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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is their first album; it is their most progressive one. There are lots of organ and piano. This not very well known prog band made some really good stuff. The have a unique prog style, and their personality is strongly built by the very good lead vocals and the omnipresent rythmic piano. The bass is not timid. The songs are sometimes smooth, sometimes more rythmic. All their instruments are well balanced.
Report this review (#4118)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I picked up the LP when it came out in the mid-70's, and thought that the group was a Yes- clone. However, I really liked the song "Lovely Luna", which seemed more original and had a great sense of dynamics and contrast (it goes from very quiet to very loud and back). Now I have the CD, and my opinion of the rest of the album remains unchanged. The melodies are average, and the vocals likewise. Life's too short to listen to unoriginal material like this, despite the superior musicianship. I'm keeping the CD for "Lovely Luna".
Report this review (#4123)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Of all Kayak's albums, it's hard for me to get past the first two without encountering serious disappointment. They started off so strong! 'See See The Sun' often gets accused of ripping off Yes, but I can only hear a dominant Yes vibe on opener "Reason For It All", which admittedly sounds like the English legends.but it sure beats anything by Starcastle. It succeeds as a good song in its own right, offering appropriate momentum as an opener, despite its vocal similarities to Yes, but after that, 'See See The Sun' doesn't really sound like anyone but Kayak.

Ton Scherpenzeel possesses a wide array of keyboard sounds, and he uses them to great effect throughout, buoyed by an array of vocal approaches by Max Werlerofzoiets (wisely changing his surname to Werner later!) and drummer Pim Koopman (also a valuable writer for the band at this time). An active, capable rhythm section gives things an almost jazzy feel, while guitarist Johan Slager really shines with his subtle yet effective approach. Slager rips a nice solo off in "Reason For It All", which brings the song to a more aggressive and challenging level, leading into the short and sweet "Lyrics". After this the album hits a number of peaks, most remarkable being the bass-driven weirdness of "Mouldy Wood", heavy dramatic atmospheres in "Hope For A Life", and the early King Crimson-styled strains of album epic "Lovely Luna", which expands toward Genesis-style layers later on. Then there's "Mammoth", a heavy piece as large in scope as its namesake creature.

Kayak establishes a style on their debut that is symphonic and lush without being too soft (quite the opposite at times). They can be somewhat jazzy, and always highly dynamic with lots of color and shading. 'See See The Sun' delivers on many fronts sure to please fans of '70s prog. Their next album would expand on this promise before settling for a more conventional approach.

Report this review (#4124)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars This is my favorite Kayak album, in my opinion it's their most symphonic effort. The compositions sound very melodic with a great harmony between all the instruments, very pleasant and often dynamic. The colouring from Ton Scherpenzeel (later he joined Camel, I'm still proud of that as a Dutchman!) is wonderful with his wide range of vintage keyboards, from the organ, harpsichord and piano to the Moog, Fender Rhodes electric piano and accordion. And singer Max Werner contributes to thevaried keyboard sound with the unsurpassed Mellotron, especially in "Lovely luna" and "Mammoth", GOOSE BUMPS! The accessible symphonic rock from Kayak lead to a huge commercial success. A few years ago they re-united, made two fine new albums and are still on the road!
Report this review (#43017)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kayak is a group without big originality but very " solid ". Their first albums are, to my opinion, the best because the "most progressive". In this album, we find the filiation in goupes as Caravan. The group is very melodic with an omnipresent rythmic piano (I like it). Song as " Reason for it all ", "Lyrics" and "Lovely Luna" are very attractive. A very good album which shows the best years of the progressive.
Report this review (#45415)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An undeservedly underrated group is Kayak. Perhaps part of the reason for its relatively low profile is that it occupies a strange middle ground, with an unlikely combination of pop/rock vocal segments that owe more to Todd Rundgren than any main progressive rock group, interspersed with strong symphonic progressive rock as well. The vocals of Kayak's first lead singer Max Werner aren't that great, but are not a negative factor for me either while the classic line-up of Werner (vocals/mellotron), Tom Scherpenzeel (keyboards), Johan Slager (guitars), Cees van Leeuwen (bass) and Pim Koopman (drums) that cut the first two albums is highly competent, but far from flashy ... even during the lengthy instrumental interludes.

