Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Symphonic Prog • United States

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Surprise picture
Surprise biography
SURPRISE is an obscure American prog band from St. Louis, Missouri, featuring Mark Biehl (vocals/flute), Rick Bess (guitars, bass), Blair Blake (keyboards), and Dave Kelly(percussion). They formed in 1976 right after high school and began with cover songs in the basement. As they began to cover challenging prog material with ease, friends encouraged them to write some original music. Heavily influenced by progressive rock, primarily YES, GENESIS, and GENTLE GIANT, Blair and Bess retired to the beautiful woods near their neighborhood with acoustic guitars and notebooks to write an opus (the woods can be seen in the photo on this page.) Feeling the material was very good, the band set out to independently record their album while retaining complete control. This was attained by self-financing via the parents of the band members.

Recording began in late 1976 at Technisonics Studios and was produced by Bill Schulenberg and the band. They were also assisted by engineer Chuck Sabatino, who would later work and tour with MICHAEL MCDONALD. The original vinyl run of 1000 copies fetches big bucks amongst collectors, while the CD was reissued in April 1995 by Geoff Logsdon's Zarathustra Progressive Recordings. Logsdon worked with the band members and engineer Benny Quinn to rescue the master tapes which had begun to deoxidize (the process is described in the booklet, I won't go into it here.) In a nice artistic twist, Logsdon chose to reissue the CD in a run of 1000 to match the vinyl release. Their lone album is a conceptual fantasy themed work called "Assault on Merryland."

Released in the Fall of 1977 on the band's own Carousel Records, it's a beautiful work inspired by the English prog giants. While the work is derivative and frankly not quite to the level of those famous prog legends mentioned above, I would say the album compares well to the mid-late 70s work of groups like DRUID, SEBASTIAN HARDIE, ROUSSEAU, and CAMEL. Sometimes it reminds me a bit of WISHBONE ASH's "Argus." Their English symphonic prog influences are crossed with the distinctly US preference for guitars and FM album rock, so imagine a heavy shot of KANSAS/STYX added to the mix. The album contained a wide variety of emotions, moods, and energy levels. It was lush and symphonic, adorned with a wealth of instrumentation: flute, trumpet, piccolo, electric guitars, acoustic 12 string guitar, bass, hammond organ, grand piano, mini moog, moog taurus pedals, arp strin...
read more

SURPRISE MP3, Free Download (music stream)

Open extended player in a new pop-up window | Random Playlist (50) | How to submit new MP3s

SURPRISE forum topics / tours, shows & news

SURPRISE forum topics Create a topic now
SURPRISE tours, shows & news Post an entries now

SURPRISE Videos (YouTube and more)

Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to SURPRISE


Refuge Records
Audio CD$19.96
$4.24 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Surprise Party Soleil - Les Chaussettes Noires / Les Gamblers / Israel Israeli USD $46.74 Buy It Now
Eddie Barclay / Luis Tuebols - Surprise Party Tendresse RARE Israel Israeli 1966 USD $29.74 Buy It Now
Manchester Playboys - Surprise Party Succes RARE 60's Cheesecake Israeli Israel USD $59.49 Buy It Now
OMNIBUS: Surprise, Surprise, Surprise-Take Your Only Chance-U.S. 7" POT P-100 USD $164.98 Buy It Now
Les Witchcoctors / Les Sorciers / Surprise Party RARE 196? Israel Israeli / Surf USD $38.24 Buy It Now
Les Penitents / Surprise Party Beaux Jours RARE 196? Israel Israeli / Surf Rock USD $42.49 Buy It Now
Surprise 9 Remix Bollywood Film Indian Music CASSETTE, Music Creater, 1993 USD $2.50 Buy It Now
ASD 3839 Haydn Symphonies Nos. 94 'Surprise' & 104 'London' / Previn USD $7.52 Buy It Now
Joy Williams - By Surprise USD $2.00 Buy It Now
The Crew Cuts-Surprise Package (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $4.61 Buy It Now
Toscanini Mozart Symphony No. 40 Haydn Surprise Symph LP RCA LM-1789 MN Red Seal USD $5.83 Buy It Now
CHICAGO 45 RPM "Baby, What a Big Surprise" "Takin' It On Uptown" VG+ condition USD $1.99 Buy It Now
Gatecrashers, Come To Our Surprise Party 3 USD $3.75 [0 bids]
Element of Surprise - E-40 Compact Disc USD $21.27 Buy It Now
DIVA SURPRISE ft GEORGIA JONES - On The Top Of The World (UK 3 Tk CD Single) USD $3.13 Buy It Now 25m 58s
Surprise [Digipak] by Better Than Ezra (CD, Aug-2014, Liaison Music) USD $9.38 Buy It Now 34m 47s
GARY NUMAN Sister Surprise (Extended Version) Vinyl 12 Inch Beggars Banquet 1983 USD $10.03 Buy It Now 55m 56s
33 RPM Vinyl Haydn Symphony No94 in G "Surprise" London Records Stereo 020515SM USD $10.04 Buy It Now 1h 4m
Modern Jazz Stars - Jazz Surprise LP vinyl (1957) CROWN CLP-5008 USD $9.99 Buy It Now 2h 9m
Vintage Childrens Record Sugar Sugar Boom Bang a Bang Surprise Surprise USD $2.51 Buy It Now 2h 17m
Walt Disney Papa Haydn's Surprise and Toy Symphonies LP NM Booklet Sleeve Stereo USD $9.77 Buy It Now 2h 52m
By Surprise by Joy Williams (CD, Oct-2002, Reunion) USD $2.49 [0 bids]
3h 5m
THE CREW CUTS surprise package LP VG+ LSP-1933 Living Stereo 1959 USA 1s/1s USD $85.00 Buy It Now 3h 19m
Various That Affair LP Surprise ILP1007 EX/VG 1960s dramatisation of the Profumo USD $40.80 Buy It Now 3h 35m
7" Ola & the Janglers - Surprise, surprise/It's allright 65 Sweden Freakbeat Mod USD $23.50 [6 bids]
4h 47m
JUBILEE SURPRISE PARTY, Jazz & R&B LP USD $99.00 Buy It Now 5h 2m
Pochette Surprise USD $11.03 Buy It Now 5h 4m
LP Holy Near "Imagine My Surprise" 1978 WOMEN'S FOLK Redwood 401 VG++ USD $6.00 Buy It Now 5h 32m
Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise Train CD Single 2001 USD $3.99 Buy It Now 7h 17m
b.a.r.f.(montreal,canada) surprise 1995 cargo records cassette thrash metal USD $12.06 Buy It Now 7h 17m
Der Plan Normalette Surprise US Medical Records Blue Vinyl USD $10.00 [0 bids]
8h 2m
PAPA HAYDN'S SURPRISE & TOY SYMPHONIES-Disney Records Near Mint Vinyl LP USD $9.99 Buy It Now 8h 56m
AKB48 Team SURPRISE 03 on the way (CD + DVD) Pachinko ver 2 District [Audio CD] USD $9.00 Buy It Now 8h 59m
10 beautiful triangle AKB48 Team SURPRISE (CD + DVD) ver 2 area Pachinko Audio USD $9.00 Buy It Now 8h 59m
Element of Surprise, , 706623001423, , Good USD $4.32 Buy It Now 9h 18m
Beautiful Surprise by Tamia (CD, 2012, Plus 1)-NEW USD $15.29 Buy It Now 10h 15m
Time to Move on, My Second Surprise, New USD $9.99 Buy It Now 10h 17m
Dreams (70s) Imagine My Surprise UK vinyl LP album record 64597 CBS 1972 USD $60.20 Buy It Now 10h 24m
Surprise Sisters, The - Self-Titled S/T, 1976 Soul/Disco LP, SEALED!, Orig Press USD $4.95 Buy It Now 10h 49m
Paul Oakenfold Starry Eyed Surprise UK CD single (CD5 / 5") PERF27CDS PERFECTO USD $11.91 Buy It Now 11h 24m
Gary Numan Sister Surprise UK 7" vinyl single record BEG101 BEGGERS BANQUET USD $16.25 Buy It Now 11h 24m
Paul Simon ?- Surprise 2006 Warner Bros CD USD $3.75 Buy It Now 11h 28m
Symphony No. 94 'Surprise' & ... Franz Joseph Haydn vinyl LP record USA USD $17.51 Buy It Now 11h 36m
