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4 stars Use to be the holy grail from the French Progressive Rock.Before making this succesfull album some of the members were playing in another magnificent bands as Eden Rose,Systeme Capoutchik and participated full-time on the Supra Pop Impressions library release from Janko Nilovic.The most active member from Sandrose is without any doubt guitarplayer Jean-Pierre Alarcen which was still active on tons of other albums and worked long time together with Francois Beranger.He has also a few excellent solo-albums.The songs on Sandrose's only LP are from the highest range.Don't expect full action!?I mean that they doesn't sound as Italian bands.You'll miss the spectacular organ and guitar battles,or the rhythm changes.Don't expect the rawness from the Germans and their experimental edges.No,it isn't sound as all those.In a certain way you can compare them with bands as Analogy,Mad Curry or the Icelandic band Naturra.Maybe because of the female vocals,or the organ.For sure Sandrose sounds better!Not showing off,but brilliant musicians,brilliant songs.Listen to the exceptional feeling for that typical melodic sound is coming outside the guitar from Jean-Pierre Alarcen.Nobody can bettered it.Always on a carpet from organ layers by Henry Garella,not really heavy,more serene,beautiful,a certain pastoral feeling. The magic voice from Rose Podwojny where necessary and on her best on songs as 'Old dom is dead','To take him away'.Listen to the long track 'Underground session' taken from Chick Chorea where the Garella's organ is soloing against the pyrotechnics from Alarcen's guitarplaying.To people which doesn't know this album,I should advice try to order it quickly,because it's a shame you still don't have in your collection.One of the most famous Underground/Progressive albums in Europe.
Report this review (#25175)
Posted Monday, February 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Of all the early French prog records, this one is probably the highest rated, but I think it doesn't sit better than Ergo Sum, Ame Son, Martin Circus (and its spin-offs Expérience and Triangle) and Cruciferus, Sandrose actually ranges further back since they had recorded a previous album under the name of Eden Rose in 70. Their guitarist JP Alarcen had actually started in the mid-60's with Système Crapoutchik, before joining the group and by the time of their name change had become the main composer. Their style is symphonic with jazzy touches that can make you think of Kent-like influences.

Those liking a rather early form of symphonic prog should really get a kick out of this album, especially if they can appreciate their female singer's voice, given that there is mellotron and organ plastered all over, often giving a response to Alarcen's competent guitar. From the first side, clearly the 11 mins Underground Session is their main achievement, letting loose their talents in a jazzy Canterbury-esque manner that Caravan would not disown, but the opening Vision has plenty of power and while the second track Never Good sounds like rearranged Motown cover, it is loaded with trons of melo, that makes you forget the sugary-sweet vocals.

On the flipside, Old Dom starts a bit like Never Good did (both tracks having outside writers, as there is a link between the band and singer Claude "Chorea" Putterflam), but the 7 mins Take Him Away is another highlight with Rose's best vocals on the album, the track sails smoothly on the serene waters of a lazy afternoon. Taken from one of my fave folk theme classically rearranged ans vastly slowed down (a bit like Vanilla Fudge would do) "Colchique Dans Les Prés", Summer Is Yonder is very dramatic, Rose's vocals being fit for this kind of track, as we are not far from Focus' slower works either on Moving Waves. The Garella-penned Metakara is contrasting vastly with its frenetic drumming, its almost funky bass line and frantic Alarcen guitars.

Indeed, considered the era where all major rock concert events were still forbidden (as a result of the student uprising from 68), groups like Sandrose had much merits developing such adventurous music, not getting much airplay. While minding the full historical scope of prog, Sandrose's sole album might not be that essential, it certainly is enough for those checking out the French scene, and Alarcen's presence in this group enhances it even more.

