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Harlequin Mass

Symphonic Prog

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Harlequin Mass Harlequin Mass album cover
3.30 | 25 ratings | 5 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Introit (A Mass for the Harlequin) (3:09)
2. Love & Death (7:37)
3. One Step Home (7:32)
4. Space Cats (1:00)
5. Loss of a Friend (3:39)
6. A New Song (4:21)
7. Sky Caller (10:34)

Total Time: 37:52

Bonus tracks on 1994 CD release:
8. My Place (3:14)
9. Meantime (4:02)
10. Fabulous Angel (4:04)
11. Jeopardy [KZOK mix] (3:54)

Total Time: 53:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Nancy Deaver (Kaye) / lead & backing vocals, synth bass
- Jeff Pike / lead, Classical & acoustic guitars, piano, synth, sax, clarinet, backing vocals
- Lyle Holdahl / bass, synth bass, acoustic & electric guitars, String Ensemble, synth, piano, organ, flute, percussion, lead & backing vocals, composer
- John Reagan / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Collin Heade / cello & guitar (3)
- Rob Metcalfe / synthr programming, Fx
- Mark Reagan / snare & finger cymbals (4)
- Kevin Hay / lead guitar (8-11)
- Carl Bennett / bass (8-11)
- Tom Dickens / drums (8-11)

Releases information

Artwork: Carl Bennett Design

LP Mass Productions ‎- MAS 333 (1978, US)

CD Mellow Records ‎- MMP 236 (1994, Italy) With 4 bonus tracks from 1982 by "Stubborn Puppet"
CDr Big Balloon Music (2000, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HARLEQUIN MASS Harlequin Mass ratings distribution

(25 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (48%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

HARLEQUIN MASS Harlequin Mass reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars It is always a pleasure to discover a band from the 1970s that received absolutely zero chance first time around. If the band was American, and did not play with the typical in your face style of its countrymen, so much the better. Harlequin Mass leans more towards the British school of symphonic rock, while incorporating folk elements into their best material. The folk basis is important, because it is generally sufficient to rein in the doodling on most of the longer pieces, the overly long and unfocused "Sky Caller" being the most notable exception.

It is hard to pick points of reference, even with Nancy Deaver's voice naturally calling out "Renaissance", because while the band sounds a bit like an energized Renaissance meets Yes, Deaver does not sound like Annie at all, but actually more like the Wilsons of Canadian classic rockers Heart, with a lot less venom. For a terribly obscure reference, how about Pauline Filby of the British prog/folk group Narnia, although Harlequin Mass is definitely a far better ensemble. Like Renaissance, though, Harlequin Mass knew how to vary the vox by gender, and Lyle Holdahl's lead on "One Step Home" helps make this mellotron and synth drenched pastoral epic the highlight of this disk, hands down. The backing harmonies in the final segment don't hurt, nor does the emotional lead guitar solo that fades out at the end.

Most of the material is strong and takes a few listens to get into. "Love and Death" might be the most representative piece by the band, featuring extended instrumental runs and interesting time changes but also some more accessible segments especially in the latter half. "A New Song" starts like Heart's "Crazy on You", but becomes a sweet lyrical paean to the possibility of the band having a hit, but yet one gets the impression from the lyrics that this is more an expression of a pipe dream than any attempt to pander. The benefit of retrospect tells us that the chances of such a monumental event were very slim, and in 1978 most prog bands must have gotten the message.

I cannot comment on the bonus cuts as my copy is the Big Balloon CDR. Harlequin Mass may not even command a small footnote in American rock history of the 1970s, but this is a strong debut that might have launched a more commercially successful career a few years earlier.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars A little treasure in prog world

