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Taï Phong

Symphonic Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars This group has more fame in France for being ultra popular singer Jean-Jacques Goldman - he is the main man also writing for Celine Dion, Mariah's incredible foe in prog circles ;-)) - than it has for its own oeuvre. Most frenchmen talk of this with great pride but let's face it , it is nothing to write home about. It has symphonics tones allright and some of the other clichés that most bands (ab)used from that year on. The Goldman touch is already very present and I must say that it does not help sink this album - actually it might contribute . If the music is apt enough and well presented , it does not represent much of an interest for progheads. I am rounding up my rating to the upper as not to make too many upset frencg friends should they one day read this. For those who do not know this band or french prog , this should definitely be very last on your priority list as there are many bands to discover before scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Report this review (#33163)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars TAÏ PHONG released 2 sensational progressive rock albums in the mid 70's "Windows" and their debut release. TAÏ PHONG blend the classic prog sounds of YES with a touch of PINK FLOYD. Lead singer Khanh has a higher vocal pitch than Jon Anderson and he is not afraid to let it rip! This band houses some amazing musicianship and song writing capabilities. Japan release contains a few extra singles and unreleased tracks which are also great tunes. Great progressive rock!
Report this review (#33165)
Posted Sunday, November 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Do you recognize the French singer and guitarist, Jean-Jacques Goldman, the one who composed Céline Dion's "Là-Bas", a very popular French hit also interpreted by Corey Hart and Julie Masse? It is him, here on this not very well known progressive rock record, singing and playing electric guitars.

Jean-Jacques has a very highly pitched voice, sounding a bit like Geddy Lee of the 70's. The keyboards are modern for the year, atmospheric, dense and powerful. It is an emotional album, not dark but definitely mind troubling. "Going Away" is a good track, being prog hard rock full of changing rhythms; its electric guitars often sound a bit like Steve Hillage, having a short lite wah-wah effect part. "Sister Jane" is absolutely catchy & delightful, having intensely floating keyboards and AWESOME, graceful, loud & powerful backing vocals. "Crest" has a powerful ambient organ, very fast and complex drums, and, again, beautiful, graceful & powerful backing vocals; Goldman shouts like an unpleasant kid in the middle of the track. "For years and years" is the chef d'oeuvre by excellence: it starts with a beautiful rhythmic piano a la George Duke (Frank Zappa of the 70's); the track is very progressive, and the moaning electric guitar solo sounds a bit like David Gilmour's slide guitar; there are peaceful and soothing backing vocals; then, a very complex & clinical part a la Steve Hillage occurs; the end of the track consists in a GRACEFUL combination of Fender Rhodes, inoffensive acoustic & electric guitars and floating organ, slowly growing in intensity, and finally terminating in colorful streams of miscellaneous keyboards and lead & backing vocals: a GRAND lullaby!

On the other side, the delicate and powerful "Field of gold" consists in piano, sissy lead & backing vocals, which unblocks to a powerful catchy refrain; this then leads to a VERY impressive stagnant keyboards texture: it quite sounds like the end of the Tangerine dream's "Force Majeure" track or like the Gandalf's "Imaginary voyage" album. The last track, "Out of the night", is another progressive gem: a heavy ambient organ makes a very slow rhythm, and some excellent Asiatic lead vocals make a catchy melody; there are, again, some excellent backing vocals and very intensely floating keyboards, plus a very good & long guitar solo; it ends with a nostalgic piano part and a shower.


