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4 stars This LP is one of the best Norwegian prog-LP's, with excellent melodic harmonies, very good compositions, has joy of playing and, it is a bit different of the rest Ruphus albums. More in the Yes vein, Ranshart should absolutely be a part of a serious proghead's collection!The other remaining Ruphus albums are all good, but more fusion oriented.
Report this review (#61336)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is how I imagine Yes may have sounded had the original line-up remained together for another year or two. Full of energy, inventiveness and the optimism of prog in its youth. You could possibly agrue that it does 'sound of it's time', but if like me you are particularly fond of early 70's progressive music I think you will find much to enjoy in this recording.
Report this review (#143609)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I reviewed Ruphus’ debut album about a year and a half ago and wrote that some of it smacked of mid-seventies AOR, and that it was a decent album but overall hadn’t aged all that well. The same applies to ‘Ranshart’, their sophomore release that came out less than a year after ‘New Born Day’.

There are a few differences, albeit mostly minor ones. The opening track isn’t nearly as heavy as “Coloured Dreams” from ‘New Born Days’, and the band manages to deviate from an obvious Yes-influenced style with the almost Styx-leaning (and decidedly non-prog titled) ballad “Easy Lovers, Heavy Moaners”. The vocal harmonies on this one remind me just a bit of Spock’s Beard as well, although the lyrics are pretty much repetitive and disposable.

As with their debut there is a heavy emphasis on keyboards of all sorts, yet with this second album the band does spend a bit more time at least trying to give equal billing to Kjell Larsen’s guitar and (quite noticeably) bassist Aslec Nilsen, who is also credited with the flute but doesn’t really play it much except on “Pictures of a Day”. A second guitarist and flautist from the first album is gone, as is the band’s original lead vocalist Gudny Aspaas which is too band because I liked her voice. The band also had a second keyboardist (Hĺkon Graf) who has apparently left as well, but they have added a new vocalist in Rune Ostdahl.

While the first album settled into a very period-appropriate heavy prog groove after the opening track, this one balances guitar riffs with synthesized keyboard forays and just enough multipart vocals to sound more like early neo-prog than its heavier predecessor. This is most evident on “Fallen Wonders” and the closing “Back Side” though, while the rest of the album is characterized by the same sort of decidedly mid-seventies as the albums that preceded and followed it.

My understanding is the band took more of a fusion direction toward the end, but if you are one of the many folks who still appreciate that seventies symphonic-meets-art-rock sound, this record may appeal to you. Reissued on CD in 1999, you can still find copies pretty easily although in the U.S. at least you’ll have to import it as I doubt you can find this on many record store shelves. Three stars anyway; a pleasant enough diversion on a late autumn evening or perhaps even a lazy summer afternoon. Recommended for nostalgic types I suppose.


Report this review (#244045)
Posted Saturday, October 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Ranshart sees Ruphus changing their style dramatically and aiming for an early Yes sound. ("Early" meaning from the debut album to the Yes Album or thereabouts.) Whilst I can see why some musicians might consider this a canny move when Yes seemed on the verge of becoming completely inaccessible following the (brilliant) experiments of Tales From Topographic Oceans and Relayer, at the same time the approach the band take is so crass and cynical that it becomes impossible to overlook the shortcomings of their cloned sound.

Aslec Nilson makes the occasional bid to mimic Chris Squire's distinctive bass sound and almost succeeds, but all this does is underline how far they fall short of their target. Likewise, Rune Ostdahl is no Jon Anderson, no matter how much he cribs from Anderson's lyrical focuses and vocal style.

I have no objections to bands that try to recapture the classic sound of earlier groups - hell, I wouldn't be as fond of neo-prog as I am if that were the case - but I only dig clone groups if they're able to actually approach the standards of the band they are imitating, or if they bring their own ideas to the table to spice up an otherwise played-out formula. As it is, Ruphus achieve neither on this album, and the only thing they accomplish is the loss of the more interesting sound of their debut album. This is a crying shame.

