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Flamborough Head - Looking For John Maddock CD (album) cover

LOOKING FOR JOHN MADDOCK

Flamborough Head

Neo-Prog


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Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Holland is a small european country with a big (and well deserved) reputation concerning rock bands in general and prog groups in particular. Flamborough Head nowadays is one of the most interesting and powerful dutch essembles that carry the prog torch with pride. Although they face quite a big competition in their homeland, their music is still going strong and ever developing since their excellent debut in the mid 90´s. No two two FH sound too much alike and Looking For John Maddock is no exception.

As soon as I heard their new CD I knew it would take some spins to get used to it. The band´s sound is becoming more and more complex since the new millenium started. It is still quite melodic and accessible to many ears, I guess, but their elaborated, subtle arrangements show a fine tapestry of intricated, well crafted tunes that grow on you with each listening. Edo Spanninga´s keyboards lines and the band in general seem to be influenced by his side project Trion: half of the tracklist is composed solely by instrumentals. The strong use of the Hammond organ, Margriet Boomsma´s flute (more proeminent than ever) and the very fine guitar solos often reminded me of Focus in their 70´s heyday. Margriet´s slightly jazzy vocals are a bit underused but are highly effective when they do appear.

As usual Flamborough Head keeps the high standards: there are no fillers, each track a gem on itself, but the album highlight is doubtless the epic, 19 minute, title track. Never have they sounded so symphonic, elaborated and bold: starting with a unsual keyboard line, followed by a slow section with recorder and mellotron, it goes through many intrumental moods and changes, giving us some of the CDs best´and most emotional vocals and finishes with climatic guitar and keys interplay. After all those years the band shows what a tigh group of skilled musicians can do when faced with some strong songwriting. They make complex music disguised as simple, like only the great ones know how to deliver in the right doses.

My final rating was something very difficult to decide: it is hard to label it as a classic or essential masterpiece in such a short time after its release, especially when compared to the band´s already brilliant discography. On the other hand I cannot close my eyes (or ears) to its sheer quality. Between a 4,5 and 5 star rating, I´ll round it up to 5. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#229290)
Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Those interested in this band already know that Tarcisio is devoted fan of this band. He said his part, I'll say mine, much shorter this time than at two albums before. This time, I was firstly confused. This didn't sound how I expected it to sound, how I wanted it. But this is not how it works, this group progressed again. It's a good work and only time will prove if it's worthy masterpiece rating, but so far, I don't feel it. But it could achieve this status, this album has everything needed for this. And as always, this exactly is example of light side of neo-prog (where for example Marillion is dark side).

4(+), easy album to listening, it's opposite side of death metal, this one will be maybe hard to notice, but if you listen closely, you'll be rewarded. Anyway, more volume needed.

Report this review (#247299)
Posted Friday, October 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Only my second review of a Flamborough Head album and that's strange since this is a high profile Dutch progrock band playing neo hinted symphonic prog. So that should be my cup of tea really but somehow I don't quite click with this band. Sometimes it's because of the lyrics and it also has to do with the way the guitarist plays his instrument. I had this same problem with K2 where Alan Holdsworth did his job. Technically it was great but I didn't like the sound. And that's the same thing here. Eddy Mulder is a very fine guitarist but I like it more smooth and clear sounding and that's not the case here. But mind you, that's just a personal thing.

What I don't have a problem with is the instrumental and melodic aspect of the compositions in general. That is absolutely of the highest quality with this band, also on this album. But I do have a bit of a problem with the lyrics at moments. They sound very cliché and I can see the words coming at miles distance. Maybe it's not easy for a Dutch band to write original lyrics in English and maybe I'm making too much of a big deal out of it, but it just annoys me a bit.

So some positive and negative aspects here but surveying the whole thing the positive prevails in the end. The musicianship is marvellous (flute and other wind contributions !) and the melodic compositions are great and inventive and deserve much respect. I'm a bit ambivalent about Margriet's voice. On itself it's a great voice but again here my personal feel for it is just not quite there. Hard to explain sometimes but it is what it is, can't help it. But again, the positive aspects are so strong the balance is turning to the good side and I will give four in the end (3,75). Also because I have a strong feeling many progfans will enjoy this album.

