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Lucifer's Friend - Banquet CD (album) cover


Lucifer's Friend

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The band has pushed towards prog nature in their music in this album. This album is truly prog. My longtime favorite song is "Sorrow" which has a strong melody and excellent songwriting. I like the way Lawton sings in this track combined with stunning lead guitar with jazzy organ sound. The orchestration as background enriches this track. The incorporation of brass / woodwind instruments in this track has made complex yet enjoyable music. One thing I need to emphasize is the transitions between music segments where different instrument takes the lead on solo (especially guitar and organ) has been created smoothly. The way brass section arranged is totally different with typical brass-based band like CHICAGO or BLOOD SWEAT and TEARS. Probably, the way brass section is arranged reminds me to CHASE.

This album has 5 tracks of which 3 of them were co-written by Lawton and Hesslein. One track is jointly written by Lawton, Hesslein and Horns. One track "Thus Spoke Oberon" is written by Bacardi / O'Brian Docker. The opening track "Spanish Galleon" is composed nicely. Listening to the intro of this track may create an impression of latin- rock music similar to SANTANA's. But when the organ sound enters, it sounds differently.

It's an excellent work by the band. I give FIVE STAR for these 3 tracks for great songwriting and composition: "Spanish Galleon", "Thus Spoke Oberon" and "Sorrow". Overall, I recommend you to have this album in your prog collection. It's a different kind of prog. - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Report this review (#28929)
Posted Monday, June 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars With "BANQUET" LUCIFER'S FRIEND fourth offering,the band no doubt succeeded in captivating anyone with bold,daring listening tastes...The writing is just as intricate{as with their preivious three efforts}but with the added string and horn arrangements a whole new conciousness was achieved by these highly intelligent german musicians...Very nicely sequenced order to the material{which can often "make or break" a recording}"BANQUET" opens with "SPANISH GALLEON' {my personal favorite and just fantastic lyrics!!}}really capturing the feel of it's dubbed title."THUS SPOKE OBERON" follows beautifully{and naturally}with a warm but explosive flavor and intricate choice of notes.JOHN LAWTON is such an underrated vocalist it's sickening that most humans are ignorant to his talents...Next is "HIGH FLYING LADY-GOODBYE"-perfect length for the third piece after two longer numbers but no less extravagent.So rewarding to listen to...The fourth piece "SORROW"{my second favorite!!}Not much to add to GATOT's commentary- just absolutely mandatory listening.A stunning piece of music and lyrical composition."DIRTY OLD TOWN" concludes "BANQUET" and among the five tracks featured is probably the most suitable finishing touch to this most progressive offering.Lots of risks were taken to produce this recording{and they all semed to work!}In a word "BANQUET" by LUCIFER'S FRIEND is perfect!
Report this review (#28930)
Posted Wednesday, July 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars ThIS ALBUM is very touchy.The voice and the feeling of the entire album is a must. In the discography of Lucifer's friend,this is the best .Nothing is like this album.I have a lot of cd's in my collection but this album stay my favorite
Report this review (#28931)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
5 stars Energetic jazz/rock which is very upbeat and moving. Everything about the albums blows me away and I am very glad I found it, so should you! Are there any weak points you may ask? Granted some 5 star albums have a weak point or two (making it a 4.75 in all honesty, but I round up) but there are no real weak points.
Report this review (#28932)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Banquet" is Lucifer's Friends progressive masterpiece. It has none of the heavy guitar and organ riffs of their debut album. Instead this album i filled with strings, electric piano and moog-syntheziser. It also has a much more laid back sound compared to the dark and haunting sound of the two first albums. John Lawton's vocals are as usual fantastic and the whole band are really impressive instrumentalists. If you are into classic 70's heavy metal you should start with the self-titled debut or the more proggressive but still heavy (and great) "Where the Groupies Killed the Blues" from '72. I myself really like all those incarnations of Lucifer's Friend and consider them one of my all time favorite bands. But if you only want one Lucifer's Friend album this is the one to own I think. A Masterpiece!
Report this review (#39326)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Banquet by Lucifer's Friend is a diamond in the rough. I first heard "Thus Spoke Oberon" on the radio and went out to buy the album. Wow. It blew me away in 1975. I played it for my tennis teammates, and they dug it while playing whiffle ball on the lawn. "Spanish Galleon" with all its intricacies of orchestra and guitar work really is unique. And then the singing by John Lawton fits right in to the complex music. I'm no music critic, but I know this music is fresh as the day it was born. I have to get the CD, my record is warn out. Enough said.

