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5 stars Excellent release from this exceptional band. The keyboard combinations, arrangements and solos are fantastic, after all they were played by a master, Mr. Rick Van Der Linden. Very good bass and drums also. The weakest point is the vocals, which are rare but a little naif. If you like Triumvirat or even ELP, you should buy this cd. A conceptual album, very interesting and very contagious. A true masterpiece.
Report this review (#7324)
Posted Friday, September 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is the third and last release of the Dutch band TRACE. Although the band's name is TRACE, the line-up resembles EKSEPTION much more than TRACE (with Peter de LEEUWE on drums, Cor DEKKER on bass, Dick REMELINK on sax, all three former members of the old EKSEPTION). As such, it sounds much more like an EKSEPTION album than a TRACE album, classical themes interspersed with rock and jazz. With this album Rick deviates from the original TRACE concept, which was completely keyboard dominated, and he introduces sax, strings as well as a female singer (Hetty SMIT). Thus, the album sounds very different from the previous TRACE albums, the music is more structured and refined, and the 'wild' element is restrained in favour of nuance and melody. The Dutch folklore story of the White Ladies is the source of inspiration for this album, which starts out with a narrative accompanied by strings. Most of the music is written by Rick van der LINDEN, but he has not forgotten to incorporate themes from Beethoven as well: in the song 'Pathetique' and 'The Rescue' Rick uses themes from Beethoven's 8th and 3rd sonata for piano. In the tracks 'Dance of the White Ladies' and 'Witches' Dance' the 'wild' element steps into the spotlight, while in tracks like 'Doubts', 'Surrender' and 'Conclusion' the wild element leaves the spotlight to the melody. There are moments when the drums lack punch and imagination, and at these times the absence of the original TRACE drummer Pierre van der LINDEN is felt. But, all in all, this is a very balanced album, and I found it highly enjoyable. This release of the original album on CD is (like the other two albums from TRACE) done in an excellent way by the MUSEA team, with detailed documentation about the history of the band and its leader, Rick van der LINDEN.
Report this review (#7325)
Posted Sunday, September 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Lost, elaborate conceptual gem

I was flabbergasted to see that not a single Collab had written about this symphonic gem yet. This is a charming and very ambitious storybook prog album that is immaculately assembled with great sound and superb performances. Nineteen short tracks tell the story of the "White Ladies" with a rich grandiosity that classic European symphonic was famous for, and yet it embraces good melody and appropriate storytelling rather than going for bombast of ELP. The closest comparison might be something like Triumvirat's "Sparticus" album. The emphasis is on the music, the story, and a certain amount of folksy charm comes through because of the approach. Oh there's still plenty of complexity and hot playing but rarely at the expense of the album's mission. Trace had lost key members after the previous album and Rick van Der Linden was eager for a change, to bring in more musicians and shift the direction to a more nuanced blend of rock, jazz, and classical. He ended up picking up past members of Ekseption and even a second keyboardist so that he could experiment with "multiple musical exchanges, sounds, and themes." With a great new line-up in place he was walking alone on a foggy night when he thought of an old folk tale about the White Ladies from the Dutch province of Gelderland in the middle ages. The story is about a farmer's wife who is tricked by spirit figures from the hills to leave her family and live the carefree gypsy-like lifestyle and his attempt to get her back.

This music is intentionally slower and more serene than previous Trace albums, which was not well received by all of their fans, many of whom preferred the flashy keyboard whiz Rick instead. This album almost seems to aim more for fans of painstakingly crafted smoothness like "The Snow Goose" where romantic themes recur and take their time. There are some vocals and narration and yet the album is still largely instrumental. Rick uses moog, piano, other synths and the clavinet with total control. Dekker and Leeuwe present an equally disciplined rhythm section but the bass especially is often quite up front and enjoyable. "Back Home" even throws in some outstanding saxophone work courtesy of Dick Remelink. There is very little guitar which is a bit disappointing to me as I think it could have added even more to the mix. So should you check out the White Ladies? Well think of it like this. If you need a harder edge to your prog you can pass on this one. However, if you love something like The Snow Goose, and can envision it with less lead guitar and more prominent flowery keyboards, they you definitely need to check this one out. It just might deliver that slightly mystical and whimsical classical prog experience from the heart of the '70s. Personally, I very much enjoy and appreciate this charming, well-made album but not quite enough to award the big 4th star. The Musea reissue features good sound quality and an excellent bio of the time period. 7/10

