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2 stars BEWARE!, folks interested in progressive rock! This rare record has not much to do with that! Moreover the band's name (spelled with a 'k') should not be mixed up with the Swiss band CIRCUS who did the great album "Movin' On" four years later. Actually for me it looks rather odd to have both in the same category supporting once again the idea to consider ART ROCK as a kinda "grocer store" which is really not justified especially since it had been revaluated just recently by the addition of bands like VDGG,KC or Gentle Giant.

I've been heard already since a while that there was an English band with this name existing in the 70s and just for curiousity I was looking for them and now finally I was able to borrow the remastered CD (luckily I did not have to spend any precious bucks). So what type of music we can listen to here? I would say rather 60s alike sounding simple albeit nicely orchestrated songs to be compared let's say with some of the early work of ELO. Actually overall very nice to listen but definitely sounding too much dated for the year of 1973. Probably the only track eventually deserving the term ART ROCK (in the original meaning that was nothing else than Progressive Rock) would be the one called "Title track" which is as well the longest one and subdivided into two parts. But I doubt that just this song is sufficient to make the album worth buying for a prog fan. The bonus tracks on the CD are by the way not worth mentioning at all.

Only interesting for the general collector of 60s/70s music! (Thus an undoubtful case for a 2-star rating, at least on this place here!)

Report this review (#79158)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars (2,5 *) Dieter's review is not clearly 'wrong' anyhow, but I'd like to give a little more positive insight to this curiosity. I borrowed it 2 years ago without ANY knowledge about the band, but as soon as I had listened to it I categorized it as prog/art rock of the minor league and as a good example of the big amount of mostly one-album arty British groups of the early 70's. And that obscure field is always very interesting to visit and sometimes quite rewarding too - although I wouldn't risk my own money with it. The CIRKUS' music didn't hit me like e.g. SPRING and CRESSIDA had done, but I liked it generally. The singer Paul Robson is quite OK if you don't mind a bit naive emotional character in his singing, and the band's sound is pleasant; yes, it is dated for the year '73 (it even has some Mellotron that was beginning to be passé, sadly) but so what. Often it is the datedness that appeals to old school progholes.

My thought of this being recognizably prog (lesser but anyway) is based more on the sound and arty arrangements than the composition structure, which isn't exactly mindblowing or 'progressive' in the strict sense. I must confess my memory of the album is now limited to only a few tracks. 'Seasons' and 'Song for Tavish' I remember liking, and the soft songs 'Prayer' and 'Jenny'. The former has a spiritual feeling and the latter tells of a woman who wants to become friends with a kid in the playground cos she can't have own children. Your imagination can continue the story even into a psychotic kidnapping thriller if you like. The bonus tracks didn't impress me if I remember right. But all in all an album worth hearing if you get a chance.

Report this review (#79164)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This album showcases the problems with the current rating on Prog Archives because my rating alternates between a 2 star possibility ("for fans only") and 3 stars ("good but not essential"). In my opinion it does harm to this album if I categorize it as 2 stars but giving it 3 stars could mislead progheads while reading the review. So I rate it with 2,5 stars and I will tell you why. As a huge fan of the Early British Progressive Rock Movement (bands like Gracious, Rare Bird, Julian's Treatment, Spring and Beggar's Opera), I was very curious to this album so I bought the original LP many years ago (so I have not heard the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue). In that time it was a kind of 'cult album', in my opinion that's the reason why in general the expectations towards this album are a bit high, also with me when I listened to it. To me this album sounds as pleasant variant on the abovementioned bands but less compelling and less interesting. The vocals are OK, we can enjoy some waves of the unsurpassed Mellotron and the climates sound warm but I miss a spark, only at some moments I got a bit excited. My conclusion: don't expect progrock at the level of Beggar's Opera, Spring or Gracious, just enjoy this fine music if you want to be pleased by the very distinctive sound of the early Seventies British Progressive Rock Movement. And now I have to click on 3 stars .. I just explained you why.
Report this review (#79167)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars What some people say about this album proves that McCartney was true when he wrote "Some People Never Know." To compare Cirkus and their hugely expensive album to the music of The Beatles may not be wrong, but the group took late 60s influences and melded them together with symphonic keyboards, soaring guitars, and bombastic vocals into something definitely of the prog era, in the context of short songs. When I really listened to this album it took about two seconds for me to love it, but I wondered could anything match that first track "You Are?" Well it does, in fact though that is the best thing on here the group had a formula that worked very much to their benefit and made them sound somewhere between Yes (Paul Robson's voice is so close to Jon Anderson's that it is unearthly) and Fantasy with a little bit of Gabriel era Genesis and a lot of Bowie as well. Every track here is outstanding, the unique vocals and strong melodies augmented by virtuoso musicianship from the guitarist, drummer, keyboard player, and bass guitar player (very good!). A bit of a strange vibe is present on this album in that Cirkus sound like a late 70s pomp rock band without the bad elements of self indulgence and obnoxious posturing that eventually drove even the greatest pomp bands into an unlistenable quagmire (I HATE Kansas and Starcastle so much I won't even review them). "You Are" is really heavy and really loud, but melodic. The rest of the album is melodic progressive rock with lots of string arrangements, where did they get the budget as an unknown group to record this and why wasn't a major label interested? Cirkus have a great singer, that helps, they also have bizarre lyrics that are sometimes unintentionally funny and sometimes intentionally disturbing (anti war track "Brotherly Love"). Cirkus has been one of my very favourite progressive albums for years and yes I would call it a masterpiece of progressive music. The old 80s reissue is good enough, you won't or at least I haven't found an original. The bonus tracks on the CD aren't as good as the album as far as the later ones go, but "The Heaviest Stone" and "Castles" are great if you can get past the execrable sound quality (remember it was only a demo tape). This album is brilliant, I love it and would advise you not listen to your "friends" and make up your mind for yourself. You may be surprised, even delighted by what you will find. A masterwork, that's without question!
Report this review (#79264)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars This Northeast England Geordie group had just one self-released album, which had become very sought-after by collectors. Indeed this might just be one of the most impressive private release albums ever in terms of production. The quintet (a the standard prog quartet plus Robson as the singer) develops a light rock with some light prog twist and heavy ever-present orchestrations that sort of enhance the compositions (some good concise songwriting), but also renders the rock side of the album unbearably light. Graced with a spacey artwork, the gatefold album actually leads you a bit in error, because of the nine short tracks (all loaded with a heavy- handed orchestra, present on ALL tracks), in majority written by their drummer, are never really far away from possible wide radio- airplay, precisely because of the lush sounding strings.

