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5 stars As with "See see the sun"...great pop prog. You need this, if you´re into high quality songwriting and loads of keyboards and great arrangements. Dutch progmusic really doesnt get better than this !!! GREAT STUFF!! Two of my favorite groups are (and has always been) KAYAK & GENTLE GIANT!! I hear you say: "WHAT?" Bare with me just one minute! Both groups have had an impact on the Progworld (at least to me ).....and several others on this site i suspect!! GENTLE GIANT for their sheer supreme musicianship and superb arrangements! KAYAK for their sheer supreme musicianship and superb arrangements!! NOW..where GENTLE GIANT are sovereign complex contrapoint musicians with leanings to madrigals of the old English school!! KAYAK are masters of popprogmusic (nowadays called progartmusic). And everythig they do (and did) are excellent...from the brilliant vocal styles...the their sheer fantastic composing abilitys...KAYAK are my honest of this worlds BEST progart-groups- ......EVER !!!!! So dear progfriend...if you are just a little ....just a little....a tiny bit prog friend!!?? And you know and like the music of the fantastic GENTLE GIANT !!?? Then you NEED to know/ Hear KAYAK...they are superb..they are brilliant...they are the opposite of GENTLE GIANT.....there you have it.....two groups....each brilliant....with extreme talents to boot!! KAYAK & GENTLE GIANT...two coin...brilliant music...well performed....GO GET ém !!!!!
Report this review (#4126)
Posted Friday, November 14, 2003 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's been quite a long time I do not listen to this CD. This morning, I put it on my car's CD player and enjoyed it while driving. It's a true classic album that has been around for 30 years now! It's clear in my mind how I knew this Dutch band for the first time. It was mid 70s when my big brother, Henky (then a rock broadcaster) gave me a tape that contained Genesis Nursery Crime and Kayak 2nd album. He also gave me a local music magazine Aktuil that featured the band. I played the tape while reading the magazine. It was such a good experience for me who were new to rock music in only couple years before then. I was impressed with the song "Woe and Alas" and it has become my all time favorite since then.

Kayak music is typically melodic and less complex, sometimes poppy. It has an excellent songwriting and tight structure. The strength of Kayak music relies on its melody and harmony especially in vocal lines and keyboard / piano. The vocal quality is excellent. Many of their music passages are memorable. Typically, their music is accessible to many listeners be it a prog or non prog lover.

"Alibi" is a nice song in upbeat tempo, opened with guitar fills and piano. It has a good melody and nice piano / keyboard. "Wintertime" is performed in slower trmpo but it's still upbeat. Very nice song with great vocal harmony and melody. It's a classic tune! "Mountain Too Rough" is a mellow track with great classical piano work accompanying the melodic vocal line. The piano solo backed up by mellotron during interlude part is great; followed by nice vocal harmony.

"They Get To Know Me" is probably the most prog part of this album judging not based on its long duration (9:18) but more to its structure. It starts with a simple continuous music and turns quieter to let the vocal enters the music. The solo keyboard part accompanied by solo guitar during interlude is really excellent. This track, I believe, would favor prog lovers. Even though this track is not well known to most people but I really enjoy it very much. Simple composition but excellent. I think, there are many bands in the vein of neo prog has somewhat influenced by Kayak music.

"Serenades" kicks off with a guitar passage that, melody-wise, similar to Uriah Heep "Magician's Birthday" tune. However, the overall structure is different. This track uses piano as main rhythm section augmented by guitar fills. Excellent. "Woe and Alas" is my longtime favorite. It has a powerful and tasty melody performed with excellent vocal harmony. The intro part is really memorable especially when it flows to piano that bring the nice vocal comes to the music. Oh man . this track is superb! Simple yet memorable. I repeat this track 3 times when I played it this morning without any sign of boring. I even emulate the singing.

"Mireille" is a melodic instrumental piece featuring keyboard work, mellotron and guitar in relatively slow tempo. It flows seamlessly to "Trust In The Machine" in a faster tempo with nice vocal and stunning keyboard in spacey mood. This is another prog tune in this album. "His Master's Noise" is an excellent mellow track with melodic voice line and piano as rhythm. The bonus track "We Are Not Amused" is good even though the sonic quality is not good.

