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Triumvirat Pompeii album cover
3.10 | 188 ratings | 20 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Earthquake 62 A.D. (6:18)
2. Journey of a Fallen Angel (6:15)
3. Viva Pompeii (4:16)
4. The Time of Your Life...(?) (4:35)
5. The Rich Man and the Carpenter (5:57)
6. Dance on the Volcano (3:31)
7. Vesuvius 79 A.D. (6:40)
8. The Hymn (7:04)

Total Time 44:36

Bonus track on 2002 remaster:
9. The Hymn (single edit) (4:11)

Line-up / Musicians

- Barry Palmer / lead & backing vocals
- Jürgen Fritz / Steinway grand piano, Hammond C3, Moog, Yamaha polyphonic CS-80/GX-1 & ARP String Ensemble synths, Fender Rhodes, Hohner clavinet, bells, timpani, arranger & conductor (strings, horns & choir), producer
- Dieter Petereit / Fender, Rickenbacker & Yamaha basses
- Curt Cress / drums, roto toms, timbales, cymbals, gongs, handclaps, electronic percussion

- Sondra Fritz / vocals (4)
- Ulla Wiesner / backing vocals
- Hanna Dölitzch / backing vocals
- Brigitte Witt / backing vocals
- Hanne Wilfert / trumpet solo (2)
- Karl Löhe / string section master

Releases information

Complete title is "New Triumvirat Presents Pompeii"

LP EMI Electrola ‎- 1C 064-32 466 (1977, Germany)

CD EMI Electrola ‎- 7243 8 28035 2 2 (1993, Europe)
CD Harvest ‎- 7243 5 35165 2 9 (2002, Europe) Remastered by Jens Müller-Koslowski and John Cremer with a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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TRIUMVIRAT Pompeii ratings distribution

(188 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (46%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TRIUMVIRAT Pompeii reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars I've only heard two albums from Triumvirate (the other being Old Loves) in the 70's and as you can guess I headed out straight for this album on the strength of the overblown artwork sleeve, without actually knowing anything about the band, back then. And I was cruelly disappointed with this album as I discovered some second rate ELP "clones" (this might be reductive a description of the group, but let's face it, the similarities in sound were not accidental >> these guys were riding a wave or a bandwagon). Anytime I played this record, with friends or alone, all we could think of is how Emerson would've done this better, how Palmer was much better. They sounded desperately uninspired even down to the historical concept of the album. Little did we know that earlier stuff of theirs were a bit more inspired, although still sounding ELP-like.

And if this one sounds like a second rate ELP, one more album I heard from these guys back then was the dreadful follow-up A La Carte and that rip-off classical reworking formula close to Sky and Ekseption. Needless to say that I was disgusted from this band, back then. Anyway, if you want to find out from Triumvirat, look at Double Dimple.

Review by loserboy
4 stars TRIUMVIRAT released a number of excellent albums over their rein with "Pompeii" being regarded as one of the classics by this music lover. This was to be on "Pompeii" a re-shaped band with new members and a new fresh sound both which they achieved. Biggest change from their early lineup is the addition of English lead vocalist Barry Palmer who has a purely magical voice. This was a mega project for lead member Jurgen Fritz who not only plays his vast array of keyboards (Steinway grand, Hammond C3, Organ, Moog, Polyphonic synths, Arp string ensemble, fender rhodes, clavinet) but also added some heavy choir and string arrangements. In fact the orchestral parts were recorded by Conny Plank as was on the album as well. A fantastic album for sure...
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This Triumvirat album is the last one to still have progressive elements. However, there are some simple pop tracks which less retain the attention. Barry Palmer's lead vocals are worse than on the "Old loves die hard" album. "The earthquake 62 a.d." is a variation on the same theme present on the "Vesuvius 79 a.d" track; it has a very good overdose of Hammond organ a la ELP; there is a celestial female choir part. "Journey of a fallen angel" is an ordinary pop song, containing rhythmic piano & keyboards and a too brief horns arrangement. "Viva Pompeii" is more catchy, having omnipresent clapping hands-like sounds, delightful piano parts, fast Fender Rhodes solo and fast & complex drums. "The time of your life" has catchy female backing vocals; there is a simple rhythmic piano and strings arrangements in the background.

On side 2, "The rich man and the carpenter" still has a pop style, although being quite catchy: it is an easy listen track; the female backing vocals past the middle of the track are graceful and addictive. Things become more progressive with the 2 next tracks: "Dance on the volcano" has a VERY heroic style: it is VERY catchy and addictive; the drums and bass support very well a delightful Yamaha polyphonic keyboards melody. "Vesuvius 79 a.d" is THE track: WOW! Curt Cress proves here that he is a GREAT drummer, and Jurgen Fritz plays very fast and complex keyboards; the bass is also VERY pleasant and complex enough to figure well. The last track, "The hymn", is still a pop song with simple rhythmic piano; there is, again, a beautiful melodic catchy choir.