Report this review (#33166)
Posted Saturday, March 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Founded by two Vietnamese residents in France and guitarist/songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman, Taï Phong debuted with their debut album in the exact middle of the 70s, just when the prog movement was reaching a sort of pinnacle in France's rock scene. This band's prog approach is highly melodic, at times related to AOR: the most epic moments in this album's repertoire are instilled with eerie ambiences created by soaring synth layers and effective lead guitar washes (pretty much influenced by what Pink Floyd was doing at the time). The band's forte is not pyrotechnical virtuosity as much as emotional involvement: their material is mostly based on evocative melodic lines and harmonic bases, and the musicians deliver them with a sort of introspective emotion. The album's highlights are, IMHO, 'Fields of Gold' and 'Out of the Night', two of the longest tracks: the former starts as a serene ballad that eventually turns to a hypnotic sonic voyage that goes on during the last 4 minutes, creating an evolving air of mystery that fills the room in which the listener lies while hearing this record; the latter is built in a more cohesive frame, which allows the band to explore their Floydian essence with a tighter attitude (despite the track being evidently slow), and so, close down the album in a magnificent way. Another great number is 'For Years and Years (Cathy)', which kind of anticipates the melancholic splendour that will later be further developed in the closure 'Out of the Night'. The three other tracks are shorter, and to a certain degree, designed to be catchy - these are the moments when Taï Phong gets closer to AOR and glam-rock, with 'Sister Jane' being a very sentimental ballad. But, all in all, they never cross that bridge definitively, since 'Goin' Away' and 'Crest' contain some rhythm shifts that provide an effective diversity to the whole, which is basically pop-oriented with a prog twist. Generally speaking, 'Taï Phong' is a very interesting album, not genius, but good enough to bring a genuine pleasure to those prog aficionados who can also enjoy stylish and less complex things with a strong melodic component.
Report this review (#37214)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Taï Phong is one of the most underrated bands in this genre. They have all the elements that is needed in the symphonic/proggressive music. There's great vocals and harmonies, astounding good sounding guitar-work and of course fantastic keyboards. For me the most outstanding piece in this album is "Out Of The Night", it's an absolutely breathtaking song! They just don't come better than this.
Report this review (#40917)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This progrock band is a French-Vietnamese collaboration that made three albums. On this eponymous debut record Tai Phong manages to create a lush and sometimes compelling traditional symphonic rock sound, very melodic and pleasant to hear. The bombastic keyboard work reminds me of Woolly Wolstenholme (Barclay James Harvest) and Manfred Wieczorke (Jane and Eloy). The varied, often fiery guitar play (with a bluesy undertone) and the emotional, high pitched vocals give the music from Tai Phong an original flavor. My highlights are "For years and years" with some great breaks and the wonderful "Field of gold" featuring Hackett-like guitar and halfway moving keyboards and howling electric guitar, this is our beloved music as it is meant to be! Their second album was more acoustic oriented and their third (and final) a bit too polished for me. I prefer this beautiful first one, my rating is 3 stars, comfortably between the two and five stars from fellow reviewers.
Report this review (#48473)
Posted Monday, September 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I was lucky to be a pre-release recipient of this remarkable album , I loved it then and still love it today. I felt the urge to review this French Prog classic because I hold it dear to my heart and also because I love to cross swords with my prog alter ego Sean Trane, with whom I disagree 95% of the time. God bless him, we need balance and polar opposites in order not to fall off the planet ! Ther are very few UNANIMOUS about prog albums anyway, so... From the fabulous asiatic artwork, to the shimmering production, the stunning musicianship and the heartfelt melodies, Tai Phong combines a heady mix of qualities that make this a stunner. First off, a French prog band led by Vietnamese twin brothers is already an eccentric singularity,adding a soon to be infamous French pop/rock star (JJ Goldman- the parisian Springsteen) on guitars, displaying a really deft use of various effects and technique, brilliant keyboard work and a solid bass/drum combination. The album also gave birth to a huge "slow" hit , played to death in nightclubs (not yet disco) a modern "Nights in White Satin" where young french girls got to get close and personal with young french boys on the dancefloor!!!This is the lightest moment on the disc and the commercial tidbit needed to sell the album, very common in the corporate 70's anyway. The epic tracks are the focus of our attention: Years & Years and Field of Gold. My fave track is the 11 minute epic closer "Out of the Night" complete with thunderstorm, howling winds and highly evocative vocals. Great instrumental work here on keys and a majestic, drawn out lead guitar solo ("not much interest to progheads" , says Sir Sean ?), with a dizzying upward crescendo to end the festivities. A definite winner , a precious oddity and a mesmerizing addition to any collection. 4 eastern winds
Report this review (#90559)
Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I discovered this band when the LP came out (75) and quite liked it at the time. There was of course not yet a word said about JJ Goldman who will later be one the most successfull French songwriter. Their influence is obviously Yes (but without being too close to be considered as a clone).

