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FRUITCAKE

Neo-Prog • Norway


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Fruitcake biography
1990 was the year of the stinking rich. Not really, but that's what Norwegian band, Fruitcake, called themselves. Maybe a bit pompous, most of the lineup came from the wealthy west side of Oslo. A couple of lineup changes, a name change, the band finally rested on FRUITCAKE in 1992. Everything was solidified and the band consisted of Steffen Holthe (guitars), Tore Bø (bass and keyboards), Siri M. Seland (keyboards and bass) and Pål Søvik (Drums).

Released by Briskeby Records in 1992, FRUITCAKE were off and running with Fool's tapes. Any momentum, however, had to come to a slow crawl as Steffen Holthe had to fulfill commitments in the armed forces. Being a true band, they decided to wait for him, but worked on obtaining a better record deal outside of Norway.

The hard work paid off as FRUITCAKE were signed to Cyclops Records, a premier British progressive label. Meanwhile, Steffen's involvement with the band became increasingly uncertain, so they began recording the next album, How To Make It (which is described as having, "delicate songs with extended instrumental parts crossing over into the Pendragon and IQ/Jadis vein and tastes of Anglagard and Anekdoten), with session guitarists, Robert Hauge and Jon Barstad. The former was retained to play a few concerts in Sweden and the Crimson Festival. The organizers never paid the band and bassist/keyboardist, Tore Bø, left soon after to build his own recording studio and get his own solo career off the ground. As the band looked for a replacement, excellent reviews worldwide were coming their way.

Pressure from the record company for a follow-up forced the band back in the studio in 1995 with new bassist, Gunnar Bergersen, and guitarist, Jens G. Sverdrup. One song was delivered for a Cyclops sampler with plans to release an album the following year. However, yet another personnel change as Siri left the band to follow a career abroad. Enter Helge Skaarseth and the band re-entered the studio for rehearsals. Room For Surprise was released and is described on their site as, "a 'cracker'. At last the instrumental virtuosity which is given full rein at concerts is allowed to shine in the longer tracks Touch The Sky and A Whisper. Fluid inventive guitar breaks and wonderful keyboard work over the cooking rhythm section have produced a wonderfully inventive album."

The band continued but broke up in 1997. This time with Robert Hauge (from 2. album) on guitar and his friend Olav Nygård on b...
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Buy FRUITCAKE Music


Power StructurePower Structure
Import
Cyclo 1999
Audio CD$176.67
$30.47 (used)
Room for SurpriseRoom for Surprise
Import
Cyclops Records 1996
Audio CD$44.99 (used)
How to Make ItHow to Make It
Import
Cyclops Records 1995
Audio CD$191.97
$57.94 (used)
One More SliceOne More Slice
Import
Cyclops Records 1998
Audio CD$58.90 (used)
FRUITCAKE 2(ltd.remaster)FRUITCAKE 2(ltd.remaster)
INDIE (JAPAN)
Audio CD$48.46 (used)
My Feet Won't Move / You Cheer Me UpMy Feet Won't Move / You Cheer Me Up
EMI, EMI
Vinyl$23.95 (used)
anna marina / moanin the blues 45 rpm singleanna marina / moanin the blues 45 rpm single
PBR
Vinyl$8.00 (used)
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Fruitcake ~ 2/ Japan LP/ OBI Sheet US $19.99 Buy It Now 20h 40m
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FRUITCAKE WITH NUTS BY JOHN BAUMGARDNER & THE PAPER DOLL BAPTISTS (CD, J. BOMB) US $6.95 Buy It Now 27 days
JOAN SMALLWOOD & VELTONES: Nutty As A Fruitcake (vocal groups vinyl 45) US $35.00 Buy It Now 28 days
Fruitcake ?- Patty Lane / Story Of Life US orig' Skin Graft 7" w/comic book 1992 US $7.99 Buy It Now 29 days
FRUITCAKE (Benny Maan, Rob Taekema) - 2 JAPAN 1st CD OBI 1984 VDP-30 YEN3500 US $49.99 Buy It Now 29 days

