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ALBATROSS

Albatross

Symphonic Prog


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Albatross Albatross album cover
3.16 | 47 ratings | 10 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (14:09)
2. Mr. Natural (5:23)
3. Devil's Strumpet (8:36)
4. Cannot Be Found (3:33)
5. Humpback Whales (4:34)

Total Time: 36:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Novak / vocals
- Paul Roe / lead guitar
- Mark Dahlgren / Mellotron M400, Arp Odyssey, Minimoog, Hammond B-3, grand piano, Fender Rhodes, vocals
- Joe Guarino / bass, vocals, producer
- Dana Williams / percussion

Releases information

LP Anvil - AT-1001 (1976, USA)

CD Great Barrier Records ‎- GBR 52 0 96 (2014, Australia)

Thanks to progbear for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ALBATROSS Albatross ratings distribution


3.16
(47 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
37%
Good, but non-essential (41%)
41%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ALBATROSS Albatross reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Yet another one-shot sympho-prog band from the Midwest who heard CLOSE TO THE EDGE, thought, "We could do that!" and made one privately produced album before disappearing off the face of the Earth for good. Like most of them, originality is not a very high priority. "Devil's Strumpet" (ooh, they should be garotted for that title!) notably cops the pipe-organ part from the "I Get Up, I Get Down" section of "Close To The Edge". Nothing else here is that blatant, but really, the band are hardly trailblazing innovators.

Still, for what it is, the album is fairly enjoyable. "Mr. Natural" is a bit of a throwaway, but the 14 minute "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" suite, obviously the piece the band lavished the most attention on and put the most effort into, is resonably strong. File under: pleasant, but rather inessential.

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars Albatross were a largely forgettable symphonic rock band from Rockford Illinois who came and went in the space of few years in the mid seventies. They owe very obvious debts to Yes and, to a lesser extent ELP, and in fact a couple tracks (“Devil's Strumpet” and “Humpback Whales”) are almost completely derivative of Yes circa Tales from Topographic Oceans.

Of course these guys weren’t anywhere near as creative or talented as the boys from London, and as a result their only album is a bit of a study in inconsistency.

Their magnum opus, as it were, is the fourteen minute long “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, a bombastic and overachieving orgy of keyboards, plodding bass and surprisingly little guitar. Lead vocalist Mike Novak’s singing is routinely referred to as “an acquired taste” in reviews, which of course means that it isn’t very good. Novak has virtually no range, has a bit of trouble staying in synch with the song’s tempo, and seems to be slightly tone deaf. Other than that this is an unexceptional song but one that certainly was not out-of-place at the time it was written, and probably sounded pretty good in concert.

Otherwise the record consists of the two aforementioned Yes-like numbers, a very strange “Mr. Natural” and “Cannot Be Found” which is a piano-heavy number that sounds like it was written for a Broadway musical.

“Mr. Natural” is some sort of rock-god tribute type of tune, complete with head-shaking lyrics like “all the girls try to touch his cape, Mr. Natural; one day he’ll be charged for rape” and awkwardly timed keyboard riffs that launch and die at inexplicable intervals.

This isn’t much of an album quite frankly, and the vinyl originals sell for ridiculous sums to collectors foolish enough to pay them, but the Japanese CD version is more accessible (although of dubious legitimacy from the looks of it). This is really only for obsessive compulsive collectors in my opinion, and as such only merits two stars.

peace

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Albatross is a forgotten symphonic band from USA from the mid '70's who released only one album in 1976 selftitled. Well, I saw that the reviewers from here ( just 5 befor me) are nor so ethusiastic about this album , to me is quite opposite, I find it enjoyble, with good tracks. The music is Yes orientated , with vocal parts remaind me more of Styx than Yes or ELP, but not really bad, seriosly this is a good album. The best pieces from here are the opening track Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - excellent piece with uptempo musicianship and bombastic arrangements on keys and Mr. Natural - an instristing one who desearve some spins. So, a good album, nothing special but not bad really. 3 stars .
Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Obscure american band from the mid 70īs. I only found this LP (yes, I found a vinyl copy with a friend, donīt ask me how he got it!) recently. And although the music here is quite pleasant, this is no masterpiece. How would I describe their music? Well, promising might be the right word. Albatross was one of the many groups that seem to worship Yes above all things (and ELP to a less extent) and tried to emulate their sound. The results are ok, I guess, but the only average production and lack of real strong material made this self titled work a curio more than anything else.

