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REFUGEE

Refugee

Symphonic Prog


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Refugee Refugee album cover
4.11 | 139 ratings | 34 reviews | 43% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Papillion (5:10)
2. Someday (5:03)
3. Grand Canyon Suite (16:54)
a) The Source
b) Theme for the Canyon
c) The Journey
d) The Rapids
e) The Mighty Colorado
4. Gatecrasher / Ritt Mickley (5:57)
5. Credo (18:08)
a) Prelude
b) I Believe, Pt. 1
c) Credo Theme
d) Credo Toccata & Song (The Lost Cause)
e) Agitato
f) I Believe, Pt. 2
g) Variation
h) Main Theme & Finale

Total Time 50:22

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Lee Jackson / Vocals, Bass, 12-String Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Electric Cello
- Patrick Moraz / Piano, Organ, Moog Synthesizer, Mellotron, Clavinet, Marimbaphone, Alpine Horn
- Brian Davison / Drums, Percussion, Tympani

Releases information

Charisma #: CAS 1087

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Cesar Inca for the last updates
Edit this entry

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REFUGEE Refugee ratings distribution


4.11
(139 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(43%)
43%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
35%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

REFUGEE Refugee reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars Although I would be of an extremely bad faith not to recognize the excellent musical qualities of this album, this is hardly more than The Nice MkII or a ELP clone IMOHO. Apart from this existantialist question of mine , this is a fine album but not indispensable.

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Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars One album wonders!

Sadly, the only album made by what was effectively The Nice with Swiss keyboards wizard Patrick Moraz replacing Keith Emerson (who had left for ELP).

What Refugee produced was a very well constructed and progressive album. The music bears only passing resemblance to the Emerson dominated work of the Nice, with much more of a democracy in evidence. This gives the album a noticeable balance.

Jackson's vocals will never win him any awards, but their gruffness seems right at home here, and in any case, much of the time his voice is not required. Moraz keyboard work is excellent, his familiar jazzy slurring on the synthesiser is predominant, similar to that which made "Relayer" so different from other Yes albums.

The tracks are split between three pretty straight forward pieces clocking in at around the five minutes, and two long structured pieces of pure prog. "Grand Canyon" does a good job of painting a picture of said wonder of the world, with lyrics such as "We'll swoop right up the canyon wall, then like an eagle down we'll falllll (descending echoes on the word "fall")", you get the idea! "Credo" is a slightly rougher more Nice like piece, with slightly jazzier keyboards.

It really is a pity the band did not remain together to develop their unique sound. Moraz went on to replace Rick Wakeman in Yes for the "Relayer" album, then had a spell in Moody Blues with who he recorded several albums.

The fan base was there for Refugee to exploit, but this was and apparently always will be a one off album. (If your searching for the LP version of the album, Beware of releases by another unrelated band bearing the same name.)

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#27781) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 06, 2004

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A Review by Rizal B Prasetijo (updated 5 April 2008)

"You have not visited Paris until you visit Tour Eiffel" and "You have not heard Patrick Philippe Moraz until you listen to Refugee". Thanks to my prog friend Gatot Widayanto Hidayat who kindly lent his CD for the review (I actually own the album's vinyl version, but as my phono stage has been out of order for quite sometime, I can't listen to the "better" analog source for the review), I am convinced that the phrase is valid. Compared to Moraz's three previous albums that I have heard (Moraz' Future Memories, Moraz's Windows of Time. and Moraz-Bruford's Music for Piano and Drum), Moraz's quest on "define" keyboard liners in this album yields more skillful and intelligence sound. Indeed, the album provided him a ticket (his closest peer at that time was Vangelis Papathanassiou) to join the "super progressive rock band"-Yes in 1974, replaced Rick Wakeman, and influenced the band heavily in the making of Relayer (especially in "Sound Chaser"). It was also obvious to me that, since I inserted and spun the CD in my player, Patrick Moraz's powerful keyboards have dominated the album. Indeed, in my humble opinion, Lee Jackson's strings (bass and guitar) as well as Brian Davison's percussion liners are more compliments to Moraz's energetic, complicated, yet beautiful keyboard notes. This is somewhat ironic as both Messrs. Jackson and Davison (the two ex-members of The Nice) were actually inviters, while Mr. Moraz was the invitee to the band, following the departure of Keith Emerson to join ELP.

The album opens up with Papillon, a 5:09" composition. Moraz's fast keyboard liners (it begins with electric piano, followed up by synthesizer, then organ) provide a 1:39" intro. As there is no information about the song in the album sleeve, I think the prelude is perhaps too fast, if Patrick intends to depict a butterfly (Papillon is a French for the butterfly) in the composition, and it may be too joyful, if Moraz wants to describe Henri Charrière's fourteen year miserable life (Papillon is also the title of Mr. Charrière's autobiography when he was wrongly convicted of murder in France and sentenced to a life of hard labor at the Devil's Island penal colony) in the song. Jackson's bass and Davison's drumming fit nicely to Moraz's synthesizer liners played on a sinusoidal wave form, describing the up and down of the life of butterfly or Mr. Charrière. Could anyone here tell me whom Moraz actually wanted to portray in this song?

Someday, the second track, is a 5:02" progressive pop composition built on traditional verses-chorus formula. It depicts a person wanting to run away from his pain of life. Davison's mid tempo drumming, moving in sync with Moraz's keyboard, sets off the song for 21 seconds, then Jackson's somewhat peculiar vocal (a combination of Kayak's Edward Reekers and Marillion's Derek William Dick aka Fish, in my view) emerges. "Someday, I'll find a way, get on my feet, walk out the door, and I'll leave you all the pain that you gave to me. Wrapped up in a song and I know that", Jackson phrases wryly his emotion.

The third track, Grand Canyon (16:53"), is Refugee's musical interpretation of the grand nature beauty of the famous canyon. It is divided into five interludes (called "movements" by the band). In the first movement, The Source, the band tells the audience how the Canyon was slowly formed from the uplifting of the Colorado plateau over a 17 million years period during the proterozoic and paleozoic era via Moraz's rather slow quaver keyboard notes. In my listening, the appearance of Jackson's irregular bass beats symbolizes sudden jolts, provided the gigantic energy for the plateau to gradually rise. At 2:16, Davison's drum comes in, adding further nuance behind the creation of Grand Canyon. In my recognition, the second movement, Theme for the Canyon, starts at 3:48" when the band accelerates its tempo and Jackson's crotchet bass notes set the tone. The interlude briefly describes how the Canyon's exquisiteness has been well preserved over million years. At 5:50", Moraz's piano slows down, then Jackson's vocal emerges. "We'll swoop right up the Canyon wall. Then like an eagle down we'll fall to fly through the Canyon on a dream. See the river, crush and roar, see how it roars in the Grand Canyon", Jackson portrays the gorgeousness of the Canyon from the eye of an eagle through his somewhat eerie voice in the third movement, The Journey. Indeed, while I have been flying over the Canyon more than dozen times during my flights from the US West to East coast or vice versa, every time the cabin crew announces that the plane is flying over the Canyon, I always open my window shade, look down, and marvel it. At 9:10", the fourth movement, Rapids, sets in motion. Initially, Moraz's keyboards, mimicking the smooth flow of the Colorado river, take the lead, but he then turns his keyboards into roaring sounds, depicting the roughness of some part of the river. The transition is also supported by rising Davison drumming beats, from 40-50bpm to circa 100-120bpm. At 10:57", you could hear Moraz played complicated, but beautiful semiquaver notes. Three minutes later, Professor Jean Ristori (Moraz's bassist in Mainhorse, who is responsible for the album's polyphonic sounds recording) gradually put these semiquaver notes as background and bring forward Moraz's and Jackson's crotchet keyboard and bass liners, respectively for roughly 140 seconds. A great overdubbing! The overdubbing, in my view, also marks the beginning of the fifth movement, The Mighty Colorado. At 15:20", the tempo decelerates and 55 seconds later, the sound of Colorado river, generated by Moraz's synthesizer, fades away.

