Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Bonfire "Bonfire Goes Bananas"1975 Dutch Prog Jazz Rock


Bonfire  "Bonfire Goes Bananas"1975 Dutch Prog Jazz  Rock 
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While other progressive bands like Focus, Finch or Supersister are pretty well known in the prog world, and have been already reviewed or discussed, Bonfire never gets mentioned and are shoved somewhere behind all those bands for no good reason, and that’s a shame. So…Bonfire was an all instrumental prog rock dutch band that only released one album in 1975 with the cool title ’ Bonfire Goes Bannanas’ . Although not as popular this album have been reissued on cd with the addition of some bonus tracks, giving Bonfire an extra push out of total obscurity. The album consists of five “short” tracks on side one and their take on a long progressive piece on side two. Like in a lot of cases the short tracks tries to capture the different styles the band is influenced by, and the long piece takes all of these influences, and fuses them together to form something new and exciting. 

The band’s style is jazzy, eclectic prog rock with some canterbury influences and a lot of funk too. I would say closer to Focus than Finch or Supersister. Although listed under jazz rock/fusion which absolutely does not categorize them well, the band never solo too much and the songs are more constructed than improvised if at all. Being led by keyboardist Frank Witte who uses mainly the fender rhodes, the band feature some great guitars all along, some are delicate and some are harder edged with some good rocky solos, the sound is never too heavy though but always eclectic and sophisticated. Rhythm section is outstanding too, bass and drums does push the music forward and the band manages to stay tight and focused all the time, execution is very good. Side one holds five tracks showing different sides of the band and some several mood changes, from rocky to jazzy to eclectic but always tight and kind of funky too, brilliant stuff really. ‘Delirium’ and 'Contrast’ shows that side while 'Vuurstaal’ sound like a song that Focus would be proud to own, personal and sensitive with beautiful flute and some good guitar fused together creating a beautiful ballad. 'Chinese in Europe(Part 1)’ demonstrates how a 3 minutes track can be so interesting and progressive. Starting out with a quirky riff divided to two it goes softer, returns and then addes an instrumental short bit to conclude it, although they could easily strech it they thought it was just right like that ( it makes you wonder where is part 2 tough?). 'Circle’ contains intricate rhythm and jumps from one idea to the next easily, also contain one of my favourite parts in the album, the rocky crazy guitar solo over the jazzy rocky rhythm, just terrific. Side two holds the highlight 'The Sage of the Running Nose’ a complete piece that demonstrates their great writing skills, showing everything the band have and how progressive they really are, evolving from one part to the other, the piece flows perfectly taking one idea and going around it than moving to something else changing the lead instrument and bouncing between keys and guitar. With beautiful piano lines, and some good change of moods the band manages never to sound the same all the time and makes the listener up on his toes and doesn’t fall into boring instrumental sections infact you can feel it’s all well written. Jazzy, rocky, funky, quirky, sophisticated, invigorating it all ends after 19 minutes of pure prog rock. 

The cd contains two bonus tracks that are edited single versions of 'Circle’ and 'Contrast’ which does not help the album,but the other two bonus tracks are featuring a totally different band, changing most of the previous line up leaving Frank Witte, the keyboard man the only original member and i guess the driving force behind the band. Those tracks shows the band moving forward and taking a more funky rocky approach while still maintaining progy edges, amazing stuff actually and a very good addition to the already good album. The band is even tighter than before incorporating a strong bass and good guitar. Vocals are added to one song and shows some humor on top of it all. I would be more than happy to see a full album from this line up as well, but it was never recorded since the band broke up in 1980 shortly after the recording of these demo songs. Shouldn’t be overlooked anymore, Bonfire is an excellent addition to your prog collection don’t pass it up!…by…by Sagichim ….~


