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Rachel's Birthday

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Rachel's Birthday An Invitation To Rachel's Birthday album cover
3.76 | 31 ratings | 8 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Birthday Invitation (1:35)
2. Philosophy (4:08)
3. Waves (24:58)
4. Cream Tears (5:51)
5. Wedding on a Raspberry Day (5:39)
6. Everything's alright (3:49)
7. A Supersonic Pestcontroller (8:08)
8. Nightingale and Snake (15:05)

Total Time: 69:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Ralf Glasbrenner / vocals
- Bernd Mueller / guitar
- Alfred Mueller / keyboards
- Michael Six / bass
- Jürgen Hägele / drums

- Jens Oliver Soerup / acoustic guitar, mandolin - not confirmed

Releases information

CD Music Is Intelligence - WMMS 110 (1996, Germany)

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RACHEL'S BIRTHDAY An Invitation To Rachel's Birthday ratings distribution

(31 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RACHEL'S BIRTHDAY An Invitation To Rachel's Birthday reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Do you want something different? GET THIS CD!

Who would want to buy this album? Look at its cover! It's not something like Roger Dean's or Ed Unitsky's or any typical prog rock cover. It's just a simple photograph of a girl with a non compelling design at all. OOoops . sorry, at least it's for my personal taste and I don't know about you. Probably you like it. "Don't judge the book from its cover!". That's probably what my prog colleague BOWO thought at the time when he purchased this album. I remember that we were at the time engaged in local rock FM station hosting Prog Rock program and Bowo introduced me to the band. I was not really stimulated at all to spin the CD as the cover was so lousy. He insisted me to have a chance enjoying the music. I thought that it must be another neo prog band as I know Mr. Bowo is neo prog die-hard fan. I was wrong, it's totally different kind of music.

I have been listening to many styles of music since childhood through bands / artists with various genres like hard rock, metal, classic, blues (oh .. I love blues man! I love John Mayall, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tinsley Elis, Fenton Robinson, Pinetop Perkins, and many blues masters!), jazz, prog (with all subgenres defined until today) even music that is specific to my home-country like keroncong, dang-dut, campur-sari, klenengan, etc. Music is contagious. So I'm not surprised if new bands are influenced by their predecessors. It's natural. Some people called it derivatives. But, when I heard RACHEL's BIRTHDAY's music at the very first time, I failed to identify on what influences this band have adopted in their debut album "An Invitation to Rachel's Birthday". I even got confused which one is the band's name? Is it a project? It does not matter. Just enjoy the music. One thing is clear: the band has demonstrated its originality in its music. And . this is my view .

Birthday Invitation (1:35) is basically an overture that opens the concept (?) album with powerful, theatrical and pondering vocal line accompanied with a beautiful acoustic guitar fills and rhythm. Oh man, it's a great overture. The melody that's been chosen is strange but nice. What amazes me is the production quality. It's definitely a superb quality! Five stars out of five! Perfect sound.

Philosophy (4:08) continues from the overture with a full music that blasts off brilliantly in an upbeat tempo and uplifting mood. The music flows smoothly with sort of weird chords used by keyboard as main rhythm section to feature the powerful vocal by Ralf Glasbrenner. His vocal quality is a bit like the lead singer of Sensational Alex Harvey Band combined with Gabriel's theatrical style. Excellent voice! Keyboards play important role as rhythm section that form the textures of this song. Drum set is played dynamically augmented with solid basslines. There is short segment with guitar solo augmented with punchy keyboard work. This track is really smooth, distortion-free - that means no abrupt guitar effects. There is no major change in tempo but the song has some variation in styles that have made it very enjoyable. "Philosophy is still one thing that never reach the final end!".

