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Eela Craig - One Niter CD (album) cover


Eela Craig

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars "One Niter" is widely regarded as their best album and stands up IMHO as one tremendous pieces of symphonic progressive rock. This album was actually their second release and followed a 5 year delay after the release of their classic debut album. This album is essentially made up of two side-long conceptual tracks ("Circles" and "One Niter Medley"). The music of EELA CRAIG is very much keyboard centric featuring a wide host of keyboards with lots of mellotron. EELA CRAIG play serene yet majestic and hauntingly beautiful themes with lots of Mellotron, flute, symphonic string synths and killer guitar work. The vocals are also well done and float along with the music in a very similar vein to that of CAMEL. On "One Niter", EELA CRAIG also blend in some slight funk-like themes into the symphonic fog and gives the listener something quite original to listen to.
Report this review (#1865)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars It took EELA CRAIG five years between full blown LPs. They did release a single in 1974 ("Stories"/"Cheese") that totally turned away from the bluesy/jazzy psych and prog of their debut, and was to define their symphonic prog sound of the late '70s (specifically "Hats of Glass" as both were re-recorded for that album). By 1976, they were finally recording for Vertigo Records in Germany, giving them exposure outside of Austria. The band now started going hog-wild on all sorts of equipment. The original LP shows the band members with all their gear on the back cover (an analog keyboard lover's dream come true). There's vocalist/keyboardist Hubert Bognermayr (hard to miss him since he was partially bald, although he was always like that, and he was still in his 20s when "One Niter" came out) with a Hammond organ, two VCS-3 synthesizers, a Wurlitzer electric piano, and a couple keyboards I can't recognize (looks like I see an RMI electric piano, but can't be sure). Bassist Gerhard Englisch is standing next to an amplifier, and two bass guitars are standing by it (including a Rickenbacker). Frank Hueber is seen playing his drum set. Vocalist and guitarist Fritz Riedelberger is seen holding a Gibson "The Les Paul", keyboardist/flautist Hubert Schnauer is seen standing next to a vibraphone, and a custom made Mellotron 400 courtesy of EMI, with a black top, and Harald Zuschrader is seen playing his Mini Moog, and although hard to see, I think it's a Hohner D-6 clavinet (as plent is used throughout the album). This photo is taken in some place in the countryside (I wouldn't mind living), with some overgrown vegetation, and some small valley down below. Love the picture of giant sculpture of a telephone, makes me wonder where that is, and if it's still there?

Well, not only was the band going hog-wild on their equipment, it also shows they now had three guys handling keyboard duty as well as the usual other prog rock gear. They were going for a more funky-brand of prog rock, often dominated by the clavinet. "Circles" is a four movement suite that starts off with some really loud and startling Mellotron brass, before things quiet down with some synthesizer and very pleasant flute. Then they go in to a killer jam dominated by clavinet and Moog. Then they go in to a gentle ballad. This is where the vocals first appear, courtesy of guitarist Fritz Riedelberger. Then they go back to the Mellotron and pick up speed. "Loner's Rhyme" is the track Hubert Bognermayer handles the vocal duties. The band goes in to an extended solo, including some great Moog solos and funky clavinet, as well as Hammond organ. "One Niter Medley" is a five movement suite, starts off with synthesizer and Mellotron, before you hear a short song from Bach with an experiment in phasing. After that the band goes in to funky jam, before mellowing out with string synths. "Venezuela" is a nice acoustic song with Fritz Riedelberger handling vocals. "Way Down" starts off with some really nice flute and some droning keyboard in the background. Once again they go in to a funky jam before mellowing out and the vocals kick in.

You need to get the original LP or the CD reissue from Si-Wan in Korea, because the Symphonic Rock CD is missing "Venezuela" (because they also crammed "Hats of Glass" on that disc, with that album's "Caught on the Air" ommited as well, due to lack of space).

A totally wonderful album to have in your collection.

Report this review (#1866)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am just hearing this (as i write) for the first time. Nice 'Pink-Floysh' type of space prog (lots of Keyboard), Also nice voices (very laid back and sweet in a good way) and some funked out sections. Weird mix of styles, really. Nice addition to any collection.
Report this review (#35924)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Esoteric's Reactive label continues to unearth forgotten European gems at a steady and welcome rate, and while Germany is usually regarded as the hotbed of creativity there was much activity elsewhere on the mainland. Eela Craig were an Austrian outfit formed in 1970 from the ashes of various Linz based groups.

After some initial activity `One Niter' was the result of a contract with Vertigo records, and is generally regarded as their definitive work. It is an extremely strong album from the opening Mellotron blasts which herald a colourful, varied and rich series of mainly instrumental movements. As was obligatory in 1976 the pieces are extended and made up of linked sections which move through a series of moods, tempos and textures. There are light and airy flute and synthesiser sections, muscular guitar solos backed with clavinet and driving drums, and some classic Hammond organ work. It is all brightly played, melodic and lively without being show-offy, and on show is a cornucopia of vintage keyboards played by no less than three players (count 'em!).