Most of the tunes are extremely catchy, especially the opening You Are and Those Were the days, as well as the more serious Seasons (penned by keyboardist Miller) and Brotherly Love; but this is nevertheless a prog album as there are clear influences from Yes, Crimson (but not the sombre side of the group) and some other UK proto-prog ala Cressida or Spring. However, there are some sugar-bombs that provoke cavities in the proghead's dentition, such as the overly sweet Jenny and the catchier Song For Tavish (sounding lifted from Bowie). Of the album, clearly the highlight is the two-part 7-min+ Title Track (yes that's its name), where the group shows short signs of upping the ante, but it is quickly calmed down, but picks up again a bit later. Clearly McDade's drums are having a ball on most of the album, but particularly on this track.

While it is hard to call such an album essential, I feel like giving it fourth star, partly because of the extremely positive moods (not always the case with the lyrics, but the music is certainly so) of the album, but also partly because some of my colleague reviewers should maybe get another ear on this little baby. Never heard the bonus tracks.

Report this review (#127396)
Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Great, just great with one strange trick(s)y thing, bonus tracks are sometimes even better than "real deal", album ones. Depends on what you seek. If it's prog, quite good deal of it (forget about year where this was released, because it more like fits into late 60's with overall feeling (except some more modern elements). Never mind it, that doesn't matter to me much (don't crucify me please), but this album is so much full of emotions, beautiful melodies (Flagship of this topic is April 73) and so dense atmosphere of optimistic sound colors that you then may be struck back by symphonic orchestra arrangements. And playfulness, just listen to guitar on A Prayer, which is really "nice-guy" track amongst other pleasant ones. Welcome to Pleasantville I would say. Including organ "orgasms" (sorry for pun, it was irresistible). Brotherly Love is somehow worse, not managing to attract my attention so much. Even worse, I didn't feel so good while listening it. Probably bad riff or something, nothing big. Those Were the Days is better, but I don't like lyrics (therefore theme of the song - meaning). Title track with name Title Track is quite thrilling, almost reminding "Red Queen to Gryphon Three", doesn't it ?

4(+), amused, charmed, satisfied.

Report this review (#266618)
Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "One" is the debut full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Cirkus. The album was released through RCB (Projects) Ltd. in 1974. The original album featured 9 tracks but there are a couple of CD reissues available containing bonus tracks.

The music on the album is progressive rock but of the more commercial sounding and accessible kind. The tracks are generally not very long and pretty much follow regular vers/chorus structures. In addition to bass, guitar, and drums there are lots of mellotron on the album and also some orchestration. The vocals by Paul Robson are smooth and pleasant. So while this is typically labelled progressive rock this sometimes has more in common with commercial pop/rock than it has with progressive rock.

The material are generally well composed and the sound production is professional, detailed, and well sounding too. In addition to that the musicianship is on a high level throughout, so from a compositional/production/performance perspective "One" is a decent enough album. It´s all a bit cheesy 70´s kitchy though, and I can´t help to cringe with embarrasment a couple of times during the playing time.

