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Trace Birds album cover
3.95 | 136 ratings | 14 reviews | 44% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Bourree (2:27)
2. Snuff (2:28)
3. Janny (In A Mist) (1:15)
4. Opus 1065 (7:46)
5. Penny (2:53)
6. Trixie-Dixie (0:38)
7. King-Bird (22:01)
8. Birds (Short Edit) (3:41)
9. Tabu (Second Version) (4:14)

Total Time: 47:23

Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Van Der Linden / keyboards
- Jaap Van Eik / bass, guitar, vocals
- Ian Mosley / drums, timpani, gong, tambourine

- Darry Way / acoustic & electric violin on 4
- Coen Hoedeman / assorted monkeys on 1

Releases information

LP Sire 7514 (1975)
LP Philips 6413080 (1975)
CD Musea FGBG 4176.AR (2001). Tracks 8 and 9 are bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Agemo for the last updates
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TRACE Birds ratings distribution

(136 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(44%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TRACE Birds reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marcelo
5 stars Between Focus and Ekseption, this is an exceptional album, very baroque and delicated. A must for lovers of the more classic side of the progressive rock. But even when this Bach inspirated music wouldn't be your cup of tea, or if you don't like the vintage sounds, you MUST hear virtuoso Rick Van Der Linden playing. His keyboards skill is just amazing.
Review by The Owl
5 stars This 3-piece in my mind blew ELP out of its own native waters! Rick Van Der Linden is a criminally underrated keyboard maestro with more than a few good ideas. And besides who else do you know that could artfully combine Bix Biederbecke and JS Bach? The "Birds Suite" is a treat (and bonus points for including the Owl at the 3:39 mark, they're my favorite birds!)!
Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Lack of purpose for this band as Ekseption had said it all before and even then it lacked a purpose ;-) I never really appreciated groups that were ripping off the classic composer without giving them credits for it. But here Trace (as the relazted Ekseption) actually do give credits to the classical composers, itdoes not make their music anymore worthy or interesting. Somehow, these classic reworksare never far from a pastiche, but Trace and Ekseption lacked the humour to do a pastiche.

Arguably their better album, but as you can guess, hardly worth a spin, IMHO

Review by Menswear
5 stars Trace's BIRDS is somewhat would call...a diamond in the waste. The skills of Rick Van Der Linden are more than talent. I just don't get it, why some are complaining about this album. It's delicate, it's virtuosity, it's a blend of baroque (Curved Air Daryll Way's violin in Opus) and vintage keyboards that takes you back to a simpler time. A time when all you needed to have a prog band is a big beard. Those birds (pun no intended) are rare to find. Please, when you listen to that record, think vintage. Think simple. Think like you were in 1975, with converse and adidas shirts. Place yourself in that time when producers searched for talent, not attitude. And believe that, these guys had no looks...but Birds had total talent and innoncence. That's the mark of 70's prog.
Review by loserboy
3 stars TRACE were a trio producing very keyboard rich music with embellishments of a classical genre added in for contrast. "Birds" would likely represent IMHO their defining moment offering some grand jazz/rock progressive themes. TRACE were Rick van der Linden (keyboards), Ian Mosley (MARILLION) drums and Jaap van Eik (bass and guitars). "Birds" combines shapes of CAMEL, ELP and FOCUS within a very tight and very original structure and wall of sound. This is truly a rich album with some awesome keyboards and amazing drumming. The album is made up of a number of shorter tunes and then an epic side long piece "King Bird" which gives them lots of room to unfold quite a piece . They also manage to cover two J.S. Bach tunes. The re-mastered CD also contains 2 excellent bonus songs taken from the same recording era and were apparently released separately as singles. Darryl Way makes a grand guest appearance on the violin on TRACE's rendition of Bach's "Opus 1065" which is one of the richest tracks you will hear. A great album.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Excellent prog album of the 70īs that I had the pleasure of having it at the time. Itīs my favorite Trace work, even if drummer Pierre Van Der Linden was gone by this time, replaced by english studio ace Ian Mosley (who would join Marillion in the 80īs). I have always loved their arrangement for Bachīs Bourree; I remember playing this track again and again when I was 16. But Birds have other good tracks like Opus 1065 (with great violin playing from Curved Airīs Darryl Way) and, specially, the great, 22 minute suite, King Bird.

That epic is worth the price of the CD alone and have fantastic passages, with lush keyboards, fine drumming and excellent bass parts done by Jaap Van Eik. Van Eik also plays some excellent electric guitar on this song (very much in the Jan Akkermann style). He also sings a little bit here (nice, but with heavy accent). There are some fillers on side A of the vinyl (mostly Van Der Lindenīs tendency for pop jazz) but I can live with that. Their style is often compared to ELP, of course, but they actually remind me more of the great german group Triumvirat then the english trio. It is only a pity that those guys could not come up with a better follow up to this fine record and broke up soon after that.

