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Marsupilami Marsupilami album cover
3.89 | 88 ratings | 12 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dorian Deep (7:40)
2. Born to Be Free (5:45)
3. And the Eagle Chased the Dove to Its Ruin (6:38)
4. Ab Initio Ad Finem (The Opera) (10:54)
5. Facilis Descencus Averni (9:37)

Total Time 40:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Fred Hasson / vocals, harmonica, bongos
- Dave Laverock / acoustic, electric & bowed guitars, vocals
- Leary Hasson / organ
- Jessica Stanley-Clarke / flute, vocals
- Richard Hicks / bass
- Mike Fouracre / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Diogenic Attempts Ltd. with Peter Smith (photo)

LP Transatlantic Records ‎- TRA 213 (1970, UK)
LP Acme ‎- ADLP 1079 (2012, UK) Remastered by Gary Ramon

CD Transatlantic Records ‎- TACD 9.00737 (1989, Germany)
CD Expertise Records ‎- EXCD-9911 FF (2003, Europe) Remastered
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2095 (2008, UK) 24-bit remaster by Paschal Byrne

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MARSUPILAMI Marsupilami ratings distribution

(88 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MARSUPILAMI Marsupilami reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by hdfisch
4 stars Excellent rare and unique album in early 70's Prog!

This obscure British band that followed the opposite way of many others and migrated to the rather small country Netherlands made one of the most original and unique music ever existing in early or proto-prog. In fact IMHO they were that good that only the biggest prog bands like Genesis, King Crimson or Yes and not before a few years later were better. Based on a kind of guitar/organ-rock typical for early 70's their music is characterized by great vocal harmonies mainly with multiple voices and flute by Jessica Stanley-Clarke. On their debut they were presenting a very playful classically influenced proto-prog in five more or less lengthy compositions. Driving factor is the quite complex interplay between guitar and organ enriched with several solos on both instruments. Whenever the flute is coming more into focus the music becomes more elegiac and dreamy, at times jazzy. The album is a very versatile one creating a rather relaxed atmosphere with a sound never becoming to hard at any moment and by using taped sound effects like musical-clock or crows' croaking they are even adding up some variation.

Highlights: Well it's hard to name any, since the whole album is one, but to mention at least two, maybe the vocally dominated one And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin and the instrumental one Ab Initio Ad Finem (The Opera) with awesome organ play and drumming.

Without any hesitation I'd recommend their two albums to any lover of unique early 70's prog and this debut absolutely deserves 4 (4,5) stars.

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Marsupilami is a pretty tame sounding name, but this band is possessed of a chaotic edge that makes them one of my more exciting prog discoveries in recent times. This 1970 album is the first of two little-known gems that the band cut during its all-too brief heyday. I keep wavering as to which of the two albums is my favourite (at the moment the title belongs to Arena), but they're both worth having. I think what makes Marsupilami so interesting it that the band was done and dusted before the rules and formulas that define prog (and really shouldn't) were set in stone.

The first track here, Dorian Deep begins on a pretty ominous note that doesn't quite let up throughout the album. Eventually a powerful bass-driven song unfolds, with the organ and drums helping to build up the atmosphere while the vocals (always melodramatic and occasionally downright manic!) sing an unusual melody. Dorian Deep is a fantastic piece with Mike Fouracre's frantic drums occasionally being quite tribal in nature, and Jessica Stanley Clarke's flute flittering about constantly ... there's even time for a bit of poetry before a high octane jam takes over.

To Be Free starts off as languid flute-driven piece before suddenly exploding into another frenzied jam, although the Leary Hasson organ solo gives this one a jazz tinge ... that is until the harmonica solo comes in! Finally the flute reclaims the piece and the listener is thrown back to that now seemingly distant melllow beginning

The imagery in And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin is pretty neat (although I'd be lying if I said that lyrics were Marsupilami's greatest strength). I must say that though that this is probably my least favourite track, and I think that's because it's the one with the most vocals and the least instrumental interludes.

This minor aberration is more than made up for by Ab Intio Ad Finem (The Opera) which runs for nearly 11 minutes. It begins with a musical box kind of sound before a march gradually takes over. Some churchy organ creeps in and after 2 minutes, an excellent organ/tribal drum jam ensues and after a minute or two, some delightful flute chips in. It then becomes a guitar freak out, before flute leads the band back into a pastoral section, before everything takes off again on a wild jazzy jam at around the 7 minute mark. Although the churchy organ outro seems a tad predictable when it arrives, I still think this is probably my favourite tune.

