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Eela Craig - Hats of Glass CD (album) cover


Eela Craig

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars 2 years after EELA CRAIG's "One Niter" masterpiece they released "Hats Of Glass" an album I am also quite fond on. In sharp contrast to their 2 earlier album, "Hats Of Glass" takes on more of a pop influenced symphonic aura which is quite fine with me. The album actually opens up with a cover of Chris De BURGH's "A Spaceman Came Travelling" which is actually a great version. Another tune which really grabs me is "Grover's Mill" which is a perfect cross of TAI PHONG and PINK FLOYD. The rest of the album plays in the symphonic rock space quite handily with a solid mix of colours and themes. Overall although the album carries a less robust aroma as "One Niter" it is still a great little album and a definite contribution in the symphonic rock genre.
Report this review (#1872)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not entirely too surprising that "Hats of Glass" is not as good as "One Niter", but then this is the late '70s where quality prog rock albums were starting to become more few and far between. But hey, this is still a fine album.

Released at the beginning of 1978 (recorded August to November 1977), there was one minor change in the EELA CRAIG lineup. And that was the return of vocalist Wil Orthofer, apparently because the band he was in between his absence with EELA CRAIG, called ICE PLANET (a blues outfit that never recorded, that also featured two other ex-EELA CRAIG members, Heinz Gerstmair and Horst Waber) broke up due to the deaths from two non-EELA CRAIG members from two separate automobile accidents.

Now let's get with the music. The funk has more or less disappeared, going for a more conventional late '70s symphonic prog rock sound. The album opens up with an unlikely song: a cover of Chris de BURGH's "A Spaceman Came Travelling" (yes, the same guy who gave us that awful '80s hit "Lady in Red", but his career goes back to the mid 1970s). This version, of course, is given the prog rock treatment, with vocoder, spacy synthesizers, and great vocal harmonies. The next song is the title track, starts off with flute, before going in to PINK FLOYD-like guitars. After some bizarre electronic noodling, it kicks in to "Grover's Mill" (mentioned on the Symphonic Rock CD, but not the original LP, but it's there on the LP), which is basically a re-recording of their 1974 single "Stories", with changed lyrics, less Mellotron, and more string synths (and guitarist Fritz Riedelberger still handling the vocals). "Chances Are" points to their following album, except without the religious themes. "Heaven Sales" is a short number that sounds very '70s, with lyrics that seem to criticize religious groups who state that you won't go to heaven if you don't give them your money (sounds a whole lot like those greedy televangelists you find right here in AMERICA). The album's high point, without a doubt is "Holstenwall Fair". I especially love that synth solo, before the music kicks in to an intense jam that's reminiscent of "One Niter". Then there's the ballad "Caught on the Air" (which you can only find on LP, not the Symphonic Rock CD). I never was too fond of this song, just a rather sappy ballad that the band could've used for a better piece. The final song is a reworking of their 1974 single "Cheese" (flip side of "Stories"), this time, the vocals are taken out, complete with a nice Moog solo in the middle. I'm in a minority here, but I wasn't too fond of the vocals of the original "Cheese", so this reworking had that plus of being all instrumental.

Overall, an excellent album.

Report this review (#1873)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
3 stars This is a hard album to review as parts of it rock out, like the second half of Holstenwall Fair or the closing track while other parts of the cd are boarder line cheesy, like the end of the opening track or much of "caught on air". Overall this is a unique cd though and one every prog fan should experience once they are done with the key prog bands. Eela Craig may draw comparassions to Eloy but they certinatly add their own unique touch. I also would not call this fusion at all. Maybe this was mislabeled? Because this is pure symphonic rock with maybe a few elements of space rock here and there. 3.25 stars really.
Report this review (#39530)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I wasn't expecting a lot from this one given the ratings i've seen for it but this was a pleasant surprise. EELA CRAIG were a seventies band from Austria who used a variety of keyboards including mellotron to great affect. While they are listed as Jazz / Fusion here believe me this album has absolutely nothing to do with that.This is spacey, mellow Symphonic music with some aggressive outburts here and there. PINK FLOYD came to mind the most which isn't too surprising given they were one one of EELA CRAIG's favourite bands.

"A Spaceman Came Travelling" has this spacey intro as reserved vocals join in. I like the vocal melodies before 2 minutes.Themes are repeated in this mellow tune. "Hats Of Glass" is also laid back with reserved vocals. I like the prolonged instrumental section part way through that is guitar / drum led. Lots of mellotron too. It turns dark and haunting before 6 minutes. "Grover's Mill" has these light vocals and drums that standout. I really like this one. "Chances Are" opens sounding a lot like "Funeral For A Friend" then it kicks in with a fuller sound including vocals. A spacey calm 2 minutes in then it retruns to that fuller sound.

"Heaven Sales" is much more dynamic sounding with keyboards and drums leading the way. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes as the vocals arrive. It then picks back up. "Holstonwall Fair" is mellow with vocals, a beat and mellotron. A change before 2 minutes and the birds are singing in this pastoral section. It's building 3 1/2 minutes in then the tempo picks up a minute later. Guitar then kicks in. Nice. Check out the majestic mellotron before 7 1/2 minutes then the vocals return. "Remove Another Hat Of Glass..." is a catchy and energetic number with guitar outfront early. Synths take a turn as they continue to trade off.