Report this review (#25174)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars With two or three other references, one of best the groupe/album of French rock'n'roll. A splendid masterpiece illuminated by the guitar of Jean-Pierre Alarcen. For me, this album is really Impossible to circumvent.
Report this review (#25178)
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars What a wonderful album from this French five-piece band! The melodic and harmonic songs alternates from romantic and swinging tot up-tempo and bombastic featuring powerful female vocals, lush keyboards (beautiful Mellotron waves) and strong electric guitar (JP Alarcen would later produce some strong solo work). Although the track "Underground Session" (based on Chick Corea) features great soli on organ and guitar, most songs are based upon creating a warm sound that carries you away to Prog Heaven. If you like Dutch pride Earth & Fire (the early albums) this one wil surely please you. Because the standard to 4 stars doesn't depend on only making complex or exciting prog, I award this album with 4 stars becaue of the very moving climates! Erik Neuteboom.
Report this review (#25179)
Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A stunning album in every respect - top notch musicianship of the highest order, but without losing the emotional edge that is sometimes lost to technicial proficiency. The guitar and mellotron flow together very smoothly, backed by fine bass and drums, with the vocals adding the necessary drama and, at times, calming influence to the whole album. I'm surprised this album hasn't had the kind of reissue attention that so many of its peers have enjoyed - the vinyl has continued to elude me, fortunately I managed to find a very nice Korean reissue CD but I doubt this can be found in many record shops. Keep hunting though - this one is well worth the effort.
Report this review (#46437)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Sandrose" is one of the nice album of French rock.I think the sound of mellotoron is similar to KING CRIMSON and GENESIS.It is the good old album of 70's.There is no surprise from this album but I like it very much.This album has a sound which everyone consider as progressive rock.As said by above,nowadays tons of albums in a similar mood and mode have been done after this one.Yes,I agree but I find this album is still interesting.

The stunning track is 「Never Good At Sayin' Good-Bye」,「Underground Session」,and 「To Take Him Away」.Although the guitar of Jean-Pierre ALARCEN is incredible.

Report this review (#83484)
Posted Tuesday, July 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars.This band's only record is a mellotron laden beauty, with some really good guitar work from Jean-Pierre. My only problem with it is the female vocals of Rose Prodwojny. I can't believe I haven't read one negative thing about her vocals, unless describing them as "shrill" is negative as I read somewhere. I just couldn't get past them though as they are from being pleasing to the ears. Let's put it this way, without vocals this is easily a 4.5 to 5 star record.The band by the way came up with it's name by using the lead singers first name as part of the title SANDROSE.

The first song "Vision" is all about the vocals with some atmospheric guitars coming in 4 minutes in, and ending with some good organ play."Never Good At Sayin' Good-bye" opens with gentle guitar and soft vocals until it gets louder as mellotron floods in. This contrast continues throughout the song. "Underground Session (chorea)" is an amazing song and the best on this album. The intro sounds like the great ANEKDOTEN as the mellotron waves crash the soundscape. It changes quickly though to light drums, keys, and a male vocal melody, then some terrific guitar comes in. Killer stuff. This song really changes moods and tempos, as it goes from jazzy, to an organ solo, to flute, with it all ending as it began with mellotron.

"Old Dom Is Dead" features emotional vocals, great guitar and lots of mellotron. "To Take Him Away" has such a beautiful one minute intro ! The rest is ok, with some good guitar melodies and mellotron too. "Summer Is Yonder" features some good organ and difficult to listen to vocals. "Metakara" is a song unlike the rest of the songs. An uptempo instrumental of drums,keys and some incredible guitar.The last song is 32 seconds worth of odd noises.

There is so much I like instrumentally about this release and because it would seem i'm in the minority about my dislike of the vocals, I would suggest you check out this album.

Report this review (#107629)
Posted Monday, January 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars French bands have generated some real good albums in the symph genre in the sevventies. I would be tempted to say that Sandrose debut (and final) album might be one of them. I like pretty much the vocals featured here.

The opener "Vision" fully deserves your attention. Iy is NOT an ordinary song. Absolutely personal. Nothing I can remember to be compared with this song. Extraordinary vocals, IMO (at least I am charmed). One of my two favourite song of this album, no doubt. The folkish ballad "Never Good At Saying Good-bye" sounds very much like a Mostly Autumn song... Heather...Another good moment of course.

"Underground Session" features a superb spacey intro (but too short), followed by a jazz-oriented jam (but too long). The full symphonic side of the band is only featured after seven minutes. A Crimsonesque mood (early days) is very much present in all its complexity/beauty. Hard and dark for a moment, and so sweet and nice just a little later. A superb finale of about THIRTY seconds. We should have deserved more of this wonderful music. When thinking of the whole song, I can only be a bit disappointed...Just half a great composition.

I would recommend you to skip "Old Dom Is Dead" and get immediately to "To Take Him Away". This is probably th most symphonic piece of music that sits on this album. Peaceful keyboards, wonderful no : sublime guitar, great vocals and a superb melody. The second highlight. Followed immediately by the third beautiful track : "Summer Is Yonder". Same style, actually.