In the absence of information, I interpret Ritt Mickley, the album's fourth track, as Moraz's short musical reading on an imaginary detective called Ritt Mickley. The 5:55" instrumental composition commences with Moraz's keyboard liners played on a sinusoidal wave form, sounding like the 1970s detective TV series' theme song. At 0:58", the composition abruptly changes into a progressive jazz rock. It is followed by uplifting notes, perhaps describing how Detective Mickley enjoys his engagements in chasing criminals. Jazzy keyboard and rhythm guitar notes take over at 3:03" for almost 45 seconds. I sense Patrick Moraz put two Dal Segno al Codas afterward. He returns back to the progressive jazz rock liners played at 0:58", then jumps back to jazzy keyboard and rhythm guitar notes performed at 3:03" at the end of the composition.

Credo (the Latin for "I believe", pronounced as a statement of religious belief), the last track, is the album's most complicated and beautiful composition from the lyric, note, and beat perspectives, in my view. It portrays Messrs. Moraz and Jackson's belief on the illusion and insanity of the current life. The 18:07" song is divided into eight movements/interludes. Moraz's Steinway grand piano opens up the composition from the left channel and quickly spreads into the right channel, while his single note keyboard gently humming at the back. It is obvious for me that Moraz uses the pedal to generate Steinway's trademark forte piano sound in the beginning of the first movement, Prelude. Once the piano sound returns back to normal, Jackson's jazzy guitar rhythm gradually emerges. At 2:48", the song suddenly turns into an organ centric, followed by Moraz's keyboard and Davison's timpani, shouting each other for 35 seconds. At 4:26", the tempo changes and the second movement, I Believe (part 1), begins. "I believe the life you live you leave can't conceive an extra mortal sleeve. From near time far, we come and here we are we stay to play while upon this earthly stage and leave, to half remember tales and half forgotten lies", Jackson narrates. Having beautifully recited the illusion of the current life, the composition enters its third movement, Theme, at 5:25". Here, you could hear Patrick Moraz plays the 1820 built pipe organ, based on the 1670 technology, in St Albans Cathedral (an Anglican church located at St Albans, England, built in the 11th century). That said, I am somewhat disappointed as the album's digital recording fails to fully capture the grand of the cathedral's pipe organ ambiance. Hence, I vow to listen to this section using the analog recording once my phono stage resumes its active duty. At 7:10", the fourth movement, The Lost Cause, starts. "I believe, and you believe, and we believe we're free. And the air doesn't cost a thing but then that's only to a bird with a broken wing. Yet the wisest king of all had to leave his wisdom of the wall. The queue forms beside me as I sing my credo to a lost cause", Jackson contemptuously depicts the insanity of our current life. The most prominent feature in this interlude is the duet between Lee Jackson's vocal and Patrick Moraz's keyboard, taken place between 9:24" to 10:06". Had Professor Ristori reduced the background sound volume, the duet would have been more interesting, in my view. At 10:58", the composition goes into its fifth movement, Agitato (the Latin of agitate). Patrick Moraz puts his complicated, but beautiful semiquaver and demisemiquaver progressive jazz rock fusion keyboard liners backed up by Jackson fierce bass as well as Davison ferocious drumming in this almost two minute interlude. It describes how he has been disturbed by the illusion and insanity of the current life. For me, the Credo's fifth and seventh movements are the album's best parts. At 12:56", the tempo slows, Jackson's vocal appears, and the sixth movement, I Believe (part 2), sets in motion. "I believe the life you live you leave can't conceive an extra mortal sleeve. From near the stars, you are seen from here they're yours. To gaze a while, down to the universe and smile. As we down here, we chase the wind and jump the moon. And play a while, the game in echoed style and disregard the rules", Jackson puts forward his disenchantment on the current life. Similar to the fifth movement, the seventh movement, Variation, features Moraz's complex, but stunning semiquaver and demisemiquaver progressive jazz rock fusion keyboard liners, portraying so many problems emerges in the current life. Finally, at 17:30", the tempo slows and the final movement, Main Theme Finale, commences.

Having heard the album, there is no doubt in my mind that Patrick Moraz is one of greatest progressive rock keyboardists. I also share most observers' wishes on the band. It would be great if Refugee could produce its second album. Happy listening!

Best regards,

Rizal B. Prasetijo

A Review by Gatot Widayanto 27 July 2004

WHAT A MONUMENTAL ALBUM this one is!! NO COMPROMISE in this deal ... it's definitely FIVE SATRRRR!!! Yeah . it's definitely prog to the corner!! If you claim yourself as a prog lover, definitely you would love this album! If not, go to your prog music counselor and ask him for an advice about how great this one-album-band is! My prog gurus in my home country have agreed this band is one of great prog pioneers of the 70s. Even most popular bands / artists in my country like BADAI band, CHRISYE, GURUH, GOD BLESS, KEENAN were heavily influenced by this band especially in its nuances. This album is really legendary and it's a masterpiece!

This could only happened after the break-up of The NICE after K EMMERSON left the band. (Keith EMMERSON has some solo albums as well that should have been included in this page for review. At least, I got "Night Hawk" soundtrack and "Honky"). The remaining band members : Lee Jackson (bass, vocals ) and Brian Davison (drums) found Swiss keyboard player PATRICK MORAZ. The result? This PHENOMENAL album that you should be ashamed if you don't have it in your prog collection! Let me tell you, this album is on par with GENESIS "Foxtrot" or "Selling England by The Pound". So, why haven't you got it yet???

All tracks are excellent. My BEST track is "GRAND CANYON" where it has a kind like our home country's ethnical music (West Sumatra, Padang to be exact). And .. this track is very melodic with a very unique Jackson's voice (seems that something wrong with his nose - but it makes his voice powerful!!!). The other track of my favorite is CREDO and SOMEDAY. Uughhh . could not stop my adrenalin explode with the music this band produced. It's definitely, absolutely W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!!!! No wonder that Chris Squire was interested with MORAZ to replace the departure of WAKEMAN from YES. And in YES MORAZ performed one great album: RELAYER (it has GATES OF DELIRIUM mannn!!! - the best YES song ever!)

I actually intended to write a long, track-by-track review of this album .. but I could not make it as my emotion blow away ..yeaaahhh .. this is truly prog mannnnn ...!!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

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Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I've been a fan of ELP and The Nice for many years but it was only today that I was able to get my hands on this .....and what an album it is! Patrick Moraz in one magnificient record proves himself undoubtedly one of the greatest keyboardists of the prog genre.The speed and accuracy of his playing surely must have made Wakeman and Emerson sit up and take note at the time.This is wonderful keyboard driven prog rock in all its pompous glory.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#27784) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 26, 2004

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After Keith EMERSON had left The NICE, the two remaining members bass player / vocalist Lee Jackson and drummer Brian Davison teamed up with the promising Swiss keyboardist Patrick MORAZ (ex MAINHORSE). In '74 they released their acclaimed eponymous album. The music is carried by the astonishing skills of Patrick MORAZ. His wide range of keyboards colours the music in many different ways: majestic Mellotron waves, spectacular synthesizer flights, bombastic church-organ, swinging clavinet play and impressive work on the Grand - and electric piano. The compositions show a great diversity but the boring vocals are a blow and keep this album from being a masterpiece. Nonetheless, if you're up to splendid keyboard driven prog rock, I'm sure you will not complain about Jackson's vocals. Because most parts of the alternating and elaborate compositions (not typical The NICE, ELP or TRACE keyboard prog) are instrumental and showcases the incredible talents and good ideas of keyboard-wizard Mr. MORAZ (later nicknamed "the Swiss poodle" by the YES members).

