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Yezda Urfa

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Yezda Urfa Sacred Baboon album cover
3.98 | 225 ratings | 31 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Give 'em Some Rawhide Chewies (3:50)
2. Cancer of the Band (6:48)
3. Tota in the Moya (10:14)
4. Boris and His Three Verses (2:50)
5. Flow Guides Aren't My Bag (4:45)
6. (My Doc Told Me I Had), Doggie Head (5:02)
7. 3, Almost 4, 6 Yea (8:39)

Total Time 42:08

Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Rodenbaugh / lead vocals
- Mark Tippins / classical, acoustic & electric guitars, backing vocals
- Phil Kimbrough / Hammond B3, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, piano, synths (Elka String, Minimoog, Moog mod. 15), celesta, harpsichord, accordion, mandolin, flute, soprano & tenor recorders, backing vocals, co-producer
- Marc Miller / basses, cello, marimba, vibes, backing vocals
- Brad Christoff / drums, tubular bells, metallophone, glockenspiel, percussion (timpani, orchestral cymbals, gong, marching snare, bulb horn, etc.)

Releases information

Originally recorded in 1976; Tracks 3,5 & 7 are reworked versions of songs from "Boris" (1975)

Artwork: Ron Pieniak w/ George Orozco (logos) & Mike Iannone (Art dir.) & Greg Walker (design)

LP Syn-Phonic - SYNPHO-3 (1989, US)

CD Syn-Phonic - SYNCD 8 (1991, US) - w/ different cover art
SHM-CD Belle Antique ‎- BELLE 101689 (2010, Japan) - Remastered by Shuichi Takano

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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YEZDA URFA Sacred Baboon ratings distribution

(225 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

YEZDA URFA Sacred Baboon reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Second, but unreleased at the time, album of the Indiana-Illinois quintet combo Yezda Urfa. Recorded in 76 (one year after the release of their debut album), Sacred Baboon didn't see the light of the day, until Greg Walker's label Syn-Phonic (now long-defunct) made it one of their first publications in 89 on vinyl and under a different artwork a bit later on CD. The reason is apparently a change of mind of Dharma Records, but the Gentle Giant-esque derivative sonics might have been somewhat a valid reason to their eyes. Indeed, if the YZ debut had a sense of urgency, due in parts to its rawness, but here, the clean production changes radically the band's soundscapes. Indeed, if the debut was closer to Yes, C-SB is definitely closer to GG, maybe too much or unbearably so, because they lack the originality, but also the pure talent to make such complicated music. Somehow, we're not far from Gryphon's last album Treason (still not recorded until the following year), which had lostall its origins, by hovering between yes and GG. In this case, YU bases its influence on the GG albums of TP&TG and FH, both hardly my fave in the latter's catalogue.

If you really want a Gentle Giant clone, might I suggest you that you go for the Québécois band Et Cetera, whose sole album is a much nicer homage than YU's. But rest assured that if you're into mid-70's unearthed US gems, Sacred Baboon is one that will ravish most progheads starving for such things. Syn-Phonic's release comes with the vinyl artwork reproduced on the booklet's innerfold and a mandrill (instead of a baboon) drawing, plus the usual band pics, individual pictures and exhaustive instrument list, a brief history and the lyrics. What more to ask? Except for a real baboon, maybe.

Review by Steve Hegede
5 stars YEZDA URFA were another great symphonic-prog band from the late-70s American prog scene. Their two main sources of inspiration seemed to be YES and GENTLE GIANT, but they pushed those two influences to the extreme (If you think the Jon ANDERSON's lyrics were esoteric, you got to hear the lyrics on this album). Not to mention that the music here bursts with energy and invention. Marc Miller, the bassist, plays some of the most exciting bass lines ever recorded. In fact, after listening to prog rock for about 10 years, I've never heard another album with bass playing quite like this. The other musicians also offer some pretty tasty chops. Their guitarist plays using a clean Steve HOWE-influence style. The guitar-riffs are played at a frantic pace, and somehow mix HOWE's American-guitar chops with European classical influences.

If you're eager to hear a prog album that emphasizes complexity, tempo-changes, all-you-can-eat time-signatures, instrument changes in mid-song, and lyrics stranger than the writings of Tristan "Dada" Tzara, be sure to pick "Sacred Baboon".