Cirkus lands themselves between two chairs here, as they are probably not progressive enough and a bit too easily accessible to entertain a progressive rock audience, but they are also too progressive inclined to be played in commercial pop/rock radio. That´s not always an issue and several other artists have pulled that off over the years, but Cirkus lacks conviction and credibility. Still a 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating isn´t all wrong, as "One" is still a professional sounding product.

Report this review (#269133)
Posted Monday, March 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars CIRKUS were a quintet of Geordies from Sunderland in the north-east of England. Cirkus' opening act in their big top performance came in 1974 with their "One" album. Another two decades would pass by before Cirkus re-emerged in the arena with their second album "Two - The Global Cut" in 1994, followed by a third album "III - Pantomyme" in 1998. Cirkus weren't quite finished yet though because they had one more final performance left in their repertoire with "IV - The Blue Star", released as recently as 2017. It's the opening 1974 act we're focusing on here though, which was re-issued on CD in 2015 with two bonus tracks added to the original nine songs on the album.

Cirkus have conjured up an incredible acrobatic performance of a lifetime with the exhilarating opening number "You Are". It's a booming and bombastic explosion of powerful prog that's unashamedly pompous and anthemic. The magnificent music features a rousing female chorus, repeatedly chanting "You Are" in perfect harmony over this fully orchestrated symphonic epic. There's also the gorgeous sound of a Mellotron to be heard underlaying the music, which adds to the sense of symphonic spendour and glorious majesty. If this bravura opening performance is anything to go by, then we could be in for a rather special treat indeed in the big top arena of Cirkus. The next spectacular act is "Seasons", a marvellous Mellotron melody balancing on a delicate high-wire of lush strings which wash over the listener in a tremendous rush of permanent waves of symphonic pleasure and delight. "Seasons" is a haunting, melancholic refrain that's in the same stellar league as the Mellotron classic "Epitaph" by King Crimson, with the Cirkus singer blessed with the same rich honeyed tones as the gifted and much- missed vocalist Greg Lake. "Seasons" is a gorgeous sunburst of dazzling anthemic power and epic grandeur that's guaranteed to brighten up the dullest of days. It's back to "April '73" now for our third Cirkus act. "April '73" is a very commercially appealing song with definite smash hit potential, if only it had been given the chance to grace the airwaves by being released as a single. There are obvious parallels to be drawn with Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra in this sensational string symphony of sound. The splendid year of 1973 is generally recognised as being the ultimate high-point of Progressive Rock, and you can hear why when you listen to the superb Cirkus performance here. Our fourth act "Song for Tavish" is a wondrous story of love and romance, where the lovelorn singer goes into full heart-wrenching emotional overdrive in this powerful symphonic ballad. He's able to conjure up powerful emotions and tug at the heart-strings in the same way as Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, and this song does indeed sound somewhat reminiscent of their classic "Nights in White Satin". Just as Barclay James Harvest recorded their rousing and anthemic masterpiece "Poor Man's Moody Blues", this Cirkus song represents a less well-known but equally good resemblance to the classic Moody Blues epic. Save a prayer now, because "A Prayer" is the title of the stirring paean which brings Side One to a thrilling climax. This powerfully impassioned, devotional song opens deceptively gently as a lilting Folk Rock refrain, but then blossoms out magnificently into a majestic symphony of epic proportions with truly awesome power and magnificent grandeur. WoW!! This is a rousing and stupendous celebratory song of praise and worship, the likes of which you may never have heard before. The rather mundane "Songs of Praise" on Sunday television will never be the same again!

It's time for some "Brotherly Love" now, a storm and thunder hard rocker that's the heaviest song so far on the album. It's always a delicate balancing act in juggling the right combination of "hard" and "soft" songs for an album, but Cirkus have mastered the art to perfection in this sensational album of thrilling trapeze performance acts/songs. We're getting all nostalgic now with "Those Were The Days", and the early seventies were indeed the glorious days when prog ruled the music world. This invigorating and uplifting explosion of psychedelic Prog-Rock will take you right back to those wonderful glamour and glitz days of Afghan coats, flared jeans, platform boots and Iron Butterfly flowers and beads. This is a song that's positively bursting at the seams with flower-power love and a desperate yearning for magical times gone by. It's only when you look back, you realise what a wonderful time the seventies were for music lovers, despite what some cynical music journos might say, but then, what do they know!? Enough reminiscing, it's time to meet "Jenny", a charming Pop song to add to Cirkus' stunning repertoire of great songs. This beautifully-produced melody is given the full symphony of strings treatment, guaranteed to carry you blissfully away on a #9 Dream to Seventh Heaven. The final song is simply called "Title Track" divided into "i. Breach" and "ii. Ad Infinitum". Cirkus fully intended to make this a truly unforgettable grand symphonic epic to linger in the memory, forever and ever, amen, and they've achieved that with spectacular style and panache. This has to be one of the most marvellous symphonic epics EVER to close an album!

Cirkus have given the big top performance of a lifetime with this "One" outstanding album!

Report this review (#2313464)
Posted Friday, February 7, 2020 | Review Permalink

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