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Posted Saturday, November 06, 2004

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Refugee made a real prog gem with their only namesake album: had this newborn band not been prematurely killed by Moraz's entry into the ranks of Yes, I'm sure that this power trio would have gone places with some more following albums. Well, I'm aware that this is only historical fiction, but the fact is that the spectacular endeavor accomplished in this album shows a clear indication of a mature progressive proposition: this band was born mature. The return of ex-Nice partners Jackson and Davison was completed by the entry of a new keyboard wizard, Patrick Moraz, who as a leading force was the main responsible for the direction of the band's style and the musical ideas. By then, Jackson and Davison had grown as musicians, and this can certainly be heard in their solid performance as the rhythm duo all throughout the album: and so it had to be anyway, since Moraz feels particularly loud for three reasons: 1) the energetic display of solos, orchestrations and multiple keyboard effects; 2) the bombastic complexity of the compositions; and 3) the diversity of musical sources that get comprised into Refugee's unitary sound. From the opening instrumental track it is obvious that Moraz's exquisite pyrotechnics is the band's nucleus: 'Papillon' shows us an amazingly skillful keyboardist who has massively absorbed the combined influences from Keith Emerson and Chick Corea and recycled them in his own special way. Things get a bit toned down in the symphonic ballad 'Someday', where the band's instrumentation somewhat feels closer to Procol Harum's emotional density, while Jackson delivers his sharp singing style without getting too grating. The other instrumental, 'Ritt Mickley', starts with some synth adornments that lead to the sound of glass breaking, and then the funky oriented main motif: in some ways, Moraz is announcing what he would later do in 'Sound Chaser' for the "Relayer" album, albeit with a wicked Emerson-esque twist. Last but not least, the two master opuses are the featured gems of this album. The 17- minute 'Grand Canyon' and the 18 minute 'Credo' are some of the best tracks ever recorded by a prog power trio: these guys really go places with their consistent interplaying and incendiary jamming, always led by Moraz's magic wand all along the connections between all diverse sections. Moraz's most relevant virtue is that of versatility: he can flawlessly wander from cosmic synth layers to other passages with a more constructed framework, from heavy rocking jamming to the excellence of chamber music, from jazz fusion to psychedelia. As I said before, Jackson and Davison have acquired a more refined approach to their instruments: this allows them to function as a superbly potent column to sustain the monumental sonic building provided by the Swiss wizard. Let me finish by saying that, IMHO, "Refugee" is the nicest recording Jackson and Davison had been involved with. yes, I like it better than anything done by The Nice, even though I'm a big fan of that pioneering quartet-gone-trio. It's just that, in comparison (oh, how I hate comparisons), this Moraz-led power trio stands on a higher and more solid ground.

(I respectfully dedicate this review to my friend René Osnaya, a true Emerson fan)

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#27786) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Patrick Moraz is at his best here on the fast and complex parts: he really steals the show! He is amazingly well supported by TONS of complex and elaborated drums and very good bass parts. Moraz's keyboards are comparable here to Keith Emerson's performance of the early 70's: he uses an overdose of Hammond organ, and his piano parts are absolutely OUTSTANDING. The album contains no guitars! The weak point is that the music often takes time to take off: there are too many experimental, monotonous & strange not loaded bits. The good lead vocals sound between Peter Gabriel, Mick Rogers (Manfred Mann's) and the Kayak's singer.

"Papillon" has some lengthy repetitive and experimental bits, but the catchy piano parts are EXCELLENT! The epic "Grand Canyon" track, after its lengthy experimental bit, has a rhythmic and catchy part amazingly similarly to the Kayak band; then, after the repetitive, powerful & dirty organ note, there is an OUTSTANDING fast and complex part, very structured and synchronized. "Ritt Mickley" is very structured, complex and fast: Moraz's organ, moog and clavinet combination form a delightful melodic texture, with a floating mellotron in the background. The epic "Credo" has EXCELLENT elaborated & expressive piano parts; there is an apocalyptic church organ part; there is an OUTSTANDING extremely fast and synchronized piano + keyboards + drums bit: QUINTESSENTIAL! Moraz uses a delightful combination of Fender Rhodes - clavinet - moog, slightly reminding the fastest parts on PFM'S Chocolate kings; the only weak point of this track is that the fast parts are not sustained: the listener would like that those fast and complex parts make 100% of the contents of this record.

Patrick Moraz is better with other musicians than alone; he still proves it with this very good album. Do not expect it to be exactly like Relayer (Yes), but it's often very fast, quintessential and complex too, maybe even better than on the Yes' Relayer album!! All the fast parts deserve 5 stars; unfortunately, the slower parts are often less convincing, because they are too experimental.

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Posted Saturday, March 12, 2005

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What an awesome album this is! When one reflects on the considerable popularity of ELP and Yes among progressive rock fans, it's really surprising how many people fail to make the correct extrapolations to arrive at this particular masterpiece ... chances are most people would be more likely to investigate Asia than this lesser-known group! I implore you to try this one out.

I must emphasise that while a good many critics have compared Refugee to ELP and its precursor The Nice (understandable in that two-thirds of Refugee played a supporting role to Keith Emerson in The Nice), I'm convinced that this album is most likely to appeal to those who feel that Yes' Relayer is an outstanding work on which Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz proves himself to be a startlingly inventive player.

For, despite some excellent instrumental work from bass player Lee Jackson and drummer Brian Davison, it is undeniably Moraz who is the star of this superlative album. From behind a battery of organic keyboards (piano, electric piano, organ, Moog and mellotron all make an appearance here), Moraz proves himself to be an outstanding composer and player. While comparisons to Emerson and Wakeman are inevitable, Moraz's style is quite distinct and very compelling.

Having said all that, the opening moments of the instrumental opener Papillon are full of Emersonian pomp! But after a couple of minutes, Jackson and Davison strike up a secondary rhythm , Moraz's swirling synths establish themselves, and Refugee creates a whole new world for us. Delightful rapid-fire piano, with dashes of classical and tinges of avant-jazz, are his main weapon on the latter part of this piece.

I have griped quite consistently over Lee Jackson's gruff, frequently off-key vocals during his time with The Nice (and I'm still far from his biggest fan), but I must say that in two out of the three songs on which he sings (the other two pieces are instrumentals) his voice suits the track fine. It is only on Someday that my old feelings of annoyance are stirred ... please be warned that Someday is the first piece on which he sings, so do not walk away from this album if you don't like the vocals!

Besides, in terms of playing time roughly 80% of this album is instrumental, and I don't feel that the vocals are enough of a factor to sway one's opinion of Refugee. Someday for example, surely must be defined by Moraz's monumental electric piano and synth solos (diametrically opposite in style).

The 17-minute epic Grand Canyon is an absolutely enthralling piece. It is a slow building spacey ethereal affair that suddenly bursts into life, with some rich synth work from Moraz leading into some Steinway majesty over which Jackson (gasp) sings a beautiful melody. At some points of this piece, the dual piano/organ reminds me of Procol Harum's excellent Pilgrim's Progress (a track off A Salty Dog), but all that goes out of the window when Moraz takes the reins again with some blistering synth. Halfway through the piece there is a dramatic shift to a very edgy rhythmic section before Moraz does the business once again. It's pertinent to point out that both Jackson and Davison (no slouches as instrumentalists to begin with) have distinctly improved in the few years between The Nice and Refugee, and also effortlessly keep up with the insanely talented Moraz.

The instrumental Ritt Mickley is a quirky, almost funky piece with a classical organ theme thrown in at the middle, although it is generally dominated by some massive synth sounds. For some reason it strikes me as the kind of jam Gentle Giant might do on a lazy day. Again the playing is absolutely top-notch.

One would have thought that Grand Canyon would be the centerpiece of this album (and it is of course my favourite piece) but it's actually pipped in the time stakes by the 18-minute Credo. Credo sees Patrick kick off with some outstanding lyrical unaccompanied piano (for the first 4 minutes, mind you) before everything just swirls into action. Jackson's harsh vocals actually fit this piece too, although they are a merely a sideshow to Moraz's piano playing (at one point, Jackson does throw in a great fusiony bass solo too.) Ominous classical organ then heralds another astonishingly beautiful vocal passage. Some more incendiary piano followed by electric piano followed by synth concludes one of the greatest prog-rock albums I've ever heard.

