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Alquin Marks album cover
3.83 | 102 ratings | 11 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Oriental Journey (4:22)
2. The Last You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers (2:25)
3. Soft Royce (6:57)
4. Mr. Barnum Jr's Magnificent & Fabulous City (5:36)
5. I Wish I Could (11:27)
6. You Always Can Change (3:04)
7. Marc's Occasional Showers (3:21)
8. Catharine's Wig (2:31)

Total Time: 40:17

Bonus track on 2009 remaster :
9. Hard Royce (1973 B-side) (2:40)

Line-up / Musicians

- Job Tarenskeen / vocals, alto, tenor & sopranino saxophones, percussion
- Ferdinand Bakker / guitar, piano, ARP synth, violin, vocals
- Dick Franssen / organ, piano, e-piano
- Ronald Ottenhoff / alto, tenor & soprano saxophones, flute
- Hein Mars / bass, vocals
- Paul Weststrate / drums, vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Josien Mars

LP Polydor ‎- 2925 012 (1972, Netherlands)
LP Music On Vinyl ‎- MOVLP618 (2012, Europe) New cover

CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC2144 (2009, UK) Remastered by Ben Wiseman with a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ALQUIN Marks ratings distribution

(102 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(59%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ALQUIN Marks reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hits the "mark" big time..

This album was such a pleasant surprise. Alquin is a Dutch band that released this monster debut in 1972. What makes it so impressive is the tons of variety here: songwriting with some real flair and pizazz, great chops, and very good sound. Rather than simply being influenced by the English giants you have a feisty bunch of songs that challenge them on their own turf, getting right in there and throwing a few elbows around. This is music that is delightfully playful, shimmering in melodies, and balances nicely the instrumental prowess proggers love-but it does so while constantly changing from one fresh idea to the next rather than getting lost in endless jamming. This is where I differ starkly in opinion from most reviewers here and elsewhere. Most people prefer their second album because they say it streamlined their sound and grabbed a heavier groove, the latter of which is true for sure. But I don't think that makes it better. From my vantage point now that made the 2nd album sound a lot more like so many other albums in the 70s with long, sometimes repetitive jamming that began leading down the road to the less exciting 3rd and 4th release. I prefer this debut because it is such a smrgsbord of influences, but always injected with a big dose of enthusiasm and irreverence. You can just tell how excited they are here and every track has something that makes me smile. Some will say there are too many influences here and too many directions but I disagree-they do hold it together and it's very satisfying. I don't like "Marks" just a little better than "Mountain Queen," I like it a lot better. Frankly, it's just more damn fun even if it doesn't rock as hard as MQ.

"Oriental Journey" begins with flute and acoustic guitar soon joined by bass and e piano in a most delightful Canterburyish sound. The guitar joins and the track really picks up with some effects drenched leads that morphs into a crazy moment of street parade music, like Mardi Gras or something. A door slams and the song shifts again, horns come and go and there's an air of psychedelic whimsy afoot. I hear Supersister, Camel, and Caravan it this great freakin opener. It leads right into "The Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers" which is a jazzy melody with horns. Half way through it stops and the second half sounds a bit like Traffic with a little improv sax over piano to very minimal percussion. "Soft Royce" is a smashing track with a jazzy sax and bass highlighted by a blistering solo early on, then there is a sort of Santana-type rhythm that erupts in the middle. Again, very playful and loose in attitudes while staying deadly serious on the tight chops. After some rousing vocals there is a laid back organ section with nice rhythm guitar behind it. Another sax solo follows this, the musicianship is top notch and the sound is great for '72. The 11-minute plus centerpiece here is the stunning "I Wish I Could." This incredible song opens with a Floydian sounding fuzzed guitar over mellotron. The similarities to "Echoes" seem possible as the track slowly builds until about half-way through when acoustic guitar and a tempo change leads to some vocal verses. Some have criticized the vocals and while not the strongest I think they're just fine, a bit of an accent on the English but it's not a big deal. Strong presence of bass and flute accent the imaginative guitar licks dancing around the singing. The production is great with sound that allows every musician to be heard very well. The song is laid back but so lush and spacious, waves of floating keys but plenty of hooks. "You Can Always Change" is a simple and pleasant ballad with great melody. "Marc's Occasional Showers" begins with sax and rapid-fire cymbals to brisk guitar chords. The sax becomes very serene and peaceful in the second half with lovely vocal harmonies dressing the window. "Catharine's Wig" closes the album with eccentricity again. A folksy number with violin and bouncy bass it would sound a bit out of place anywhere else, but here is works.

This is a very easy recommendation to anyone who loves Supersister and Caravan but would like to hear a different twist, a little mischief, a buffet with all the tasty standbys but also some weird looking side dishes that you need to be dared to try. If you're just a meat and potatoes rocker, proceed to their 2nd album. Or if you can find the Polydor "2 on 1" series, you can get both of them on one CD. Now that's a picnic no one can turn their nose up to. 4 plus stars. Perhaps not groundbreaking but on the quality and musical enjoyment level it is a masterful work. This music lifts my spirits in a big way.