For this time being "Goin' Away" is a very nice opener : lots of keys and ferocious guitar. Next track "Sister Jane" was their only hit number (you like it or not but it is a very melodious and passionate moment of music - nice piece to dance with your beloved one...).

"Crest" is a good rocking number but the less interesting one so of the album. Side 1 finishes with "For Years & Years" which is very good : nice intro, then a very powerful instrumental middle section (savage guitar & keys) before returning to a more relaxed lyric part. Very pleasant.

B side is really good. Only two long numbers. "Fields of Gold" is spacey at times: it is a quiet song. A true & melodious prog track. Some might be irritated though by JJ vocals (like in other numbers). Closing track on the vinyl album was "Out of the Night" : this is my favorite of the band and one of their very few epics.

These 11'33" are a great moment. Good vocals, great keyboards, nice melody and a crescendo building which I really like. I guess that's all prog is about. The bonus tracks on the CD are not really worth (but that's the case for most bonus tracks, right ?).

A solid 4 stars for this work.

Report this review (#104612)
Posted Tuesday, December 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
5 stars The mystery here is not why this album was not very popular, but why it is not highly regarded among fans of the genre. This is truly a symphonic progressive masterwork, with plenty of good playing and writing, but mostly excelling in the arrangement category.

The first track, "Going Away", is atypical and, not surprisingly, has been cited as the only worthwhile song on the album by those same people who don't give the band respect. I do agree that it is excellent and quite unique, with a variety of changes presented in under 6 minutes, from aggressive to gentle. I get some Nektar influence here and even Gracious, although this may be more just a cross fertilization, or an influence once or twice removed. This is followed by "Sister Jane", a beautiful ballad that has drawn in non-prog fans among my friends.

"Crest" is the only weak link, and then the album shifts into ambitious symphonic progressive mode. "For Years and Years", "Fields of Gold", and "Out of the Night" all combining to create a dreamy and sometimes nightmarish atmosphere. "Fields of Gold" first showcases JJ Goldman's naturally high pitched voice while the last half is taken over by a celestial melody on keys backed by imaginative rhythms. Eventually well placed guitar licks appear. "Out in the Night" is the most Floydian, but I discovered the group when a local FM DJ would play it followed by the last 2 parts of Alan Parsons Project's "The Fall of the House of Usher". I thought it was Alan Parsons the first few times! It features some chilling mellotron, a captivating verse and chorus, and finally, a formidable lead guitar solo before it settles down into a epiloguish piano theme. The bonus tracks are better than most, more in the "Sister Jane" style. They do not detract. While Tai Phong's followup "Windows" has some great work on it, this is the one to get.

Report this review (#120845)
Posted Saturday, May 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Three years ago I bought a Prog magazine “Hatross” (№ 6). As far as I know, this was (and IS, but only on-line now :( ) the only Russian magazine to be specialized in Progressive Rock. There was an article dedicated to obscure European Prog bands, and I decided to found them all one day. Do I need to say that my dream came true? ;) One of the bands there was TAI PHONG.

TAI PHONG’s debut album mostly has solid tracks. There are powerful opener “Going Away” (made in best YES traditions), ballads like “Sister Jane” and “Fields of Gold” (both are pretty radio-friendly, but enjoyable) and closing magnum opus “Out of the Night”, that can boast of having one of the most wonderful melodies I ever heard. If you’re into mainstream Prog a-la FM or KLAATU, you’ll definitely like this. Still, this is no way Prog-related or something, this is true Symphonic Prog (with teeth sometimes!) bordering Space Rock in some moments. To be short – YES meets PINK FLOYD at their best. Nice and enjoyable record, and thankfully to “Out of the Night” it gets 4 stars. Recommended!

Report this review (#131815)
Posted Sunday, August 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The cool cover art is the best part.