I haven't yet heard Mainhorse, the Swiss prog outfit with which Moraz debuted, nor his acclaimed solo album The Story Of I, but right now, I find it hard to believe that this sumptious album isn't the artistic pinnacle of his career (and yes I'm including Relayer, where he has to share the limelight with the likes of Steve Howe). I can well imagine the frustration of Jackson and Davison when Moraz was lured away to join Yes and it remains a minor tragedy that this outfit never made more albums. All we can do now is marvel at the one gem that was left behind. ... 92% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#41975) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 07, 2005

Review by slipperman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars HOT!!!!!! An easy 4.5 stars. Refugee explodes throughout their self-titled and only album, led by the keyboard fireworks of Patrick Moraz. Teaming up with two ex- members of The Nice, it's no surprise the trio sports a sound that stands up well next to the best Emerson Lake And Palmer material. Drummer Brian Davison may be no Carl Palmer, but really, of all the ELP-related or ELP-esque bands out there, Refugee comes closest to matching their patented grandiose symphonic approach. Triumvirat never had this much power. Ekseption was always third-rate at best. And The Nice were much more important as a proto-prog band, never truly outstanding or consistent. Refugee is both formidable and fun, and the first place you should go when you want something along the lines of ELP while wanting to give those ELP records a rest.

Bassist Lee Jackson's vocals are unusual, hard to get used to at first, but they remain unique, sometimes eccentric, other times fragile, and never distracting. Most songs are things of elaborate construction, with "Someday" being the only relatively straightforward track. All else is epic ("Credo", the intensely playful and playfully intense "Ritt Mickley", triumphant opener "Papillon", and centerpiece "Grand Canyon Suite"). Moraz wields a huge array of keyboard sounds, all of them warm, inviting, transcendental. The rhythm section provides able support to his myriad flights, the result being a mandatory album for any fan of symphonic prog rock--symphonic prog rock that never forgets rock's necessary raw edge amidst refined classical leanings. Too bad the band wouldn't last, but Moraz would treat us to another amazing show of talent on Yes' 'Relayer' from the same year.

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Send comments to slipperman (BETA) | Report this review (#60314) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars If you believe (as I do) that RELAYER is one of Yes' strongest albums, or if you have a weak spot for Patrick Moraz's bizarre concoction THE STORY OF I, I definitely advise you to check this album out.

For thirty years or more I was under the impression that Refugee were nothing but a pale imitation of the Nice, until a review of this album on the TANGENT website encouraged me to get a copy, which soon changed my mind.

To be honest, it puzzles me that REFUGEE have received ecstatic reviews on Progarchives, since their album does sound a little incoherent, and there are no obvious emotion-drenched highlights. But all the same, this is a fascinating collection of tunes. Using a wide range of electronic (and acoustic) keyboards, Moraz proves he's every bit the equal of Emerson, Wakeman, Banks or other caped (and non-caped) keyboard crusaders, while Jackson and Davison turn out to be an exciting rhythm section. (N.B. Although Jackson's vocals sound off- putting at first, after a couple of spins I actually started enjoying them.)

'Grand Canyon' is the obvious highlight, a piece which seems almost symphonic in scope. For the Yes-freak, there are several wild (and magnificent!) moog solos which prefigure RELAYER. And at one point, when Moraz starts tickling the ivories, it sounds exactly as if he's going to play 'The Best Years of our Lives' (off THE STORY OF I).

Not an essential buy, perhaps, but warmly recommended to all Morazophiles.

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Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I was quite enthusiast to discover this album. Can you imagine this line-up ? The remainings of The Nice together with Patrick Moraz ! Probably my expectations were too high.

First two songs are really painful. Third one "Grand Canyon" is one of the two epics of the album. It shows brilliantness from Moraz on the keys (who will develop even more his kills with "Yes" for a short while).

Although his parts are great, the (few) vocals are awful. At no moments you get the shivers with this music. So this might be their epic, but it really won't be remembered. Next track "Ritt Mickley"is of the calibre of the first two ones : lack of emotion, no inspiration.

"Credo", the second epic closes the album: Moraz is here again wonderful but the Jackson's vocals ruin the work. I can hardly understand that this one can be compared with "Foxtrot "or "Selling England...". I must be dreaming !

Two stars for Moraz's skills and interpretation.

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Posted Thursday, December 28, 2006

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Refugee made a monumental album, here is no compromise.

In 1974 they released their self titled debut and farewell album, a real gem, solid from start to end, this album has a versatile sound oriented towards the Baroque and Classic era. The first instrumental one Papillon is stunning, great keys, great drums, all is super, the second one Someday, first track with voice, Lee Jackson sounds to me like Peter Gabriel, but more rough, not a bad thing at all, and now the highlight on this album and one of the best tracks of Moraz - the epic Grand canyon - feature beautiful, expressive synth solos, with overdubed synth, precision drumming, swirling Hammond organ. The rest are super too.

Patrick Moraz after this album was recruted by Yes to release Relayer,and they had to realize their history was over, and their fate was sealed. After all this is a magnific symphonic album and still actual after 30 years. Recommended, 4 stars

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Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Review by Prog-Brazil
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A band with Moraz suggest you will find songs like Yes. Instead, this album is more close to ELP (and certainly, the Nice) than Yes. As other guys said, the vocals by Lee Jackson are not so good, but the instrumental part is wonderful. Anyway, there are few parts with vocals, namely, in "Someday" and some parts in "Grand Canyon" and "Credo". To me this album is better than Moraz's Mainhorse and so good as any album by The Nice (even better). Four and a half stars.

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Posted Saturday, August 04, 2007

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Why Patrick Moraz left this band? Maybe the money and fame that YES offered to him were very good to not be taken as very good opportunities. But I think that as a musician he really didn`t need to join YES. In this album, he shines as a very good keyboards player, composer and arranger. In my opinion, he is the main musician in this album, and his talent is very well exposed. This is a very good album that maybe the then remaining members of YES (and /or their manager) listened to it very well, and after Rick Wakeman left them months before, it was really obvious that Moraz`talent was the one they needed to continue playing and recording together. One of the things that I don`t like from YES was the way (as told by Moraz himself in interviews for the "Notes from the Edge" website; look for them if you want to read them in www.yesworld.com ) fired him in 1976, just before the recording of the "Going for the One" album. Moraz said that when he was fired, the band owed to him a lot of money from their last tour, and that he was "left in the cold" with his wife and a son. I don`t know if YES finally paid to him that money, but that band is well known for not treat some of the members they fire in the right way.

The other members of REFUGEE were former members of THE NICE: drummer Brian Davison and bassist / lead singer Lee Jackson, both very good musicians. Paricularly, Davison is a very good drummer, and Jackson has been criticized a lot as not a good lead singer, but, to be honest, I still have not listened to THE NICE`s music, believe or not, and after reading several reviews about his voice I really expected him to be a very bad lead singer, but I don`t think so. His voice sounds "raw" sometimes, but his style of singing is very personal, and as bassist he also is good.

The best songs in this album are "Credo" and "Grand Canyon", on which all members play very well, and Moraz also plays a bit of Church Organ on "Credo". "Papillon" is also ver good, with very good keyboards and drums. "Someday" sounds a bit like an Hymn, similar a bit to ELP`s recording of "Jersualem". "Ritt Mickley" is an instrumental piece full of Jazz-Rock influences a la RETURN TO FOREVER. In this album, I found some of Moraz`s influence to YES` sound, like his very personal synthesizer solos similar to the solos he played in the "Relayer" album, particularly in the song "Sound Chaser". He even uses a clavinet in "Ritt Mickley" making it sound like in STEVIE WONDER`s "Superstition" song!