Review by lor68
4 stars Almost perfect, except on a few music passages emulating bands such as YES and GENTLE GIANT, which are not very original, as well as some vocal passages of the lead singer when he's alone (for this reason only it should be righter a "4 stars rating"). Instead the splendid track "To-ta in the Moya" or the last instrumental one, are a true personal imprinting by YEZDA URFA. The label Syn-Phonic by Greg Walker has just re-issued their debut album "Boris" and of course this is a splendid occasion to look at both albums, suitable for whom doesn't know their music; even though to me "Sacred Baboon" is better and more mature too.

Highly recommended!!

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ah, the dilemma of the clone band. Whether it's Germany's Neuschwanstein with an obvious neo-prog update on classic Genesis, or Japan's Bi Kyo Ran who do homage to Red-era King Crimson, it's tough to know how to assess these bands, who produced excellent albums with everything except that oh-so-basic pre-requisite of originality. Such is the problem I faced from the moment I encountered Yezda Urfa, a mid 70s American band who clearly worship at the altar of Yes and Gentle Giant. To describe the precise similarities between Yezda Urfa's music and that of its guiding lights would take an age (and quite possibly, defy belief ... even the band's name ensures that it will sit alongside Yes records in most record stores!) so I'll try and sum it up briefly.

The lead vocals and melodies are clearly influenced by Yes' John Anderson (like Flash's Colin Carter and Starcastle's Terry Luttrell, Rick Rodenbaugh even manages to sound like little ol' pipsqueak), but the bizarre vocal harmony sections and air-tight angular shifts in mood all laced over that peculiar dissonant, contrapunctual, poly-rhythmic rock that I thought only Gentle Giant could do ... well Yezda Urfa have it down pat. Believe me when I assure you that musicians like keyboardist/flautists/mandolin player Phil Kimbrough and bassist/cellist/vibraphonist Marc Miller had the talent to be giants in this field.

Maybe that's why I've grown to respect this band. Sacred Baboon has gradually overcome my initial prejudice, simply by the force of the musical skill on display. From the opening thrusts of Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies, which throws in some Tony Kaye-style organ and concludes with a nice offbeat guitar solo, through to the chamber music meets free jazz of Cancer Of The Band and the mammoth prog jamming of Tota In The Moya, all the way to the final half frantic, half sublime (the Renaissance-era passage in particular is intoxicating) effort that is Three, Almost Four, Six Years, this album is jolly good fun. In fact the main ingredient that Yezda Urfa themselves have brought to the party is a sense of fun ... the storming fifth track is called Flow Guides Arent My Bag!

Because Yes and Gentle Giant between them have done this all before, Sacred Baboon is not a top-drawer album, but it would be a real mistake to pass up on it just because of the strong influences it shows. While the album has the odd meandering moment, there is some astonishing music on display here, and it is somewhat sobering to think that it was recorded in 1976, but only released some 13 years later. Roll up, folks ... 73% on the MPV scale

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. YEZDA URFA's debut album "Boris" was recorded and released in 1975 but no record label would take them on, but the following year (1976) a record label called "Dharma" agreed to release an album. So they recorded "Sacred Baboon" and re-recorded several tracks from the debut along with 3 new ones. Anyway "Dharma" began to flounder and the deal fell apart leaving this album to sit there collecting dust. "Synphonic" eventually released it in 1989. I feel that "Boris" is an amazing recording. If it didn't exist i'd probably give this 4 stars, but because my 4 favourite tracks on here were already on "Boris" it's hard to give this that rating. Especially when in my opinion those songs sound better on the debut. Still if you can't track down "Boris" i'd definitely recommend you listen to this one. What we have here is a sound that reminds me of both YES and GENTLE GIANT. Even the vocalist to me sounds better on "Boris" . At times he sounds like he's strained and maybe having trouble keeping up with the fast pace on this album. I'll touch on the 3 tracks not on the debut.

"Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies" features some huge bass lines and Howe-like guitar. Vocals come in fairly quickly. This sounds like YES until before 2 minutes when we get a brief GENTLE GIANT flavour. "Cancer Of The Band" is melancholic with flute to begin with. Vocals and piano a minute in. Nice vocal arrangements bringing to mind GENTLE GIANT. An acoustic guitar solo follows before vocals return. Good song. "(My Doc Told Me I Had) Doggie Head" opens with some chunky bass. The vocals seemed strained here at times.Synths are a nice touch when they arrive. A GG vocal arrangement and then some good organ 4 minutes in.