Tai Phong is sort of France's version of cheese-prog like we have Styx here, rather the lightweight pop side of progressive symphonic. Feels good but not much meat. They are no where near the league of other French symphonic bands like Ange, Eclat, Atoll, Cafeine, Shylock, Carpe Diem, Arachnoid, Pentacle, or Pollen from Canada. Of their two albums that matter, most will direct you to this debut but the second album "Windows" is better in my opinion and I was much more sympathetic in that review. It seems to have better dynamics, energy, and songs. But Sean Trane has this band pegged right: as he says in his review this is the bottom of the barrel of French progressive and should be the last thing you check out after the above groups plus others not mentioned. There are a few good moments here but overall this is 2 stars tops.

"Goin' Away" is an upbeat rocker delivered with the distinctive super-high vocals. There is some nice guitar work here which is always the highlight of Tai Phong for me. "Sister Jane" is really some dreadful tripe, the kind of song that they used to play at the roller rink when they wanted the boys and girls to skate/dance together. These first two songs are more like mediocre late 70s Jefferson Starship songs, the kind where you can't get to the tuner presets fast enough to change the station. "Crest" is the best here with some spirited keys and good bass, and thankfully few vocals. "For Years and Years" begins with nice piano and after some tentative vocals there are some decent workouts on keys and guitar. But eventually it slips back into laid back schlock, syrupy beyond any hope. Side 2 begins with "Fields of Gold" and this reminds a bit of Sebastian Hardie with the precious vocals in front of some nice melodic electric guitar. The middle section features rising dramatic keyboard atmospheres and eventually more wailing guitar. Not too bad but nothing spectacular either. "Out of the Night" clocks in at well over 11 minutes and begins with wind and storm noises, then mellotron (I think) creeps in with the vocal. The track proceeds mostly with a uniform slow pace and the laid back vocal against the keys, with little else happening save some occasional piano tinkles or guitar flourishes. The vocals are well done on this song (not so annoying) but honestly there is just dreadfully little to recommend this. Finally at 7 ½ minutes in we get a serious electric solo and breaks the monotony, it is well played and again sounds like a Sebastian Hardie lead (nice but repetitive.) A nice bit of piano closes the song, which has barely altered the same tone and beat started 12 minutes ago.

Really only "Crest" and some occasional instrumental moments save this album from total disaster for me. This is for Tai fans only. For other wishing to sample this band, definitely go for Windows over this debut. But seriously, unless you like sappy romantic pop music disguised by prog icing because it was hip at the time, look elsewhere. I just can't shake the contrived feeling I get from this album and perhaps that's why it doesn't work for me. But I did re-listen to Windows for this review and stand by that album as the better one. More energy, more happening, better sound, and no Sister Jane thank God.

Report this review (#157492)
Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars There are a few moments of brilliance on Tai Phong's debut, but they are greatly overshadowed by saccharine songs and so many unexceptional passages that listening to this album in full isn't exactly a wonderful experience. Honestly, I think the vocals are generally pretty terrible- they are imitative of early Geddy Lee, but in an inferior and annoying David Surkamp manner. The singing hurts my ears. The lead guitar playing is not the best I've ever heard, but it's definitely the best aspect of this album. The keyboard work and drumming have some highlights as well. Other than that, I am just not into this French debut.

"Going Away" The first track is an upbeat rocker with a bit of a Supertramp or Pavlov's Dog flair, with screeching vocals over gritty guitar and electric piano. The lead guitar soloing isn't too shabby, and I think the rhythm section works well underneath it, but it's certainly nothing spectacular.

"Sister Jane" The second song is a sappy, piano-based tune with whiny vocals. While it isn't terrible, it's not particularly good either, and definitely not remarkable in any fashion.

"Crest" Light organ and low, thudding bass opens this shortest track. It picks up some really good drumming and a pleasing electric guitar melody before an excellent synthesizer cuts through. This demonstrates what this album could have been, but sadly is not.

"For years and Years" Pleasant, jazzy guitar lightens up the mood over a nice bed of keyboard. The vocals are mercifully subdued and more harmonic; in fact, this piece almost sounds like oldies. The distant organ runs are a sweet touch. The second half is light piano with a syrupy sweet slide guitar. The final minute is a discordant jumble of instruments and notes- totally out of place and pretty poor on its own.