Haydn:syms Nos 94 Surprise 92 Oxford - Josef Krips Compact Disc USD $19.21 Buy It Now 11h 39m
Valerie And The Week Of Wonders Real Surprise UK 7" vinyl single record USD $12.48 Buy It Now 11h 46m
Noddy & Friends A Surprise For Tessie Bear Dvd (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $14.54 Buy It Now 12h 8m
Smile (Here Comes The Surprise) Set The Tone UK 10" vinyl single record USD $17.50 Buy It Now 12h 17m
Haydn Symphony No.92 'Oxford' & No.94 'Surprise' Haydn Philharmonie Adam Fischer USD $6.28 Buy It Now 15h 36m
CD: Symphony No 94 in G -Surprise - Franz Joseph Haydn USD $3.14 Buy It Now 16h 10m
Philly Soul 45 BILL LUCAS ** Your Good Thing ** Surprise USD $6.28 Buy It Now 16h 19m
MATTHEW CANG / EDDIN CHIN Surprise Package LP KPM 1294 Electronic Synth Library USD $18.77 Buy It Now 16h 23m
17h 2m
Surprise Party Beaux Jours - RARE Israel Israeli LP 60's Surf Rock Les Penitents USD $29.74 Buy It Now 19h 35m
Gatecrashers, Come To Our Surprise Party USD $3.75 [0 bids]
20h 6m
Gatecrashers, Come To Our Surprise Party 2 USD $3.75 [0 bids]
20h 6m
Surprise Party LES WITCHDOCTORS LES SORCIERS ISRAEL only LP USD $39.00 Buy It Now 20h 12m
Paul Oakenfold - Starry Eyed Surprise - Scarce UK 5trk promo CD USD $6.26 Buy It Now 20h 54m
PAUL SIMON Surprise PHOTO Print POSTER Graceland Simon & Garfunkel 001 USD $4.38 Buy It Now 21h 27m
PAUL SIMON Surprise PHOTO Print POSTER Graceland Simon & Garfunkel 001 USD $4.38 Buy It Now 21h 27m
PAUL SIMON Surprise PHOTO Print POSTER Graceland Simon & Garfunkel 001 USD $6.26 Buy It Now 21h 27m
PAUL SIMON Surprise PHOTO Print POSTER Graceland Simon & Garfunkel 001 USD $18.82 Buy It Now 21h 27m
Regis Philbin-Christmas Album-CD-Surprise!!! A Great CD!!! You'll Love It !! USD $2.49 Buy It Now 21h 28m
Ride by Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise [Single](CD, RCA 60307, 2000) USD $0.99 Buy It Now 22h 6m
Tora Tora Surprise Attack Cd USD $15.12 [0 bids]
22h 10m
Hadyn: Symphonies Nos. 92: Oxford, No. 94: Surprise & No. 96: Miracle (Essentia USD $3.89 Buy It Now 22h 29m
HEAR IT SOUL Bill Lucas SURPRISE Records 711 Your Good Thing and Pledging My USD $6.30 Buy It Now 22h 34m
Andre Gagnon Surprise Disco Mix / Ta Samba 12" 45t London l-1 Quebec 1976 USD $11.34 Buy It Now 23h 14m
Haydn, Symphonies No.96 "Miracle" & No.94 "Surprise" CD (1990) USD $4.22 Buy It Now 23h 19m
? FRENCHMEN (aka F-MEN) - No Surprise // PA power pop 1980 // ex- PISTOL WHIP ? USD $49.99 [0 bids]
1 day
Paul Simon-Surprise-Rare Original advert Framed ready for your wall USD $31.39 Buy It Now 1 day
BULLET SURPRISE: Are You Ready For My Loving / Part 2 45 rare Soul USD $250.00 Buy It Now 1 day
Vintage Childrens Records 78rpm Gala Nursery Records Cover - Surprise Record USD $3.75 Buy It Now 1 day
CAROLA & ORCHESTRE LUIS VALINO Surprise-partie French EP 45 Latin Exotica Hear USD $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Oakenfold Starry Eyed Surprise Cassette Tape Single - TESTED USD $6.28 Buy It Now 1 day
Ghoti Hook-Sumo Surprise CD FREE SHIPPING Christian Pop/Punk (Brand New-Sealed) USD $6.95 Buy It Now 1 day
Mezzoforte ?- Surprise Surprise Steinar ?- STE LP 02 UK Vinyl LP Album USD $11.25 [0 bids]
1 day
Surprise sisters-La Booga Rooga/Seashore- 1976 single-very good+ condition. USD $3.75 Buy It Now 1 day
RUBY & PARTY GANG: Ruby's Surprise Party 45 (dj, deep flip!) Funk USD $18.00 Buy It Now 1 day
Franz Joseph Haydn - Surprise and Farewell, New Music USD $8.47 Buy It Now 1 day
By Surprise By Williams Joy On Audio CD Album 2002 By Williams Joy Very Good USD $3.70 Buy It Now 1 day
A BIRTHDAY SURPRISE Talking Story Book & Matching 33 RPM Record Set - 1978 USD $8.47 Buy It Now 1 day
TORA TORA Surprise Attack CD A&M USD $3.00 [0 bids]
1 day
THE GLAD SINGERS Surprise!, orig Columbia 360 vinyl LP, 1965, VG+/VG, cheesecake USD $4.99 Buy It Now 1 day
1 day
Miss Patty Cake -Treasure Chest Surprise - Audio Cassette New £9.99 Free P USD $12.54 [0 bids]
1 day
SURPRISE In Movimento Orig Belgium Factory FBN26 NM/NM Beautiful Unplayed Con. USD $8.99 [0 bids]
1 day
FAST FOOD ROCKERS Fast Food Song 2003 UK 4-trk promo CD Shangahi Surprise Remix USD $12.54 Buy It Now 1 day

