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WELCOME

Welcome

Symphonic Prog


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Welcome Welcome album cover
3.32 | 33 ratings | 4 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Rag Fair (8:52)
2. Dizzy Tune (7:40)
3. Glory (3:43)
4. Chain of Days (8:50)
5. Dirge (12:31)

Total Time: 41:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Bernie Krauer / electric & grand pianos, organ Mini Moog, Mellotron, vocals
- Francis Jost / bass, electric & acoustic guitars, tuba, vocals
- Tommy Strebel / drums, tubular bells, 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, vocals

Releases information

LP Columbia ‎- 13 C 058-33869 (1976, Switzerland)
LP Black Rills Records ‎- BRR-CD 017 (1999, Switzerland)

CD Black Rills Records ‎- BRR-CD 005 (1997, Switzerland)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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WELCOME Welcome ratings distribution


3.32
(33 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
12%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
47%
Good, but non-essential (34%)
34%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

WELCOME Welcome reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With their epnymous debut effort, Welcome brought a very interesting input to the Swiss prog scene. Despite its formal power-trio structure, the band's sound is so more closely related to early Yes (from "Yes" to "The Yes Album") and "Remember the Future"-era Nektar, as well as the the semir-ough melodic approach of classic Novalis and Grobschnitt. The main melodic responsibilities rest on the shoulders of keyboardsman Bernie Krauer, who alternates effective leads on organ and Moog synthesizer with attractive mellotron layers that bear the usual orchestral feel that comes to be one of the essential ingredients of standardized symphonic prog. Meanwhile, bassit Jost very much emulates the vintage Chris Squire vibe while his rhythm partner Stebel develops a drumming style in the vein of Alan White's dynamics. All in all, this band does not display ceaseless pyrotechnics, which means that the core compositions are kept within a moderate use of bombastic elaboration. Welcome certainly does not hide its major influences, choosing to welcome them explicitly and organize the musical ideas around them. The vocal department is also very relevant in the band's overall sound, since there is no lead vocalist in Welcome: all vocals are delivered in harmonies that display the singing lines. All in all, the singing interventions complete the easy-going spirit of the repertoire. Since the drummer and the bassist share acoustic guitar duties, it is no surpirse that they appear in many passages of the album: strumming sections appear as an addition to mellotron layers or even dominate the bucolic ballad 'Glory'. The first two tracks display accurate examples of what the band intends to offer to the prog friendly listener. Particularly, 'Dizzy Tune' benefits from the presence of sinister undertones in the track's central jamming. IMHO, the second half of the album is its best part. 'Chain of Days' and 'Dirge' comprise the most appealing musical ideas and the most accomplished use of mood shifts. The latter includes a very pretty guitar solo, as well as some of the most energetic manifestations of Hammond organ and synthesizer. 'Dirge' is the most epic-oriented track in the album, even showing a somber side that is not in itself very usual. Jost displays a very effective guitar solo whose moderate length reveals a sense of pwer that until then he had only shown on his mostly fuzzed bass guitar - good for him! This record is not likely to particularly impress the demanding prog listener, but it sure will be a pleasant discovery for those collectors who just can't get enough of the stylish beauty inhenert to symphonic prog. "Welcome" is a very good album, indeed.
Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is the debut album from a kind of charming (and obscure) Swiss symphonic trio from the seventies. I doubt if you can find the original vinyl release anywhere, but some just as obscure Swiss label (Black Rills) reissued it on CD about a decade ago, and those copies are floating around and can pretty easily.

I can hear some of the harmonic vocals of Crosby, Stills & Nash, as well as the meandering instrumental transitions that distinguished early ELP on this album; but even beyond that the influence of Yes is both heavy and undeniable. Keyboardist Bernie Krauer must have committed ‘Fragile’ and even the back side of ‘Relayer’ to memory; either that or he was channeling the still-alive Rick Wakeman on this album because the resemblance is actually uncanny. All three of these guys sing, but the combined effect takes on a Jon Anderson/Wakeman feel to it as well. Apparently all of them play guitar at various times too, but none of them sounds anything like Steve Howe, and at times that seems to be the only difference.

The opening track “The Rag Fair” starts off like a Head East power-chord tune, but quickly evolves into the complex, stilted organ/keyboard sounds that typified most of ‘Fragile’. Really, were it not for the fact that the guitars are only average and the keyboards are not insanely complex, I would swear this was a ‘lost’ Yes track. Even the vocals sound like the B-side for a “Gates of Delirium” single (man, and that would be a really big single, more like an EP really). This is so blatantly derivative that I can’t even really get upset – I’m more impressed that a group of unknown musicians from the land of the Alps managed to pull off such a flawless imitation.

More of the same on “Dizzy Tune”, which kicks off much the same as the previous track, but also manages to add some pretty wicked bass and even more pronounced organ. Here the vocals get kind of weird for a while, more like Gong around the same time with some half-spoken, half-sung, half-mad gibberish. But this finally gives way to an excellent keyboard/bass instrumental passage that manages to sound both Yes-like and still a bit original. I will say that the drums are fairly tepid here. Although they blend fairly well on the rest of the album, this is definitely the weakest link in the trio.