This album will unfortunately end on a poorer note. The fully jazz closing number is absolutely not my cup of tea.

This is a good album, very different in style from the traditional symph production. I really like the vocals here. I guess it is a hate / love situation. They remind me very much the ones of David Surkamp (Pavlov's Dog).

I recommend you to discover this album for its originality. Nothing to be categorized as a masterpiece IMHHO (in my humble and honest opinion) but a very nice experience. Three stars.

Report this review (#132326)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Classic early French band with female vocals

Sandrose is a legend of early French symphonic, releasing their stalwart debut in 1972 and disbanding after only a few gigs in support. A real shame given the promise of the release. It was recorded in but one week's time and released in April 1972. The group's leader and main writer was guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen. They were also noteworthy for the distinct vocals of Rose Podwojny who made their sound instantly memorable. I have read other writers claim this is one of the 10 greatest prog albums of all time which is ludicrous to me, others claim the top 100 which is more realistic but still a stretch. It is however an enormously beautiful and powerful symphonic album that builds upon good melodies first and foremost. The songwriting is not aloof or dissonant but very pleasant in the melodic sense and fills in with genuine emotion.

The Sandrose sound is both mellow and powerful.built around mellotron and organ along with a solid rhythm section. The first main weapon as mentioned is the fluid and gorgeous electric leads of Alarcen who has a very wet sound and can play fast, but more often than not delivers sensual and somewhat nostalgic moods. His style is so perfect for the peaceful mellotrons. The other weapon is the controversial vocals of Rose Podwojny. While I have really grown to love her powerful, unusual voice, I surely understand the reservations expressed by fellow reviewers. She has a very strange voice that I cannot explain, occasionally it sounds like she's off-key but I can't be sure. Sometimes she reminds me a little bit of Laura Nyro with a French accept, that may be as close as I can get to a comparison. She is capable of really pushing the tracks to another level with her energy. The 11-minute "Underground Session-Chorea" is the centerpiece of the album with both symphonic and jazzy elements. Alarcen has some spirited electric guitar solos here over the keyboards at a mid pace and Garella returns the favor with some organ noodling. It features a repeating falling melody line that is very pleasant and lots of mellotron. But the real heart of the album resides in the dreamy passages to the middle two tracks "Old Dom Is Dead" and "To Take Him Away" which feature rather traditional sounding pieces adorned with aching vocals, dreamy trons and guitars. I would suggest to French prog lovers who can handle a somewhat contentious vocalist, and also to mellotron fans who will find oodles here. The Musea issue features a bio and great black/white photographs taken from one of their rare live appearances.

Report this review (#170182)
Posted Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars Whew, Jean-Pierre Alarcen changed EDEN ROSE into SANDROSE - namely, he changed an organ-psych-based band into an eclectically symphonic one.

Needless to say, SANDROSE were formed by the same members as EDEN ROSE (and a female vocalist was recruited to them). However, their musical style was a bit different from the former one. We can easily imagine that the most important reason is the difference of the frontman of each band. Henri Garella, the founder of EDEN ROSE, had pushed his organo-pop style tinged with jazzy and psychedelic colours aggressively, but here Jean-Pierre should have a well-balanced eclectic sense and therefore produce a really eclectic tower of progressive rock. The good example is the third track Underground Session (Chorea), the longest one of this album. There are various colours - the jazzy mainstream and a heavy rock flavour, and a psychedelic keyboard solo plus oldie & goodie symphonic spice added... A very eclectic stuff like chorea! On the contrary, the fifth track To Take Him Away, the masterpiece of this album in my opinion, is the most suitable one for the definition of Symphonic Progressive Rock. Jean-Pierre's streaming and rumbling guitar solo can have a leadership in this song, with heavy and steady keyboard basis and soft'n'warm but strict rhythm section. Consider that this is one of the masterpieces of all French Progressive Rock songs alright?

Pity that the last two tracks have EDEN ROSY flavour left, composed by Henri, so I feel there is a motley combination of musical styles in this album. That is I wanna say their style on this work cannot have coherence as a well-balanced symphonic one. Not difficult for us to think that they could not have been active for a long while - for conquering the French Progressive Rock scene.