More places to buy SURPRISE music online Buy SURPRISE & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
SURPRISE has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

SURPRISE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

SURPRISE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 23 ratings
Assault On Merryland

SURPRISE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SURPRISE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SURPRISE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SURPRISE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Assault On Merryland by SURPRISE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.33 | 23 ratings

Assault On Merryland
Surprise Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It's been a much discussed topic as to why there weren't more Prog bands from the USA in the seventies. I've heard several that really impressed me like CATHEDRAL, YEZDA URFA, BABYLON and POLYPHONY but when you consider the pure volume of progressive music from all over the world in the seventies it really is a mystery as to why it didn't catch on there. SURPRISE released this one album in 1977 when Prog was on it's way out. The big negative for me is the concept and in particular the lyrics which are often cringe-worthy to say the least. From the very first listen I couldn't take this album seriously and while the instrumental parts are fine they do nothing to raise my rating.

"Eve Of The Assault / Merryland" opens with a circus-like vibe which is replaced by a Classical flavour before we get that uptempo soundscape. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. It's intense 3 1/2 minutes in before turning dreamy before 5 minutes to the end. Not a bad start. "The Acrobat Between The Stars" is uptempo with vocals coming in at 1 1/2 minutes. Good tune. "Palace Of King Ferris" opens with the sound of crickets then vocals and a light beat takes over with background synths and bass helping out. This is laid back. Flute comes in as well. It's an okay song. "Tyrangatang" is where they let their hair down and rock out like BLUE OYSTER CULT. "Dance Of The Tarantella" opens with samples before vocals and a relaxed sound take over. It does pick up. Flute before 3 minutes then a guitar solo.

"Tournament Of Love" is just plain bad. Where are my tights because I need to skip in the meadow to this (haha). Sorry but ballad-like music with some of the worst lyrics i've heard will do that. "March Of The Squatamaudars" is fairly heavy to start which is good but then when he sings i'm bailing again. "A Day Without Light" is okay with vocals and flute. "The Wonderful Sunshine / Grand Finale" has strummed guitar and vocals early on. It kicks in before 3 minutes. Just not a fan of this one.

The second half of this album kills it for me. I just don't like this.

 Assault On Merryland by SURPRISE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.33 | 23 ratings

Assault On Merryland
Surprise Symphonic Prog

Review by Slaughternalia

4 stars I would like to give this five stars for recommendation's sake, but I can't bring myself to do it. It's not an essential masterpiece, but a very fine piece of music. Much like other American prog rock from the seventies, such as Starcastle or Todd Rundgren's Utopia, it takes progressive rock's stereotypes to an excess.