Review by Menswear
3 stars Maybe it's the german blood in my veins (some relatives still in Anau), but I'm not going to bash Triumvirat. To put it simply, Triumvirat has the problem of standing between two categories. The're too prog to be pop, and too pop to be deep prog. As a prog band, I give them 6.5 out of ten. But as a straight rock band, they hit a high 9.

Fritz maybe not the best conceptor, but he's the fast and the furious on the keyboards, I can tell ya that. And he has the knack to hire fantastic drummers (Curt my!) The album is nmore on the 'ballad' side for some tracks. But, a bit of MOR won't kill ya. There is still a lot of good keyboards licks and 'Palmerish' drumming. Well, in that case....Rush newer albums (from Presto and up) are pretty much in the same category (more rock, less prog). There is a lot of crappier bands than Triumvirat, believe me! They are still a major name in progressive world.

Triumvirat is like the fat guy at your school. Okay, he's no ladies man, he gobbles like crazy and he wears t-shirts with wolves in moonlight. But, when you talk to him, he's kinda fun. He's just very mistunderstood. He plays on the lighter side of life, but he still suffers from the finger pointing of the 'jock team' (ELP) surrounded by fans (Trace).

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Triumvirat went through some personell changes for this one. The result isn't worse than any of their earlier albums. In fact, sometimes it's better than most of their pre-1977 albums. But this one shows it's weaker moments too in the more commercial songs, but the overall result is very good. Considering the fall of this band after this release, this one can be seens on as a valediction of sorts. The remaster of this release features awesome sound-quality which are among the best ones I've heard on CD, so if you own this one on vinyl, you should get the CD too.

Overall, Triumvirat's "Pompeii" is a recommended album. The obvious ELP influences are still present (as with most of their albums), so ELP fans should like this one too. 4 stars.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Triumvirat, is one of the most underrated bands in prog' history, they're often accused of being ELP clones without remembering that their arrangements are so unique that the similarities don't matter at all when the sound is so spectacular as in their first three albums.

After the great commercial and musical success of Illusions on a Double Dimple and Spartacus, the band releases the slightly inferior Old Love Dies Hard, but this time they hire two new musicians Dick Frangenberg for the bass (allowing Köllen to dedicate fully to the guitar) and Barry Palmer as lead vocalist due to the problem of Jürgen with his hard German accent, but after this release Köllen and Bathelt leave Triumvirat, leaving Fritz as the only original member of the once great trio.

Of course Jürgen Fritz was not happy with he idea of an early retirement at the peak of his career, so he makes a slight change in the name of the band to The New Triumvirat and he stays as the only official member inviting Peter Pettereit for the guitar and bass, Curt Cress in Percussion and Barry Palmer as vocalist.

With this lineup The New Triumvirat releases another conceptual album about Roman history, this time not about gladiators and wars but about the natural cataclysm and volcanic explosion in Pompeii.

Being a Triumvirat fan and feeling that they could do a great work about this concept bought Pompeii the same day it was released, but it was a big disillusion,

The album starts very promising with the Earthquake that has a very similar sound and atmosphere as Spartacus, great changes, and strong keyboard solos made me believe Pompeii could be another masterpiece, but the reality was different, immediately after this song ends the dream vanishes.

It's evident at the first listen that the music has almost no relation with the concept, the arrangements without Köllen and Bathelt are far bellow Triumvirat's level, Barry Palmer sounds like a bad version of Sting that makes me miss Jürgen's accent but great voice and Curt Cress is good but not in the level of Bathelt.

The second song Journey of a fallen Angel is a clear example of most of the album, Fritz has good ideas but doesn't has the help required to develop them, seems the band doesn't know where are they going.

But not everything is bad, Fritz abilities as a composer still are present in moments of the album like in Viva Pompeii, The Rich Man and the Carpenter and Dance on the Volcano, songs in which remains the great sound that turned the German trio one of the best bands outside the UK and made me dream of a better future for The Rat. This are by far the best tracks of the album

It will be long and boring to comment song by song this album because there's not much more to be said. Only want to add that the most important achievement of The New Triumvirat in Pompeii is that we can still listen the great keyboard virtuoso Jürgen Fritz at the peak of his abilities.

Now I have the biggest problem, how to rate Pompeii, it's not bad but neither it's excellent and of course far bellow Triumvirat's standard. So I'll give 3 stars even when 2.5 would be the exact rating.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When earthquake hit Yogya yesterday (27 May 2006), I suddenly remember "Pompeii" by Triumvirat. That's why I spin this CD again after having been vacuum not playing it for, I think more than 2 years, may be more. The fact is that this album is still enjoyable as the first time I listened to it at the first time, couple of months after its release. In this record the band has added vocal with Barry Palmer with his excellent vocal.

