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GOD BLESS

God Bless

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Gatot
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4 stars Phew! Finally . I had a chance to add another Indonesian band. Many more to come!! This album by God Bless remarked the existence of rock music in Indonesia, in which by that time young generation praised the music of world famous rockers like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, etc. God Bless had been the king of rock stage performance because in any rock festival their name was always there as headliner. God Bless was one of headliners during Summer 28 Festival (similar to Woodstock) held in Jakarta. After that the band played various concerts at different places, as cover band of Kansas, Queen, and Kin Ping Meh. That was okay as many other bands also played cover version. That's why, the release of this debut album was very critical in the history of Indonesian rock music. I have to admit that this album was heavily influenced by other bands like Genesis, Kansas, Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant. God Bless had changed their line-up quite frequently but the line-up which made up this debut album is I think the most solid one.

Huma Di Atas Bukit kicks the album off through stunning piano work by Yockie intertwined by Ian Antono's guitar fills in the vein of Genesis' Hackett. The intro is very melodic and catchy for most listeners, delivered through keyboard solo. Ahmad Albar deep voice enters the music elegantly and brings the music with the melody he sings excellently. This song is basically a ballad with simple structure and nice interlude demonstrating Ian Antono's guitar solo. Unfortunately, the influence of Genesis's "Selling England by the Pound" is quite strong so that there is similarity of melodies with "Firth of Fifth" interlude part. Lucky that when the first time I purchased this album I had never heard "Firth of Fifth" yet so I felt fine with it. This song was a soundtrack of local national movie "Laela Majenun". I feel like being peaceful listening to this song, really, despite the Genesis heavy influence.

Rock Di Udara means something like "rock in the air" and represents the situation in the 70s where there were dichotomy in Indonesian music scheme. I remember vividly that during the 70s there was music war between two different poles: those who praised rock'n'roll (represented by Benny Subardja of Giant Step - another Indonesian prog rock band) and those who praised local music called "dangdut" represented by H Rhoma Irama. The competition between these two poles were quite tense and reaching the edge especially with the existence of music magazine AKTUIL. Therefore, God Bless created "Rock Di Udara" which brought up peace in music. One of the lyrical verses mentioned: "Please respect the music that you do not praise." or something like that. The music of this song is very original and it has great composition and performance especially on the combined work of bass (Donny Fatah) and guitar (Ian Antono) augmented with keyboard work by Yockie. This is truly an excellent rocker that I'm sure you'd like it. You may want to observe tight basslines played by Donny Fatah - it's fantastic! Structure-wise, this song can be considered as progressive rock because of changes of style throughout the song even though it finally comes back to the original version. The keyboard solo by Yockie is also stunning. This is one of my favorite God Bless tracks.

Sesat is an easy listening rocker with excellent guitar and keyboard / organ work that accompany power vocal choirs led by Ahmad Albar, backed by Donny and Ian. Ian also performs excellent guitar solo while Donny delivers his dynamic bass lines. The song has excellent rhythm section and nice melody. Organ and keyboard play important roles as rhythm section as well as solo at the end of the song. It's quite original in terms of influences and I can say that this is THE music of God Bless.

Eleanor Rigby is a cover version of Lennon / McCartney's composition. It's quite clear that the song is prog by nature but I do not actually like the original version. The best arrangement so far for me is the one performed by Esperanto and the second one is the God Bless version. It's really excellent how God Bless rearrange the song in such a way that it's much proggier than the original version. There are many changes in tempo and melody throughout the song.

Gadis Binal is another rocker with nice rhythm section comprising guitar, keyboard and bass guitar with solid beats by drums. Even though the way Ian Antono plays his rhythm guitar is quite similar to the way Tomy Bolin played "Getting Tighter" with Deep Purple, this song is quite original from others' influences. Again, Donny demonstrates dynamic bass lines throughout the song.

Friday On My Mind is a cover of EasyBeat and the arrangement indicates strong influences of passages from Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick" and Genesis' "Dancing with The Moonlit Knight". Despite the issue of originality, this song is very enjoyable.

Setan Tertawa is my true favorite of God Bless tracks. It starts dynamically with dazzling drumwork by Teddy Sujaya followed with excellent guitar fills by Ian Antono backed with bass lines and drums. You might recall the similarity of the intro part with Gentle Giant's "Valedictory". Structure-wise, this song is definitely a prog rock music especially with the frequent changes in terms of styles and tempo. The song has energy, power and meaningful message to fight against evil which has influenced the life of youngsters through narcotics and gambling. There are transition pieces with complex arrangements that accompany the story and most of them happen unpredictably. Teddy Sujaya plays his best through this wonderful track. I have never felt getting bored enjoying this wonderful track.

She Passed Away closes the chapter wonderfully through a ballad with catchy melody. The song composition reminds me to "The Musical Box" by Genesis. Ahmad ALbar sings excellently throughout the song backed by Ian and Donny. It's a very enjoyable track for me personally.

Conclusion

It's not that I'm Indonesian so that I have to put all goody-goody things by this Indonesian band, but for sure this album is qualified as an excellent addition to any prog related music. Why prog related? Because I don't think this album is pure a prog album even though some tracks are. In addition to this, there has been a serious issue of originality that must be tackled wisely. The band had corrected their mistakes by remixing "Huma Di Atas Bukit", "She Passed Away" and "Setan Tertawa" in their other remaster series edition released under "The Story of God Bless". As far as play list concern, this album still one of my favorites as regular rock play list in my listening pleasure. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink

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