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Secret Oyster

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Secret Oyster Sea Son album cover
3.97 | 97 ratings | 12 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Oysterjungle (2:57)
2. Mind Movie (9:14)
3. Pijamamafia (6:07)
4. Black Mist (3:40)
5. Painforest (5:40)
6. Paella (8:23)

Total Time 36:01

Bonus tracks on 2006 CD release:
7. Sea Son (5:25)
8. Alfresco, Pt. 1 (5:39)
9. Alfresco, Pt. 2 (2:07)

Line-up / Musicians

- Claus Bøhling / guitars
- Kenneth Knudsen / piano, Moog
- Karsten Vogel / alto & soprano saxophones, organ
- Jess Staehr / basses
- Ole Streenberg / drums & percussion

- Finn Ziegler / violin (1,5)
- Hans Nielsen / violin (1,5)
- Bjarne Boie Rasmussen / viola (1,5)
- Erling Christensen / cello (1,5)
- Palle Mikkelborg / strings score & arrangements (1,5), trumpet (3,6)
- Kasper Winding / congas & percussion (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Peder Bundgaard

LP CBS ‎- CBS 80489 (1974, Denmark)

CD The Laser's Edge ‎- LE 1045 (2006, US) With 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SECRET OYSTER Sea Son ratings distribution

(97 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(59%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SECRET OYSTER Sea Son reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!

After getting the Laser's Edge reissue of this album, I can still tell you that this second secret adventure of the best-kept Secret Oyster (no comparison possible with its Blue Cult cousin ;-), is really them at their apex. Not only surviving a complete overhaul of the rhythm section, but also a will to extend their commitment to excellent and adventurous jazz-rock, but also keeping it instrumental and also a great songwriting coming together, with the actor's knowing they are reaching certain summits, but not able to break it big. But with this album they sure try and this re-issue, with its three bonus tracks, is definitely upping the ante. The album is also graced with an interesting and fitting artwork design with the group photo on the back of them Waiting For The Sun.

SO's music is incredibly descriptive (especially the more dramatic and wild moments) that it seems rather absurd to put any kind of lyrics to it (the music), that not many words might actually add or even try to keep up with the quintet playing the hearts out. A good intro funk boogie beat with feelings that Hancock (the Mwandishi "years") and a surprising strings trio adding drama and even giving it a "Oomph" in the evocative power department on (sadly) only two tracks. But they have further guests on other tracks such as the added wind and percussion. But not everything is calm is in Secret Oyster ocean and there is a Sea son that seems to be a bit disruptive at times but also have more dreamy moments. Generally this creature is more related to Knudsen's electric pianos. Of course not everything is tit for tat all the time and the odd length or beat is less successful, such as Pajamamafia (that track's title always looked suspicious suspect to me), but at times Rainforest is mesmerizing in beauty. The 8-min Paella is a prefect scorcher on which to end an album too.

This was the Oyster best effort, although there would be more to come, but for such strange reasons, their record company stopped and it suddenly seemed that the winds had changed again on the Sea Son's Oyster bed. Coming with this already great album are now coming three bonus tracks that have absolutely nothing to envy (quite on the contrary, actually ;-) this album is even better classic that every proghead should be aware of and even own an album (or two, or three..... who are we kidding here??? Right??? ;-). Of those three tracks are the eponymous (or would-be title track) and a two-part Alfresco, all three well in the line of the album but all related with the lengthiest track of the album.