Please donīt get me wrong: as I said before, the band has its merits, specially at the keyboards department with very fine vintage keys put into good use (but again, they sound too much like Wakeman and Emerson, if you know what I mean). Mellotrons, Hammond organs and pianos abound on this LP.Surprisingly there are few guitar parts. Singer Mike Novak is surely one of the weak links of the chain. He tries hard to match his fellow bandmates, but he is no Jon Anderson (thank god he didnīt try to sing in falsetto). The rhythm section is quite good.

Songwriting wise, the band had a long way to go, and it is a pity they didnīt have the opportunity to prove themselves in that field. The 13 minute suite The Four Horseman Of Apocalypse is their best, but although quite pleasing it fails to generate much excitement. The weird Mr. Natural sounds like Yes trying to rock hard, and it is probably their weakest in the whole package. The Devilīs Strumpet is - terrible title aside - fairly good instrumentally, if you donīt mind the lack of originality (it is again a kind of Yes and ELP mix). Humpback Whales finishes the album with another Time And A Word era Yes-sounding tune.

Conclusion: the band had the chops and it would be interesting to see how they would develop if they had to chance to come up with better and more original material. Unfortunatly they didnīt. And this CD is definitly well done within all the limitations I mentioned before, but there were far too many other much more interesting stuff available at the time to give it more than a two star rating. For collectors and fans only.

Review by Progfan97402
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of those one-short American prog bands that Syn-Phonic should have reissued, but never happened. Instead some Japanese label reissued this on CD. Instead I was able to get the original LP, not cheap, though, but at least I got to hear it before I bought it. This group hailed from Rockford, Illinois, just like Cheap Trick. Of course Cheap Trick wasn't prog at all, but they became enormously successful with hits played on the radio and multi-platinum selling albums. Albatross was like groups like Cathedral, Mirthrandir, Babylon, and the likes where they never got more than a small-label release guaranteeing their rarity. Albatross' sole album was released on the Anvil label. Prog rock in the Midwest seemed really big in the mid 1970s and Yes was a particular example. Too often Albatross was considered nothing more than Yes wannabes. But I really can't agree on that. There is that Yes element, but the vocals from Mike Novak sound nothing like Jon Anderson (or Terry Luttrell of Starcastle). Compare that to Starcastle, on the other hand, they were very much a Yes clone (although I do enjoy their first three albums). Mark Dalhgren gives lots of nice keyboard work in the Wakeman, Emerson, and even Banks style, with lots of Hammond organ, synths (ARP), piano, and RMI electric piano/harpsichord, and even some nice use of Mellotron, which I wished was used more. The opening cut, "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" is nothing short of amazing, it's everything I enjoy about a 14 minute prog song. Lots of great keyboard work, imaginative Mellotron playing. I also like some of those synth sound effects Dahlgren gives. Now many people tend to be put off by "Mr. Natural". It might be their idea of a more commercial piece, on the other hand, if you give it a listen, you'll still notice some unconventional proggy passages, with the organ and synth passages in between the vocal passages. This was an example of the band not taking themselves seriously and a song like this would be completely out of the question by Yes. "Devil's Strumpet", well, there's that the pipe organ was no doubt "Close to the Edge" inspired. Pipe organ was the Second Congregational Church's organ, which apparently was a local church. Luckily there's tons of more great prog things going on. "Cannot Be Found" is a piano-oriented ballad, it could be a bit sappy for some, but it don't bother me. "Humpback Whales" is a nice, short proggy number. Since I've been collecting obscure prog now for 20 years, I'm glad to still find obscurities like this that has passed my radar scope for many years, and glad to have in my collection. I doubt most of you are willing to shell out the money for an original LP, but if you get a chance to hear it, it's worth it.
Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars An American one-shot symphonic prog band operating in the mid-Seventies, Albatross released a single privately produced album before vanishing, and this inconsistent but nonetheless interesting self-titled album is their legacy. A strong Yes influence is instantly obvious throughout the five pieces on offer here, but the band filled their album with plenty of colourful instrumental variety, and, along with with Mike Novak's distinctive vocals, definitely had their own personality. Albatross deserve credit for their impressive technical skills and energy, and this work is instantly enjoyable and easy to find merit in, especially due to its frequently up-tempo arrangements.