But believe me, this album is terrific. Undoubtedly can let us weep. Listen!

Report this review (#240240)
Posted Saturday, September 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Unfortunately, I have to agree with idea that this album, as instrumental one, will be almost perfect one. Her vocals aren't bad completely, just when she's singing loud, these shouting passages. For example Never Good At Sayin´ Good-Bye is good, because (oh, I forgot to say that songs here are mostly calm ones, so - ) her vocals are calm too. Guitar work is also perfect, maybe not virtuoso's in modern way, but guitar solos here are tremendous.

I should rate highly, because I just can get myself over some vocal parts, which I see as only major mistake. At least it's not just my problem (personal problem), that other people feels it too. Underground Session actually reminds me Caravan's "In the Land..." last song. And even it's not tear bringing, it brings great deal of memories about things I know from my childhood. Similar to "Rare Bird's" 1969 album, where similar situation occurs, but with different mood and instruments.

4(+), guitar solos, atmosphere, vocal parts (surprising ? just some of them are bad) sometimes.

Report this review (#241484)
Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sandrose is one of the french early '70's progressive band that didn't manage to release only one album in 1972 selftitled. Everything on this band is around excellent guitar player Jean- Pierre Alarcen, who had already a moderate succes in late '60 with Système Crapoutchik before joyinig Sandrose in 1970. Sabdrose is one of the better bands from sumphonic prog movements from France from early '70's, the music offered is from mellow sectios to more up tempo full of great interplay between musicians. The female voice of natural born polish Rose Podwojny did a great job here. Underground Session (Chorea - is a perfect ex of Sandrose at their peak and the instrumental one Metakara are the highlights here, specialy the latest where musician realy shine , a very uptempo piece with great musician ship and some superb guitar arrangements made by Jean-Pierre Alarcen. So, a pleasent album for sure, not realy something excellent, but good and decent most of the time. 3 stars is a fair rating, a good album but nothing special about.
Report this review (#253088)
Posted Friday, November 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Sandrose was a one shot french band that gained much praise from prog circles in latter years. So I was quite curious about them for a long time. And when I found their only CD I can´t say I was exactly thrilled from what I heard. Ok, they were good. Instrumentaly speaking I could find no fault about them: excellent guitarrist, very good keyboards and a tight rhythm section, as the non vocal track Metakara proves very well. The main problem you have to overcome is Rose Podwojny´s affected, over-the-top, style of singing. She has a good voice but her singing is too forced on some parts, as she is trying to reach some tones she obviously can´t. When she restrains her exaggerated perfomances, which unfortunatly she often does not, it works very well.

Which is really a pity since Snadrose has some strong tunes and very good musicians. The production is also very good for the time. I loved the use of Hammond organ and the waves of melltrons working together with Jean-Pierre Alarcen´s brilliant, slightly jazzy, guitar playing. I´m sad this band broke up soon after they released this album. Certainly they had lots of talent and the group could evolve into something really big if they persisted a little more time. As it is I think this album is quite good, especially for the ones who enjoy early 70´s prog rock stuff. Rating: something between 3 and 3,5 stars.

Report this review (#253203)
Posted Friday, November 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is the only album from a lineup formerly known as Eden Rose, with the exception of lead singer Rose Podwojny (aka Laurens). And also with the exception of Laurens, the music in my opinion isn't dramatically different than the blend of folksy, slightly psych and jazz-tinged stuff Eden Rose recorded in 1970.

Laurens does make a difference though, her rich contralto voice lending more weight to the shorter tracks with its distinctive lounge-act timbre and mood. The best examples of these songs include the opening "Vision", "Never Good at Saying Goodbye" and "Summer is Yonder" which projects a bit of the dramatic stage flair band leader Jean-Pierre Alarcen probably picked up during his stint with the one of the traveling productions of the musical 'Hair'.

Elsewhere the band relies on longer, more instrumental tracks to flesh out the album. On these Alarcen's guitar soloing style and Henri Garella's symphonic-leaning keyboards shine, much as they did on the Eden Rose album a couple years' prior. The lengthy "Underground Session" is the highlight of this type of arrangement and of the album in total, although the alternating keyboard/guitar leads and passionate rhythm of "Metakara" makes it a strong contender for my favorite track.

