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Machiavel Jester album cover
3.80 | 117 ratings | 14 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Wisdom (6:00)
2. Sparkling Jaw (7:00)
3. Moments (3:17)
4. In the Reign of Queen Pollution (6:56)
5. The Jester (5:20)
6. Mister Street Fair (7:55)
7. Rock, Sea, and Tree (9:52)

Total Time 46:20

Bonus tracks on 1993, 1994 & 2010 reissues:
8. The Birds Are Gone (1:49)
9. I'm Nowhere (2:22)

Line-up / Musicians

- Mario Guccio / vocals, flute, saxophone, clarinet
- Jean-Paul Devaux / electric guitar, 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, vocals
- Albert Letecheur / pianos (acoustic, electric & honky-tonk), harpsichord, String Ensemble, Mellotron, synthesizer, tubular bells, glockenspiel
- Roland De Greef / bass, cellobass, 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, carillon, bells, whistle, comb, tape effects, vocals
- Marc Ysaye / drums, vocals, tambourine, maracas, percussion (gong, wood blocks, glass blocks, broken glass, bells tree, sleigh bells, flextone, nutcracker)

Releases information

Artwork: Celle

LP Harvest 1A 064-99289 (1977, Belgium)
LP EMI Greece S.A. 14C 062-99289 (1977, Greece)
LP Harvest 3C 064-99289 (1977, Italy)
LP Harvest, EMI 10C 064-099289, B.282-1978 (1978, Spain, entitled Jester "Bufon")

CD EMI - 0777 78916321 (1993, Netherlands) 2 bonus tracks from 1974 previously unreleased
CD Spalax - 14282 (1994, France) Remaster by Jerome Sandron and Marc Ysaye w/ 2 bonus tracks
CD Esoteric Recordings - ECLEC2224 (2010, UK) 24-bit remaster by Ben Wiseman w/ 2 bonus tracks
CD Harvest - WPCR-16880 (2015, Japan) Remastered

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MACHIAVEL Jester ratings distribution

(117 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

MACHIAVEL Jester reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Their peak , but definitely not my cup of tea. This band along with Kayak and Eloy were thrown into a so-called Eurock category as phoney as that may seem today , this was to help continental bands to battle the brits over-protecting their market . I believe this could have been done simply with better bands than those thrown in that "movement"
Review by loserboy
4 stars MACHIAVEL were one of Belgian best known symphonic progressive rock band of the 70's who released 3 excellent albums. "Jester" was MACHIAVEL's second album released and pretty much delivers on their patented symphonic prog pop style with excellent light complex playing. Musically this band were top notch with some killer keyboard, guitar, bass and drum interplay. Being a symphonic prog band, "Jester"'s focus is predominantly full of great keyboard work utilizing the moog, organ, mellotron, Fender Rhodes and others polyphonic instruments. I always hear folks reference MACHIAVEL in terms of parallels to GENESIS but I do not really get this. more of a cross of SUPERTRAMP say and ANGE. This album offers a nice varied range of themes and ideas from pop-like phrases to symphonic mountains of mashed potatoes. One thing MACHIAVEL were able to do is certainly write memorable music and had a knack of writing prog music that would really stick in your head and you will find yourself hours later humming parts of this album (at least this does it for me!).
Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars I'm surprised that this fine Belgian progrock band has so few reviews on this site, perhaps they sound too accessible? Especially their second and third album are an excellent addition to any collection, later their sound turned into more commercial and poppy. This second album is 'second best' after their magnum opus "Mechanical moonbeams".

On the first side the first two tracks "Wisdom" and "Sparkling jaw" contain mostly a slow rhtyhm with some breaks and accellarations and wonderful colouring from the keyboards (string-ensemble, spectacular Minimoog runs and Fender Rhodes electric piano), strong English vocals and great guitarplay (from sensitive to fiery). The third song "Moments" has a pleasant romantic atmosphere featuring warm vocals, twanging acoustic guitar and wonderful choir-Mellotron. The final composition on side one starts with a mellow keyboard intro, then halfway flowing shifting moods delivering great work on the choir-Mellotron, Minimoog and Fender Rhodes piano along good vocals.

On side two first two tasteful and alternating tracks entitled "Jester" and "Mister street fair", both with wonderful changing climates, surprising breaks, varied keyboard (majestic choir-Mellotron waves) work and strong vocals. This album ends with the long composition "Rock, sea and tree" that alternates between mellow and swinging featuring fine interplay between a dynamic rhythm-section, vocals and piano. Halfway we can enjoy a sensitive electric guitar solo, then a gradually more bombastic atmosphere with a propulsive rhythm-section and a sensational Minimoog solo.


