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Yezda Urfa - Sacred Baboon CD (album) cover

SACRED BABOON

Yezda Urfa

 

Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 178 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Give em Some Rawhide Chewies"! Oh, man, does that title ever ring bells. I used to work in a pet food and supply warehouse long ago and I know Rawhide Chewies. It's also a crazy title for a song. Then again, "Flow Guides Aren't My Bag", "(My Dog Told Me I Had) Doggie Head", and "3, Almost 4,6,Yea" are among the craziest song titles I have heard this side of Budgie.

Yezda Urfa made their name from a city in Iran (Yezd) and a city in Turkey (Urfa). They were part of the American prog scene of the seventies, which included bands like Lift, Babylon, and Happy the Man. Kansas made its mark in popular music with its brand of barroom rock meets classically influenced keyboard and violin. But other bands attempted to stray further from the mainstream and Yezda Urfa certainly weren't aiming for AOR when they recorded this, their second album.

After their first album, they self-financed their follow-up and hoped to attract the attention of a label. Unfortunately things didn't work out and this 1976 recording didn't see distribution until 1989.

I purchased this album after reading about it in Stephen Lambe's book "Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock". Of course, I checked out the music a bit on YouTube first. As others have stated, this sounds very much like a blend of Yes and Gentle Giant with some nods toward Gryphon, particularly when the woodwinds come in. The instrument line-up is not overly complex: guitars (electric, acoustic), keyboards (organ, synthesizer, piano), a well-played and well-mixed bass, drums, and a bit of cello and woodwind. There's lead vocalist, Rick Rodenbaugh, whose timbre is close to Jon Anderson's but in my opinion not as strong a singer. Don't expect a solo album, anyway. But his voice is still good enough to make the album enjoyable. Then add to all this the other members who also sing so that Yezda Urfa can do wonderful imitations of Gentle Giant with those triple vocal parts with each person singing something different. There's also a jazz element present at times, which also resembles Gentle Giant.

The opening track, the Rawhide Chewies one, sounds a lot like Yes on higher speed right down to the guitar sound. "To-Ta in the Moya" is an epic instrumental in that they explore different musical themes and change tempo on a dime. They go from a gallop to a canter to a trot. There's even a good sing-a-long melody. "Flow Charts Aren't My Bag" features an exciting prog ROCK piece that includes an Ozric Tentacles-like eastern influenced part and more Gentle Giant vocals. The final track "3 Almost 4,6,Yea" is the most exploratory piece yet. It moves through mid-tempo ranges and includes woodwinds and organ and also some Spanish guitar and cello but also becomes more frenetic as well.

The production is very clear, unlike what I heard from their first album. Just as I came to write this review based on the notes I made today, I read over some other reviews. It seems that the album loses a star for sounding too much like Gentle Giant and Yes. But aside from that, the music is diverse without straying far from an album theme, it's played very well, and it has a lot of what you would expect from a band who really want to do something apart from the middle of the road.

If you are into sing-a-long music then don't bother to proceed further. But if you'd like to check out something bold and unbridled and exciting, this might be more up your alley. Just keep in mind that this is very much like Yes/Gentle Giant/Gryphon, often on higher speed.

FragileKings | 4/5 |

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