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YEZDA URFA

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Yezda Urfa picture
Yezda Urfa biography
Formed in 1973 - Disbanded in 1981- Reunited in 2004 for a one-off concert at NEARfest

YEZDA URFA blends influences from YES and GENTLE GIANT into wonderful, fast-paced, great symphonic prog. Another band that springs to mind when listening to their "Sacred Baboon" album is ECHOLYN. Although they played and recorded between 1973 and 1981 they didn't release any albums, aside from a demo album in 1975 called "Boris".

Their first demo didn't attract any interest from the record labels, so they financed and recorded an album by themselves, hoping it would help them in getting a record deal. They were only offered a bad deal by a small record company, so they declined (they kept the T-Shirts, they were handed out though). They finished "Sacred Baboon" as the album was called in 1976, but due to lack of funds they shelved it, and in 1981 called it a day, and the band split up to pursue other interests, mostly out of the music scene.

In 1985 a guy called Peter Stoller got his hands on their debut demo album, and brought it to the attention of Greg Walker from Syn-Phonic records, and thus YEZDA URFA were finally discovered, which resulted in the release of their hidden gem "Sacred Baboon" in 1989.

A higly recommended band, especially for fans of YES, GENTLE GIANT and ECHOLYN.

: : : Gerald (aka tuxon), The Netherlands : : :

Also of interest.
Past, Presence, Future (1990 Syn-Phonic compilation, Yezda Urfa appears with one song)

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YEZDA URFA discography


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

4.18 | 369 ratings
Boris
1975
3.98 | 207 ratings
Sacred Baboon
1989

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

3.89 | 19 ratings
Live NEARfest 2004
2010

YEZDA URFA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

YEZDA URFA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sacred Baboon by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.98 | 207 ratings

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Sacred Baboon
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars YEZDA URFA was too early or too late depending how you look at it when they arrived in 1973 with their highly charged electric progressive rock sound. Too late for the initial prog boom that lasted from roughly 1969-74 and way too early for the revival that didn't really hit big until the 90s, a similar fate for most of the American bands too late to compete with the European big boys club. Had there been a serious next phase of prog after the glam rock and punk explosion, YEZDA URFA surely would've been one of the best bands to usher in the second wave however prog had to sit dormant for well over a decade, at least in popularity's terms with only a few isolated pop infused bands like Marillion and the neo-prog scene that kept the genre alive during the 80s.

Having found no interest in their now classic demo "Boris," YEZDA URFA basically had to fund what was to be their debut album from their own pockets and although they had a bite with a small Chicago label, the whole thing fell at the last minute. Frustrated with swimming upstream when once great prog giants were either folding or jumping into the world of simplified pop and hard rock, YEZDA URFA scrapped any idea of releasing their album SACRED BABOON and in the vaults it sat until the master tapes were discovered by the Syn-Phonic label who was so blown away by the manic energy of the album that they finally brought life to the album by releasing it in 1989. The crazy thing is that the band stayed together until 1981.

SACRED BABOON picks up where "Boris" left off and tackles a unique fusion of Yes' compositional fortitude along with Gentle Giant's dexterous experimental gymnastics along with Keith Emerson's energetic virtuosic wizardry only embellished with what sounds like the eclectic folk rock ethos of Gnidrolog especially when it comes to Rick Rodenbaugh's brilliant vocal performances. YEZDA URFA may very well be one of the first examples of what is now called brutal prog. While this Indiana gang was a mere quintet, these guys were seasoned multi-instrumentalists crafting unique tapestries of tones, timbres, zigzagging manic motifs and of course incessant runs of frenetic time signature changes at hyper speed with oft sudden breaks into Baroque classical music without losing the underlying melodic gist.

While "Boris" seems to get more attention due to its outlandish display of lush prog melodies teased out into virtuosic technical wizardry, this only bonafide album release ("Boris" was a demo that didn't get an official re-release until 2004) is every bit as impressive as its demo release predecessor. In many ways SACRED BABOON is a much more focused collection of seven tracks that enjoyed a more robust production job in two different studios and has interesting material that was reworked from the "Boris" demo which keeps the connection between the two phases of the band perfectly intact. Laced with the same melodic hooks that showcase the vocal phrasing just a tad out of sync with the frenetic Yes inspired barrage of guitar, drum and bass, the keyboards often exist in their own Emerson, Lake and Palmer world.

