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Tomas Bodin

Symphonic Prog

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Tomas Bodin Pinup Guru album cover
3.46 | 89 ratings | 15 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sodium Regale (3:40)
2. What's Going On (13:38)
3. Me and Liz (11:12)
4. Harlem Heat (8:20)
5. My Beautiful Neighbour (2:23)
6. New in the 'Hood (7:19)
7. Blood (5:43)
8. The Ballerina Is Not Getting Closer (1:55)
9. The Last Eagle (5:51)
10. The Final Swig (10:58)

Total Time 70:59

Line-up / Musicians

- Tomas Bodin / organ, Rhodes electric piano, keyboards, sampler
- Jonas Reingold / bass
- Zoltan Cs÷rsz / drums

Releases information

Composed & produced by Tomas Bodin

Artwork: Betty Hope

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 111 (2002, Europe)
Digital album Self-released (2015, remastered by Tomas Bodin)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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TOMAS BODIN Pinup Guru ratings distribution

(89 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TOMAS BODIN Pinup Guru reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by diddy
3 stars 3.5 Stars Actually

So this is another release from the Flower Kings family, meanwhile they're countless I guess. But this one is different and better than the usual FK family releases because it's not this reminiscent, maybe because Roine Stolt and his recognizable guitar playing is not featured on this one. Featured is Jonas Reingold on bass who does a brilliant job, just like always (and he's a very nice guy btw I once had the chance to talk to him), I really like his sound. On drums we have the very talented young Flower Kings drummer Zoltan Cs÷rsz . It seems to be the dream of nearly every keyboarder to make at least one album with a trio lineup featuring keyboards, bass and drums. Tomas Bodin handles a lot of different elements and styles on this album wich are influenced by his move to a new neighborhood. He often took a small walk and heard a lot of different musical styles coming out of the houses. And he includes some of these experiences in many of the tracks.

The album is opened by a short church organ track called "Sodium regale" a nice and short introduction. It's followed by "What's going on", a 13 minute long highlight. Here you are introduced to the general style of the album for the first time. Maybe the best song on this album. The story for the next song is quite funny. The track is called "Me and Liz" meant is Liz Taylor and the idea behind this song and title is the fact that Tomas was married and divorced just as often as Liz Taylor. The following song "Halem Heat" was influenced by his first visit to New York, he wanted to create a kind of soundtrack for an agent movie and that's what it really sounds like. In the end there's a little break and it seems if we are in a bar with a piano player and dancing people all around, quite funny. Track number five, called "my beautiful neighbour" (or "The day I Saw My Beautiful Neighbour") is a short piano track for his real naighbour who is very attractive if we believe Tomas' word in the booklet. "New in the Hood" is what I said before, a journey through the different musical influences represented in his new neighborhood. The most funny part for sure is when the bavarian guy screems and dances to the bavarian folk music. Tomas uses german words which are very funny (at least for me as a german ) because he seems to know these folksy guys even better than I do. Another highlight on the album. "Blood" is a mysterious song, it could be music for an atmospheical horror movie or something similar. Right after there follows the second brief piano track "the ballerina is not geting closer", very slow but nice. "The last Eagle" creates an atmosphere of freedom with different kinds of whistling sounds and some great melodies before it gains more and more tempo just to end like it started, very atmospheric with keyboards tryng to imitate wind and an eagle followed by a slowly fading musical clock playing a kind of lullaby, very nice. The last song "The final swing" follows the style of the second song and marks a great end.

So if you like Keyboard orientated music with lots of different influences and don't mind some funny breaks this is a good album to purchase. It's different from all other Flower Kings (and family) releases. The only thing that could be reminiscent of them is Jonas Reingold because he has a very unique bass sound IMO.

Review by Muzikman
4 stars Tomas BODIN gets instant recognition for his talented keyboard adventures with the legendary prog-rock masters from Sweden The FLOWER KINGS. There is much more to his talents than working with that group. On his second solo excursion "Pinup Guru" (taken from a GENESIS song), he likens the tracks on this album to where he lives. BODIN said that so many different languages are spoken it is overwhelming. If you walk down the street, you can hear all kinds of music coming out of people's windows... African, Middle-Eastern, just about anything imaginable. So think about walking down a street and every building you pass by has a different culture and music emanating from it. Akin to an experience like that, every track is different on this recording. Although he gets help from his band mates this is nothing like the music he plays with them, so do not expect to hear any of that. Some of this music is quirky and weird, and then a lot of it is very good, too. When playing in a prog-rock trio comparable to EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER that is what you would expect. BODIN readily cites groups like that as a major influence in the way each song was structured. The Hammond organ is the featured instrument, and this is so because of its flexibility and great sound. It has been a favorite of many great keyboard players. The Hammond time tested piece of equipment. Over the last several decades, it has appeared on many well-known albums.