Jeff Mangelsdorf

Report this review (#94473)
Posted Saturday, October 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a stunning album is Banquet. A truly amazing symphonic album with a jazzy elements and a great brass section. Every track is quite enjoyble to me, but the forte ones are the opening piece Spanish galleon and Sorrow, the longest tracks from here. The incorporation of brass section combined with great keys and guitars and a solid voice of John Lawton made this album to be a masterpiece of the '70's, at least for me. Transitions between music segments where the instruments take the lead are very well done, specially the keys and guitars. After all this album has nothing to do with early works of Lucifer's Friend, witch are more rough, more hevy prog, than this one. Here the sound and the entire album, musicaly speaking is much mature and deserve to be included in top of the most amazing albums of the '70's. So a 5 stars for this great and never old album.
Report this review (#158418)
Posted Saturday, January 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having been hit for six by Deep Purple's In Rock at the tender age of 15 and thereby shaking off the classic music shackles I had been brought up with, I was always on the lookout for something having the same vibe.

This album fit the bill, not in terms of structure, there are only rudimentary similarities, but this album has POWER. It rocks! Straight-in-your-face. But with orchestra. What? How can that work? I don't know, it just does.

I've heard this album being described as jazz-rock. No way, jazz-rock this is not, not even close. Having a horn section among the orchestral backdrop doesn't even move it in that direction, this is rock, plain and simple. I believe that people are just being fooled into thinking that there's more than there is, but, to be honest, more would have spoilt it.

I love this record to bits. The orchestra that groooooves along is the icing on the cake of very simple but effective rock song structures. The keyboard player Peter Hecht is responsible for the orchestration, and he couldn't have done a better job.

Just for giggles: As a number of Lucifer's Friend members were playing in the James Last Orchestra at the time, they actually got the JLO to play here. I think it's the best thing they ever will have played. I can only state that because living in Germany, there was no avoiding this tasteless ensemble on some medium at unfortunate times.

The song 'Spanish Galleon' just whizzes along on the basis of a handful of chords, masterfully propelled by the rhythm section.

All the songs are top-notch, there isn't one I have the slightest reason to skip or fast-forward.

As far as rock bassists go, Dieter Horns must have been one of the most competent ones around, not just on this album, but on the other Lucifer's Friend records too. The man is phenomenal.

I recommend this album to anyone who enjoys a bit of straight ahead power rock, with background orchestra for a progheads alibi.

My five stars are no exaggeration, I really think this album is that good. Sometimes feeling and power just rule over complexity, even in prog circles.

Report this review (#168602)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Thus spoke Lucifer's Friend

As I said in my review of the band's third album, the Metal purist's interest in Lucifer's Friend is (probably?) limited to the band's two first albums; the Heavy Metal of the self-titled debut and the equally heavy but at the same time very progressive Where The Groupies Killed The Blues. But the present album, though no longer describable as Metal, is nothing short of brilliant! The material here is every bit as strong as on those earlier great albums but it is very different in nature. This great Prog Rock album is filled to the brim with electric pianos, synthesizers, strings and, particularly, brass arrangements in addition to the usual Rock instruments! All the instruments are exceptionally well played and the vocals are simply outstanding. The British lead vocalist John Lawton was later recruited to join Uriah Heep, but the funny thing is that several of Lucifer's Friend's albums, including the present one, are much better and far more interesting than anything Uriah Heep ever did (with or without Lawton)!

