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Triumvirat - Old Loves Die Hard CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.44 | 169 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars German synth wizard and Keith Emerson wannabe Jürgen Fritz had one foot on a bar of soap while recording this follow-up to his popular "Spartacus" album. The recruitment of British pop singer Barry Palmer, hired through a Melody Maker advertisement after the departure of Helmut Köllen, quickly undermined the original dynamic of the classic keyboard trio. Palmer's radio-friendly voice never meshed well with the band's higher (i.e. proggier) aspirations, and his AOR smoothness only greased the floor beneath a composer already looking for commercial salvation.

But don't blame the new guy for such an inconsistent change of pace. The revamped line-up was only one part of a deliberate bid by Fritz to simplify the Triumvirat sound and balance the band's deeper European heritage with a more shallow mainstream style. The richness of the former is evident in the albums stately opening notes; the compromise of the latter can be heard as soon as Palmer opens his mouth, unconsciously summing up the future of his adopted band in one ominous cliché: "I sold my soul to rock 'n' roll / I never got it back..."

More than enough traces of genuine Prog Rock vitality remained to make the album certainly worthwhile, with at least two highlights equaling anything the band did before: "Panic on 5th Avenue", and the mini-trilogy "A Day in a Life" (both entirely instrumental, please note). "The History of Mystery", originally split over two sides of vinyl, has some attractive grand piano as well, plus a few too many stylistic nods to ELP's "Karn Evil 9". But the bulk of the album ("A Cold Old Worried Lady"; the chorus of "I Believe"; and even the title track) was closer to Elton John than Keith Emerson, hardly recommending it to discriminating listeners.

Curiously, the European LP presented the music "in deepest sympathy", the words written on the back cover in mock-gothic script (but not a reference to the accidental death of old comrade Helmut Köllen, still a year away). The alternate artwork on the U.S. edition depicted the mascot rat, trapped in a corner, and both versions pretty much summed up the band's position in 1976. As any ardent Proghead will tell you, old loves do indeed die hard. This particular flame may not have expired yet, but (paraphrasing Frank Zappa) she was starting to smell a bit funny.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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