Report this review (#172088)
Posted Saturday, May 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the more classic album of progressive rock. If the story narrated is not good, the music is very classical with piano, keyboards, clavicorn and a good drums in all parts. It's a orquestral in some parts, a fusion jazz in anothers, and the final result is for me, the best album of this Deutch band. You can listening a litle part, with a classical guitar, and this album is more from the virtuosism of piano and keiboards players. Don't listening the story but listening the music. Not recomended for metal lover's of corse, but very high recomended for those that like CLASSICAL PROGRESSIVE ROCK. It's a very inspired album
Report this review (#186978)
Posted Sunday, October 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars White Ladies, a great album which is just not for me...

This album is a concept album, with tracks following one another, a concept similar to Nektar's Journey to the Center of the Eye, but I have to say, Trace's White Ladies does not compare to Journey to the Center of the Eye....

I like this album, it has a lot of good songs, but more bad songs in total. The album sounds sort of loose around the last 6 tracks, which is not how an album should sound, ESPECIALLY a prog album.

I really like songs like Doubts and Legend Part II, but songs like Meditation and Conclusion aren't all that great. This album has it's moments, but not always, which is sort of dissappointing.

I have always liked Rick van der Linden, he's a good musician, I'm just saying it's sad seeing him play on this album.

I thik the sound could have been better, as the vintage sound of 70's dutch prog is very appealling to me, but on this album, it sort of let me down and out.

Albums can be good, even great sometimes, but this does not fit any of these stats here...

2/5. Too many bad tracks, too little good tracks, no matter how good they were.

Report this review (#229876)
Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Surely there was a reason why Rick van der Linden stated this album as one of his plus Trace instead of a full-swing Trace album per se (as were the other two albums): most likely, the reason was that he embraced the project of this concept album as a solo endeavor and, while arranging and producing the written material, he found himself a part of a collective effort instead of being the creator of a proper solo album. This is my speculation and I accept I could be totally ignorant about the historical facts surrounding "The White Ladies". But, focusing on the album itself, I must acknowledge that I label it as the less strong compositionally of the Trace repertoire. Lacking the energy of the debut album and the graceful dynamics of "Birds", one could say that the best hopes for "The White Ladies" to become a good prog album should lie on the level of achievement of that sort of grandiosity that is expected from a concept- album. Grandiose this album is, so it is artistically successful in its own terms. Ven der Linden's adequate vision of the use of orchestral ornaments and backgrounds for most of the pieces comprised in "The White Ladies" makes the whole endeavor worth praising, even if it fails to match the symphonic excellence of prior works. Pieces such as 'Confrontation', 'Dance of the White Ladies' and 'Witches' Dance' manage to portray a catchy approach to the exact standard of symphonic prog, while the lovely adaptation of Beethoven's 'Pathétique' and the even lovelier Ven der Linde-penned 'Meditation' stand out as moving compositions, both filled with an exquisitely romantic vibe. Other romantic-oriented pieces such as 'Doubts', 'Surrender' and 'Conclusion' do not reach the same level of emotional drive, but they work OK as continuations of the album's overall concept. I have the feeling that the 'Conclusion' isn't worked on to its full potential, since the melodic basis hints at the story's sad end quite appropriately, but the final arrangement only states a portion of the dramatic atmosphere. There is another Beethoven adaptation here - 'The Rescue', which happens to be a bizarre yet effective refurbishment of chamber music in a funky-driven symphonic framework. 'Back Home' stays somewhere between the joyful and the melancholic: it has a nice motif going on, but I don't find it completely elaborated either. Conclusion: I find "The White Ladies" a very good symphonic prog album. More pleasant than brilliant, not equalling the beauty of other Van der Linden's works, but still, worth having in your prog collection.
Report this review (#236992)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hi hello ...! I have been so long not writing any review and this time I have a strong reason to write regardless my tight schedule. Well's about the music that colored my world when I was a teenager and I was so eager with prog and rock music at that time. It was triggered by a an event we called it as ProgRing (progressive gathering) which already the fifth recently conducted in Jakarta. A friend of mine (a proghead, of course) by the name of Yuddi brought me a CD of this legendary album by TRACE. Why do I call it legendary? It was part of the prog music that I listened to in the seventies where all of my collection was in the form of cassette. Unfortunately my cassette was not in quite good quality so that I could only grab 70% (approximately) of the whole album content. But one thing for sure, there was one song that was very popular at that time in my country: "Confrontation" .... oh man what a fabulous and wonderfully crafted song this one is! I have been searching so long to find the CD and only recently I found my friend Yuddi brought it to me. Once I reached home I played the CD repeatedly and until now I am still playing it as I really want to fulfill what has been missing so far with one of my favorite vintage prog rock album. Thanks a lot Bro Yuddi for giving me a chance to return back to the glory days of prog rock in the seventies, the time when I rode my bicycle wherever I go. And now I still ride a bicycle ? that means I have no progress in equipping myself with better, state-of-the-art vehicle as a transportation means.

