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GOD BLESS

Prog Related • Indonesia


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God Bless biography
God Bless pioneered the birth of rock music in Indonesia dated back in early 70s. The band history started with Ahmad Albar (vocal) who started his appearance in a local movie called "Djendral Kancil" in the 60s. After his appearance as movie artist Albar went to Netherland where with his Dutch colleagues he formed TAKE FIVE (1966-1967), and later formed another band CLOVER LEAF (1967-1972) where they released succesful hits "May Day" and "Grey Clouds". When Albar returned to Indonesia, he had a dream to form another band with his ex Clover Leaf guitarist Ludwig Le Mans. He invited Fuad Hassan (drums), Donny Fatah (bass) and Deddy Dores (keyboard) to form GODBLESS. Their first appearance to the public was in 1972 when Jakarta (the capital city of Indonesia) conducted "Summer 28" festival - a kind o rock music festival similar to Woodstock at Ragunan, South Jakarta. The festival was featuring rock bands from Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. It was really glory days of rock music all over the world and it happened as well in Indonesia. The existence of local rock music magazine AKTUIL had made the Indonesian rock scene became brighter. Here and there people were so familiar with "Child In Time" (Deep Purple), "Stairway To Heaven" (Led Zeppelin" or "Iron Man" (Black Sabbath).

GodBless dominated rock music performance during the 70s even though they did cover version of Deep Purple, Kansas, Genesis, ELP, Kin Ping Meh, Queen, etc. Other rock bands that were popular at that time were: The Rollies (brass rock band in the vein of Chicago), Giant Step (a band formed by Deddy Dores who left GodBless), AKA (hard rock band in the vein of Grand Funk Railroad) and many other pop rock outfits like RASELA, PANBERS, MERCY'S, GEMBEL's, SHARK MOVE, KOES BERSAUDARA, etc. etc.

GodBless's line-up has changed frequently and until now, it has been more than 15 times line-up changes. There was tragedy happened in June 1974 when the band's drummer (Fuad Hassan) and keyboardist (Soman Lubis) were killed in traffic accident around Pancoran, Jakarta. It was so sad. I remember that I met Fuad Hassan personally when he visited my uncle's house at Jl Cendana 23 because it was a meeting point of Menteng and Waringin youngsters at that time. Fuad was a friend of my brother. The band commemorated the deaths of their friends, one hundred days later, with a spectacular show involving a mock-up of funeral possession at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) Jakarta. GodBless also perfo...
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(CD Album God Bless, 12 Tracks)(CD Album God Bless, 12 Tracks)
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GOD BLESS discography


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

4.05 | 2 ratings
God Bless
1976
4.05 | 3 ratings
Cermin
1980
3.96 | 5 ratings
Semut Hitam
1988

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GOD BLESS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Semut Hitam by GOD BLESS album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.96 | 5 ratings

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Semut Hitam
God Bless Prog Related

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is NOT prog, but it rocks! And it's excellent! Yeeeeaah ..!

Two years after the release of true progressive rock album "Cermin", the band's keyboard player (Abadi Soesman) left the band which caused them in vacuum period. But in 1988 God Bless was back with another commercially successful album "Semut Hitam" (Black Ant) which could surpass rock music industry standard with 400,000 copies sold, nation-wide. It's been the highest achievement any band can achieve this commercial success in terms of rock music. No other rock band in Indonesia that could surpass the figure "Semut Hitam" has achieved to-date. Anyway, what the number means for prog heads like all of us? We just never care about the commercial success, don't we? What we care most is how great the music is composed and how long it can sustain over time, i.e. we won't get bored in the future whenever we listen to the music 10 years or even 30 years from now. Take great composition like "Gates of Delirium" by Yes for example: I listened to it the first time in 1974, I have never and won't ever get bored even many years from now!

With this third album, God Bless music concept had changed from its previous two "proggy" albums towards more hard rock and heavy metal based. The third album's line-up is the same with debut album because Jockie Soeryoprayogo was back right here with "Semut Hitam". He had even successfully crafted excellent pop rock hit with a bout of symphonic touch through "Kehidupan". This song became major hit nation-wide. In addition to this, Ian Antono co-wrote "Rumah Kita" with Indonesian's famous music observer Theodore KS. This album also features one of the best rock songs God Bless has ever created: "Trauma" (9th track).