Kayak is another side of prog music; it's probably a kind of progressive pop rock with symphonic / classical touch.. Having known this album for decades and it's still an excellent album, it's obviously an excellent addition in your prog collection! Highly recommended! GW, Indonesia.

Report this review (#4130)
Posted Saturday, December 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A high 4 stars! This is the ultimate Kayak album--the perfect marriage of their hard rock tendencies, their dazzling symphonic edges and the adventurous middle ground between the two. Kayak is often kicked around by people who consider them second rate, and I admit they declined quickly after this album, but there's no denying that their first album, and especially this one, are top-notch slices of upbeat, exciting prog.

"Alibi" opens the album with an addictive dose of high energy, but it's second song, "Wintertime", that really sets the tone. Somewhat melancholic in the verses, the chorus becomes almost Supertramp-ish in its brightness. Side 1 is rounded out by two very different songs: "Mountain Too Rough", a mostly-mellow trip into folky atmospheres with some deliberately disruptive sound effects occurring. "They Get To Know Me" offers a killer momentum, symphonic and Genesis-like in spots, with a healthy bit of aggression, especially when guitarist Johan Slager takes over. It's always so enjoyable to witness this song unfolding every time I listen. One of their absolute best.

Side two is even more diverse in scope than side 1. "Serenades" is a bouncy number, hinting at the sound they'd perfect on the 'Starlight Dancer' album. "Woe And Alas" offers slightly tricky timing and an impassioned Max Werner vocal. Some gorgeous layers are built up as the song moves along. We get the more gentle side of Kayak with the caress of "Mireille", a short, to-the-point instrumental that provides a good balance to the more involved stuff here. The album's final moments couldn't be better: "Trust In The Machine" ranks as my favorite Kayak song of all, with a demented bit of vocal from Max and swirling keyboard sounds that envelop the rest of the music, that music being kinetic stuff that's wild but never out of control. Almost Fripp-ish guitar squeaks by Slager rear their head in here. There's even a fair bit of noise in the middle, making you feel like you're visiting "The Waiting Room" again. This gives yet another facet to the song, a well-rounded journey, a song full of paranoia and triumph that is perfect in its completeness. "His Master's Noise" ends things nicely, with vocals that almost sound like Paul McCartney (with a Dutch accent, of course). A simple track that is all vocal layers and straight piano. It offers a cooling off period that brings this eventful album to a satisfying close. It isn't a perfect album, but it's as close as Kayak ever got. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#4131)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've known and loved this album for about 30 years and it hasn't aged a bit, still sounds fresh, highly enjoyable, and yet soooo underrated. No one seem to like it or even know it! Anyway, that does't matter, I'll probably be listening to it for more 30 years, if I live that long, It's great music and I really don't mind the accent!
Report this review (#4132)
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Stylistically, perhaps the most consistent of all Kayak albums. Every song offers something new, and yet, there is a clear sense of what is to be expected. The mood is generally melacholic. Though the structure of most songs is fairly typical of pop music at the time, what sets this band appart from other bands is their careful use of progressions and sonorities. I think that there is something in bands like this and e.g Focus who use structures that would seem overtly stereotyped, but they seem to do it with such sincerity that it becomes convincing.
Report this review (#4134)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I discovered this group of the 70s and 80s only very recently, and I admit whether it was a good surprise. A sense of the rhythm and the melody. Well written songs. Difficult however to arrange this type of album in the category of the masterpiece, but he can be a good introduction to discover this very nice group. I like quite particularly melodies such as Woe and Alas and Wintertime.
Report this review (#44664)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The second Kayak album pretty much continues in the same vein as the fine progressive-pop classic debut See See The Sun, although I must admit that I like this one less. The Todd Rundgren/Supertramp moments are more voluminous (although such comparisons are unfair in that Kayak's first pair of albums were released in 1973 and 1974 respectively, and as such, the band is really a contemporary of Supertramp) and somehow, there's something slightly less charming about this one.