There is a wonderful photograph on the back cover of the band outdoors with all their equipment which recalls `Ummagumma' and would surely have acted as enticement to the discerning buyer holding the sleeve. It really is all about the instrumental work, the vocals are something of an afterthought, but work well enough in an unobtrusive way. The keyboards are intertwined with some excellent flute work and some equally fine guitar soloing. Nothing sounds forced, and the pieces are well composed and flow together very well.

As an album it works as a whole piece to become a very satisfying 45 minutes of prime european symphonic progressive music along the lines of Camel, Greenslade, Refugee and Trace. It certainly deserves to be heard alongside such names and is in many ways the equal to them.

We await with interest to see what else Reactive have up their sleeves if it is of this standard.

Report this review (#300862)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A wonderfully inventive slice of Austrian symphonic prog, 'One Niter' is in fact the second full- length studio album from the oddly-monikered Eela Craig. Released in 1976, a full five years after their self-titled debut, 'One Niter' is a step-up in class over it's predecessor in just about every way possible, showcasing a talented group who obviously have a penchant for 1970's Pink Floyd, 'Wind & Wuthering'-era Genesis and German symphonic rockers Grobschnitt. The album is mainly instrumental, featuring several lengthy tracks that are helpfully split into several concisely-labelled and easily-identifiable sections, with polished keyboards, soaring guitars, shrill flutes and glossy synthesizers coating 'One Niter' in a slick melodic glaze. What vocals there are fit nicely, with singer Hubert Bognermeyr(who also doubles on keyboards) singing in a high-tempo, Jon Anderson-ish pitch, but in reality it is the wonderfully-layered, lushly-realised sound the group achieve that makes 'One Niter' so enjoyable. The influences may be obvious, but Eela Craigs' fulsome sound is not, and nor is it derivative, instead fusing carefully-selected prog ingredients with tasteful aplomb and instrumental verve. To pick a favourite track is, for this reviewer at least, a very difficult task. 'One Niter' is one of those rare beasts that can be listened to all the way through without the need to skip various tracks, with each piece segueing delicately - and, at times, brilliantly - into the next carefully constructed section. Austria may not be known for it's progressive rock, but in Eela Craig at least, they have yet another example of the pure originality and beauty to be found in the European end of the genre. A highly impressive symphonic album. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Report this review (#330043)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is an impressive recording. Certainly the keyboards dominate and these guys had lots of them. Three of the band members played keyboards along with other instruments. Mellotron is very prominant but what is significant is the abundance of mellotron brass. I've never heard it so often on one record. Now I admit it's not my favourite mellotron sound by a long shot but it makes for an interesting listen.This album is quite spacey and symphonic as well.

Two long suites make up the bulk of this record. First up is he 14 minute "Circles" suite which is divided into five parts. It begins with "The Almighty" where we get those mellotron brass outbursts before it settles then it kicks in with the mellotron again. A calm takes over with flute then it kicks back in late with drums and mellotron to end it. "The Nude" is kind of funky with clavinet and it's uptempo. Mellotron sweeps across the soundscape. An explosion ends it. "The Curse" opens with piano and flute.Vocals for the first time after a minute. Drums, bass and organ eventually join in as it becomes more passionate. Check out the Gilmour-like guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. Nice. "The Blessed" sounds excellent as the tempo picks up with guitar still leading. Mellotron brass ends it. That ends the "Circles" suite.

"Loner's Rhyme" opens with keys, flute and a light beat as reserved vocals join in.The guitar replaces the vocals before 2 minutes. It's more dynamic after 2 1/2 minutes. Some impressive keyboard work follows.Vocals are back just before 8 minutes. Next up is the five part "One Niter Medley" suite. "Benedictus" opens with what sounds like harpischord then these spacey sounds come in including mellotron. Is that theremin? "Fuge" is classical sounding. "V.A.T." is eventually led by the guitar and a funky groove. Nice bass too. "Morning" is where they slow it down some but the sound is actually richer. "One Niter" ends the suite with guitar, mellotron, drums and piano all standing out in a positive way. "Venezuela" is a relaxed tune with acoustic guitar. "Way Down" is spacey to start as flute comes in then random drum patterns.Very cool sound here. It kicks in at 2 minutes and again it's funky with guitar playing over top. It settles as vocals come in after 5 minutes.

A low 4 stars for me only because my enjoyment level isn't that high for this one. I actually get more of a kick out of the followup "Hats Of Glass". It's more dynamic and easier to digest I suppose, but above all I connect with it emotionally.