Waves (24:58) is a wonderfully crafted epic. Through this epic the band delivers its music in symphonic spectrum at its best! It starts beautifully with an ambient keyboard that features powerful vocal in relatively low register notes, accompanied with electric piano touch. So melodic opening! The electric piano moves dynamically to bring the vocal increases its notes into higher ones accompanied with symphonic guitar and keyboard at the back. Oh man . what a great music! I can hear how the bass guitar is played dynamically in this opening part. Wow! Great job, Michael Six! Most keyboard works are played in multi-layer sounds accompanied with electric guitar solo as well as rhythm. I really enjoy the guitar solo at approx min 5:00 played in alternate with keyboard and sometimes interjected by dynamic and solid bass lines! Well man . I suggest you listen to this track yourself and I bet you that you will get amazed with tight composition this epic has! For me, it's an excellent treat as I think that I've never heard this kind of composition. There is also acoustic guitar work that reminds me to ELP's Greg Lake when he played "C'est La Vie" - but it's not exactly the same at all. All instruments are played wonderfully throughout this epic including: excellent drums and inventive bass lines. What also amazes me is the theatrical and operatic styles the lead singer performs in this track. SUPERB! Top notch - and never imagined before - composition! Even though it's totally different, this track reminds me to Genesis' "Supper's Ready". No one can beat this track!

Cream Tears (5:51) opens with a combined work between piano and bass guitar followed with a full music in uplifting mode that accompanies theatrical and operatic voice line. Powerful track with inventive orchestration and energetic singing that projects an image of rock opera - the good one! Weird composition but wonderful harmony!

Wedding on a Raspberry Day (5:39) is an uplifting track in relatively fast tempo with different style than other tracks. The combination of fast acoustic guitar fills and piano is excellent. The vocal sometimes reminds me to Gabriel high register notes singing style like you hear it in Foxtrot album, for example. In the middle of the track there is a beautiful combination of acoustic guitar solo in alternate with keyboard and some violin souns. Oh my GOD .. What a beautiful segment this one is!!!! If you love prog, you will definitely love this song man!! FANTASTIC and UNIQUE!

Everything's Alright (3:49) is basically a ballad prog that features acoustic guitar and vocal. Relatively straight forward in terms of structure.

A Supersonic Pest Controller (8:08). What a title! It's a unique music with funny opening part that reminds me to the music of a circus, performed in a dynamic and uplifting mood. The voice is truly SUPERB combined with inventive bass lines and excellent keyboard sounds. This one is really rock opera at its best! It contains wonderful dialogue of male and female voices with weird but nice music. There is also some jazz influence at the ending part of this track with sort of Hackettian guitar (not the same, really! But it's inventive in style!).Great composition!

Nightingale and Snake (15:05). Uuughh ...!!! I almost mad listening to the opening part this track - you know what? It's a hip-hop disco music man!! Uuugghh . what a waste of time enjoying this song! I could not bear it, it's so annoying. Fortunately, the other part of me telling "hold your thought for a second man .there might be some change!". Yup, I don't know when it happens, the music has shifted to another style with symphonic touch and operatic singing style with lively dialogue. It turns out to be a powerful music with great guitar work and keyboard sound. The ending part contains stunning keyboard and superb singing augmented with guitar solo. Wonderful!


Definitely, it's a true masterpiece especially in its originality and the courage to challenge music boundaries. It's a must have for those who really open mind with any style of music. Despite tight composition, the musicianship is also superb: not only guitar and keyboard but also drums and bass plus vocals (of course!). Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Highly Recommended! Keep on proggin' .

Progressively yours,


Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This album is a one-time project I guess since there were no follow-up on this one so far. The music featured here is rather difficult to categorize.

The short and acoustic opening number is dull, while "Philosophy" reminds me the "Magazine" sounds (but this one is absolutely sub- par to this great new-wave band). So, maybe the epic "Waves" will do it ? Well, I'm not really sure. Vocals sounds as the ones from an obscure band of the sevenites (which I liked pretty much) from New-Zealand : Seventh Wave (Ken Elliot is his name). But while they were extremely original for the era (1974-75), this one is not.

There will be some good moments in this song (fortunately !) but twenty-five minutes of music seem pretty long to develop it. It just lack in passion, emotion, passionate vocals and impressive instrumental parts (although the last three minutes hold all of these characteristics. But it's only fifteen percent of the total lenght).