Review by Progbear
4 stars With the addition of the expressive lead singer Mario Guccio, Machiavel really came into their own. Genesis is obviously the main influence, but Machiavel were always a bit on the quirky side. The use of layered syntheisizer sounds and various tape/electronic effects definitely made them sound a bit apart from your usual bog-standard Genesis clone. Lyrically, they seem to enjoy indulging in a sort of dark surrealism, which adds harrowing undertones to "Wisdom" and "Sparkling Jaw". It does get a bit silly and mawkish with "In The Reign Of Queen Pollution", but that at least presents us with the image of a baby born with a gas-mask, nearly thirty years before a very similar image in the unforgettable "Empty Child" episode of DOCTOR WHO.

The surrealism carries over into the rather perverse cover art (check out the inner gatefold!), which gave me big time LA PLANETE SAUVAGE flashbacks.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An obscured and underrated gem of the latter-day symphonic prog style. While the Brit prog bands were already on the decline in the eve of Punk revolt in 1977, the Belgian MACHIAVEL produced a well-balanced, melodic and extremely listenable album "Jester". Of course, nothing groundbreaking or much original can be expected in this period, but MACHIAVEL showed that even re-cycling of old prog ideas can be done in a nice and interesting manner. Electric piano is dominant on this record and it draws attention of SUPERTRAMP fans. Very good album and one of best representatives of "continental" symphonic prog rock.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Good news. Machiavel hired a full-time lead singer in the person of Mario and the quality of this album is definitely better than their debut one. Composition are stronger, each member fits well into the ensemble which will lead, IMO, to the best album they will ever release.

Nice symphonic music, thanks to the great keyboards playing from Albert but a bit harder than before. I like pretty much the opening number "Wisdom" which is a good synthesis of the music that sits on this album.

"Sparkling Jaw" is a great prog song. It starts like a beautiful ballad with emotional vocals as well as an excellent guitar solo, before getting a bit rockier. Letecheur is again on the foreground during the instrumental part of this second half. This song is precursory of "After The Crop" (on their next album). Complex structure, theme changes (at least four) and solid backing band. One of their best songs and a highlight of this album.

The construction of "In The Rein..." is a bit similar as far as the complexity is concerned but it didn't pass the proof of time so well. Still it is a good composition.

My second fave here is the title track : "Jester". Strong rhythm, the keyboards sound will be very familiar to your ears. Fully Supertramp-oriented. I remember having seen one concert of the "Jester" tour (yes back in '77) at the "Cité Modèle" near the Heysel stadium in Brussels. This number was one the highlights and it still remains one of my Machiavel fave (all-time).

One of Machiavel's longest song, "Rock, Sea and Tree" closed the original album. It's a cresendo-like track. Extremely slow for over two minutes (you can't almost hear anything), the tempo accelarates for a sort of jamming jazz session. A theatrical vocals part from Mario will initiate the closing sections : a very pleasant guitar solo as well as a crazy finale featuring Banks-like keyboards.

This album is not a masterpiece as such but if you are curious in hearing one of their albums, I would highly recommend "Jester" (even more than "Mechanical" probably).

The CD version features two old songs. They could have remained unreleased.

Four stars.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Excelent second album by this belgian band, Machiavel. Jester is from 1977 and is a big improvement over the first, maybe because they have now a propper vocalist, Mario Guccio. The music is clearly inspired by Genesis (Trick or Wind and wuthering era) with very strong key arrangements, specially on synthesizers and mellotron. For me Jester is a very good album with a lot to offer, very underrated, amond the best from Belgium and why not from the late'70's. The album has diffrent kind of moods, beggins with a mid tempo piece Wisdom, with great guitar solo and fantastic keybord combinations, and goes on with a slow one Moments and then the core of the album wich is the best, the middle pieces - In the reign of queen pollution, Jester and Mister street fair . The best pieces are ; Wisdom, title track Jester with great vocals and smooth arragements and Mister street fair , the rest are also very enjoyble. The music of Machiavel is not very complicated, sometimes is something between Genesis but less symphonic and Supertamp, but for sure needs attention. So a big album for me, 4 stars without hestitation, among the most enjoyble albums i have in my collection.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Until recently my only knowledge of this interesting belgium quintet was through their live album, recorded much, much later on their career. I thought their music was nice, but a little too popish maybe. And I lost interest in them. But then a friend borrow me a bunch of CDs and among them was Jester. Not surprisingly it was the very last fo that bunch that I happened to hear. And I was quite impressed. It is very different from all the stuff on the live album. And surely much more progressive.

