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Mr. Brown - Mellan Tre Ögon CD (album) cover


Mr. Brown


Prog Folk

3.06 | 21 ratings

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4 stars

It wasn't until the early 90's before Sweden made an important step onto the progressive rock map. Bands such as Änglagård, Landberk, Anekdoten and later on The Flower Kings were largely responsible for what some people like to refer to as "The third wave of progressive rock".

In the 70's, when progressive rock had its peak, bands from Sweden weren't very representative. Aside of Kaipa and perhaps Trettioåriga Kriget, Kebnekajse and Made In Sweden, there was little or no recognition. At least not in the terms of the giants of the period. One of the many bands that did try was Mr Brown. During the 70's, Mallorca was a popular place for swedes to visit during holidays. Among the travellers were Håkan Andersson and Bo Carlberg. When in Mallorca, they enjoyed a local band playing covers. Inspired by this, they immediately started a band upon arriving back in Sweden. Soon, the remaining seats were filled and they slowly started to build up a catalogue of their own. Musically, the band members talent exceeded the traditional instruments and they handled mandolin, hammond B3, Logan stringmachine, synthesizer and flute (to name a few).

They gained quite a reputation thanks to their live gigs and were on their way of scoring a record contract. Unfortunately, things changed. Due to other duties the members parted ways in '75. A half year later they all met up again and agreed on get an album out, as they fell that the music had potential. They financed the whole process with their own pocket money and they even distributed the the record themselves (prog was out - punk was in and thus no companies were interested). 1000 vinyls were pressed. My review is based on the now re-issued CD on transubstans records (trans 015).

The music of Mr Brown is pure symphonic rock and is largely reminiscent of Camel, Barclay James Harvest and Sebastian Hardie. The first track, "Suicide", starts off in a slow, spacey mode which draws the listener to Pink Floyd. This is one of the four tracks that contain lyrics. The vocals are sung in a soft way and fits the atmosphere of the song real good. The second track, "Recall", is surely one of the highlights of the album. A great intro that demonstrates the tight rhythm section kicks off before a grand piano follows and these are executed in a way that leaves the listener, or me at least, with a sense of hope. There are parts here reminding of BJH and, just like Holroyd and c/o, the strength of the song lies in the overall arrangement. The song continues with a mellow flute on a layer of mellotron, drums and piano before a guitar solo bursts in to the melody. Much of the music on Mellan Tre Ögon ("Between Three Eyes") is build up on the grand piano ("Resan till Ixtlan" - "Journey to Ixtlan") and with mellotron and synthesizer ("Universe"). The last track mentioned has an exceptionally soft and atmospheric feel about it. "Karma 74" provides some interplay between the flute and the piano before the rhythm section comes in. This one sounds quite folky at times and speeds up towards the end. "Liv i stad utan liv" ("Life in the City without Life") is the other highlight in my opinion. The verses are spoked whereas the choruses are being sung, all the lyrics are swedish. This song is basically what Mr Brown is all about: the arrangements. Exemplified by the fact that the song changes tempo and speeds up without losing control of the soft, symphonic atmosphere. The album finishes with an acoustically driven song, "I'll Arise" which isn't as good as the other tracks on the album (I don't count "Tornet" - "The Tower" as a real song given its length of 50 seconds) much due to the vocals that aren't that convincing. However, that's just a minor complaint.

This is what I like to call one of the best and most accomplished records from a swedish 70's band. I mentioned Kaipa earlier and I'd say, without sounding too over-excited over this piece, that this is better than anything Kaipa ever did. Given the time of its release, I'm sure Mr Brown would've gained more recognition if it had been released prior to the punk wave. Most of the songs, or at least parts of the songs, were already made in '73, '74. These guys had potential, too bad they left us with this single legacy.

This is highly recommended to 70's symphonic lovers.

sampo | 4/5 |


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