 

If you’re a big fan of Summer of Love-era psych then shy away from this one as that’s not what it’s about. But as a ‘lost gem’ Musea does a fairly good job of dusting it off and putting on a good face. There are also a couple other CD reissues including one from Japan that has supposedly been independently remastered, but I haven’t heard them myself and given the prices I’ve seen on the web it’s a safe bet I won’t any time sooner either. The Musea version is more reasonably priced and much more accessible for most of us. 

I’m going to say three stars mostly because the music isn’t that much different than the Sandrose album except for the lack of lyrics, and I liked that one well enough. You may tire just a bit of the endless organ passages, but certainly not as much as I have of some of the endless two- and three-disc prog tomes put out by the group’s contemporaries in the years that would follow this release. Mildly recommended for fans of light psych and Hammond organ freaks…..by ClemofNazareth …………….. 

A typical organ-led instrumental rock album from 1970, On the Way to Eden was Eden Rose’s sole LP. Despite the strong filiation between Eden Rose and Sandrose (both groups have the same lineup), the two of them could hardly be more different. Instead of the latter’s symphonic progressive rock, Eden Rose’s music is a bluesy kind of rock influenced by Procol Harum, Savoy Brown, and early Atomic Rooster. Keyboardist Henri Garella runs the show, penning down all the tracks and playing lead. A very good organist (and already a sought-after session man at the time), he plays fast solos, knows how to make his chords sound dirty (and/or cheesy), and how to groove on the Hammond, but his writing cruelly lacks originality. Some of his melodies are so generic they could be mistaken for three or four other songs from the same era. The rhythm section of Christian Clairefond and Michel Jullien is fine but nothing to write home about. If a couple of tracks are marred by a sloppy beat, it is probably because of a lack of budget to record another take instead of a lack of musicianship. Guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen, who two years later would be the leader of Sandrose, here plays the role of accompanying guitarist, adding an occasional lick when he’s not simply playing rhythm guitar. The title track, “Faster and Faster,” and “Obsession” have their moments, but all in all On the Way to Eden has not aged well. Musea reissued this rare LP in 2003, adding the track “Under the Sun,” the B-side to the single “Travelling.”….by François Couture……. 

Eden Rose may not be the most well known band in French progressive rock history, yet they were an important stepping stone in the evolution of another band, Sandrose, who are considered as one of the most important French progressive rock bands from the early seventies. 

The coming together of Eden Rose seems to have been the formation of a band after advice given to a trio of musicians to team up with guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen. This advice was given by the artistic director of record label, Katema and the trio consisted of Henri Garella (keyboards), Michel Jullien (drums) and Christian Clairefond (bass). These musicians had already gained experience playing in the backing bands for various artists such as Claude Francois and Guy Mardel as well as within the pop orchestra Age Tendre Et Tête De Bois and the band Les Golden. Alarcen on the other hand had gained experience playing with Jacques Dutronc and Le Systeme Crapoutchik. 

Travelling/Under the SunAlarcen immediately blended in perfectly within the band and Eden Rose was born. By the time he had joined the band, the trio had already released the single Travelling/Under the Sun (Katema 45.512; 1970) which was devoid of guitars and featured just keyboards, bass and drums. 

By March 1970 work had begun on the band’s first album with most of their recordings being done live at 10 Washington Street. However, the band fell out with the producer and had no say say the final stages of the album. 

On the Way To Eden (Katema 33.507, 1970) was released on the Katema label in 1970 with distribution by Sonopress. As regards sales, of the album, these are rather hazy. Supposedly the album must have been relatively successful because they toured heavily to promote the album which even had the single Travelling used as a soundtrack for a television show. However, that was the age when musicians had little access to royalties! The end result was the split of Eden Rose. 

Alarcen went on to form Sandrose (another Forgotten Sons story!) together with Henri Garella and Michel Jullien. Garella would go on to join the backing band of France Gall and then move into work as a session musician. Jullien has played in the backing band of diverse artists such as Gilbert Becaud, and Stone & Charden as well as played jazz with luminaries such as Michel Petrucciani and Ted Curson. Alarcen on the other hand released a three solo albums, also in a progressive rock vein as well as worked with diverse artists such as Jacques Dutronc, Louis Chedid and Geoffrey Oryema. 
For starters one should stress the fact that On the Way To Eden is an instrumental album which has its main focal point the Hammond organ which immediately gives away the period when this album was recorded. Bands termed as proto-progressive such as Procol Harum had pushed this unmistakeable sound forward and Eden Rose, though not very similar to Procol Harum could be coined as such a band. However, they seem to do away with complexities and go straight for the jugular delivering their various tunes in short sharp pieces. At times the music sounds too cliche and almost kitsch-like in nature - yet most of the times it works. 