Birds remains Traceīs finest moment and a worthy record to have if you like the mix of rock, classical music and jazz. Not perfect, but an excellent addition to any prog music collection. 4 stars.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Though Trace's Birds contains a number of guest appearances that will surely inspire interest from many prog fans - Marillion followers will be keen to hear an early performance from Ian Moseley, who takes the drummer's stool for this album, whilst Curved Air's Darryl Way presents a violin solo which spices up Opus 1065 - the album itself isn't really much to write home about. It's really a refinement and continuation of the approach taken on the debut, but whilst it's all competently put together and performed, there aren't really any genuine head-turners on this one. The epic King-Bird which takes up the second half of the album is the best track available, but even then it doesn't really do anything prog fans won't have heard a dozen times before. A decent enough album if you really want more music keyboard-led three-pieces in your collection, but nothing to set the world on fire.
Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars It's not often I enjoy albums like this to the extent I like this album. The whole classical music reworked into keyboard-oriented progressive rock was cool when I was first introduced to it but has really grown stale over the years. I no longer enjoy bands like ELP and Triumvirat as much as I used to but this album by the wizard Rick Van Der Linden's brainchild, Trace, is absolutely stunning to me and has stayed that way for a long period of time.

Birds never delves too deeply into the plasticy sound that other classical reworkings produced, instead it sort of just redefines it elegantly but definitely with a newly found emotion. The use of the basic piano really does wonders as it gives the same effect of the keyboard without being overused. A good proportion of the two really makes the album just flow easily. Each track is mainly instrumental (save for some really kind of laughable, strong Scandinavian-accented singing which actually gets stuck in your head) and it definitely thrives from this. It's actually the catchiness of most the tracks that's the reason I keep coming back to it.

Rick Van Der Linden can play, and I mean he can PLAY. That is what this album is, his songwriting and arrangement ability fused with his keyboard playing ability. The album is also a brilliant one at that, a fun and engaging listen each time.

Overall, a real treasure to me. One of those cheese-prog gems that I can still listen to with pride.

4 solid stars.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars

"Whatever is impermanent is subject to change. Whatever is subject to change is subject to suffering." -- Buddah

Tibetan Buddhism believes in mistakes, or at least the mistake's importance in art and life; nothing in the physical or psychological world can bring lasting satisfaction, and therefore one should not attempt or seek it out. That imperfections, flaws or blemishes are in fact necessary for the transcendence of what man creates, for a spiritual realness only achieved by the austere, or in the case of the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi, an appreciation of the irregular, asymmetric, simple, and of the asperity of natural processes and forms.

This is precisely what is missing from Trace's Birds. Granted many progheads will not find this lack of flawed beauty an issue. So be it. But the almost machine-like precision and perpetual motion caused by this trio is both unsettling and unattractive. In this way, Van Eik, Mosley and Van der Linden do bring to mind acts as Triumvirat, Ekseption, or Kaipa, but are even more sanitized & sterile. At least those guys never forgot they were playing rock. Quotes from J.S. Bach's second Suite showoff Rick Van der Linden's chops and I will say, to his credit, he did play real instruments which is more than many current players do. It being 1975 perhaps he had no choice but it's still nice to hear a real church organ, an actual Grand piano, a genuine harpsichord. 'Snuff' is run-of-the-mill symphonic pop, indistinguishable from any number of other post-ELP variants, and 'Janny' is misplaced here, oddly detached from the rest of the set.

Finally a very cool interpretation of Bach's Concerto for Four Pianos shows us these guys' compositional taste and brilliance, and is nearly eight minutes of first-rate art rock featuring Darryl Way's haunting violin solo break. Yearnings for the American 20th century in jazzy and Gershwinian 'Penny', and our entree; the massive 'King-bird', an epic piece that surely helped give a bad name to Prog in Europe (and everywhere else) with twenty-two relentless minutes of huge, melodramatic walls of symphonic rock at its most self-involved and delusional, and includes eighteen - count 'em, eighteen - individual parts. It's also quite well done if requiring far too much commitment from what surely would've been a baked and besotted listener. Its stuff like this that ensured pop music would always flourish and have an audience. A 'Birds' short edit and a second take of 'Tabu' are included on the Musea reissue.

Though key among the Emersonian subspecies of bands, Trace gave us too little too late and left behind a lukewarm legacy of otherwise hot music. Three stars is just about perfect.

Latest members reviews

5 stars From its sublime cover by Rens Benerink depicting a pair of birds of prey swooping down on to a distorted lanscape against a burning solar flare to it`s multiple musical themes which paint themselves brilliantly into one another, Trace`s 1975 album is a magnificent display of modern artistic virt ... (read more)

Report this review (#207386) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Monday, March 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 3.5 FROM ME Now this is a real treat!!. Trace were a dutch trio in the vain of ELP lead by keyboard virtuoso Rick van der linden (formerly of FOCUS). In my opinion this trio is much better then ELP and van der linden is a more acomplished KB player than Keith Emerson. The album is very much r ... (read more)

Report this review (#60673) | Posted by | Sunday, December 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Like the previous album from TRACE, I give this one also a 5 star rating. Whereas the previous album puts the emphasis on the virtuosity of the band members, this one highlights Rick's skill in arranging music to an even greater degree. Usually his music sounds so good and natural that the ski ... (read more)

Report this review (#7320) | Posted by | Monday, September 27, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A very good Symphonic Prog rock album, excellent keyboard playing (similar to Rick Wakeman's, but sometimes catchier) The singing on 'King Bird' is not particulary that strong, but musically it is top notch, It has a wide selection of music, from Jazz to real Prog Rock on King Bird, This band ... (read more)

Report this review (#7318) | Posted by justinlawes | Wednesday, May 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

2 stars A strange and passive follow-up to the 74 remarkable debut. The loss of magic, the pure joy of playing that was present there is nearly absent on this one. Ok, the music flows well, well-played and has its good-above-average-moments, but after listening through it all, the feeling that comes cleare ... (read more)

Report this review (#7314) | Posted by Zaragon | Friday, February 13, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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