The opening track "The Erthquake 62 ad" (6:17) is very ELP at the beginning part. It moves nicely with pulsating keyboard by Jurgen Fritz and Barry Palmer's vocal. "Journey of A Fallen Angel" is a melancholic song performed in relatively slow tempo with melodic vocal line. "Viva Pompeii" is an excellent instrumental piece with rich textures especially resulting from combination of dynamic keyboard sounds and drumming. "The Time Of Your Life" (4:35) is my all-time favorite because I love Barry's vocal quality and nice melody resulted by this music. Piano and keyboards are used interchangeably here, accentuated with string section and dazzling drum work.

"Rich Man and The Carpenter" (5:54) offers a combination of classical-influence piano touch at the beginning with pop rock, accentuated with string section and dynamic drumming. The music moves away from what ELP had ever done before; so this is a song unique by Triumvirat with relatively minimum influence from other bands. The structure gives variety of styles and breaks and all make this track enjoyable. "Dance On The Volcano" (3:30) starts silent with keyboard sounds followed with marching drum work which moves in crescendo forming an excellent instrumental piece. Keyboard takes the role as melody. There is a very strong influence from ELP especially in the way keyboard is played as well as the rhythm section.

"Vesuvius 79 ad" (6:33) starts with drum solo followed with relatively complex music which gives drummer to perform its best combined with sound effects from keyboards. Vocal is suddenly entering the music with melodic vocal line. It's an excellent track with operatic singing style. The concluding track "Hymn" is a nice song in mellow style. This song was once a radio hit in my country.

Overall, it's an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW, Indonesia

Notes : Again, this review represents a series of write-ups I have prepared so far as condolence for brothers and sisters who were killed on earthquake at 5.9 on Richter Scale which hit Yogya and surroundings on Saturday, 27 May 2006, 5:30 in the morning.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars A bit of a disappointment, really. Pompeii was not really a group efford, it´s more like an Jürgen Fritz solo album with some backing musicians. While is still a good prog record, it is also very clear the chemistry that once made Triumvirat one of the most interesting prog bands of the 70´s is missing here. Fritz did all the songwriting and arrangements. And from the previous line up only Barry Palmer was retained. Curiously, his vocals are not as good as he has done in Old Loves Die Hard. Certainly Fritz called up some great musicians, both Curt Cress (drums) and Dieter Petereit (bass) played in the jazz rock combo Passport, but still the sound is not up to what they had done before.

Th songs are good in general, but not outstanding. Jürgen Fritz is not only a great keyboards player, but also a great arranger, making some subtle add ons with strings, horns and choirs. His orchestrations are never overblown, which is a big quality. Still, the songwriting (and Barry´s interpretation) fails to generate the same excitement it used to do on their previous works.

So, in the end, a good CD, but quite uncharacteristic. And saddly, their last prog album under the Triumvirat´s banner. Conclusion: if you know and have all the previous Triumvirat records, Popeii is recommended. However, this is not a good starting point for the newbie. 3 stars.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars TRIUMVIRAT continues with "Pompeii" with their specialty: a conceptual album based on historical events. Now they visit the vanished city of the ancient Roman Empire which was stricken by an earthquake and later destroyed by a volcanic explosion and subsequent lava flow coming from the famed Vesuvius.

Well, the band failed; the sobriety and poignancy required to display this sad story never was achieved - musical atmosphere varies from movie soundtrack to vaudeville-like excesses with pseudo-jazzy passages, totally disconnected from the events presumably described.

The band general sound keeps the early-70s EL&P essence but now blended with space-psych tunes resembling vaguely ELOY or FLOYD - not a productive mixture. Also those pleasant hearable segments noticed more profusely in "Spartacus", probably band's peak album, practically disappeared in this album. There's no omnipresent tune capable to gather our attention and make us remember clearly this production. Weird choirs and meaningless sound effects add few to the final result.

Some song parts are able to amuse the listener but they are really sparse. 'Viva Pompeii' brings a piano introduction which is certainly the most remembered segment of the album. 'The rich man and the carpenter' has a promising beginning but the rest of the song is deceitful. 'Dance on the volcano' bears a Bolero-like introduction cloned directly from EL&P's 'Abaddon's bolero', which by its turn isn't original and so TRIUMVIRAT made a copy from a copy, a disturbing issue, even being the track an average one. 'The Hymn', the final track, carries a poppish accent improper for an intended progressive epic.