If I didn't have "Boris" this would be a valued recording, please track down one of these two albums if you'd like to own some early and impressive American Prog.

Review by Gooner
2 stars Oh...silly me! I read the reviews and jumped at it. Musically, quite impressive. You're right to assume these guys "sound like" Yes and "sound like" Gentle Giant...and occasionally "sound like" National Health. My problem is that I keep reaching for Yes and Gentle Giant after the first few tracks. If this doesn't bother you...then you're looking at a 4 star rating for this CD. If this rubs you the wrong way (the "sound like" factor), than 2 stars it is. If you're curious, give it a try. The vocalist DOES remind me a little of Steve Walsh from Kansas trying to pull off a convincing Ray Shulman vocal(Gentle Giant). It fails miserably, IMHO. :-(
Review by Menswear
5 stars Completely unbelievable.

This band is a UFO amongst all oddities in the prog world. What kind of imagination does it takes to write this kind of stuff? It goes from A-Z in the same song MANY times, which means it's 75 songs ideas crammed in one record of 7 songs. And the musicianship is probably one of the fastest, most skilled I've ever ecountered (a blend of Gryphon, Yes and Gentle Giant); which means they pound their instruments like blacksmiths on a poor anvil.

Take a perfect Jon Anderson clone and grow him a thick beard and dress him medieval. Good. Then, give him a lot of stimulants and some woodwinds. Okay. Finally, make him write lyrics after depriving him from 72 hours of sleep.

Absolute masterpiece of strangeness.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars God what a band. After years of prog hunting it's not often the cynical and jaded fan comes across a true masterpiece they hadn't already heard. But that's exactly what Sacred Baboon will be for many. And though magnificent, Yezda Urfa (a name taken from regions in Iran[Yazd] and Turkey) was not as tight as Yes, precious as Genesis, bold as Crimson or cool as Tull. They were just one of the finest American prog bands ever and this 1976 recording - a proper session made after the Boris demo - is so full of consistently high-quality material, it's hard to fully digest at times. Other than the easy Gentle Giant comparisons, the closest thing to these five ingenious madmen would be S.F. avant-garders Cartoon, though technically YU out-do even them.

The silly song titles belie a fantastically intricate and demanding paradigm of whimsy and obsessive brilliance, as on 'Give em Some Rawhide Chewies' and 'Cancer of the Band' with the group's vocal rounds negotiated flawlessly by lead singer Rick Rodenbaugh, keyboardist Phil Kimbrough, bassist Marc Miller who also handles cello and Vibes, and Mark Tippins on guitar. 10-minute 'To-Ta in the Moya' and the two cuts that follow will be familiar to fans of the Boris re-release [also Syn-phonic, thanks for a great production Greg!], will remind of Yes's more adventurous periods and features mind-bending key changes, modulations and rearrangements. Really cool track.

Pop music this is not and I don't wonder they were completely missed in their time, or any time for that matter. I mean, what were these guys?; Avant garde? A hippie art band? Tragically misunderstood or indulgent crap? No, just progressive rock at its best and most troublesome. 'Flow Guides Aren't My Bag' proves it with calamitous playing between drummer Brad Christoff & bassist Miller, Tippins' sure acoustic ax, and an urgent, popping arrangement by Kimbrough. Split personalties of brilliantly mad '(My Doc Told Me I Had)Doggie Head' and '3,Almost 4,6,Yeah' closes the show.

That bands like this actually existed at one time - on the planet we currently reside - is enough to add this glory of glories to your prog collection. Even if you hate it you'll love it.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars For several years I avoided any YEZDA URFA album, because most of what I heard about them is that they formed a YES clone band with GENTLE GIANT structures, interesting as it may sound for many, I'm not a fan of GENTLE GIANT and find Jon Anderson's vocals annoying to an extreme, but last week I bought a cheap copy of "Sacred Baboon" and honestly don't plan getting their debut album.