Report this review (#530130)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1974 Ruphus would face some serious line-up changes for the first time.Hans Petter Danielsen left the band to become a well-known producer and he was briefly replaced by ex-Junipher Greene's guitarist Freddy Dahl.Dahl spent just a few months with the band and quit along with Gudny Aspaas and Rune Sundby (who had a short solo career in the 70's).The three departing musicians were replaced only by new singer Rune Ostdahl.With a shortened five-piece core Ruphus entered the Roger Arnhoff Studios in October 74' to recorded their new work ''Ranshart'', their second one also for Polydor.

With ''Ranshart'' Ruphus abandoned the diverse yet excellent sound of their debut for a more focused style towards Classic Symphonic Rock, which was more or less influenced by YES and other British Prog bands.They offered a complicated Progressive Rock with poppy sensibilities during the vocal parts but a very high level of composing and technique, delivered in long, refined and mostly interesting arrangements, full of keyboard colors and tricky guitar parts.Their music had a good sense of melody and lots of changing soundscapes, based on the very good keyboard textures as displayed on organ, synthesizers and Mellotron, while all guitar and bass lines have this unmistakable YES flavor.The ideas are always very rich and interesting despite the obvious lack of originality with plenty of odd meters and shifting gears as well as some fine multi-vocal arrangements.However the piece that really shines through is the long instrumental ''Pictures of a day'', very much along the lines of FOCUS and KAIPA, featuring lovely flute lines, melodic guitar parts, obscure Mellotron themes and a generally very symphonic sound.

Add another great album in Ruphus discography.It lacks the more genuine style of their debut, but their brand new approach is always charming and professional.For all fans of Classic 70's Prog...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1150866)
Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Norwegian prog formation Ruphus released 7 albums between 1973 and 1979, after their acclaimed debut album New Born Day from 1973 the band moved to Germany. During the years the sound of Ruphus gradually turned from harder-edged prog to more jazzrock oriented. The band had success in Germany but due to multiple line-up changes eventually they dissolved in the late Seventies. Nowadays Ruphus first album is considered a real gem in the Norwegian progressive rock, in 2018 was reissued by Karisma Records and in 2019 this prolific Norwegian label reissued the second album entitled Ranshart, originally from 1974. Between the first and second album three members left, and a new singer arrived so it was pretty much another band that recorded the second album.

Despite the changes in the line-up Ruphus still has obvious hints from early Yes, the main difference concerns the vocals, not that emotional as the former singer (in the vein of German Inga Rumpf from Frumpy). Most of the five melodic and harmonic compositions (between 4 and 9 minutes) contain catchy beats and the pleasant vintage sound of the Hammond organ, Minimoog synthesizer and the unsurpassed Mellotron. The track Easy Lovers, Heavy Moaners starts with wonderful twanging acoustic guitars, Fallen Wonders delivers fiery work on the electric guitar and Pictures Of A Day is loaded with beautiful, folky sounding flute, from soaring to sparkling.

My highlight is the final song Back Side (8:10). It starts with a swinging rhythm featuring Hammond runs, Minimoog and Mellotron violins, and fuelled by dynamic rhythm-section (a big plus on this album). The powerful female vocals evoke Jon Anderson, and also bands like Druid and England come to my mind, due to the Anderson-like vocals and the vintage keyboards. Halfway the music turns into Vintage Keyboard Extravaganza: first a Mellotron flute solo, then a flashy Minimoog solo with lush Hammond and finally a bombastic atmosphere with strong vocals and Hammond, yet another sparkling Minimoog solo, with lush Hammond, again fuelled by the excellent rhythm-section. Wow, this is Ruphus inits full splendor!

To me this reissue sounds as a pleasant and solid effort, between Classic Prog and melodic rock, emebellished with wonderful work on Hammond, Mellotron and Minimoog.

My rating : 3,5 star.

This review was recently published on the Dutch progrock website Background Magazine, in a slightly different version.

Report this review (#2237523)
Posted Thursday, July 11, 2019 | Review Permalink

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