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Kayak - See See the Sun CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.77 | 160 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars (This review, like many others, is loosely based on a chapter of my prog book Aamunkoiton portit - soon on print again!) It seems that the Dutch band KAYAK aimed at an international fame right from the start, on the heels of Focus. On their earliest, more symphonic albums one can hear British prog influence, mainly from Yes and Genesis, but unfortunately the more commercial approach took over in the latter half of the seventies. My first acquaintance with Kayak was "The Best of" compilation, concentrating on the late 70's / early 80's period. Its music is rather sweet, highly accessible, melodic and often quite catchy too, not very far from the hits of The Alan Parsons Project, except with more emphasis on keyboards (and, of course, not quite that well produced). However, on their more recent albums they have again had more progressive ambitions. Now back to the beginning, for this is their debut.

When the band was founded in 1972, Ton Scherzenpeel, Pim Koopman and Max Werner were young music students in Hilversum. After Cees van Leeuwen joined on bass, Scherzenpeel (who had studied double bass as his major) concentrated on keyboards. He and Koopman had been writing songs already for five years. Kayak signed a contract with EMI, and the group entered a proper recording studio for the very first time. "We were like kids in a toy store as we were testing what we could do with the 16-track equipment", Scherzenpeel recalls in the CD liner notes. According to him, See See the Sun is an album full of ideas, not all of them being worked to perfection. After two weeks' studio sessions the tapes were taken to Abbey Road studios for Alan Parsons to mix. Dark Side of the Moon had made Parsons a hot name, so this was clearly a calculated move from EMI in order to increase the international appeal.

The results may not be the most original prog of the time, but surely it's well produced and extremely convincing debut from young musicians. The opening track 'Reason for It All' has notable Yes flavours up to vocal harmonies and Wakemanesque harpsichord decoratings. Slightly oversugared song 'Lyrics' already hints at the later pop direction. Several compositions contain ambitious complexity without feeling very meaningful. Among my favourites is the lengthy and dreamy 'Lovely Luna', in which I sense a similarity in atmosphere to 'The Moon Is Down' by Gentle Giant. 'Ballet of the Cripple' is like a mixture of Mellotron-heavy Genesis and the more straight-forward Electric Light Orchestra. In the end they were at their most original on emotionally loaded songs such as 'Forever Is a Lonely Thought'.

The adventures in the British prog influences continued on the albums Kayak (1974) and Royal Bed Bouncer (1975), on which Ton Scherpenzeel's creative force was perhaps at its strongest. After fairly good The Last Encore (1976) there occurred some changes in both the line-up and musical style; the most commercial phase produced the albums Starlight Dancer (1977), Phantom of the Night (1979) and Periscope Life (1980). See See the Sun is warmly recommended for listeners of keyboard oriented light prog - and Supertramp, whose album Crime of the Century (1974) Kayak's bright sound has been compared to.

Matti | 4/5 |


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