Not that they are bad, on the contrary, they are good (not great), but originality is not a word in their dictionary, the vocalist Rick Rodenbaugh tries with all his strength to sound like Jon Anderson and he partially achieves success, because sounds very close but Jon is original and charismatic, this guy not.

The vocal works are complex and elaborate,. but sound as a "B" class GENTLE GIANT, they abuse of the dissonances but aren't able to capture the unique Medieval - troubadouresque atmosphere (in most of the parts), which was the most interesting feature of Derek Shulman and company, in what GG was unique, this guys are bellow average.

The album starts with the interesting "Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies" intro, which gives the impression of a Medieval track, but it's a mirage, then the band looses the path and never retakes it, start playing in the vein of YES but suddenly change into the vocal style of GENTLE GIANT to go back to YES, simply unimaginative and boring.

"Cancer of the Band" starts with a soft and contradictory flute section, a hybrid between Medieval and cheesy, but when they are capturing the essence Medieval Folk music, they add a dissonant guitar that sounds empty, despite their later efforts, the band is not able to retake the sound they started with.

"Tota in the Moya" is quite funny, sounds like "In a Glass House" with hits of "Relayer" (To be Over), touches of "Tubular Bells" (The mandolin) and Rick Wakeman's musical jokes.......The big question is ...Where can I find something that sounds like YEZDA URFA, sadly the answer is nowhere. People describe this track as an epic I believe it's a long song with patches of different bands.

When I believed it was enough of cloning bands, comes "Boris and His Three Verses" that sounds like "Tormato" with Medieval hints, but the band fails creating a convincing atmosphere, floating in the middle of two bands who play in a contradictory style, thanks God it only lasts less than 3 minutes.

"Flow Guides Aren't My Bag" could be the only song that sounds remotely original, until those keyboards taken from "The Advent of Panurge" brings us back to reality, but at least some attempts of creating an own sound.

"(My Doc Told Me I Had) Doggie Head" starts Jazzy with few references to any band, even the dissonant sections sound original, but as soon as Rick Rodenbaugh adds his vocals, sounds like Jon Anderson singing in the style of Derek Schulman, no more commentaries.

Just when I was going to stop listening "Sacred Baboon"comes "3, Almost 4, 6, Yea", an excellent track with complex but melodic arrangements, the drumming is outstanding and the bass is completely accurate, fast, vibrant and at last original, the acoustic middle section is delightful and the ending is brilliant (The lack of vocals helps a lot).................If only this guys had realized before they can write outstanding music, the story would had been different.

Now I understand why their material was only released 12 years after it's recording, because almost everything YEZDA URFA played was done before by more famous bands and better.

Because of the obvious musical skills of the band members and the last track, I will rate this album with 2 stars, because I was tempted to give them only one, something that pisses me because they are all outstanding musicians

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars If YU debut album attracted by it's freshness and sometimes by freaky beauty, this, second work missed of both. Better organised, but openly Yes oriented ( even in vocal) album, still sounds pretty well. But when listening, I just catch myself on collecting separate their music pieces and trying to expect, where from it was borrowed. Yes, Gentle Giant for sure, plus more Kansas-like places as well.

I can't say this album is bad,no, but just it isn't original enough to be really attractive. You will listen it as great tribute band, and even will notice ,that musicians are skilled enough to put some personal grains into music. But it will be difficult just to accept it as original music, that is a problem.

Anyway, even if not as interesting, as their debut, I believe that this album could be interesting for listeners, searching on Yes-like music.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yezda Urfa - A buried treasure!

If you dig deep enough in the prog goldmine you may occasionally unearth some buried treasure. In the case of Yezda Urfa the treasure consists of two master works. The first is the demo which became 'Boris' and featured many of the tracks on this, their official release, resurrected from the 70s; brought back to life solely to enthral progheads, as the band are long since gone and scattered into musical directions only known to themselves.

So we are left with this 'Sacred Baboon'. In a similar way to the masterpiece by Argentinian proggers Bubu, the one and only full album of Yezda Urfa will go unnoticed by the music world but to progheads it is one album you must get hold of.

The band adopt a ferociously original approach and yet draw on influences such as Yes and King Crimson, and there is nothing wrong with that. I could not get hold of the infamous and elusive 'Boris', that has received high accolades on the PA, so this is where it begins and ends for me with Yezda Urfa, and I was pleasantly surprised.