To top it all, Kayak have made many line-up shifts and passed through a number of styles. While the current outfit is making strong, neo-prog tinged music, I'm one of those who thinks that this early progressive pop phase saw Kayak at its best. In fact, I don't think it gets any better than See See The Sun.

Reason For It All ( with a healthy dose of Yes influences), the storming Mouldy Wood, the sparse, melodramatic Lovely Luna and the beautiful Beatlesque title track are probably my personal highlights, but this album has to be taken as a whole, for it is well balanced and possesses a great flow ... best exemplified by the moment when the edgy rocker Hope For A Life comes right after the seduction of Lovely Luna. Kayak also prove that you don't need length to be progressive ... Mammoth goes through a number of phases in a period of less than three minutes! I really like this record, and even my least favourite track, the schmaltzy Forever Is A Lonely Thought has a very nice Scherpenzeel piano solo.

There is a light (but not lightweight) feeling about Kayak's music that makes me think that this is one classic-era prog band that neo-prog fans will really enjoy. And even though they sound nothing like either ELO, Supertramp or the Alan Parsons Project (and indeed are emphatically more progressive) I do believe it is fans at this end of the scale who will derive the most joy from Kayak's music. And See See The Sun, surely Kayak's finest album, is the best place to start. ...

72% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#54075)
Posted Monday, October 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've to say beforehand that I've never been a fan of this particular band. Actually I did not hear of them before a couple of years ago. I purchased their debut here in review for the reason that I quite liked it after a few spins and because it's the one coming closest to the sound of early releases by seminal Prog bands like Genesis and Yes. Meanwhile nevertheless after listening to this album more often I come to the conclusion that there are good reasons why Kayak never became better known and stayed in the second row through all those years of their existence. The music here is clearly inspired mainly by Yes (keyboards, guitar, bass, vocal harmonies) but as well slightly by Banks' keyboard work. In "Lovely Luna" which is by far the best track I can also hear hints to Gentle Giant, especially in the initial vocal part. The biggest problem I'm having with most of their songs that they're just sounding to poppy to my ears. It's more or less like listening to a light version of classic Yes or Genesis, something I really don't have any need for I rather have problems with the lack of rock and dominance of pomp than with the lack of catchy and memorable melodies in classic symphonic Prog. Thus this band appears rather redundant to me but that's just my personal subjective impression. Nonetheless this is overall a very pleasant album and an enjoyable listen every now and then but I doubt a regular one. The musicianship presented by the band members is really excellent and the vocals are okay though I can't get crazy about them either. Lots of bombastic keyboard sound that should please quite a few Prog fans and I can recommend this debut to anyone looking for a poppier type of symphonic Prog. But I doubt that this one (as all others from their catalogue) can be considered an essential addition to any Prog collection.
Report this review (#101794)
Posted Wednesday, December 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I love this Dutch band, and their first album especially. It's a sort of melodic prog, full of great ideas and very pleasant lyrics. The group shows a great balance between song format and more complex themes in a symphonic style. Excellent guitar/piano interplays and delicate vocal harmonies are the real Kayak focus. "Lovely luna" is a long symphonic track, including mellotron and fascinating passages, but I love "Forever is a lonely thought" for its melancholic mood: it's a jewel! Kayak is a high level band, and above all these guys are gifted musicians never boring you. A fine album.
Report this review (#119732)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another Dutch progressive rock legend,KAYAK were found in early-70's by two neighbours in the town of Hilversum.After recording some demos with Phonogram Label,finally they signed a contract deal with EMI and released ''See see the sun'' in 1973.Influenced by the likes of GENESIS,YES and SUPERTRAMP,KAYAK entered the progressive scene amazingly strong with an album filled with atmospheric vocals,catchy melodies and dominated by the Hammond organ,harpsichord and mellotron.Their style is a beautiful cross between GENESIS-like soft mellotron-based passages,catchy art rock with a pleasant atmosphere in the vein of SUPERTRAMP,light multi-vocal parts not unlike YES,while even some more dark and hypnotic moments will bring KING CRIMSON to mind.I fell in love with this release,it's a beautiful combination of mellow and more intense musicianship with superb melodies and great atmosphere.Not so original,but absolutely essential if you're fan of any of the afore-mentioned bands.
Report this review (#151011)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kayak - See see The Sun (1973)

Kayak is one of Holland's major prog acts. The line-up of the band had always been a bit strange. Conservatory drummer Max Werner did the vocals/mellotrons and conservatory key-player Pim Koopman played the drums. Luckily conservatory key-player Ton Scherpenzeel played on his own instrument. Cees van Leeuwen en Johan Slager played bass and guitar.