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FRUITCAKE discography


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

2.16 | 11 ratings
Fool Tapes
1992
2.86 | 22 ratings
How To Make IT
1994
3.54 | 32 ratings
Room For Surprise
1996
3.39 | 24 ratings
One More Slice
1997
3.77 | 37 ratings
Power Structure
1998
2.99 | 21 ratings
A Battle a Day...
2001
2.65 | 18 ratings
Man Overboard
2004

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

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

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

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

FRUITCAKE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Battle a Day... by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.99 | 21 ratings

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A Battle a Day...
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars when the opening song is called "Mopery and Dopery in Deep Space" then you could be forgiven for thinking that Fruitcake really had become as nutty as one. But, in their defence, this is actually a very accomplished classic Genesis-style album. Pål Søvik's vocals are very clear with no accent and while they appear to be happy to spend much of their time locked in the early Seventies is that really a problem?

One of the joys of Fruitcake is the way that they can go from gentle acoustic-based song to blast then back again all within the space of a few bars, as can be heard on "One Night" when bass pedals dynamically change the whole feel of the music. This is music that is all about space, about letting the instruments having enough room to find their natural balance. While it is not often that they really let rip no-one can accuse Fruitcake of not having passion. This is a pleasant prog album that takes little effort to listen to.

Originally appeared in Feedback #64, Dec 01

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 How To Make IT by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.86 | 22 ratings

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How To Make IT
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars The second album from this band and the third one I have reviewed. Fruitcake is from Norway and I knew their drummer from when I lived in Norway. I never got the chance to sample the Fruitcake albums back then though.

Fruitcake does a Genesis leaning form of neo prog. Pendragon and IQ is also references sources here. The main instruments are keyboards and then guitars. The keyboards are very Tony Banks like. Fruitcake uses both female and male vocals. Both pretty bad, truth to be told. The lack of quality vocals and the lack of any really good songs are the big problems with this album. This is a dull album which goes in one ear and out the other one without really making any impact. The song structures is simple and not particular cleverly done.

The end result is a dull album which also has some cringe worthy moments. I am not impressed.

2 stars

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 Fool Tapes by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.16 | 11 ratings

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Fool Tapes
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars This album, the debut album from Fruitcake was a child of it's time. Still mired in the 1980s, in other words.

The music here is a mix of 1980s pop/rock, the English new romantism scene and neo prog. The songs are driven by guitars, tonnes of keyboards, bass and drums. That and male vocals with one song done by a female vocalist. The keyboards is sometimes in the Saga vein.

The quality of the songs are half decent. Paal Sovik's vocals horrible. The female vocals are OK. The keyboards lacks any imagination, but is still the only good thing about this album.

Frankly, this is a terrible album with no good songs. I somewhat like the keyboards so I elevate the album to a weak two stars. Don't pay over the odds for a copy of this album. Go for the other albums instead...... or a house.

2 stars (barely)

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 How To Make IT by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.86 | 22 ratings

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How To Make IT
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Fruitcake's debut was definitely an uneven release,containing plenty of excellent but plenty of dull moments as well.This was however enough for the band to be signed by Cyclops Records,leaving the small Briskeby Records.In the meantime the band was recording the second full-length album with two session guitarists,Jon Barstad and Robert Hauge,as original member Steffen Holthe was called to fullfill his army season.

The 1994 ''How to make it'' is musically a slight development over ''Fool tapes''.The orientation of the band is now bright in their minds,Progressive Rock with a big time retro feeling and some Neo Prog styles thrown in.The tracks are rather short but the sound is mostly excellent in the familiar Fruitcake style,slow tempo arrangements with symphonic leanings based on atmosphere and melody.Influences are also clear,GENESIS,PINK FLOYD,IQ and ANGLAGARD are the most obvious ones.The keyboard work is absolutely great,nice vintage organ passages and careful use of synths,while the session guitarists have plenty of good ideas as well.But the main problem of the band is always there: the vocal section,which is pretty average,if not bad with both Seland and Sovik having very mediocre and unexpressive voices.If this band had a better man behind the microphone,they could produce a really great album,at least regarding this release.