“Glory” starts to take on more of an ELP feel, more expansive and less grandiose and affected. The vocals would have worked on just about any pre-1974 CSN album just as well as they do here, with great harmonizing and impeccable timing. The acoustic guitar work adds to the CSN-like mood, and musically I think this is the strongest track on the album with its slightly folkish feel and flutish mellotron.

The organ gets heavy again on “Chain of Days” before giving way to a funky keyboard riff that blends well with what sounds like a single electric guitar. Vocally this is another ‘lost’ Yes tune circa about 1973, with harmonized chanting about greeting the day and enjoying the flowers, or something like that. It’s a bit hard to follow the lyrics on this album, but they aren’t all that important anyway. Hmmm, kind of like those same Yes albums that they are parroting.

Finally comes the ‘epic’, yet another nod to the early Yes albums. The twelve-minute plus “Dirge” throws in all the hardware; organ, mellotron, piano, electric and acoustic guitar, subdued drums, and an almost invisible bass plus lots and lots of three-part harmonies with a decidedly affected accent that sounds more Celtic than Swiss. Finally the guitar plays a major role with an extensive meandering solo that fills the middle part of the lengthy arrangement. After another extended tempo change comprised mostly of whining organ, the band builds up to something of a climax before disappearing behind a single whistling minstrel. A classic seventies ending.

This isn’t a masterpiece, or even essential by any means, but it is a very good representation of the early seventies symphonic sounds that came out of Europe. While the influences are undeniable and sometimes overpowering, the arrangements are decently laid out and played with precision. The recording quality is a bit uneven, but not bad at all considering their date and dubious production. This seems like a quintessential three star album, so that’s what I’ll give it.

peace

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars Along with Starcastle, the Swiss band WELCOME from Basel was probably the closest thing to a total Yes clone that existed in the 1970s prog scene. This band formed in 1975 and decided to pick up the jettisoned sounds of Yes' early album styles ranging from 'The Yes Album' and 'Fragile' to 'Close To The Edge' and even 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' without taking things to that level of complexity. This quirky derivative band may not have been the least bit original but surprisingly captured the essence of Yes' early 70s run and the most shocking thing about it was that this self-titled debut did it with only the three members of Tommy Stebel (percussion, acoustic guitar, tubular bells, vocals), Bernie Krauer (electric & grand pianos, organ Mini Moog, Mellotron, vocals ) and Francis Jost (bass, electric & acoustic guitars, tuba, vocals).

The band existed for six years before breaking up in 1981 and released two albums. This eponymous debut and a sophomore album titled 'You're Welcome.' Yeah, the band name is about as uninspiring as Yes' moniker itself and the album titles even more atrocious but what is quite surprising is that the music is actually quite good although you may think this was some sort of lost sessions of Yes itself during 'The Yes Album' era. Nope. It wasn't. This is a trio of Swiss Yes worshippers displaying their love of their favorite band. Despite the fact there is no real guitarist other than accent guitar strumming, the results turned out better than anyone could expect mostly because of WELCOME's reinterpretations of famous Yes riffs and themes such as vocal harmonies that permeate this album in abundance.

The album is also quite rich in organs, pianos and mellotron. The band had a firm command of the symphonic prog sound and had a great sense of style that had they chosen NOT to borrow the vocal styles and Squire mimicking bass grooves, might have bumped into a style of their own. While my reaction to such bands is always with apprehension as i find derivative bands to be more nauseating than pleasant, i have to say that this was a WELCOME surprise in how well these three guys pull off five super proggy tracks with two just shy of the 9-minute mark and the sprawling closer 'Dirge' clocking in at 12 1/2. This is definitely one for those who have drenched their reality in Yes music so much that they are looking for other bands that adopted their signature sounds in order to satisfy that addiction.

WELCOME is laced with stellar keyboard workouts sounding very much like Rick Wakeman and the bass is a dead ringer for Chris Squire. Add to that the beautiful vocal harmonies that sound as if 'I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People' had been vivisected manyfold and reconstituted in every possible way and then rerecorded in the studio. The problem of course is that as a mere trio the album sounds a bit incomplete no matter how wonderful and catchy the actual tunes are. Had the band added a couple more members this could have been of equal caliber of the early Yes canon save the total lack of self identity of course. By the time WELCOME released this debut in 1976, Yes itself had moved well beyond its 1971 album style culminating with the brilliant 'Relayer' in 1974 so like Starcastle, WELCOME figured why the heck not just adopt the orphan sound laying dormant in history.

This is an extremely pleasant album to check out and although WELCOME will never replace the true heroes of prog, their arrangements were quite excellent as they mined the early Yes catalogue for as many classic grooves, riffs and melodies as possible. There are many moments that you can tell exactly which song was mined and others that are actually quite brilliant that Yes SHOULD have thought of themselves but overall this is more derivative than not however it was probably too soon to pay tribute to an active band's history a mere five years after Yes invented these sounds. For what it is, it's quite excellent but what it is, is of course the ultimate clone of Yes right on par with Starcastle therefore very good but not really an essential album.

3.5 rounded down

Latest members reviews

4 stars Where's gone the fragrancy of the fields after a heavy rain? The Swiss group Welcome's debut is a very bizarre blend of things that work and things that don't in a very very charming way that just can't be matched. But it is certainly one heck of a Symphonic ride. It's Symphonic Rock up to 11. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2216327) | Posted by Hrychu | Tuesday, May 28, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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