So get yourself ready for several listens of this CD, and prepare for an extreme and multihued musical journey that will require a lot of reflection and afterthought, then subsequent listens. If this kind of thoughtful listening experience is not your cup of tea then I suggest you steer away from this CD and start reaching for more simplistic music. Personally, the more complex and intense the music is the more awestruck and absorbed I become, it is equivalent to a spiritual experience for me.

This must be very satisfying for BODIN. He already has a tremendously successful career with one of the greatest bands in the world. To be able to keep up with that then release an outstanding solo album as well is something to be very proud of. Once you hear this album, I do not think you will disagree that it is an above average effort by an extremely talented musician. This CD is a prog-rock odyssey that will unquestionably capture your imagination and confront your senses.

Rating: 4.5/5

Review by silvertree
4 stars I think Pinup guru is better than Bodin's first. It even sounds better. Believe or not, Roine Stolt, The Flower Kings' leader and guitarist doesn't play on this one ! No, not even a small solo. In fact, there are no guitars on this album. It is full of keyboards, but not the "cheesy" kind, the vintage ones (emulated unfortunately, but can you tell ?). The music is very rich in landscapes. It could be soundtrack music and it is very symphonic. So go get it if you don't already have !
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the second album by keyboard player of one of the world's best prog rock bands The Flower Kings. The first time I listened to this CD, I was not quite sure really on the music approach that Tomas took. Yes, there is an exploration of organ that sounds like a church organ at the beginning of the album under "Sodium Regale" (3:39) which is then followed with the slowing down style of "Me & Liz (Taylor!)" (11:12). Under this second track the music sounds differently as it's more on emphasizing a peaceful feelings (being together with Liz Taylor?). There is still a domination of organ sounds as the music flows. What comes out later is the pulsating keyboard work that brings even into different style than the one at the opening. The keyboard solo reminds me to Rick Wakeman's style.

"Harlem Heat" (8:20) starts off with a loop of golden classic song which brings us to the memory of classic pop hit in the 60's. I do not know why Tomas inserts this loop. What follows is a relatively fast tempo music with keyboard solo and dazzling drum work by Zoltan (The Flower Kings drummer). There is another band-mate that also plays here: Jonas Reingold who dynamically plays the bass guitar work.

Unfortunately, this album does not seem to be attractive to enjoy after half of the CD has already been spun. I don't know the real reason for this. I experience it many times I spin the CD. It's probably that this album is lacking on textures so that the music sounds like "empty" especially at the later part of the album. You might not experience the same as what I experience. But I know, this is NOT a bad album at all. It just need further deep observation on the subtleties of the music. I leave it up to you to decide. The album does not sound so compelling to me as there is no peculiar segment that truly stirs my emotion, composition-wise as well as melody-wise.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Zitro
3 stars 2.7 Stars.

A neat album if you can find it cheap and you already have Tomas' better albums (Sonic Boulevard, I AM, hopefully YOU ARE). Pinup Guru is a different album, it does not even have a guitar player, is instrumental, and focuses on a bass-drum-keys just like Emerson Lake and Palmer. Actually, the first song sounds like a perfect tribute to that band, with the glorious bombast of their Pictures of Exhibition cover. What is striking is that "Sodium Regale" is not only an outstanding classical music composition, but Tomas Bodin's use of church organ and synthesizer sound selection improves on Emerson, partly thanks to the modern technology. "What's Going On" continues the ELP vein with the up tempo and desperate Hammond organ work, though it later transforms into music more reminiscent of the Flower Kings.

After this song, the ELP music style is abandoned. "Me and Liz" is a mellow symphonic composition with many familiar keyboard sounds that he uses in his band and the bass player (Reingold) is instantly recognizable in parts when he is put loud in the mix. "Blood" is a mysterious sounding tune that as reviewer Didly stated, wouldn't sound out of place in a horror or suspense movie. It has a great atmosphere. "The Last Eagle" is an uptempo tune with emphasis on the rhythm. Zoltan shines here. Unfortunately, the last two minutes are horrible filler. the closer "The Final Swig" is a more melodic affair that sums up the album.