All in all, "Pompeii" tells doubtlessly the reasons why TRIUMVIRAT closed their doors - earthquake and volcanic explosion affected the band too. Anyway, this album shall be interesting for collectors and fans.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Well, well, well ! When I was confronted with "Pompeï", I was not really charmed. Even if the filiation with ELP is still present, it is less obvious as during their first three albums. Still, the title track is fully in-line with the traditional "Triumvirate" we know and appreciate. Pompous, highly technical and quite convincing.

But to get there, you'll first need to listen to an unbalanced opening number, featuring a very pleasant instrumental part followed by a dul recitation about the tragedy, then a poor "Journey..." with dull orchestrations. And what to say about "The Time Of Your Life" ? Well, probably nothing. Just grotesque. Pressing next (I like that key...) won't get you further than "The Rich Man and the Carpenter" which won't be of any good to your ears. So, since you know how to handle the "NEXT" key, just do it again (or double NEXT if you prefer).

It is always with pleasure that I listen to a song like "Dance On The Vulcano". Not because of its title, but only thanks to the music. I could almost say the same about "Vesuvius" but it is less convincing. Still, lots of moog and synth and way better than the start of the album (the title track excepted).

I guess that to close a "concept" album about such a tragedy, nothing like a tranquil piece as "The Hymn" was more appropriate. Well, maybe. But I won't play this one on my burial party, I bet you.

Two good songs and two average ones. This is not worth more than two stars I'm afraid. And the worse is to come...

Review by CCVP
3 stars Pompeii is, sadly, the last Triumvirat album, if you count only the prog albums, and it has a horrible sad atmosphere. Not the musics or the concept, but the whole downhill way to popish music the band went after this album.

Pompeii is, to me, a respectable last effort to make a good quality prog album, having only failing by having so many pop in it. Not that i don't like pop, its just that, when you get a prog band album you expect to hear prog and not pop. However this album is still more proggy than old loves die hard, have great musics and a nice concept. Because of the popier approach, the music is more direct and straightforward than on other albums, where the band experimented a lot and used a lot of music techniques and virtuoso (on keyboards).

Here is also noticeable the greater amount of lyrics and is also noticeable the increase poetry skills of Jürgen Fritz, because the lyrics are better written and sound better to the ear.

A great last effort of a great band. Rest In Peace Triumvirat

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By the time of Pompeii Jürgen Fritz was left entirely to his own devices. Gone was his loyal collaborator Hans Bathelt and only the vocalist Barry Palmer, who previously sppeared on Old Loves Die Hard, was left to remind us of the past days of glory. All this meant that Fritz began to pay less attention to the songwriting, devoting most of his energy to virtuoso keyboard playing while leaving the rest of the band as a mere backup for his keyboard creations with only an occasional vocal contribution from Palmer.

Having said all that it's still not a bad experience especially if we consider the complete disaster of the two following releases. Pompeii bares a resemblance to the band's glory days of Spartacus not only in its thematic nature but also in the structural such. It features mostly shorter songs that don't exceed the 7,5 minute mark, which is a departure from Old Loves Die Hard, and features a much more confident Barry Palmer who has finally found his sound, making his performances much more fluent with the texture of the music.

Most of the material works pretty well for a late '70s Symphonic Prog release, even though it might have more of a commercial approach in the vocal sections making it sound like a rock opera á la Phantom Of The Paradise or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you're not into that kind of thing then chances are you should get your kicks elsewhere. There are of course quite a few instrumental sections that work rather well when experienced out of context from the concept album. Although unlike the previous Jürgen Fritz-driven instrumentals these ones tend to sound too excessive for my tastes but I'm sure that most fans of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson wouldn't notice the fine line that I'm depicting here.

Pompeii is sadly the last interesting release from Jürgen Fritz's Triumvirat since everything that came after it can only be described as an exercise in bad taste. This does make me want to like this release more than what I actually do, but seeing that there are hardly any stand-out moments throughout these 45 minutes of music a good, but non-essential rating will do just fine.

**** star songs: Journey Of A Fallen Angel (6:17) Viva Pompeii (4:18) The Time Of Your Life...? (4:37) Dance On The Volcano (3:32) Vesuvius 79 A.D. (6:34) The Hymn (7:17)

*** star songs: The Earthquake 62 A.D. (6:21) The Rich Man And The Carpenter (5:59)

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I've really not given this Triumvirat album much of a fair go in the past. I came across `Pompeii' in a crate full of rubbish dross albums, so I picked it up very cheap for a couple of dollars (likely the seller had no idea what it was). It had a badly damaged cover that was really ugly to look at, so the idea of actually touching it to take the record out to play was very unappealing! I had also read several negative reviews on the Archives, so I figured it wasn't worth much of my time. But after eventually giving it a go, several listens later, it turns out to be a respectably decent, though deeply flawed and frustrating prog/pop album that is more of a severe missed opportunity than an outright disaster.