The pieces are well executed, so much so that at times one tends to feel that he has heard some of the tunes beforehand. However, one could split the tracks into two distinctive sections. There are those pieces that have a languid feel with the key tune being played out over and over again - literally ramming it down your throat. These are the pieces, such as the opener On the Way To Eden and Walking In The Sea, that somehow do not do it for me. However there are some cleverly crafted works on this album that definitely deserve a mention. 

Faster And Faster, as its name implies is a well paced piece that has the Hammond and guitar really jostling for the frontline, exchanging licks in between the occasional bass run. Sad Dream is the complete opposite of Faster And Faster. Opening with the theme to children’s tune Frere Jacques, this piece is possibly the closest the band get to Procol Harum with the Hammond set to the background as the piano and guitar come forward with plaintive solos, giving the album one of the more dramatic pieces. You could see this piece placed in the soundtrack of one of those tear-jerker films! 

Pieces like Obsession, Feeling In the Living and the album single Travelling are the reasons why this album is indeed a gem of a release. Here the band seem to let loose playing in a controlled frenzy allowing the various members to express themselves within a concise time frame revolving round a clear melody line. The more I hear these pieces, the more I feel that should this band have had a quality vocalists, they could have gone places. Also featured on On The Way To Eden is the B-side of the only single released by Eden Rose, Under The Sun, which is one of the more psychedelic pieces on the album. 

Musea have managed (once again!) to unearth a true Forgotten Son. “On The Way To Eden” is not one of those masterpieces that is a must have for progressive rock fans and one has to admit that the music sounds very dated. On the other hand it is an interesting look into the way progressive rock evolved, and indeed how Sandrose came to be. …….by…Nigel Camilleri…………. 

Eden Rose was a french band from Marseille led by Henri Garella and Jean Pierre Alarcen who recorded only one album back in 1970. In 2003 Musea records has the brilliant idea to reprint “On The Way To Eden” with the addiction of one bonus track. The progressive rock revolution had just started in England and France immediately followed it: Eden Rose followed it even more strictly. This album sounds more english than anyone else english band of the same period and here you can’t find the classic french prog style. I could tell you more: this work is completely instrumental, so it could be confused for an english underground proto-prog release. 
There are some classical elements, canterburian sounds and some jazzy interludes; everytime melody is clear and warm they remind me Procol Harum and Colosseum, but I found many relationship with Spring and Cressida music. My favourite tracks are “Faster And Faster”, “Sad Dream”, “Feeling In The Living” e “Walking In The Sea”, but also the bouns track “Under The Sun” is really enjoyable and confirm the deep Procol Harum influence. 
Sometimes the most interesting news come from the past: “On The Way To Eden” is a so bright example. Recommended……by……Luca Alberici……….. 

Prolusion. One of the very first progressive bands in France, Eden Rose, has formally released only one album, the title of which is in the heading of this review. However, Eden Rose and Sandrose, whose eponymous album of 1972 features the same line-up plus a female vocalist Rose Podwojny, can in many ways be regarded as the same outfit. On the other hand, “On the Way to Eden” is the brainchild of Henri Garella, while the main mastermind of “Sandrose” was Jean-Pierre Alarcen. But well, my main object is to review this obscure musical object, and not to be occupied with conjectures and deductions. 

Synopsis. According to the CD press kit compiled by the people at Musea Records, Eden Rose was a proto-progressive band performing all-instrumental music in the vein of Procol Harum and The Nice. Personally, I don’t find the Nice traces on this Way to Eden:-), not to mention those of Procol Harum, which is of another story altogether and is indeed a proto-progressive band, unlike all the others, the names of which are featured in this material. The spirit of a genuine inspiration was hovering over the Prog society during the heyday of our beloved genre, and I don’t remember any band that would play a completely unoriginal music during those times. There are some stylistic similarities between the music of this French band and that on Colosseum’s Valentyne Suite (1969), but overall, Eden Rose had a very unique sound, and their album is IMHO stronger than any of those by Colosseum Mk-1, including the aforementioned one where only the eponymous sidelong epic is really outstanding. “On the Way to Eden” is brilliant from the first to the last note and is by all means a very coherent album. The predominant stylistics is a real classic Symphonic Art-Rock with pronounced elements of Jazz-Fusion and is presented on seven out of the nine compositions here: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 (see track list above). The music is predominantly intensive, rapid, and complex and is above all notable for highly diverse and masterful, almost constantly developing interplay between all of the band members and the continuous use of complex meters. The solos of Hammond organ are glaringly virtuosi and inventive. When listening to the album you’ll make sure that Henri Garella was one of the very best keyboard players at that time. Both of the remaining tracks: Sad Dream and Under the Sun (3 & 9) are also remarkable, even though they consist mostly of soft and moderately slow arrangements. These are the entities of a mellow and romantic, yet, still classic Symphonic Art-Rock where there aren’t improvisational-like solos and, thus, elements of Jazz-Fusion. 

