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Irish Coffee

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3 stars One of the real classics from the European progressive hard-rock.A little bit overrated but always nice to hear.Good use of organ and a fantastic Hendrix inspired lead-guitarist Jean-Pierre Souffriaux.
Report this review (#21249)
Posted Saturday, January 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars I'm not sure this belongs here but this is one of the better hard-rock coming out of Belgium, but also of continental Europe. This resembles all sorts of band especially in the Energy Dept: Purple , Rooster , Heep , Birth Control etc.... One must hear how The Party rocks to believe . The sad story of how such a precious album got wasted in the dustbin of time.
Report this review (#21250)
Posted Friday, February 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Recently on a buying trip to Brooklyn I scored a bunch of great records, both originals and reissues. The reissue of this album on Akarma knocked me cold, and continues to every time I play it. Belgium had an underrated and fantastic music scene in the early 70s, but Irish Coffee are the most impressive group I've heard from there, no question. What makes this album a masterpiece is the hard driving guitar work juxtaposed with quality songwriting and a bit of the Czar/ Stonehouse/Asgard UK vibe to the tracks. Czar and Deep Purple come to mind often, as does surprisingly a bit of early Spooky Tooth, yet Irish Coffee managed to create their own sound. The soaring, swirly guitars and inventive rhythm changes form the basis of the instrumental sound, while a strong and emotional voice and fine harmonies are the vocal element. It all works flawlessly for the entire album with each song building up to a frenzied crescendo or a lost world weary refrain. Lyrically, this is a really dark and tortured album with very disturbed themes about nuclear war, mental devastation, unremitting fear, and the like. The music, though, is surprisingly uplifting at times and makes you cheer for them to make it big not just in Belgium, but also internationally. Sadly, this was not to be. Irish Coffee couldn't even find a record contract and so put this out themselves. It is often the case with private pressings to have execrable sound quality, this one has BRILLIANT sound quality! You can hear everything clearly and each member of the group shines on every track. I haven't heard musicianship and songs this good for awhile! If you like UK hard rock/progressive rock you will love this, and if you like late period psychedelic rock with Eastern flourishes you'll love this, and it it that mixture of unique influences that makes for such an impressive album. The singer is fantastic, going over the top only when he needs to and not straining to sound like Gillan or Plant although he occaisonally recalls both. Irish Coffee deserved to be a worldwide sucess, at least the reissue gives us a chance to hear another great band lost in the shuffle. I would add that a musical rennaisance was going on in the early 70s in England and it spread throughout Europe. Irish Coffee were part of that rennaisance as were a lot of overlooked bands from Europe. They, however, sound both exotic in a UK way and exotic in a Euro way. I could not ask for more from an album. There is not one song on here that isn't brilliant. A full fledged masterpiece.
Report this review (#87160)
Posted Sunday, August 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Frankly, this is really nothing special. Your typical very early 70s organ driven hard rock. In some places, it reminds me of the Rod Evans Deep Purple, except you don't have virtuosos like Blackmore & Lord bringing the band to the top level. If you're looking for something like that era of Purple, you are better off getting Captain Beyond's first album. Now, it's not to state that this is horrible album. But it is typical of groups that barely made a living as opening act on those hard rock tours. Competent playing, some derivativeness, some showcasing your band's musical star (guitar/singer/keyboardist) , but nothing that you won't forget right after you've listened to the next thing. So unless that era's hard music is a compulsion, best save your money on this one.
Report this review (#129333)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I mentioned already in my review of the first "Machiavel" album, that Belgium was a desert in terms of rock bands. "Irish Coffee" might well be an oasis in the midst of this. Like other few legendary ones : Kleptomania, The Pebbles, Lager Blues Machine, Jenghiz Khan, Wallace Collection...almost only known in Belgium only (except Wallace of course who had a HUGE hit in 1969 (it was number in TWENTY countries and will pave the way for ELO).

Irish Coffee disbanded after the death of their very good keyboard player, Paul Lambert.

This album features, indeed great organ throughout all the numbers (but the intro for "Can't Take" is one of the finest moments available).Really close to Jon Lord's ones. The link with Purple is also valid with the vocals. Similarities with Hughes during "Cant Take" and "The Beginning Of The End". It features a Boléro-like intro (one of my fave number on this album), really close to prog.

It is true that "Irish Coffee" sounds almost like a hard-rock band but not only. The closing number, for instance, is more "Mark I" oriented. Somewhat psychedelic.