This is a low 4 stars but it's one I look forward to playing again in the future.This is a great example of seventies Prog.

Report this review (#421606)
Posted Thursday, March 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars From an artistic point of view ''One niter'' was a milestone for Eela Craig and heading to a third album they decided to add a lead singer in the core, who would be Will Orthofer.Rest of the crew and new singer started the sessions in August 77' and the album was ready by November, titled ''Hats of glass'', highlighted by its futuristic front cover and released on Vertigo.Co-producer Ulli Ruetzel was the man, who established the Erdenklang label, with which Hubert Bognermayr & Harald Zuschrader collaborated a few years later, while the second co-producer Chris Evans appears to be the same person involved in the Chris Evans & David Hanselmann duo.

There is no doubt about the direction the band was choosing at the time, when the opening cut is Chris De Burgh's ''A spaceman came travelling'' from ''Spanish train and other stories'', definitely a nice cover of lyrical and dreamy Symphonic Pop.But the rest of the album would follow the same vein, albeit with a more Teutonic, spacious edge due to the heavy use of synthesizers.Gone are the discreet Fusion edges of the previous album and with ''Hats of glass'' Eela Craig would stick with a 100% symphonic, laid-back sound.The soft lyrical parts remind me of very early KING CRIMSON, combined with the smooth symphonic plays of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST.All vocals are in English lyrics and, despite the presence of three keyboardists, the music is always gentle, performed in elaborate orchestrations with sensitive vocals and Classical colors, based mainly on light synthesizers and electric piano.There is still some PINK FLOYD influence in certain tracks (''Chances are) with a slight psychedelic touch, but the arrangements are always full of grandiose synth-drenched soundscapes with mellow electric guitars supporting.''Holstenwall fair'' would offer the most organ-flavored composition of the album with the rhythmic tunes and the more pronounced electric guitars reminding of the links to the Kraut/Symphonic genre.On the other hand the dynamics of a trully succesful album are rather absent and the multi-vocal parts sound quite cheesy at moments.

The band had fully transformed from the Kraut/PsychJazz Rock act it was back in early-70's to an orchestral Symphonic Pop/Rock ensemble.Soft Symphonic Rock is what you get with ''Hats of glass''.Good album for fans of the genre, a bit too sweet for fans of the more complicated and intricate prog releases.Recommended.

Report this review (#1313654)
Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars This third album (1978) is the successor of the highly acclaimed One Niter (1976), a treat for the vintage keyboard aficionados, from Hammond and Mellotron to Minimoog and Hohner clavinet, a real Austrian symphonic rock gem! The line-up still features the 3 keyboard players but one of them, Frits Riedelberger does now also some lead vocals, and Eela Craig welcomes a new member, singer Will Orthofer.

In the first track A Spaceman Came Travelling (Chris De Burgh cover) Frits colours the music with his a bit higher pitched voice, this matches wonderfully with the romantic atmophere of this ballad, embellished with varied synthesizer flights, the distinctive vocoder and tender electric piano. The final part culminates into more lush with emotional vocals and sensitive electric guitar runs. The acquisition of the new singer and this cover is an indication for the change in the sound on Hats Of Glass: more song-oriented, more romantic and less bombastic and less keyboard driven. Like the titletrack (wonderful work on flute and keyboards and halfway a long and moving electric guitar solo) and Grover's Mill (soaring keyboards, tender electric piano, varied keyboards and again moving electric guitar), often Barclay James Harvest comes to my mind, but without the lush Mellotron sound. More dynamic are the swinging compositions Heaven Sales (warm duo vocals and delicate Hammond, Moog and clavinet) and the final one Cheese: powerful electric guitar runs and dynamic rhtyhm-section, subtle vocoder, flashy pitchbend driven Minimoog flights (like Manfred Mann) and finally a harder-edged guitar solo with fiery runs, really good!

But the highlight on this album is the longer and most adventurous composition Holstenwall Fair. First a slow rhythm with pleasant vocals and nice Hammond and Mellotron choir drops, next a shifting mood with sultry synthesizer sound and propulsive drums beats, a wonderful hypnotizing atmosphere. Then an accellaration with a catchy beat, fiery electric work, varied keyboard work and a sensational duel between a powerful guitar and pitchbend driven Minimoog. Finally majestic Mellotron choir and a return to the first part. This is how Eela Craig often sounded on their praised second effort One Niter, wow!

Don't expect music like on One Niter, but if you like the more laidback and romantic moments of Barclay James Harvest, Eloy and Camel, this is a pleasant sounding prog album.

My rating: 3,5 star.

P.s. (1) : The studio album tracklist misses the track Grover's Mill.

P.s. (2) : For its compilation album Eela Craig has chosen the title Symphonic Rock, and not Jazzrock or Fusion, that tells a lot.

Report this review (#2184498)
Posted Saturday, April 20, 2019 | Review Permalink

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