The fact that this band was based in Germany (though John Lawton was British) could make you believe that this is Krautrock. Nothing could be further from the truth. This has a British Symphonic Prog sound to it.

As implied, Banquet is quite different from Lucifer's Friend's earlier albums. This is less heavy and more jazzy (though not at all in a Jazz-Rock/Fusion way ? this is still very much a Rock album. The electric guitars are more concerned with solos than riffs here. Lucifer's Friend were never content to stay within one musical style, but always preferred to move on to new territories with each subsequent album. This is one great album, severely underrated and definitely an excellent addition. The only song that might not be too interesting is the short High-Flying Lady Goodbye.

Very highly recommended!

Report this review (#192011)
Posted Saturday, December 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The sparkling write-ups this album often gets baffle me I'm afraid, and the goat-sacrificing image these guys have is even less apparent, at least in the music. Though sometimes heavy and sporadically prog, it offers surprisingly little heavy progressive rock. I must be missing something. Yes, that must be it.

At least that was my first impression. As it turns out, this group's fourth release is not that bad. In fact it's pretty damn cookin'. Opener and revealingly-titled 'Our World is a Rock 'n Roll Band' is just fine; well-recorded and arranged with bright horns and lush strings, the band swinging tightly with a rave-up sensibility tempered by commercial sophistication, the center melting apart with Peter Hecht's Fender piano, John Lawton's solid vocals, Dieter Horns's pulsing bass and a snappy drum break from Herbert Bornhold. Eleven-minute 'Spanish Galleon' is similar but with higher energy and cinematics, numerous changes and undoubtedly qualifies as progressive rock. The huge 'Thus Spoke Oberon' is Hair-like musical theater filled with enormous energy that pours through, and 'High Flying Lady Goodbye' loses us a bit with sugary vocals but is revived by robust 12-minute 'Sorrow', a popping horn arrangement in the manner of Blood,Sweat & Tears and maybe unintentional flashes of mid-period U.F.O.

A different kind of Prog that puts emphasis on the soul, contemporary beats, cheesy orchestration and clashing styles of the mid 1970s, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

Report this review (#209467)
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars If there ever was an album where big-band brass met the symphonic mastery of progressive rock while still retaining a hard-rock candy surface, "Banquet" was probably it. This is the sound of a band that has finally struck a balance between what it wants to do and what it aspires to reach, and the result couldn't have been better.

With every track comes a new mood and voice, and led bluesily, sometimes ferociously by the impressively ranged vocals of John Lawton, who would later front Uriah Heep. "Spanish Galleon' in particular is rediculously impressive in both its beginning and ending minutes, and "Thus Spoke Oberon" and "Sorrow" both seem to raise the diversity quite a bit, while at the same time being notably progressive in the compositional sense.

Honestly, people can try to compare this album to the sounds of other bands they want, but ultimately comparions prove fruitless; this album is undeniably progressive rock, but at the same time its something more than what constitutes the genre its part of. This, ladies and gentleman, is a very special album and one of the best I've ever come across. Sometimes contagiously energetic and jazzy, other times moody and's quite the ride either way, and deserved far more attention than it got at the time of it's release.

Long live Lucifer's Friend, and may others discover the joy of their magnificent sound just as countless others before me have done.

Report this review (#219697)
Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Fourth album from this German band with an? English vocalist (and not one of the least). The problem with this band is that their great debut was never confirmed. From a four stars rating they dropped to two in my books with their "Rock'n'Roll Singer" stuff. And I can tell you that this "Banquet" is no feast at all. At least I feel so.

The long opening song ("Spanish Galleon") holds some good (but so damned short) guitar moments ŕ la Carlos but it paves the way for the whole. Namely: a brass section that I can't stand. But these instruments were never too much a passion of mine (and never will).

Where did the great and heavy rock from this band go to? Not on this album, that's for sure! If you thought that the weak opening song was a mistake, it was not. Unfortunately: the awful "Thus Spoke Oberon" is a perfect confirmation of this feeling. A short guitar solo (soon covered by these stupid brasses) is the only good moment. Some thirty seconds out of almost seven minutes. Big deal!

