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NOVA SOLIS

Morgan

Symphonic Prog


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Morgan Nova Solis album cover
3.65 | 32 ratings | 6 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Samarkhand The Golden (8:04)
2. Alone (5:17)
3. War Games (7:03)
4. Nova Solis: a suite (20:17)

Total Time: 40:41

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Morgan Fisher / keyboards & synthesizer
- Tim Staffel / vocals & acoustic guitar
- Bob Sapsed / bass
- Maurice Bacon / drums & percussion

Releases information

Recorded June/ July 1972 at RCA studios Rome (published by RCA Italiana), republished in 2004 by BMG RICORDI S.p.A. (82876646662)
(Remastered by Angel Air Records in 2000)
(Remastered in 2005 on CD, Japan: Air Mail Recording AIRAC-1098; cover is a replica of the original gatefold LP sleeve)
(Remastered in 2001 on LP, Italy: Black Widow BWR 052; limited edition of 600 copies)

Thanks to ANDREW for the addition
and to MANDRAKEROOT for the last updates
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MORGAN Nova Solis ratings distribution


3.65
(32 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
9%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(66%)
66%
Good, but non-essential (22%)
22%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

MORGAN Nova Solis reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends (Alphonse de Lamartine)

Smarkhand the Golden - For those scholarly and academic types out there (of which I am neither) this 8 minute epic may be based on a poem by James Elroy Flecker called The Golden Journey to Samarkand written circa 1913 (just after he puts the kids to bed) But no, I don't have a clue what Mr Flecker or Morgan are babbling on about, except that Samarkhand just might stand as a (lazy) metaphor for exoticism and wise up, this type of stupefied romanticism was ripe for those woolly heads sliced into the prog basket by revolting punks. (n'est pas?) The piece is very well arranged with good and judicious use of competing meters, dynamic contrasts/timbre and pace together with some mouth watering synth work from Morgan Fisher, who appears to have sold himself rather short with his subsequent stint in the decent but undistinguished Mott the Hoople ? (Everyone has to the pay the rent after all)

I was quite astonished at just how technically accomplished and advanced Mr F's playing and writing is, and those of you with a fondness for analogue synth weirdness, gritty Hammond organ and Usain Bolt piano may well be in hog heaven with this album. (Must dig out my long abandoned Mott the Hoople LP to see if I can catch a glimpse of this turncoat progger)

Unfortunately, this one man jury is still out on the vocals of Tim Staffel, which irritate and delight in equal measure, with his delivery alternating between egomaniacal showmanship and quirky excitability. Yep, our Tim is one of those vocalists blessed with an admirable range, but he cannot bear to let the listener ever forget this for a second. I like his voice very much in the lower to mid range area, but unlike most of the dogs in our neighbourhood, do not care for his tonsilry in the upper registers. At times he comes across as a jollier version of Robert Smith or Kevin Rowland selling fish at Billingsgate Market.

Alone - Vaguely reminiscent of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds as if played over different chords, but a very strong song delivered with some restraint by the previously histrionic Staffel, who dispenses with his irritating falsetto conceits as heard on the opening track. The band sensibly douse their fiery bombast on this one, and let a very strong vocal track breathe by accentuating the melody and not overpowering the delicate fingerpicked guitar accompaniment.

War Games - Inside every progger there is a peace emissary just bursting to get out it would seem. Ah, the futility of war (most of which are waged to allow us the right to condemn their stupidity) Lovely dislocated jazzy piano on this one replete with another strong tune before a very skilful transition of pace into the Tonight we ride on Bethlehem section which employs a sloping and languid groove in perfect empathy with Staffel's warbling melody. Thereafter, we encounter a bewildering array of start/stop section writing but Morgan carry off this tricky compositional device admirably. If overdone, this technique can condemn the music to incoherence or sounding contrived, but the band exercise just enough suitable restraint in this area. Lovely snaky bass from Sapsed and I particularly like his tone throughout this record. Gutsy, but neither distorted or flat and woolly (see the 1st two Crimson albums)