Triumvarit main man Jurgen Fritz is the real star of this album. Under difficult circumstances (the death of fellow band member Helmut Koellen and the exodus of previous band members), Fritz threw himself into the work and tried to make the best damn album possible. In addition to his army of reliable keyboards (Hammond C3, Organ, Moog, Polyphonic synth, Steinway Grand, fender rhodes, Arp string ensemble, Clavinet, and more), he produced the entire album, wrote all the lyrics (more on that later), and arranged all the choir and orchestral parts. The project comes across as a huge undertaking, so it's a shame that the album didn't turn out quite as rewarding as all the effort would have hoped for.

Two Passport members in Curt Cress and Dieter Petereit were brought in to fill out the sound on drums and bass/guitar, and they are excellent additions to this album. Not so the return of schmaltzy vocalist Barry Palmer. It's not that the guy can't sing, as he has an immensely strong and commanding voice, very technically proficient. It's just that his overwrought style is perhaps more suited to commercial music, and he really cripples much of the good work done by the other musicians on this album. He is frequently draining to listen to, and his voice has really dated this album terribly in parts. There's a few sections where he's a little more restrained, and it works much better. The truth is, this album would probably be rated a lot higher with a different vocalist on board, or if Palmer had seriously toned down his overly dramatic style. I would suggest even being a totally instrumental album might have been better, but with much of the music trying to find a balance between technical progressive and friendlier pop/rock, I'm sure an accessible singer was quite necessary.

The album and side A starts out with the hugely promising `Earthquake 62 AD', a killer instrumental intro (very influenced by ELP, but let's get that clichéd observation out of the way right away!) that's all busy drums and pounding organ. We then get a scene-setting and thoughtful narration before a busier reprise of the instrumental, but then we have the first appearance of Barry Palmer. This is the track his vocals are probably best on, but that's not saying much. Nice bass on this bit too. `Journey Of A Fallen Angel' is fairly commercial, with nice subtle synths and lovely piano, but Palmer's cheesy dramatic vocals on the verses frequently let the track down. The chorus is actually rather good, and Palmer is more restrained and quite effective on this section. `Viva Pompeii' is a wonderful orchestral instrumental with relentless piano and furious drum-work. Mesmerizing bass and inventive synth/electric piano solos. This track shows so much fire and energy, it's also very catchy and gets your head nodding! Best track on the album! `The Time Of Your Life...?' has a vile almost honky-tonk intro, but an upbeat and jolly foot-tapping melody kicks in with a syrupy Palmer vocal and female backing chorus vocalists that are more restrained than him! The orchestral strings are quite pleasant and effectively used on this one, before a very dizzying finale.

Side 2's `Rich Man and the Carpenter' has a lovely majestic intro piano/drums/bass intro, before the vocals and rollicking melody comes in. The `What do I do...?' chorus is strangely reminiscent of later Alan Parsons Project pop songs, and it's kind of catchy! There's a nice low key quiet piano and vocal middle section that Barry sings perfectly here! The band seems to relish the drama of this track, their playing a little more energized and frantic on this one when they get to cut loose on the instrumental sections. The marching drums add a real sense of tension on the second instrumental `Dance On The Volcano', an energetic classical workout. Everything you love about the band is in this track. `Vesuvius' begins as yet another instrumental, before a rapid-fire narration and hideous wail from Palmer, before a reprise of themes from the first track. "The day Pompeii died, it was the Devil's fair....Vesuvius raised his hand..." is a very evocative lyric. `The Hymn' ends the album on a grand uplifting and spiritual finale, with a mostly very effective Barry Palmer vocal. He's really rather good on this, though it probably helps that he has such a lovely melody to sing. In addition to a soothing choir, there's some beautifully restrained piano from Fritz on this, that really shows the band didn't function on the one setting of `bombastic classical overkill' at all times.

No doubt the tragedy of Pompeii is a terrific and grand theme for a prog concept album, and Jurgen Fritz really went out of his way to pen some high quality lyrics. Utilizing a clever mix of historical situations, fictional characters and personal observations, despite suffering from occasional `lost in translation' English moments, Fritz' lyrics are rich in detail. They are also lovingly reproduced on the LP inner sleeve so they can be appreciated properly. I think the lyric "Exotic birds came with the wind, singing songs only birds can sing" is especially lovely. The liner notes confirm how passionate Fritz was about this album and making sure it came together.

Despite the number of problems with the album, `Pompeii' never sounds less than amazing, with Fritz providing a warm production where every instrument sounds full and thick.

Before I had even started writing this review and playing the album properly over and over in preparation of it, I had set in my mind that two stars would probably be all the album was worth. However I've come to really appreciate how much effort went into making a decent mix of progressive and pop-rock, with technical playing and arrangements and easy- listening vocals. It may not have the longer classical workouts from their earlier albums, but I'd rather see a band try and fail something new than keep sticking to the same pattern. `Pompeii' is a very admirable effort from a great band.