It was quite a disappointment to listen to this work but as I have said, the creativity / originality declined seriously after their debut. A good option would have been to call it quit after such a great piece of music; as many, many Italian bands did. But they decided to go through. Unfortunately.

The bottom low and almost ridiculous "High flying Lady ? Goodbye" only highlights this feeling. How is it possible to release such a song? Just bear in mind that the band was categorized in the heavy prog style? We are far, very far away from the genre with this "Banquet" album.

Don't expect the second long song from this offering to save the bill. "Sorrow" is just another soft jazzy number with little appeal as far as I am concerned. Excellent vocals (but this can be experienced throughout the album) are really the only positive point.

This has NOTHING to do with heavy prog. Two stars is my maximum rating. Below average music it is. No prog and little rock. What else???

Report this review (#386444)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Prog Rock: The Musical

Ever wondered how that would turn out? Maybe BANQUET isn't the best representation of a ''prog musical'', but I hear a lot of theatre music that sounds so campy it works. Listen to ''Our World Is a Rock and Roll Band'' and try not to imagine ''Chicago'' (the musical, although the band might also come to mind). I also see the high octane dance number in ''High Flying Lady-Goodbye'' and the cheeky finale in ''Dirty Old Town''. Then again, I've performed in numerous community theatre productions so I have that kind of bias.

But with three campy musical numbers, are we still dealing with prog rock? To an extent. ''Thus Spoke Oberon'' is the big prog track both in sound and development. The beautiful piano and orchestra parts bring the pomp while the faster paced middle section most closely depicts the Lucifer's Friend of old; one that can let a mean guitar solo go.

There's also two longer numbers that are more jazz fusion with a good Broadway vibe to them. You can easily dance to the vocal sections, yet there's plenty of space for the musicians and brass orchestra to breathe. Bassist Dieter Horns makes great use of the space; listen to some of the licks in ''Spanish Galleon''. And I have not once mentioned how powerful and dominating the vocals of John Lawton are. Rarely matched in the rock world, Lawton is a terribly underrated vocalist that brings life to the whole album.

It's a ton more enjoyable if you get a mental picture of a Broadway show while you spin BANQUET. Lucifer's Friend as a band came from a heavier rock sound earlier in their career, but they seem to have stripped most of it away for BANQUET. Not head-banging but toe-tapping, and certainly one of the most unique prog rock experiences. I have to restrain the rating though, because the showtune-y sound many of the numbers have might be off putting to many prog fans.

Report this review (#430563)
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars It seems that in the process of making Banquet Lucifer's Friend must have been listening to a lot of early Santana, because opening track Spanish Galleon - one of the album's two major centrepieces - sounds uncannily like Santana's Latin-infused jazzy psychedelic rock. Although Lucifer's Friend are mainly known as trailblazers for metal, this album really isn't that heavy, but it's still a grand showcase for Peter Hesslein's guitar skills and in general offers an interesting listen which expands and builds on the sort of musical territory Santana had opened up on their first four or so albums. Not essential, but not one to overlook by any means.
Report this review (#976347)
Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Heavy prog? More like light jazz: 6/10

What do you think that would be the world's reaction if BLACK SABBATH, on their fourth album, decided to swap their sonority to jazz fusion? In short terms, this is what happened here. Heavy & doom metal (too) forerunners LUCIFER'S FRIEND took no time to abandon their dark style and opt for freaking jazz. Doing something like this in the 70s naturally got them criticized; it was an era where familiarity was fundamental for a band's success (no one would buy BLACK SABBATH hoping for jazz fusion) after all. Actually, they did this swap earlier - on their second album - but it was with BANQUET they departed from everything they represented hitherto. A highly venturesome move and progressive indeed.