"Field of Gold" Falsetto vocals and piano give way to decent electric guitar and equally good singing. The music builds into a terrific wah guitar solo. Other than the first half of "Crest," this is the best the album has to offer.

"Out of the Night" The sound of thunder begins the final and longest song. An uninspired vocal melody over organ joins light percussion and guitar. The guitar solo is very good, and I like the way it fades quickly into beautiful piano. "Out of the Night" is overall a decent song, although like the rest of the album, doesn't amaze in the least, and is really more like wasted potential.

Report this review (#292530)
Posted Thursday, July 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first album realeased by the french band Tai Phong and it is their best one.

The song "Sister Jane" was issued as a single and sold 200 000 copies. This "slow" was a favourite in the french teenage parties and was considered as good as "Angie" by the Rolling Stones or "I'm not in love" by Ten CC. Dim the lights, put the sound loud, this "slow" is a killer !

The band was founded by two brothers (Khanh and Tai) who were born in Saigon (South Vietnam). They were less than 10 years old when they arrived in France. Tai Phong means "strong wind " in vietnamese. They recruited Jean-Jacques Goldman for vocals and guitar playing. Some years later, Goldman will choose to have a solo career and will have a phenomenal success in France. But it is an other story... The sleeve design is very good and original and pictures an electronic samouraï. This cover art was made by Lang, the third brother of Khanh and Tai.

The other gem of this album is the last song "Out of the night " , very melodic and atmospheric. The songs "For years and years" and "Fields of gold" are very good and very melodic too.

I think this album brings the same type of pleasure like the prog albums of Pink Floyd or Barclay James Harvest. And i think it would deserve to rank among the 50 best prog albums. So I give 4 stars and half.

Report this review (#814700)
Posted Monday, September 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review nº 228

Taï Phong - self titled

What would you expect of a heavy/symphonic french prog band from the 70s starring Jean- Jacques Goldmnan, nothing less than the songwriter for Céline Dion's greatest hits, a visionary dreamy keyboardist called Jean too, and a cool Samurai concept for band promotional imagery? Isn't obvious? Täi Phong is an underrated prog rock piece of the golden age, mixing furious passages, space floating atmosphere, chocolate hot dog, melancholic vocals, romance and shurikens! Why I consider their first couple of full lenght albums masterpieces? Because the passional sadness beauty captured from pop and some proto- prog and relateds, dissected and threw up on prog suites, would later return as the center stomp of the crossover/neo-prog and 80s symphonic hard rock. But nobody talks about Taï Phong. The samurai age was forgotten. It just isn't fair. By the way, this album is a little heavier than it's sequel Windows, focused on surreal dreamscape tunes.

Report this review (#1420938)
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. This is actually a pretty good record that maybe drifts into AOR a little too far at times but a quality album. Founded by two Vietnamese brothers in France we get a five piece here with two guitarists, drums, keyboards and bass but there's a couple of multi-instrumentalists on here. Lots of vocals and man the one guy can sing as in the example we have on that opening track.

I was surprised at the love/ hate that is directed at this album here, it certainly has brought out some emotions. I guess I'm in the middle feeling that this was a talented outfit who maybe went into the commercial direction more than I'd like but a solid album. Now that ballad that made them some money "Sister Jane" causes a divide for sure and while I almost to a fault complain about ballads this is one I liked instantly but I can also say I would get sick of it fairly quickly like the poppy hits of yesterday.

The vocals on the opener "Going Away" are so impressive, I mean he just lets go with no reserve. This is fast paced including the vocals with the line "Anywhere's better than here" standing out. Then It's "Sister Jane" followed by "Crest" with the fast paced drumming and floating organ. So three short songs to start and they end it with three long one from over 7 1/2minutes to 11 1/2 minutes. The standout of the three is the closer "Out Of The Night" opening with wind and thunder. Reminds me that TAI PHONG means Strong Wind in Vietnamese. Anyways some guitar solos, vocals, piano and floating organ over the 11 1/2 minutes. I just like the sound of this one.

I enjoyed parts of this a lot but in the end 3 stars seems right but if your into the more melodic side of Prog you should check this out.

Report this review (#2937095)
Posted Sunday, July 2, 2023 | Review Permalink

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