Yes, I skipped tracks 4,5,6 and 8. These are the main weakness of this album. Frankly, I think they are a complete waste of time and should have been left as bonus track. They completely ruin the coherence of the album. "Harlem Heat" lacks a lot of texture and harmony, but the couple of minutes are brilliant and unexpected, sort of like restrained gospel. "My Beautiful Neighbor" and "The Ballerina" are throwaway piano noodling tracks, and "New in the Hood" does not take itself seriously and while it has good musicianship, it sounds completely goofy and cringe worthy. Another problem I have with this album is that some of the tracks have terrible beginnings, though they last only a few seconds.

I would recommend this album only if you are a fan of Tomas Bodin or The Flower Kings, and only if you already have "Sonic Boulevard" and "I AM". This album is solid, but nothing spectacular.

Review by fuxi

I'm not sure if PINUP GURU can be considered an, erm, truly mature work of art. Tomas Bodin certainly enjoys plenty of bombast: he opens this album with an over-the-top fake church-organ outburst, and he has scattered a lot of pompous ah-ah-ah-ing (on mellotron, of course) through many of his compositions. The second track, "What's Going On", sets the tone for the rest of the album: race-with-the-devil solos on moog and hammond organ are interspersed with pseudo-symphonic interludes (usually rather melancholic in nature) until the piece finally degenerates into a 1970s B-movie soundtrack.

But many of Bodin's virtuoso solos are so exciting, many of his melancholic movie-style motifs are so memorable, and plainly Bodin is having so much fun that we must conclude this is probably the most entertaining prog keyboardist's solo-album without vocals (and without guitars!) since the 1970s.

Who else would combine a tribute to James Bond movies with wild gospel-style hammond organ (accompanied by what sounds like a fervent prayer meeting) the way Bodin does, in "Harlem Heat"? And who else would pair ethnic (?) dance music (presumably from the Balkans) with ultra-cool Fender Rhodes-dominated fusion, the way Bodin does in "New in the 'Hood"?

This music may not be quite on the same level as THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII or RICK WAKEMAN'S CRIMINAL RECORD but it comes close, and it's helped tremendously by Jonas Reingold's prominent (Squire-like) bass and Zoltan Cs÷rsz machine-gun drumming. I'm surprised PINUP GURU hasn't attracted more attention here. If you enjoy wild proggy keyboards, get a copy while you can.

Review by progrules
4 stars Funny thing is I checked this album out AFTER I got to know I A M. I A M is an amazing album of the highest progressive level so it's only logical that I wanted to hear more by this man. Tomas is one of the key players of The Flower Kings, well of course they are all important but Tomas a little bit more because the keyboards are so important in TFK. He's a funny man (or like Roine said on a recent gig: well, Tomas is - and where everybody thought he was going to say: a little crazy, he said: - Tomas !) and that is also shown on this album. He makes funny sounds, both with his mouth as with his keyboards. The mouth sounds (at least the humming one) actually originated on Rainmaker (TFK) where he did exactly the same in many of the songs, so that's obviously an idea of Tomas. I like him for that, it's original, he dares to be himself and just does what he feels like as an artist. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

But to compare this with it's successor as I can do in this case. This is a totally different story ! There is not a single similarity with I A M and that also proves the versatility of the man. On this album all kinds of songs are to be found, shorter, medium length and even epical ones, most of them or in fact all of them instrumental (except of course the already described Tomas way of singing) and it wil be no surprise: keyboard dominated. He is accompanied by his TFK fellows Jonas Reingold and Zoltan Cs÷rsz and with the three of them I think they did a very nice job. My favourite tracks are (as usual) the longer ones especially What's going on and Harlem Heat.

But where I A M was more of 4,4 rounded down to 4 this will be a 3,8 rounded up to 4 (result the same ?).