There is a strange logic in Laser's Edge's strategy to have started re-mastering the album in a non-chronological order, but this "hit" is certainly forgiving the strange choice and "miss" of Astarte, but finally this second album is out. Can't wait for the other two (the debut especially) and that possible live posthumous releasing crowning this campaign. Hopefully, more groups like Belgium's Placebo or Kandahar or France's Alain Markusfeld, there will be more superb stuff to release urgently before they also get bootlegged,

Review by Philo
4 stars This is a lost classic from these relatively unheard of Danish jazz fusion/psychsters. A very tight unit that at times sound like the Mahavishnu Orchestra albeit more laid back, especially the violin on track two "Mind Movie", and the build up on "Pajamamafia" is very Birds of Fire era 'vishnu. The Secret Oyster could also put together some great pieces of music some times very hypnotic as is the case with said mentioned "Mind Movie" with a looping riff over some nice guitar work from Claus Bøling. Soft Machine also come to mind occasionally but the songs the Oyster produce really stand up on their own though the sound would be the same time zone as during 1973-'74 the Soft Machine added a guitarist to their line up, and as much as I like the Soft Machine, I find Sea Son a much more listenable and working experimental album as opposed to Softs or Bundles as these two records were more akin to Jazz/rock fusion more than the earlier Soft Machine work but lacked the bite, raw energy or innocence of the earlier work. Sea Son is certainly a fresh and engrossing album with plenty of raw action. All round The Secret Oyster put together a fine collection of tracks on their second album which then is all the more surprizing that they have remained almost an obscure unit (though signed to the mighty CBS who virtually looked after the majority of jazz and jazz related acts) when at that time during the early to mid seventies the fusion genre took flight and many acts used it very successfully, some arguably with a lesser talent and craft than the Secret Oyster, but such is life. I had come across their name in conversation a few times over the years and the albums kept alluding me and I began to wonder was it just a myth or something. I don't know if these are available on CD but they should be searched out, they are quite collectible on vinyl. Certainly a must and especially for those who are fans of the fusion era. Very rewarding music that deserves attention.
Review by Carl floyd fan
4 stars I can't get enough of Paella! It is like nothing I have ever heard! I don't even care about the rest of the album (which is still very good) - Unconvential maybe, but listen to this last track, it throws you into a fusion whirlwind and leaves you in the middle of the woods wanting more!!! This cd is amazing, the first 5 tracks set you up for the eight minute climax that is Paella, that is just long enough to satisfy your fusion needs. Sea son deserves 4.25 stars on the strength of its last song. even without its still in the 3-3.5 star range.
Review by Fishy
4 stars I was pretty surprised when I heard this one for the very first time, recently. Both the quality of the playing of the musicians, the tracks & the sound quality are excellent especially when you come to realise this was actually recorded in 1974. You wouldn't say. Secret Oyster plays some kind of fusion which still appeals nowadays ; doesn't sound outdated for one single minute. Sea Son seems to show the band at its peak and it's easy to understand why. The formula for their instrumental music seeps quite simple, yet not less effective. Take one appealing repetitive basic melody played on keyboards, add some moody keys to it on the background and the stage is set for lots of splendid soloing on guitar, sax or synths. This working method seems to have the best result on an excellent track like "Pajamamafia" where you can also notice some slightly folk influences. Obviously "Painforest" is the highlight of the album even though it is a strange track compared to the bunch of the other tracks. The wonderful classical intro with repetitive melodies played by violin & sax is followed by an excerpt with a laid back feel with a Gilmour like guitar line on top. A great track to set your mind at ease and definitely one of the most astonishing atmospheres I've spotted lately. "Paella" could appeal as well to those who like the music of Ozric Tentacles ; here the jazzy mood also includes eastern influences & elements from space rock. In other words this album is a must for those listeners that are looking for adventurous instrumental progressive rock music which includes a wide range of influences without disturbing the fusion style. Like some other reviewers mentioned, there're some similarities to the music of Mahavishnu Orchestra or Nuclues without getting too close to the sound of the aforementioned bands and maybe the sound of Secret Oyster is more progressive overall. Fans had to wait more than 20 years for a cd release but it's been well worth the wait. Moreover this disc contains 3 bonus tracks. "Sea son" is a calm track with a nice main theme. The beginning of the track is pure progressive while the second parts contains a good duel between an the keyboard and the guitar, still I have the feeling it never reaches the quality level of the original tracks. Same thing goes for the jazzy "Alfresco part 1" which has some memorable recurring melodies. Part 2 is nothing more than a short moody closure of a wonderful album. If you like fusion records, you should stick to "Sea son", you won't be disappointed.
Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I was wandering the other day in a record shop and low and behold, what do I see? Yes, a cd edition of Secret Oyster - Sea Son released this year (2006) by Laser's Edge. I was delighted and picked it up without hesitations since it is a favourite of mine. And why is this a favourite? Well, if you just listen to it I think you will agree that this is a fine example of a quality fusion album, which demonstrates the excellent musicianship abilities of this Danish band. From the moment this starts to the minute it ends you are captivated by the electrifying and mesmerizing guitar sound of Claus Bøhling. Not to say that the others are inferior, not at all. All of them, the bass, drums, keyboards and saxes deliver the goods and more. A good example would be the over 9 minute track - Mind Movie which, while being not overly complex or sophisticated, shows you exactly what they know and you can hear how well trained they are. Claus brings out great voices with his guitar in his solo in this track. Listen to this one in full volume to get the best results. Pajamamfia opens up quietly after the previous musical "riot". But this break does not go on for long, cause after 1:40 minutes you start getting your dish served again. Here you can hear Jess Staehr bass clearly and appreciate his work. However, this track ends too soon for me (it has a fade out and in and out again at the end). It seems they like to create this sort of hypnotic musical loop in their tracks (Mind Movie, Pajamamfia, Black mist, Paella) but it does not mean the music is boring, quite the contrary. As I said in the beginning, it draws you inside their music and makes you move to their rhythm. They don't just stagnate with this repeating theme, but develop it and add more layers and moves to it, making it an interesting as well as enjoyable listen. Plus, those tracks show their improvisational skills and also their inclination towards the Space genre and its psychedelic characteristics. The album is not all fast and packed. You have the more laid back tracks, like Rainforest and Black Mist. They give you another aspect to the band's compositions - a more relaxed and contemplative side.