I think that Moraz`s departure from REFUGEE to join YES "sabotaged" future projects of this very good band. I also know that in THE MOODY BLUES he also wasn`t treated in the right way. In fact, he never was an official member of that band, and he left that band or was fired in 1991, also in not very good terms. I think that he really didn`t deserve to be treated that way. But he also has said in interviews that he still has good memories of the time he was playing with YES and THE MOODY BLUES. But I don`t know if he considered REFUGEE as a "one-off album" band.

This is a very recommendable (and maybe forgotten or underrated) Progressive Rock album done by a very good band which only lasted for a brief time (I think that it only lasted for one year).

During his time with YES, Moraz included in his "Patrick Moraz`solo" during their tours parts of "Papillion" and "Grand Canyon". These can be seen and heard in YES` video from their 1975 concert called "Live at Q.R.P.".

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#132890) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, August 13, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Refugee is a fantastic album especially if you are a fan of ELP as it is very much in this style. Not very surprising as there are 2/3 of The Nice in the lineup. The last musician is the keyboard wiz Patrick Moraz which also played on the Relayer album from Yes. So not surprisingly the musicians are outstanding.

The organ is the most frequently used keyboard on the album, but Moraz uses other keyboards as well. The music evolves around the classical inspired keyboards from Moraz and the pounding rythm section. This is show off prog rock of the highest caliber. Not far from what ELP did on Brain Salad Surgery. The singer is even a bad imitation of Greg Lake. This is the albums weakest point. The vocal lines are not that good and they are sung even worse, but IMO this is the same case with ELP. There are also influences from Beggar´s Opera.

This is not why you should have this album though. The instrumental parts are outstanding prog rock and the vocals are seldom there and when they are they are always followed by some crazy organ licks, so don´t let the fact that the vocals are not so good scare you away. This is excellent prog.

If you are looking for emotional prog rock, look elsewhere because this is full blown noodling all the way. But what great noodling this is. The noodling is also the reason that this album is a 4 star album and not a masterpiece 5 star album though. I really like the instrumental parts on the album, but I do miss some more emotional vocal parts to make it complete. This is highly recommendable though.

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Posted Sunday, January 13, 2008

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars When a musician has to replace an icon of a genre he has to fight with everything, fans, critics who will always compare him with the previous one and sometimes even the band who had friendship with the replaced artist and will take some time to accept the new one.

If you add that this new musician is not a very charismatic figure and has to replace idols and almost frontmen like Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and Mike Pinder.Well, the chances of success are remote.

But the Swiss born keyboardist Patrick Moraz with his impeccable technique was able to replace the three iconic keyboardists and have artistic success.

In the case of REFUGEE'S self titled album, he had to use the shoes that Keith Emerson had left, and a huge pair, because for most people THE NICE was Emerson and two more guys, but Patrick was able to replace Keith, imprint a new and unique sound, more based in piano than in Moog and with his less egocentric style, allowed Jackson and Davidson to prove they were not just sidekicks, but very capable musicians able to be compared with anybody.

Now, the problem is finding favorite songs to comment, because all the album is outstanding, but I will go with the opener and the first epic.

Papillon opens the album with an evident new sound, more Baroque and piano oriented than usual Emerson's aggressive approach, in the intro you can already find that Brian Davidson has much more confidence, because the combined use of electronic keys with piano by Patrick is less exclusive and allows him to show his excellent timing and speed.

Always found that Patrick Moraz is closer to Rick Wakeman than to Emerson, but here he combines Emerson's skills in the organ with his incredible speed in the piano only compared with Wakeman, while in the background Lee Jackson does an outstanding job in the bass, wonderful piece than can be also listened in the DVD "Yes at QPS" where Patrick makes an excerpt exclusively in the piano.

Grand Canyon is a 16:42 minutes epic, much more elaborate than the first track but also more relaxed than the breathtaking "Papillon". After an almost 4:00 minutes beautiful intro, Moraz, Jackson and Davidson combine heir skills to recreate the intro but going deeper and more dramatic, the bass is simply impeccable, dark, mysterious and 100% pompous.

After a sad piano section solo by Moraz, Jackson adds his vocals, which sound somehow as the middle point between Greg Lake and Pete Townshend, while the drums join an "in crescendo" movement that leads to another keyboard, bass and drums instrumental break that takes us to a spacey section which again changes radically in an aggressive passage typical from THE NICE which sounds as a controlled cacophony.

The changes go on until the end of a track, proving how versatile they are.

All the other tracks have something in common, they jump from pristine Symphonic to well elaborate Fusion, passing by Psychedelic sections an Hard Rock, just what Prog should be.

The former THE NICE members, seem more comfortable and free to play without the pressure of having Keith with them and if I had to use just one word to describe the album, I would say VERSATILE.

It's very sad that Patrick left REFUGEE to join Yes, because they had much more to offer but at least it lead to the amazing "Relayer".

No doubt about the rating, 5 stars material beyond any doubt, I don't have the live album by them, but just asked a store for it, being that I left too many years pass without having got it.

Highly recommended.

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Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars After Keith Emerson left to form ELP, the remaining members of The Nice formed Refugee together with keyboardist Patrick Moraz (who would later replace Rick Wakeman in Yes). This album is very keyboard dominated, it has drums and bass guitar, but no guitars. Moraz keyboards is in the center throughout (unlike his work on Yes' Relayer album where he was pushed in the background by Steve Howe's guitar making it sound more as if he provides sonic textures to the music rather than being a lead instrument of his own).

The main weakness of this group lies in the vocals (as it did for The Nice also). However, there are not a lot of vocals here, large portions of the album are instrumental parts. Moraz' playing is very impressive and the sound is quite unlike anything I ever heard before.

This album is a much better showcase of Moraz' playing than any other album he contributed to, including his work with Mainhorse, Yes, The Moody Blues and also his solo album Story Of I.

This is a unique album that requires several listens to be fully appreciated. Essential for fans of Patrick Moraz and an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

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Posted Friday, July 25, 2008

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After listening to this album it became clear why the mambers of Yes chose Patrick Moraz to replace Rick Wakeman in 1974. Moraz keyboard style here reminds me a lot of Wakeman´s during his Yes years, and that´s a compliment! I still think Patrick Moraz is a very underrated musician in prog circles. Having to replace two prog legends in such a short time it must have led to quite unfair comparisons. The guy may not be a genious or so innovative as Emerson or Wakeman, but his is VERY good. And Refugee is maybe the best way to realize that.

The album is excellent. I´m not a very great fan of keyboards led bands, and the trio format like this (keys-bass-drums) is hardly my favorite. Still I think they managed to release one of the best albums in that style. Moraz never sounded so powerful and creative! And this combination worked very well. The fact that the band didn´t make it is easy to understand (even if equally unfair): the public saw Refugee as just an atempt to revive The Nice. And that was not the case, but the damage was done and few people did notice this album at the time. Which is really a pity. there are some great tunes on this album and the playing is simply superb: a great mix of classical music, symphonic rock and even some jazz rock/fusion moments here and there.

Besides Moraz extraordinaire skills on the keys, I have to say I liked a lot what jackson and Davidson did on this CD. It was truly a remarkable work and should be heard as it is: a whole new group. Even Jackson´s voice is not as bad as some reviewers say (though it is also clear he is no Greg Lake!). The longer tracks Grand Canyon and Credo are the highlights here. Both show the band at its best, promising a future that would never come, but leaving a terrific gem for the future generations.

It took me several years to hear this album, but it was worth the wait. And I recommend to any symphonic prog fan. 4 strong stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#246308) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, October 26, 2009

Review by Kazuhiro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A situation not gone might necessarily have come in succession in details from "The Nice" to this band. Details that this Refugee had traced though the situation of changing places of the band and the musician who derived variously was a well-known fact were not able also to build a long history as a result.