Nova Solis - In keeping with symphonic prog's time honoured recipe, this 20 minute monster opens with a suitably bombastic adaptation of a classical piece, re the Planets Suite by Holst. Great fun all round, with synth pyrotechnics flying left, right and centre and buried distantly way back in the bowels of the mix, the sound of the inconsolable sobbing of the composer. At it's conclusion we meet the eerie morse code distress signal as tapped out on a Moog in homage to the latter's Mars, the Bringer of War. Yet more dizzying piano from Fisher which provides some welcome relief from Staffel's affected and wearying bonhomie during the sung section. Even through a ring modulator (as they attempt here) his voice still cannot be cajoled into anything other than mildly annoying. The noodling bass departure and spacey sound collage that follows is entertaining, but strictly atmospheric filler. Strummed acoustic guitar chords introduce a very robust song section, ah this is better lads, please keep it up. This is shaping up to be the highlight of the album and even Timmy boy is a delight on this part. Some very brisk ostinato passages follow which are reminiscent of the instrumental portions of 'Tarkus' and Morgan even preface the Latin flavoured live improv of Aquatarkus as heard on Welcome Back My Friends. However, these are merely reference points, and although the influence is palpable the music is not merely a slavish reproduction, so let's not get too picky here. Perhaps the comparisons to ELP crop up simply because there is no electric guitar on this record ? (or they both have an irritating singer, Go figure)

All the ingredients that go to baking a yummy prog puddy are here in abundance, with liberal garnishes of ELP, Argent, Greenslade, Yes and all the other celebrity chefs you can shake a ribbon controller at. Although many of the compositional structures and instrumentation employed do ape the gatefold masterpieces of yore, the music itself is very accomplished and certainly on a par with much of the output from that golden age of caped young men in tight pants.

There is a prevailing tendency to appraise Nova Solis as though it were a rather cold and calculated foray into the then burgeoning prog marketplace by some unscrupulous musos and record executives, but I can honestly say that such skulduggery cannot be deduced from the very fine music that is contained therein

(They mean it man, so who cares)

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Send comments to ExittheLemming (BETA) | Report this review (#197747) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, January 08, 2009

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

Morgan Fisher is a genius.

There, I said it. I mean, how else could he make some of the most inventive and interesting prog rock on the planet and end up in his late 50s writing music for commercials in Japan, and getting a pretty penny for it I would hope. Sounds like a good gig to me, and a good life lived for this king of B-list prog, master of the sideshow and winner of countless Best Music No One Really Cares About awards. I don't know, maybe Fisher's playfulness appeals to me (something usually missing from today's prog). Or maybe his truly impressive musical range and compositional gifts are just too hard to ignore despite the funhouse feeling on this debut from 1972. And then there's the spectacle. All I know is Nova Solis is spilling over with atmosphere and imagery, and the fact is that Morgan Fisher gave more on his records than many of the bigger names of the time. It's an album wherein, as John Lennon said of Mr. Kite; "You should be able to smell the peanuts".

Solis is an extravaganza of what had become possible with the rock format, a parade of idea after idea passing like giant floats, each eagerly waiting in line to be revealed. This is prog when things were closer to the wild west, with as many snakeoil salesmen and roaming criminals as reliable merchants and ranchers. But among the scoundrels, Morgan Fisher and songwriting partner Tim Staffell were legit. Simply put, this LP was the sh*t-- the absolutely real thing, authentic, strong as aged goat cheese and stinking of a far off place where no good things were happening. It's what the guys who have heard it all and know classic era prog inside & out quietly listen to when no one else is around. Every aging, coffee-swilling cigarette smoker with a bad hankerin' for prog and a tragically steady paycheck who's collection from Britain between 1969 and 1979 is larger than that thing they launched the space shuttle from will deny to their death this is the godsmack of second tier symphonic prog. But it is and they know it.