Facilis Descencus Averni is a different beast altogether, perhaps even more jarring than the most manic moments of Dorian Deep. There's crazed laughter, more poetry, a garish instrument (I can't figure out what ... perhaps a distorted organ) that reaches in and almost tears at one's ears, and a another high-powered jam, with a drastic switch to a meditative flute passage ... before the great jazzy vocal part restates itself.

There is a vibe that reminds me occasionally of Quintessence and at other times of Iron Butterfly, but Marsupilami probably has more to offer the average prog fan than either of these two bands. The intermitently off-key vocals may put some off, but I love these sort of rare prog albums, by bands who were indisputably prog, yet were done before the likes of Yes, Genesis and ELP hit their peak. ... 78% on the MPV scale

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars As a huge fan from the early British Progressive Rock Movement I got excited after reading the positive reviews on this site. So I ordered their two albums and especially this eponymous debut album is a treat. The sound is typical early Seventies: very alternating (a progressive blend of classic, folk, blues and psychedelia) and dynamic featuring long compositions that are build around great Hammond organ play, powerful flute work and fiery electric guitar. The vocals are good and the instrumentation delivers also bongos, xylophone and mouth organ. To me the music of Marsupilami has echoes from JULIAN'S TREATMENT, BEGGAR'S OPERA (first album), IRON BUTTERLY, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN and some early PINK FLOYD but their music has sufficient musical ideas to nail them as a derivative! I'm delighted about this discovery, VERY COMPELLING AND EXCITING EARLY PROG!
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Outstanding sextet formed in 1968 and among the first bands to be signed by Transatlantic records.They moved to The Netherlands to record their first eponymous LP.''Marsupilami'' is a fantastic example of early-70's really progressive rock music,based mainly on magnificent organ orgasms and attacking guitars with heavy doses of flute and harmonica passages.However,their music cannot be labeled as hard rock by any means.They have actually a diverse sound with blues,jazz and psych overtones mixed with superb instrumental interplays and a dark,intense atmosphere.A great LP,personally listed in my top-5 prog albums of 1970,strongly recommended to fans of early dark prog yn the vein of GNIDROLOG or VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR.
Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The product of two brothers, Leary and Fred Hasson (organ and vocals respectively), Marsupilami - a name taken from the work of Belgian cartoonist Andre Franquin - formed in 1968 and was one of Transatlantic Records first acts to be signed. A fascinating missing link in the Prog chain, Marsupilami's debut is a hoot-- a wonderful and slightly insane record that revealed a wholly unique kind of underground rock. Oh it's prog, baby, but at the time the six-piece was conflicted as to what exactly they were offering and evidently felt their work should be placed with Jazz or classical. Of course they were neither, just an incredibly inventive rock band and looking back, had a small but measurable effect on what became the Prog era with a sound that may have even influenced the likes of Dave Stewart and Keith Emerson. In 1969 they were on a heavy schedule appearing with Deep Purple, Joe Cocker Band, Quintessence, Mighty Baby, and were the first group to play at the Isle of Wight Festival. By mid-'69 they'd turned down an offer from MCA and recorded this album near King's Road in London at an old dairy turned studio, released in April 1970 on Transatlantic.

Each cut was done in one or two takes, capturing an immediacy most prog artists save Egg or Soft Machine would reject in favor of precision and formality. No such sacrifice of living energy here, the material an impressive amalgam of cerebral complexity and organic depth, structure with some room to bend but not break. We're met with a wind-swept valley for the monastic 'Dorian Deep', Dave Laverock's classic fuzz guitar leading with Leary Hasson's organ and Jessica Stanley-Clarke's twitter on flute, somewhere between Santana's early jams and Arzachel's wraith-rock. Canterbury School jazz for 'Born to be Free', and majestic 'And the Eagle Chased the Dove to its Ruin' drips with the rhythmic energy of classic psychedelia. The funereal creaking of 'Ab Initio Ad Finem' evolves into a serious rock movement and interprets an Old Testament-style sermon on cataclysmic events, an instrumental clocking in at a healthy 10&1/2 minutes with the hot timekeeping of Mike Fouracre & Richard Hicks, Hasson letting go on his Hammond. And they close with 'Facilis Descencus Averni' where their Baroque leanings come out in full.