The great thing about this release on a cd is that it sounds as if it was recorded yesterday. The sound quality is very good. And to top this there are 3 bonus tracks that go well with the general atmosphere of this album.

An exciting instrumental experience, a recommended album to have in your collection. I give it 4 stars.

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Essential listening from this classic freak out jazzy rock Danish collective . The central role is given to guitar's explosive groovy leads and psychedelic soundscapes. Each composition is ferocious and perfectly achieved, always delivering a dynamic sense of rhythm and extremely gorgeous synth / atmospheric arrangements. The album starts with "Oysterjungle", an eccentric, tripped out instrumental with dense, hyper active rhythms and solid organ / violin parts. "Mind Movie" is a brilliant, contemplative and epic musical exploration, making a large part to improvised wha wha guitars, reflective piano sequences. The composition is magnificent, absorbing, with always rocking psychedelic accelerations. "Pajamamafia" is an ultra technical, groovy and funkadelic excursion with a non stop dialogue between brass instruments. "Black Myst" is a sympathetic heavy rocking "trip", including eccentric brass lines. "Painforest" delivers spaced out guitars, floating upon a delicate, beautiful atmosphere. Exclusively instrumental, constantly beautiful and exciting. Among the best fusion jazz efforts I've heard. At the same level of the best things written by The Mahavishnu Orchestra in stoner, darker dimensions.
Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Sea Son" from 1974 is considered one of the finest titles from Danish fusion monsters Secret Oyster and is considered underrated by many of their fans. While not the genre of prog I am most familiar with, I can say that these guys are very talented players and their songwriting approach is adventurous. Guitarist Claus Bohling really tears it up over the course of many extended solos. Those who enjoy heated instrumental jamming with occasional chill-out sections will eat this album up. Spice is added to some tracks courtesy of violins, cello, trumpet, sax, and congos. The most amazing fact about this album that I culled from the liner notes is that it was recorded in a mere 4 days. 4 freakin days! Some bands pencil in that much time for bathroom breaks! I don't really have a favorite track. All of this is pretty good for instrumental rock lovers. I have nothing against Secret Oyster but in the jazz-fusion genre I prefer bands like Finnforest, Area, Esagono, and the first Lotus album. I guess I just find their material more interesting and/or emotional. But I still have to recommend this title to any jazz/fusion fan as I don't believe it will disappoint anyone. The sound is good and even the three bonus tracks are worthwhile, unlike most bonus tracks which are usually not worth your time. Good stuff.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars A new rhythm section on this album as they add former BURNIN' RED IVANHOE bass player Jess Staehr, and former CORONARIAS DANS drummer Ole Streenberg. As for the music, I would say this is a more mature release when compared to the debut, the guitar is toned back so there's more balance, and there's more variety as well. In the liner notes they mention that the arrangements are more complicated making this more of a challenge for the band to play. These guys are up for the challenge though 'cause they can flat out play.