Kayak II boasts one of Kayak's greatest achievements in the superlative They Get To Know Me, a tasty multi-facted prog nugget with a mean little riff I can't resist, some funky synth leads from Tom Scherpenzeel and an excellent melodic guitar lead by Johan Slager. The driving Alibi, dreamy keyboards of Mountain Too Rough, sweeping strings of Woe And Alas, the stark melancholy of Mirielle and the powerful Trust In The Machine are also strong progressive pop tunes, although I can't quite rid myself of the feeling that Kayak's players are holding back.

Still this is the slightly lesser half of an excellent pair of albums that generally lord it over more acclaimed progressive pop acts like Ambrosia and Klaatu, and almost belongs alongside the work of the big boys. I'd start with See See The Sun, but there's nothing terribly wrong with Kayak II. ... 61% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#54076)
Posted Monday, October 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second Kayak-album (also called "His Master's Noise" and "Alibi") is, for sure, their most proggy/symphonic album and can compete with the other Dutch giant's Earth & Fire "Song Of The Marching Children" album, but also "The Yes Album" and "Nursery Cryme" from Yes and Genesis.

A big Yes-influence is featured here, just like on the first album "See See The Sun". But the songs on "Kayak II" are sounding more complete, balanced and consistent. Although the whole album is a bit shorter, there are no weak tracks on it. "Wintertime" was a hit in The Netherlands and still remains a very popular song in the "Golden Oldies- category". It's a pop-song featuring accordeon and mellotron, and the melody is very good. The opener "Alibi" is Yes-que power. Screaming guitar-themes and fat piano chords are moving forward the unusual vocals of Max Werner.

Other highlights are "Mountain Too Rough" (with an absolutely brilliant middle-part, featuring dramatic piano, and mellotron interaction) and "They Get To Know Me" (more than 9 minutes and another interaction between guitar and moog- synthesizer). "Serenades" and "Woe And Alas" are fan-favorites and shorter, more accessible songs.

The closing of this suberb album is a combination of two pieces: "Mireille" (written by drummer/composer) Pim Koopman and the very progressive uneven "Trust In The Machine" that closes with a dramatic, scary mellotron-march that reminds of the early King Crimson songs.

On the 1994 CD-version, a bonus-track (seperate single release from 1974) called "We Are Not Amused" has been added. A funny song, but to be honest, it's not a very strong one.

For real prog-insiders this is considered the best album Kayak ever made. I think it's not their best (to me, it's their last album "Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man") but surely one of their best.

In the genre, this overlooked album deserves a maximum score, for there are no weak moments to be found. The composing, the playing, the inspiration.. it's all there. What else do you need?

Report this review (#92033)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have to say hat this second opus is quite a disappointment in comparison with their very good debut. The music proposed is much lighter, pop oriented. There is no such songs as the great ''Reason For It All'' to be found here.

Mostly a combo of fine and tranquil pop-prog songs with, at times, an interesting keyboards or guitar part. But I was expecting more to be honest.

There is still one great number out of here: the long ''They Get To Know Me''. A superb ''Supertrampish'' song with lots of keys and harmony. If only the band would have signed more of these sort of pieces! The contrast is almost extreme when you compare this composition to the other ones available; fortunately it represents almost 25% of the album.

I can't really understand the whole bunch of enthusiasm of my fellow reviewers for this work. When I listen to ''Serenades'' I just can't find anything prog in here! In my sense, it is just some sort of ''press next'' song. But you know this concept, right?

The more diversified and complex ''Woe & Alas'' with its Gentle Giant orientation is another fine moment from this ''Kayak II''. Melodic vocals and very pleasant keys throughout. Another highlight, by all means.

Some tracks like ''Mireille'' shows a more symphonic side and the second best from this album is definitely the complex ''Trust In The Machine''. Aerial vocals, off-beat drumming, psyche mood and some experimental passages are a great combination. It is by far the least accessible song from this album, but to compare it as ''The Waiting Room'' is quite dary IMO. The closing part is truly moving (mellotron and guitar). It all ends in a maelstrom of sounds which are quite unbelievable while you listen to the weak ''His Master's Noise''.