Short-lived Dutch Prog band from Bergen op Zoom.They were set up in 1974 around the leading figure of keyboardist/flutist Frank Witte and featuring also brothers Eugene den Hoed (guitar, flute) and Kees den Hoed (bass) along with drummer Cees Meerman.Bonfire recorded their only album “Bonfire goes bananas” from November, 18th till December, 5th 1974 at Morgan Studios in Brussels, Belgium.It was released on EMI’s Dutch sublabel Bovema EMI the following year. 
Side A consists of five short instrumental tracks, heavily influenced by FOCUS and with strong FINCH connections concerning the style, based on a solid Jazz background with Post-Psych inspirations around and slight touches of Classical-driven themes.Musicianship is pretty great, albeit a bit unoriginal, with a very JAN AKKERMAN-style of guitar delivery and Frank Witte being another THIJS VAN LEER wannabee.They did it pretty nice with rapid time changes and unusual breaks combined with light, melodious textures in tracks that burst a fair amount of technique and virtuosity, injected with more laid-back textures.Keyboard work is a highlight with shifting performances on electric piano, organ and synthesizers.A more expanded version of Bonfire’s repertoire appears on the flipside with the 5-part instrumental opus “The sage of the running nose”.Here the style is closer to FINCH with a tight mix of superb instrumental energy and smooth jazzy Progressive Rock, offering dramatic sections with grandiose guitar, bass and keyboards and Prog-Fusion elements in the forefront, drawing influences both from Jazz and Classical Music, eventually creating a fine, long piece of instrumental pomposity. 

It seems that the group disbanded after the release of the album (which was also supported by a single) with Kees Den Hoed becoming a stable member of Pop singer Rob de Nijs’s backing band and Cees Meerman collaborating with Herman Brood’s Wild Romance.However in 1980 Witte launched a second yet again short-lived version of Bonfire, which recorded a 2-track demo, with a new line-up: Harald Heynen on guitar, Michel Van Schie on bass) and Jaap De Weyer on drums.These were also the only tracks recorded by Bonfire to feature some vocals, both are enclosed in the CD reissue of the album by Pseudonym along with the tracks from the band’s sole single.The music remains solid and fairly progressive with more evident Fusion vibes and an updated sound akin to the 80’s era, yet with impressive jazzy underlines in the guitar parts and complex synthesizer moves.The vocals though are rather cheesy and far from a welcome addition. 
Things are simple.You love FOCUS, you will certainly love Bonfire as well.Instrumental Progressive Rock with jazzy overtones, delivered with energy and passion.Not original, but still warmly recommended…..by…by apps79 ….~


BONFIRE were a Dutch band who released this sole album back in 1975. Many compare them to FINCH and FOCUS with their all instrumental high energy sound. It clocks in at around 40 minutes and besides the usual instruments we get some flute, grand piano and vibes. The keyboardist had a hand in all of the compositions. While I mention the energy they do contrast passages a lot. 
“Delirium” opens with experimental sounds which is my favourite part of the album. It kicks into gear well before a minute then picks up speed from there as the drums and guitar stand out. Contrasts do continue though in this energetic opening number. “Contrast” is laid back with guitar and a relaxed beat but it kicks into an uptempo groove and these contrasts will continue. The synths sound pretty cool along with the guitar work at times, I’m not into this at the other times though. Now the flute really adds to the sound here after 3 minutes along with the vocal melodies late. Very much hit and miss for me. “Vuurstaal(Part II)” opens with piano as the guitar, bass and drums join in, flute a minute in. The guitar is emotional starting before 2 minutes then the flute returns. 

“Chinese In Europe(Part I)” is annoying to start with those people talking as a lame piano melody takes over. The guitar is better but that piano melody keeps coming back(gasp). Female vocal melodies before 1 ½ minutes and I like them a lot. Lots of intricate sounds a minute later. “Circle” is somewhat dark with sparse piano and some atmosphere. It kicks in around a minute with busy drum work and prominent guitar and piano. The intensity rises a little before 4 minutes. 