The existence of Keith Emerson might have been important for "The Nice". It might have felt feelings of grief increasing for the member who had accepted the result of Keith Emerson's shifting to ELP for a fact. It flowed to the situation in which a separate route was established as a result though "The Nice" thought about the replenishment of the new member.

Brian Davison formed "Brain Davison's Every Which Way". This band performed to NationalJazz&BluesFestival and announced the album. However, the success that projected as a result was not able to be acquired. Lee Jackson formed "Jackson Heights". Own music character is left and men who challenged from the angle besides The Nice have left the album. However, it dissolves because of the activity of about three years. And, Brian Davison and Lee Jackson will be joined again as a result. And, it has the flow that schemes the reproduction of "The Nice".

Patrick Moraz had received the lesson of Violin, the piano, and the percussion instrument in the childhood. And, the music of Jazz and classics had been absorbed at the same time. Patrick Moraz performs to the contest at 17-year-old time and puts excellent results. And, Patrick Moraz had received the nomination that acquired the right of the lesson by Stephane Grappelli and went with the tour of John Coltrane. Patrick Moraz that learns Jazz and classics goes to Britain as follows and develops the place of the activity of music. "Mainhorse" of his own band was taken an active part to some degree. And, Patrick Moraz had details that had come in contact with the member of "Yes" at this time. And, it had Brian Davison, Lee Jackson, and the exchange.

A musician necessary to create the band that Brian Davison and Lee Jackson are new was Patrick Moraz. Patrick Moraz that held dissatisfaction in the activity of "Mainhorse" was just acknowledged to the invitation of the joining to a new band by Lee Jackson. Directionality concerning the construction of the exchange and the band that three people of the situation to date had done might have agreed by a fatal meeting. At that time, they might have tried to get the answer to music to active ELP. Refugee contracted to Charisma Label is announced in April, 1974. The producer has appointed John Burns known on business with Genesis.

The music character at which Brian Davison and Lee Jackson had aimed will have been exactly pursuit of the possibility of Trio. And, the element of development from "The Nice" might have been considered to some degree. The attempt in which the element of the song that Lee Jackson cultivated in the music of "Jackson Heights" is reflected in this band might be included. And, the existence of Patrick Moraz with an overwhelming technology is demonstrated in the activity of the following Yes. However, zeal individuality that they had them contain it in this Trio and at that time might be reflected in the music that they all did. Part where it challenged limit of Trio. And, the height of the perfection of Ensemble. Or, the construction of the composition of the tune will be able to be caught as symphonic of fine quality.

The element of classics and uniting symphonic of "Papillon" are complete. The expression and the dash feeling of an original sound are produced with the element of classical progressing. Part of dash feeling in which dynamics is multiused. Flow of keyboard that gives rhythm and anacatesthesia intermittently repeated. Line of Bass that produces aggressive sound. The music scale of the keyboard to get on a complete dash feeling and Chord and the processing of Ensemble might be splendid. This tune is a greeting from Refugee to complete.

A unique song of Lee Jackson contributes to "Someday". The sensibility of Patrick Moraz that applies Chord of a grand melody and good symphonic well might be splendid. The melody of Patrick Moraz that has both the element of Jazz and classics catches a lot and expresses a good part. The music character that they cultivated is splendidly expressed.

"Grand Canyon" will make the listener imagine the spectacle that nature began to make exactly. Construction of sound with transparent feeling and sound of swinging keyboard. Great power of nature is created. It is not only a part of complete symphonic and Ensemble is also complete. Dash feeling that appears intermittently. Part of grand melody sung attended with melody of acoustic piano. Processing to listen to part of union of melodies and average of sound with expression of feelings. Part of intermittent melody that continues tension. The performance of the band that puts a complete dash feeling on seven rhythms and combines will call impression. The composition is splendid.

The melody of the swinging keyboard produces the tension to "Ritt Mickley". The sound of the keyboard with a complete technology shifts to the part of good Groove with the performance of the band. It progresses as the sound with diversity twining. Element of classics that appear on the way. The usage of six rhythms and coming in succession of the melody give a good impression. Individuality and the possibility of this Trio might be completely drawn out. By the way, it is said that this "Ritt Mickley" was made from "Rhythmicaly" that Patrick Moraz pronounced to the name of a song.

"Credo" might be one of the highlights of this album. The tune starts from Solo of a grand, acoustic piano. The construction of a beautiful melody might be splendid. The piano and the keyboard advance with the element of classics completely. A solemn impression continues. And, it listens to a composition that has the tension and the dash feeling and is splendid an advanced song and to perform. The performance of the band that consistently constructs the part of grand symphonic might have good zeal. Melody of song with expression of feelings. Part of six rhythms in which it listens to complete ensemble. The tune gradually receives the top. And, their maximum charms explode completely.

The activity of Refugee never continued long. However, the music character that they constructed with this band might be symphonic Rock expressed with a complete technology and the idea.

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Send comments to Kazuhiro (BETA) | Report this review (#266653) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Patrick Moraz does a fantastic job bringing freshness to bands. Relayer from Yes, for example, sounds unlike any other Yes album despite having a distinctive Yes sound (something of a paradox, I suppose). And Moraz, taking over for Keith Emerson who left to form ELP, places his stamp on this group, even though the name changed. In fact, this one album practically oozes keyboard, as the other two members just sort of hang around in the backdrop most of the time. Moraz mostly does some interesting and often spectacular keyboard theatrics, making use of a variety of sounds and styles. Unfortunately, this is one pairing that just doesn't ever mesh for me. The drumming is decent, the bass playing lame, and the singing ranges from okay to horrendous. The only outstanding aspect is the keyboard work that dominates the record and some of the (ruined) vocal melodies. I can't say I'm a fan of the overall product.

"Papillon" The opener boasts involved, technically demanding piano and synthesizer work that rivals the best of ELP. Even still, there's an annoying, warbling, buzzing synthesizer thread that's strung through the middle.

"Someday" The first song of the album introduces (or re-introduces) the listener to one of the most irritating voices of progressive rock. Surely Lee Jackson has decent moments, but much of the time, the man uses this whiny, grating, nasally voice that surely cannot be natural! The music is okay, but the vocals are almost too distracting to even pay much attention to it.

"Grand Canyon" Using light synthetic textures, the opening of this extended track reminds me of music from Olias of Sunhillow by Jon Anderson, only with some bass jamming that somewhat robs the beginning of its grand effect. As Brian Davidson works out his snare, Moraz showcases his immense talent and dynamic ability. Abruptly it turns into a classical piano piece that manages to incorporate a bit of jazz. Jackson is inoffensive as a singer when he arrives. Without transition (again), the music turns into quick bites of incoherent organ and drums. What follows is tremendously overindulgent, gaudy, and downright goofy, although after a while, the music takes shape and symphonic splendor returns, albeit briefly.

"Ritt Mickley" Thick, spacey synthesizers begin this one. After it sounds like someone has knocked over everything in the kitchen, a coherent piece of music begins, and it's quite decent, charming in many ways. It's happy, upbeat, full of whimsical keyboard moments, and downright entertaining, even if rhythmically simplistic.

"Credo" The extended finale of the album begins with ominous piano. Indeed, the piano plays a large role; even when handling the background and letting Jackson solo on his swampy-sounding bass, Moraz's fingers are incredibly busy. A church organ interlude interrupts the whole piece close to the middle. Jackson's voice grows increasingly grating, though thankfully is pushed down in the mix in a few places. Too bad, because the vocal melody is quite good most of the time. Overall, "Credo" is needlessly lengthy, basically pasting several unrelated bits together (a common but usually ineffective method of composition in my opinion). Some of those bits are good, and others aren't.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#283322) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 24, 2010

Review by ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This Is Neither Nice Nor a Strat Copy

(Scene - London 1973) Tony Stratton-Smith chuckled inwardly at being considered the founder of 'Charisma' and nursed tenderly a triple scotch chaser in a nicotine beige hand as he saw his two hirsute visitors appear through swathes of cigar fog from one of the capital's trendiest watering holes. Before appraising the unknown Swiss as a bona fide 'cutie' or allowing either Lee Jackson or Patrick Moraz to open their mouths in the Speakeasy, 'Strat' pre-empted their question:

Yes, if it's what I think you want. Come and see me in the office in the morning...lovely leathers...whose your friend Lee?