Kehidupan (Life) opens the album with upbeat rock music through great opening part which combines guitar riffs, dynamic drums, keyboard and bass until it reaches ambient mode to turn into quiet passage (for a while) followed with musical beats for Albar to sing. The beat is really catchy and I am so sure that anyone who listens to this beat will get along with it, really well. It's so simple but it's backed wonderfully with tight basslines delivered by Donny Fattah. Wow! I do enjoy the bass guitar, really. I think Donny is the "best" bass player in rock scene for Indonesian music. This song has uplifting lyrics about the struggle for achievement in life which mankind pursue to move ahead with life threatening challenges. As a corporate workshop facilitator / leader, I always use this song in my professional work to accompany experiential learning required to make my workshop alive and dynamic. The lyrics invite the listeners to be highly motivated in whatever they do and to strive for excellence. Musically, the melody is very catchy and the rhythms section has successfully combined "groove" and rock music elements. The interlude part which features short guitar solo by Ian Antono followed by catchy keyboard solo by Jockie. It's awesome!

Rumah Kita (Our Home) is a ballad in nature and "slow rock" in style. Again, this song has a catchy melody and very smooth music flows. No wonder, this song has been accepted by people and as a result, it became a major hit at the time of release, after "Kehidupan". The composition is actually quite simple and the lyric represents simplicity in life where people should stay in their homeland no matter how progressing outside world is. It's an inspiring lyrics, even though the words chosen are quite straight forward.

Semut Hitam is a straight forward rocker in the vein of Van Hallen or David Lee Roth's solo album. Ian Antono's guitar riffs are quite dominant in the composition, combined with Teddy Sujaya's dazzling drumwork. This song has become tha band's regular setlist altogether with "Kehidupan" because booth of them can energize the crowd to rock. Even though I personally do not put this song as my favorite, but I think that this song has been excellently composed Donny Fattah and Jockie Soeryoprayogo.

Damai Yang Hilang (Peace That Has Gone) is a very nice ballad with powerful message delivered through its inspiring lyrics that comment about world politics. The music is mellow and it flows in a very catchy melody that makes listeners get acquainted very fast with the music; especially with the melody. Free translation on some verses include: "Every time I read, I have seen red (of blood) which serves no purpose. War has become trade commodity. There has been no such news on welfare and happiness ." (the melody which accompanies this verse is so catchy, and I love it very much!).

Orang Dalam Kaca (Man in a Mirror) explores God Bless capability in delivering acapella. Remember "Tuan Tanah" of "Cermin" album? Yeah, both songs share the same style in how the choirs are arranged. Of course they are different in melody but the acapella style connect them. One of key success factors of any God Bless music is the power of choirs from Ahmad Albar (lead) backed with Ian Antono (backing) and Donny Fattah (backing).

Ogut Suping represented how God Bless was sensitive in the progress of youngsters (teenagers) communication language which had many "slank" or "jargon" created among themselves. "Ogut Suping" is an example of jargons typically used by teens or youngsters that were typically called "prokem". God Bless explores the languages further so that this song's lyrics became very popular to many young men in Indonesia at that time.

Suara Kita (Our Voice) is a great track with an opening Church organ work which reminds me to the work of Rick Wakeman followed wonderfully with a blast of rock music combining bass guitar, powerful drums, guitar and keyboard. The song then moves in fast tempo with excellent melody and great vocal delivery. Well, this is another track of favorite for me personally. It's so rocking and very uplifting. The interlude part which demonstrates guitar solo followed with vocal choirs, augmented by keyboard work.

Badut Badut Jakarta (Jakarta's Clowns) starts off with Teddy Sujaya's simple drumming followed with keyboard maneuver by Jockie S and continued with Ian's guitar work. Again, it's another track with excellent melody and combined keyboard and guitar work. God Bless has successfully blended groove into its rock composition so that anyone listening to this song would tend to like it. The combined guitar riffs and keyboard solo / fills are also excellent and you can have it throughout the whole track. This song brings forward morale and social message which touches people who serve without their hearts in any profession they do. Basically, they do it for life.

