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Pell Mell - Marburg CD (album) cover

MARBURG

Pell Mell

 

Symphonic Prog

3.51 | 50 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Germany's Pell Mell was another talented band that fell through the cracks at the end of the 1970s and disappeared as if they had never existed. Hardly surprising, considering the style of Classical Rock they played, and how quickly it became unfashionable in the latter half of that decade.

But maybe another reason the band faded away so fast was because their original hard rock material never measured up to the quality of their classical adaptations. You can hear the difference on the band's 1972 debut album, in their interpretation of "The Moldau", which believe or not compares favorably to the 19th century Bedřich Smetana original.

Here and elsewhere the group took its cues from Keith Emerson and THE NICE, but employed twice the number of players to give the music far more depth. A simple recorder melody performed over the sound of birdsong and running water sets the mood, and by partially transposing the main theme to a minor key they achieve an attractive melancholy missing from the more heroic orchestral version. Add some graceful violin and a homeopathic dose of early PINK FLOYD organ atmospherics and the song becomes a textbook slice of European Prog circa 1972.

Pell Mell might have found success as a highbrow covers band, but this first album downplayed their more refined ambitions, which in retrospect dates it less than later efforts, but not by much. You won't hear anything like the wacky scat singing and mock chanting of the song "Friend" on subsequent albums, but you also won't hear anything near the same level of energy or aggression displayed here, possibly explaining the album's higher overall rating on these pages (apparently an aptitude for classical music is anathema even to some Prog Rock fans now...) The typically crude, almost amateur early '70s production can't entirely hide the ace musicianship. But the lead vocals (all in English) remain an acquired taste, on more than one song reaching levels of horrific, hide-your-pet shrieking well beyond the singer's natural range.

Don't expect to find any hidden treasures after forty years (and counting). "Marburg" is hardly a diamond in the rough, more like a slightly tarnished piece of musical pyrite: not worth much on close inspection, but still attractive when held at arm's length.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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