All of the tracks from 'Boris' that made their way to this 'Sacred Baboon' are brilliant tracks which says something about the quality of that debut. There is much on offer here that would make any connoisseurs of prog drool over.

'Cancer of the Band' is an odyssey of musical textures, that begins with multilayered soft flute.

Finely crafted songs are the order of the day with a smattering of Gentle Giant and huge dollops of Yes influences. The multi harmonies are total Yes and there is a Gentle Giant sense of humour, even lapsing in to Gong territory occasionally but this is still original enough to hold the interest.

I can recommend this over many of the other offerings in that bleak year of 1989.

Review by Negoba
4 stars Someone Slipped Some GG Goofballs in Yes' Drink

Once upon a time there was fantabulous Yes tribute band who were flawless in their craft but yearned for more. After opening for Gentle Giant for a tour and coming on stage for several songs a night, the band was at a crossroads. Remain forever playing covers or try to make a name for themselves? They finally decided to go for it, and placing intravenous lines of Cuban Coffee, they proceeded to compose, practice, record, and mix an album in 72 straight hours where no one slept and only one visited the rest room. The result was SACRED BABOON, a maniacal piece of chaos complete with dissonant harmony, angular tempo changes, and mistake-covering collective coughs.

Or something like that. In actuality, Yezda Urfa is a talented American 70's prog band known for their demo, BORIS. This album, SACRED BABOON, was an album recorded a year later (1976) for a failed label, sitting under dust bunnies for 13 years until it was discovered by a new company. The albums share 4 songs, though all are reworked and re- recorded for BABOON. The new versions sound much better, though the performances aren't quite as intense as on the debut. The overall recording is mixed better, the transitions are smoother, the songwriting more mature. The new songs are big improvements over the demo, and the Gentle Giant influence is much more in evidence. Rather than just a fun oddity, this album is truly a hidden treasure in the prog vault.

Aside from the removal of the cliché 60's reverb from the vocals, the addition of a chorus to the guitars, and increase in Gentle Giant contrapuntal compostion, the primary difference between the two Yezda Urfa works are the three new songs. "Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies" is a personal favorite of mine. Its tight songwriting and accessibility are precisely what BORIS was lacking. Though I wouldn't call any YU song "listener friendly," this one comes closest and is a perfect opener. The second song "Cancer of the Band," begins as a wind trio, moves to piano and voice, and shifts to guitars. Initially a clear GG take-off, the dissonant guitar parts and minor tonalities are a uniquely YU touch. The darkest and most challenging piece on the album, "Cancer" would have to have a place in any "most complex prog" contest. Finally, "(My Doc Told Me I Had) Doggie Head" is a quirky prog-feast featuring a mainly Gentle Giant styled melody exchange punctuated by guitarist Mark Tippins' Steve Howe psychobilly solo stylings.

The reworkings of the songs from BORIS involve smoothing some rough edges, for good and for bad. "Ta in the Moya" retains its great signature melody but benefits from major rearrangements. Though the vocal delivery is a little less emotional, the instrumental sounds are much more coherent. Similarly, "Boris" and "Flow Guides" move more smoothly, sound better, but lack just a bit of bite. The best result is on the closer "3, Almost 4, 6 Yea," now a near-instrumental with more generous attention applied to the Gryphon- esque medieval atmospherics. Just as the band seems to be finishing calmly, a tightly intense section comes in with about 2:30 to go that jolts the listener awake before the song, album, and band departs with a kind of overture of themes that serves as a fine dessert to a delicious helping of prog.

There aren't a lot of places to go if you're a Gentle Giant fanatic and have exhausted their catalog. SACRED BABOON may be the best of any of the options. Even BORIS pales in this particular aspect. Despite being derivative in many aspects (really the only thing keeping it from masterpiece status), it is amazing prog. Every GG fan and most serious prog fans should have this in their library. 4+/5 stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Sacred Baboon" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US progressive rock act Yezda Urfa. That´s if you count the demo album "Boris (1975)" as the group´s debut album. "Sacred Baboon" was recorded in 1976 and the recording of the album was funded by the band themselves. However they were not able to get a record deal and the album was shelved until 1989 when the Syn-Phonic label released it.