Excellent Concept

By that time I was quite familiar with the Dutch's EKSEPTION fame where Rick van der Linden was one of the key forces in the band. Mid seventies was the time when Rick career was at his peak. The fact that his name was put separate from the name of TRACE gave us a signal that this album was personally driven by Rick van Der Linden who is a maestro in keyboard playing. The story was actually adopted from the Dutch' medieval age story about ghosts called "The White Ladies" which were described as driving whomever being kept by the ladies someone will dance forever throughout walks of life, forgetting about the world. It's quite a fascinating story.

I always consider this album comprises two long songs, actually, that were put on two sides of the LP; in every song there are many movements like in the classical music. Rick is basically a classical music influenced musician whereby in this album he refers on Beethoven's. I always listen to this album in its entirety because I do not want to lose the context of the concept album; it's like watching a movie, how can you stop in the middle?

Musically, this is an excellent album as the composition is strong in five major components that I usually look for in any prog album. Melody-wise, I can bet that most of you would like this album as most movements have their beauties in the melody side. On harmony, even though the music is predominantly comprising inventive keyboard-work, the combined instrument work is excellent too. I can notice the bass playing is really excellent, played by Cor Dekker. The music flows beautifully from soft piano work at the opening track followed by a very good narration that sets the overall tone of the story. As "Confrontation" is my long-time ever favourite, I find "Doubts" (which later came into the Ekseption's 78 album) is very interesting as well. The Hammond organ work reminds me to Procol Harum .... it's really nice. Even though the music is not that complex, overall, but there are many tempo changes throughout the movements and sometimes there are elements of jazz inserted also, like those after "Doubts". On the last mark, i.e. the structural integrity I find this album is excellent as well. The whole movements in the album form a cohesive whole. While listening to the album I am imagining if the plot has ever been made in the form of the drama where there are many parts with dance style.

It's classic, it's legendary, and ?it's excellent!

Overall, you should not miss this album because of the music and also the history whereby this album was one of the legendary concept albums like you find with Genesis "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" or Yes "Tales from Topographic Ocean" or Jethro Tull "Thick As A Brick" and other prog concept albums. You must have a copy of this album if you really want to know the complete history of progressive music. Keep on proggin' .. JRENG!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#276062)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Trace's swansong was a concept album about a farmer's wife who is spirited away from her home by the spectral White Ladies of the title to live a wild and carefree life with them. Her husband considers her to have been abducted, and sets off to rescue her, but even once she is brought home she eventually decides to leave to join the White Ladies again, though it is unclear whether this was really her choice.

The story, as outlined above, is communicated in a rather heavy-handed way at the start of each side of the album, with Legend Part 1 and Legend Part 2 consisting of Harry Schafer's rather monotonous narration over the band's playing, leaving the rest of each side to consist of mostly-instrumental keyboard showboating on the part of band leader Rick van der Linden. Hetty Smit's vocals at one point on the album are a high point for me, but on the whole the album doesn't quite manage to hold my attention all the way through. It's on a par with the other Trace albums really - a great pick if you want an album based around showing off van der Linden's keyboard skills, but I don't personally feel it holds up to repeated listens.

Report this review (#551510)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2011 | Review Permalink

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