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Refugee - Refugee CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.15 | 250 ratings

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5 stars Review Nš 357

Refugee is a progressive rock band formed from the ashes of The Nice. The Nice was formed in 1960 by David O'List, Keith Emerson, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison. In 1970, Emerson frustrated with the lack of mainstream success left the group and with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer formed Emerson, Lake & Palmer. After the disband of The Nice, Jackson has formed Jackson Heights, but later he was again involved with Davison and then both invited the Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz to form a new trio, Refugee, in 1974. However, the lifetime of the band was very short because soon after the release of this album Moraz was invited to join Yes to replace Rick Wakeman, after Rick's departure from the group.

So, in many ways, Refugee resembles Emerson, Lake & Palmer as they are as pompous and classical influenced, which isn't really a huge surprise. But, at a technical level, Moraz soon reveals himself from the opening an effective conjurer to draw sounds from Moogs and other synthesizers. As for Jackson and Davison it's inevitable to hear how they have grown since the days of The Nice. They sound relentlessly powerful when it comes to making any of the long suites and reach apogees of electrifying intensity, not forgetting that both have the opportunity to diversify their contributions.

'Refugee' is the only studio album released by Refugee. When Moraz was asked to join Yes, later in the same year, that caused, of course, the breakup of Refugee. However, a live album was released in 2007, 'Live in Concert - Newcastle City Hall 1974', containing two songs from the earlier era of The Nice. This is also a very good live album, indeed.

So, 'Refugee' is the self-titled studio album of Refugee and was released in 1974. The album has five tracks. The first track 'Papillon' was written by Moraz and represents a great opener for the album. It's an instrumental track, which reminds us strongly Emerson, which sounds very pompous and that shows to us an amazing skilfully keyboardist, who is massively influenced by the classical and the jazz music. This is a fantastic track to open this excellent album. The second track 'Someday' was written by Moraz and Jackson and is a completely different type of track when compared with the previous one. It's a track in the style of a ballad, very melodic and where we can feel present the both elements mentioned on the previous track, the classical and the jazz. The track has a main distinctive characteristic, the voice of Jackson. Personally, I don't dislike his strong vocals on this track. However, if you don't like that, don't worry because it only happens in here. The third track 'Grand Canyon' is divided into five movements: 'The Source', 'Theme For The Canyon', 'The Journey', 'Rapids' and 'The Mighty Colorado'. The music was written by Moraz and the lyrics were written by Jackson. This is the first great epic on the album and is, without any doubt, one of the two best tracks on it, and is my favourite too. This is a track full of different musical passages and rhythms and is one of the songs that come closest to the traditional sound of The Nice and of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Moraz has here a fantastic and tremendous keyboard work and where we can see clearly his incredible capacity as a keyboardist and as a music composer, too. The fourth track 'Ritt Mickley' was written by Moraz. This is another instrumental track. It's a kind of a funky piece of music with classical influences. However, this is a very well structured, complex and fast song, which is in general dominated by several keyboard instruments played by Moraz. That massive combination of several keyboards gives to us a delightful and melodic musical work. The fifth track 'Credo' is also divided, but in this case into eight movements: 'Prelude', 'I Belive, Pt. 1', 'Credo Theme', 'Credo Toccata & Song (The Lost Cause)', 'Agitato', 'I Believe, Pt. 2', 'Variation' and 'Main Theme & Finale'. The music was written by Moraz and the lyrics were written by Jackson. This is the other great epic on the album and it's also the second best track mentioned by me, previously. As happened with 'Grand Canyon' this is a lengthy and very complex track, much elaborated and extremely varied, with full of different musical passages and intricate rhythms that sometimes reminds me The Nice. But, I think Moraz plays in a different way from Emerson, and here we can clearly see that Refugee created their own style. It's a great closing for the album.

Conclusion: 'Refugee' is one of the greatest albums released in the 70's. It's not inferior to the best musical works of The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. It's a very creative musical work, full of wonderful keyboards, which driven the symphonic progressive rock in all its pompous and glory. It leaves us a bitter taste in the mouth by not having the opportunity of seeing the group rejoined after the departure of Moraz of Yes. 'Refugee' also proves that Moraz is one of the best progressive keyboardists ever and deserves to be better known and see recognized his great talent as a performer and as composer. It's an album that explains the reason why he was invited by Yes to substitute Wakeman. This album is a great postcard of his musical contribution to the progressive rock world. But it's incomplete without 'Relayer' and 'Story Of I'. In my humble opinion, these three albums are his legacy to the progressive rock music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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