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Not since the halcyon days of early 70s have I flipped out over a keyboard soloist album as hard as this "Pinup Guru". Since Rick Wakeman's debut masterpiece "the 6 Wives of Henry VIII", I have had a real hard time recently finding anything tasty when in a k / b/ drs format! Seemingly the danger is always eerily repeated: "look how good I can play" while the rhythm section keeps time in the background: YUCK! But when an album starts off with some church organ and is aided and abetted by arguably both the finest prog bassist on the planet and the most versatile drummer anywhere, then you know that this is going to be ivory heaven! Tomas Bodin has consistently managed throughout his career both live and in studio with the Flower Kings to provide a contrasting humor and wit to counter the rather studious and serious Roine Stolt work ethic. Certainly way more playful and chirpy then most soloists as he flips from one keyboard array to another, displaying a highly original technique on the synthesizer (incorporating hints from superb sound benders as Manfred Mann, Patrick Moraz & Jan Hammer, instead of winking the usual prog culprits), extremely adept on Hammond organ, and both classical and electric piano. But what sets Bodin apart is his tremendous propensity for creative sampling, infusing weird sounds, effects, loops and tones that owe more to Eno, Richard Barbieri and Larry Fast! This album simply buzzes from start to end, blasted by the scintillating bass patterns from the masterful Jonas Reingold (go through listening just to his playing and you will see the light) and slammed by the exhilarating Hungarian drummer Zoltan Cs÷rsz, a jazz-punk-rock "percussor" of the highest caliber. The longer tracks such as "What's Going On", "Me & Liz" and "the Final Swig" give the three lads lots of room to explore, exploit and explode with utter creativity, searching out new sonic landscapes to seed and plow mercilessly. The sheer palette of sampled and orchestrated details give this enough depth to go and search out at times funky, at other times jazzy domains but remaining within the symphonic exploratory prog they are all so famous for. The hyper New York groove of "Harlem Heat" is playful, weird and busy, with some spirited playing from the trio, hilarious snippets not withstanding. The material is mostly upbeat, pro-active, instrumental escapades that occasionally veer into effect-heavy territory: the short "My Beautiful Neighbour" and the raunchy yet cool" New in the Hood" replete with some Latino-Arab accordion-flute patches that are pure ethnic FUN! and a rolling fretless bopping solo that would make Jaco Pastorius blush with envy, grooving along with some fine jazzy e-piano meanderings. "Blood" injects some spacier themes, the patented whistling "spaghetti western" synthesizer flights that Bodin is famous for, layers of various atmospherics, background muted choir, thunder and lightning, very very frightening. Having been also a music director for a traveling theater troupe explains the barroom melodrama of "The Ballerina is not getting closer", a soundtrack for a Chaplin routine. "The Last Eagle" features some more hysteric synth work with mountains of effect mellotron and dazzling rhythmic work from Jonas and Zoltan, organ and piano flourishes that sends shivers down the spine. The finale "The Final Swig" is an enticing recap, with swirling, weaving and twirling rhythms again led by the monstrously reptilian fretless basso profundo, 11 minutes of breathtaking instrumental prowess that shreds, drills and slams with abandon and morphs halfway into a gentle orchestral landing. Brilliant music. Knowing Tomas, he probably was impishly amused while making this recording; such is the impression permeating this opus. "Ya like keyboards, ya gotta getta this swedish meatball". As of 2008, best Bodin album, by far for me. 5 betty grable sitars
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars There is only a limited TFK friends on board of this recording to help their band mate Bodin. A standard trio I would say with no guitar. It leaves wide open the path to Tomas who is plunging into this opportunity.

This album is very different in comparison with his debut. From a related TFK work, this one holds a lot of similarities with ELP. This feeling is very much in this vein during the first two songs: pompous church organ during Sodium Regale and bombastic in the longest track of this album What's Going On.

Me & Liz has a more TFK approach. Probably due to the jazz feeling. It changes from mood several and the fine bass work from Jonas Reingold is quite good in the middle part while the closing one is somewhat related with Genesis (but after all, pinup guru are two words coming out The Battle Of Epping Forrest, so.).

The same Genesis treat but combined to some soul (!) is available as well (Harlem Heat). Actually, Tomas is investigating different music type on this album and mixes prog rock with some Eastern influences (New In The Hood and The final Swig). The latter, which is the closing track, ends up with a fine and bombastic finale. It is a very pleasant moment, indeed.

There is scary track as well on this album: Blood is frightening and bizarre all the way through. One could easily think of vampires, murders and other atrocities while listening to this. Brrrrr..