Review by friso
4 stars The debut of Dutch progressive rock group Alquin is one of the better classic prog albums from Holland. Heavily influenced by both Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and perhaps other rock acts with wind-sections Alquin came up with a nice blend of styles of their own. On the the debut Alquin also has some nice humor in the music and song-titles which add to the pleasant & playful listening experience. Alquin's sound is made up of organ's and piano's on the background, a jazzy rhythmical section, a melodic guitar style and nice sax and flutes by Ottenhof and Tarenskeen. Alquin makes little use of reverbs and echoes, which gives the music a Canterbury-like dryness to it. The diversity of the first side is very exciting, the band engages in many different themes, styles and atmospheres. Along the way we get some jazz-rock, some psychedelic passages, slightly dreamy passages, some playfulness and moments of subtle beauty. Only the last part of side one (with the violin experimentation) is a bit boring in my opinion. On the second side Alquin shows a different face; with an extended Pink Floyd like symphonic/spacey intro of 'I wish I could' and emotional song-writing & performance during the second halve of the track. The song-writing on the next tracks proves to be effective and the instrumental ending track leaves us with a good feeling.

Conclusion. The slightly naive & wild experimentation on side one and the song-writing on side two are winners for me and I can give this record the big three-and-a-halve rating. Recommended to fans of eclectic prog, jazz-rock and classic progressive music in general.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars First album from this Dutch sextet (the standard prog quartet, plus two wind players), released late 72 and coming with a fairly ugly potato album artwork (although a red fingerprint graced the export (British) version), Marks is a rather pleasant surprise (at least many moments are), as it is sounding much like its own, despite a wide pot-pourri of influences and ambiances gathered a bit all over the musical map. The group took its roots in 69 in Delft (the University town between The Hague and Rotterdam), when three students began playing R&B as Threshold Fear, then slowly expanded to a sextet, recorded a single, then changed its name into Alquin in late 71 to Alquin, based on a local monastery.

The very Genesis-like guitar-arpeggio and flute intro of the instrumental Oriental Journey opens the album on an enjoyable note, the rest of the band gradually kicking in soon, before the flute veers Asian and the band passes clutches in the turbo which will lead into a great finale. A tad Canterbury-ish but mainly its own self and a tremendous opener. The following The Least You (also an instrumental) starts off a bit goofily, but calms down superbly in its second section. The Traffic-ian 7-mins Soft Royce is probably the highlight of the album, with its beautiful jazzy ambiance and constantly changing time sigs, including some bossa nova, but the short vocal bits are a bit surprising in their rawness, but the track goes on mercilessly until a fading telephone tonality draws it to a close. The Barnum track (I'm guessing it was ousted to fit those Polydor 2on1 discs) is a low-key improv piece that borders on the dissonant side with a String Driven Thing-like violin to boot. A mainly instrumental A-side contrasting somewhat with the much wordier flipside.

The 11-mins+ I Wish I Could is a slow crescendoing track where a psychedelic twangy guitar gradually speeds up over the superb Floydian organ underneath, until midway through where the rather clumsy vocals enters for a few verses with a flute separating the first, while a guitar adds some dramatics. Unfortunately the sung passages are over- staying their welcome and unfortunately disserving the track. The following piano and acoustic guitar ballad of You Always Can Change is not one of my fave of the album, but it does retain some charm, especially in the moody ending. As always, the Dutch try to infuse some humour in the music and here it is in the form of thunderstorm bolts that announces the instrumental Marc's Occasional Shower with sax and clarinets, while the folky Catherine's Wig has the fiddle diddling with diverse winds, but both tracks provide an unfitting close to an otherwise fine album. The Esoteric remaster has a short bonus track, the b-side of a single and obviously a wink atr their Soft Royce track and it features heavy guitar and Beefheart-style vocals. Barely in line with the rest of the album, but not shockingly different.

This album will be strong enough to have the group be part of that Dutch wave of groups ala Earring, Supersister, Focus, Ekseption/Trace, and Alquin will gain some exposure in England by playing the Grey whistle Test TV show, leading to opening some show for The Who in France a while later. Too bad this debut album will be their most inventive and their future albums will not foray further in the avenues that Alquin opened for themselves, here. Indeed the following MQ will be a flawed but good successor, but after that, the group will sporadically have moments of greatness glimpsed in this present album, but for the most will produce average pomp rock music. In some ways, this album could be assimilated to a wiser early Supersister (same producer, so that helps) but much wiser and less virtuoso. Marginally better than their second album, but Alquin remains a second division Dutch group, leaving no essential trace in their country's rock scene compared to Focus, Earring or that Super Sister.

Review by patrickq
3 stars The eclectic Marks starts off sounding like Camel playing Canterbury, but three minutes in, they sound like a Dixieland brass section.