The lyrics are incredibly impersonal and fantastical. It's a concept album about a beautiful maiden (Terella) from a paradise called "Merryland" who escapes her arranged marriage, only to anger her mother (the queen), who blames her father (King Ferris) for her leaving. The queen then casts a spell on Merryland sending it into eternal darkness. The creatures of Merryland then set out to find King Ferris, who lives very far away, to seek his help.

Musically, the album is a good balance of hard, psychedelic, and symphonic rock. There isn't a bad song on the album, but some moments are definitely better than others.

If you don't mind some pretentiousness and wankery here and there, I definitely recommend this album, as it is quite a rewarding listen.

 Assault On Merryland by SURPRISE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.33 | 23 ratings

Assault On Merryland
Surprise Symphonic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The very definition of the "lost prog gem"

"Assault in Merryland" is a true lost gem of the late 1970s, an ambitious conceptual fantasy-prog album by the St. Louis, Missouri based band Surprise. Their lone album was inspired by classic Yes and Genesis although the final product here is more in line with bands like Druid, Rousseau, Kansas, or Sebastian Hardie. I really enjoy the album and the fact that the music was written by a very young guitarist named Rick Bess, who was only in his late teens at the time, is even more impressive. Just out of high school, Bess and keyboardist Blair Blake would grab some Pepsi and their guitars/notebooks and head off to the woods near their home to work in silence on their prog opus. In the 90s the album was rescued by Zarathustra Records' Geoff Logsdon, who lovingly crafted a CD reissue with improved sound and a nice booklet, with the assistance of the band members and Benny Quinn.

While I confess that I don't pay much attention to lyrics these days (I'm a music guy), the grand story here revolves around Kings and Queens, enchanted black forests, and magic. Sometimes the music reminds me a bit of Wishbone Ash's "Argus." Their English symphonic prog influences are crossed with the US penchant for more prominent guitar, so imagine a heavy shot of Kansas/Styx injected to the mix, with the results being somewhere between the two. Despite being accused of being too cheesy by some reviewers, "Assault on Merryland" is an ambitious effort and a very good upbeat melodic prog album. The compelling music deserves much more respect than it sometimes gets. The album contained a wide variety of emotions, moods, and energy levels. It was lush and symphonic and adorned with a wealth of instrumentation.

The opening track begins with sound effects from Merryland before the grand entrance of Bess' majestic and melodic guitar leads. He can also get some grooving and crunchy power chords going, or some beautiful mellow acoustic passages, and he covers the bass. Keyboardist Blair Blake soaks the album in great color with mellotron, synths, and piano. Dave Kelly is a damn tight drummer who plays lots of cool fills and interesting percussion devices. Vocalist Mark Biehl has a modest range but an acceptable voice and adds some beautiful flute and piccolo to several tracks.

Mostly the album wins me over with its heart and sincerity. The songs deliver moods of fantasy lands, of a different time and place, of battles on the plains, of campfires on the edge of forests during the dead of night. But it doesn't go too far at the expense of rock and roll. The band still rocks and stays engaging. "Merryland" (the song) delivers lovingly overblown songwriting while "Palace of King Ferris" is sweet and pastoral with folky acoustic guitar and flute. On the flip side "Tyrangatang" delivers a Tommy Shaw styled punchy rock and roll with a blistering solo. The ending is flat-out scorching. The CD booklet, which was designed by Logsdon, contains complete lyrics, and his reissue includes a remixed bonus cut of "Tyrangatang." It's a shame these guys broke up so quickly as I would have loved to have heard their next one.

Sometimes these obscure one-offs are a disaster and sometimes they prove to be formidable. This one, while well short of a masterpiece, is one of those really good ones if you don't mind the whole overblown fantasy/concept thing. I consider it one of those little treasures like the first Emeraude album or the first Rousseau album. 3 ½ stars and rounding up with much affection. (See our ProgArchives band bio for much more detailed info on this interesting group's story).

 Assault On Merryland by SURPRISE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.33 | 23 ratings

Assault On Merryland
Surprise Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Pretentious concept album with some shining moments!