While the entire album is over-the-top eclectic, perhaps the best is saved for last with the one-two no punches held back combo pack of "(My Doc Told Me I Had), Doggie Head)" and "3, Almost 4, 6 Yea" with all of those brutal frantic time signature barrages crafting some of the knottiest workouts outside of Gentle Giant's run of masterpieces of the early 70s. In fact YEZDA URFA shamelessly borrowed the great GG's mastery of polyphonic vocal runs only YEZDA URFA employed them much faster and upped the weirdness factor manyfold. Add to that are folky flute runs that are very much in the vein of Gnidrolog as are the lead vocals. This is jittery prog for sure with crazy hairpin turns and mind-shattering counterpoints of all the instruments sallying forth in Keith Emerson mode! THIS is the stuff right out of prog heaven no doubt! In my world SACRED BABOON is every bit as much of a masterpiece as "Boris." Oh yeah!

 Boris by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.18 | 369 ratings

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Boris
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

5 stars An unknown but fantastic gem veiled in a simple, weird sleeve.

Definitely this album can be defined as one of the most artistic and one of "obscure" albums in the progressive rock scene, and what a surprise this album could not be appreciated by any record label in those days. Just these days every progressive rock fan is familiar with this opus but it's a shame such a great gem was released on their own and sold in an obscure corner of a record shop. Their play in this album is not so technical nor impressive, and at the same time the mastering for their material is not so rich nor professional as of current artists indeed. However, melody lines and general atmosphere created and produced by the quintet drive us incredibly heartwarming and simultaneously mindbending. Especially Phil's synthesizer sounds are a bit light and cheap but it's not bad, let me say.

We prgressive art rock manias should get immersed in the first suite "Boris and His 3 Verses". The topnote is very sweet and relaxing, featuring acoustic guitar, synthesizer / harpsichord sounds, and good chorus. The beginning of this stuff can be felt symphonic or folksy but the situation will change dramatically on the following step. Heavy dark mysterious but somewhat comfortable texture can be touched directly via their powerful performance. A mixture of symphonic, heavy, and jazz rock is explosively energetic. The last theatrical development is a tad exaggerated but dreamy like a delightful sunrise. This suite features all of their musical / instrumental essence, I'm sure.

And forgive me mentioning it but I love the shortest but crazy enjoyable CW-flavoured track "Texas Armadillo", where every single member is playing with full of pleasure and relaxation (banjo plays are splendid). We would be pleased and amazed with their natural performance obviously. "3, Almost 4, 6 Yea" is another kicking jazz rock drenched in their sincere melodic appearances based on complicated and strict rhythmic ground. Pity their enchanting musical performance would sound slightly thin and tiny maybe due to the mixing and mastering, but the content is filled with strength.

The two 10 minute tracks on Side B are also excellent. "Tuta in the Moya & Tyreczimmage" is unified with a deep, heavy departure, a smooth, soft flute-oriented one-man-show supported by the rhythm section, and a catchy, bright instrumental lastrun. The last phase is another wonder in this creation. On the other hand, I don't know the meaning of "Three Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands" (eh a thyroid, controlling metabolism by hormone, should be needed for human beings, as everyone knows) but critical, complex, violent sound attacks (owing to thyroid hormone overflowing?) are coming in front of us. We can enjoy colourful musical tastes that would be not pop- friendly but mystic and hearty ... this precision soundscape should be called Yezdaic.

Again, it's a shame this opus could not be appreciated by any large publisher in mid 70s but we could be happy to listen to such an excellent production now.

 Sacred Baboon by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.98 | 207 ratings

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Sacred Baboon
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by maryes

5 stars 5 stars !!! When I heard for the first time in early 90's this "Sacred Baboon" by YEZDA URFA, I stay wondering about how this album don't was released in the 70's or even in the early 80's ?

A very probable answer is... the massive prog rock production in 70's and the ascension of (**?????!!!!) punk rock and disco music in 80's , both more commercial and lucrative in the records business " eclipsed " a countless number of excellent albums ! I can't find any other explanation !

This a album is a must item to a prog collection, you can hear echoes of fantastic bands as for instance YES, GENTLE GIANT, GRYPHON, KING CRIMSOM and some others.