Same very average comments about "Cream Tears". I'll only procure me some heavy tears. A rather poor song. Nothing really to remember. The misery goes on during "Wedding...". Gosh, what a unpleasant album so far. The track I prefer might well be the short acoustic one "Everything's Alright". A nice break, but nothing really original, I'm afraid.

If you are into disco / synth, you might like "A Supersonic Pest Controler". But it is not my case. The awful and theatrical vocals won't do any good, I'm afraid. The absolute nadir being reached with "Nightingale And Snake". Its intro is completely hip-hop. My son could almost like this. I have to admit, to be honest, that after these horrific moments, this song is getting better (but how could it be worse). The last two minutes even hold a great guitar solo (but it will be completely ruined with a pityful "Happy birthday dear Rachel...).

Anyway, this album is extremely confidential and you won't miss anything by ignoring it. Actually, the music featured here is not so difficult to categorize : dull. Mental masturbation (fortunately, otherwise this album lasts for about seventy minutes...).

Actually, the front cover illustrates pretty well the feeling that prevails while listening to this album. Booooooooring.

Two stars.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This first and only release by German band Rachel's Birthday is an interesting experience in many ways, as well as being a very good example of an album with two quite different parts.

The first four tunes on the album are extremely fascinating in many ways. The sound comes across as a mix of Genesis and ELP, and while the skill levels of all the musicians may not be top notch, the vocalist in particular, energy and enthusiasm makes up for much of that. The compositions, although not highly original in any way, are well done as well as executed, and the tunes Philosophy and Cream Tears are high quality efforts in this style - as long as you don't expect perfect musicianship.

The last four tunes are much more of a varied affair though. Although noticeable in the other tunes as well, on these last four tunes the influence of neo-prog is more distinct. And it's quite clear that the vocals in particular suffer when the band explore this style more dedicated than on the first tunes on the album.

Worthwhile getting for the first 4 tunes for fans of symphonic rock, and fans of neo-prog may want to check out this one as well.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Don't judge a book by the cover

As fans of Progressive Rock we are used to great music, but also to incredibly beautiful art covers, artists as Roger Dean, Kim Poor, Paul Whitehead, H.R. Giger or groups of designers as Hipgnosis have created a need in us to see the artistic expression of the music reflected in the cover, so when we see "An Invitation to Rachel's Birthday" with an unusual photo of a girl framed with cheesy colours, we tend to reject the album......Big mistake.

The album released in 1996 by the Stuttgart based quintet "Rachel's Birthday" is full of surprises, "An Invitation to Rachel's Birthday" presents us an excellent fusion of Symphonic, Neo Prog and mainstream elements, blended with care and good taste, that captures the attention of the listener from the first note. making us forget the horrendous cover and the weird name of the band.

"Birthday Invitation" opens the album and works as a perfect introduction, while Bernd Mueller plays his acoustic guitar, Ralf Glasbrenner with his strong accent and peculiar voice, describes the preparation for the party and the album, absolutely delightful. The guy has the narrative style of Peter Gabriel in Genesis combined with the sound of Fish and a vocal range similar to the one used by Roger Waters in "The Wall", more precisely in the most dramatic sections of "The Trial".

But when the casual listener (as most of us) expects an album in the vein of the overture, "Philosophy" breaks our schemes from the beginning with the blast of power and strength, again Glasbrenner does an outstanding job, mixing the styles of Helmut Köllen (Triumvirat" with the theatric approach of Peter Gabriel. The interplay between Alfred and Bernd Mueller in the keyboards and guitar is impressive, while the rhythm section provides a solid guidance to the rest of the band.

But the surprises don't end, the next track "Waves" is a 24 minutes epic that has absolutely everything, starting with an amazing keyboard display, Alfred Mueller plays organ, electric piano and Moog with equal skills. Bernd Mueller doesn't stay behind and plays frenetic electric passages blended with acoustic sections.

Ralf Glasbrenner goes further than before, and while respecting the differences, clearly reminds me of Peter Gabriel's, singing theatrical sections that have stylistic similarities with "Battle of the Eping Forest" and "Script for a Jester's Tear" by Fish.