The music on the album is technically well played and very eclectic progressive rock. We´re talking fast played runs, loads of tempo- and time signature changes and complex song structures. Lead vocalist Rick Rodenbaugh has a voice and vocal style that often reminds me of Jon Anderson (Yes) and Yes is definitely a reference here, but it´s Gentle Giant that comes to mind most often while listening to "Sacred Baboon". While the tracks are generally very complex, they feature enough hooks and memorable moments to stand out from each other and melody is not a stranger to these guys.

The production is professional, powerful and suits the music well.

Fans of energetic and complex progressive rock should be able to find great interest and enjoyment in "Sacred Baboon". I guess Yezda Urfa wear their influences a bit too much on their sleeves to be called original or innovative but less is sometimes enough. "Sacred Baboon" is a good example of this. A very nice album this one and a 3.5 - 4 star rating is deserved.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars "Give em Some Rawhide Chewies"! Oh, man, does that title ever ring bells. I used to work in a pet food and supply warehouse long ago and I know Rawhide Chewies. It's also a crazy title for a song. Then again, "Flow Guides Aren't My Bag", "(My Dog Told Me I Had) Doggie Head", and "3, Almost 4,6,Yea" are among the craziest song titles I have heard this side of Budgie.

Yezda Urfa made their name from a city in Iran (Yezd) and a city in Turkey (Urfa). They were part of the American prog scene of the seventies, which included bands like Lift, Babylon, and Happy the Man. Kansas made its mark in popular music with its brand of barroom rock meets classically influenced keyboard and violin. But other bands attempted to stray further from the mainstream and Yezda Urfa certainly weren't aiming for AOR when they recorded this, their second album.

After their first album, they self-financed their follow-up and hoped to attract the attention of a label. Unfortunately things didn't work out and this 1976 recording didn't see distribution until 1989.

I purchased this album after reading about it in Stephen Lambe's book "Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock". Of course, I checked out the music a bit on YouTube first. As others have stated, this sounds very much like a blend of Yes and Gentle Giant with some nods toward Gryphon, particularly when the woodwinds come in. The instrument line-up is not overly complex: guitars (electric, acoustic), keyboards (organ, synthesizer, piano), a well-played and well-mixed bass, drums, and a bit of cello and woodwind. There's lead vocalist, Rick Rodenbaugh, whose timbre is close to Jon Anderson's but in my opinion not as strong a singer. Don't expect a solo album, anyway. But his voice is still good enough to make the album enjoyable. Then add to all this the other members who also sing so that Yezda Urfa can do wonderful imitations of Gentle Giant with those triple vocal parts with each person singing something different. There's also a jazz element present at times, which also resembles Gentle Giant.

The opening track, the Rawhide Chewies one, sounds a lot like Yes on higher speed right down to the guitar sound. "To-Ta in the Moya" is an epic instrumental in that they explore different musical themes and change tempo on a dime. They go from a gallop to a canter to a trot. There's even a good sing-a-long melody. "Flow Charts Aren't My Bag" features an exciting prog ROCK piece that includes an Ozric Tentacles-like eastern influenced part and more Gentle Giant vocals. The final track "3 Almost 4,6,Yea" is the most exploratory piece yet. It moves through mid-tempo ranges and includes woodwinds and organ and also some Spanish guitar and cello but also becomes more frenetic as well.

The production is very clear, unlike what I heard from their first album. Just as I came to write this review based on the notes I made today, I read over some other reviews. It seems that the album loses a star for sounding too much like Gentle Giant and Yes. But aside from that, the music is diverse without straying far from an album theme, it's played very well, and it has a lot of what you would expect from a band who really want to do something apart from the middle of the road.

If you are into sing-a-long music then don't bother to proceed further. But if you'd like to check out something bold and unbridled and exciting, this might be more up your alley. Just keep in mind that this is very much like Yes/Gentle Giant/Gryphon, often on higher speed.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars YEZDA URFA was too early or too late depending how you look at it when they arrived in 1973 with their highly charged electric progressive rock sound. Too late for the initial prog boom that lasted from roughly 1969-74 and way too early for the revival that didn't really hit big until the 90s, a similar fate for most of the American bands too late to compete with the European big boys club. Had there been a serious next phase of prog after the glam rock and punk explosion, YEZDA URFA surely would've been one of the best bands to usher in the second wave however prog had to sit dormant for well over a decade, at least in popularity's terms with only a few isolated pop infused bands like Marillion and the neo-prog scene that kept the genre alive during the 80s.