"Oysterjungle" is a jazzy tune with strings and sax that come and go.Those are my least favourite parts of the song as I prefer the bass/drum intro and the more laid back sections. "Mind Movie" is my favourite tune on here. Again the relaxed passages are so good during the first half of the song. They are led by piano at first and then guitar. The bass lines are excellent as well. The guitar takes over the second half of the song with some fantastic psychedelic jamming. This all starts at 4 1/2 minutes and goes to the end. At times the guitar is so emotional, just an unbelieveable section of music.

"Pajamamafia" opens with a beautiful atmospheric section that is led at first by piano and then acoustic guitar. It turns uptempo before 2 minutes as drums, guitar, sax and trumpet all shine the rest of the way. "Black Mist" features some nice guitar early as a good beat comes in. Keys join in and then sax as it starts to rip it up for the next 2 minutes. "Painforest" opens with strings. A change before 2 1/2 minutes as guitar comes in tastefully and leads the rest of the way. Nice. "Paella" is like an intense swirling mass of fusion as guitar and trumpet light it up while bass and drums create the heavy beat. Great song to end the album.

I do prefer their debut by quite a bit. It rocks out more as the guitar really drives that album. This one has taken longer to grow on me, but it has grown to 4 stars. I expect it to be a solid 4 stars eventually.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ''Furtive Pearl'' was a great success in Denmark and around the fellow Scandinavian countries, while its reputation even knocked the doors of UK, USA and Germany.Despite the growing popularity of the group, Mads Vinding and Bo Thrige Andersen left the band and were replaced by drummer Ole Streenberg and former Burnin Red Ivanhoe bassist Jess Staehr.Actually the reformation between all these Burnin Red Ivanhoe members gave birth again to the group.Back in our story, the new core of Secret Oyster entered the Rosenberg Studios in Copenhagen and recorded the second album ''Sea son'' between the 4th and the 7th July of 74'.The album was released at the fall of the year on CBS.

Unfortunately ''Sea son'' does not exactly meets the standards of Secret Oyster's monumental debut.But it is not a bad album at all.Slightly psychedelic Prog/Jazz Rock with clever use of electric piano and moog synthesizer along with a strong dose of melodic sax lines, while Bohling's impressive guitar work really shines through, characterized by either soft or more furious solos with a Fusion edge.The sound is rich with a discreet spaceness in the synth-drenched moves and the energy is always at the higher level.Good interplays between sax and keyboards, inventive breaks and PASSPORT-like trippy solos are also basic elements of the new album.The work of Staehr on bass is outstanding at moments, overshadowing the rest of the group.Some funky vibes are also evident during the listening in an attempt by the group to combine its more intricate stylings with more comfortable and calm textures.More careful listenings reveal the presence of dual keyboards and piano lines in a fair amount of passages, making the sound of Secret Oyster quite unique.

To my ears Secret Oyster sound with each album as an updated version of Burnin Red Ivanhoe.Psych-tinged Jazz/Fusion/Progressive Rock with light spacey lines due to the use of synthesizers, another solid album by the Danish formation.Warmly recommended.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars SECRET OYSTER emerged from one of Denmark's premiere jazz-fusion outfits called Burnin' Red Ivanhoe and found almost unanimous admiration from fans and critiques alike for its self-titled debut that has become known as "Furtive Peal." The band was signed to CBS Records right from the start and benefited from a well known record label promoting its efforts but the pressure was on to create a followup that would take things to the next level. The challenges of success only became more difficult after bassist Mats Vinding realized he didn't have time for what was supposed to be a part-time project that became too big for him to commit to. He jumped ship and was replaced by Jess Staehr who had played with Burnin' Red Ivanhoe.