So it came to pass that what was planned as an attempt to jump-start the gravity bound 'Jackson Heights' gained sufficient momentum to result in one of the very finest but unjustly neglected Symphonic Prog albums to have been created in the early 70's (and beyond) Such are the unpromising ingredients and conflation of inauspicious circumstances that precipitated it's entry to the world, the status of Refugee is starting to take on the mantle of a miraculous and glorious fluke.

In the aftermath of the breakup of the Nice, fate had bestowed unimaginable riches on Emerson, been charitable to Jackson and positively miserly with poor Brian Davison.The latter's career had stalled in the interim due to a largely uninspired solo vehicle 'Every Which Way' and a drink problem that was spiralling out of control. Short stints with welsh soap-dodgers Man, Et Cetera and Gong provided Blinky with some income but with both a marriage and it's solution 'on the rocks', the drummer was going downhill fast before the salvation afforded by the formation of this trio.

Lee Jackson had garnered positive and encouraging reviews for his band 'Jackson Heights' but sales had proved elusive for a project that had sincerity and craftsmanship in abundance but memorable song-writing conspicuous by it's absence. When Lee and Patrick started to write together they quickly realised the material was going to be much heavier than the 'soft white underbelly of rock' represented by the modest Jackson Heights and considerably more symphonic in it's scope than even the Nice. They needed a drummer capable of handling such ambitious and complex music, step/stagger forward one Brian Davison.

Papillon - A rollicking instrumental so-named on account of the band having recently viewed the Steve McQueen movie of the same name and the rather more tenuous association of the Moog sound effects resembling the beating of the wings of a butterfly (That's 20-20 hearing fellas, capable of fart detection in ants I'd hazard?) The first thing you notice is how brilliant and 'musical' a drummer Davison is when a sympathetic engineer is allowed to capture in crystalline detail all the subtle and powerful embellishments and accents imbued in his playing. We are witness on Refugee to probably the greatest recorded performances of Blinky's life. Moraz provided enough clues with his formative band 'Mainhorse' to suggest he was a keyboard giant just waiting to happen and the assuredness of his technique, the ferocity of the textures employed and the rapid juxtaposition of stylistic references is quite breathtaking to behold. Alternately bombastic baroque, coruscating rock, visceral symphonic, horror movie creepy, jazz fluid, slyly and self depreciatively amusing (Lee clearly can't resist some reciprocal comedic bowed bass dialogue) plus some high tempo unison passages sufficient to have jaws raining from the skies all go to make this 5 minutes of your life that is mercifully available on 'repeat'

Someday - Blinky did not it seems have a monopoly on domestic discord at this point as illustrated by a soul searching song by Jackson ruminating on the breakup of his first marriage. There is no doubting the sincerity of his lyrics here as they run the gamut of conciliatory, bitter, frustrated and affectionate until the track's conclusion.

Someday I'll turn my back, lock the house and give up the pain and I'll go and take my peace Gonna sail away for a life and a day and I know that someday you're gonna feel the pain

The sleepy electric piano and boisterous pitch bend synth interludes provided by Moraz are spine tinglingly superb and the band display a firm grasp of how to build and release tension at all the appropriate places. One of the most polarizing aspects of any music featuring Mr Jackson is his singing (or lack of, as some would venture) I admit he cannot 'sing' in the conventional sense that an Anderson, Wetton or Gabriel can, but most of my favourite vocalists are similarly blighted by this failing (e.g. Robert Smith, John Cale, John Lydon, Mark E. Smith) and it has not impacted on my love for their voices one iota. I can only offer that there is more emotion, candour and vulnerability in Lee's Novocastrian tonsils than there is in some of the entire discographies of more celebrated technicians. At least the results post-Nice are assuaged by him getting to choose the key for this material, which is more than Emerson ever offered (Keith was loathe to transpose any Nice compositions from their original key to fit Jackson's very limited range as he thought rather naively that all singers should be able to sing any song in any key)

Grand Canyon Suite - Just in case you're wondering, yes that is an alpine horn you can hear and it is 'blown' very convincingly by Moraz as if it were orchestral brass added to the mix. A very cinematic and credibly symphonic intro worthy of Richard Strauss prepares us for a piece that was inspired by a documentary about this famous natural landmark viewed by both composer Moraz and lyricist Jackson.

The message is a tad cryptic but it centres around a dream Lee had where he saw himself flying using his arms as wings above the Grand Canyon courtesy of erm... astral travel:

When you go home and sleep this night, dream of wings and astral flight Fly with the speed of waking light and we'll go and I'll show you the way to the Grand Canyon

The sung portions have a commanding yet stately humility that would be paradoxical but for those very few souls like Jackson who can reconcile such conflicting elements satisfactorily and with an inconsolable melancholy that is genuinely affecting. It carries a sublime melody that Patrick improvises over and embellishes quite ingeniously during a jazzy piano solo that never fails to impress. Thereafter we are privy to Moraz writing an indelible chapter of Progressive Rock that even if he were to attempt Eval Knievel's leap across the Grand Canyon (minus the jet powered bike) would leave his mourners with some of the best keyboard playing, sounds and compositional rigour to be found in the entire genre to mollify their loss. Rest assured however, this is not a one man band show-boating his incredible skills and roomy equipment truck but a three way dialogue where all the participants contribute their inimitable personalities and abilities in a bartered synergy. (Jackson knows his limitations both vocally and on bass and wisely never overreaches himself throughout) Take note of that wonderful gradual accelerando ramp featuring the indivisible snare and keys of Blinky and Moraz respectively which meld into a dizzying blur before the whole band explode into the glorious central theme of the suite and just bow in supplication (We are not worthy) They even resuscitate fleetingly the 'rumpty tumpty' rhythm calling card of Rondo but the latter never sounded this elegant or noble in Keith's speed reading of same.

Ritt Mickley - Jackson's teasing of Patrick's halting Swiss accent was the source of the title (the keyboard wizard pronounced 'rhythmically' this way much to the bass player and drummer's amusement) After some unaccompanied rubato clavinet funnelled through the whooshiest phaser gizmo that money could buy in 1974, proceedings are momentarily halted by the sound of breaking glass before the main course arrives in the shape of a synth heavy groove that flirts coquettishly with (gulp) 'funky'. Thereafter the muse turns classically inspired with a wantonly buoyant section that shares the same joyous and irreverent abandon as that shown by the Nice towards Intermezzo from Karelia Suite.The guttural and staccato fade on clavinet proves what I've been saying for years (Billy Preston was white)

Credo - The second heavyweight slug fest on the album and it's a veritable belter from start to finish. Listen carefully to how Moraz's piano on the neurotic but eloquent introduction assimilates and quotes themes from the subsequent sung melodies and treats these phrases with the academic discipline of formal symphonic writing. He also punningly alludes to the line 'climb the Spanish stair' with a mock flamenco gravitas take on something that Lalo or Villa Lobos might have written. After the opening verse there ensues a section which is redolent of 'latin' but mercifully doesn't succumb to the oily wiggling hips of Chick Corea or the execrable Santana. A liturgical mood is summoned by church organ over which Lee ladles a passion and urgency on a hymnal melody that leaves a large footprint on the memory ever hence. Yes, he does sound as if he's being asphyxiated from within a spacesuit but for me, it's a very moving performance. I'm not going to pretend I know what the lyrics are about but the gist seems to be Jackson's rejection of the strict dogma of his catholic upbringing being supplanted by his own learned experience of the world at first hand. (A spiritual but secular humanism if you will) Irrespective of what floats yer teleological boat, you can accelerate those forehead wrinkles by pondering the following:

I believe and you believe and we believe that we're free and the air don't cost a thing to a bird with a broken wing The wisest king of all left his wisdom on the wall The queue forms beside me as I sing my credo to a lost cause

Then again, it just might be a veiled disillusion with the hippy idealism he lived through and saw cast asunder by the corporate commodification of aesthetics and greed (Man).