Sadly, they don't do so well. BANQUET is a mountain peak album. It climaxes rapidly, but its captivation dies equally quickly. There are no flaws found in Spanish Galleon, the album's peak: John Lawton's vocal performance is intense, the guitar is virtuoso, the piano is smooth and quick-paced, and Herb Geller's brass sections sounds terrific. Simply put, it is a perfect multi-layered allegory for what a band can achieve with jazz fusion pretensions. Thus Spoke Oberon - the edge of the cliff - lacks the instrumental eclecticism, being more guitar and piano oriented, but is nonetheless good.

What happens next is that LUCIFER'S FRIEND bluesy sides, which weren't properly exorcised, start to speak louder. The frenzied energy begins to fade, turning mostly into piano tracks a la Elton John (with, uhm, 'jazz', I suppose). High- Flying Lady is an absolute buzz killer after the first two excellent tracks. Sorrow is as large as Spanish Galleon but not nearly as interesting. Dirty Old Down is almost boogie-woogie, if I recall correctly.

The supposedly defunct band, thanks to the internet, hit the road again since 2015. LUCIFER'S FRIEND released an (apparently) good album in 2016. They are also actively searching for their old record songs' lyrics. For as much as BANQUET failed to impress me as a jazz fusion album, I recommend trying it nonetheless. The first two tracks (which by themselves are roughly half the album) suffices to make it a worthy purchase. Well, worthy enough to make me interested on its creators' interesting historic after all, especially now they've been brought back from the dead.

Report this review (#1745596)
Posted Sunday, July 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Artwork, yes. The principle idea behind the cover would be or should be to point out the direction of the music housed within. At least one might argue that the artwork ought to do just that. If you don't know anything about Lucifer's Friend you are truly forgiven for thinking that these leatherclad (apparently) metalheads on the cover must be the birthgivers to some of the most hardhitting heavy metal of the day. And not only that, they may well be participants in some occult order, practicing witchcraft and summoning the Devil at their will. If you listen or have listened to the first album by the group you might guess according to your knowledge that the heavy metal line of music is exactly what the guys play but you are mistaken. Not sadly mistaken but mistaken nevertheless.

Heavy prog was the bands genre on the first two albums. Then they changed direction. Progressive they remained but in another way. This, their fourth, is not very much hard rock but is instead one of the most accomplished jazzrock albums I have heard, and I've actually listened quite alot to that genre. The fact that pure hardrock is almost entirely missing from the album does not mean it is any less powerful. The songs on this album are extremely energetic and just as majestic, muscular and forceful as any hardrock album from the day. To me this is the most focused of all Lucifer's Friend albums I have heard. It's like everything came to them in a haze of divine inspiration. Each and every instrument is something to marvel at and follow. Just listen to the bass player, for instance. He works his way up and down that neck like there's no tomorrow. And you mustn't forget the utterly brilliant vocalist John Lawton. Man, what a voice.

Out of the five tracks on this album three are five star songs in my book. "Spanish galleon" with it's pirate themed imagery, "Thus spoke Oberon" and "Sorrow" are mindblowing examples of jazzrock and rank (according to me) alongside the supposedly greatest in the genre. I do not think it's possible to make greater jazzrock than this, actually. Out of the two remaining tracks one is merely okay and the other one great. "High-flying lady goodbye" (2 stars) is somewhat in the Status Quo vein and the closing "Dirty old town" (4) is a ballad-y but energetic song. Quite a good way to end an album of such sparkling and powerful music.

Sorry to say Lucifer's Friend really never hit these heights again. This was and is their greatest moment. And what a statement it is! I have loved this album for the last 20 odd years and it feels as vibrant and engaging now as it did back then. If you like jazzrock (Chicago, If, Blood Sweat and Tears, Colosseum and so on...) I bet you will find things on this album to cherish. If you bought this album thinking it would be filled to the brim of heavy metal, don't be too disappointed. Listen to it with an open mind and I'll bet you just might reconsider.

Had it not been for "High-flying lady goodbye" I just might have considered giving this album five stars but as it stands I'll give it four. Still, a marvellous album by a sometime marvellous band.

Report this review (#2120554)
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2019 | Review Permalink

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