Ok, they do have a kind of pop struture, but their music here is far from being easy listening music or too radio friendly. In fact, it has some intricated parts and lots of effects that makes the CD a little difficult to digest at first. But the record grows on you with each spin, until you are utterly hooked. The music here is hard to define, but sometimes it reminded me of Supertramp, a band that also knew how to write great tunes using various pop formats, but Machiavel is much more complex and subtle. Another references could be The Beatles, ELO at the beginning and the Moody Blues, but again the music is more elaborated and less obvious.

Most of the songs are built around the terrific keyboards lines of Albert Letecheur . The guy really knows how to use his vast array of synths, pianos and organ to make a esquisite variety of sound landscapes. Vocalist Mario Guccio (making his debut in the band on this CD) is a fine and versatile singer that deals very well with the many musical styles the band goes through every track. In fact, all the band members handles their jobs with confidence and skill. The production is only average, but the performances are so good that it becomes only a minor detail, which can´t steal away the record´s brilliance.

Conclusion: another little known prog gem! I´m really glad I got this CD and I´m surprised Jester is not so acclaimed on prog circles as it should. If you get this CD please listen to it at least three times before judging its music. Don´t let the apparently easy melodies and weird sounds fool you. This is great music done by great musicians. Final rating: 4,5 stars.

Review by Matti
3 stars Machiavel is one of the most successful rock bands in Belgium (though internationally less respected than the RIO/Avant act Univers Zero). It could be compared to Dutch KAYAK as they both delivered keyboard-orientated, light symphonic prog and shifted towards more commercial paths - and have continued their existence through decades. Machiavel aimed at high production level right from the start in 1974. The second album Jester introduced Italian-born singer/reed-player Mario Cuccio as well as the new guitarist Jean-Paul Devaux.

The sound is bright and often includes electric piano, which makes me think of SUPERTRAMP's Crime of the Century album, but the songs are more symphonic and longer, and the vocals have some 80's pop feel. As a matter of fact Jester reminds me a lot of Neo-Prog (Marillion, IQ, Pendragon)! Some tracks have Marillion-ish solos for el.guitar or synths and the overall atmosphere is similarly theatrical in the footsteps of GENESIS. The ending mini-epic 'Rock, Sea, and Tree' has mythological lyrics reminding of 'Fountain of Salmacis' but without the clear plotline of the Genesis classic. Maybe 'Jester' has a nod to the King Crimson debut? (And did Fish know this album when Marillion did Script for a Jester's Tear? Hmm, more likely not.) This is an easily enjoyable album, but probably too overproduced for some listeners. I like it but it lacks true originality and sometimes tastes quite commercial. Excellent production for its time, that's for sure. 3½ stars.

Review by friso
4 stars Machiavel - Jester (1977)

Late Belgian symphonic prog of early neo-prog? We'll all agree on the W&W-era Genesis influences in the keyboard department, probably on some Supertramp (though not so jolly) influences and I myself sense some David Bowie influences when hearing vocalist Mario Guccio.

Machiavel has a modern electric progressive rock sound, actually not that different from most neoprog-groups of today. Actually, when it comes to style is sounds way more modern then the Marillion debut. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Marillion and Saga took some spins of this record.

But this is a reviel about Machiavel. The sound is abstract, yet theatrical. Mystical and adventerious, dark and sometimes happy. It was however recorded earlier and with a slightly imperfect mixing (the record could have sounded a bit havier), giving it an obscure feel. Take that in - obscure sounding early neoprog. I fell for it in the vinyl store and some passages just got me. The couplet theme of opening track 'Wisdom' and the vocal/guitar duo on 'Sparkling Jaw' are amazing. With a more carefull listen at home these passsages still impress, but the record also starts to show some cracks. The vocals are intense, but also a bit non-human and the lyrics just strange. Sometimes they are almost hidden behind symphonic layers, I myself like the artist and his performance having a central place in the mix. The ballad 'Moments' is just a Genesis ballad by another band, though still enjoyable. As the record progresses the band becomes more playfull, adding even some wind- instruments. I'm not blow away by the title of the fourt track 'In the reing of queen polution'. The track has a nice low-pased Eloy-like opening with proportions of seriousness that you'll only find in symphonic and neoprog. During the song the atmospheres change and the band finds simple ways of making music very enjoyable.

On side two 'The Jester' is perhaps the happiest tracks, with a lot of Supertramp-like Fender Rhodes passages. The instrumental section is however a classic example of symphonic prog. 'Mr. Street fair' has an interesting exciting atmosphere and I can't help to hear some Queen influences. The changing between melancholy and playfulness works out well on this track, resulting in an ending section that has both. The last track ''Rock, sea an trea' is the longest track and a sum of everything that made this an enjoyable album.