Perhaps the falsetto scat singing interlude was ill advised but if it is Jackson singing, he conspires to hit all the notes accurately and I can only surmise it was after 143 vein bulging takes with his gonads wedged tightly in a vice (Thank you for suffering for your art Mr Jackson)

The ending instrumental music is brilliantly arranged, ever changing and undergoes many detours in tempo, meter, key, texture and dynamics along the exhilarating way. So much of this album has a hard edged and unsentimental muscularity that prevents it from lapsing into some of the clichés inherent in the stylistic sources it borrows so freely from.

The late Brian Davison and Lee Jackson must be the two unluckiest men in rock: not only did they lose the greatest rock keyboard player of all time to ELP in 1970, they also lost perhaps the 2nd greatest rock keyboard player of all time in 1975. (some say that's just careless but Yes don't take 'No' for an answer) Surely a double whammy for two bands neither of which boasted a guitarist?

I think the pressure and scrutiny on Patrick Moraz would have been sufficient to break many a lesser man having been asked to fill the daunting shoes of both Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. That he did so with such aplomb and contributed to both Relayer and Refugee his own unique personality and vision of the music, is testimony to his integrity and strength of will. Kudos are also due to the great and dearly departed Tony Stratton-Smith, without whom so much progressively minded music would never have seen the light of day. It would have been very tempting and lucrative for 'Strat' to market 'Refugee' as 'the Nice Mark II', but he never did this and saw them in the same way we should all see them now: A completely original Progressive Rock band whose sole album is one of the finest of any genre you care to name.

Hunt down and lure this critter out of hiding soon Prog lovers, you won't regret it.

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Send comments to ExittheLemming (BETA) | Report this review (#308368) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 05, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars Before joining Yes for the "Relayer" album, Patrick Moraz briefly teamed up with Keith Emerson's cohorts from The Nice, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison, and came up with this lone album.

Despite the absence of Emerson, the style and sound of this album is nearly identical to The Nice, minus some of the silliness. Moraz plays primarily on the Hammond organ and piano, and while not as bombastic as Emerson in approach, uses a similar combination of jazz and classical stylings. His synth work on the other hand, has a more Wakeman-like feel. The speed and fluidity of his playing shows why Yes chose him as a suitable replacement.

The songs are reminiscent of The Nice, with symphonic sections, which give way all too often to simplistic one chord jamming. Jackson and Davison sound faster and tighter than on the Emerson albums, But Jackson's barroom vocals are still much too grating for this style of music.

The best tracks are the opener, Papillon, and the long closer Credo. But all of the tracks are saved by Moraz' great keyboard work.

4 stars, despite the vocals.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#393204) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 03, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Although it would be both incorrect and unfair to write Refugee's sole studio album off as simply being Patrick Moraz' audition tape for his short-lived spot in Yes, I do wonder whether it would have received what attention it has received if it didn't include both an early appearance of Moraz before the work he's most known to prog fans for on the one hand, and a latter-day appearance by Lee Jackson and Brian Davison of The Nice.

Of course, it would also be incorrect to regard Refugee as a continuation of The Nice by other means; despite retaining the power trio format, Moraz showboats less as a keyboardist and has mildly different classical influences. At the same time, the album is a competent and enjoyable collection of prog compositions which fail to really offer anything in the way of a unique selling point. It feels to me as though the band put the album out a shade too early - that if they had a bit more time to both refine their compositions and to actually hit on a distinctive personality and sound for the band rather than sounding as flat and generic as they do here, they might have been on to something.

As it stands, it's nice, but I can see why Charisma passed up the chance to sign them on for a second album and I can also see why Moraz left for Yes, because there were some genuinely interesting and innovative stuff happening in the Yes camp at the time whilst this album sounds like a mild throwback to previous phases of the prog revolution. Quite simply, Davison and Jackson had fallen behind the rest of the prog pack, and Moraz' talents only really had an opportunity to shine when Jon Anderson and crew gave him a chance to join them at the cutting edge.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#897442) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars A real progressive rock gem. What a real keyboard driven prog album this is! Patrick Moratz is absolutely ON FIRE through this whole record, and he is definetly up there with the likes of Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord and Keith Emerson. I love the whole album, especially the long suites "Grand Can ... (read more)

Report this review (#473379) | Posted by Moonstone | Friday, July 01, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The Storyline is like this: Keith Emerson leaves The Nice and forms ELP. The rest of The Nice recruits the Swiss genious Patrick Moraz some years later. The result is this album and a live album. I believe Refugee was casting some glances over towards ELP and the instant success they got. T ... (read more)

Report this review (#226014) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, July 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My favourite keyboard-based progressive rock album. Excellent work from Moraz and possibly Davison's finest hour. Definitely a 5- star album. The synthesiser solo on 'Someday' is a particular highlight and demonstrates great musicality and expressiveness. Overall, the album is very 'Northern ... (read more)

Report this review (#154710) | Posted by sonic | Saturday, December 08, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The chances of ex Nice members, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison finding a Keyboard player as inventive and virtuosic as Keith Emerson to collaborate with seemed slim indeed, but find one they did in the relatively unknown (at the time) Patrick Moraz. Moraz is one of those rare musicians that ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#87300) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Refugee formed by the former bass player and former drummer at NICE teamed up with Swiss keyboard player Patrick Moraz. Their only album released in 1974, REFUGEE is one of these "must have" albums, if you really like the progressive rock genre. That is, prog rock with massive keyboards and ba ... (read more)

Report this review (#67885) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 01, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I fell in love with this album on first hearing it whole. (Alan Freeman played Ritt Mickley often on the BBC radio Saturday Rock Show). What a stunner!! Moraz is the clear musical genius in this set up but well supported by both bass and drums though not so well with the vocals. The extended theme ... (read more)

Report this review (#46347) | Posted by | Sunday, September 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The quintessance of prog. This is no half-baked ELP wannabe, nor is Patrick a 50% Keith. He's a 100% Moraz ! Just listen to the textures and sounds he extracts from his arsenal of keyboards on both Grand Canyon and Credo. The vocals are not on the same level, but for once Jackson is less raspy ... (read more)

Report this review (#27788) | Posted by | Tuesday, April 05, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Five stars of incredible keyboard fatigues - this is Patrick's great revenge over Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman - and that's all (no beautiful voice, no great songs, no bass & guitar)... but it's (almost) all for us progsters, isn't it? ... (read more)

Report this review (#27782) | Posted by | Tuesday, July 13, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, I can only say it's one of the greatest masterpieces of whole prog rock (that I've already heard). The album is dominated by breathtaking Moraz keabord playing on such tracks as "Papillon", "Ritt Mickley", "Credo" (great "spanish" piano introduction) or "Someday" (just BEAUTIFUL moog solo in t ... (read more)

Report this review (#27776) | Posted by | Tuesday, March 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I got a whole lot of records with progressive music,mainly from 67-75 and this one stands out as something very fresh,powerful.beautiful,strong and in every way a perfect piece of work. Thank you Patrick,Lee and Brian ,ifly over the mighty Colorado with you It`s a shame they didn`t made more al ... (read more)

Report this review (#27779) | Posted by | Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Yes i know...yet another 5 star review from me...but hey i cant help it. As i own much of these wonderfull records myself,it would be kind of strange to "dump" them musically and otherwise. Refugee...are the wonderfull trio (unfortunately their only outing!) of Patrick Moraz (ex-Mainhorse,another ... (read more)

Report this review (#27778) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Friday, February 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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