Having found no interest in their now classic demo "Boris," YEZDA URFA basically had to fund what was to be their debut album from their own pockets and although they had a bite with a small Chicago label, the whole thing fell at the last minute. Frustrated with swimming upstream when once great prog giants were either folding or jumping into the world of simplified pop and hard rock, YEZDA URFA scrapped any idea of releasing their album SACRED BABOON and in the vaults it sat until the master tapes were discovered by the Syn-Phonic label who was so blown away by the manic energy of the album that they finally brought life to the album by releasing it in 1989. The crazy thing is that the band stayed together until 1981.

SACRED BABOON picks up where "Boris" left off and tackles a unique fusion of Yes' compositional fortitude along with Gentle Giant's dexterous experimental gymnastics along with Keith Emerson's energetic virtuosic wizardry only embellished with what sounds like the eclectic folk rock ethos of Gnidrolog especially when it comes to Rick Rodenbaugh's brilliant vocal performances. YEZDA URFA may very well be one of the first examples of what is now called brutal prog. While this Indiana gang was a mere quintet, these guys were seasoned multi-instrumentalists crafting unique tapestries of tones, timbres, zigzagging manic motifs and of course incessant runs of frenetic time signature changes at hyper speed with oft sudden breaks into Baroque classical music without losing the underlying melodic gist.

While "Boris" seems to get more attention due to its outlandish display of lush prog melodies teased out into virtuosic technical wizardry, this only bonafide album release ("Boris" was a demo that didn't get an official re-release until 2004) is every bit as impressive as its demo release predecessor. In many ways SACRED BABOON is a much more focused collection of seven tracks that enjoyed a more robust production job in two different studios and has interesting material that was reworked from the "Boris" demo which keeps the connection between the two phases of the band perfectly intact. Laced with the same melodic hooks that showcase the vocal phrasing just a tad out of sync with the frenetic Yes inspired barrage of guitar, drum and bass, the keyboards often exist in their own Emerson, Lake and Palmer world.

While the entire album is over-the-top eclectic, perhaps the best is saved for last with the one-two no punches held back combo pack of "(My Doc Told Me I Had), Doggie Head)" and "3, Almost 4, 6 Yea" with all of those brutal frantic time signature barrages crafting some of the knottiest workouts outside of Gentle Giant's run of masterpieces of the early 70s. In fact YEZDA URFA shamelessly borrowed the great GG's mastery of polyphonic vocal runs only YEZDA URFA employed them much faster and upped the weirdness factor manyfold. Add to that are folky flute runs that are very much in the vein of Gnidrolog as are the lead vocals. This is jittery prog for sure with crazy hairpin turns and mind-shattering counterpoints of all the instruments sallying forth in Keith Emerson mode! THIS is the stuff right out of prog heaven no doubt! In my world SACRED BABOON is every bit as much of a masterpiece as "Boris." Oh yeah!

Latest members reviews

4 stars Yezda Urfa is a prime example of a 70s prog band being too late to the train and not getting the love they deserve. Founded in 1973 Yezda Urfa was led by vocalist Rick Rodenbaugh and Bassist Marc Miller. They recorded their first demo album 'Boris' in 1975 and it was unofficially released. Their sop ... (read more)

Report this review (#2879413) | Posted by AJ Junior | Monday, January 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 5 stars !!! When I heard for the first time in early 90's this "Sacred Baboon" by YEZDA URFA, I stay wondering about how this album don't was released in the 70's or even in the early 80's ? A very probable answer is... the massive prog rock production in 70's and the ascension of (**?????!! ... (read more)

Report this review (#1696647) | Posted by maryes | Saturday, February 25, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I really enjoyed this album, first thing i noticed was, Did Chris Squire play bass in this band, that first tune sure sounded like a Yes cover Band. the singer sound Anderson like, but not to distraction. I felt as if, this band could have really developed into something given the proper backing, ... (read more)

