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ALQUIN

Eclectic Prog • Netherlands


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Alquin biography
Founded in Delft, Netherlands in 1971 - Disbanded in 1977 - Reunited in 1995 - Disbanded in 2012

ALQUIN were an innovative Dutch band who released four studio albums during the early to mid-70's, their first two being of particular interest to progsters. With a mixture of rock, jazz and classical music, they show elements of SOFT MACHINE, CARAVAN, PINK FLOYD, CURVED AIR with tinges of ROXY MUSIC. The band split up in 1977 following line-up changes and differences in musical direction - some of its members went on to form a new wave/punk band called The METEORS.

"Marks" (1972), their first release, is mostly instrumental with a highly jazzy feel. Quite versatile, it features snippets of calypso, circus music, Dixieland and (of all things!) country music. Their best progressive effort, however, is their second album "Mountain Queen" (1973) which features long instrumental passages with prominent lead guitar, whirling Hammond organ, dual saxophones, electric violin and catchy choruses in a slightly Canterbury style. With the release of "Nobody Can Wait Forever" (1975) and "Best Kept Secret" (1976), however, the band went for a more hard rock sound with shorter, more accessible tunes. Two live albums as well as six compilation cd's of their material were subsequently released by Polydor and various other record labels.

The symphonic style of "Mountain Queen" should appeal to progsters; "Nobody Can Wait Forever" is recommended if you like a more bluesy/funky approach.

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

See also: WiKi

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ALQUIN discography


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

3.83 | 94 ratings
Marks
1972
3.79 | 99 ratings
The Mountain Queen
1973
3.09 | 49 ratings
Nobody Can Wait Forever
1975
2.60 | 28 ratings
Best Kept Secret
1976
3.18 | 19 ratings
Blue Planet
2005
3.45 | 11 ratings
Sailors And Sinners
2009

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

3.49 | 13 ratings
On Tour
1976
3.94 | 8 ratings
One More Night
2003

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

3.09 | 3 ratings
One More Night
2003

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

5.00 | 1 ratings
Crash - The Best Of Alquin
1976
4.60 | 5 ratings
Marks / Mountain Queen
1990
3.17 | 4 ratings
Nobody Can Wait Forever / Best Kept Secret
1990
3.10 | 2 ratings
Wheelchair Groupie
1999
3.17 | 3 ratings
3 Originals
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
Universal Masters Collection
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Marks Sessions
2013

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
You Always Can Change / Hard Royce
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Stranger
1975
2.00 | 1 ratings
Wheelchair Groupie
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
Fool in the Mirror
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sweet Surrender
2003

ALQUIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Mountain Queen by ALQUIN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.79 | 99 ratings

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The Mountain Queen
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Another strong album from ALQUIN as this followup to "Marks" continues the quality this band from The Netherlands showed on their debut. A six piece with two sax players and one of them plays flute. The guitarist adds vocals and violin. And we get an organ/piano player along with bass and drums.

"The Mountain Queen" was released in 1973 and features six tracks although that short "Don And Dewey(Theme By Don Bowman)" is an intro to the closer. Don Bowman was a Country musician and comedian out of Texas. This is where we get the violin mostly. The violin continues when this song ends and "Mr. Barnum Jr.'s Magnificent And Fabulous City" begins but the sax will replace the violin fairly quickly. This is uptempo and piano will lead for a while but so does the organ and we get more sax later.

The title track is excellent giving us a brief Canterbury section with those keyboard and flute leads. Vocals on this one too and distorted keys later on but at almost 15 minutes this is a ride folks! I just don't like the start with the blasting sax and heavy drums. A minor complaint. The opener is catchy with pulsating organ as the guitar solos over it the bass and drums. A calm with reserved vocals before it kicks back in. I like the flute then we get more guitar. Sax before 7 minutes but then the guitar starts to solo too. Another calm with vocals follows. Love the trippy sound here. Some bluesy guitar on "Soft-Eyed Woman" along with flute leading the way. A mellow tune overall. I like "Convicts Of The Air" for that determined sound and it just sounds cool. A catchy beat too with guitar and flute over top. Vocals follow, some sax later but the guitar and flute are more prominent.