“The Sage Of The Running Nose” is the almost 19 minute closer. Marching styled drums to start with guitar and bass. It then settles back with piano, vibes and flute 3 minutes in. I like the calm before 5 minutes as the brightness disappears briefly. Then we get a piano/ drum lead section which will be contrasted with the more energetic passages. I’m not big on the section starting around 13 minutes but then it settles back with guitar out front which I appreciate. Lots of piano led melodies follow right to the end. 
I have a hard time with some lighter, high energy bands, it’s just not my scene including FINCH but if your into this style you need to give this one a shot….. by Mellotron Storm …..~


Bonfire is a kind of producer project. According to the strategy of the heads of the Dutch branch of the EMI concern, this instrumental quartet was to occupy the honorable place of the veterans of the Flemish program Focus. It came to ridiculous: the newly made “heirs of the throne” was transferred part of the equipment of older comrades, coupled with the tour bus team Tiisa van Lir. In short, the stakes were made, and now the main thing left for the guys was to justify the bosses’ confidence. The mastermind of the ensemble was the organist / fan Frank Witte: it was to him that Bonfire owed the lion’s share of material from his single plate. Six non-volatile tracks (including one 19-minute epic) - this is the result of the collective tension of forces. In terms of composition-harmonious construction, the four executors of the revolution did not produce. The guys gave the product that they expected. And I must say, it worked on conscience. Of course, they did not manage to rise to the level of grandees, but the creative kneading from the Canterbury art and the symphonic progression turned out to be rather not bad. The characteristic (almost canonical) Dutch sound of the seventies makes us recall both the already mentioned Focus and other monsters of the Dutch school - Supersister and Finch. In the center of attention - virtuosic keyboards and guitar layout, shaded rhythmic escapades. The abundant use of Frank Fender Rhodes pianos, revered in the jazz-rock environment, and the classic Steinway grand piano gives the group’s driving instruments a streamlined softness of sound. The parts of the guitarist-flutist Eugene Den Hoyed are also executed smooth lines and without a reason do not cut the rumor. Even in three-minute sketches, Bonfire members manage to shove as many arranging techniques as possible, from which any short number is perceived here as an absolutely finished story. Thematic mood varies from cackly-humorous to melancholic. There are also frank jokes in the spirit of the Swedish absurdists Samla Mammas Manna (in this respect, the most revealing is the play “Chinese in Europe (Part I)”). Inclusion in the palette of the winds adds to the result of exquisite subtlety and a peculiar charm. It is curious that the motivational moves of the closing magnum opus “The Sage Of The Running Nose” fragmentarily coincide with the passages from the suite “Welcome to My Rock and Roll” of the Germans Inquire, recorded thirty years later. from which any short number is perceived here as an absolutely complete story. Thematic mood varies from cackly-humorous to melancholic. There are also frank jokes in the spirit of the Swedish absurdists Samla Mammas Manna (in this respect, the most revealing is the play “Chinese in Europe (Part I)”). Inclusion in the palette of the winds adds to the result of exquisite subtlety and a peculiar charm. It is curious that the motivational moves of the closing magnum opus “The Sage Of The Running Nose” fragmentarily coincide with the passages from the suite “Welcome to My Rock and Roll” of the Germans Inquire, recorded thirty years later. from which any short number is perceived here as an absolutely complete story. Thematic mood varies from cackly-humorous to melancholic. There are also frank jokes in the spirit of the Swedish absurdists Samla Mammas Manna (in this respect, the most revealing is the play “Chinese in Europe (Part I)”). Inclusion in the palette of the winds adds to the result of exquisite subtlety and a peculiar charm. It is curious that the motivational moves of the closing magnum opus “The Sage Of The Running Nose” fragmentarily coincide with the passages from the suite “Welcome to My Rock and Roll” of the Germans Inquire, recorded thirty years later. There are also frank jokes in the spirit of the Swedish absurdists Samla Mammas Manna (in this respect, the most revealing is the play “Chinese in Europe (Part I)”). Inclusion in the palette of the winds adds to the result of exquisite subtlety and a peculiar charm. It is curious that the motivational moves of the closing magnum opus “The Sage Of The Running Nose” fragmentarily coincide with the passages from the suite “Welcome to My Rock and Roll” of the Germans Inquire, recorded thirty years later. There are also frank jokes in the spirit of the Swedish absurdists Samla Mammas Manna (in this respect, the most revealing is the play “Chinese in Europe (Part I)”). Inclusion in the palette of the winds adds to the result of exquisite subtlety and a peculiar charm. It is curious that the motivational moves of the closing magnum opus “The Sage Of The Running Nose” fragmentarily coincide with the passages from the suite “Welcome to My Rock and Roll” of the Germans Inquire, recorded thirty years later. 
In general, the resourceful and complex Bonfire playing can serve as an excellent illustration of the rich possibilities of progressive rock for an unsophisticated person and will surely appeal to fans of the sparkling fantasy of a la Greenslade, Camel and Happy The Man….by….sagael …..~