Likewise original drummer Bo Thrige Andersen who originally played with Burnin' Red Ivanhoe was overwhelmed by a drug addiction and was let go due to the fact he wasn't able to live up to the standards that were required to take SECRET OYSTER to the next level. The choice of Ole Streenberg from the band Coronarias Dans was a gamble considering he was more versed in the world of jazz than rock but in the end proved to be the perfect choice and with these changes SECRET OYSTER would remain stable for their next albums until their untimely demise in 1977. While the trials and tribulations of band stability proved to be exhausting, the benefits of a major label promoting them proved to be quite beneficial.

For its second album SEA SON, the band was given free reign of unlimited studio time and an impressive lineup of session musicians who added extra instrumentation such as a string section on the opening track "Oysterjungle." The album also was given a stellar production which made SECRET OYSTER a true professional sounding band that enjoyed a healthy regional popularity and had even dipped into much of Denmark's European neighbors as well as a tour in the UK opening for Captain Beefheart. The result was that SEA SON was fine tuned into a jazz-fusion powerhouse with an emphasis on long bass-driven grooves with strange time signatures which allowed the various instruments to solo around. The drumming in particular offered a much heavier dose of percussive workouts and the album overall has a heavier sound as far as grooves, tempos and energetic delivery are concerned.

The album featured six tracks on the original vinyl along with three bonus tracks on the modern CD releases from the Laser's Edge and Long Hair labels. While afforded all the bells and whistles of a bigger budget and label support, from the musical side of the equation SEA SON is a lot more conservative than the loose wire "Furtive Pearl" which offered creative outbursts of energy in uncompromising ways. SEA SON on the other hand pretty much sticks to jamming sessions based on funkified bass grooves in the vein of fusion era Herbie Hancock only with more of a Mahavishnu Orchestra instrumentation that includes crazy Moog solos, jittery guitar riffs and solos as well as heavy bass and percussion although SECRET OYSTER wasn't quite up to Mr McLaughlin and company's compositional fortitude. Despite the straight forward jamming around a basic groove, the accoutrements of supplemental instrumentation do craft amazing contrapuntal effects.

All in all, SEA SON is an excellent slice of 70s jazz-fusion with tight instrumental interplay that may sound a bit stilted as it tends to be stuck in a one-trick-pony groove but offers enough supplemental effects to keep my interest for its entirety. Unfortunately what's missing on this sophomore album is the spontaneity and playfulness that the band unapologetically engaged in on the debut album. Whether one prefers SECRET OYSTER's debut over the rest of the canon or the other way around depends on if you are into a more polished delivery without too many surprises or something that takes you where you weren't expecting. Personally i prefer the more liberating experience of the debut but even though i find that to be superior it doesn't mean for a second that i don't find SEA SON to be a compelling set of arrangements that offers a more rock oriented approach in comparison to "Furtive Pearl."

Latest members reviews

5 stars Out of thousands of PA members so far only 48 have gotten around to rating the Secret Oyster's Sea Son, and there has been only one grassroots review. Well, here comes another one for your kind consideration. It turns out I have had some Secret Oyster music for years, if not decades. It was quiet ... (read more)

Report this review (#1313508) | Posted by Argonaught | Friday, November 21, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Secret Oyster, the great danish jazz-rock-fusion combo recorded four LPs in the seventies. My personal favourites of them are Straight To The Krankenhouse and this one - Sea Son. But - in my modest oppinion - the greatest musical masterpiece of Secret Oyster ever - Karsten Vogel's longish and ... (read more)

Report this review (#51397) | Posted by Rainer Rein | Wednesday, October 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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