Trauma is a masterpiece hard rock / heavy metal song with great combination of guitar riffs, keyboard rhythm which accompany powerful voice of Ahmad Albar. In addition to the above, this song brings another social message about a person who mistakenly killed a man / woman, get jailed, and many regrets. The key strengths of this song are: excellent melody and choruses, great composition, fast tempo and powerful combination of guitar riffs and keyboard work. For most of Indonesian, the key verse of the overall lyrics is basically when Ahmad Albar screams: "Sepinya hidup dalam penjara .." (How lonely life in prison is!) followed wonderfully with backing vocals by Donny and Ian which both of them scream "Tak juga hilangkan .." (I can not get away from it.). All elements and segments were composed neatly and it's performed flawlessly by the band. I salute God Bless for this great track that has become one of my God Bless favorite tracks! Imagine Deep Purple "Burn" (the track) and you would have, say 70%, picture of how this song sounds like. Of course the two songs are totally different.

Bla.Bla.Bla concludes the album with another excellent message on humanity issue. It deals with the struggle for power whereby people revenge one another to get the power and there is no peace being praised at all. It's another uplifting message and .. it's just not only the lyrics which makes this song powerful, the music is also excellent! As usual in most of God Bless compositions, this one has excellent melody and rhythm section with keyboard-based nuance. It flows naturally from one segment to another and to nice chorus until the music is finished excellently. It remarks the end of the album. I then typically re-spin the CD starting from "Suara Kita" or sometimes from "Trauma" (because it's a GREAT track, I tell you!).

Conclusion

This third album by God Bless has shifted the band's music direction towards hard rock music and dropped the "prog" elements from the music. Never mind, re-orientation of music style is common and many bands have done it. Even though the shift is quite significant, but God Bless can still maintain its characteristics through three dominant members: Ahmad Albar (lead vocal), Ian Antono (guitar) and Donny Fattah (bass), supported by genius keyboard work by Jockie. This album was originally issued in cassette format but lately (2006) the label has printed the CD version, remastered at Studio 301 - Sydney, Australia. It's an excellent hard rock album. Keep on rockin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Cermin by GOD BLESS album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Cermin
God Bless Prog Related

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars It's truly a symphonic prog rock album!

It took almost five years to finalize and release the second album "Cermin" (Mirror) by God Bless. Just before the band was about to start writing this second album, the talented keyboard player and composer Yockie Soeryoprayogo left the band and decided to focus on his solo project and contributed to a movie sound track for what became a landmark in the history of Indonesian music: "Badai Pasti Berlalu". Abadi Soesman joined the band in 1979 replacing Yockie's position. Abadi Soesman contributed the development of this second album which was released in 1980. "Cermin" laid a solid foundation for God Bless in the prog rock scene. "Cermin" has critically acclaimed as an album which demonstrated major shift in God Bless music concept as compared to its self-titled debut album in 1976. Structurally, most of songs contained in this album are not straight forward and many complex arrangements and textures during transition pieces as well as music interlude. Abadi Soesman injected fresh nuance to the music of God Bless as there are many dynamic and stunning keyboard solo as well as rhythm section. The album has been influenced by big names like Kansas, Genesis, Yes, ELP, Klaatu and Gentle Giant.

Cermin (Mirror) kicks the album off with a ballad-based composition where the music starts with a nice melody followed with rich textures and more complex arrangement as as the music unfolds. From the opening part, it's clear how inventive the piano / keyboard work played by Abadi Soesman; and it flows beautifully accompanying Ahmad Albar's transparent voice. Guitar solo by Ian Antono is very catchy in many segments including that serve as fillers in between segments. As the music moves dynamically, Teddy Sujaya's drum work strengthens the structure in a solid way. As this album was made after the Indonesian music scene changed significantly in 1977 when a Genesis and Refugee-influenced song "lilin-Lilin Kecil" performed by Chrisye (RIP, ex Guruh Gipsy and Badai Band) became national hit, this song shared similar nuance like the music trend at that time. "Cermin" is definitely an excellent track.

Selamat Pagi Indonesia (Good Morning Indonesia) (6:16) flows beautifully in similar vein like the opening track, with nice piano / keyboard work, mellotron-like sound by Abadi, augmented by Ian's acoustic guitar fills. The music flows in a symphonic rock style with many breaks filled with catchy vocal and excellent acoustic guitar. The music moves dynamically in medium tempo with excellent combination of guitar and keyboard work. Yeah, I am proud that this local hero has made such an excellent composition like this song!