Reviews for this album usually begin with the note that this is not the German hard rock formation from Ingolstadt. Then I want to keep it this way: This review is about the 1975 released, only album of the Dutch band Bonfire, not an album of the German hard rock formation from Ingolstadt! 

Bonfire found in 1974, appeared eagerly in Holland, released their only album in 1975 with the imaginative title “Bonfire Goes Bananas” and disbanded after its release. In 1980, the founding keyboarder Frank Witte tried to reactivate the band with new musicians, but after a short time the project fell apart again. However, two demo recordings were made, which were added to the CD reissue of “Bonfire Goes Bananas” as bonus tracks. This was released in 1994 by pseudonym Records and is now difficult or expensive to obtain (which also applies to the original LP published by EMI). 

A very colorful instrumental program have Bonfire here on offer and thus ranks among their Dutch colleagues, who were mainly active in the first half of the 70s in similar climes and have largely renounced vocals: Focus , Solution , Panthéon and Finch . Stylistically, one is not far away from the compatriots. Playful, rather on the melodic-gentle side of the rock spectrum, clearly jazzed and very sonorous and colorful one is here on music. 

As the album title suggests, the music is also in a good mood, glides, certainly provided with rough edges, loose fluffy and humorous, which in turn allows comparisons to another Dutch band: Supersister . After all, what Lars Hollmer did with Samla Mammas Manna in the mid-1970s is not unlike, and there (and sometimes even at Supersister) human vocalizations were not uncommon. 

I have so far omitted an influence that has also influenced the music of Supersister and Samla: Canterbury. At least the tonal result is sometimes very similar: very jazzy lines, the playful-sparkling e-piano, the warm, boisterous bass, occasional flute inlays, the relaxed but complex-networked instrumental structure. So a little bit of this music sounds from time to time to Hatfield and the North, where Bonfire rockinger but also classically progressive to work (especially in the final long number). 

In addition to two single numbers, the two shortened, but clearly arranged differently arranged album tracks, there are - as mentioned in the beginning - to hear two demo recordings of the reformed band from the year 1980. Here are Bonfire on the one hand funky, on the other hand new wavy realms (in “There’s always a reason”, this time with vocals), or go into a slightly modernized jazz rock, but without losing the canterburesk-jazzy roots (“Ohne words ”). 

“Bonfire Goes Bananas” is a beautiful instrumental Progalbum from Holland, which lovers of the bands mentioned above in the text (with the exception of the German Bonfire, of course) and Jazzig-Symphonisch-Canterburyartigem should gain in general, if they are somewhere on a copy of the Slice bump!….By: Achim Breiling…babyblaue prog….~


- Frank Witte / Fender Rhodes, vibes, grand piano, recorders 
- Kees Den Hoed / bass, gong 
- Eugene Den Hoed / guitars, flute 
- Cees Meerman / drums, windchimes 

Track 09 
- Frank Witte / keyboards, vocals 
- Harald Heynen / guitar 
- Michel Van Schie / bass 
- Jaap De Weyer / drums








Tracklist 
A1 Delirium 3:08 
A2 Contrast 5:05 
A3 Vuurstaal (Part II) 3:10 
A4 Chinese In Europe (Part I) 3:13 
A5 Circle 6:13 
The Sage Of The Running 
B1a Running Nose 2:05 
B1b Cabaret 2:30 
B1c Third Eye 6:15 
B1d Cabaret Again 2:46 
B1e Running Nose II 1:15 

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