Three and a half stars really!

(Special thanks must go to fellow Archives member Presdoug for our back and forth discussion on this album that helped me see it's highlights and faults much clearer! I've always admired his devotion to Triumvirat, and I truly appreciate his contribution.)

Review by Neu!mann
2 stars Triumvirat was a band so besotted with ELP that they followed their role models into "Love Beach"-style perdition at the end of the 1970s. The German quartet would record far worse albums (see the aptly-titled career nadir of "Russian Roulette"), but the cracks that had appeared in their previous "Old Loves Die Hard" widened a little further on this 1977 LP, the band's last half-way progressive effort before Jürgen Fritz surrendered to commercial pressures and creative rigor mortis.

The cinemascope cover art and breathless PR hyperbole ("New" Triumvirat, indeed) promised a return to form, perhaps even another Roman Legion epic à la "Spartacus". But most of it was strictly sales talk, despite a few isolated thrills ("Viva Pompeii"; parts of "Vesuvius 79 AD"), and unlike "Spartacus" there wasn't a firm narrative to hold it all together.

The reconfigured line-up enlisted some veteran players, but left them stranded without much to do. It was certainly discouraging to hear an old pro like PASSPORT's ace drummer Curt Cress sleepwalking through ersatz Broadway showstoppers like "Hymn" (even worse, the song is repeated as a bonus radio edit on the '02 CD re-issue). Try to imagine Bill Bruford joining Toto after leaving King Crimson, just to put the letdown in perspective.

Ringleader Jürgen Fritz had already proved himself a gifted keyboard player, with an obvious schoolboy crush on Keith Emerson. The ELP cloning heard in earlier albums was diluted here by a less colorful symphonic palette, and yet still showed a few lingering traces of copycat mimicry: the instrumental "Dance on the Volcano", for example, was a blatant rip-off of "Abaddon's Bolero". Like Emerson (and every other synth wizard at the time) Fritz found himself in 1977 surrounded by a decadent array of technology, but to his credit he was at least favoring the more natural sound of his Steinway grand piano.

You could accuse him of opportunism and not be too far wrong: Herr Fritz was changing hats with every shift in the prevailing musical winds. But I'm prepared to cut him some retrospective slack, at least for this album: the talent was there, even after his well of inspiration had gone dry. "Pompeii" was hardly a catastrophe on the same scale as the historic event it supposedly depicts, but the mild tremor of excitement it provided never builds to a full-scale Prog Rock eruption.

Review by Progfan97402
3 stars The band was now called New Triumvirat, given Hans Bathelt and Dick Frangenberg left and there were legal matters over the Triumvirat name. So Jurgen Fritz and Barry Palmer brought in Dieter Petereit for bass, and none other than Curt Cress on drums who played with Passport, Atlantis (basically Frumpy with a new name and a more mainstream sound), and tons of others. For most, this was the beginning of the downfall of Triumvirat, but for me the decline was already showing on their previous, Old Loves Die Hard. Honestly, I don't find Pompeii any worse. In fact, some of the ballads I actually find easier to take in than say, "I Believe" or "A Cold, Old Worried Lady", like "Journey of a Fallen Angel" or "Rich Man and the Carpenter". They still hadn't abandoned prog, as demonstrated on "Vesuvius 62 A.D.", "Viva Pompeii", "Dance on the Volcano", and "Vesuvius 79 A.D.", although Barry Palmer's voice does not seem most fitting of this kind of music, but he doesn't sing that much on these songs, and "Dance on the Volcano" is all instrumental. I noticed Jurgen Fritz looked up so much to his hero Keith Emerson that he himself got a monster Yamaha GX-1 polyphonic synthesizer (how he managed to pull that on off I can't say given I'm certain he didn't quite have anywhere as big a budget as Emerson, or John Paul Jones or Stevie Wonder, other GX-1 users, but then Rick van der Linden of Ekseption and Trace also owned one). Fritz still uses plenty of that Hammond organ, as well as Moog, and other keyboards. Like Old Loves Die Hard, even progheads will find the proggy stuff the most to enjoy, but the Barry Palmer-sung ballads might be avoided, but as I stated, I found them easier to take in, aside from "The Hymn", which bad as the worst moments of Old Loves Die Hard. That choir really doesn't help matters any. Certainly not in the same league as Mediterranean Tales, Illusions on a Double Dimple or Spartacus, but it's still not bad. Of course, they completely abandoned prog for the next two albums, and to this day, I still don't own A La Carte and Russian Roulette, given there's likely little I'll find much to enjoy.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Up to this point, Triumvirat was doing pretty good holding their own as what could be a respectable symphonic progressive band. Yes, they sounded very much like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but their talent made them sound very authentic while doing it. Granted, Fritz was an amazing keyboardist and was the closest thing out there to Keith Emerson. Unfortunately, by 1976, the line up was quickly changing, and when 1977 came around, the only original member left was Fritz. After losing their original lead singer to a disastrous solo career and his untimely death, Barry Palmer did the lead vocals on the previous album and would also remain with Fritz for what was to be called The New Triumvirat.