Report this review (#409654) | Posted by darkprinceofjazz | Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Imagine what would happen if Jon Anderson got tired of Yes and, walking on the streets, fell down with his head on the sidewalk and got mad. So, he woke up and searched for a band and found an equally crazy lunatic and frenetic Gentle Giant. Well, this would be the birth of a new band called YEZ ... (read more)

Report this review (#171727) | Posted by Zé Bokinha | Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If ever an album could be slotted into a category labeled 'Ultra Prog' then this would be it. From beginning to end this is simply an astounding recording. Fast, slow, hard, soft and even humorous at times, this offering from Yezda Urfa is a stunning achievement. Many before have rightly dra ... (read more)

Report this review (#114166) | Posted by Dieselhead | Sunday, March 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As is the case with many prog bands, yezda urfa did not manage to release their first album proper (boris beeing just a demo recording) at the time of its recording (1976). Instead it was released a considerable time later (1989) via syn-phonic label. On with the music then... there is one word ... (read more)

Report this review (#110541) | Posted by theBox | Saturday, February 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Let's go the other way around and start with the Cons: CONS: Originality's not the strong point here. The YES, Gentle Giant, ELP and some other stuff influences are a bit obvious on some occasions. Beautiful and touching melodies don't seem to be the band's goal also, and I find Rick Rode ... (read more)

Report this review (#101610) | Posted by cherry5 | Monday, December 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Taken their name from an iranian city (Yazd) and a Turkish city (Urfa, or sanliurfa) Yezda Urfa was destined to go down in history as an unknown band, fortunatly they were discovered well after not releasing this album. And due to Syn-Phonic records there 1976 privatly funded album "Sacred Bab ... (read more)

Report this review (#95313) | Posted by tuxon | Saturday, October 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars There's not much to add to previous reviews; this band is phenomenal. I would rank this album amongst the best of progressive rock. Imagine members of Yes and Gentle Giant playing together in top form, but developing a unique signature sound at the same time, and you'll have an idea of what ... (read more)

Report this review (#88427) | Posted by progdemon | Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the obscure 70s US prog bands playing highly sophisticated and interesting music, Yezda Urfa originally recorded "Sacred Baboon" as their sophomore album in 1976, only to have it shelved . It was only in 1989 (some 8 years since the band's break-up) that it was finally releas ... (read more)

Report this review (#67127) | Posted by Pafnutij | Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great work! I'm a fan of Yes and this album sounds like them and sometimes like Gentle Giant. Beautiful compositions, great vocals and a strange mixture of prog. Maybe out of his era, very vanguardist. One of the best bands of USA 70's prog. An excellent addition to any prog collection, specia ... (read more)

Report this review (#40258) | Posted by progadicto | Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I bought this album after reading reviews I am not disappointed. This group is really great! They have their own unique style and I like that a lot. Though they sometimes remind of Genlte Giant and Yes (in vocal parts) but the music is not so polished as GG and Yes. It certainly has drive. I a ... (read more)

Report this review (#39136) | Posted by Yurkspb2 | Monday, July 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For my first review I've decided to go with something I easily consider to be worth 5 stars. Even considering the rigid criteria the site recommends for 5 stars, I do not hesitate to award them. Sacred Baboon contains some of the greatest music I've ever heard. The band delivers some extraordi ... (read more)

Report this review (#38429) | Posted by Goldenavatar | Sunday, July 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Thanks to the prog archives, I decided to go out on a limb and pick up this CD. I am glad to report that it is a great album; its a shame these guys never "made it." At first you may pass them off as a Yes clone like Starcastle or something, but repeated listens will draw you in just like the p ... (read more)

Report this review (#7719) | Posted by | Thursday, April 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars SACRED BABOON is even better than BORIS. Here, the songs are of an absurd complexity, elevating GENTLE GIANT´s propose to the extreme limit of perfection. I keep saying that Marc Miller could scare even Steve Howe with his wonderful fast and furious guitar playing. And the keyboards are WAY be ... (read more)

Report this review (#7718) | Posted by | Monday, March 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I can't believe this band didn't take off at the time when they made these albums. All the musicians in this band are extremely talented and their writing skills are close to bands such as GENTLE GIANT (obviously no ones that good..), YES, KING CRIMSON and GENESIS. I would give this album 5 if ... (read more)

Report this review (#7717) | Posted by y'dellek | Tuesday, December 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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