Unlike the majority I consider, in the track 1 "Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies" Rick Rodenbaugh's voice more close of Coilin Carter of FLASH than Jon Anderson's vocal timbre. Track 3 "Tota In The Moya" sounds like a KC meeting GG with a fantastic closing section in YES style. Overture of track 5 "Flow Guides Aren't My Bag" (about 1 min 57 min ) is a "demolition" heavy-prog theme and recall me RUSH with fantastic guitar/keyboard/bass and drums performance, the middle theme in GG "flavor" with "crazy" percussion/vocals counterpoint ! In short a pearl , my rate is 5 stars !!!

 Sacred Baboon by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.98 | 207 ratings

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Sacred Baboon
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Give em Some Rawhide Chewies"! Oh, man, does that title ever ring bells. I used to work in a pet food and supply warehouse long ago and I know Rawhide Chewies. It's also a crazy title for a song. Then again, "Flow Guides Aren't My Bag", "(My Dog Told Me I Had) Doggie Head", and "3, Almost 4,6,Yea" are among the craziest song titles I have heard this side of Budgie.

Yezda Urfa made their name from a city in Iran (Yezd) and a city in Turkey (Urfa). They were part of the American prog scene of the seventies, which included bands like Lift, Babylon, and Happy the Man. Kansas made its mark in popular music with its brand of barroom rock meets classically influenced keyboard and violin. But other bands attempted to stray further from the mainstream and Yezda Urfa certainly weren't aiming for AOR when they recorded this, their second album.

After their first album, they self-financed their follow-up and hoped to attract the attention of a label. Unfortunately things didn't work out and this 1976 recording didn't see distribution until 1989.

I purchased this album after reading about it in Stephen Lambe's book "Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock". Of course, I checked out the music a bit on YouTube first. As others have stated, this sounds very much like a blend of Yes and Gentle Giant with some nods toward Gryphon, particularly when the woodwinds come in. The instrument line-up is not overly complex: guitars (electric, acoustic), keyboards (organ, synthesizer, piano), a well-played and well-mixed bass, drums, and a bit of cello and woodwind. There's lead vocalist, Rick Rodenbaugh, whose timbre is close to Jon Anderson's but in my opinion not as strong a singer. Don't expect a solo album, anyway. But his voice is still good enough to make the album enjoyable. Then add to all this the other members who also sing so that Yezda Urfa can do wonderful imitations of Gentle Giant with those triple vocal parts with each person singing something different. There's also a jazz element present at times, which also resembles Gentle Giant.

The opening track, the Rawhide Chewies one, sounds a lot like Yes on higher speed right down to the guitar sound. "To-Ta in the Moya" is an epic instrumental in that they explore different musical themes and change tempo on a dime. They go from a gallop to a canter to a trot. There's even a good sing-a-long melody. "Flow Charts Aren't My Bag" features an exciting prog ROCK piece that includes an Ozric Tentacles-like eastern influenced part and more Gentle Giant vocals. The final track "3 Almost 4,6,Yea" is the most exploratory piece yet. It moves through mid-tempo ranges and includes woodwinds and organ and also some Spanish guitar and cello but also becomes more frenetic as well.

The production is very clear, unlike what I heard from their first album. Just as I came to write this review based on the notes I made today, I read over some other reviews. It seems that the album loses a star for sounding too much like Gentle Giant and Yes. But aside from that, the music is diverse without straying far from an album theme, it's played very well, and it has a lot of what you would expect from a band who really want to do something apart from the middle of the road.

If you are into sing-a-long music then don't bother to proceed further. But if you'd like to check out something bold and unbridled and exciting, this might be more up your alley. Just keep in mind that this is very much like Yes/Gentle Giant/Gryphon, often on higher speed.

 Boris by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.18 | 369 ratings

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Boris
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Although the music of YEZDA URFA is often cited as a mixture of Yes and Gentle Giant, it is in fact unique and sounds like nothing else. Yes, it has the complexity of Yes complete with classically driven riffs here and there and the amazingly eclectic diversity that Gentle Giant took on, but YEZDA URFA proves on this debut demo BORIS that they absolutely had it all together as they can take you on the most frenetic progressive journey at breakneck speeds with amazing crazy time signatures and interplay and then in a flash turn the song into a melodic folk rock song that is catchier than any 70s pop rock and then back again to the amazing musicianship of a prog freak out.