Musisi (Musician) (4:26) is probably the best prog rock song that God Bless has ever created and I am sure whoever has claimed himself as proghead would definitely say that this song is true masterpiece prog rock! It starts wonderfully winth an ambient nuance where Donny Fatah plays his "walking" bass with solid sound which sets the overall tone of this composition. Ian Antono's rhythm guitar follows the bass guitar solo, continued with drum work by Tedy and keyboard punches by Abadi Soesman. WOW man!!!! This is reallllyyyyy . greeeeaaaaattt! I am not exaggerating! You must try youself. When the music unfolds in crescendo with Ahmad Albar's powerful and transparent voice, the music begins to become more complex especially with intertwining work of guitar, bass, keyboard and drums. I think this is the song where God Bless can demonstrate the virtuosity of each member in playing their instruments. It's awesome! The vocal line by Ahmad Albar backed by Ian Antono and Donny Fatah is also producing brilliant harmonies. This is an adrenalin exploder track, performed in fast speed with great arrangement that any prog head would adore.

Balada Sejuta Wajah (The Ballad of a Million Faces) (3:36) is a very nice ballad with catchy melody line, great vocal harmonies and wonderful orchestration. Well, you can try the interlude part where the keyboard is played like an orchestra. This song, despite the nice composition, it also has powerful lyrics. "Is there any peaceful tomorrow .?".

Sodom & Gomorah (4:07) is an excellent rocker with complex arrangements even at the start of the song, it reminds me to the music of ELP during its opening track. There interlude part is interesting because it combines jazz rock music in fast tempo and complex textures. The middle of the interlude is so powerful and it reminds me to the music of Kansas.

Anak Adam (11:50) is another excellent song which in the opening part reminds me to Kansas but it is then followed wonderfully with the gamelan Bali in fast tempo. The gamelan part is really interesting because it merges smoothly with the keyboard song. Again, through this song Abadi demonstrates his ultra-skills in keyboard playing with more inventive punches even though there are bits of Kansas, but it sounds really excellent. As this is the longest song offered by this album, it also gives multi-part section with different styles and / or tempo. I really enjoy this song very much and it's definitely an excellent prog rock composition!

Insan Sesat (5:53) is another ballad with simpler arrangements as compared to first two songs in this album. Abadi plays important role to accompany Ahmad Albar's voice. It's a nice ballard. Ingat (Remember) (6:44) is a simple structure song performed in medium tempo with meaningful message conveyed by Ahmad Albar. The music has an excellent piano / keyboard as well as guitar solos. The album concludes with an excellent "acapella" by Ahmad Albar, Donny Fatah and Ian Antono performing "Tuan Tanah" (2:06). . It reminds me to the choirs of Gentle Giant.

Conclusion

Remembering the music scene in the 80s, this album had taken one step ahead musically compared to their counterparts who did not dare to play prog music. Yes, there was Guruh Gipsy, Harry Roesli, etc. in the extreme cases while God Bless "Cermin" is much more accessible which was widely accepted by typical rocker or proghead in Indonesia. Even though this was a seminal work by the band but it did not succeed commercially. It could be concluded that by that time prog music by Indonesian band was probably not that anxious enough or they prefer Genesis, Yes, ELP instead of local band. This is a wrong perception, if this is the case, because musically this album is really excellent. I put 4.5 stars rating. Highly Recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 God Bless by GOD BLESS album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.05 | 2 ratings

BUY
God Bless
God Bless Prog Related

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Phew! Finally . I had a chance to add another Indonesian band. Many more to come!! This album by God Bless remarked the existence of rock music in Indonesia, in which by that time young generation praised the music of world famous rockers like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, etc. God Bless had been the king of rock stage performance because in any rock festival their name was always there as headliner. God Bless was one of headliners during Summer 28 Festival (similar to Woodstock) held in Jakarta. After that the band played various concerts at different places, as cover band of Kansas, Queen, and Kin Ping Meh. That was okay as many other bands also played cover version. That's why, the release of this debut album was very critical in the history of Indonesian rock music. I have to admit that this album was heavily influenced by other bands like Genesis, Kansas, Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant. God Bless had changed their line-up quite frequently but the line-up which made up this debut album is I think the most solid one.