This is a good album. A rarity to discover if hard-rock is your taste (or heavy-prog as it is now accordingly categorized on PA). Three stars.

Report this review (#137089)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars For my money this is a very good piece of early heavy prog. It's in line with the style of Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster, and many of those, with a distinct early-UFO twinge to it in many of the tracks. A track such as Can't Take It is very heavy, and a number that any hard rock fan wouldn't hesitate to raise their fist and twirl their hair to. The majority of the record, however, is in a more melancholic tone, often slow but rarely mellow, driven by the excellent Hammond organ sounds of Paul Lambert, whose death shortly after the release of this album was apparently a major reason for the band's dissolution, likely causing their modern obscurity. Lambert plays in that excellent style that some like Jon Lord and Vincent Crane are known for, simultaneously carrying and filling out the rhythm of the track, whilst also inserting frequent heavy riffs and virtuosic licks to add the "flow" that often takes a group like this over the top from being just another heavy rock band to being something very enjoyable to listen to in its own right.

The crunchy, distorted guitar and passionate vocals keep the sound very heavy despite slow tempos and emphasis on song-writing. Competent musicianship all around, although at times the lead guitar can sound a little cold and repetitive, but still imaginative and pleasurable most of the time.

A very nice heavy prog album. In terms of the progressive side there's not a whole lot of unexplored territory being charted here, but the execution is strong and makes up for that. Recommended.

Report this review (#722924)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hailing from Belgium, early Seventies band Irish Coffee only delivered a couple of singles and a sole album in their few years active, but the debut from 1971 is a bit of a dirty raucous ripper of organ dominated heavy rock with light touches of jazz, R n'B and psych but still finds time for more mindful breaks. Think bands like Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple, Rare Bird, Birth Control and Beggars Opera, with gruff Hammond organ to the fore and fleeting moments of drawn out jamming, but mostly delivering a strong punchy collection where the tune itself is always the priority.

Opener `Can't Take It' is up-tempo and infectious, a snappy rocker and blustery vocal belter powered by Jean Van Der Schueren's biting guitar slinging, Willy De Bisschop's pumping chunky bass and Hugo Verhoye's frantic drumming. `The Beginning Of The End' lurches with a dramatic heaviness of marching call-to-arms drum rattles, Paul Lambert's thoughtful organ interludes and dreamy chiming guitars with William Souffreau's blistering red-faced huffing almost taken to testicle- bursting extremes in parts! `When Winter Comes' slows things down for a Rare Bird-like stark and introspective weary rock- ballad (although there's an unexpected but very welcome energetic burst in the closing minute), where the vocals move between sombre spoken word passages, warm group harmonies and a romantic lead vocal full of aching longing crooning a despondent yet tender lyric - and damned if the line `Will you came and be my sun?' wouldn't win over any lady!

Prog fans shouldn't get too excited when they see the two-part `The Show' listed on the back cover that is split over the end of side one and carries on over on the flip. While they both share a similar `come see the show' theme and wild party vibe, the first is a unapologetic pop-stomper with funky grooving wah-wah guitars and brief wailing soloing spots, a screeching vocal and call-and-response Hammond trickles all swirling around a catchy chorus, while the second is dirtier with a murky sweaty sound full of lusty debauchery!

`Hear Me' has a crashing and restless momentum from delirious smoky Hammond organ runs and mangled guitar raggedness, and the tormented `the Devil's in my head, Lord I need you...can't help myself, it's this world that makes me do it!' lyric wouldn't have sounded out of place on an Atomic Rooster album! The almost seven minute `A Day Like Today' is one of the more ambitious pieces, full of ruminative droning Pink Floyd-like guitar drifts, and with its downcast and anxious anti- war lyric and desperate urgent vocal pleadings, its sentiment is undoubtedly genuine. Closer `I'm Lost' is another nice diversion, a gentle come-down pop-rocker with jangling acoustic guitars, a rattle of spirited drums and joyful Hammond organ, and both vocally and instrumentally it reminds of British band Beggars Opera from the same time.

While it's maybe not quite up to the same level as the best albums of several of the above-mentioned bands, listeners who dig those early `proto-prog' groups that made adventurous rock music full of cool playing and great tunes should have a blast with `Irish Coffee'. It's a grower of an album, one that proves highly addictive and seriously fun if you give it enough spins!

Four stars.

Report this review (#1720413)
Posted Friday, May 12, 2017 | Review Permalink

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