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BONFIRE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Netherlands


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Bonfire biography
Dutch band BONFIRE (not to be confused with 90's German metal band) are an all-instrumental jazzy quartet that were hailed by some as the next FOCUS, back in 1974. They consisted of Cees Meerman on drums, Eugene den Hoed on guitars and flute, Kees den Hoed on bass and gong, and Frank Witte on Fender Rhodes, vibes, grand piano and recorders. Their complex compositions and elaborate harmonies put them in the same camp as EGG, NATIONAL HEALTH, SUPERSISTER and SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA.

Their album, "Bonfire Goes Bananas '75", is a real stunner and still sounds fresh by today's standards. The original LP featured five short tracks on one side and a long track on the other; the cd version includes two bonus tracks from 1980 - albeit a bit disappointing, as these were recorded by the band members many years after their break-up. The playing is superb and the compositions, mostly from the pen of keyboardist Witte, are fresh and full of musical puns. The relentless interplay between den Hoed's guitar and Witte's electric piano results in a unique tension that is altogether challenging and fun. This music is rhythmic, tight and grooving.

The complex arrangements will please fans of the Canterbury scene; if you FOCUS, FINCH and GENTLE GIANT, chances are you will also enjoy BONFIRE.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

Bonfire official website

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BONFIRE discography


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3.44 | 19 ratings
Bonfire Goes Bananas '75
1994

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BONFIRE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Bonfire Goes Bananas '75 by BONFIRE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.44 | 19 ratings

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Bonfire Goes Bananas '75
Bonfire Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Short-lived Dutch Prog band from Bergen op Zoom.They were set up in 1974 around the leading figure of keyboardist/flutist Frank Witte and featuring also brothers Eugene den Hoed (guitar, flute) and Kees den Hoed (bass) along with drummer Cees Meerman.Bonfire recorded their only album ''Bonfire goes bananas'' from November, 18th till December, 5th 1974 at Morgan Studios in Brussels, Belgium.It was released on EMI's Dutch sublabel Bovema EMI the following year.

Side A consists of five short instrumental tracks, heavily influenced by FOCUS and with strong FINCH connections concerning the style, based on a solid Jazz background with Post-Psych inspirations around and slight touches of Classical-driven themes.Musicianship is pretty great, albeit a bit unoriginal, with a very JAN AKKERMAN-style of guitar delivery and Frank Witte being another THIJS VAN LEER wannabee.They did it pretty nice with rapid time changes and unusual breaks combined with light, melodious textures in tracks that burst a fair amount of technique and virtuosity, injected with more laid-back textures.Keyboard work is a highlight with shifting performances on electric piano, organ and synthesizers.A more expanded version of Bonfire's repertoire appears on the flipside with the 5-part instrumental opus ''The sage of the running nose''.Here the style is closer to FINCH with a tight mix of superb instrumental energy and smooth jazzy Progressive Rock, offering dramatic sections with grandiose guitar, bass and keyboards and Prog-Fusion elements in the forefront, drawing influences both from Jazz and Classical Music, eventually creating a fine, long piece of instrumental pomposity.

It seems that the group disbanded after the release of the album (which was also supported by a single) with Kees Den Hoed becoming a stable member of Pop singer Rob de Nijs's backing band and Cees Meerman collaborating with Herman Brood's Wild Romance.However in 1980 Witte launched a second yet again short-lived version of Bonfire, which recorded a 2-track demo, with a new line-up: Harald Heynen on guitar, Michel Van Schie on bass) and Jaap De Weyer on drums.These were also the only tracks recorded by Bonfire to feature some vocals, both are enclosed in the CD reissue of the album by Pseudonym along with the tracks from the band's sole single.The music remains solid and fairly progressive with more evident Fusion vibes and an updated sound akin to the 80's era, yet with impressive jazzy underlines in the guitar parts and complex synthesizer moves.The vocals though are rather cheesy and far from a welcome addition.

Things are simple.You love FOCUS, you will certainly love Bonfire as well.Instrumental Progressive Rock with jazzy overtones, delivered with energy and passion.Not original, but still warmly recommended.

 Bonfire Goes Bananas '75 by BONFIRE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.44 | 19 ratings

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Bonfire Goes Bananas '75
Bonfire Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sagichim
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Home alone!

While other progressive bands like Focus, Finch or Supersister are pretty well known in the prog world, and have been already reviewed or discussed, Bonfire never gets mentioned and are shoved somewhere behind all those bands for no good reason, and that's a shame. So...Bonfire was an all instrumental prog rock dutch band that only released one album in 1975 with the cool title ' Bonfire Goes Bannanas' . Although not as popular this album have been reissued on cd with the addition of some bonus tracks, giving Bonfire an extra push out of total obscurity. The album consists of five "short" tracks on side one and their take on a long progressive piece on side two. Like in a lot of cases the short tracks tries to capture the different styles the band is influenced by, and the long piece takes all of these influences, and fuses them together to form something new and exciting.