Fortunately, the two longest tracks (almost forty per cent of the whole album) are really good; this leads me to rate this album with three stars.

Report this review (#220842)
Posted Friday, June 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Kayak's second album is a great listen throughout of slightly odd melodic symphonic prog with some mild pop sensibilities. The keyboards of Ton Scherpenzeel cast endless melodies & chords progressions and the distinctive vulnerable voice of Max Werner gives the music an artistic atmosphere. On this album the song-writing is however the strongest asset; with unforgettable melodies on almost all songs (most notably 'Mountain to Rough' and 'Serenades'). On the opening track 'Alibi' (which appeared on the 2019 set list) the band rocks out whilst still remaining melodic throughout. Kayak also attempts to create two epic type songs with 'They Get to Know Me' (with its great abstract verse theme) and the futuristic 'Trust in the Machine'. Kayak is nowhere near as technical as bands like Yes or Genesis, but it made some great atmospherically well conceived albums. My guess is many listeners are repelled by the slightly introverted geeky sound of these early albums, but I can vouch for their durability once you've properly acquainted yourself with albums like Kayak's second (this one), 'The Last Encore' and (to a slightly lesser degree) 'Royal Bed Bouncer'.
Report this review (#248384)
Posted Friday, November 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although Focus were undoubtedly the most popular and well-known group of the vibrant Dutch prog scene of the 1970s, they had plenty of healthy competition from the likes of Group 1850, Trace, Kayak, Finch and Supersister keeping them on their toes. Of these outfits it was arguably Kayak who featured the most eclectic style, the five-piece enjoying a prolific phase of activity during progressive rock's heyday that saw them produce a pair of excellent albums in the shape of their 1973 debut 'See See The Sun' and this superior, self-titled follow-up from a year later. Featuring Ton Scherpenzeel(keyboards, vocals), Cees Van Leeuwen(bass), Max Werner(keyboards, vocals), Johan Slager(guitar) and Pim Koopman(drums), Kayak were a fiercely-creative group who adhered strictly to the genre's principle ideals of experimentation, brewing up a unique sound that encompassed a clutch of influences and thus lent their overall sound an almost schizophrenic quality shot through with reckless abandon. As a result, pigeon-holing Kayak is virtually an impossible task, both of their first two albums skipping brazenly between styles in a way that shouldn't really work. Yet somehow this approach does work, and very convincingly too. Opening track 'Alibi' crosses Steve Howe-style guitar lines with jaunty, Canterbury-flecked jazz-rock; you have the nine-minute epic 'To Woe & Alas' feeding classical-shaped ELP organ solos through Yes-tinged symphonic washes; and melancholy-but-pretty organ drones adorn the mysterious throwaway ditty 'Mireille'. Thrilling in its execution and smart enough to avoid the occasional longeurs that occasionally blight lesser albums, 'Kayak' is a singular musical beast indeed, and very much the apex of the group's 1970s output. Simply put, what we have here is a wonderful example of the colourful nature of Dutch progressive rock, a scene that offers up a wholly eclectic musical viewpoint that surely ranks amongst the finest in Europe. Later Kayak efforts maybe pale in comparison, yet for a brief moment Kayak really did scale some lofty progressive rock heights of a none-too familiar kind. Impressive. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

Report this review (#808443)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Kayak are one of those bands that give me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside. Prog can be steely cold and unwelcoming but Kayak much like their compatriots Focus are never that. Admittedly they couldn't be accused of being over ambitious either. There are no long sprawling epics. These are songs allbeit there is one of 9 minutes but thats a rarity for Kayak. Much of the goodness in their music comes from keyboard player Ton Sherpenzeel who is sort of cross between Rick Wakeman and Tony Banks style wise. Never as flashy as the caped crusader but he has his ability applied much more along the lines of Banks tastefull artistic approach. The band are as tight as you like. I like the druming of Pim Koopman very much. Straight foward and quite heavy but not lacking a few tricks here or there. Max Werner is also a very good singer and perfect for the songs. I would recommend this for anyone that likes song based prog with strong symphonic elements. The recent remaster has been lovingly done. Sounds great and there is an additional track Give It A Name. Kayak probably never bettered this album.
Report this review (#861562)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Based on the succesful path of the debut the Dutch band followed ''See see the sun'' with a second album, which was originally to be titled ''His master's voice'', but this ideas was soon abandoned not to raise conflictions with the label of the same name.Eventually the album carried only the name of the band as a title, but became known also as ''Kayak II'' or ''Alibi'', named after the opening piece.It was released on EMI in 1974.