Surprise are a real obscurity that came saw and conquered in 1977. As soon as they were on the scene they quickly disappeared but released one concept album based on a mystical journey in a space playground, a fantasy realm reminiscent of early Genesis or ELP at times. There is a definite emphasis on catchy melodies and lengthy instrumental jams, with many time sig changes and mood swings from heavy distorted guitar, stabbing Hammond to ambient sustained keyboard pads and spacey guitar passages.

It begins with Eve Of The Assault / Merryland, the longest track at 6:52. The playground sound effects are the first of many special sound effects that permeate the album and attempt to create the overblown concept. At times it actually works. In this case it is a wonderful start. The guitars and synths kick in with a steady beat and some great twin guitar playing. It is an uplifting sound created. The vocals are clean and sound like King Crimson or ELP. The lyrics are pretentious admittedly borrowing from the prog bands of the era, "trumpets sound aggressive in war of minstrel puppets in the gallery", (Jethro Tull anyone?) The harmonies are quite nice and there are even sounds of crickets chirping and a robot voice heralds the heavier part of the track, an ELP type effect reminding me of Karn Evil 9's robot voice. Hammond flourishes are well executed and there is a constant upbeat time sig, and it settles eventually into a softer prog ballad; "ride on our whirlwind to the edge of the night, on the wave that takes us away, dance on the sun shore? with a cool blanket breeze in the air."

The Acrobat Between The Stars is another of the longer songs at 6:15 that begins with a massive synthesizer riff, that locks in to an acoustically driven off beat rhythm. The lead guitar solo is very well played and then the beat gains tempo in a fractured metrical pattern. The twin guitars are terrific, and then the vocals return, echoed and mystical; "shivering sequins reflect the seasons on the waters below, majestic mountains and snow and ice protect us in our paradise." It uses every prog cliché in the book but somehow it makes sense with the overblown treatment of the music. We hear about a paradise with romantic valleys, mystic forests, flowers that blossom in the sun, the acrobat between the stars is the paradise fantasy world of escapist dreams. The flute is used well on this track and the electronic swells are indeed spacey and effective embellishments.

Palace Of King Ferris begins with the crickets chirping cliché so we know it is night and it is isolated. The harmonics on guitar are divine and then the reflective vocals chime in, full of intense prog clichés; "a gold drop of nectar falls in the dandelion swinging, dancing with fairies, trace the skyline, starlight minstrels over the ocean of glass over the palace of King Ferris, over a cosmic dust shower, under the bridges along the foggy night, cupids are dancing their way to your heart, the angels are singing in harmony" and it goes on. So let's forget the naff lyrics and focus on the music. Well, it is good, lots of enchanting flute and keyboard sounds.

Tyrangatang has a bouncy guitar riff and multi layered echoed vocals. The heavy chugging riff is like Hawkwind. I love the way the Hammond crunches along on this. The time sig changes suddenly in a quieter section and then it returns to the chug-a-chug rocking riff. Pretty good track for sure which has a crackling twin lead break and some crashing drum passages. The synth and guitars trade off too in the instrumental break. Perhaps the highlight of the album.

Dance Of The Tarantella begins with someone crunching along with footsteps on gravel, or is it digging up graves?. The eastern sound is very Tarantella like, and this continues through the track. The synths are weird on this, quite spacey. The lyrics are concerning a witch looking for buried treasure, and a murder of this beast, magic spells from hell, a demon of mischief, and all sorts of delightful mystical stuff that nobody cares about. The music again is wondrous and certainly well executed especially the flute passages. I love the guitar here doing the Tarantella traditional theme. Quite a fun track.

Tournament Of Love has a cool guitar riff driving it, and settles into a melodic beautiful song. The instrumental break is fair but this is one of the lowlights of the album, too soppy with naff harmonies and appalling lyrics. "There I serenade you from a friendly feather pillowed cloud?." Please!

March Of The Squatamaudars is a heavy riffing track, a real surprise from the previous waffle. The keyboards are fantastic on this, like ELP really, and heavy riffs blend with an uptempo beat and bright vocals. There are effects of a princess party, complete with clinking glasses and laughing; you can't accuse the band of being subtle. The lead guitar break is great too and we have another highlight. A Day Without Light is another ballad and once again saccharine sugar sweet with chimes, acoustics, and romantic fairytale lyrics and heartfelt vocals. Perhaps this was meant to attract the female audience, but it's more pretentious than portentous.

