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Esperanto - Esperanto Rock Orchestra CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars If the core/backbone of the group was Belgian - the Malisan brothers , Bruno Libert and Raymond Vincent came from the region of Mons, Belgium - the frontmen were from a little all over the planet - Australia , UK among others - and they recorded in London and were based there. Although tagged as international, the group's core musicians (the ones that stayed throughout the three albums) had previously evolved out of the Belgian scene, from bands like Waterloo, Wallace Collection, Kleptomania and they worked up a demo and took it to London. They knocked on a few doors and eventually were asked to relocate there and work with frontmen exterior to the group. With no other choices they accepted. This first album is the immediate result and has a bit of artificial flavour. Something that feels (pre-)fabricated and not exactly what the musicians would have done themselves. Almost as if it was a music industry product of the early 60's but done with the 70's means.

The music developed here resembles best Electric Light Orchestra gone overboard but not in a bad sense. This reminds me of the first four albums of ELO when they made still what could be considered their best orchestral works. I think that they had a very strong financial support at firs , just to have so many players. However the frontmen kept changing as the albums passed and although relative/moderate success was there , they disbanded after the third from lack of money. From memory , you should start with the last one and work backwards.

Report this review (#31657)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the debut album from Esperanto even though I first knew the band from their third album "Last Tango". Specifically I was impressed with the band's interpretation and rearrangement of The Beatles "Eleanor Rigby". I have never been a big fan of The Beatles but of course I knew some of their songs. When I heard "Eleanor Rigby" performed by Esperanto - it blew me at first listening! Wow!! What a wonderful and neat arrangement this band has made. After this experience I explored the other albums.

Put it at the right perspective when this album was released, it's a good album overall, especially being a debut album. Of course I loved the exploration of violin and cello featured by the band. It's become the band's trade mark: rock music with violin and cello. Most songs performed here are - as the name implies - a straight forward, simple structure rock music, and sometimes pop music. But again, with the right perspective, it was a very good music overall. Song like "Never Again" has colored my past days when I chased rock music albums like Led Zeppelin, Golden earring, Deep Purple, Babe Ruth, Popol Ace, etc. This song reminds me to Babe Ruth's "Duchess of Orleans". It's a melodic song with great female vocal. The band also explored some avant-garde music like the one in "Perhaps One Day" (track 3) - I like the combination of violin and cello performed during opening part.

"Statue of Liberty" is a blues influenced song with excellent guitar work. "Gypsy" starts off with excellent violin / cello solo - unfortunately when the vocal line enters it's totally a pop song with violin work. "City" is another excellent track with duo vocals and relatively complex arrangement.

Overall, it's not a bad debut album at all. If you enjoy violin-based rock / pop music, you may favor this album as well. But, you should buy the CDs of the next follow-up albums: "Dance Macabre" and "The Last Tango". Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

Report this review (#39100)
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Even those unfamiliar with Esperanto Rock Orchestra will likely find something strangely familiar with their sound, although exactly what that is may be difficult to pinpoint. Hard to believe one of the main singers on this debut record (Glenn Shorrock) would soon be crooning out soft-rock hits for Little River Band ("Well I was born in the sign of water, and it's there that I feel my best; the albatross and the whales they are my brothers...").

The rest of the multinational lineup were relative unknowns, although cellist Timothy Kraemer had managed to land an appearance with the monster assemblage known as Centipede during their epic 1970-71 recording sessions for 'Septober Energy'. And several of the female backing singers had also backed Al Stewart; two of them would score a minor UK hit in 1974 by covering an old Phil Spector tune under the name of The Hooter Sisters.

Esperanto drew their name from their varied nationalities, ranging from England to the U.S. to Italy to New Zealand and Australia, although the band itself was formed by a Belgian and was briefly based out of that country before traveling to England in search of a record deal. This, their debut album, featured a large cast including at least three different lead singers, although the lineup would prove to be fluid both during the recording sessions and throughout the band's brief career.

The influences of the Broadway, pop, folk and classical music backgrounds of the various members are all apparent in the lush and varied production of this album. Attempting to genre label would be a futile exercise and also a mistake with this music, as it ranges quite fluidly across so many spectrums of classical and contemporary disciplines.

The opening "On Down the Road" is a fairly straightforward light rock number with Shorrock's distinctive voice reinforcing the commercial feel to the tune, but with violins, cello and piano that are not all that different than what ELO would probably have sounded like without Jeff Lynne. Undoubtedly this was intended to be the launching single for the album.

The band begins to branch out almost immediately though, following the opener up with the Janice Slater-fronted, slightly R&B-tinged "Never Again" before returning to the strong string accompaniment with another Shorrock tune in "Perhaps One Day". This one seems to have progressive rock ambitions, but doesn't quite pull it off and ends up sounding like a pop-rock tune with a heavily fussed-over instrumental arrangement.

Shorrock adds a slightly sappy 'go USA' tribute with the self-penned "Statue of Liberty" that really doesn't seem to belong here ("hey you, get out the way - anything can happen in the USA!"); but the band acquits themselves quite well by following that with a trio of loping, comfortable-like-your-favorite-shirt numbers in "Gypsy", "Roses" and "City", the latter two of which move away from the orchestral string arrangements in favor of a more R&B sound with prominent three-part female vocals, featured lead electric guitar and plenty of dance- inducing percussion that comes off as sort of a white 5th Dimension (maybe a little bit like Silver Convention without the disco beat).

Given the folk and soft-rock influences of several members (not to mention the presence of an acoustic guitar player, cellist, violist and both 1st and 2nd part violinists), it was inevitable the band would include a slow acoustic number as well, which they saved for the end of the original vinyl on "Move Away".

CD reissues of this album include three bonus tracks. "Getting Along" is a funky dance number, while "Waiting Till the Day" is pure soft-rock with some proggy accoutrements and more extended organ breaks than appeared anywhere on the original record. I'm not quite sure but I believe the one of vocalists here is Keith Christmas, who appeared on some of the demo tracks the band brought to England and who would become the band's lead vocalist for their second release 'Danse Macabre'. Shorrock remains the lead singer here as well though. And "Emma" is another slow tune with a twangy guitar riff and vocals that remind me quite a bit of the bands America and Home circa around the same time period.

The large lineup, classical-music-meets-Broadway sound of the band could be compared to a blend of bands like Carnegie, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the 5th Dimension. I'm not sure this really qualifies as true progressive music, but it is a good introduction to some of the more complex and ambitious work the band would employ on their next two releases. A decent record to have in your collection; not a masterpiece but worth picking up especially if you are a fan of strings with your rock music. Three stars and recommended to fans of representative eclectic progressive rock from the mid-seventies.


Report this review (#286195)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I listen in first time Danse Macabre and Rock Orchestra after, and it's the beginning of an adventure with multinational musicians. This first album, in my opinion, is the music project that still needs to mature. Tracks with very good arrangements with a violin that it's not smooth, with songs, whose vocal arrangement up is cute and nice, but unfortunately a little commercial. They made an even funny version of a song by the Beatles, with an origianl way, but all the album, it's nice but I feel that it still lacks something. This is the maturing of this whole project, what will happen in the next two albums, Danse Macabre and Last Tango. The complex music made, create a very expensive stage material, that is limited in this time, and it's the motive for the end of the band. It's good listen the beginning of Esperanto, to untherstand this superb band, and make an assessment of their development 3 stars, but really 3,5.
Report this review (#1379863)
Posted Sunday, March 8, 2015 | Review Permalink

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