Earthy, powerful and intriguing, Marsupilami was one of the first true progressive rock bands. Complete in its ambition, total in its capabilities, absolute in its theater, an ensemble that burned just a bit brighter than most in the English post-underground scene and a must for any serious Prog completist.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars One of those early 70's group that should've emerged but didn't , like Audience, Comus, Gnidrolog and a few more, this south-west England sextet, built around the Hasson brothers Fred (vocals) and Leary (keyboards) and the latter's girlfriend Jessica Clarke (flute and vocals), released two superb albums that have gone way too long without being noticed. The group toured in 68 & 69 heavily in the UK and Continental Europe (from Denmark to Switzerland), even opening the first Isle of Wight Festival that year and played in the first Glastonbury fest the following year. They finally secured a record deal with the folk-specialist Transatlantic label (Pentangle amongst others) and recorded their self-titled album in June 69 (ITCOTCK is still months away), but for some reason, it was only released on April 70. Would've things changed heavily if the album had been released before KC's debut? We'll never know, but Marsipulami's sombre and slightly spooky flute- laden music, often evoking mythology, certainly was groundbreaking stuff and should've caught many more "underground public" ears, but the offer was plentiful in those times and the places in the sunshine a bit scarce.

Back in 69, the sextet's sound was definitely anchored in the 70's, even if the guitars still had a fuzz thing, and groups like Purple or The Nice were not as "modern", but the songwriting was maybe a little too close from one song to another, or the band wasn't able to arrange that the tracks had each its own proper atmosphere, precisely like ITCOFTCK or Nursery Cryme. Indeed, from the opening Dorian Deep, the atmosphere is often sombre and brooding, heavy and borderline angry (Hasson's sometimes off-key and perfectible vocals induce this), organ-driven, with the fuzz guitar and the flute (sounding more like Latimer than anderson) adding more drama, Fouracre's drumming being very strong, this leaves Hicks' bass playing often the anchoring role, but does it brilliantly. The A-side is made of three semi-lengthy tracks, building the group's overall sound, but the flipside's two epics are what the group is all about

By the time of the second-last track Ad Initio (an instrumental), despite their own little intro, we're sort of lost as to where we are as all the tracks have the same ring to them, but here there is also a bunch of classical music themes revisited, the whole thing going down in a chaos of eternal damnation and hell promised, but alas Leary's organ is resurrected through the apocalyptic end and provides a suitable outro. The last track has a more brilliant passage where a cello appears and gives directly another colour to the last minutes of Descencus Aveni., which in its opening stages was reminiscent of early Wishbone Ash despite Jessica's flute, and if it disappears for a while, it comes back as soon as the singing returns (WA's debut was released in early 70, but remember this album is early 69)

This is the very first Cd reissue for this album (the second did have one on Line A in the early 90's) and it's a crying shame, but at least Esoteric Records took care of this omission, and remastered the album, but apparently no extra material was available, which is no problem, since the album is self-supporting on its own. Yes, we've got certainly a major debut album, but it isn't flawless, particularly in terms of singing and in variety or spectrum, but let us not nitpick because Esoteric unearthed a real gem, here.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars The big bang of progressive rock music had only just got begun to break in 1969 when bands like King Crimson, East Of Eden, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd were redefining the context of the rock paradigm by wresting the exemplar blues oriented ingredients out of the standard status quo and expanding its horizons into levels of ever increasing complexity when one of the first adventurous bands, MARSUPILAMI took the newly developing sub-genre of rock and augmented its complexity in virtually every way. This band was born in 1968 when the Hasson brothers, Fred (vocals, harmonica, bongos) and Leary (organ) came up with the idea of naming their band after a famous Belgian comic book character that was created in 1952. The brothers were raised in Taunton in the Somerset region of England only in an Anglo-French household where they were exposed to both sides of the channel at an early age. The comic book character created by André Franquin was a strange hybrid of a monkey and a cat and was yellow with black spots but also a mix of being adorably cute and highly rebellious. Thus, the band MARSUPILAMI not only adopted the name of this character but the generally personality traits as well.

MARSUPILAMI formed after touring Spain in their previous R&B band Levitation but after scoring a coveted gig with the Joe Cocker band, the brothers realized that the other members weren't committed and went their separate ways. After many auditions and new members joining and quickly departing, the brothers cemented their new band by picking off their favorite talents from local band and thus the newly formed lineup included Mike Fouracre (drums) and Richard Hicks (bass guitar) who came from local blues outfit Justin's Timepiece and Dave Laverock (guitar) came from a semi-pro band, the Sabres. Leary's flute playing, art student girlfriend, Jessica Stanley Clarke (now Jecka McVicar, Britain's foremost organic herb grower) joined the cast and one of the world's most sophisticated early prog bands was born. Soon thereafter the members headed to a large unused country house and set up the barn as the 24/7 rehearsal studio where they would tease all their influences into the monstrous musical structures that appeared on their eponymous debut album in full-on progressive splendor.