The Wonderful Sunshiner / Grand Finale is the huge big finale obviously. It begins with swells of spacey synth and more acoustic, and gentle vocals. The lyrics tell us they were "watching the cinema show late at night", (Genesis anyone?), and then whispers are heard over a flute musical backdrop. The lyrics are as silly as ever until a nice little twin lead solo. The vocals come in with "ladies and gentlemen, I hope you're all well?", (ELP anyone?) and then some cool little guitar riffs help things out. The synth solo is rather nice, and a great Hammond sound over a fast paced chugging riff blazes away, and this is where the band are at their best. The time sig changes again and loud guitars finish it all off in a crescendo.

Tyrangatang (1994 remix) is a remastered better version of the earlier track of the same name. I do love this melody and it is definitely the best thing they have done. It is a bit like Deep Purple meets Moody Blues at times if that were possible. The lead guitars are very good and thus an album ends.

Conclusion; this is a satisfactory prog album from the late 70s and deserves it's place somewhere in the prog archives. The band borrow every cliché they can and the result is it is overblown and pretentious and could have really done with a decent lyricist. However this is quite an entertaining little jaunt into excessive conceptual album territory.

 Assault On Merryland by SURPRISE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.33 | 23 ratings

Assault On Merryland
Surprise Symphonic Prog

Review by victor.cypert

2 stars Not a very sturdy album, the lyrics are a bit contrived and show an obtuse, formulaic approach to creating atmosphere through pedestrian imagery. The album lacks any capacity to connect with the listener on an emotional level and it is obvious that the whole work is contrived to "show off" in terms of talent. One can surmise that the reason Surprise didn't last is because the definitions of the words "talent" and "genius" were muddled somewhere along the way. It sounds like original Piper-era Pink Floyd meets Jethro Tull on a bad day.

While not bad for a first effort, the idea of a band's initial offering being something as ambitious as a full-length concept album. There was real potential here but these lads simply bit off more than they could chew. "Tyrangatang" showed some merit but was too weighty in context of the album's intended direction.

"Assault on Merryland" is proof once again that adjective and adverbs do not atmosphere make and that talent alone does not create a solid album. Disappointing.

 Assault On Merryland by SURPRISE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.33 | 23 ratings

Assault On Merryland
Surprise Symphonic Prog

Review by francoisti

4 stars Speaking about an obscure american band that released only this here LP. And what a ¨surprise¨ indeed it was when I first heard it today. In fact I was not expecting this kind of musical maturity at all. Let's say that this is a VERY welcome companion to my collection of american prog. I don't think I can better describe this CD than Mr James Unger have done in a previous review only by giving 1/2 star more . I would encourage everyone to commit themselves in buying this CD while you still can-=and at reasonable price with that=. It is a fun, energetic and very enchanting piece of work.
 Assault On Merryland by SURPRISE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.33 | 23 ratings

Assault On Merryland
Surprise Symphonic Prog

Review by loserboy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For many years this album was on my wish list but I was unable to track it down and now thanks to a great new technology we can all finally enjoy this masterpiece from the 70's , completely restored to CD from the kiln and a process of re-baking the oxide to the original mastertape. "Assault On Merryland" is a concept album based around a fantasy land called Merryland and a tale of a prince, princess and king who manage to reverse a spell which left Merryland in total darkness. Musically this is a 4 piece ensemble comprised of Rick Bess (guitars, bass), Blair Blake (Organ, piano, moog, Taurus pedals, celeste), Dave Kelly (drums), Mark Biehl (Vocals, Flute, trumpet). Musically these guys are tight and play with great lustre and technical skill. Songs area all very well written and offer great themes and varied tempos and moods. Overall this album is quite symphonic and perhaps best way to describe the music of SURPRISE would be a mix of FIREBALLET, KING CRIMSON and classic CAMEL. Overall a wonderful album and a definite need for your collection.
Thanks to AtomicCrimsonRush for the artist addition. and to Finnforest for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives