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Popol Ace / Popol Vuh

Crossover Prog

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5 stars What can i say for this magical album? It's absolutely the best prog band from Norway. All tracks are amazing! Great sound quality!! That album %110 proggin' !! This album included heavy guitar riffs with symphonic beauties. It sounds like "Junipher Greene", "Host", "Camel". My last review for this album is IT'S ABSOLUTELY 70's PROG MASTERPIECE!! IT'S A GREAT GEM!!
Report this review (#78562)
Posted Thursday, May 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4,6 Stars.

Even though Norway has a great number of good progbands, they haven't been among the big "Prog Country", and there hasn't been a lot of prog-albums on the charts here.

From what I know, this was the first Norwegian prog album to enter the charts, back in '73, and Popol Vuh is Norways most succsessful prog band ever.

This is a great record!! Jahn Teigen, who later went on to do musicals, European song contest and comersial pop, has a very karismatic voice, wich suits this genre well. The guitarist does an absoloutly wonderfull job, and Pjokken Eide is as strange as always....

The album starts of with "Hunchback", a wonderfull, powerfull song in the ways of ELP, Focus and Genesis. It's a really groovey tune, with a beautifull middle part. Hunchback has some amazing flute-work, and a cool sounding organ.

Next song is "Joy and Pleasure", wich has a very "gentle gianty" vibe. Its funky and weird, and absoloutly astonishing. The track is jazzy, and the peep-bob courus fits the song.

Then we have the ballad "all we have is the past", wich was the single from this album, and was some kind of hit back in the day. It's your typical, symphonic ballad with lots of orchestra, mellotron and drammatic vocals. Mr.Teigen does a great job on this song, and lifts it abowe average.

"Leaving Chicago" is a funky blues-rock track with a very good bass-line. It's a very good song, and the most accessable track on the album. This song just makes you feel good, and the powerfull vocals, the great guitar and piano work and the eceptional bass makes this among my top 10 songs ever.

"For Eternity" starts of with a very ITCotCK-like guitar-flute intro, and ventures out into a great mellow, floating prog track with lots of great guitar-work. This is the most symphonic track of the album, and reminds a lot of old King Crimson and Genesis, with lots of mellotron. An exeptionally good track, with great instumentalisation.

"Suckling Pig" is the most progressive track on the album, with great fluete-work by Pjokken Eide, great drumming and unbeliveable drumming. It's somewhat Jazzy, and reminds of a mix of Gentle Giant, Focus and Camel. It's all instrumental, and very interessting. An absouloutly increadible track.

"Medicine" is the longest track on the album, and is a funky prog-track with unbeliveable vocals, great drumming and good orchestration. The track never gets boring, and is IMO among the highlights in Scandinavian prog.

All in all, Popol Vuh manage to have a recognitiable sound, and it's very good. This album is very well produced, and it's not hard to understand why they are the most succesfull Norwegian prog band ever.

Itf you're into Scandinavian prog, this is an essential album. For anyone else it is an excellent adition to your record collection, and should be among the first 500 albums you buy.

Report this review (#90002)
Posted Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars True gem from the 70s .

I always feel excited whenever I'm listening to music which was written in the 70s which practically most of them has some prog elements in it. At that time I did not know the term "progressive" yet and any rock music was just "rock" - no further categorization which one fall under which category. I just accepted whatever flew into my ears and try to digest it. As for the case with Popol Vuh, I was not aware about this album at that time. The first time I knew about the band was a compilation cassette produced by our local music magazine which was very famous, i.e Aktuil. The cassette was labeled "Rock Vibration 2" with the opening track "Music Box" by Popol Ace. Wow! This track had blown me away at first spin. I started to wonder who this band was and found practically nothing. Hello, it was 70s, my friends! There was no internet and information was not distributed in proper way. Only decades later - I think it was 2000 or 2001 I found this album. Oh, finally I found vintage band Popol Vuh / Ace!

As a classic album, my first impression about listening to this one was the quality of "sound" that really represents the true sound of the seventies: high mid range, truncated bass and treble sound. This kind of sound is of course sub-standard as compared to modern recording technology like Porcupine Tree's albums, for example. But this classic sound creates a unique touch of the past.

Classic Rock meets Symphonic Prog

"Hunchback" represents the band experimentation with combined styles of classic rock and symphonic prog. The opening part reminds me to the music of Khan "Space Shanty" backed with excellent vocal of Jahn Teigen which is similar to John Lawton (Lucifer's Friend, Uriah Heep). This also uses mellotron / long sustain keyboard as background. What surprises me is that this track has excellent flute work as excellent as Thijs Van Leer of Focus. The interesting part of this track is when there is a narration just before the song ends. The music of this album is very similar in nature from one track to another. "All We Have Is The Past", for example, is in similar style with others. Performed in relatively slow tempo, the interlude part reminds me to the structure of King Crimson's "I Talk To The Wind". I think the flutework that makes me think that way. The vocal style reminds me also to PFM especially in "Chocolate Kings" album.

This band also good in combining various instruments to build a compelling nuance of the music created. "For Eternity" may fall into this category. With nice introduction of acoustic guitar and keyboard, this track moves in crescendo from long acoustic guitar - keyboard duets. The opening part reminds me to the psychedelic adventures, supported with ambient and nice melody. It also gives symphonic nuance that brings beautifully into lyrical verses. The first singing part gives a nuance similar to seventies music like Trapeze (Glenn Hughes band prior to joining Deep Purple). I like the interlude part with two guitars play intertwiningly with the support of mellotron work. Oh yeah, you might sense an influence of King Crimson as well right here with this track.

Do you know Dutch blues band Livin' Blues who had its glory days in seventies? Or Climax Chicago Blues Band? If so, listen to track 4 "Leaving Chicago" and you would have a great joy of the seventies music. The combination of rock'n'roll singing style, southern rock guitar sound (which sometimes being played in sliding technique) and piano work gives a nice harmony in happy-go-lucky mood. It's a simple track with nearly no prog elements at all - but it's enjoyable.

If you really love vintage rock .

.this album is definitely yours. You would get everything you might expected: the sounds of the seventies that you might have been longing for; especially if you never heard this album before. You would be brought by the music into the seventies nuance and it might reminds tyou to bands like King Crimson, Livin' Blues, Climax Chicago Blues Band or even Trapeze (especially "Medusa" album). If you get used to modern prog music, you might still be able to enjoy this album. I leave it up to you to decide but I humbly say that this album is an excellent addition to any rock music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#98282)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Unlike my previous nostalgic reviews, like those of City Boy or Chase, Popol Ace is actually a rather recent addition to my album collection. I was introduced to this wonderful treasure of early Norwegian Prog while traveling to the Oslo Prog two day festival, exactly a year ago. Still, it's really difficult for me to talk about this band's music without somehow feeling highly nostalgic about their sound. I guess that nostalgia can come in many different shapes and forms without necessarily being nostalgic to begin with! Sometimes all it takes are a few familiar notes, a certain melodic hook or just the use of a Mellotron!

This was the the band's debut release under the name Popol Vuh. Released by Polydor in 1972, the album became a minor hit in Norway but that was as far as the popularity of the band spread. Quite unfair considering the great album that it actually was! Yes, the music can sometimes get into a blues sounding jam and the huge versatility between the different compositions does make this release sound highly uneven as a whole. Still, there's really no denying that Popol Vuh were at the right time, but unfortunately not in the right place with their musical ambitions. Compositions like For Eternity and Medicine bear a clear resemblance to Foxtrot, which was released by Genesis during that same year. Unfortunately this was before the time of globalization and Internet was around, meaning that the word of mouth had to carry the band's music to different regions in order for it to be acknowledged by a wider audiences and that just never happened for Popol Ace.

Tracks like Joy And Pleasure and Sucklin' Pig rely on groovy instrumental arrangements which some people will consider to be the most progressive moments of this album. I, on the other hand, consider the two ballads All We Have Is The Past and For Eternity performed beautifully by Jahn Teigen, to carry the magnitude that is required to be called prog. It's a pity that his voice is not exhibitioned in all of its glory throughout the rest of the album, but this would change over time.

A great debut album by one of the forgotten heroes of Progressive Rock-era of the '70s that should not be missed out on!

***** star songs: All We Have Is The Past (4:29) For Eternity (5:36)

**** star songs: Hunchback (4:08) Joy And Pleasure (3:32) Sucklin' Pig (4:22) Medicine (8:02)

** star songs: Leavin' Chicago (3:53)

Report this review (#440895)
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Truly a 70's gem.

This is the debut album from Popol Ace(then called Popol Vuh) from 1972. The first time I heard it, it really did not appeal to me, but after bying it some years later, the album have really grown on me, and have become a personal Prog favorite of mine.

For starters it's a great Mellotron album, and a great vocal album. Jan Teigen is one of the great Norwegian Rock-vocalists, and is relentless here. Great drama & power in his singing, almost singing in Opera-style sometimes.

The opening track "Hunchback" is a CLASSIC Progressive tune, blending Jazz and Classical into the rock mix, with fluteparts a la Ian Anderson. Many different tempo changes and timing in this awesome tune, which is my favorite track on the album.

"Joy and Pleasure" is the next song out, a typical 70's funk/Rock song. Not bad, but not so good either.