Good on the band for having the confidence to open their debut album with a fourteen minute prog epic! For such a bleak lyric about the end of days, `Four Horseman of the Apocalypse' sure is constantly energetic and infectious! A rich variety runs through several different vocal and instrumental passages here, covering everything from overwhelming symphonic majesty, regal pomp, subtle grooves and dreamier spacey moments with very light classical elements for good measure as well. All of the musicians get to show off their skills - Mark Dahlgren offers plenty of bristling Mellotron used in different ways as well gleaming organ and loopy synth glitches, Dana Williams' lively drumming is rambunctious and commanding, Paul Roe's burning electric guitar soiling is heroic, and Joe Guarino thankfully delivers that thick plodding bass sound listeners love in vintage prog bands.

Mike Novak's boisterous vocal definitely tests the friendship on the quirky and slightly grating `Mr Natural'. Partly a comedic piece, heavy E.L.P-like Hammond organ stabs burst around a slight funk groove and a confident chorus, but the piece is more interesting when it spirals out of control with some delirious synth breakdowns and nice infernal Mellotrons bursts in the middle! The proficient band let themselves down by shamelessly ripping the church organ passage from `Close to the Edge's `I Get Up, I Get Down' section throughout the start and end of the amusingly titled `Devil's Strumpet' (love it!), but thankfully a constant fast tempo and endless tight and tricky peppy instrumental runs with superb interplay between all the musicians shine throughout the entire nine minutes.

`Cannot Be Found' is a mostly melancholic ballad with a wounded romantic lyric and plenty of Wakeman-esque flights of piano fancy and prettiness. It's a nice reprieve from all the busy and bombastic pieces that came before it, benefitting from its compact form and shorter running time, not even lasting four minutes. The catchy and punchy up-tempo closer `Humpback Whales' is, sure enough, a seafaring tale, with a foot-tapping beat thanks to the snappy drumming, and there's plenty of brisk little Hammond, Moog and Mellotron fills and some playful whimsical breaks. A breezy and likeable way to finish the album!

`Albatross' will never be confused for being a long lost undiscovered classic, but there is much worth discovering here, and the album greatly improves on repeated listens. As a prog-rock music collection grows, when you're sick and tired of the endless reissues of the long overdosed on classic titles and bands, little known curios like Albatross are more appreciated and very appealing, so do give the album a chance should you come across any of the CD reissues (an Australian label Great Barrier Records delivered the most recent one in 2014). A very decent work, and all the members of Albatross should look back fondly on the good results they achieved here with pride!

Three stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is a bit of personal insight to the Albatross LP. I am Tom Lehman, one of the credited engineers (and the voice of Mr. Natural :-) on the album. I also ran the boards for Albatross' live gigs from 1974 to 1977. This is a rehash of a review I did in 2011 (as tlehma) with a few corrections a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1813568) | Posted by tlehman | Monday, October 16, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars More than a review this is a bit of personal insight to the Albatross LP. I am Tom Lehman, one of the credited engineers (and the voice of Mr. Natural :-) on the album. I also ran the boards for Albatross' live gigs from 1974 to 1977. This album is certainly a rarity, there were only 1000 albums ... (read more)

Report this review (#446295) | Posted by TLehma | Thursday, May 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Pleasant, the type of symphonic prog that gives you good vibes......not so original, hints of Yes and also a bit typical 70's US progsound āla Lift, Yezda Urfa and Chakra. The allmighty Tron appears also on this album, and fits nicely in. Anyway, should be added to every progheads collection, ... (read more)

Report this review (#62768) | Posted by | Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I agree with the previous reviewer by saying that Albatross is heavily influenced by Yes. It's indeed correct, but I can't say that this is a "we could do this too" band. It still has its own personality and so on. I actually really dig the singer, although I had some difficulties with his voi ... (read more)

Report this review (#54551) | Posted by Dan Yaron | Thursday, November 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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