It is at least a travel into space if not in time. The TFK contagion of ultra long albums has also left its mark here. Over seventy minutes were probably a bit too long. Still, it is another good album from Tomas who is well supported by Jonas and Zoltan.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars 3.5 for sure

Tomas Bodin needs practicaly no introduction, he is one of the most well known and respected keybordists in last 15 years and more. Everybody knowns that he is an important pawn in The Flower Kings musical machine, but also has a solo career. He is helped here by his mates from Flower Kings, Cs÷rsz and Reingold , so I can say he keeps it in the family. The album has all kind of ingredients from symphonic prog with jazzy hints, eclectic moments, but on every piece Bodin his keybords sound great, vintage with some great moments and quite complex arrangements.Also the bass work and drum chops are excellent on some tracks like on What┤s Going On?, 13 min of shiney moments and maybe the best piece of the album. So, not much to add, this Pinup guru released, I forgot to say it, in 2002, his second offer is among his best solo works and has plenty of great moments who will please a wide area of fans, from symph prog lovers to jazz fusion ones.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars During the second half of the 90's Bodin was caught in the storm of The Flower Kings's constant studio albums, live performances and various commitments.However his first album was licensed by the German/American label InsideOut and was re-released in 1999.In 2002 Bodin eventually returned with a second album on Inside Out, ''Pinup Guru''.It was the first album recorded at the keyboardist's own studio, featuring a reduced line-up with only recent The Flower Kings' bassist and Karmakanic's founder Jonas Reingold and drummer Zoltan Csorsz, who had also joined The Flower Kings around the time.

The second offering by Bodin can be split in two sides.The first half of the album is consumed in a bombastic Symphonic Rock style with full-blown synths, church organ and Hammond organ in the forefront, heavily influenced by the virtuosic side of E.L.P. and very close to the likes of Russians LITTLE TRAGEDIES.The arrangements are well-crafted with a balance between very technical acrobatics and more refined textures with a few melodies added for good measure.Among these nice keyboard exercises there are also plenty of Electronic touches with more spacey synths and a slight Neo Prog attitude in a pair of rhythmic lines.Nevertheless the long opening tracks are very good and characteristic of Bodin's talent.The second half shows a turn into more Prog/Fusion realms and, while the music remains technical and in a high level of execution, it does not sound as inspired as the first half, while at moments it even sounds a bit abstract or tasteless.The addition of electronic loops, choirs and even some Mellotron just confuses the style and the mix of Electronic Music, jazzy interludes, Classical vibes and modern technology ends up to be rather inconsistent.Even so these pieces also contain some nice moments with alternating atmospheric and grandiose themes, while a solid and powerful rhythm section is always present throughout the album.

Another strong effort by Bodin, which actually lacks coherence.The first half of the album deserves several spins and it's a great example of contemporary Symphonic Rock, the second one has its moments, maybe the diverse styles presented should have been more tightly connected.Recommended overall...3.5 stars.

Review by kev rowland
2 stars Tomas is of course keyboard player with The Flower Kings and this is his debut solo album. His aim was to produce an album that was similar in fashion to The Nice or ELP so he brought in band mates Jonas Reingold (bass) and Zoltan Cs÷rsz (drums) to assist him in achieving this. While I agree he has gone some way to being able to do that, the album is still lacking in many respects. There are times when he has got it very right indeed, such as on "Harlem Heat" where he recreates the gospel atmosphere and vibrancy, but there are times when I was just wondering what was going on.

There just aren't enough melodies on the album to maintain interest throughout. There is no doubting that all of these guys are very fine musicians indeed but it takes more than skill to be able to produce a killer album and when it is an instrumental work it is even more difficult. Some of the Floydian touches are quite good and as a background album it is quite pleasant but certainly for me it could never be anything more than that.

Originally appeared in Feedback #70, Oct 02

Latest members reviews

3 stars Quite a strong debut real debut by Tomas Bodin, the keyboardist of Flower Kings. The album focuses on powerful, sometimes majestic keyboard sounds, advanced playing and less on memorable compositions. You can hear organ, with a typical colour for Tomas Bodin. Some synths remind Flower Kings. Ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#2287321) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, December 14, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great solo record made by Tomas Bodin the keyboardplayer of "The Flower Kings". However I am not the greatest "Flower Kings" fan this is really other stuff! If you love Mellotron and beautifull baselines this is something for you! Tomas is a great musisan buth what about Jonas Reingold? He is ... (read more)

Report this review (#25108) | Posted by J@pie Mol | Sunday, September 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the second album of THE FLOWER KINGS keyboardist, Tomas Bodin, an extraordinary musician this excellent band. His solo works are different from the albums he has with the band. Instrumental music, many times closely related with ambiental one, but everything close to his idiosincrasy. ... (read more)

Report this review (#25106) | Posted by | Thursday, August 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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