Not everything works here. For one, even though Laurens' articulation and vocals are quite good, I think the music would have had greater depth and passion had she sung in her native French rather than English (which I suppose had more to do with commercial appeal than artistic merit). "To Take Him Away" is an awkward track that smacks of being nothing more than filler. And the closing "Fraulein Kommen Sie Schlaff" bears no resemblance to anything else on the album and although quite brief really doesn't belong here.

From what I've read these guys were quite popular in France, and the original vinyl of this album still fetches tidy sums today. No need to make that investment though thanks to Musea's CD reissue (though truth be told even that one isn't particularly easy to get your hands on).

In any case I like this record, a little more so every time I play it. Lauren's vocals sound more like 1977 than 1972 though, and even though she is a very good and emotive singer I have a bit of trouble reconciling her singing with much of the instrumental music. Despite that this is easily a three star effort, and worth seeking out if you are into contemporary French prog folk or eclectic styles of early seventies prog. Well recommended.


Report this review (#283878)
Posted Friday, May 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars This is not the sort of album that causes the jaw to drop on first listen, or even one that goes through that heavy rotation in the first few weeks of acquisition. In fact, until recently I thought I had at least provided a review for said disk in the 3 odd years of ownership. But it quietly slid to the back shelf only to be resurrected as a result of a relative flurry of recent reviews.

This is a fine symphonic progressive album from a pretty early period for the genre. The combination of celestial mellotron, expressive lead guitar and edgy feminine vocals brings to mind EARTH AND FIRE, but Rose does not curb her enthusiasm to nearly the same degree as Jenny Kaagmen. I wonder how different the album would have been had BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST not released "Once Again" a year prior, as the keening lead guitar/tron attack more than suggests John Lees and Woolly Wolstenholme. But SANDROSE is more adventurous and seemingly more musically versed. While it is not terribly intricate, this release might nonetheless appeal to fans across the prog spectrum, even those who like complex prog.

Influences dispensed with, it must be stated that Sandrose appears to have exacted their own influence on later French bands, in particular TAI PHONG, who borrowed a particular style of suddenly quieting the music in the middle of a vocal section, and the much later ECLAT for the reined in theatrical aspects.

Apart from a few weaker shorter tracks, this is all good especially the "Underground Session" , "Old Dom is Dead", and "To Take Him Away", highly melodic and gently improvised symphonic rock with richly layered guitars and electronic keyboards, and a colourfully dramatic side.

While not a classic, SANDROSE's self titled album deserved to be the beginning of a notable career rather than a one-off. Thankfully it remains a sought after relic with more than mere historic value. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#284878)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars A French band formed around guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen with some members of Eden Rose and others, Sandrose released one sole self-titled album in 1972, and it's well worth the rediscovery by vintage prog fans. This symphonic prog band were somewhat comparable to Earth and Fire, mostly due to a striking female singer out front and plentiful use of emotional Mellotron in just about every track of their album. Singing in English, charmingly accented vocalist Rose Podwojny is a powerhouse performer, the perfect balance of gutsy and feminine charms, although her sometimes exhausting delivery won't be to everyone's tastes (Gudny Aspaas from Norwegian band Ruphus is instantly comparable). Recorded in only a week, `Sandrose' is delicate one minute, overwhelming with power the next, and while it's certainly no classic, it's still exquisitely performed by a talented group of musicians and distinctive vocalist.

Opener `Vision' quickly builds in urgency, a pounding relentless drum-beat beside Rose's vocals that border on losing control, reverberating heavy echoing electric guitar strains racing along the background. `Old Dom Is Dead' sees Rose adopt a more gospel influenced vocal, reaching ear-splitting levels of spiritual rapture over sublime lifting clouds of Mellotron that never cease. The main repeated theme of `To Take Him Away' melds romantic Camel-styled lead guitar and accompanying Mellotron with a catchy repeated chorus, plus a powerful instrumental outro where the 'Tron comes closest to resembling a sweeping orchestra. `Summer is Yonder' is a downbeat psych/folk ballad, but some pained and slightly pitchy higher vocals from Rose almost derail it.

