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Yezda Urfa - Sacred Baboon CD (album) cover


Yezda Urfa


Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 175 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Someone Slipped Some GG Goofballs in Yes' Drink

Once upon a time there was fantabulous Yes tribute band who were flawless in their craft but yearned for more. After opening for Gentle Giant for a tour and coming on stage for several songs a night, the band was at a crossroads. Remain forever playing covers or try to make a name for themselves? They finally decided to go for it, and placing intravenous lines of Cuban Coffee, they proceeded to compose, practice, record, and mix an album in 72 straight hours where no one slept and only one visited the rest room. The result was SACRED BABOON, a maniacal piece of chaos complete with dissonant harmony, angular tempo changes, and mistake-covering collective coughs.

Or something like that. In actuality, Yezda Urfa is a talented American 70's prog band known for their demo, BORIS. This album, SACRED BABOON, was an album recorded a year later (1976) for a failed label, sitting under dust bunnies for 13 years until it was discovered by a new company. The albums share 4 songs, though all are reworked and re- recorded for BABOON. The new versions sound much better, though the performances aren't quite as intense as on the debut. The overall recording is mixed better, the transitions are smoother, the songwriting more mature. The new songs are big improvements over the demo, and the Gentle Giant influence is much more in evidence. Rather than just a fun oddity, this album is truly a hidden treasure in the prog vault.

Aside from the removal of the cliché 60's reverb from the vocals, the addition of a chorus to the guitars, and increase in Gentle Giant contrapuntal compostion, the primary difference between the two Yezda Urfa works are the three new songs. "Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies" is a personal favorite of mine. Its tight songwriting and accessibility are precisely what BORIS was lacking. Though I wouldn't call any YU song "listener friendly," this one comes closest and is a perfect opener. The second song "Cancer of the Band," begins as a wind trio, moves to piano and voice, and shifts to guitars. Initially a clear GG take-off, the dissonant guitar parts and minor tonalities are a uniquely YU touch. The darkest and most challenging piece on the album, "Cancer" would have to have a place in any "most complex prog" contest. Finally, "(My Doc Told Me I Had) Doggie Head" is a quirky prog-feast featuring a mainly Gentle Giant styled melody exchange punctuated by guitarist Mark Tippins' Steve Howe psychobilly solo stylings.

The reworkings of the songs from BORIS involve smoothing some rough edges, for good and for bad. "Ta in the Moya" retains its great signature melody but benefits from major rearrangements. Though the vocal delivery is a little less emotional, the instrumental sounds are much more coherent. Similarly, "Boris" and "Flow Guides" move more smoothly, sound better, but lack just a bit of bite. The best result is on the closer "3, Almost 4, 6 Yea," now a near-instrumental with more generous attention applied to the Gryphon- esque medieval atmospherics. Just as the band seems to be finishing calmly, a tightly intense section comes in with about 2:30 to go that jolts the listener awake before the song, album, and band departs with a kind of overture of themes that serves as a fine dessert to a delicious helping of prog.

There aren't a lot of places to go if you're a Gentle Giant fanatic and have exhausted their catalog. SACRED BABOON may be the best of any of the options. Even BORIS pales in this particular aspect. Despite being derivative in many aspects (really the only thing keeping it from masterpiece status), it is amazing prog. Every GG fan and most serious prog fans should have this in their library. 4+/5 stars.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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