So things are more than clear.Musically the band offers a lot of highlights and the general style is not original but definitely quite personal.But if good vocals are a main element in your preferences,you will be rather dissapointed.Even so,''How to make it'' is a decent listening in my books.Recommended.

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 Man Overboard by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.65 | 18 ratings

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Man Overboard
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "Man Overboard" from 2004 is the last release from this Norwegian band so far. As usual the vocals and keyboards are the weak links but unlike "Room For Surprise" or "Power Structure" there's nothing else here to lift this up to being even close to a 4 star rating. Interesting that they have 3 guitarists here. I'm not sure why because there isn't a lot of guitar on this. I miss Robert Hauge who played on "Power Structure" that guy could play. Also Nina who played flute on that same album isn't on here either unfortunately.

"Intelligence" has a good intro with flute and some heaviness. It settles in before a minute then we get a calm as vocals arrive.Themes are repeated somewhat the rest of the way. "Backwards Sounds" opens with the keys and guitar trading off then the drums and bass help out as it builds. Synths too.Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. I like when the synths come in each time. Relaxed guitar late. "Lazy Timing" opens with guitar then it kicks in and vocals follow. It settles with keys after 2 1/2 minutes.The drums and bass add some depth here.This is good as the guitar starts to play over top. "My Nights" opens with piano, flute and atmosphere. Reserved vocals follow. It's an okay song. "Passion Impossible" opens with synths and atmosphere then a beat with some heaviness takes over as contrasts continue.

"The Smoking Gun" builds as a beat joins in. It settles back around a minute and reserved vocals follow.It picks back up as contrasts continue. "Once Upon A Naked Floor" opens with pulsating synths as keys join in.This doesn't sound good. Flute replaces the keys and it gets heavier followed by vocals. Guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. "Goblin Dinner" is the only instrumental on here. It's a pleasant and laid back tune. "I've Taken Nothing" opens with vocals and a light sound. Flute replaces the vocals then it kicks in at a minute. Much better. Contrasts continue though.

A low 3 stars from me but I still like to play me some FRUITCAKE once in a while. Just not this one.

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 Fool Tapes by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.16 | 11 ratings

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Fool Tapes
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

2 stars Zowie Ziggy is right. When I went to search for Fruitcake here on PA, I thought that first album won't be rated well. And so, it's not. For a reason. I feel strong influence of early desperate 90's (minimalistic sound, nothing pompous, or energic) with big element of synth 80's (I just feel it). As I said, tracks lacks much needed energy, some driving force. Mostly short ones doesn't help to form better feeling. Vocal part is indeed disaster. He's more like reciting text he has been given in a way Depeche Mode vocalist sings. Some cowardly guitar solos (not strong enough, not exploring enough, just boiling the same water over and over again). I heard worse music in my life, but this music is another of these void music that has not much to offer. Certainly not for someone who considers himself hardcore Prog fan. The problem is that I don't consider myself hardcore and I'm quite tolerant.

2(-), vacuum of interesting music.

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 Room For Surprise by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.54 | 32 ratings

