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4 stars KAYAK released a few real gems over their career with "Phantom Of The Night" remaining one of my personal favourites from this era. Without a question "Ruthless Queen" and "Phantom Of The Night" are 2 of my favourite songs they have ever done. KAYAK play a very velvety symphonic prog-pop in the style somewhere between the MOODY BLUES, CAMEL and SUPERTRAMP. Fans of CAMEL will in fact recognize the presence of Tom Scherpenzel (keyboards). One of the other remarkable things of Kayak is clearly the velvet voice of Edward Reekers who has a wonderfully clear and powerful range. A great album with big symphonic boundaries to cross.
Report this review (#4163)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars If you listen nonchalantly to this album, you will say: "This is another pop piano boring band who is not progressive and who is not talented enough to make catchy pop hits". But if you listen it carefully, you will discover charming songs, very addictive and symphonic, but not really progressive. Here, compared to their debut, they sacrificed progressive tendencies to the profit of a clean, attractive well recorded sound. There are lots of piano, as always, and keyboards can be really floating, in a symphonic manner. The bass is good and the ensemble is often rythmic. There are lots of subtlety in simplicity here. The lead vocals is very goo too, as always. The songs are often nostalgic, pretty good feeling here!
Report this review (#4164)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I stumbled across this album on vinyl format in about 1980 or so. I find that the music moved me like nothing else. I lost the actual record in the mid 80's and all but forgot about Kayak. Recently I have been in search of the CD and it is quite an adventure to try and find it. It remains one of my favorite collection of songs of all time and I hope to be able to someday find a copy on CD. The combination of the instrumentation and vocals is very clever and the songs are incredible. Maybe some would say overly dramamtic but I can't argue with the feeling that wells up in me upon hearing these songs. Too bad it didn't hit stronger in the USA. As a big fan of groups such as Kansas, ELP, UK, Yes, etc. I find a romantic element in the Kayak music that I feel is indeed rare and unique. Maybe it takes me back to the time when I had the original album, I don't know, but it remains one of my all time favorites.
Report this review (#4165)
Posted Wednesday, May 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars 'Phantom Of The Night' sees Kayak regressing rather than progressing. They obviously wanted to go into a pop direction pretty early on, and this album sees them nailing their goal firmly. Unfortunately, there's not much on 'Phantom Of The Night' for anyone who enjoyed the band's first couple albums. Kayak's lineup was expanded this time around to include new vocalist Edward Reekers, which put former vocalist Max Werner behind the drums for good. Reekers is probably technically better than Werner, but this is at the expense of having any edge, as his delivery is what I would call "vanilla". Admittedly, he fits in well with the band's continuing (de)evolution. Things get off to a weak start with "Keep The Change" and the even wimpier "Winning Ways". Pure pop, totally upbeat and very middle-of-the-road. Lite fare. "Daphne (Laurel Tree)" provides some calming, airy moments before widening its scope into a semi-epic vibe, the first real sign of life on this album. Then the one real saving grace appears in the form of "Journey Through Time". Based around an almost sinister riff and a feeling of unease, the song is one of few high-points in late-'70s Kayak, one you can hold up to the quality of their first two albums. It bounces between unease and brighter, warmer textures, like something from Genesis' 'And Then There Were Three'. The title track does provide some substance, but it doesn't seem fully formed and I've never been able to get my head around it. From here on out, there's nothing much of interest to be heard (ie. a DISMAL Side 2!). The whole album is smothered in the gentle atmosphere that is the Kayak trademark, dynamics tending toward the quiet and lush end of the scale. That's fine, I just don't think Kayak is very interesting when they fall into this sort of malaise. 'Phantom Of The Night' is near the bottom of a real downhill slide, and I only keep it around because 1) I got a copy cheap, and 2) "Journey Through Time" is fantastic.
Report this review (#4170)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first Kayak record I've ever listened to, and it won't be the last. Going into this blindly as I did, my heart sank when I saw the band photo; they looked like Abba's extended family (must be a palindromic problem). But I see with my ears when it comes to music, and the dutiful organ came back with a different report. It told me of a progressive pop band that could hold its own with the masters of that sometimes maligned genre: Supertramp, 10cc, ELO, Alan Parsons Project and the softer late '70s entries from Gentle Giant and Camel. [I'm listening to "Journey Through Time" right now (my favorite track on the album) and there's almost a Hackettsian mad glee about the whole thing.] It's strictly second-tier stuff, but if you're already buying works by Tony Banks or Anthony Phillips, by all means venture into the world of Kayak. The elegiac "Phantom of the Night" or the tuneful "The Poet And The One Man Band" (trust me, it's better than it sounds) are highlights, but Phantom of the Night is rarely less than engaging. The melodies from Ton Scherpenzeel are ingratiating, not brilliant; the guitar work from Johan Slager has a Latimer-like quality to it; Edward (he's better than he sounds) Reekers has a stout but sympathetic voice. Put it all together and you've got a progressive pop band that resides somewhere between Genesis and Supertramp without touching them. I'm happy with this record right now. If I find that Kayak gets deeper, so much the better. If they don't, they've still achieved something here.
Report this review (#47573)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Competent

This follow up album to "Starlight Dancer" is very much a case of more of the same. Indeed, when heard as part of the "Three originals" collection, the tracks flow seamlessly from one album to the next. Once again, here we have short pop rock tracks, the longest lasting a mere 5 minutes. That of course does not in itself imply that there is a complete absence of anything prog (Genesis "Can utility and the coastliners" belies any such notion), but the fact is that the tracks on "Phantom of the night" are all based on simple pop structures and strong melodies.

Once again we have a mixture of 10CC influenced melodic pop rock, 60's style Beatlesque numbers, and Alan Parson Project like ballads. Vocally, there are similarities with America (of "Horse with no name" fame). It is the ballads which appear to work best here, "Ruthless Queen" and "Phantom of the night" both having slightly more to them compositionally than the majority of the faster paced pop rock songs.

The competence of the musicians, and the quality of the finished product betrays a band recording well within their capabilities, which ultimately leaves a sense of frustration that this album could have been so much better. Taken at face value though, a pleasant if totally unchallenging set of pop songs.

Report this review (#57003)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Kayak, the Kings of Dutch Progressive rock, were a band who could not make a weak album if they tried. Throughout their career nearly all their albums were masterpieces, beginning with the brilliant See See The Sun and ending, for a long time, with the magnificent Merlin- a dark and perilous concept album. Original vocalist Max Werner had a great voice, but when he decided that his original intentions to be the drummer were where he wanted to be Kayak found a relatively unknown new lead singer named Edward Reekers and brought him along with Irene Linders (Ton Scherpenzeel's girlfriend) and Katherine Lapthorne into the group. The first album to feature this revised line up was Phantom Of The Knight and this album also introduced me to Kayak 10 bloody long years ago. If intelligently played and lush musical backdrops for crystal clear vocals and dark lyrics are the prerequisites for a progressive masterpiece as I think they are than this album is at the top for the time period. Early AOR/Pomp influences come into play, and make no mistake they work out brilliantly sounding at times like a sinister progressive Abba! First track "Keep The Change" is great. The lyrics are a put down and after losing a best friend to find he was a cheater and liar I fully relate to this song as much now as I ever have. The addition of brass doesn't hurt, Scherpenzeel always knew how to work out brilliant arrangements that would compliment Kayak's melodic sound. Melodic is the key word here, strong attention payed to the flow of the songs and no dissonant or ugly passages. Guitarist Johan Slager is brilliant here as always, his soaring guitar flying above the keyboards and deftly played rhythms. Every track here is great, but a real favourite is "Daphne (Laurel Tree)." This song leaves me in another world, it's a timeless progressive masterstroke with haunting lyrics, Edward Reekers' brilliant voice, and staggering changes of mood that are unexpected and never fail to take me by storm. It is Edward Reekers' piercing yet smooth and very soothing voice that really makes this one of Kayak's most memorable releases, together with the great songwriting and perfect arrangements. Kayak have always been about songs and melodies rather than showing off, and have always been slick in a good and not irritating way, with all 3 factors coming into play on this album it remains in their top 2 or 3 best ever. The group have had their share of bad press over the years and this is very unfortunate, as a listen to this great album proves who is in the right and who is in the wrong quite clearly. I can't choose one best album by Kayak, but if pressed I may have to say this is my all time favourite. The most amazing thing about Phantom Of The Night is that despite the menacing lyrical themes the music is beautiful. This was one thing that always set Kayak apart, and it comes to full blossom on this wonderful album. If you haven't heard Kayak, then go for anything you can find. They will always be my favourite symphonic progressive band from Europe, and this is perhaps their best album.
Report this review (#58567)
Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kayak's sixth album, 'Phantom Of The Night' is the first album with lead-singer Edward Reekers. The original vocalist, Max Werner, moved to the drumkit, replacing Charles Louis Schouten, who played drums on the fifth record 'Starlight Dancer'. The brother of the band's leader Ton Scherpenzeel, Peter Scherpenzeel, became the new bass-player, replacing Theo de Jong and the new band added two female back-vocalists: Irene Linders (Ton's wife) and Katherine Lapthorn (Peter's girlfriend back then).

The new Kayak became less inspired by symphonic rock and started to write more accessible (and shorter) songs. This was one of the first albums that were recorded in the famous Dutch 'Wisseloord Studios' in Hilversum. The band's biggest hit-single to date, 'Ruthless Queen' (no. 3 in the Dutch charts) features on this album. Most of the songs are quite strong, especially 'First Signs Of Spring' [beautiful melodic ballad], 'Daphne' [most symphonic track on the album] and 'Phantom Of The Night' [another ballad, similiar to 'Ruthless Queen' but more haunting]. The song 'The Poet And The One Man Band' even contains a nice synthesizer-solo! Most of the other songs are poppy, but the band plays very well and especially the vocals of Reekers are worth listening to.

The worst thing about this album is the sound-quality and mix.. The instruments sound very thin and soft. The follow-up to this album, 'Periscope Life' from 1980, sounds way better, although the songs are less interesting.

One more thing: The album-cover and tracklisting mentioned here are from the American version of the album. The original cover-art features a woman standing in the dark with a microphone-standard in her hand, and contains a different running order: Side 1: Winning Ways / Keep The Change / Ruthless Queen / Crime Of Passion / First Signs Of Spring / Side 2: Daphne / The Poet And The One Man Band / No Man's Land / Journey Through Time / Phantom Of The Night.

Not the best album of Kayak, but at least their bestseller. Strange enough, you can only buy this album on CD in combination with two others (Starlight Dancer and Periscope Life) as the cd-box 'Three Originals'.

Report this review (#71401)
Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An album which made them famous .

Why do I say so? As far as I know, the band was not that famous until they released this album because it has successful and popular hit in my country : "Ruthless Queen". It quickly became one of favorites for vast majority of people in my country who love music. The radio stations played this song quite often in their regular program because it was so many requests about this song. People tended to know the band literally only from this one song. Not that many people knew that there were actually many excellent albums by Kayak. The discussion of Kayak is now even becoming one of hot topics in the i-Rock! mailing list where I'm participating.

I was at my first year as engineering student when I purchased the cassette version of this CD and I was in fact amazed with the music which was for me quite easy to digest. Everything about the music of Kayak sounds to me like a pop based music. They do not have jaw dropping fast speed double pedal drums nor distorted guitar solos. They play sweet music, I think.

Look at "Winning Ways" which has relatively fast tempo but in the corridor of pop music through a good combination of piano, drums and some guitar fills plus bass that accompany vocal line. This upbeat tempo track is quite good to open the day. "Keep the change" is also a song in similar vein like "Winning Ways".

"Daphne" is one of my best favorite tracks from this album. Oh man .. I like the intro part where the vocal starts the track in catchy melody. The melody is so nice that I keep repeating this track again whenever I play this album. As usual, this wonderful track starts with soft piano work with notes that makes your heart breaks! I mean it. Especially when vocal starts to sing backed with nice notes delivered by the piano. The song then moves into upbeat style in grandiose way using orchestra and guitar fills. Well, you must experience yourself. Play it loud!

"The Poet and The One Man Band" is another straight pop music. "No Man's Land" is a straight rocker with an upbeat music using a combined work of guitar and piano. "Journey Through Time" is a nice track with good grooves through out the song.

The title track "Phantom of The Night" is another great track which has powerful melody, tight composition and brilliant music flow. The music is mellow but the melody has been written in such a way that brings you seamlessly from one segment to another without any disorientation of chords or notes. All chords and notes blend nicely in a beautiful melody that brings your mind through a peaceful journey. The song is also enriched by light orchestra. The overall track is so captivating for me. It's really great!

Overall, I would consider this album is excellent as it has successfully blended catchy melody (the main strength of Kayak music) and tight composition that goes along nicely with the melody. As the music of Kayak is pop based, you would find many pop music throughout the album. But that's okay as the pop parts would still make yourself tolerant to accept it. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#156670)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Kayak's 'Phantom of the Night' is in my opinion rightly seen the highlight of Kayak progressive pop phase ('77-'80). Not only does the first side impress with a string of enthusiastic and uplifting melodic pop-rock songs, the second side has strong spree of (mildly progressive) symphonic rock songs as well. Perhaps a bit like Alan Parsons Project at its best. The melodic ballad 'Ruthless Queen' became an international hit, and it indeed is a very impressive song with a beautiful vocal performance of Edward Reekers. For fans of the early progressive period of Kayak the song 'No-Man's Land' offers a nice bit of nostalgia with Max Werner on vocals, who by now had become the drummer of the band. Songs like 'Daphne', 'Journey Through Time' and the title track are also among the best progressive rock / pop Kayak had to offer in this period.
Report this review (#172470)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Good albums are over, I'm afraid. "Kayak" now fully plays some poppy prog (or is it reverse?). They might be called as somewhat "precursory" since most of our beloved bands were adding these "flavours" in the early eighties. "Kayak" didn't wait that long?

My fave is the sweet and delicious "Daphné" which is a good prog adventure: typically Trampish oriented (as usual), fine vocals and quite good backing music to be honest. The closing and passionate guitar break has a bunch of merit to say the least.

But such tracks are not too many on this album. Actually, I'm looking for a second one with a lot of care but can't really find it. The basic qualities from this band didn't disappear: there are fine vocal harmonies like during the title track, good and sweet keys, acceptable orchestrations but what is lacking is skilled song writing.

This is a quite average prog album: nothing too bad though. Tranquil, peaceful music, no problem ("poet...", or the charming "Ruthless Queen"). But not enough to rate it as a good work. Two stars.

Report this review (#224224)
Posted Thursday, July 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Many years ago, I walked into a record store looking for something new. I had gained trust in the clerk that worked there. He had always given me some great recommendations and introduced me to a lot of bands that otherwise I would have never heard of. He told me to buy this one. I think I listened to it once and then had a hard time picking it up again. I wasn't that impressed at first, thinking it was just a bit to poppy for my tastes. But, somewhere along the way, I listened to it a few more times and realized that the songs were stuck in my head. And I actually didn't mind them being stuck there! So, I finally had to admit that I really liked this album. A few months ago, I was in a second hand store and got quite excited when I found this album on vinyl. I really didn't think I would ever find it again. I put it on and remembered why I loved it so much.

There are 3 1/2 slow songs on this one and the others are quite uptempo. But, in reality, my favorites are the slower ones. They are very dramatic, heartfelt, and, in my opinion, emotional. Daphne is the one that is the 1/2 slow and 1/2 uptempo song, Phantom of the Night is a lovely song about a ghost ship, Ruthless Queen which was the single overseas and a very powerful song, and First Signs of Spring. Don't get me wrong because the uptempo ones are nice too. The one prog song on here is No Man's Land, the others tend to lean more to crossover. But its all still very good music and still one of my all time favorite albums. I have heard some of their other albums and have to admit that the production on some of them is really great while on others it is terrible. But they are definately a band worth checking out, just know that some albums are better than others. It is very safe to say that you can follow the "stars" for the ratings for each of the albums on this site for picking out the best ones. Personally, I would have given this one a higher rating than three stars, but I think that is because it is more of a nostaligic thing for me. But I agree with the ratings for the other albums. The reason for the lower rating on this one is because it is more commercial than some of their other albums, but it is still loaded with well-written songs.

Report this review (#280328)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kayak is comparable to groups of a more 'enlightened or harmless' sound as Alan Parsons Project, Saga and to a lesser extent with Styx. There were no masterpiece (as it did Supertramp), but I find very nice a lot of songs from their discography.

Especially enjoy their first three albums for the most part, and Merlin (first side).

The case of Phantom of the Night is that, despite having less progressive attitudes to their first two discs or the A side of "Merlin", contains songs very well produced and with the band playing smooth and very accurate. Excellent leadership Scherpenzel, Slager very thoughtful contributions on guitar, and Reekers´s voice at a great time, like the drums of Werner.

 Keep the Change is one of my favorites of the group. Beautiful melody, great vocal harmonies and a great job of keyboards. True, it's more pop than prog, but great quality. I´m not tired of this song. Great way to start.

Daphne, Winning Ways, Phantom of the Night and The Poet and the Man Band are other highlights. Ruthless Queen is an excellent ballad, too popular at the time. The rest is enjoyable and listenable

Kayak has a unique style and, depending on the type of music you want to hear, is appropriate and recommended....

Rating 3,5 to 4.

Report this review (#977197)
Posted Thursday, June 13, 2013 | Review Permalink

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