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Symphonic Prog • Switzerland

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Founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1975 - Disbanded in 1981

The members of WELCOME recorded their debut album in 1975 at Aquarius Studios in Geneva on the EMI/Swiss label to modest reception. The young trio embarked upon a small series of live shows in an attempt to promote the record, but lagging sales and lack of publicity led to the departure of bassist Francis Yost, who was replaced by Helmi Erdinger around the time of the band's second and final release, "You're Welcome".

The band reportedly recorded a third album in the late seventies with a lineup that included only Tommy Stebel from the original members, but this was never released. The band disbanded in 1981, and there is no record of the members pursuing their musical careers beyond that point.

WELCOME's music is distinctly in the vein of the early seventies, owing much of their sound to YES ala "Relayer". The production quality of their studio releases is rather uneven, and is characterized by sometimes wavering harmony vocals, heavy mellotron and Hammond, and rather sparse guitar work. The band appears to have moved toward a more commercial sound with their second release, although this album has yet to be reissued on CD and is difficult to find today.

WELCOME deserve a place in progressive history for their derivative but well-meaning sound, and for their semi-legendary though sparse history.

Bob Moore (ClemofNazareth)

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WELCOME discography

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

3.41 | 32 ratings
3.14 | 12 ratings
You're Welcome

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

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

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Welcome by WELCOME album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.41 | 32 ratings

Welcome Symphonic Prog

Review by Hrychu

4 stars Where's gone the fragrancy of the fields after a heavy rain?

The Swiss group Welcome's debut is a very bizarre blend of things that work and things that don't in a very very charming way that just can't be matched. But it is certainly one heck of a Symphonic ride. It's Symphonic Rock up to 11.

Many have compared the sound of the band to Yes, especially the early albums, but IMO the sound is way more Emerson-esque with a touch of England. But I guess Welcome are not focusing too much of being a pastiche of any particular band but more of something that is trying to blend a numerous influences into one consistent sound. I like it.

The vocal department here does remind me of You by My Side by Chris Squire, all the way from the high strained harmonies to the accent and color of the voices, which is probably where the associations with Yes are coming from. Except the vocals here are way more oddballish. They're surprisingly not too heavily accented which is a good thing. However, the harmonies sound sorta off when the band tries to layer like 6 voices on top of another (Dirge) or do crazy sea monster voices (Dizzy Tune). The songs, which to me sound the best vocally are the little cute folksy tune Glory with its acoustic pastoral feel and Chain of Days, where Bernie Krauer's (or is it Tommy Sterbel?) vocals are mixed in quite loud so that the main melody line is strong enough to provide an anchor point for the listener.

The instrument that suddenly catches our ears is the Bernie Krauer's Hammond organ that, on this album provides a surprisingly wide array of colors. From lush chords to little stabby sounds. Also, in the keyboardland, we have the Moog/ARP synth that is used for tastefully put together solos and the good ol' M400, used in combination with the piano/organ to add in I guess more colors to the sound (great Flutes on Dirge and sweet violins on Glory). It's a pretty standard Symphonic Rock rig, which simply just works. It's solid and it does the job. Today it might sound a little bit dated maybe.

On the rhythm section, we have Tommy Strebel and Francis Jost doing the drums and bass, occasionally overdubbing some acoustic guitars. The plectrum bass playing on this album is quite good but not too flashy or virtuosic. The drums are played with a lot of oomph and groove but I wouldn't call them killer either. Sometimes the fills are a little sloppy (Dizzy Tune, Dirge) or the rudiments seem kinda uncontrolled (The Rag-Fair). The odd thing is that if you think about it the acoustic guitar work form these two gentlemen is much better than their rhythm section playing. xD They should've sticked to the folk format (Glory) for the entire album. Haha.

And that's Welcome by Welcome. An album with intricate hit or miss vocal harmonies that seems kinda lacking in the drums/bass sections. Despite that, the lush keyboards provide a purely classic prog sound and overall there's this aura of naivety that to me sounds very cool. If ELP and England or even Chris Squire's solo album are your thing and you don't mind another old school prog band that turns the Symphonic level to the max, you should check this one out.

 You're Welcome by WELCOME album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.14 | 12 ratings

You're Welcome
Welcome Symphonic Prog

Review by Harold Needle

3 stars [3 - 3,5 stars]

Well, this album is a mixed bag, that's for sure. The final track - 17 minutes long "The Whip" is clearly the best track in band's catalogue, being a very good 70's symphonic rock epic with some nice variations in sound and style. As for the rest... well, I'd say the rest of the album is nothing more than a bunch of okay songs. Some nice synths here and there, some pleasant acoustic guitars. The themes and lyrics are actually quite cheesy though (what do you expect from titles like "Music Is Life" or "Join the Party", really?).

In comparison to the excellent debut, side A is definitely a huge stepback. However, side B contains a great suite, which will please any classic 70's prog rock freak. It all sums up to an average rating. Definitely check out "The Whip" if you enjoyed the first album.

 Welcome by WELCOME album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.41 | 32 ratings

Welcome Symphonic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars This is the debut album from a kind of charming (and obscure) Swiss symphonic trio from the seventies. I doubt if you can find the original vinyl release anywhere, but some just as obscure Swiss label (Black Rills) reissued it on CD about a decade ago, and those copies are floating around and can pretty easily.