With influences ranging from the classical greats such as Messian to jazz gurus such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner and Pharaoh Sanders with a little contemporary folk via Fairport Convention as well as the most innovative thinkers in rock via Zappa, Soft Machine, MARSUPILAMI carefully crafted through the painstaking alchemical amalgamations coupled with the ceaseless practice sessions and created some of the most daring and out of the box musical structures within the rock paradigm of the era. While having been released in April 1970, the album was recorded all the way back in June 1969 before King Crimson shocked the world with their progressive bomb "In The Court Of The Crimson King," so that means that MARSUPILAMI developed their simultaneous approach of more demanding strains of rock music completely independently ushering in a completely unique sound unlike any of the other artists of the day. In fact the debut album was actually much more daring and unpredictable as any of the better known early prog albums released by King Crimson, East Of Eden, Amon Düül II, The Nice, Pink Floyd or Soft Machine.

MARSUPILAMI was somewhat of a hit on the live circuit as they played at a number of festivals at a rather relentless pace and even opened for Deep Purple in their Mark I phase. They played the famous 1969 Isle Of Wight Festival and even won the Exeter based South West Regional leg of Melody Maker Best Band Competition. They were also gaining quite the reputation as formidable stage presence on the mainland in Europe and after finding the perfect manager in Julian Palmer-Hill, they were approached by MCA for a record contract but opted instead to sign with the independent Transatlantic Records which was looking to diversify into the greater rock world beyond their avant-garde and folk based acts of The Humblebums, John Fahey, John Cage and even Zappa's "Uncle Meat," just to name a few.

This eponymous debut album is the essence of what would become the norm in adventurous prog that coming to fruition the following year thus in effect jump starting the arms race of pomp and awe that meant each band would attempt to outdo the other with ever increasing albums of complexity. Laced with psychedelic trips, instrumental workouts twisted into complex labyrinthine compositional constructs with jazz-tinged chord progressions with long extended passages to allow flute drenched motifs, heavy rock guitar and avant-garde meanderings, the eponymously titled debut from MARSUPILAMI is one of progressive rock's earliest crowning achievements, however due to a rather limited shelf life of band members cohesively sharing the same vision, the band was short lived and their existence has woefully fallen off the radar throughout the ensuing decades. All five tracks were recorded in relatively few takes and basically done completely live displaying the extreme dexterity and commitment to detail that MARUPILAMI so gracefully mastered.

While the musical mojo shifts stylistically at the drop of a hat randomly metamorphosing from heavy organ tinged rock to folky flute based dreamscapes with chanting and then off to full-on jazz-rock fusion splendor, the lyrics constructed a more ominous and apocalyptic vision such as on the all instrumental "Ab Initio Ad Finem" which is a musical interpretation of a sermon from the Old Testament of the Bible which narrates humanity's undoing through a global catastrophe. "Dorian's Deep" begins the album in a 60s psychedelic haze with a droning organ and ethereal chanting but quickly changes gear from a flute and bass driven military march to a bombastic guitar and organ driven progressive rock behemoth as it goes for the jugular with complex time signature outbursts, unexpected stylistic shifts and various moody elements battling it for domination as the rock guitar, bass and drums alternate with the flute dominated folk elements and psychedelic breakdowns. "Born To Be Free" sounds more like a throwback to the 60s with a jazzy flute dominated mellow vibe. Despite being one of the more "normal" tracks steeped more in a 60s psych throwback rather than 70s excess, the track still exhibits unorthodoxies.

"And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin" totally goes off the deep end with not only the most gloom ridden lyrics of the album but also in its relentless attack on the senses with a tension driving build up that ratchets up the frenetic flute outbursts and heavy time signature rich deviations fortified by a heavy bass and drum attack with the guitar interacting at full fury. "Ab Initio Ad Finem (The Opera)" offers another slice of impending doom with organs riffing in a J.S Bach funeral march while a caffeinated bongo attack creates an impenetrable percussive wall of sound only to be uplifted by a somewhat contemplative flute that can't decide if it's having a good day or not. When the guitars finally emerge, they soar above it all and tamp down the competition until it finally mellows out into a somewhat funk meets flute vibe. The track continues to transmogrify into completely new unrelated territories and although instrumental indeed conveys a lifetime of emotions in its wake. The closing "Facilis Descencus Averni" opens with a call and response of flute and guitar but quickly settles into a more rockin' set with the oddly shaped angular vocal harmonics indicative of the album and goes to even further ends of changing things up frequently but with the intro melodic reprise grounding it somewhat. This last piece if by far the most adventurous and demanding piece and the perfect way to end this brilliant ahead-of-its- time album.