The band was centered around the friendship of Koopman and Scherpenzeel who both wrote songs and compositions for the band. Some might argue that some of the stronger Kayak songs were written by Scherpenzeel, but I disagree.

The band-members of Kayak never thought about playing progressive rock, but the compositions were innovative and sophisticated at times. There are many classical music influences and some influence of Genesis and Yes (mainly some vocal parts). Besides these influences Kayak had it's own sound with tremendous songwriting, combining catchyness and innovation. The sound of Kayak has a focus on keys and vocals, but the band sounds as a whole. Most of the songs have instrumental parts with an melodic approach. The vocals of Max Werner have been a point of debate. It is one of my favorite vocalists because of his high pitched sound and his specific sound. It's strength threw weakness.

Reason for it All has some obvious Yes elements, but the songs has an original atmosphere and a good instrumental solo's section. Lyrics is a feel-good crossover prog track with nice melodic piano composition. Mouldy Wood is very very progressive with it's dissonant guitar parts and Jaw's like couplet theme. The melodic theme in the middle and end section make the song totally worthwhile. Lovely Luna is a symphonic rock masterpiece written by Koopmans. The intro of the song is abstract, but as soon the symphonic parts begin I'm amazed by this beauty. The distorted bass guitar with a melodic function during this symphonic parts is very innovative. The pastoral vocals of Werner are strong.

On side two Hope For A Life is another crossover prog song with lot's of different melodies. . Ballet Of The Cripple is an emotional composition with superb lyrics! The bridge section is very atmospheric and the main instrumental theme nostalgic. Forever Is A Lonely Though is perhaps one of Kayak most beautiful songs. A brilliant melodic couplet/intro theme and an adventurous refrain with great mellotron sounds. Mammoth was a bit hit in Holland and has an intro theme played on street-organ and some catchy strong melodies in the couplet and refrain themes. See See The Sun is also one of my favorite Kayak tracks. The adventurous intro/refrain with it's multi-layered vocals are superb! The couplet theme with only piano and vocals is intimate and effective. Listen to this song!

Conclusion. Kayak had this great debut that combined progressive music with some hit-potential. Kayak has an own sound and a fresh approach on symphonic rock. This record is recommended to fans of melodic prog, symphonic prog and crossover prog. It's a great seventies record with memorable songwriting! Four stars.

Report this review (#172037)
Posted Friday, May 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This debut album from ''Kayak'' is extremely pleasant to listen for all the symphonic prog lovers. It is another good Dutch band who has participated to the fame of this country in the rock music environment. I am definitively jealous about this country in comparison to mine (just kidding)!

Some might say that their work doesn't sound original enough and that they borrowed their ideas form several prog giants. In a way, it is not totally wrong: the very nice opener holds a lot of ''Yes'' feel (mainly due to the vocals) while ''Lyrics'' is more GG oriented (for the same reason). But the former is extremely melodic and the instrumental parts are flowing so nicely?

The same comment is still valid for the instrumental (guitar) of ''Mouldy Wood''. In fact, I am moderately enthusiast about the lead singer who lacks in personality IMHHO.

''Lovely Tuna'' is another good number: symphonically jazzy and quite vibrant during the middle and instrumental part (again). Still, I wouldn't be as laudatory as other reviewers about this song. The same sort of atmosphere can be noticed during ''Forever?'' which also holds some great key parts (mellotron).

The most complex track is probably ''Hope For A Life'' which shows a harder edge and the same GG oriented vocals. This album is full of good songs, and the melodic but weird ''Ballet Of The Cripple'' is another one of them. Maybe a little more pop-oriented and more Supertrampish.

The pop feel is even more evident for the title track: simple and straight forward tracks that borrowed a lot to the big Four. But the prior ''Forever Is a Lonely Thought'' already gave some indications?

I will round up this work to four stars although seven out of ten sounds more appropriate to my ears. An enjoyable debut album even if ''Mammoth'' could have been avoided (same applies to both bonus tracks of which ''Give It A Name'' is totally ''Supersister'' oriented. Another good Dutch band...

Report this review (#220457)
Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars See see the Kayak!