I can hear some of the harmonic vocals of Crosby, Stills & Nash, as well as the meandering instrumental transitions that distinguished early ELP on this album; but even beyond that the influence of Yes is both heavy and undeniable. Keyboardist Bernie Krauer must have committed ‘Fragile’ and even the back side of ‘Relayer’ to memory; either that or he was channeling the still-alive Rick Wakeman on this album because the resemblance is actually uncanny. All three of these guys sing, but the combined effect takes on a Jon Anderson/Wakeman feel to it as well. Apparently all of them play guitar at various times too, but none of them sounds anything like Steve Howe, and at times that seems to be the only difference.

The opening track “The Rag Fair” starts off like a Head East power-chord tune, but quickly evolves into the complex, stilted organ/keyboard sounds that typified most of ‘Fragile’. Really, were it not for the fact that the guitars are only average and the keyboards are not insanely complex, I would swear this was a ‘lost’ Yes track. Even the vocals sound like the B-side for a “Gates of Delirium” single (man, and that would be a really big single, more like an EP really). This is so blatantly derivative that I can’t even really get upset – I’m more impressed that a group of unknown musicians from the land of the Alps managed to pull off such a flawless imitation.

More of the same on “Dizzy Tune”, which kicks off much the same as the previous track, but also manages to add some pretty wicked bass and even more pronounced organ. Here the vocals get kind of weird for a while, more like Gong around the same time with some half-spoken, half-sung, half-mad gibberish. But this finally gives way to an excellent keyboard/bass instrumental passage that manages to sound both Yes-like and still a bit original. I will say that the drums are fairly tepid here. Although they blend fairly well on the rest of the album, this is definitely the weakest link in the trio.

“Glory” starts to take on more of an ELP feel, more expansive and less grandiose and affected. The vocals would have worked on just about any pre-1974 CSN album just as well as they do here, with great harmonizing and impeccable timing. The acoustic guitar work adds to the CSN-like mood, and musically I think this is the strongest track on the album with its slightly folkish feel and flutish mellotron.

The organ gets heavy again on “Chain of Days” before giving way to a funky keyboard riff that blends well with what sounds like a single electric guitar. Vocally this is another ‘lost’ Yes tune circa about 1973, with harmonized chanting about greeting the day and enjoying the flowers, or something like that. It’s a bit hard to follow the lyrics on this album, but they aren’t all that important anyway. Hmmm, kind of like those same Yes albums that they are parroting.

Finally comes the ‘epic’, yet another nod to the early Yes albums. The twelve-minute plus “Dirge” throws in all the hardware; organ, mellotron, piano, electric and acoustic guitar, subdued drums, and an almost invisible bass plus lots and lots of three-part harmonies with a decidedly affected accent that sounds more Celtic than Swiss. Finally the guitar plays a major role with an extensive meandering solo that fills the middle part of the lengthy arrangement. After another extended tempo change comprised mostly of whining organ, the band builds up to something of a climax before disappearing behind a single whistling minstrel. A classic seventies ending.

This isn’t a masterpiece, or even essential by any means, but it is a very good representation of the early seventies symphonic sounds that came out of Europe. While the influences are undeniable and sometimes overpowering, the arrangements are decently laid out and played with precision. The recording quality is a bit uneven, but not bad at all considering their date and dubious production. This seems like a quintessential three star album, so that’s what I’ll give it.


 Welcome by WELCOME album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.41 | 32 ratings

Welcome Symphonic Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars With their epnymous debut effort, Welcome brought a very interesting input to the Swiss prog scene. Despite its formal power-trio structure, the band's sound is so more closely related to early Yes (from "Yes" to "The Yes Album") and "Remember the Future"-era Nektar, as well as the the semir-ough melodic approach of classic Novalis and Grobschnitt. The main melodic responsibilities rest on the shoulders of keyboardsman Bernie Krauer, who alternates effective leads on organ and Moog synthesizer with attractive mellotron layers that bear the usual orchestral feel that comes to be one of the essential ingredients of standardized symphonic prog. Meanwhile, bassit Jost very much emulates the vintage Chris Squire vibe while his rhythm partner Stebel develops a drumming style in the vein of Alan White's dynamics. All in all, this band does not display ceaseless pyrotechnics, which means that the core compositions are kept within a moderate use of bombastic elaboration. Welcome certainly does not hide its major influences, choosing to welcome them explicitly and organize the musical ideas around them. The vocal department is also very relevant in the band's overall sound, since there is no lead vocalist in Welcome: all vocals are delivered in harmonies that display the singing lines. All in all, the singing interventions complete the easy-going spirit of the repertoire. Since the drummer and the bassist share acoustic guitar duties, it is no surpirse that they appear in many passages of the album: strumming sections appear as an addition to mellotron layers or even dominate the bucolic ballad 'Glory'. The first two tracks display accurate examples of what the band intends to offer to the prog friendly listener. Particularly, 'Dizzy Tune' benefits from the presence of sinister undertones in the track's central jamming. IMHO, the second half of the album is its best part. 'Chain of Days' and 'Dirge' comprise the most appealing musical ideas and the most accomplished use of mood shifts. The latter includes a very pretty guitar solo, as well as some of the most energetic manifestations of Hammond organ and synthesizer. 'Dirge' is the most epic-oriented track in the album, even showing a somber side that is not in itself very usual. Jost displays a very effective guitar solo whose moderate length reveals a sense of pwer that until then he had only shown on his mostly fuzzed bass guitar - good for him! This record is not likely to particularly impress the demanding prog listener, but it sure will be a pleasant discovery for those collectors who just can't get enough of the stylish beauty inhenert to symphonic prog. "Welcome" is a very good album, indeed.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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