This is simply a horribly underrated and unknown band that more than deserves to finally have its music basking in the sun for more than a fleeting moment. I can understand why this may have been a little over-ambitious in 1975 as prog was waning around then and although complex albums had been more popular a few years before this was complex even by those standards. The keyboard runs are so fast that it is hard to even follow them at times. The drumming and guitars always have a strange tension like they're ready to fall into complete dissonance but they always resolve themselves at the oddest of times and then the band itself will come together and make it seem like you just had a very strange dream. The best analogy I can think of is if you were in an airplane and suddenly went into freefall for a while and then at once everything was normal leaving you with a heightened sense of awareness and dismay of what you have just encountered.

Not only is YEZDA URFA talented beyond belief but they added a further distinction to their identity by incorporating the strangely-out-of-place-yet-still-works-somehow bluegrass track "Texas Armadillo." I am hooked on this stuff and can only imagine the music they could have churned out if they had been given the opportunity to display in full regalia all their musical tricks up their sleeves throughout the course of several albums. It wasn't meant to be but at least this and the one other album SACRED BABOON are still around for us to enjoy.

I have the newer remastered version which has a bonus track titled "The Basis of Dubenglazy While Dirk Does the Dance" which at 9:51 not only adds an extra 10 minutes to the listening pleasure but feels like it was meant to be part of the original album. This particular bonus track does have a lot more Gentle Giant influence but it is done so very, very well that I don't care! It is just that good. I simply cannot praise this album enough for it delivers all the goods throughout its entire run and leaves me wanting MORE!!!

 Boris by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.18 | 369 ratings

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Boris
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Once a hidden gem, almost prog cult this Boris release right now up there with the better, if not the best albums prog has to offer. And quite rightly so I feel. Yezda Urfa has all the ingredients true prog fans are looking for. Like complex compositions, original sound and some experimental music here and there.

But when I say complex I don't believe it's pushing the boundaries really. Boris is not a hard album to get into. It's symphonic prog with folky and jazzy influences so eclectic prog is the right category indeed. In the end Boris is an upgraded demo album and I feel we have to be thankful to the initiators who decided to release a CD ultimately because otherwise this special album would have stayed unnoticed to a larger audience. It's not really surprising they couldn't find an enthusiastic label back then because this is pretty alternative stuff of course.

On a personal level my appreciation goes to Three, almost 4 , 6 yeah and mainly the start of this track is captivating. After some 100 seconds the organ and distorted guitar deliver in superb style followed by great flute and everything else. Magnificent stuff this. Also Boris and his three verses is very interesting but in a very different way. And this is another strength of the album: all songs are very different and original. So hardly any complaints from my part which could even mean the highest score but then I have to come clean and admit that it's not enough according to my personal taste. It's on the same level as Bubu's Anabelas, superior prog rock and highly recommended to all die hard proggers. 4,25 stars.

 Boris by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.18 | 369 ratings

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Boris
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars With an interesting twin-vocalist lineup, complexities worthy of Gentle Giant, and a sense of drama and majesty reminiscent of Yes at their best, Yezda Urfa had some pretty convincing material on their hands with their demo debut album Boris. You've got to give credit to an album which intersperses its extended prog epic with the super-brief Texas Armadillo, which somehow manages to combine bluegrass with prog and make the resultant mixture curiously listenable. With the more epic tracks showing an incredible technical mastery, with amazingly complex pieces played at frenzied, breakneck paces, it's a genuine shame this album didn't get more exposure back in the day, but at least now it can take its place in the sun thanks to the efforts of the internet prog community. At the same time, I do find the album to be a little hit and miss, its listenability relying on not focusing on any particular musical direction quite long enough for the less entrancing parts to get truly irritating.
 Sacred Baboon by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.98 | 207 ratings

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Sacred Baboon
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Sacred Baboon" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US progressive rock act Yezda Urfa. Thatīs if you count the demo album "Boris (1975)" as the groupīs debut album. "Sacred Baboon" was recorded in 1976 and the recording of the album was funded by the band themselves. However they were not able to get a record deal and the album was shelved until 1989 when the Syn-Phonic label released it.

The music on the album is technically well played and very eclectic progressive rock. Weīre talking fast played runs, loads of tempo- and time signature changes and complex song structures. Lead vocalist Rick Rodenbaugh has a voice and vocal style that often reminds me of Jon Anderson (Yes) and Yes is definitely a reference here, but itīs Gentle Giant that comes to mind most often while listening to "Sacred Baboon". While the tracks are generally very complex, they feature enough hooks and memorable moments to stand out from each other and melody is not a stranger to these guys.