MARSUPILAMI's debut is without doubt the most complex progressive rock albums of the tender year of 1970 and having been created an entire year prior in 1969 ranks as one of progressive rock's most innovative and expressive constructs in its birth pangs. The skill and dexterity that the musicians exhibit is simply impeccable as they effortlessly meander in unison all across the bizarrely constructed soundscapes. Perhaps only dampened by the rather mopey vocal style of Fred Hasson for some as it certainly is an acquired taste and it goes without saying that this is one of those tough nuts to crack musical experiences as it takes a multitude of listening sessions to fully comprehend and then a few more to really let sink in. While emerging as the most angular and demanding listens of the year it was released, there are plenty of dark but beautiful melodic hooks that create a certain level of instant accessibility however they are indeed relentless in their abandonment just as things become familiar as well.

Psychedelic Krautrock tinged sections? Yep, the very first track "Dorian Deep" begins with a firm tie to the 60s with a nice lysergic mind-expanding intro that slowly gels into a creeping organ and spooky vocal 'aaah's' that coalesce into a bass, drum, organ and vocal melodic development which is revisited throughout. As the album continues it pretty much displays a various mix of freak folk flute action preceding the Comus masterpiece "First Utterance," symphonic pastoral interludes that Genesis would latch onto the same year, pugnacious organ rock aspects that Deep Purple were only beginning to develop and even full fledged progressive rock high energy deliveries that wouldn't be fully unleashed at this level again until Il Balletto Di Bronzo's groundbreaking "Ys." Add to that the extreme jazz-fusion sensibilities of syncopation without any melodic sacrificial lambs and you have a recipe for something totally brilliant and light years ahead of its time.

While it seems most reviewers feel reluctant to give this the full masterpiece creds, i personally have no problem pulling the trigger for a 5 star piece of heaven such as this. Virtually everything 70s prog had already coalesced at this early stage and although never to be repeated except by the band themselves with their second and last offering "Arena," MARSUPILAMI are a testament to how quickly the progressive rock big bang of 1969 evolved in a very startling short period of time with all subsequent acts merely latching on to certain aspects of what was unleashed here. This album truly makes me wonder how many other more successful bands were listening to this and latched onto some of the ideas presented. There is just so much on here that it's mind blowing. This is truly a Code Red, Phase 5, top notch prog album that registers a 10 on the prog-o-meter. Simply stunning and beyond belief. A personal favorite.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Finally getting around to reviewing MARSUPILAMI's debut after reviewing their second and final album seven years ago. What an incredibly talented band and ahead of their time. They were from the UK but located to The Netherlands after this record became quite popular over there. They broke up after the second release due to poor album sales. A six piece with a designated singer who adds some harmonica on "Born To Be Free". Organ, flute, percussion, bass and guitar round out the sound. Some of the guys add harmonies.

This is sixties sounding at times not so surprisingly being released in 1970. So warm and melodic. No sax like on the second release but man flip a coin over which one is better or do your self a favour and get both. Reminds me of EAST OF EDEN and their two classic releases from this time period that were also complex and adventerous and taking back seats to no band. I love how consistent this is as well as we get five really good tracks worth around 40 minutes of time. They use samples and talk about tempo and mood changes, plenty of both. The singer is great along with the guitarist who changes it up quite a bit. The flute is so warm and melodic as well and the organ often is used as atmosphere but does lead too.

Highly recommended to you fans of early Prog.

Latest members reviews

5 stars MARSUPILAMI might sound like an exotic breed of Australian mammal, or maybe an Italian pasta, but they're really an English Prog-Rock band. They might not be quite as exotic as their bandname implies, but their music is pretty extraordinary. Their bizarre name derives from an obscure Belgian chi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2344462) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Monday, March 23, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Strange. Unique. A rare piece of progressive rock from UK. You will find everything you want here, constant rhytmic change, but not exageratted, a great organ, some psychedelic influences, and more. I could express my appreciation for this album calling it "almost a masterpiece". And I do n ... (read more)

Report this review (#965914) | Posted by VOTOMS | Tuesday, May 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Marsupilami is one of those bands from the early era of progressive rock that made great music. They were a British band but moved to The Netherlands to make their music. I don't know if they were influenced at all by the Dutch progressive bands of the late sixties, early seventies. But with t ... (read more)

Report this review (#75337) | Posted by Agemo | Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I first listened to Marsupilami's self titled album on I got it a week later. They released only two albums: Marsupilami and Arena in the early 70s. Marsupilamis is an essential album for early 70s prog rock lovers. It has lots of psycodelic progressive soundscapes, an ... (read more)

Report this review (#34742) | Posted by | Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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