But the real hero of the track is Michael Six, who offers one of the most solid bass performances I have ever listened, complementing perfectly with Jürgen Hägele in the drums. An outstanding Progressive Rock epic from start to end.

"Cream Tears" begins with a beautiful but short piano intro and almost instantly morphs in some sort of Rock Opera track, absolutely dramatic, with interesting vocals and heavy arrangements, reminds me of the atmosphere prevalent in "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" with the vocal range used in "The Wall" by Roger Waters in the most frenetic sections.

In the middle an extremely heavy guitar solo surprises the listener and leads again to that heavy atmosphere that falls over the listener as a thick mist.

"Wedding on a Raspberry Day" marks another radical change, the frenetic and constant organ and vocal performances contrast with the relief provided by the soft acoustic guitar. There's is a point in which guitar and keyboards start a contrapuntal duel in which each of the musicians shows it's best.

"Everything's Alright" now takes us to mainstream territory, a beautiful ballad with fantastic vocals, "Rachel's Birthday" again proves us their versatility, the choir is relaxing and well developed, not a Prog track, but incredibly beautiful.

"A Supersonic Pest Controller" is one of my favourite tracks, a song that I could describe as an 8 minutes Rock Opera. After a keyboard, bass and drum introduction with no time to breath, Glasbbrener attacks us with a collection of different voices and ranges, creating a dialogue with himself. The song is funny, intelligent and a perfect demonstration of what Progressive Rock is, being that while the vocalist does his amazing display, the restless keyboard adds drama to the song.

"A Nightingale and Snake" starts, it's hard for me to say it....Hip Hop, something that almost made me lower the rating of the album, but it's only a short intro, then the band enters into an instrumental break of extreme weirdness and high quality, in which the band enters again into operatic territory and the music has a certain TRIUMVIRAT reminiscence. Except for the annoying intro, a good 15 minutes epic.

After listening "An Invitation to Rachel's Birthday", I have a couple questions..Why this band vanished so soon? and Why isn't this album more popular?

I'm not able to find an answer to this questions, mainly because the band won a second place in "The Battle of the Bands" on Stuttgart in 1989 and won the SDR3 Festival, so they had recognition, but mostly because "An Invitation to Rachel's Birthday" had critic and economic success, but still vanished.

Well, at least he left us this excelent album to enjoy, a release that I refuse to rate with less than 4 solid stars.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars The first thing when somebody crosses with this album is the strange cover art of the album. Rachel's Birthay is the name of the band from Germany with thir one and only studio album released in 1996 named An Invitation To Rachel's Birthday, issue by famous labele Musis is Intelligence. Well I might say I was impressed big time by the music offered here, is kinda hard to say in what direction they got in the end, but the album is full of great pieces and fenomenala musicianship and ideas. What strikes me every time I hear this album is the great amount of fabulous and jaw dropping vocal passages, Ralf Glasbrenner is one hell of a great vocalist who knew to deliver some very strong moments. He is very much in vein of Roger Waters who has that kind of theatrical narrative style, most of the passages remind me a lot of The wall album and that kind of voice, aswell some Fish influence here and there. The music is top notch, quite original going from neo prog elements combined with more symphonic ones, some almost neo prog metal on Philosophy, eclectic instrumental parts that are very complex and very well performed, specially on the longest track of the album Waves, beautiful complicated prog pieces. Aswell, the instrumental sections goes from dramatic parts to more heavier passages or light depending of the mood pf the tune, but always keeping the high level. The interludes between musicians is great, specially some very strong guitar and keyboards parts. The music is varied, well performed and has all the ingredients to be a fully pleasent ride for the listner. So, all in all, no weak moments on this little treasure, very demanding album that needs a far better view, don't judge the album (book) by it's cover, that is for sure, is a famous saying that fits here very well. 4 stars easy, great and yet totaly unkown in prog circles.
Review by kev rowland
4 stars Back in 1996 Rachel's Birthday released their only album on the German label Music Is Intelligence, yet although it had critical success both it and the record company had gone within a few years. There were some great prog acts released through WMMS/M.I.I. yet with the folding of the label many of them just simply disappeared. Keyboard player and main songwriter Alfred Mueller started a new one man project called Soniq Theater, releasing his first album under that name in 2000, and producing one a year since then. All of these have been made available just on CD-R as they are a hobby, and as part of this Alfred has also released this one on CD-R.