Tough to pick which one I like better of their first two recordings but who cares when you have them both.

 Marks by ALQUIN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 94 ratings

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Marks
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Without question one of the better albums to come out of The Netherlands. Released in 1972 with a rather bland album cover this is the debut of this 6 piece band. It's jazzy with two guys playing sax but also spacey with the Arp synths in play and there's also a Canterbury vibe that has such a strong appeal to my musical tastes. The flute is prominent and the guitarist also adds violin, the synths I was talking about and piano. We get vocals but there's mostly instrumental music on this release.

Best track by far is the 11 1/2 minute "I Wish I Could" which actually has a Krautrock vibe that I greatly appreciate. The organ stews to begin with as it starts to build with that Krautrock flavour. Drums before 2 minutes then a complete change 4 minutes in as we get organ only before it's replaced with relaxed guitar then the organ returns. Reserved vocals 5 minutes in then it turns more powerful before the flute leads 6 minutes in as the vocals step aside. They are back at 7 minutes as themes are repeated. Sax will lead then synths end it. Great track!

There isn't a weak song on here in my opinion but also none that really standout like "I Wish I Could". The opener does not sound Oriental at all despite the title. The flute really stands out on this one. Love that trippy sound before the guitar kicks in and the tempo picks up. Contrasts continue. "Soft Royce" is pretty good with that warm and laid back sound with sax leading. A change before 1 1/2 minutes as it kicks into gear with drums and guitar as the piano and sax step aside. Again contrasts continue and we get vocals at 3 1/2 minutes as it settles back and I really like the organ after 4 minutes. Check out the uptempo violin on that fourth track when the tempo picks up at 3 1/2 minutes and yes I'm dancing around the house at this point. So catchy.

A very consistent album and I like the thunder to open "Marc's Occasional Showers" yes these guys have a sense of humour. Multi-vocal melodies follow before 1 1/2 minutes and then flute replaces vocals. The closer is violin led and catchy as well and then we get that mellow poppy number called "You Always Can Change" with those reserved vocals. A solid 4 stars for this 40 minute album and I look forward to reviewing the followup they did to this that is supposed to be really good as well.

 Fool in the Mirror by ALQUIN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1976
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Fool in the Mirror
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Alquin is a rock group from the Netherlands that seems to have started off as a prog-rock group focused more on instrumental album cuts than on singles. In 1975, though, perhaps signaling that they couldn't wait forever for pop-music success, they released a radio- friendly single in Europe ("Wheelchair Groupie") and different one in the US ("Stranger"). Both were taken from their album Nobody Can Wait Forever. The following year they released this single, but apparently only in the Netherlands.

Both sides of this single are excerpts of tracks from their 1976 album Best Kept Secret. The a-side is the "Sham Fight" section of "Fool in the Mirror," while the b-side is the "Bootlegs Ballet" section of "One More Night." In each case, the single edit is less than half as long as the album version.

While Nobody Can Wait Forever was Alquin's third album, it was the first to be released in the US. Unfortunately, it was also their last. It seems that outside of the Netherlands and Belgium, Best Kept Secret was available only as an import. Perhaps not coincidentally, "Fool in the Mirror" isn't as conspicuously commercial as "Wheelchair Groupie." While it still barely resembles Alquin's early work, "Fool in the Mirror" is a return to a more sophisticated sound, with R&B-influenced vocals and brass. The instrumental "Bootlegs Ballet" reminds me a bit of an Allman Brothers jam, with some touches of mid-1970s Kool and the Gang and Doobie Brothers. While the arrangements of these songs would've been a fit for US pop radio in 1976, the songs themselves aren't especially accessible.

In all, "Fool in the Mirror (Sham Fight)" / "Bootlegs Ballet" is a nice enough single, but I'd recommend the album versions. And for those looking for prog music, I'd suggest this group's first two albums: Marks (1972) and Mountain Queen (1973).