Conclusion. A complexity typical for Classic Symphonic Progressive, the virtuosity of Jazz-Fusion, and the energy of Hard Rock are merged on this remarkable album. While not as essentially profound and intricate as Van Der Graaf Generator’s “H to He Who Am the Only One”, to name only a few, “On the Way to Eden” is in my honest opinion better than Yes’s “Time & a Word” and many other progressive albums released in >1970……VM………… 

It might be easy to think of Eden Rose as simply a first version of famed French progressive band Sandrose. Both bands had the same musicians; both existed at nearly the same moment in time (c. 1970). But Eden Rose is now seen, quite rightly, as something unique, a chimera from the misty past, a time during which the winds of change were blowing on the fixed universe of music. Rules were blown away, stagnant structures were swept aside, and musical conventions emancipated, this freshness and spontaneity the essence of a style that hadn t yet been formalised. As for Eden Rose, they took off once they t e a med up with guitarist extraordinaire Jean - Pierre Alarcen, who had worked with Jacques Dutroncand played in Le Systeme Crapo utchik. The result was this batch of psych-inspired, decidedly grooving, upbeat instrumental tracks, with wailing (at times) fuzzed-out guitar and distinguished Hammond organ aplenty, over driving beats. A unique sound, brilliant, bright, and singing from the first note to the last. And man, if my ears don t deceive me, the main theme from Walking In the Sea (before it spins off into Jimi Hendrix territory) sure sounds like a lovely jazzy riff on Serge Gainsbourg s Je t'aime… moi non plus, which had been released the year before this album hit the racks. Two bonus tracks are from the band s only single that contained non-LP tracks. Booklet has the band s story in English and French, and is printed on FSC recycled, chlorine-free, 100% post-consumer fiber paper manufactured using biogas energy………. 

The French band Sandrose, with their unfortunately only album in 1972, has released a very beautiful work of melodious progressive rock, one of the absolute bestsellers in the extensive Musea program. The album “On The Way To Eden” now contains an album of the predecessor Eden Rose, which was released in 1970. Except for the missing singer, the cast was identical to that of Sandrose. The record has nine compact instrumental strings, the Progressive Rock, which is also dominated by the melodic guitar playing by Jean-Pierre Alarcen. He is also reminiscent of his sensitive string work on Andi Latimer. The predominantly light-footed compositions are, of course, somewhat influenced by the late 1960s, but they are nevertheless astonishingly progressive and anticipate some stylistic features of the slow-moving short-term high-altitude flight of the symphonic rock music. 

After the two fast songs “On The Way To Eden” and “Faster And Faster”, which offer a nice interplay of lively Hammond inserts and variable string processing, the “Sad Dream” follows after a brief introduction in the form of “Bruder Jakob” Them a romantic-dreamy trip, which clearly anticipates the Camel sound. A majestic guitar playing together with a subtle piano makes for a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. 

This mixture of dynamic and worn numbers will be maintained in the further course. There are also certain memories of Procol Harum awake, but the French but a corner more agitated. The largely uncomplicated instrumental rock presents itself in parts but also a slightly jazzy component. 

All in all, this early version of the progressive rock music knows how to please and the four French guys have proved with their album “On The Way To Eden” that a largely unknown work from the Progs childrens’ room can stand the comparison with the established bands and is already astonishingly mature presented. Of course, it should not be concealed, however, that the song material sinks into the end a little in uniformity and igniting firing highlights…..by……Horst Straske…………. 

The Marseille quartet, who came to Paris in search of fortune, realized in the early seventies this interesting work is the same that, after two years, he would give birth under the name Sandrose and with the addition of the sued Voice of Rose Podwojny, one of the most appreciated records of the progressive French scene of the time. The album offers testimony to a rough and lively symphonic proto rock, modeled on the keyboardist progressions of the virtuoso Henri Garella and the strong personality of guitarist Jean Pierre Alarcen, who will then undertake a satisfying solo career. The work is entirely instrumental and brings us back to the sounds and tastes of the era which certainly left room for experimentation. There is a strong jazz contamination that runs on paths already beaten by the Colosseum, although in our case, the hard rock component is predominant. Strongly remember, in some tracks, the Procol Harum or even the Trace, especially in times when classic echoes are heard. This is definitely a strong album that leaves a lot of musical preparation and experience on the part of the musicians, and it is quietly in keeping with the most famous groups of the past. The proposed is certainly different from Sandrose’s material, which, while presenting basic elements in common with this experience, offers a more elegant and refined style. A nice rediscovery……. 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Henri Garella / keyboards 
- Christian Clairefond / bass 
- Michel Jullien / drums 
- Jean-Pierre Alarcen / guitars 

Tracklist 
A1 On The Way To Eden 5:09 
A2 Faster And Faster 3:03 
A3 Sad Dream 4:05 
A4 Obsession 5:00 
B1 Feeling In The Living 4:15 
B2 Travelling 3:24 
B3 Walking In The Sea 5:33 
B4 Reinyet Number 4:20 

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