But at least at the outset, the eclecticism is kept within bounds; the first three numbers, "Oriental Journey," "The Least You Could Do is Send Me Some Flowers," and "Soft Royce," jazzily cycle through a fixed set of styles. And at first, it seems "Mr. Barnum Jr.'s Magnificent & Fabulous City" will be more of the same, but it morphs from a spirited chamber piece to a fiddlin' hoedown which goes a bit avant-garde toward the end. The bounded eclecticism of the first three songs doesn't return until the album-closer, "Catharine's Wig."

The Camel-infused Pink Floyd tribute "I Wish I Could," which opens Side Two, is my favorite song here; interestingly, "Marc's Occasional Showers," which comes later, might've made a nice coda to this one. And then there's "You Always Can Change." I wonder if Alquin was influenced by groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, insofar as this short number, suitable for release as a single, sounds a little out of place on the album. But it's a nice song.

Released in 1972, Marks must have been an unconventional debut. It suffers from an unlikely combination of unrealized ambition and unnecessary repetition. But it's performed quite well, and the sound is good. At any rate, Alquin would surpass Marks the following year with The Mountain Queen, which would be my recommended starting point for those interested in this band.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Without question one of the better albums to come out of The Netherlands. Released in 1972 with a rather bland album cover this is the debut of this 6 piece band. It's jazzy with two guys playing sax but also spacey with the Arp synths in play and there's also a Canterbury vibe that has such a strong appeal to my musical tastes. The flute is prominent and the guitarist also adds violin, the synths I was talking about and piano. We get vocals but there's mostly instrumental music on this release.

Best track by far is the 11 1/2 minute "I Wish I Could" which actually has a Krautrock vibe that I greatly appreciate. The organ stews to begin with as it starts to build with that Krautrock flavour. Drums before 2 minutes then a complete change 4 minutes in as we get organ only before it's replaced with relaxed guitar then the organ returns. Reserved vocals 5 minutes in then it turns more powerful before the flute leads 6 minutes in as the vocals step aside. They are back at 7 minutes as themes are repeated. Sax will lead then synths end it. Great track!

There isn't a weak song on here in my opinion but also none that really standout like "I Wish I Could". The opener does not sound Oriental at all despite the title. The flute really stands out on this one. Love that trippy sound before the guitar kicks in and the tempo picks up. Contrasts continue. "Soft Royce" is pretty good with that warm and laid back sound with sax leading. A change before 1 1/2 minutes as it kicks into gear with drums and guitar as the piano and sax step aside. Again contrasts continue and we get vocals at 3 1/2 minutes as it settles back and I really like the organ after 4 minutes. Check out the uptempo violin on that fourth track when the tempo picks up at 3 1/2 minutes and yes I'm dancing around the house at this point. So catchy.

A very consistent album and I like the thunder to open "Marc's Occasional Showers" yes these guys have a sense of humour. Multi-vocal melodies follow before 1 1/2 minutes and then flute replaces vocals. The closer is violin led and catchy as well and then we get that mellow poppy number called "You Always Can Change" with those reserved vocals. A solid 4 stars for this 40 minute album and I look forward to reviewing the followup they did to this that is supposed to be really good as well.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Despite producing only one album, Alquin earned a musically unique place in the progressive rock history - the lads created an original and attractive blend of progressive rock, Canterbury, pop and space rock. One time you hear Supersister influence, then comes Pink Floyd or Focus into mind. Hi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2153344) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, March 8, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars There's not much I can say about Alquin, as I do not really know anything except this album. They're a dutch band formed somewhere around the early 70's, and only released 5 albums, and this one, Marks, is their first. Oriental Journey starts with a flute and acoustic guitar prologue, very si ... (read more)

Report this review (#290834) | Posted by The Runaway | Sunday, July 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Nice album for this band. Very harmonic and balanced with a good work in guitar with a old pedal effect but efficient. The sax remember me the calm night and all this atmosphere. Some parts remember me Meedle Pink Floyd but they are short that it reveals that this work are not a copy. The mell ... (read more)

Report this review (#231482) | Posted by Joo Paulo | Friday, August 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great debut album from these Dutch musicians.Very good studio sound,nice interplay of musicians mixing world grooves,symphonic passages full of melody,atmospheric (a bit dark sometimes) keyboard and guitar parts dressed by flute,sax and voice,well performed jazzy parts,plus violin.In a few words, ... (read more)

Report this review (#171068) | Posted by Heraclitos | Thursday, May 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Alquins debut album is their most versatile album. You can hear snippets of calypso, circus music, Dixieland and country music. But most of it is progressive rock with a jazzy feel. It is largely instrumental, but there are some tracks with vocals. It is produced by Hans van Oosterhout who has ... (read more)

Report this review (#73663) | Posted by Agemo | Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very interesting debut album by Dutch band Alquin. On "Marks" they sound like a mix of fellow Dutch band Finch with Caravan, the latter because of the gentle style of the compositions and the use of saxes and flutes. The highlight is the mini-suite "Soft Royce/Mr. Barnum Jr's Magnificent and ... (read more)

Report this review (#45155) | Posted by Prosciutto | Thursday, September 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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