Two lengthy instrumentals are sure to be favourites of prog listeners. After a majestic gliding Mellotron fanfare opening for `Underground Session' (which will also be repeated throughout the piece at regular intervals), a bombastic wordless male band member chorus booms before ragged extended electric guitar soloing, rippling Hammond organ, crashing gongs and pulsating bass reach maddening moments of tension and drama. A thick dirge-like slab of Mellotron with King Crimson-like intensity smashes all in its path in the final minutes as well. Later on, the up-tempo `Metakara' is an infectious and tightly constrained jazz/fusion workout, with dancing electric piano and bubbling Hammond, Jean- Pierre moving through lightly jazzy guitar licks to some ripping scorching faster runs. The album concludes on a baffling psychedelic snippet that sounds like nothing else on the album and is really quite out of place!

But special mention must to `Never Good at Sayin' Goodbye', a restrained and heart- wrenching ballad. Acoustic guitars gently float with Rose's wounded whisper, and then when the chorus hits, the piece roars to life with a rising vocal and Mellotron crescendo. "I'll look back on the love we knew...I'll remember when you're far away that I love you...". Rose completely nails the right level of heartbreak and dignity on this track, and it's impossible not to be moved by this powerful display, a real showcase for her.

Easier to find again due to a recent Mini LP CD reissue from Musea, Sandrose and their album are not an essential purchase for prog listeners, with endless other albums, both French and otherwise, worth tracking down beforehand. But long-time prog collectors looking for some other worthwhile titles to add to their library can be easily assured they'll receive a quality album if they were to take a chance on this. It's a sumptuous work that deserves some more attention, and fans of rare female singers in vintage prog bands and Mellotron fiends who can't get enough of the instrument should probably make a note to look into this one right away!

Three and a half stars.

Report this review (#1268314)
Posted Friday, September 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars No matter how classic some albums might be, if classic is an apt word for such an obscure piece of prog as far as the number of ratings is concerned, it does not manage to really act out all of it's praise. At times it's like acquiring a splinter from the cross of Christ, only to fill you with a sense of doubt as to whether it is real or not. Maybe that is symbolism a bit stretched but I dare say some of you get my drift.

Sandrose is a great band. Don't get me wrong. They are. The thing is, the problem or whatever you would like to call it, is that the songs, no matter how enjoyable they are when you listen to them, leave little to remember. Whenever I look at the CD I cannot recall more than a few tracks, though I have been listening to the album many a times. More than really able to hum some of it's contents I go "That's a good track, if I am not mistaken" and then I start to doubt the authenticity of the cross.

Two tracks in particular stay in my head and those are "Never good at saying goodbye" and the great "Underground session". These I know for a fact to be truly fantastic. The rest blends together in big lump of music. The reason for this is the similar sounds produced. Sort of mellow, organ based semi-progressive music. If I listen to one song only, and that can be any song on the album, I go "This is so amazing", but as a whole I enjoy it though little remains, as I have stated. It is like eating a too big a bag of sweets. In the end all taste the same and you fill full of it.

With all this said I guess it sounds like Sandrose really is a substandard album but it is not. It is very enjoyable and I will not part with it. It is a great album to relax to, a wonderful rainy day companion and a fine example of french progressive music. Take a listem. Maybe you'll agree with me or maybe you won't. At least you will have been able to touch the cross. Then it's up to you to judge it's authenticity.

Report this review (#1283837)
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars In short: interesting, Mellotron-loaded and charmingly vintage (ie. slightly worn-out sounding) progressive rock, but an awful female singer! The latter is the sole reason I'm now finally removing the CD from my collections. Frankly I've hardly ever listened to it since I wrote the prog book chapter about it in July 2012. The CD edition that I have (Lion Production, 2011) includes a long article and band photos.

SANDROSE, as a symphonic prog band with a distinctive female voice singing in English (very rare in the french scene), could be compared to e.g. AFFINITY, BABE RUTH and perhaps most of all to the Dutch EARTH & FIRE. The mellow sound contains a lot of Mellotron, often reminiscent of Gabriel-era GENESIS. The composers, guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen and keyboardist Henri Garella, had an instrumental band called Eden Rose (their sole album being On the Way to Eden, 1970). Then they met the Russian-born Rose (!) Podwojny and renamed the group as Sandrose. OK, she can sing also decently enough, definitely not a great voice even then, and her shaky vibrato is ugly. But when she raises her voice in a scream-like manner, as she often does, it sounds pretty annoying to my ears. Worse than SHIRLEY BASSEY, and that's a big statement. (I actually like entertainment vocal music with all the evergreens and emotional impact, but Bassey I have to pass due to her vocal style.)