Similarities are hard to peg for these guys, it was such an original group. Certainly the brilliant descriptive and incidental work of Raymond Scott is apparent in Fisher's material, as well as Syd Barrett's sense of adventure, the circuses of Dave Greenslade and maybe a whiff of Zappa. 'Samarkhand the Golden' is wonderful vintage stuff enhanced liberally by Fisher's VCS 3 synth, Hohner & DK 1, Mo Bacon's eager drums and bassist Rob Sapsed doing a heroic job enhancing Fisher and Staffell's arrangement. Derivative 'Alone' is a miss but 'War Games' rocks, Bacon tearing up his drums, Staffell's vaguely biblical lyric and giddy vocal, and Fisher terrific on all number of keys from a Steinway Grand to a Hammond to a Spinet as he knits up the background, always sure to never let a good moment go to waste. Holst's 'Jupiter' from The Planets starts the second half, the nine part title piece. It's not long before things start melting apart into sound effects and space sickness but Morgan picks it up and pumps out the prog; mean organ flurries, unexpected jazzplay, piano lines merging into squealing synths, descriptive mood-setting, carousels, calliopes, histrionic dramaturgy, and more Holst at the end.

A one of a kind release by a band that epitomised the working prog musician and what a few inspired guys could do with some good equipment. Someday along your listening journey, Morgan Fisher's work deserves your attention. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon, and for the rest of your life.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#250657) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review by The Doctor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I purchased this album primarily because I wanted to see what Tim Staffel got up to after leaving Smile. As a big Smile fan (as big a fan as one can be for a group that released only 6 songs clocking in for a total of less than 30 minutes), I had hoped for a bit of that Smile sound in this album. I wasn't quite sure what to expect of keyboardist Fisher, as I knew he would later go on to Mott the Hoople, and although a fan of that band, I wasn't sure how much in terms of "chops" the guy had. I was disappointed on neither account.

The vocal portions are quite reminiscent of the Smile/early Queen sound, especially on the Staffel penned "Alone" and on the chorus of "War Games" and of course on the old Smile tune "Earth" which made its way into the middle of the epic "Nova Solis". As others have said, the instrumental work reminds me a lot of ELP, that is bombastic, pretentious and a whole lot of fun. Fisher tackles the keys as ably as Emerson, and the bassist and drummer (Robert Sapsed and Mo Bacon respectively) are more than capable of keeping up and providing some over the top playing to go along with the over the top keyboard work of Fisher.

The epic "Nova Solis" is actually three songs, "Floating", the previously mentioned "Earth" and "May I Remember" connected with interwoven instrumental passages composed by Fisher (think Tarkus here). "Alone" is more of an accoustic song and definitely reminds of Smile, and a bit of the more accoustic ELP style. "War Games" has a bouncy, rhythmic piano during the verses, and the choruses are definitely Smile or early Queen in their sound. The opening track, "Samarkhand the Golden" kicks things off with ample amounts of pomp. This is an easy 4-star album, a great edition to anyone's prog collection. If you are a fan of Smile or early-Queen and ELP, add a star, as this is essential listening.

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Send comments to The Doctor (BETA) | Report this review (#278307) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
3 stars This was Morgan's debut album, released in 1972. Along with Morgan Fisher (keys) were Tim Staffell (acoustic guitar/vocals, always to be remembered as the singer in Smile which was the pre-Queen outfit), bassist Bob Sapsed and drummer Maurice Bacon. Listening to this album now, for the first time on CD, it is interesting to hear just how similar this is in many ways to ELP. Morgan shows himself to be a fine keyboard player who loved to use his moog and mellotron whenever possible. While there are very complex pieces here (the closing title cut is over twenty minutes long), there is even a Greg Lake?style acoustic number "Alone", which Tim apparently performed at his audition with the band and got himself the gig. Although parts of it do sound quite dated, it is an album that I think any lover of classic ELP will also enjoy. It is different enough not to be called copyist, while at the same time still maintaining certain similarities. Anybody approaching this album for the first time will be pleasantly surprised. Although there are no bonus cuts, there is plenty of extra information and photographs, as one would expect from an Angel Air release.

Originally appeared in Feedback #60

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#966160) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars The only thing that strikes me as odd is that Morgan has had to come to Italy to record (and published) this album. Why, then, as too many bands (not just between RCA's bands) has disappeared as a band. Considering the high quality of music presented can only regret that this band has produced ... (read more)

Report this review (#627969) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4,5 stars - This debut of the obscure prog outfit Morgan is perhaps the best prog I've ever heard, and believe me, I know more about prog than any of you out there. The music is very dominated by synths (in fact, no electric guitars can be heard on this album), especially the VCS-3, and Morgan ... (read more)

Report this review (#126389) | Posted by JackBH | Wednesday, June 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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