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Room For Surprise
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars The time has come for some dessert so why not some Fruitcake. No, not the tasty pastry but rather the Norwegian band that has a sizeable catalogue of languorous prog , a heavier version of Pink Floyd with some added classic touches that cannot fail to please. Led by drummer Pal Sovik , a rock solid thumper, and the unabashed use of bass-pedals (so fans beware!) ,the band has a definite style of their own as they combine heady doses of legendary Northern cool to the deal. I choose to start with their second release (and my favorite) "Room for Surprise" and its simply breathtaking artwork, no less than a 1796 J.W. Turner original, among the best cover art anywhere. "Time to Go" is a smart case in point, a brooding bass (Taurus and string) slithers along slyly, the rest of the players laying down shining coats of progressive colors, all kinds of sound effects (gulls, crashing or rolling thunder), almost space rock because of the groove. A tremendous opener. "Tall and Dark" is more playful and breezy, nice biting guitar flashing the way and a solid chorus that is most pleasant to the ear, Jens Sverdrup's axe displaying all kinds of inventiveness and élan. The weaving "Keep the Light" has a childlike feel , the sweeping and weeping synthesizers brooming the path delicately courtesy of Siri Seland , the drums dropping sonic buoys thus keeping things narrow and tight, an interesting style to say the least , especially when the lead guitar pops in for a cameo ride! Nothing too complex but very enjoyable. The title cut is another quirky whopper, almost as if inspired by Manzanera/801 or Split Enz, yet the recurring synth pattern is totally savvy and buzzing, giving this a shiny appeal. Gunnar Bergersen's bass rumbling fittingly, open things wide for some cool guitar and synth interplay. "Touch the Sky" is the 10 minute epic ride and it lives up to rest and then some. Organ, guitar and synths combine to set down a rich sonic sandbox, inviting all in to play and "touch the sky". All four players get to stretch out and flex their ideas into more concrete terms, highlighted by Sverdrup unleashing a series of solos with many phosphoric licks. The occasional vocals are relatively weak but do not deter in any which way mainly due to those massive walls of bass-pedals that litter the whole album. A first rate singer like future Fruitcake and Guardian's Office lead singer Tony Johannessen would have made this a superlative effort. Better late than never. Two shorter pieces ensue: "Hunting Old Ladies" is a strange title but saved by a glorious bass pummel that rolls along unmolested, butterflied synths scouring the airspace ahead, organ aiding and abetting the sonic crime and judicious guitar flexing unexpected muscles. The arrival of some voluptuous piano adds such a fascinating sparkle to the arrangement, here a lot closer to mid-period Genesis than anything else, a great tune. The frosty "Golden Age" sounds amazing but Sovik's pale vocals are unconvincing, another song saved by elegant phrasings by the usual suspects. Sverdrup again comes in nicely with a spirited yet mournful solo. "The Famous Hill" is a medium length adventure, loaded with loopy recurrent chords hence toyed by all the members into a somber ruffle that develops slowly but surely into an agreeable piece. The piano reverts anew into the fray, giving it even more credentials as it fades into a soporific haze. "A Whisper" is a delightful finale, the keyboardist Seland orchestrates some romantic piano lead while singing as well briefly, giving this a welcome feminine slant, a rewarding journey in so many ways. Not necessarily a must, some who may find this too maudlin just don't get their style (not me, I have all the albums except the last one), Fruitcake deserve at least the recognition of a fairly long yet unknown career. The opening track remains a killer. 4 candied cherry fjords

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 Power Structure by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.77 | 37 ratings

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Power Structure
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is an upgrade over the last album "One More Slice" and the lineup stays the same except for the addition of Nina Dahl who adds some flute. To my ears this is better than "Room For Surprise", more dynamic. Another nice album cover, these guys pick such beautiful paintings to represent their music.

"Hold Your Ground" opens with the sounds of waves before synths and organ join in. It kicks in around a minute with some good guitar in tow. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. Now the vocals are not their strongest suit but i've grown to accept them. I love the raw guitar after 5 1/2 minutes that goes on and on. "The River Of The Dog" opens with organ as drums and guitar join in. Vocals a minute in. Great sound after 2 minutes I really like the instrumental work here. "Just A Little Bit More Time" is possibly my favourite. It opens with piano as vocals then flute joins in. It's more powerful after 2 minutes. Themes are repeated in this one. "The Bogeyman (Part 2)" opens with a sample of children playing before the music invades the soundscape. It settles with vocals. The guitar before 5 1/2 minutes is great as the organ runs.This is so good ! "Velvet Night" opens with floating organ as piano and picked guitar help out. Reseved vocals join in this pastoral soundscape. It gets fuller as contrasts continue. I really like the fuller sections. Nice guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in.

