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MOUNTAIN QUEEN

Alquin

Eclectic Prog


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hcklvanzessen
3 stars Together with Nobody Can Wait Forever this is a good progressive rock album. On this album you have 2 classic Alquin tracks: The Dance (13.00 minutes) and Mountain Queen (14.45 minutes). These tracks are really great: you here hammond solos, powerfull sax and guitar work. These men from the Dutch city Delft where you have the monastery Alquin play their music powerfull.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32972)
Posted Monday, September 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another Alquin essential release by Dutch band Alquin.

This time they dropped the Caravan sound and showed more of their own. Songs such as the title track and "The Dance" are played live even today. "The Dance" cointains some of the best music the band have ever done, specially on the instrumental first half of the track, the second half feature vocals and is softer, even "radio-friendly". "Convicts of the Air" revisits the vocal part of "The Dance" in a more up-tempo way. The title track is fantastic full of melody, solos and mood changes and keeps your attention throughout its 15 minutes. Another highlight is the ending instrumental "Mr. Barnum's Jr.'s Magnificent And Fabulous City" that features lots of organ and saxes solos.

This record puts Alquin in the same league of the great Dutch bands such as Focus and Kayak.

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Send comments to Prosciutto (BETA) | Report this review (#45157)
Posted Thursday, September 01, 2005 | Review Permalink
jrj_dunn@yaho
5 stars Not only is this the best Alquin album , it is one of the best albums of the 1970's period.The interplay between the musicians is superb , everyone a master of their instrument, and the playing is disciplined and without ego. It has been said that the vocals are the weak link in Alquin but I disagree, in fact I think they lost a great deal when they recruited a singer for the follow up album and thereby becoming another stereotype rock band .

They found their own identity with "The Mountain Queen " and it has to be said they lost their direction after this.We can be grateful they made this masterpiece, and I can testify their concerts at this time were marvellous and well received by audiences.

To the music itself. The album is divided between five tracks, and the themes are split between "The Dance/Convicts of the air " and "Mountain Queen".A nice instrumental called " Soft eyed woman" creates an interlude in the running order , and with a great blow at the end entitled "Mr Barnum Jr's Magnificent and Fabulous City " The album has a flow and plays like a concept album and by that I mean the music has a unified feel and the ideas are linked by the delivery of the vocals and the playing.This is why this album never works when these tracks are separated , they should be played as a whole, preferably in one sitting.

In the first part the singer seems to have fallen in love with an air stewardess , and the second part is open for interpretation but seems to be a story set in the guise of a folk tale.It's the delivery of the lyrics that counts though,the soft vocals lend something extra to the music which has great atmosphere,and that is what this album is all about, atmosphere.

The instrumentation include flutes, saxes, keyboards, aswell as guitar, drums and bass and the musicianship is firstclass throughout. It would be unfair to single anyone out here , all the playing is great.This is a wonderful , lyrical album and it is very emotive. The sleeve is excellent , very subtle and understated on the front, the image on the back is pretty hard but nontheless still intriguing after thirty years, and the inside photo of the band on the gatefold album sleeve is very inventive and gives out a good feeling.

I recommend this album without any reservation at all , but try and get the vinyl , It is a lovely object. Happy listening.........

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#61746)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was 14 years old when I saw Alquin Live (Breda Turfschip). The psychodelic Soulband War introduced the night... Alquin played most of the the Mountain Queen album and I was really blown away. Great musicians going from jazz-rock through symphonic. It was during those days the best from Holland bottom. I am still listening to this album, for somebody that would like to listen over the English/American based bands this is horizon expanding...

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Send comments to peter lensvelt (BETA) | Report this review (#61782)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is probably their best. It was produced by Derek Lawrence, and the sound was heavier and more guitar driven than on their first album. References to Camel and early Roxy Music can be found. When you are interested in the music of Alquin, you must purchase this album. It is released together with their first album on one CD.