So, Rose Podwojny's vocals ruin many songs that I'd otherwise would enjoy. The delicate 'Never Good at Sayin' Good-Bye' with all the Mellotrons in the chorus is one of such songs. The 7-minute 'To Take Him Away' is a highlight, or would be with a good vocalist. 'Summer is Yonder' has a beautiful, dreamy atmosphere but sadly there's that screamy voice. Good grief.

Happily there are two instrumentals. 'Metakara' is a jazzy, fast one. The 11-minute, very proggy 'Underground Session' is without a doubt the whole album's highlight. It makes me give the third star. "Sandrose" has become a classic album. I'm not saying it wouldn't deserve it, but I advice to approach it with incorruptible ears. Even if you didn't hate the vocals like me, the compositions may lack something too.

Report this review (#1492671)
Posted Thursday, November 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars I finally got an old Musea CD reissue of this. Well, better late than never, given I've heard of this group for literally years and heard of their reputation. One of those albums I should have owned in my early days of collecting prog rarities and obscurities (but around 1993-94 I never heard of them, not until around 1999). It's apparently one of the first titles Musea ever reissued back in 1988 (it's not the first release on the label, as they released stuff as far back as 1986). It seems Sandrose was already a rarity and collectible even back in 1988. I don't have the money on me to get an original LP copy to begin with. First released in France in 1972 on Polydor, it received a UK release the following year, but the French original does feature the gatefold the UK pressing lacks. Whatever the case it seems Sandrose has been a Musea best seller.

OK, the one band frequently brought up is Earth & Fire. Certainly, like the Dutch band in question, a female-lead band with Mellotron. But Earth & Fire had pop sensibilities that made them big in their home country. Sandrose didn't. If you replace Rose Podwojny with a male vocalist, it's not too terribly different from early UK prog found on Vertigo and Neon, like Spring, Gracious, Cressida, and Beggars Opera (particularly Waters of Change). A lot of French prog bands I've heard tended to be spacy with a King Crimson or Pink Floyd influence (Pulsar, Carpe Diem, Arachnoid and Artcane comes to mind), but clearly Sandrose follows the early UK prog template of those bands mentioned. So in that case, if you like those UK bands mentioned, you'll have no problem adapting to this. The only trouble may be Rose Podwojny. While she's quite accomplished for an 18 year old, she sometimes had trouble controlling her voice when hitting loud or high notes, so it ends up a bit shrilly. But like those UK bands, Henri Garella packs it with lots of Hammond organ and Mellotron, Mellotron fans certainly need this album as its packed with it. "Vision", while I love the mood and vibe shows some of Rose's disadvantages with her singing as she sounds a bit strained in places. I still love this piece. "Never Good at Sayin' Good Bye" sounds very much like Cressida with a female vocalist. "Underground Session (Chorea)" sounds like it should be a bunch of nonsense, but actually it's just a wonderful extended piece with some nice jazzy parts. "Old Dom is Dead" was actually released as a single, again showing that UK influence. "Summer is Yonder" is a cover, but I can't seem to pinpoint who did it, other than J. Cockenpot is credited. "Metakara" is clearly different, this is a Henri Garella instrumental where he cuts loose on clavinet and Hammond organ. I gather this was towards the end of recording as he never used a clavinet elsewhere. Reminds me of Brian Auger's "Ellis Island" from Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger & the Trinity's Streetnoise from 1969. The last one features a German title "Fraulein Kommen Sie Schalaffen Mit Mir". It's a real short piece, just a bunch of goofing about. I'm glad they didn't try polka here. While the focus seems to be on Rose's singing and Henri's keyboard playing, it seems the mastermind of Sandrose is guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen. The only flaw may be Rose Podwojny, as her voice can be a little hard to take in, but the music is very much the classic it is. Worth your time.

Report this review (#1802795)
Posted Thursday, October 12, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars An excellent female voice progressive band. Her voice is out of this world. Very touching and very melodic album. Definitely a masterpiece of NON UK Progressive albums. Guitar is not that technical BUT it really serves the songs of this obscure masterpiece. In other words, a must have for collectors of this kind. I own many obscure albums but this one made me feel like inventing this music recently. Is one of the few albums i listened several times the same day of purchase and then again and again and again. The vocals might seems a bit bad at the first hearing of the album but the second time the listener will realise that are really matching with the whole album and are Perfect.
Report this review (#1867347)
Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | Review Permalink

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