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Bo Hansson

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Bo Hansson El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down] album cover
3.68 | 56 ratings | 7 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Utvandring: Mäster kanin - Femman - Hassel - Silflay - Utvandring forts
(Migration: a. Master Rabbit b. Fiver c. Hazel d. Silflay e. Migration Continued) (16:35)
2. Patrull (Patrol) (1:23)
3. Skogen (The Forrest) (3:39)
4. Flykt (The Escape) (4:10)
5. Watership Down (Watership Down) (9:38)

Total time 35:25

Bonus track on 2004 remaster:
6. Migration Suite (Live in the studio) (11:45)

NOTE: Alternative titles on some editions
1 Born of the Gentle South
2 Allegro for Rescue
3 Legend and Light
4 Trial and Adversity
5 The Twice-Victory / The Kingdom Brightly Smiles

Line-up / Musicians

- Bo Hansson / piano, keyboards, bass, guitars, tambourine, co-producer

- Kenny Håkansson / guitar, bass
- Sten Bergman / flute
- Torbjörn Ekman / wooden flute
- Thomas Netzler / bass
- Göran Lagerberg / bass
- Fredrik Norén / drums
- Bo Skoglund / drums, maracas

Releases information

Artwork: Lojsa Af Geijerstam

LP YTF ‎- YTF-50350 E (1977, Sweden)
LP Charisma ‎- 206 961-270 (1977, Europe) Different cover art and alternative track titles

CD Virgin ‎- 724386614025 (2004, Europe) Remastered by Paschal Byrne with a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BO HANSSON El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down] ratings distribution

(56 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BO HANSSON El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down] reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Proghead
3 stars I really thought "Attic Thoughts" was one of Bo HANSSON's best. For "Music Inspired by Watership Down", he decided to do another album similar to "Lord of the Rings", that is recording an album inspired by a book. Unfortunately, I really thought BO HANSSON really ended up in a dead-end here, really adding nothing new or surprising that he hadn't already done better on previous albums. It's not a bad album, but I really got a feeling he wasn't really going anywhere. The songs are quite a bit longer than anything he's done before, and I don't have complaints of the length of songs. Just that it's a bit lacking in inspiration. It's just good as well that this would be his final album (until he released an album in 1985 called "Mitt I Livet" before going in to seclusion once again, with rumors of poor health). Definately start with "Lord of the Rings" and work your way forward before coming here.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I have to disagree with Proghead here, whilst Watership Down is not as good as Attic Thoughts it is still a very good, all round album. ' Born of The Gentle South' which takes up the majority of side one is a 17 minute classic and the production as a whole is excellent. As technology improved so did the production quality and it seemed that as Hansson developed his musical style the sound quality improved too. The wood flutes and delicate guitar licks throughout this album together with the richly layered keyboard sounds lend tribute to what an excellent album this is.' Trial and Adversity' and 'The Twice Victory' on side two are great tracks although the latter does sound more like a film score and loses it's way occassionally. This was the last great work from Hansson and apart from ' Mitt I Livet' an album released in 1985 ( Have not heard it but apparently very poor)Hansson virtually disappeared off the face of the earth! Rumours abound of ill health, destitution and mere reclusive lifestyle, but I would love to know what happened to such a fine musician and how even with the advent of the punk revolution Bo Hansson simply vanished into the ether.
Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I personally love the fourth Bo Hannson's album. It's a cohesive and mature work builded up around relaxing melodies and warm colours. These elements are well imprinted in the opener, the magnum opus titled "Born in the Gentle South" (16,35 minutes). The nordic influence are more sparse, now, keyboards and synthesizers have the most prominent role. The other tracks are in the same vein, slow for the most part with many surprises and unespected changing of tempos that enrich the arrangements. "The Twice Victory" (8,14 minutes) is the other most evident example with an orchestral and anguishing (I don't know why, but it is so) structure.

The titles of the songs are inspired by the verses of famous english poets, Shakespeare and Keats, for instance. The more melancholic sound demonstrates the the disillusionment of Bo Hansson for the music press of that time. Indifference was what they gave him for the release of this jewel! Nowadays seems to be not very different from 1977: I saw in fact many people saying this album is the weakest of his (not large) production. I tell you the truth: Watership Down is the album I listened to the most. It's a sort of hymn, sometimes giving us the opportunity to escape from our reality and travel far from home. In fact the sound is dreamy and floating and the electric guitar shows some references to Pink Floyd.