 Wheelchair Groupie by ALQUIN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1975
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Wheelchair Groupie
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars "Wheelchair Groupie"/ "Mr. Widow" was a single released on Polydor in the Netherlands. In the US, an edited version of "Stranger" was the single, with "Mr. Widow" as the b-side. All are taken from Alquin's third album, Nobody Can Wait Forever.

Other than the title, "Wheelchair Groupie" is standard-issue AOR of the period. But wait, what's a "wheelchair groupie?" According to unrbandictionary.com, "wheelchair" has several slang meanings in American English, although none sheds more light on the term than the lyrics do. There are two verses: "She moved her chair up on the stage / her Hasselblad was on her knees" and "Her wonderboy came down the stairs / with silver pants and golden hair." There's a pre-chorus, "watch her eyes / she looks so happy / see her smile / I know it's not for me," leading into a refrain of "wheelchair groupie, oh wheelchair groupie!" That no special comment is made on her wonderboy's descent of a stairway makes me think he's not literally in a wheelchair. Oh well.

The b-side, "Mr. Widow" also mentions a commercial product in its first verse: "well, well, baby, sure I saw your yellow Jensen parked outside." The subject of this song is a sophisticated woman who's dating older men - - ages 66 and 95, to be exact. Just like in "Wheelchair Groupie," the singer interjects himself: "the richer you live / the poorer you die / you don't even know what's on my mind." (In case you're curious, "Stranger" could possibly be about the same woman. In the first line it sounds like the singer says "she's been runnin' around." Beyond that, though, it's not so clear.)

Compared to "Wheelchair Groupie," "Mr. Widow" is a bit poppier. Given the group's sound, either could've been at least a minor hit in the US in 1975. What's strange is how different that sound was from their first two albums, Marks (1972) and Mountain Queen (1973). While I would classify those LPs as art-rock, the songs on this single are anything but. Apparently the band had changed direction by the time they released Nobody Can Wait Forever. That title makes me wonder.

Anyway, nothing special here, in my opinion. For those interested in this style of radio-friendly rock from the Netherlands, I'd suggest Watts in a Tank (1980) by Diesel, also on Polydor.

 The Mountain Queen by ALQUIN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.79 | 99 ratings

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The Mountain Queen
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Mountain Queen is Alquin's second and best album (at least until the group reformed in the 2000s). Marks, their first, was marked, if you will, by the same kinds of novice indulgences that have beset many a debut album. And their other two 1970s albums, Nobody Can Wait Forever (1975) and Best Kept Secret (1976), went in a more radio-friendly direction, which didn't really suit Alquin, in my opinion. On The Mountain Queen, Alquin finds their sound, which is suggestive of Camel and Caravan, but nonetheless not derivative.

The Mountain Queen retains the confidence of Marks but with substantially improved material. Side Two in particular employs themes and styles familiar from Marks, but more creatively and with more consistency. But as good as the flip side is, the real gem is the obverse.

Side One is divided into three tracks on the digital-download release I have, but the first track could be interpreted as a three-part medley. On the other hand, the entire side ("The Dance"→"Soft-Eyed Woman"→"Convicts of the Air") works pretty well as a continuous piece, la "Supper's Ready" or "Fly From Here." In a recapitulation reminiscent of "Close to the Edge," the vocal theme introduced in "The Dance" ("where will you be tonight / where will you be tomorrow?") is presented in altered form in "Convicts of the Air." Now, Side One of The Mountain Queen is not at the same level as these classics, but it's very good.

The same can be said for The Mountain Queen as a whole. Four stars for Alquin's best: an excellent mix of 1970s rock, jazzy Canterbury, and symphonic prog.

 Marks by ALQUIN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 94 ratings

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Marks
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The eclectic Marks starts off sounding like Camel playing Canterbury, but three minutes in, they sound like a Dixieland brass section.