The band's style is jazzy, eclectic prog rock with some canterbury influences and a lot of funk too. I would say closer to Focus than Finch or Supersister. Although listed under jazz rock/fusion which absolutely does not categorize them well, the band never solo too much and the songs are more constructed than improvised if at all. Being led by keyboardist Frank Witte who uses mainly the fender rhodes, the band feature some great guitars all along, some are delicate and some are harder edged with some good rocky solos, the sound is never too heavy though but always eclectic and sophisticated. Rhythm section is outstanding too, bass and drums does push the music forward and the band manages to stay tight and focused all the time, execution is very good. Side one holds five tracks showing different sides of the band and some several mood changes, from rocky to jazzy to eclectic but always tight and kind of funky too, brilliant stuff really. 'Delirium' and 'Contrast' shows that side while 'Vuurstaal' sound like a song that Focus would be proud to own, personal and sensitive with beautiful flute and some good guitar fused together creating a beautiful ballad. 'Chinese in Europe(Part 1)' demonstrates how a 3 minutes track can be so interesting and progressive. Starting out with a quirky riff divided to two it goes softer, returns and then addes an instrumental short bit to conclude it, although they could easily strech it they thought it was just right like that ( it makes you wonder where is part 2 tough?). 'Circle' contains intricate rhythm and jumps from one idea to the next easily, also contain one of my favourite parts in the album, the rocky crazy guitar solo over the jazzy rocky rhythm, just terrific. Side two holds the highlight 'The Sage of the Running Nose' a complete piece that demonstrates their great writing skills, showing everything the band have and how progressive they really are, evolving from one part to the other, the piece flows perfectly taking one idea and going around it than moving to something else changing the lead instrument and bouncing between keys and guitar. With beautiful piano lines, and some good change of moods the band manages never to sound the same all the time and makes the listener up on his toes and doesn't fall into boring instrumental sections infact you can feel it's all well written. Jazzy, rocky, funky, quirky, sophisticated, invigorating it all ends after 19 minutes of pure prog rock.

The cd contains two bonus tracks that are edited single versions of 'Circle' and 'Contrast' which does not help the album,but the other two bonus tracks are featuring a totally different band, changing most of the previous line up leaving Frank Witte, the keyboard man the only original member and i guess the driving force behind the band. Those tracks shows the band moving forward and taking a more funky rocky approach while still maintaining progy edges, amazing stuff actually and a very good addition to the already good album. The band is even tighter than before incorporating a strong bass and good guitar. Vocals are added to one song and shows some humor on top of it all. I would be more than happy to see a full album from this line up as well, but it was never recorded since the band broke up in 1980 shortly after the recording of these demo songs. Shouldn't be overlooked anymore, Bonfire is an excellent addition to your prog collection don't pass it up!

 Bonfire Goes Bananas '75 by BONFIRE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.44 | 19 ratings

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Bonfire Goes Bananas '75
Bonfire Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by armapo

4 stars A nice and unfairly underrated album by this Dutch band. They're a quartet playing a very dynamic blend of jazzy prog, completely instrumental, with strong fusion elements and echoes from other Dutch prog bands, like Focus, for the flute presence, or Finch for the rhytmical energy. More than keyboards, bass and drum player stands out here, but the guitarist Eugene Den Hoed is maybe the real attraction of the band, in example on the brilliant opener "Delerium". Anyway, "Bonfire Goes Bananas" is an album that never bore you, because every tracks develops an intricate theme full of contrasts and changing times. In this sense, "Contrast" is the typical Bonfire track, with its large variety of moods, like the long suite "The sage of the running nose", offering some exciting piano/guitar interplay. Surely Bonfire was a talented group, and this good album deserved more fortune.

 Bonfire Goes Bananas '75 by BONFIRE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.44 | 19 ratings

BUY
Bonfire Goes Bananas '75
Bonfire Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Agemo

3 stars Bonfire is a dutch rock band that only produced one album. The music has elements that also can be found in the music of Finch and Focus. It is all instrumental and the main parts are reserved for the piano of Frank Witte (who is also the main composer) and the guitar of Eugene den Hoed (who also plays flute). On the a side of the album there are five short tracks and on the b side there is the long Sage Of The Running Nose.

The music has influences from the Canterbury scene (Chinese in Europe and The Sage Of The Running Nose), Focus (Contrast and Vuurstaal) and Camel (Circle). It is complex, varied and melodic and it sounds fresh. The music is well played but somehow it is a bit cold and emotionless.

On the cd four bonus tracks are added. Two edits from album tracks and two demos that were recorded by a complete new band (except for original member Witte) in 1980.

 Bonfire Goes Bananas '75 by BONFIRE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.44 | 19 ratings

BUY
Bonfire Goes Bananas '75
Bonfire Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by profoto

3 stars Unfortunately the genius of especially Eugene & Frank was never captured on vinyl as it was displayed live. Or if it was, it hasn't yet been released. I'll treasure those memories of the gigis forever! Chinees in Europa used to be the biggest crowdpleaser, and in my memory it lasted at least 15 minutes when performed live, depending on how much Frank & Eugene would try to outdo eachoter that particular night. Perhaps too much talent in too small an area (Bergen op Zoom) to stay together for too long? A real shame it broke apart so soon! Jaap
 Bonfire Goes Bananas '75 by BONFIRE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.44 | 19 ratings

BUY
Bonfire Goes Bananas '75
Bonfire Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Melos

3 stars A very valid band close to Focus or Finch, very rythmical, melodical and dynamic, mixed with slower parts beautifully arranged. Some beautiful instrumental parts led by guitar, electric piano or flute. Rare vocals. If you like Focus, this is a must.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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