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Yezda Urfa - Sacred Baboon CD (album) cover


Yezda Urfa


Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 176 ratings

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4 stars Ah, the dilemma of the clone band. Whether it's Germany's Neuschwanstein with an obvious neo-prog update on classic Genesis, or Japan's Bi Kyo Ran who do homage to Red-era King Crimson, it's tough to know how to assess these bands, who produced excellent albums with everything except that oh-so-basic pre-requisite of originality. Such is the problem I faced from the moment I encountered Yezda Urfa, a mid 70s American band who clearly worship at the altar of Yes and Gentle Giant. To describe the precise similarities between Yezda Urfa's music and that of its guiding lights would take an age (and quite possibly, defy belief ... even the band's name ensures that it will sit alongside Yes records in most record stores!) so I'll try and sum it up briefly.

The lead vocals and melodies are clearly influenced by Yes' John Anderson (like Flash's Colin Carter and Starcastle's Terry Luttrell, Rick Rodenbaugh even manages to sound like little ol' pipsqueak), but the bizarre vocal harmony sections and air-tight angular shifts in mood all laced over that peculiar dissonant, contrapunctual, poly-rhythmic rock that I thought only Gentle Giant could do ... well Yezda Urfa have it down pat. Believe me when I assure you that musicians like keyboardist/flautists/mandolin player Phil Kimbrough and bassist/cellist/vibraphonist Marc Miller had the talent to be giants in this field.

Maybe that's why I've grown to respect this band. Sacred Baboon has gradually overcome my initial prejudice, simply by the force of the musical skill on display. From the opening thrusts of Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies, which throws in some Tony Kaye-style organ and concludes with a nice offbeat guitar solo, through to the chamber music meets free jazz of Cancer Of The Band and the mammoth prog jamming of Tota In The Moya, all the way to the final half frantic, half sublime (the Renaissance-era passage in particular is intoxicating) effort that is Three, Almost Four, Six Years, this album is jolly good fun. In fact the main ingredient that Yezda Urfa themselves have brought to the party is a sense of fun ... the storming fifth track is called Flow Guides Arent My Bag!

Because Yes and Gentle Giant between them have done this all before, Sacred Baboon is not a top-drawer album, but it would be a real mistake to pass up on it just because of the strong influences it shows. While the album has the odd meandering moment, there is some astonishing music on display here, and it is somewhat sobering to think that it was recorded in 1976, but only released some 13 years later. Roll up, folks ... 73% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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