Report this review (#249905)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Though I was quite taken with Defining the Legacy, I rather thought that subsequent Flamborough Head albums failed to really manifest any musical development over that one, and Looking For John Maddock hasn't rid me of that impression. It's decently performed neo- prog (with the slightly mediocre production quality which regularly seems to hamper the Head's albums), and there's some real neat instrumental performances on here, but on the whole it doesn't feel like anything that neo-proggers haven't heard a dozen times before from a dozen second-string bands. It's an entertaining listen but unless you are a particularly loyal Flamborough Head fan it probably isn't worth going out of your way to get.
Report this review (#743831)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Last week I bought an album by a Dutch band called Flamborough Head, a very nice album. I decided to write a review and what do I see? They are already visited by this poorish proggophobic bunch of daemacho, waeguk, pangrangja, marfish etc. Guess what? All gave two stars at about the same time. All give thousands of ratings in a couple of days' time. Isn't that remarkable? I have about 800 progrock albums and I have trouble keeping them all apart. I prefer listening and enjoying the albums I really love.

Anyway, I was agreeably surprised by the music on "Looking For John Maddock". You get a very pleasant Camelesque melodic symphonic rock, full of beautiful flute and recorder parts, a beautiful languish lead guitar and some nice mellow keyboard playing. The rhythm section seems a bit uneven in the first two tracks, but from there on, the problem is solved.

Flute player Margriet Boomsma has a pleasant clear voice and I also appreciated some nice a cappella passages. The larger part of the album is instrumental. My favourite tracks on the album are the instrumental "Spring" and the fantastic title track "Looking For John Maddock", the conclusion of a very fine album!

progpig66.

Report this review (#1255432)
Posted Friday, August 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Between 1997 and 2011 many progheads from a wide range of countries have attended the exciting Dutch Progfarm festival, Flamborough Head used to be the support act for the headliner because it was their home game in Friesland. The band got a lot of appreciation and that can also be traced in the many reviews and ratings about Dutch progrock pride Flamborough Head on Prog Archives.

Well, on their acclaimed album Looking For John Maddock (four years after their previous studio album Tales Of Imperfection) the combination of the flowing guitar work with beautiful flute sound and the lavish Hammond organ and frequent Minimoog-like synthesizer flights often brings Seventies Camel to my mind. And during the synthesizer solo halfway Don't Forget Us, prime mover Edo Spanninga even sounds as 'the second coming' of the late Peter Bardens!

But I don't mind because Flamborough Head plays wonderful, very melodic and harmonic symphonic rock: flowing shifting moods, pleasant accelerations and exciting work on vintage keyboards and guitar (from moving and howling runs to a delicate duel with a tin-whistle in Don't Forget Us).

The absolute highlight on Looking For John Maddock is the epic final composition that showcases Flamborough Head in its full splendour. It also features the most variety and musical ideas on this album: a bombastic climate with an up-tempo rhythm ... a Solaris-like part with flute and classical orchestrations ... beautiful electric guitar work ... lush vintage keyboards (including an eruption with a Moody Blues Mellotron sound) ... and finally a sensitive guitar solo with soaring Hammond organ. What an exciting conclusion of a very good album.

Another four years later Flamborough Head released their swansong entitled Lost In Time .. or isn't this their final effort? Well, read this info I took from their website.

"Between 2014 and 2016 Marcel and Gert decided it was time to move on; on bass we welcomed back our friend Eddie Mulder and on guitar Hans Spitzen joined the band. Hans was no stranger; on earlier occasions he had helped the band out. In the autumn of 2016 this new line up will work on a new album which we hope to release somewhere next year."

More news from their website:

"Twenty years after the first edition of ProgFarm (1997) OSKAR will release Flamborough Head - Live at ProgFarm 2006 (& Northern Prog Festival 2015) as a reminder of our fine festival. As a bonus disc our gig at The Northern Prog Festival 2015 is included. This double live cd will be available November 2017."

Report this review (#1884936)
Posted Tuesday, February 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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