Report this review (#423361)
Posted Saturday, March 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Heading to a second album, Eela Craig's leading figures Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader were determined to push the group into a more Classical-oriented sound.This fact led to several departures and new entries in the line-up and the fresh direction of Eela Craig could be heard in the 74' single ''Stories / Cheese''.From the original line-up only bassist Gerhard Englisch remained within the formation.The new Eela Craig included another keyboardist, Hubert Schnauer, drummer Frank Hueber and guitarist/pianist Fritz Riedelberger, while Zuschrader performed also on keyboards.The second album of the group ''One niter'' was finally released in 1976 on Vertigo.

There is indeed a dramatic turn in Eela Craig's sound in this release, leaving all Psychedelic and Jazz influences in the past and offering a grandiose Symphonic Rock with some spacey and Fusion touches, quite old-fashioned for the time.The group delivers some nice musicianship in four long tracks, opening with the 14-min. ''Circles'', split in four parts.Echoes of ELOY, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, PINK FLOYD and MANDALABAND are evident in this track, which combines a decent Orchestral Rock with spacey and keyboard-driven textures, led by synths, harsichord, piano and clavinets.The atmosphere of the track is pretty grandiose with an exceptional last part, led by Riedelberger's powerful guitar moves.The 9-min. ''Loner's Rhyme'' is another story.A very THE ENID-like Classical-oriented symphonic section opens and closes this composition, which however has a long and frenetic instrumental middle-part in a Fusion style with obvious funky vibes, characterized by strong clavinet and organ exercises, not far from GENTLE GIANT's sound.With the 11-min. ''One niter'' Eela Craig return to the opening MANDALABAND/THE ENID style with romantic, instrumental Classical textures, based mostly on mellotron, flutes, piano and harsichord, creating a delightful atmosphere.Again some funky moves are evident in the third part of this epic.The short ''Venezuela'' is a beautiful instrumental cut with acoustic guitars and flutes driving the music into more medieval ages, while the 7-min. closing ''Way Down'' follows a style between instrumental Fusion and synth-drenched Symphonic/Space Rock, featuring some nice changing climates.

''One niter'' contains some pretty fascinating music throughout, the mix of Symphonic Rock and Fusion stylings is not always succesful, cohesive or conveincing, but the tremendous instrumental work is sure to reward the listener.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#955770)
Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Keyboards dominate this 1976 release from Austrian prog rockers Eela Craig. Dynamic to the core, this is full throttle progged out rock and roll.

To me, this is the perfect 4 star record - it's good, some may think borderline great, some may think borderline ok. This record is a marvel of function - to the fan, it is engrossing with incredible variety. To the novice, this can be the album that turns you on to prog. It is accessible with no frills.

Worth a few spins if you can find it cheap somewhere - so are the next few Eela Craig albums, Hats of Glass and Missa Universalis. They are a bit more restrained, like the most subdued Camel or Ummagumma

Report this review (#1329942)
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Austria is not the most prolific progrock country but it has delivered some very nice bands/artists, like Gandalf, Indigo, Kyrie Eleison and of course the known Eela Craig. Between 1971 and 1988 Eela Craig made six studio-albums, I consider this reissue as their highlight.

The album starts with the long and alternating composition Circles (15 minutes, 3 parts). After a majestic Mellotron intro a dreamy climate follows with soaring keyboards and pleasant work on the flute. Then a compelling rhythm with Mellotron brass, culminating in a swinging part with beautiful interplay between clavinet, string-ensemble and electric guitar. Next an interlude with wonderful vocals and tender Fender electric piano, a fiery and moving guitar solo, blended with organ and drums. Finally an accellaration featuring fiery electric guitar, Mellotron brass and fluent drums, what a great start!

Loner's Rhyme alternates between dreamy and a compelling rhythm, again with Mellotron brass. Along howling guitar runs, a splendid duel between the synthesizer and clavinet. Then an exciting part with swinging clavinet (an Eela Craig trademark, along the Mellotron brass sound), sparkling Hammond organ and propulsive conga percussion. This culminates in a final part featuring moving guitar, supported by the warm string-ensemble sound.

The long and instrumental One Niter Medley is a 'wet dream for vintage keyboards aficionados' (Mellotron, harpsichord, string-ensemble, Minimoog and Grand piano), remarkable is the huge variety, from classical violins in a swinging rhythm to a combination of symphonic rock and funk, unique!

The short and cheerful Venezuela contains a fine blend of acoustic guitar, flute, vocals and Congas.

Finally the strong Way Down that sounds like a captivating blend of symphonic rock, funk and rock, embellished with a lush vintage keyboard sound and powerful electric guitar. Halfway a wonderful part with the string-ensemble, in combination with warm vocals and piano. In the end an exciting grand finale featuring Mellotron brass, piano and compelling work on the drums, goose bumps!

What a wonderful album by this excellent, pretty overlooked Austrian progrock formation: sounding very melodic and harmonic with wonderful vocals, a lush vintage keyboard sound and lots of interesting musical ideas.

Report this review (#1936780)
Posted Saturday, June 2, 2018 | Review Permalink

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