Now, the influences remain stable for Kayak, GENESIS and YES were the basic sources of inspirations, but this time the songwriting appears to a be a bit more accesible, focusing on vocal harmonies, elaborate melodies and striking choruses, flirting more and more with the emerging sound of SUPERTRAMP.So, in ''Kayak II'' the formula displayed follows a complex Symphonic Pop style and the band comes as the best retro equivalent to Swedish A.C.T., having a rich and convinving composing style, which ranges from poppy lines to symphonic orchestrations, filled with keyboard and piano interludes, interesting paces and joyful guitar plays.There are certain pieces that recall GENESIS' smoother and lyrical side, like the beautiful ballad ''Mountain too rough'' or the melodic ''Serenades'', but all pieces contain some serious musicianship with big time Mellotron dashes and organ runs.But it's not all about Symphonic Pop here.The long ''They get to know me'' is a pure Symphonic Rock opus with dramatic vocals and different segments, reminding of other North-European acts like FOCUS and DICE.Melancholic and haunting symphonicism, quirky synth drives and crying guitars complete a stunner in Kayak's discography.Or the 6-min. ''Trust in the machine'', which has a slight CAMEL touch circa ''Moonmadness'' with some jazzy orientations in the keyboard parts and some impressive Mellotron washes towards a grandiose outro.

Great Symphonic/Art/Pop Rock by Kayak.The greatest proof that poppy vibes cannot ruin a progressive album, on the contrary, this has to be one of most excellent and intelligent albums ever recorded by a Prog Rock group.Highly recommended.

Report this review (#1265733)
Posted Monday, September 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Their more progressive and energetic moments remind me of a rockier Genesis or Supertramp; their quieter, smoother, poppier moments put me in mind of some of the ballads that the Alan Parsons Project would turn out in subsequent years. And in between all of that, just occasionally they let loose some vocal melodies that put me in mind of what Queen were getting up to around this point in time. Kayak were one of those groups who were paying attention to what the progressive world were doing but also had a keen sense of the mainstream pop zeitgeist, and happily on Kayak II they manage to bridge the two beautifully.
Report this review (#1558563)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kayak is the 2nd studio album by Dutch symphonic and crossover prog band Kayak, and my point of entry to their #symphonicprog years.

The lineup at this point was comprised of Max Werner on lead vocals, percussion and Mellotron; Johan Slager on guitars and backing vocals; Ton Scherpenzeel all types of keyboards, organ and piano; Cees Van Leeuwen on bass and harmonica; and Kim Koopman on drums and vocals.

In a nutshell, a great band with exceptional musicianship and songwriting; Kayak is an album where the symphonic prog fan will find some resemblance to early Genesis on songs such as the mini epic They Get to Know Me and the haunting Woe and Alas; some Yes in songs like the jumpy Serenades and Trust in The Machine; and the #classicrock and prog pop fan a little Supertramp in Wintertime; an ode to The Beatles on the fabulous closer His Master's noise, and more upfront rockers on the opener Alibi or mainstream rock ballads like Mountain Too Rough? so there's a lot of great sounding and perfectly executed variety to keep the listener entertained. A great late discovery for me, a band with more than fifteen albums on their backs, with more than half of those worth checking out? this one is barely over 35 minutes so is a very quick and fast listen. Guess I have some homework to do! My personal highlights:

- Wintertime

- The Get to Know Me

- Serenades

- Woes and Alas

- His Master's noise

Report this review (#2852410)
Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | Review Permalink

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