"Touched By The Fire" opens with flute and atmosphere. Vocals with guitar join in. This gets pretty dark when the organ takes the lead. A good heavy sound after 1 1/2 minutes.Themes are repeated. Check out the guitar after 4 minutes and the powerful sound that follows. "There's An Angel" features soaring guitar as drums beat then vocals and keys come in.The guitar and organ really shine in this one. "This One Will Make Us Rich" has lots of prominant bass in the intro. Drums join in. Nice. Love the bass here ! The guitar stars to solo 3 minutes in as drums, organ and bass support. The chirping of birds ends it. "Silence Reigns" opens with acoustic guitar and vocals in this mellow intro. Flute joins in before synths,drums and a fuller sound. It kicks in at 2 1/2 minutes. Contrasts continue.This is good ! Some nice lazy guitar 5 minutes in goes on and on becoming quite passionate.

There's something genuine and unique about this band (hey they call themselves Fruitcake). It would be easy to dismiss them after one listen but that would be a shame. This is my favourite album by them.

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 Man Overboard by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.65 | 18 ratings

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Man Overboard
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars When I first spun this CD some four years ago, the opener ''Intelligence'' was such a second hand ''Watcher Of The Skies'' and I couldn't help: I was rather charmed by this track (inclusive of the fine fluting). This fabulous ''Genesis'' song has been so many times borrowed of course, but little time with such similarity.

But on top of this, there is a strong link with a song like ''Seven Stones''. In all, this opening song could have been a wonderful one; but as usual, vocals are so poor that they almost ruin what could have been a great track (even if lacking of originality of course).

What's coming next is not grandiose stuff to be honest. Some heavy and unmelodic music with ''Backward Sounds''. As it happens with lots of neo-prog albums (I'm not speaking about the great ''Arena'', ''IQ'', ''Pendragon'' or the likes if you see what I mean), the more you listen to these type of albums, the less enchanting they are after ten spins. This is exactly what happens with this ''Man Overboard''.

Average music, all the way through: no surprise, no fine vocals (on the contrary, these are dreadful) nothing moving. Even if the closing section of ''My Nights'' do display some fine guitar (which is rarely heard with ''Fruitcake'').

There is only one exception here: the fine instrumental ''Goblin Dinner''. Melodic guitar, passionate music actually. The fact that this track is instrumental is for sure not alien to the fact that it the second best song of this work. To be complete, I would add that fine fluting is to be heard during the heavy ''I've Taken Nothing'' which is the closing number. A certain Tull flavour at times...

Three good songs and that's it!

There is a bonus disc available as well, which is a collection of old and unpublished ''Fruitcake'' songs or assimilated. This won't improve the quality level of the album but it is not a bad exercise either.

As a whole, two stars is the highest rate I can provide.

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 A Battle a Day... by FRUITCAKE album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.99 | 21 ratings

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A Battle a Day...
Fruitcake Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars No major changes in their music with this album. Just decent neo-prog with some attempts to (short) epics which aren't very thrilling. Still, the longer pieces are of better exposure than the other short tracks.

Still, if you are allergic to bands that are emulating ''Watcher Of Skies'' from whom you might have heard, the opening track ''Mopery.'' might be a difficult experience. On top of the musical cliché, one has to ''absorb'' some pitiful vocals (but this is no news if you have already listened to their previous albums). How this guy is still in charge is a mystery for me.

Anyway, the music is not too bad, but frankly: is it all that necessary? I guess not, unfortunately. Some sort of an album that doesn't really deserve a thorough listening: just OK while being played in the background or in your CD player while driving in some traffic jams.

As ''Nightfly'' correctly depicts: this isn't a total disaster. Just too derivative and with too little feeling this time. Some old ''Genesis'' freaks might be moved, but I am more demanding. This neo-prog is far too much conservative IMHHO and this album doesn't really deserve a high rating.

Great musical (and original) moments are absent or too scarce to raise the level: some good guitar during the final part of ''Reaching Out''. OK. But is this going to make it all? I guess not!

Most of the tracks are average to flat (''Water Colours'') and as usual, vocals are ruining all the efforts. Two stars is the best rating I can come up with. I do not share the feel of another reviewer who compares this band with ''Landberk'' or ''Anekdoten''. They really don't share the same bill.

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Thanks to ProgLucky; Eric Walker for the artist addition.

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