While this band never got any big attention by listners they manage to release a single album in 1978 selftitled. To me is a very good album reminescent of Renaissance or Earth & Fire (Atlantis or To the world of the future era). The album was released to late in my opinion in late '70's when punk, new wave or the burst of NWOBHM steal the show of most of the prog bands. So is clear that this obscure band from USA, Oregon, never gain any big aplause, not because of the music witch is quite strong and has very good moments , it because was put on the musical market in a wrong time, so they lived almost 2 years before disbanding in 1980. About the music, i find it intristing , well played with some strong compositions like Love & death - here everybody can see what this band is capable of in prog music - good prog piece, One step home another highlight of the album, mellow piece with great cello and acustic guitar, funy Space cats with upbeat tempo and the optimistic A new song, the rest are ok.The voice is alternating from female to male, but Nancy Kay has the main role here who also has a good voice remind me more like contemporary female voice Lana Lane than Annie Haslan or Jerney Kaagman - just check out Loss of a friend. So, as a whole this album desearve more attention by symphonic prog lovers, to me is an excellent addition to any collection. 4 stars, and ending this review with Sean Trane words: "worth investigate". My Cd is released on Mellow record and has 4 bonus tracks from Stubborn Puppet era ( the second reincarnation of the band under diffrent name) - the pieces are more mainstrem in sound that on Harlequin Mass and nothing really to talk about, not bad not good.

Review by Progfan97402
3 stars I live in Oregon and I can tell you right away this state was not exactly brimming with local prog acts (if it was, I'd be always frequenting the night clubs and venues, which I'm not because of the lack of local prog). There were a few pop/rock acts that did make it big, the Kingsmen being a big example, you can't escape "Louie Louie". Eugene, for some strange reason, was center of that brief swing revival that hit the nation in the late 1990s, with Cherry Poppin' Daddies giving us "Zoot Suit Riot". But a full-on prog rock band? Well Portland did have Touch who released a self-entitled album in 1969 on the Coliseum label (on Deram in the UK) and are often cited as one of those crucial albums in the development of prog prior to In the Court of the Crimson King. Harlequin Mass was a symphonic prog band, unfortunately they didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell. The fact they came from Portland, and released their only album in 1978 when prog rock was in bad shape (and many of the major acts like Yes and ELP released substandard albums, compared to their past triumphs). Here in Oregon, I was only a small kid in 1978, but arena rock was huge. Journey, Styx, Foreigner, Boston (and yes, even Kansas) were getting constant FM radio airplay (KZEL in Eugene was a big example, and same for Portland's KGON). Many of them had performed live in Portland.

Halequin Mass was not exactly the most complex of prog out there. Keyboardist Lyle Holdahl played Moog and string synths, and a lot of the music tended to be acoustic, with female vocals from Nancy Deaver (later Nancy Kaye), drawing comparisons to Renaissance (and on parts of "Sky Caller", of Yes). The back cover of the album has an artist illustration of the band and for some reason Nancy Deaver looks too much like some hated school teacher I had to deal with as a kid rather than a singer in a completely obscure local prog rock band. Nothing on this album is rather complex. "A New Song" sounded like the band was desperate for a hit (even the lyrics went "I know I think it's a hit"). It's wasn't a hit, not even in Portland. "Love & Death" is probably the best song on the album, I really like the use of electric guitar. You can tell they're not exactly the most skilled of musicians. At least they don't try to play beyond their abilities, that's why they keep it simple, with folk overtones. It's not a bad album, but again, there are many bands, obscure and otherwise that can dance circles around Harlequin Mass. Apparently this band thought they'd stand a better chance in Seattle by moving there (I've been to Seattle, it's not exactly much more prog friendly, but then I was there in the mid 1990s just after the grunge craze had passed), but instead recorded some new wave-influenced stuff under a new name, and broke up. Apparently John Reagan (no connection whatsoever to Ronald Reagan, as far as I know) ended up running an internet mail-order prog rock catalog called Big Balloon Music (sadly now defunct), so at least he hadn't forgotten prog, just selling stuff he that he so much enjoyed.

I have to say, Harlequin Mass shouldn't be high on your list, but do get it if you want to add more obscure releases in your collection.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This single albun from North-American band HARLEQUIM MASS, is a good surprise, mainly if take in consideration that is a relatively unknown work ( 6 ratings and only 4 reviews ). The sound reminds in some aspects the German band NOVALIS (in special "Novalis" & "Bradung" albuns) and also takes a b ... (read more)

Report this review (#493019) | Posted by maryes | Saturday, July 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Unknown band and a one album wonder from USA. Or should I say New York ? I guess they are from New York because of their sound. A sound very typical for New York at that time. Or Greenwich Village to be more precise. We are talking bohemian laid back pop music with hints of folk rock and jazz. ... (read more)

Report this review (#456324) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, June 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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