Huma Di Atas Bukit kicks the album off through stunning piano work by Yockie intertwined by Ian Antono's guitar fills in the vein of Genesis' Hackett. The intro is very melodic and catchy for most listeners, delivered through keyboard solo. Ahmad Albar deep voice enters the music elegantly and brings the music with the melody he sings excellently. This song is basically a ballad with simple structure and nice interlude demonstrating Ian Antono's guitar solo. Unfortunately, the influence of Genesis's "Selling England by the Pound" is quite strong so that there is similarity of melodies with "Firth of Fifth" interlude part. Lucky that when the first time I purchased this album I had never heard "Firth of Fifth" yet so I felt fine with it. This song was a soundtrack of local national movie "Laela Majenun". I feel like being peaceful listening to this song, really, despite the Genesis heavy influence.

Rock Di Udara means something like "rock in the air" and represents the situation in the 70s where there were dichotomy in Indonesian music scheme. I remember vividly that during the 70s there was music war between two different poles: those who praised rock'n'roll (represented by Benny Subardja of Giant Step - another Indonesian prog rock band) and those who praised local music called "dangdut" represented by H Rhoma Irama. The competition between these two poles were quite tense and reaching the edge especially with the existence of music magazine AKTUIL. Therefore, God Bless created "Rock Di Udara" which brought up peace in music. One of the lyrical verses mentioned: "Please respect the music that you do not praise." or something like that. The music of this song is very original and it has great composition and performance especially on the combined work of bass (Donny Fatah) and guitar (Ian Antono) augmented with keyboard work by Yockie. This is truly an excellent rocker that I'm sure you'd like it. You may want to observe tight basslines played by Donny Fatah - it's fantastic! Structure-wise, this song can be considered as progressive rock because of changes of style throughout the song even though it finally comes back to the original version. The keyboard solo by Yockie is also stunning. This is one of my favorite God Bless tracks.

Sesat is an easy listening rocker with excellent guitar and keyboard / organ work that accompany power vocal choirs led by Ahmad Albar, backed by Donny and Ian. Ian also performs excellent guitar solo while Donny delivers his dynamic bass lines. The song has excellent rhythm section and nice melody. Organ and keyboard play important roles as rhythm section as well as solo at the end of the song. It's quite original in terms of influences and I can say that this is THE music of God Bless.

Eleanor Rigby is a cover version of Lennon / McCartney's composition. It's quite clear that the song is prog by nature but I do not actually like the original version. The best arrangement so far for me is the one performed by Esperanto and the second one is the God Bless version. It's really excellent how God Bless rearrange the song in such a way that it's much proggier than the original version. There are many changes in tempo and melody throughout the song.

Gadis Binal is another rocker with nice rhythm section comprising guitar, keyboard and bass guitar with solid beats by drums. Even though the way Ian Antono plays his rhythm guitar is quite similar to the way Tomy Bolin played "Getting Tighter" with Deep Purple, this song is quite original from others' influences. Again, Donny demonstrates dynamic bass lines throughout the song.

Friday On My Mind is a cover of EasyBeat and the arrangement indicates strong influences of passages from Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick" and Genesis' "Dancing with The Moonlit Knight". Despite the issue of originality, this song is very enjoyable.

Setan Tertawa is my true favorite of God Bless tracks. It starts dynamically with dazzling drumwork by Teddy Sujaya followed with excellent guitar fills by Ian Antono backed with bass lines and drums. You might recall the similarity of the intro part with Gentle Giant's "Valedictory". Structure-wise, this song is definitely a prog rock music especially with the frequent changes in terms of styles and tempo. The song has energy, power and meaningful message to fight against evil which has influenced the life of youngsters through narcotics and gambling. There are transition pieces with complex arrangements that accompany the story and most of them happen unpredictably. Teddy Sujaya plays his best through this wonderful track. I have never felt getting bored enjoying this wonderful track.

She Passed Away closes the chapter wonderfully through a ballad with catchy melody. The song composition reminds me to "The Musical Box" by Genesis. Ahmad ALbar sings excellently throughout the song backed by Ian and Donny. It's a very enjoyable track for me personally.

Conclusion

It's not that I'm Indonesian so that I have to put all goody-goody things by this Indonesian band, but for sure this album is qualified as an excellent addition to any prog related music. Why prog related? Because I don't think this album is pure a prog album even though some tracks are. In addition to this, there has been a serious issue of originality that must be tackled wisely. The band had corrected their mistakes by remixing "Huma Di Atas Bukit", "She Passed Away" and "Setan Tertawa" in their other remaster series edition released under "The Story of God Bless". As far as play list concern, this album still one of my favorites as regular rock play list in my listening pleasure. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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