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Byzantium Byzantium album cover
2.72 | 26 ratings | 4 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1:
1. What Is Happening?
2. I Am A Stranger To My Life
3. Come Fair One
4. Baby I Can Hear You Calling Me

Side 2:
5. Trade Wind
6. Into The Country
7. Lady friend
8. Why Or Maybe It's Because

Line-up / Musicians

- Robin Lamble / vocal, bass
- Chas Jankel / vocal, guitar, keyboards
- Nico Ramsden / vocal, guitar
- Stephen Corduner / drums

Guest musicians:
- Jamie Rubinstein / guitar (3)
- Alan Skidmore / tenor saxophone (7)
- Frank Riccotti / timpani (8)

Releases information

LP A&M AMLH-68104

Thanks to Prog Lucky jackbh for the addition
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BYZANTIUM Byzantium ratings distribution

(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

BYZANTIUM Byzantium reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars These Byzantium albums are so hard to find today, and have never been issued on CD that I know of. If someone knows how to get any of them (especially the first) on CD please post to as I’m sure there are some progheads who would be glad to get their hands on them. This one isn’t quite as rare as the first since it was released on A&M, but their first is just impossible to find.

These guys are more of a heavy rock band with some progressive tendencies, not really a full-fledged prog band. Think Uriah Heep with a little Wishbone Ash sprinkled on the top and you get the idea. They started out as an acoustic band and there’s plenty of acoustic guitar on this release, but also electric guitar, keyboards and brass (mostly saxophone). The tracks range from fairly heavy to nearly ballad-like, with pretty much all of the songs heavy with three-part harmony vocals from bassist Robin Lamble, guitarist/keyboardist Chaz Jankel, and guitarist Nico Ramsden.

A few songs stand out. “Trade Wind” is very Wishbone Ash-sounding with great vocal harmonies and those early seventies partly mystic/partly hippy lyrics. “Into the Country” is one of those early seventies ‘let’s all frolic in the meadow’ kind of songs with a bit of a dark edge to it. “Lady Friend” has a pleasant rolling rhythm wrapped in a love song with romantic saxophone, a nice tune but out of character with the rest of the album.

But the marquee track is the sometimes experimental and tempo-shifting eleven minute mini-epic “Why or maybe it's Because”, full of synthesized strings, staccato piano, and more ‘For my Lady’ type lyrics. This is the kind of tune that would have played very well live back then (and probably today for the right audience), although the repetitive and extended closing riff does get a bit tedious after several minutes.

The members of the band all seem to have been journeymen, with most of them going on to fruitful music careers. Following the band’s breakup a year later Jankel would begin a long relationship with Ian Drury’s various lineups, and earned himself a nice nest egg by penning “Ai No Corrida” in 1979, which became a major R&B hit for Quincy Jones on his 1980 ‘The Dude’ release. One of my favorite Quincy Jones tunes and his best album, by the way. Lamble returned to Al Stewart’s camp for several albums; and Nico Ramsden would appear on Mike Oldfield’s ‘Platinum’ release as well as appear with Gong and Rick Wakeman in the latter seventies.

In all this is a solid album, but certainly not essential. Three stars is an accurate rating, but it would be interesting to hear this album with a decent remastering treatment and CD reissue. Recommended to early seventies heavy prog fans.


Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars I was curious about this group. But when I found this LP by pure chance I was not very pleased. I was a bit disappointed because I heard they had some Gentle Giant influences, but aside from the first cut intro I found nothing here even close to what GG had done in their entire career. Not that Byzantium is bad group: you can see those musicians were very good and the arrangements are quite interesting and promising. The arrangements are, in fact, the highlights of the album: some odd time signatures, some jazzy parts, impressive vocal hamonies and things like that.

Unfortunatly they are not as skilled at the songwriting department. Their songs are very simple, derivative affairs. Nothing original and/or very convincing. No song here sticks on you r mind once you finish listen to them. Pehaps they could have improved if they soldiered on, but that was noty meant to be. As it is, youīll find some average heavy prog stuff like the Wishbone Ash influenced Come Fair One or even some C,S,N&Y rip off (Trade Wind). The most prog tune is the last track, the 10 minute Why Or Maybe Itīs Because (the title pretty much sums up the whole disc), with its BIG Moody Blues feeling. Still the song is just a poor copy of MB and the last part is just too tedious.

Small wonder there was no CD re-release of this album. Even if the band had some terrific musicians it cannot hide the fact they did not have the songs to make a good, outstanding work. The lack of focus and personality certainly didnīt help either. This is only for collectors and historians. 2 stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The attempts of Byzantium on ''Live and studio'' had some impact, because propably a copy reached the offices of A&M Records, which eventually signed the band.Byzantium visited the Trident Studios in London with the line-up of Steve Corduner (drums), Chas Jankel (guitar, vocals), Robin Lamble (bass, vocals) and Nico Ramsden (guitar, keyboards, vocals), recording what was going to be their self-titled debut album, released in 1972.Jamie Rubinstein appears as a guest on acoustic guitar, but the list of guest musicians is longer, Derek Wadsworth plays brass instruments, Alan Skidmore is on sax, Frank Ricotti is on percussion.

For their biggest bet Byzantium appeared as a mediocre entry, having nothing really new to add to the emerging British Prog scene, moreover they sound much influenced by the 60's and the music of THE BEATLES, THE MOODY BLUES and PROCOL HARUM.While there is some sort of diversity and challenge in their music, they sound like struggling to move on from a more conservative style to a more intricate conformation.The principles of their music were still Psychedelic Rock and Orchestral Pop, making some CRESSIDA comparisons reasonable, but with so many sweet vocal harmonies and the addition of light jazzy and funky elements they confuse the listener about their true intention.Musically ''Byzantium'' is not bad at all, the decent melodies, some hard-edged guitar moves, s few acoustic textures and the big orchestral content with the brass and string sections in forefront offer a delicate, flexible sound with accesible songwriting values, but little left to imagination.Additional instruments such as the violin, the piano, the organ and the big brass sections help to a mature approach on Rock music, but the only track to really come out from the mass is the 10-min. farewell ''Why or maybe it's because''.A mix of dated Jazz Rock, symphonic music and Experimental Rock, where the sentimental multiple vocals come in evidence, but the arrangements are both complex and melodic with Classical-like variations and a strong rockin' content.

B-class Psych/Pop/Prog from UK.Definitely a nice buy for those retro fans, who like their music with harmonic and psychedelic overtones, but not a priority for a Prog fan.The closing suite is pretty cool and the best reason to search for this one...2,5 stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars This album is an unknown album, but not good enough for me to call it gem. Byzantium is a very Gentle Giant influenced band, but there's something about them that does not give me the feel that I am listening to a treat. I have to admit there are some nice songs on this album though... What ... (read more)

Report this review (#236057) | Posted by The Runaway | Monday, August 31, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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