Conclusion. This is a very interesting record falling between two era's of symphonic progressive rock. Recommended to fans of the bands mentioned, symphonic prog, neoprog and people interested in genre development. I'm giving it four stars, this record deserves more listeners and recognition in my opinion.

ps The artwork is really nice and the inside of the foldoutcover has lots of boobs, though portrayed consistent with the style of the front cover.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Belgian band Machiavel had debuted exhibiting influences from many, many bands including Supertramp, Nektar, The Eloy, Thin Lizzy, and David Bowie, to name just a few, but within the songs and instrumental sound choices of this album, Jester, one can hear the new sounds and styles used by Tony Banks and Steve Hackett on the GENESIS albums A Trick of The Tale and Wind and Wuthering, which illustrates just how quickly these sounds and styles were affecting the music of other bands at that time. The opener, "Wisdom," "Moments," Sparkling Jaw," and the ten- minute epic, "Rock, Sea and Tree" all show the mark Genesis had made.

1. "Wisdom" (6:00) if Robert Plant sang for VDGG. (9/10)

2. "Sparkling Jaw" (7:00) some Pink Floydishness here before the Eurobeats begin. Finishes with a second half of the bouncy keyboardiness of a SUPERTRAMP song ("Lady" or "Long Way Home"). (8.75/15)

3. "Moments" (3:17) 12-strings and passionate multi-voiced MARTIN COCKERHAM (SPIROGYRA)-like vocals give this one a pastoral Prog Folk sound and feel. (9/10)

4. "In The Reign Of Queen Pollution" (6:56) thicker chords and another impassioned vocal give the first half of this song a kin of Uriah Heep or Nektar sound and feel, then it goes Camel and Supertramp with more Roye Albrighton- like singing. (12.75/15)

5. "The Jester" (5:20) venturing into the realm of jazz-pop before going full on DAVID BOWIE Ziggy Stardust. Yet another fall back into a SUPERTRAMP-like electric piano stutter-step though it sounds a lot more like ELTON JOHN's "Saturday Night's All Right for Fighting" before a very early-GENESIS-like instrumental passage. (9/10)

6. "Mister Street Fair" (7:55) sounds a lot like QUEEN's "Killer Queen" until the "do you hear?" vocal rondo after which it becomes its own dramatic delivery mechanism. The speed up at the end of the fourth minute is a diversion for the multi-thread carnivalesque weave that follows in the fifth. I hear so many sounds from other songs in this weave--all so disparate yet making it so interesting--the Fender Rhodes keyboard is playing a variant of the arpeggio base of KING HARVEST's "Dancing in the Moonlight" before turning into SUPERTRAMP, the guitar and vocalist are playing melody lines from The MARSHALL TUCKER BAND's "Can't You See," and then it all goes into SUPERTRAMP "Dreamer" extended outro. Intersting mélange. (12.75/15)

7. "Rock, Sea, And Tree" (9:52) opens with a vocal sounding like GREG LAKE being supported by gently played Fender Rhodes and mosquito synth flying around in the soundscape. The vocalist changes and we get into more early DAVID BOWIE territory--though some NEKTAR Recycled can also be heard. The piano player likes that constant bounce so much he should have been a showtune accompanist. I love the bluesy fifth and sixth minutes (after the bouncy piano leaves). At the end of the seventh minute things turn GENESIS--very "Get 'em Out by Friday"-ish. (17/20)

Total time 46:20

The band has effectively incorporated a lot of borrowed sounds--including some of Genesis's new sounds--into a grand and surprisingly sophisticated potpourri of art-rock, bubble gum prog.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of eclectic progressive art rock music.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is my Machiavel second best album, after Mechanical Moonbeams (an omnipresent Mellotron choir section I wrote). The music from this Belgian formation sounds very melodic and harmonic, tastefully arranged and wonderfully layered with a wide range of vintage keyboards, topped with the Machiavel ... (read more)

Report this review (#3029321) | Posted by TenYearsAfter | Monday, March 11, 2024 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A great album My first Belgium group and a great start it is. I think they are unique in their sound although we can find similarities to Genesis, Yes and even Supertramp - whenever the electric piano is used. All of the lyrics are great combining Green issues with legends. Wisdom is a great op ... (read more)

Report this review (#595232) | Posted by progshachar | Saturday, December 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars to loose a precious album from my collection , and not to be able to get it again , is really painfull . I've got Jester from brussels in 1978 , i've discovered it's beauty and excellent moods , at the same time with Flairck's variations on a lady , and Sensation's fix Finest Fingers , i stil ... (read more)

Report this review (#182467) | Posted by trackstoni | Monday, September 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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