But at least at the outset, the eclecticism is kept within bounds; the first three numbers, "Oriental Journey," "The Least You Could Do is Send Me Some Flowers," and "Soft Royce," jazzily cycle through a fixed set of styles. And at first, it seems "Mr. Barnum Jr.'s Magnificent & Fabulous City" will be more of the same, but it morphs from a spirited chamber piece to a fiddlin' hoedown which goes a bit avant-garde toward the end. The bounded eclecticism of the first three songs doesn't return until the album-closer, "Catharine's Wig."

The Camel-infused Pink Floyd tribute "I Wish I Could," which opens Side Two, is my favorite song here; interestingly, "Marc's Occasional Showers," which comes later, might've made a nice coda to this one. And then there's "You Always Can Change." I wonder if Alquin was influenced by groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, insofar as this short number, suitable for release as a single, sounds a little out of place on the album. But it's a nice song.

Released in 1972, Marks must have been an unconventional debut. It suffers from an unlikely combination of unrealized ambition and unnecessary repetition. But it's performed quite well, and the sound is good. At any rate, Alquin would surpass Marks the following year with The Mountain Queen, which would be my recommended starting point for those interested in this band.

 Marks by ALQUIN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 94 ratings

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Marks
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Despite producing only one album, Alquin earned a musically unique place in the progressive rock history - the lads created an original and attractive blend of progressive rock, Canterbury, pop and space rock.

One time you hear Supersister influence, then comes Pink Floyd or Focus into mind. Highly regarded can be the use of brass instruments such as flute and saxophone.

The echoes of late psychedelic 60's can be heard in the third track "Soft Royce". The only disposable track is "Mr Barnums JR's Magnificient".

"I wish I could" feels like hommage to Pink Floyd, not only by its sound but also compositional moves. Intelligent folk- pop is represented by "You can always change".

Marks is recommended to both space-rock/folk-rock fans as well as generally adventureous music listeners not afraid to hear combined music styles together.

 The Mountain Queen by ALQUIN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.79 | 99 ratings

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The Mountain Queen
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by Suedevanshoe

4 stars 4.5 Stars.

This album suits my tastes to the nines. Blistering lead guitar, long Hammond passages, eclectic arrangements with sax, flute, piano, and electric violin thrown into the mix. There's not a wasted note on this entire record, and the power these guys display from the jump is impressive. "The Dance" starts a bit slow but really starts to move the record around the three minute mark with blaring sax and organ fueling the soaring guitar. Vocals are substantial and fair - with an excellent vocalist and some finely tuned harmonies this could be a masterpiece. That's the only flaw I can find thus far.

The album contains six tracks, two extend 14+ minutes, one more than eight and the others are short transitional pieces warming up the listener for the next steaming jam. Still, they are nice little songs that showcase the dexterity of the group - with blues, psych, and "Sugar Cane" Harris influenced tracks.

What a superb find "Mountain Queen" was for me. Powerful, eclectic, exciting rock with splashes of jazz-it's like a half-brother to the best Caravan albums. This album heads my list of underrated progressive albums from the "golden age" of prog - along with This is Gracious!, To Pagham and Beyond, and Being.

Check it out

 Nobody Can Wait Forever / Best Kept Secret  by ALQUIN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1990
3.17 | 4 ratings

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Nobody Can Wait Forever / Best Kept Secret
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Alquin from Holland is a progressive rock band who had a moderated succes in the '70s. Beggining very well with first two albums being very appreciated among fans with time passing by they slowly drop the eclectic/canterbury feel in vein of Caravan or Supersister of the first two albums and optained with the third album for a more accesible harder edge combined with progressive elements. Well, the 2 in 1 CD issued by Polydor in 1990, have the third album from 1975 named Nobody can wait forever and the forth from 1976 named Best kept secret. The first album from this CD is Nobody can wait forever - 1975. I like what I've heared here, is the type of hard prog very well performed with uptempo passages and very strong musicianship. All pieces stands as good for me, specialy the opening track New Guinea sunrise with pleasent flute break and the ending track Revolution's theme aswell with great guitar , keyboards, flute interludes. The middle of the album is ok but nothing really special, prog melted with hard edgy passages. I like a lot the vocalist Michael van Dijk , very competent , with strong tone in his voice and has some very good parts on this album. Overall ok release, enjoyble, 3 stars maybe in parts 3.5. The second album from here and forth overall from their career is Best kept secret - 1976. This is little dissapointing face previous one, not to mention is far from first two albums in manner of composing. This is a a very mainstrem and accesible hard prog where only the opning track Fool in the mirror worth mentioned, the rest while are ok are totaly forgetable tracks. They gone here like Golden Earring same period. Aswell vocal parts are good, strong. For sure weaker then all previous works band done. 2.5 stars to this one. So overall for the both albums 3 stars. Still I like to hear from time to time this 2 in 1 CD.
 Marks by ALQUIN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 94 ratings