The album opens with the best track of their repertoire, and one of the best tracks that have come out of the Dutch progressive scene, The Dance. The intro has organ and some distorted guitar playing. It slows down so we can hear flute and vocals. After the verse the guitar is back. Halfway the track it changes drastically after another guitar solo, the track slows down again and it then sounds very loosely, jam-like with saxophone and electric piano. Soft-eyed woman is an instrumental track with mainly guitar. The next track is a strange but lovely track about the thoughts of a stewardess.

The title song is another long track, it is cheerful with some beautiful melodic passages. The short Don and Dewey is the only cover song they ever recorded, it perfectly transcends in the last track. This is the studio version of the same track of the first album.

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Send comments to Agemo (BETA) | Report this review (#73664)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A step down from their amazing debut.

The 2nd album by the Dutch band Alquin. Consensus opinion has it that this was their best album but I have to disagree. "Marks" was an amazingly varied and interesting treat filled with fun and great songs. "Mountain Queen" is clearly less bold to me-it's like they surveyed the landscape of the early 70s and decided to trade in the quirks (fun) for a more typical, predictable rock album. MQ does rock and it is good in parts, but it trades in the magic of the Camel/Caravan/Supersister/Floyd mixed breed for a showy purebred who may have the papers, but who lacks the charm of the mutt. The album is dominated by two 13-15 minute long jam tracks that are plenty competent on chops, but in dire need of inspiration. Both have their good moments but are woefully short on ideas to sustain those kinds of lengths, these are the kind of jams that spawned the joke about people yelling "Freebird." There are points in both songs where I'm just baffled as to where the spark went. "Soft-Eyed Woman" reminds a bit of Clapton with some nice, expressive bluesy leads. "Convicts of the Air" is another blues rocker that uses some flute but is really quite mediocre, going nowhere fast. "Don and Dewey" is a short little violin piece. "Mr. Barnum Jr's Magnificent and Fabulous City" is probably the highlight of the album with more variety to the feel. Violin, horn, and flute parts accent the jazzy rhythms that venture into Soft Machine territory just a bit. This track is very well assembled and convincing. The latter part features good organ work, a flute solo, and some raunchy guitar work. 2 ½ stars and not enough for me to round up. A huge disappointment after my excitement with their debut but keep in mind most reviewers disagree with me. There is a "2 on 1" CD edition out there that features both "Marks" and "Mountain Queen" so if you can find that, you'll get great value and be able to decide for yourself which direction was more interesting. In my humble opinion there is nothing on Mountain Queen that approaches the best moments on Marks.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#159705)
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Alquin - Mountain Queen (1973)

Alquin is a Dutch progressive rock group whose debut 'Marks' (1972) and 'Mountain Queen' (1973) are acclaimed albums of the classic progressive scene in Holland. On the debut Alquin sounded as an enthusiastic naļve band with many influences (from Pink Floyd to Soft Machine) with a mild touch and good melodic compositions and effective song-writing.

On their second album Alquin sounds more professional and the sound of the band is more balanced. The band now focuses on long compositions (whereas the debut was made up of a big collection of short pieces). The influences of jazz (perhaps from the Canterbury scene) are widespread, whilst Alquin has the format of a progressive rock group with many different melodic parts in every composition and expressive vocals. The style of the band is bit hard to nail down, but is comes down to combing jazz-rock jams with wind soloists and many melodic parts with some vocals and catchy melodies. To some extend the main themes of the longer tracks are a bit 'epical', having that larger-then-music effect. There are two long compositions, The Dance (13.03) and Mountain Queen (15.04) and some shorter tracks.

The use of many different instruments is attractive, adding violin, sax and flute to the normal rock equipment. The organ sounds and piano-playing of Dick Franssen can get very exciting, but during vocals sections he also some great subtle passages. The Les Paul guitar of Ferdinand Bakker is a great element of the music, his melodic style is derived from the age when bands would release instrumental singles. A good example of this is the short 'Soft-eyed Woman'.