The bad thing is that it is the last Hansson's album and, for another time, it's sad to see that also this artist had to stop his solo career after so high levels of quality.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars It would seem that Bo was maybe trying to capture the magic of his debut with this his fourth album, as it also is inspired by literature. For me though this is my least favourite of his first four studio albums.

"Born In The Gentle South" is the longest track by far at around 16 1/2 minutes. Keyboards and guitar keep swapping the lead here as we get a beat and synths coming and going. It settles before 6 minutes then picks back up. Some attitude before 11 minutes for over a minute. Flute before 13 minutes. "Allegro For A Rescue" is a short guitar led piece. Never heard guitar like this on a Hansson record before.

"Legend And Light" is led by piano early. A beat arrives a minute in. The song kicks in after 2 minutes briefly then again later. No flow to this one. "Trial And Adversity" is much better as it's kind of dreamy with a beat and keys. "The Twice-Victory" is slow moving with piano to start. The synths before 6 1/2 minutes sound a lot better. It kicks in after 7 minutes to end it. "The Kingdom Brightly Smiles" is the short conclusion. Piano melodies throughout.

A good album but I find 3 stars to be more than fair.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Including a track based on Watership Down on Attic Thoughts (AKA Mellanväsen) evidently inspired Bo Hansson to produce an entire album based on the book, much like his debut was based on J.R.R. Tolkien's work. Music Inspired By Watership Down (AKA El-Ahrairah) is an interesting mix of the mildly funk influenced symphonic jams of Attic Thoughts or Magician's Hat with the mystical approach of Lord of the Rings, and for my money it's Hansson's most accomplished and cohesive work since his debut, the concept apparently helping to focus his efforts. Apparently this would be Bo's last full-on prog album - the mid-1980s comeback album Mitt I Livet being a very different affair from his earlier albums - but as far as swan songs go it's a credible enough effort, though once again it feels a little generic.
Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars For some odd reason, this later album by Swedish artist Bo Hansson is frequently considered a real drop in quality from his previous works, and it's hard to understand why. `Music Inspired by Watership Down', based around the well-known Richard Adams novel, is still full of all the colour, shimmering keyboards and unpredictable quirks usually associated with Hansson's work, and there's still plenty of traces that made his earlier albums so memorable and delicious to the ear. Like with an earlier album `Lord of the Rings', Mr Hansson once again turned to a beloved novel for initial inspiration, and the results are perhaps one of the most tasteful and exquisite instrumental prog albums, and certainly one of the most gentle!

With an army of keyboard variety (Moog, Hammond organ, you name it), endless tempo changes, propulsive drumming, jazz/fusion electric guitar flavours and even some adorable strolling reggae moments in the finale, the almost 17 minute opener `Born in the Gentle South' is a lush and mellow epic. Hansson's fellow musicians here have frequent little duels between each-other, with Kebnekaise member Kenny Hakensson's grand electric guitar solo in the climax worthy of approval from Camel mainman Andy Latimar himself. Playful, dynamic and always endlessly melodic, the whole piece makes for a sublime example of impossibly charming instrumental prog at its most romantic.

After the brief delirious synth/guitar/drum interlude `Allegro For A Rescue', the stark piano and tip-toeing flute of the darker `Legend and Light' is full with a playful creeping unease, with two booming fanfares to offer some blustery relief. For such an imposing title, `Trial and Adversity' is actually very mellow and dreamy, with the most gentle of David Gilmour-inspired guitar licks over wavering spacey synths and placid washes of synths and another little taste of soft reggae tones. `The Twice -Victory' opens as a delicate and affectionate acoustic guitar and piano duet before rising to life as a victorious organ fanfare, only some electric guitar menace and marching drums raising the tension in the second half. Some Steve Hackett `Voyage of the Acolyte'-type sounds are in evidence here, and the instrumental melodies throughout the piece might be some of the prettiest Hansson ever offered. The brief `The Kingdom Brightly Smiles' is a warm piano solo finale to then close on.