Both respected musicians Dieter Petereit (bass) and Curt Cress (drums) would join into the lineup for the album "Pompeii". On the surface, this looked like an ambitious project, which I suppose it was. But would this new version of the band be able to tackle a project like this? Fritz definitely had his sights quite high for this one, and sure enough, this album is a concept piece. But, record company pressures were wearing on Fritz and he was giving in to them in order to keep his band going. He was holding on to whatever he could, and he did at least do a decent job of it for this album. But the pressures were increasing and that also is apparent here.

What could have been an excellent album that would have matched up to "Sparticus" turned out to sound more uneven instead. Now, ELP fans that look to Triumvirat for that signature sound will still find it on "Pompeii", but will also find the band wavering, not quite as much as ELP did on "Love Beach", but close. "Pompeii" fortunately, is still salvageable to some extent. But the 8 track album doesn't really do justice to the subject matter, and most of that is because about half of the material is too commercial or not convincing enough.

Opening with "The Earthquake 62 A.D.", we get the sounds of the sea and gulls, light synth starts to build with bass and drums coming in with the organ later taking charge, and you get an authentic sounding ELP fanfare to open things up and to give an impressive extended opening. Things quiet down as spoken word accompanied by a choral group and orchestra with the fanfare returning later. There are symphonic traits throughout, so all is not lost. "Journey of a Fallen Angel" show the bands reliance on lyrics more than before, but the song structures are not quite completely sold out to the usual patterns of pop music. The piano is the lead instrument here and through a lot of the tracks on the album even in the heavier parts of the songs. "Viva Pompeii" is the first of two fairly short instrumentals, and it features ever changing keyboard textures and complex percussion. Cress is definitely a talented drummer and is one of the best things about the album making it even more convincingly ELP-like. The last track on the first side is "The Time of Your Life" and this features guest Sondra singing on the chorus of the song. The song reminds me a bit of the style that the band Kayak was using at the time, sort of a ragtime-y feel, probably too cheerful sounding for the material, but driven with a catchy beat. Vocal effects give the last part of the track a chaotic feel.

Lyrical heaviness continues with "The Rich Man and the Carpenter". Unfortunately, Barry Palmer's vocals are a bit weak and have a hard time carrying this style of music the way that Greg Lake's vocals could. There is a softer, slower middle section here which contains a choral section, but the song ends returning to a quicker tempo with heavy orchestration and piano once again leading the way. The 2nd instrumental follows, the too short "Dance on the Volcano" which starts out a lot like "Abaddon's Bolero" (from ELP's "Trilogy" album) with a much shorter build up before getting more complex as synth and organ trade places with great drum support. The excellent drum work continues with "Vesuvious 79 A.D.", a track that is noticeably darker in tone. This is a showcase for the drums for the first part of the song until the organ and orchestra cut in. This one also has the most dramatic vocals and the most exciting instrumental sections of all of the tracks on the album. The longest track on the album, "The Hymn" ends the album beginning as the first song, with the sound of waves and then a piano plays a soft, hymn-like passage. The intensity builds as the orchestra, chorus and piano come together in a track that is way too sentimental sounding, giving it a rather schmaltzy ending.

In the end, the band hasn't quite got to the point of being written off completely, but it was showing some growing pains as the members try to deal with a line up that was changing and record label pressures. There was room here for the band to grow back to the status of previous years, though, but instead, they would give in completely to the pressure of record management and the following albums would be too embarrassing to be remembered, even ending up worse off than anything ELP put out after they also succumbed to record company profits. This is the last album by Triumverat that is worth spending any time on, and even then, the failing band is apparent on "Pompeii" and will only get much worse.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 599

"Pompeii" is the fifth studio album of Triumvirat and that was released in 1977. The band released the album under the name of The New Triumvirat, due to temporary legal squabbles over the original name of the band by former members.

"Pompeii" is a conceptual album of Triumvirat about the devastating earthquake from 62 A.D. It represents the end of an era for this great German progressive rock band. Their subsequent two studio albums, "À La Carte", released in 1978 and "Russian Roulette", released in 1980, took a complete commercial pop flavor, and left most of the bombastic symphonic rock that they were famous for in the dust. So, this is the last Triumvirat's album with progressive lines.