The production is professional, powerful and suits the music well.

Fans of energetic and complex progressive rock should be able to find great interest and enjoyment in "Sacred Baboon". I guess Yezda Urfa wear their influences a bit too much on their sleeves to be called original or innovative but less is sometimes enough. "Sacred Baboon" is a good example of this. A very nice album this one and a 3.5 - 4 star rating is deserved.

 Boris by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.18 | 369 ratings

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Boris
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I am reviewing this album having just purchased it and hearing it for the first times in my life, so please excuse my usual comparisons to other bands' musics--much of which unfairly post-dates the recording and publication of Boris.

At times folky, bluegrass, jazz fusion, Boris is most often presenting an ELP, FOCUS, or YES feel in the structures and sounds.

"Boris . . . " (9/10) sounds to me like 60's San Francisco scene blues rock singing (reminiscent of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE and THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS), CARL PALMER drumming, KEITH EMERSON keyboard stylings, guitar playing between JAN AKKERMAN and STEVE HOWE, all within a kind of epic FOCUS song. Awesome and often very moving song.

"Texas Armadillo" (6/10) is a definite bluegrass song with the CARL PALMER drums being the only thing anchoring this into the rock'n'roll scene.

"4, Almost 4, 6 Yea" (9/10) merges the ELP-YES vibes into one very interesting song--at least until the 2:30 mark when a country-folk JETHRO TULL sound takes over. Then 3:40 sees switch to a kind of classical JAN AKKERMAN/FOCUS style and sound. Add a electric harpsichord and you feel like you're in France. At 5:30 we return to an ELP section. 6:10 switch back to the FOCUS sound. 6:50 ELP with BEATLES Abbey Road. 7:40 begins a very cool outro seeming to combine all styles against the courtly French keyboard sounds.

"To-ta in the Moya" (9/10) is a gorgeous weave of acoustic mandolin, electric guitars, rolling bass playing, CARL PALMER drumming, synthesizer keys, and beautiful harmonized vocals, all performing at virtuosic speeds and skill levels and yet conveying very pleasant and controlled melodies. Brilliant song. Probably my favorite on the album because it presents Yezda Urfa in all its own sound and glory.

"Three Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands" (8/10) reminds me so much of FROGG CAFÉ. Of course, the TULL, CSN&Y, ELP and YES familiarities are all very strongly present. An excellent tune truly representative of the progressive rock sounds just preceeding it?especially the symphonic bands/songs.

"The Basis of Dubenglazy . . . " (8/10) has such a familiar YES sound, feel to it--though more from the Yes Album period than Fragile or CttE. Guitar, bass, even JON ANDERSON-like vocals all fit well with the "Yours Is No Disgrace" era and feel. Even some GENTLE GIANT vocal/musical stylings later on. Well met, lads!

A wonderful progressive rock album--from Americans!! Masterful performances throughout. I would call this an undisputable masterpiece; I hesitate to do so because there are so many sounds, stylings and structures herein that are clearly imitative. Still, I like this one far more than the much lauded Hybris from ANGLAGARDE. This is without a doubt great music. So, 5 stars! Why not?!

 Boris by YEZDA URFA album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.18 | 369 ratings

BUY
Boris
Yezda Urfa Eclectic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars One of the hidden gems in the scene....

Well, perhaps not that hidden. The Syn-Phonic label has done an admiringly excellent job by digging out this album and give it an official release.

What hits me first is the parallells to the other hidden gem from the US scene; Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories. And the similarities music wise is there too. Much of the same sound, no less. But Boris is much more varied and drags in influences from a wide area.

Besides of the Cathedral similarities, Boris takes a lot from bands like Jefferson Airplane/ Starship, Gentle Giant and Yes. Add some folk rock influences too and we are approaching the end result. The sound is rich. The same goes for the vocals and the huge organ sound.

The music is very varied with both pastoral passages and huge symphonic passages. Yes, it sounds like a 1970s album and that in a positive meaning. The opening track Boris And His 3 Verses, including Flow Guides Aren't My Bag is a good example where it ebbs and flows. A truly great track. The rest of the album is great too. The only thing missing is that killer track who would blow all doors from their hinges. But this is a great album and one I suspect I will enjoy more and more in the remaining decades of my life.

4 stars

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

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