"All we have is the past" follows, and is a beautiful ballad a la Crimson's "Epitaph" and Genesis' "Seven Stones". Great lushing Mellotron, and excellent, emotional vocals from Teigen.

"Leavin' Chicago" is the weakest track on the album. A kind of Honky-Tonk Blues/Rock tune that's not particulary good.

"For eternity" is great, mostly instrumental parts and very little singing. Excellent Mellotron-Chello and flute here, in a very atmospheric piece.

"Sucklin' Pig" is a Jazzy, psychedelic rock instrumental in 7/8 rythm. Cool Fusion-drumming and psychedelic jazz playing on Rhodes piano and on flute. Great tune.

"Medicine" is the final track, and is a hard rock/Prog/Psych song with lots of atmosphere and cool psychedelic guitar solo to great effect. Awesome singing again from Teigen, and Mellotron on many of the parts. Epic.

I can only give this album 4 stars because the album is not excellent the whole way through, but the songs that ARE good, are really good ones. I recommend all Proggers to give it a listen.

Report this review (#458423)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This debut album from Norwegians POPOL VUH (later POPOL ACE) has been a tough one to track down. Originally released on vinyl by Polydor in 1972 it didn't have it's cd release until 2003. Those copies have been long gone so thankfully it was re-issued again last year. What made me so anxious to get it was the advertised abundance of mellotron and of course that early seventies progressive sound. Well I must admit i'm a little disappointed with it. Half of it is really well done while the other half I would describe as below average. All according to my tastes of course.

"Hunchback" has a fantastic intro with mellotron as the vocals come in. The flute rips it up after 2 minutes then the vocals return. Marching styled drums after 3 minutes as spoken words join in. Good song. "Joy And Pleasure" is almost funky with Wetton- like vocals. Flute too and vocal melodies come and go. Nice instrumental interlude with guitar. Two excellent tracks to start. "All We Have Is The Past" opens with reserved vocals and mellotron. It starts to build but then settles back again. Not a fan at all of this one. "Leavin' Chicago" is a fairly bluesy number. Not a fan.

"For Eternity" has picked guitar and flute early on. It picks up some. Guitar before 2 minutes and vocals follow as it settles. It continues to change. Not a fan. "Sucklin' Pig" is much better. I like the rhythm here with flute. Electric piano before 2 minutes. I'm digging this one. It's my favourite. "Medicine" is nice and heavy with flute over top as the vocals join in. Nice guitar before 1 1/2 minutes that goes on and on.Vocals are back after 3 minutes. A drum/flute melody follows then synths and mellotron. Guitar after 5 1/2 minutes then it settles down. Vocals follow.

3 stars for this one. Maybe they tried to mix things up too much. It certainly has it's moments though.

Report this review (#754602)
Posted Thursday, May 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Good Norwegian group from Oslo, formed in early-70's out of the ashes of Arman Sumpe Dur Express with Pete Knutsen (keyboards, guitar), Arne Schultze (guitar), Terje Methi (bass) and Thor Andreassen (drums) continuing on Popol Vuh.They were joined in 1972 by singer Jahn Teigen and flutit/sax player Pjokken Eide.The self-titled debut of the band saw the light in 1972 on Polydor.

This was an album of mixed yet always progressive-influenced sounds with ''Hunchback'' being the absolute opener, fairly symphonic with great doses of Mellotron and a great nostalgic style reminiscent of early KING CRIMSON and ENGLAND.''Joy & Pleasure'' sounds quite funky, still has plenty of adventurous moments and is close to mid-70's PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI stylings with an enjoyable atmosphere.A CRESSIDA/FANTASY/GRACIOUS influence is present on ''All We Have Is the Past'', good combination of Mellotron, soft piano, acoustic textures and moog synths in a laid-back track with warm vocals.''Leavin' Chicago'' is very weak, a track seemingly written for promotional purposes, very funky with an evident American flavor, led by the piano of Pete Knutsen.

The British color of the band returns in the flipside with ''For Eternity'', soft Progressive Rock with a FRUUPP/CRESSIDA aura, nice psychedelic guitars, big Mellotron and flute sounds and a strong Classical influence throughout.''Sucklin' Pig'' sees the band turning into a more jazzy- oriented style, completely indtrumental with swirling synths and flute solos, very interesting stuff.The long ''Medicine'' is another fine composition.The heaviest track on the album proposes a good mix of guitar-based Heavy Rock with JETHRO TULL-like flute parts and GENESIS-like moog synth passages.

The album has been CD re-issued many years later again by Polydor and is sure to please all fans of Classic 70's Progressive Rock, despite lacking the killer track.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#803730)
Posted Monday, August 13, 2012 | Review Permalink

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