I was lucky enough to review this back in the day, but it has been years since I have actually played it so when Alfred sent me every album he had released but I had yet to write about, it was an opportunity to revisit it. Soniq Theater is very much a one man keyboard outfit, but Rachel's Birthday was a full band with Alfred joined by Michael Six (bass), Jürgen Hägele (drums), Bernd Mueller (guitars) and Ralf Glasbrenner (vocals). I had forgotten just how good this was, with these guys coming across as a melodic Twelfth Night mixing it up with classic Marillion and Citizen Cain. With one song nearly 25 minutes long, and another at more than 15, these guys have given them enough time to explore their music yet incredibly the longest "Waves" contains some passages that would fit in a melodic rock album, while at others it has hints of "The Collector". I'm not aware of any other releases by Ralf Glasbrenner which is a crying shame as he had a great vocal presence, not too dissimilar to Geoff Mann or Peter Nicholls.

Classic prog, symphonic prog, neo-prog, they all make an appearance on this album, which still stands up today. This is a band that managed to make little impact on the prog scene in the 90's, yet have left behind an album that is well worth investigation.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Stuttgart-based German band, originating from the 80's act Emerald and found in early-90's by keyboardist Alfred Mueller, bassist Michael Six, drummer Jurgen Haegele, guitarist Bernd Mueller and singer Ralf Glasbrenner.In 1992 Rachel's Birthday won the local rock contest Headliner, then they were discovered by the major prog label Music Is Intelligence to release their debut ''An invitation to Rachel's birthday'' in 1996.

Despite a very dull and childish front cover, there's no doubt that Rachel's Birthday recorded what appears to be one of the most interesting Prog albums of the 90's.Their music was basically a symphonic-oriented Neo Prog with slight theatrical tendencies, which still contains room for some Pop sensibilities and heavier movements.The fact that the band was writing at the time both short and melodic tracks as well as stunning epics was just a proof how unique they were.There's a certain IQ and MARILLION feeling listening to the album, definitely based on the best material of GENESIS, but they still sounded extremely flexible and diverse, their sound was full of changing climates, romantic textures, powerful symphonic keyboards and electrified passges.The 25-min. ''Waves'' is a monster prog epic and one of the best finds during the 90's, excellent composition with stunning melodies, dramatic keyboards, poppy flavors and epic instrumental deliveries.This work can only be compared to the best stuff by COLLAGE, GALAAD or ABRAXAS, fairly symphonic and well-crafted music with a modern sound.However, these elements wouldn't be enough, if the band hadn't one of the most gifted vocalists in the core, Ralf Glasbrenner and his ultraclean, expressive, warm and theatrical voice, a really excellent frontman.And besides these tremendous instrumental and vocal offerings in the long pieces, the short ones sound equally attractive, featuring some amazing vocal harmonies and delicate, soft instrumental background, memorable and trully emotional music.

Alfred Mueller left the band after the album to continue as a solo artist under the Soniq Theater moniker.The remaining members added Jens Oliver Soerup (vocals, mandolin) in the line-up and switched to folkier paths, releasing ''The english roses'' EP in 2000, nothing to do with the progressive sound of their debut.After a final concert in 2005, Rachel's Birthday disbanded, building their own legacy with a killer album.Believe me, this is excellent Neo/Classic Prog of the highest quality, reaching perfection at moments.A must-have for any serious prog fan.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Maybe original OK!! Not sinification of nice prog.I think the work for this album is make so fast!!!The produt is very sad . Sometime a little rare good felling specialy in the intro. For the rest the instrumantal part is not melodic not rytmic just simple riff..The vocal have the same emoti ... (read more)

Report this review (#34669) | Posted by progarctica | Thursday, April 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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