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Marks
Alquin Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars First album from this Dutch sextet (the standard prog quartet, plus two wind players), released late 72 and coming with a fairly ugly potato album artwork (although a red fingerprint graced the export (British) version), Marks is a rather pleasant surprise (at least many moments are), as it is sounding much like its own, despite a wide pot-pourri of influences and ambiances gathered a bit all over the musical map. The group took its roots in 69 in Delft (the University town between The Hague and Rotterdam), when three students began playing R&B as Threshold Fear, then slowly expanded to a sextet, recorded a single, then changed its name into Alquin in late 71 to Alquin, based on a local monastery.

The very Genesis-like guitar-arpeggio and flute intro of the instrumental Oriental Journey opens the album on an enjoyable note, the rest of the band gradually kicking in soon, before the flute veers Asian and the band passes clutches in the turbo which will lead into a great finale. A tad Canterbury-ish but mainly its own self and a tremendous opener. The following The Least You (also an instrumental) starts off a bit goofily, but calms down superbly in its second section. The Traffic-ian 7-mins Soft Royce is probably the highlight of the album, with its beautiful jazzy ambiance and constantly changing time sigs, including some bossa nova, but the short vocal bits are a bit surprising in their rawness, but the track goes on mercilessly until a fading telephone tonality draws it to a close. The Barnum track (I'm guessing it was ousted to fit those Polydor 2on1 discs) is a low-key improv piece that borders on the dissonant side with a String Driven Thing-like violin to boot. A mainly instrumental A-side contrasting somewhat with the much wordier flipside.

The 11-mins+ I Wish I Could is a slow crescendoing track where a psychedelic twangy guitar gradually speeds up over the superb Floydian organ underneath, until midway through where the rather clumsy vocals enters for a few verses with a flute separating the first, while a guitar adds some dramatics. Unfortunately the sung passages are over- staying their welcome and unfortunately disserving the track. The following piano and acoustic guitar ballad of You Always Can Change is not one of my fave of the album, but it does retain some charm, especially in the moody ending. As always, the Dutch try to infuse some humour in the music and here it is in the form of thunderstorm bolts that announces the instrumental Marc's Occasional Shower with sax and clarinets, while the folky Catherine's Wig has the fiddle diddling with diverse winds, but both tracks provide an unfitting close to an otherwise fine album. The Esoteric remaster has a short bonus track, the b-side of a single and obviously a wink atr their Soft Royce track and it features heavy guitar and Beefheart-style vocals. Barely in line with the rest of the album, but not shockingly different.

This album will be strong enough to have the group be part of that Dutch wave of groups ala Earring, Supersister, Focus, Ekseption/Trace, and Alquin will gain some exposure in England by playing the Grey whistle Test TV show, leading to opening some show for The Who in France a while later. Too bad this debut album will be their most inventive and their future albums will not foray further in the avenues that Alquin opened for themselves, here. Indeed the following MQ will be a flawed but good successor, but after that, the group will sporadically have moments of greatness glimpsed in this present album, but for the most will produce average pomp rock music. In some ways, this album could be assimilated to a wiser early Supersister (same producer, so that helps) but much wiser and less virtuoso. Marginally better than their second album, but Alquin remains a second division Dutch group, leaving no essential trace in their country's rock scene compared to Focus, Earring or that Super Sister.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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