Conclusion. This a strong jazz-rock influenced progressive rock album, recommended to fans of eclectic prog, jazz rock and classic progressive rock in general. A big three-and-a-halve star rating.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#171719)
Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Behind one of the uglier artwork around (especially the back cover showing a brute beating a tramp with on-lookers probably betting on the issue), Alquin's second album is the logical continuation of their debut album. And if the outer gatefold wasn't ugly enough, the inner one is completely missed as well, but at least printing the certainly-not-unforgettable lyrics accompanying the no-doubt ambitious music they'd set out to do. Indeed the album gives two major multi-movement suites, but they're overstretching their talents a tad too much and had to look for inspiration to Caravan (amongst others), or

Let's first look at the shorter tracks, Soft-eyed Woman (repetitive riff ala Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, but remaining thankfully short) and Convicts Of The Air (with its slightly Floyd-ish sound) are both quite pleasant but fail to enthuse beyond the initial surprise of the discovert. On the flipside, one gets less than one minute of Lazy... eeeehrrrr.. IBD's Don & Dewey, which is actually setting the record straight, but it's kind of useless and the Mr Barnum's track, which is fairly successful in painting the circus's idea of city with its excellent Caravan-ey feel (For Girls-era) instrumental.

As for the epics, the 15-mins '-movement title track has a certain Caravan feel (Cunning Stunt-era) and not just because of the presence of the violin (Richardson in Caravan) or the sax (Bother Jimmy in Caravan), but the track regularly changes tempos, and its middle section has a lengthy space for instrumental interplay, just before the Orange And Green final movement gives us plenty of shivers down our spines but a predictable end sort of ruin it. The 13-mins two-parts The Dance is generally faster tempoed than its alter-ego track and is looser in construction (in a Floyd-ish way) and sonically (also Floyd). Plenty of cool moments

Although clearly derivative of the Richardson-era Caravan but with an original touch as well, TMQ is still a good album to acquire if you're into soft symphonic rock with some jazzy overtones. The Mountain Queen is still only available on Cd format through the 2 on 1 series, coupled with the debut, which is definitely the best Alquin combination, the other coupling their third and fourth vastly inferior albums, which are best avoided. But this one isn't, and outside its poor artwork (BTW, they actually had the track list wrong on the flipside on the back cover and n ot on the discs central label.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#204642)
Posted Saturday, February 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars To me, not so good as the first album Marks but is other balanced album for this band from Netherland. This work are more fast that the first and in fact it takes away quality for this work. The guitar are nothing special and drums don't have quality for this work. Keyboards and sax give some balanced atmosphere and create some beautifull part“s. We can listen a violin in final tracks that does not belong to the context of the work but is quite beautifull. The flute are nothing special. it had a more positive expectation for the second album of this band but such it did not happen. I give 3 stars because I like this band.

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Send comments to Joćo Paulo (BETA) | Report this review (#231484)
Posted Friday, August 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 Stars.

This album suits my tastes to the nines. Blistering lead guitar, long Hammond passages, eclectic arrangements with sax, flute, piano, and electric violin thrown into the mix. There's not a wasted note on this entire record, and the power these guys display from the jump is impressive. "The Dance" starts a bit slow but really starts to move the record around the three minute mark with blaring sax and organ fueling the soaring guitar. Vocals are substantial and fair - with an excellent vocalist and some finely tuned harmonies this could be a masterpiece. That's the only flaw I can find thus far.

The album contains six tracks, two extend 14+ minutes, one more than eight and the others are short transitional pieces warming up the listener for the next steaming jam. Still, they are nice little songs that showcase the dexterity of the group - with blues, psych, and "Sugar Cane" Harris influenced tracks.

What a superb find "Mountain Queen" was for me. Powerful, eclectic, exciting rock with splashes of jazz-it's like a half-brother to the best Caravan albums. This album heads my list of underrated progressive albums from the "golden age" of prog - along with This is Gracious!, To Pagham and Beyond, and Being.

Check it out

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Send comments to Suedevanshoe (BETA) | Report this review (#968517)
Posted Saturday, June 01, 2013 | Review Permalink

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