Perhaps if the album had a different title or a more colourful cover (or even a borderline insane one like `Attic Thoughts'!), followers of Bo Hansson who kind of dismiss this one would be a little more forgiving. Suitable for a lazy afternoon background listen or a great way to unwind for everyday stresses, `Music Inspired by `Watership Down' is a perfectly lovely and dignified instrumental album that lovers of Bo Hansson's previous works and the romantic prog of artists such as Camel, Rousseau and Terpandre should adore.

Four stars for this timeless little beauty.

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars Out of the rabbit hole

I remember the first time I read Richard Adams Watership Down. If anybody out there hasn't already read it, then I urge you to pick this one up, as it most vividly incorporates everything from Tolkien to Homer in a way I've never come across - before nor since. This book had a profound effect on me, and I had jagged edged dreams of bloody rabbits for weeks on end - imagining myself deeply immersed in the great adventures of El-Ahrairah.

Now, Bo Hansson has never been the man to shy away from "stealing" inspiration from well known novels, but then again he has, in all honesty, never really made a mistake that way. One could state that he chose the safe bet with all these records - starting off with the now famous Lord of the Rings, but back then there were no film to back up a get- rich-quick-scheme on the basis of the new Hollywood blockbuster - nor were there any for Watership Down, although it had its fair share of success, when it was released in 1972 - staying on the best seller list until February 1975.

El-Ahrairah is a mystical character in Watership Down - it is a rabbit legend of sorts, that inspires these little creatures to do better - to think outside the box and be cunning as the devil himself - just like the rabbit in your back yard eating carrots and cabbage like there was no tomorrow, when you yourself are far far away on the big oceans of sleep. In Lapine, his name is a contraction of the phrase Elil-hrair-rah, which means "prince with a thousand enemies". Having read the book first for then to jump on board this musical adaptation, I obviously had my doubts. Would it take away from the fantastic experience - maybe even diminish the great fondness I had for this awe inspiring tale?

No is the quick answer. Just like Lord of the Rings - El-Ahrairah feels strangely in tune with the novel's gripping proceedings. The first cut called Utvandring (Exodus) describes in sonic pomp and grandeur how a small group of rabbits are forced to leave the comfort and security of their own home due to the overhanging dangers of a soon to be man made building project. The music is beautiful towering symphonic rock with a strong penchant for the late sixties, which comes through in the warmth and glow of the interplay between guitar and organ. Sloshing back and forth the images of rabbits torn between their home and the unknown wilderness in wait - are almost tangible to this listener. Such is the story with every track on here, and if you are fond of the subtle natural beauty of the piano escorting mighty cascading walls of gorgeously orchestrated music, then El-Ahrairah is a safe bet. The production of the thing is another winner. Whereas most artists had adopted the pre-80s sounding mixing with the metallic cleanliness attached to nearly every electric instrument, Bo Hansson stays true to his old hippie roots(remember this guy started out back in the late 60s contributing greatly to the aspiring hippie groove scene) and delivers a vibrant and warm production that elevates the true character of both the involved musicians and the underlying storyline. Let me put it this way: Retelling a story that in short revolves around the close bond we(the rabbits) share with nature, and how we with every new modern initiative are in danger of loosing the things that link us to this old and mystical connection - retelling it with music that is heavily drenched in chrome-like surfaces and distant studio techniques would perhaps be a step too far towards playing the devil's advocate.

This album works like a story being read to you in a language you yourself discover along the way. It is exciting music speaking of horrors and impending bravery, when the plot craves it - either through dangerous sounding guitar snarls - or the lone cow bell tick tocking away in the back counting down to the moment of fear's sudden impact. The story also has great many strolls - shorter travels from rabbit hole to thicket - from undergrowth to the vegetable garden - many of these told through some delicate flute sections sprinkling the music in colours of autumn fields in receding bloom. If you're into the oldest and most treasured way of teaching - that is telling stories, inspiring images of the mind - and then having these handed over to you through the sonic palette of a highly capable and imaginative rock n' roll band, then you should start digging around for this wonderful trip out of the rabbit hole.

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