The line up on "Pompeii" is Barry Palmer (lead and background vocals), Jürgen Fritz (Hammond C3 organ, Moog synthesizers, ARP string ensemble, Steinway grand piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Yamaha polyphonic synthesizer CS-80 and GX-1, Hohner clavinet, bells and tympani), Dieter Petereit (Fender, Rickenbacker and Yamaha basses) and Curt Cress (Gretch and Fiber drums, roto toms, timbales, Paiste cymbals and gongs, handclaps and moog- synthesized percussion).

So, again the line up on a Triumvirat's album changed one more time. However, this time the changes were much deeper. Of the line up of their previous album, "Old Loves Die Hard", only remained Barry Palmer and Jürgen Fritz. Still, the main change of all was the departure of their drummer, Hans Bathelt. We can't forget that Hans Bathelt was with Jürgen Fritz one of the founding members of the band. But above all, Hans Bathelt was the "right arm" of Jürgen Fritz.

"Pompeii" has eight tracks. The first track "The Earthquake 62 A.D." written by Jürgen Fritz is a very good song, very progressive, and in the same line of the usual Triumvirat's music. This is a very good song to open the album, very promising for what would appear on the album. It's a song with great musical changes, very strong and with plenty of keyboard solos. This is a great track. The second track "Journey Of A Fallen Angel" written by Jürgen Fritz, proves unfortunately that what was promised will not be fulfilled. This is a very pop and commercial song that hasn't anything to do with the concept and the previous music. It reminds me, in some moments, Procol Harum's music and the only thing I can say is that I'm very disappointed because this isn't the music of our beloved prog band. The third track "Viva Pompeii" written by Jürgen Fritz and Curt Cress is, fortunately, another very good song where they return to their style of music with some jazzy influences. It's an excellent instrumental piece of music with rich textures, very well arranged and with fantastic keyboard works by Jürgen Fritz. The fourth track "The Time Of Your Life" written by Sondra and Jürgen Fritz isn't a bad song. It's very well arranged and orchestrated and has a good vocal performance. However, I'm a bit disappointed with it because, like the second song, it has nothing to do with the musical concept of the album. The fifth track "The Rich Man And The Carpenter" written by Jürgen Fritz is a song that leaves me confused and divides my personal feelings. It has some great musical parts, the instrumental parts and the parts with calm and soft vocals, but I don't like particularly of some other vocal parts of Barry Palmer. Imagine that I even get to miss the presence of their previous vocalists with their German accent. The sixth track "Dance On The Volcano" written by Jürgen Fritz is a song which fortunately remains with the good things and the great sound of this great German band. This is really a very good instrumental song, very melodic and with great quality, in the Emerson, Lake & Palmer's style. This is one of my favourite songs on this album. The seventh track "Vesuvius 79 A.D." written by Jürgen Fritz is another song with great progressiveness and with some of the best and most complex musical sections on this album. It has great keyboard sounds that are very well combined with the rhythm section. However and unfortunately, it has the same vocal problems on some parts that I disliked on the previous song "The Rich Man And The Carpenter". The eighth and last track "The Hymn" written by Jürgen Fritz is a song which was also released as a single. This is a nice, soft and mellow ballad, clearly the most commercial song on the album. I recognise this is a good song but it has nothing to do with the traditional sound of the group. In relation to Triumvirat's music, I think this is a song too much mellow for my taste.

Conclusion: In the first place, I must say that I was a bit disappointed when I heard this album for the first time. Then, I said to myself that the progressive rock music lost again through the lure of the commercial success. I also thought that, unfortunately and once more, the world was losing another great progressive rock band. "Pompeii" is, in my opinion, a transitional album in the musical career of a band that oscillates between the progressive rock music and the pop music. And like any transition album it can't be a great album because it doesn't defines clearly its type of music. So, despite some very good tracks, this is, without any doubt, the weakest musical effort of the band, till that moment. However, it seems that it was only the beginning. Unfortunately, many other things, much worse, were on their way.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars When former Triumvirat musician-singer-songwriter Helmut Koellen died on May 3rd, 1977, Triumvirat as it existed had been working with the idea of doing a concept album based on the disaster in Pompeii, Italy. Overcome by grief and loss at losing such an important Triumvirat memb ... (read more)

Report this review (#627487) | Posted by presdoug | Monday, February 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Band on the run. This is the fourth album from these masters of ELPism symphonic prog. Half of the Pompeii still sounds like an ELP clone. The other half sounds like a mix of a movie score, disco and German ompa music. The likes of James Last which was very popular in Germany and surrounding co ... (read more)

Report this review (#598476) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, December 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars A desperate band in desperate times. Triumvirat battles the evil forces of Punk-Rock & Disco music. An album even more disaterous than it's theme. The only reason this recieves 2 stars is that it contains one mediocre instrumental track ( Viva Pompeii ) and the fact that it was just going to go from ... (read more)

Report this review (#11856) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Monday, March 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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