This is the debut album by this 70's Dutch band. They sound very British and will probably appeal to fans of classic, British progressive rock as well as to fans of groups like Supertramp and maybe Electric Light Orchestra. Even the vocals could be mistaken for British; at least there is no strong accent involved. The influences on the group's sound obviously include The Beatles and probably also Yes. The Chris Squire-like bass guitar sound gives that much away. Supertramp is often mentioned in relation to this group. There are indeed many similarities between the two groups, but we should keep in mind that Kayak debuted in 1973, before Supertramp broke through with Crime Of The Century in 1974 (even if they had an album out already in 1970).

See See The Sun consists of nine well written, melodic, well performed Pop Prog songs. The songs are primarily vocal driven and there is very little room for instrumental noodling. The sound of Kayak is often quite keyboard dominated and Ton Scherpenzeel is great on the keyboards which mainly consist of piano and harpsichord. So do not expect a Moog fest! The rest of the band plays competently too.

The music of See See The Sun is hardly revolutionary in any way and while all the songs are good, they are not something out of the ordinary. But they surely have a certain charm!

Good, but non-essential; recommended for people who likes bands more towards the poppier side of Prog.

Report this review (#221191)
Posted Sunday, June 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars No 5 star review from collabs/PR's yet, what a strange thing. It can be easily taken as Symphonic, as it's very pleasant to listen, except Ballet of a Cripple it is hundred percent clear of any dissonant sounds and to be honest, I don't mind them in this song too, as I'm used to listen far tougher sounds.

This album is about something different, it's like Klaatu, it's like Mandalaband's second, it's also like Steely Dan a little bit (for example Reason For It All depicts this jazzy atmosphere a little bit, mostly in bass & vocals line).

I understand that some may hear Genesis here, but personally, even I don't believe in this concept at all, I don't hear them here, as I've heard many albums from various bands that sounds "far more" than this one. But that's my point of view and is only as important as others, so you can make your own point of view. Whew.

This album is actually not so simple, but it has simple approach, e.g - it will attract most of people as it's very accessible. And the more you listen it, the more of it you will discover and that's of course important thing.

4(+), refreshing, but this damn album is not enough for me to give 5. And I wanted.

Report this review (#279200)
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Whilst it is Focus who get all the praise, those who reaLly know their Dutch prog will tell you that the 'Hamburger Concerto' stars ain't the only boys in town. Then, after a quick mention of Trace, Supersister, Finch and Group 1850, they'll recommend the first pair of studio albums by this briefly-brilliant five-piece, which equates to this debut release from 1973 and it's eponymous follow-up(which is often to referred to as 'Kayak II') from a year later. Hailing from the South-Eastern city of Hilversum, Kayak was formed by talented duo of Ton Scherpenzeel(keyboards, vocals) and Pim Koopman(drums) sometime during the latter half of 1972. A search for musicians to fill out the group brought Johan Slager(guitar), Cees van Leeuwen(bass) and Max Werner(vocals, mellotron) on board, and after signing a deal with the British label Harvest found themselves teamed with producer Gerritt-Jan Leenders. Recorded during the winter of 1973 and issued in early 1974, the subsequent 'See See The Sun' marked Kayak out as a truly unique outfit, blending quirky progressive rock riffs with an almost Canterbury-style sensibility and much oddball humour. Listened to now, it sounds as fresh and as vital as ever, the slick production wringing every shade of very note from the group's excellent playing; now, reissued and remastered on the Esoteric imprint, it sounds even better. However, musically it is Scherpenzeel who dominates proceedings, adding thrilling solo displays with a host of instruments - organ, piano, synthesizer, harpsicord, accordion and even harp figure - to the magnificent opening track 'Reason For It All', the jaunty highlight 'Hope For A Life' and many other of the album's quirky pieces. Aided by Slager's wailing guitars and Koopman's battery of drum licks, the bulk of 'See See The Sun' proves fairly addictive, very much an album that, when started, must be finished. 1974's follow-up, the post-titled 'Kayak II', would somehow manage to surpass its predecessor, in the process outlining just what a fearsomely-inventive group Kayak were. Strangely, however, 'Kayak II' would mark something of a peak, as pervading musical trends and other factors - including line-up shifts - saw Kayak producing a more radio-friendly style of rock, their sound gradually softening as the 1970's turned into the 1980's. It is for their first two albums that we remember them for however, and both remain undoubted jewels of the rich Dutch prog-rock scene that flowered during the early- seventies. If pushed, this writer will plump for 'Kayak II' as the better, yet all that really shows is just how good the debut album is. A great little group; check 'em out now. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Report this review (#930327)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars With his first album snuck Kayak burst onto the music scene. Lyrics obtained only some commercial success, and less Mammoth. But it was evident the great talent of a band made ​​ up of young musicians with good ideas. Hilversum Music Academy proved to be the meeting place.

The electric piano, hammond organ and moog are ahead in general, with the addition of Werner's mellotron in certain sections. The vocal harmonies, as in Forever is a Lonely Thought or Hope for a Life, among others, are fabulous.

Lovely Moon and Forever is a Lonely Thought are introspective and distant beauty, the most original and engaging.

The statements, coupled with good initial theme Reason for it All, deserves a high rating.

Report this review (#978648)
Posted Saturday, June 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kayak's debut album finds the band crafting a blend of prog rock sensibilities and aesthetics with pop catchiness and accessibility. Compared to their subsequent self-titled album, which was rather mannered and polished, this time around the band's sound is a bit rougher and rowdier, and I'm inclined to give it a slight edge over its successor but not much of one. Both this debut and the subsequent released proved that an interesting sound could be developed by bridging the prog and pop worlds, and if you enjoy one you will probably enjoy the other, and See See the Sun deserves a certain kudos for blazing this trail not just for Kayak but for other artists like Supertramp.
Report this review (#1597745)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars (This review, like many others, is loosely based on a chapter of my prog book Aamunkoiton portit - soon on print again!) It seems that the Dutch band KAYAK aimed at an international fame right from the start, on the heels of Focus. On their earliest, more symphonic albums one can hear British prog influence, mainly from Yes and Genesis, but unfortunately the more commercial approach took over in the latter half of the seventies. My first acquaintance with Kayak was "The Best of" compilation, concentrating on the late 70's / early 80's period. Its music is rather sweet, highly accessible, melodic and often quite catchy too, not very far from the hits of The Alan Parsons Project, except with more emphasis on keyboards (and, of course, not quite that well produced). However, on their more recent albums they have again had more progressive ambitions. Now back to the beginning, for this is their debut.

When the band was founded in 1972, Ton Scherzenpeel, Pim Koopman and Max Werner were young music students in Hilversum. After Cees van Leeuwen joined on bass, Scherzenpeel (who had studied double bass as his major) concentrated on keyboards. He and Koopman had been writing songs already for five years. Kayak signed a contract with EMI, and the group entered a proper recording studio for the very first time. "We were like kids in a toy store as we were testing what we could do with the 16-track equipment", Scherzenpeel recalls in the CD liner notes. According to him, See See the Sun is an album full of ideas, not all of them being worked to perfection. After two weeks' studio sessions the tapes were taken to Abbey Road studios for Alan Parsons to mix. Dark Side of the Moon had made Parsons a hot name, so this was clearly a calculated move from EMI in order to increase the international appeal.

The results may not be the most original prog of the time, but surely it's well produced and extremely convincing debut from young musicians. The opening track 'Reason for It All' has notable Yes flavours up to vocal harmonies and Wakemanesque harpsichord decoratings. Slightly oversugared song 'Lyrics' already hints at the later pop direction. Several compositions contain ambitious complexity without feeling very meaningful. Among my favourites is the lengthy and dreamy 'Lovely Luna', in which I sense a similarity in atmosphere to 'The Moon Is Down' by Gentle Giant. 'Ballet of the Cripple' is like a mixture of Mellotron-heavy Genesis and the more straight-forward Electric Light Orchestra. In the end they were at their most original on emotionally loaded songs such as 'Forever Is a Lonely Thought'.

The adventures in the British prog influences continued on the albums Kayak (1974) and Royal Bed Bouncer (1975), on which Ton Scherpenzeel's creative force was perhaps at its strongest. After fairly good The Last Encore (1976) there occurred some changes in both the line-up and musical style; the most commercial phase produced the albums Starlight Dancer (1977), Phantom of the Night (1979) and Periscope Life (1980). See See the Sun is warmly recommended for listeners of keyboard oriented light prog - and Supertramp, whose album Crime of the Century (1974) Kayak's bright sound has been compared to.

Report this review (#1766791)
Posted Friday, July 28, 2017 | Review Permalink

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