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SAHARA

Eclectic Prog • Germany


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Sahara biography
Founded in Munich, Germany in 1966 (as "The Subjects") - Disbanded in 1977 - Reformed between 2005-2016

SAHARA is a mid-70's act that produced two albums, but prior to that they'd worked and released another as SUBJECT ESQ. The music is rather typical early 70s proto-prog with elements of JETHRO TULL (for the flute-guitar interplay), early YES, and the occasional saxophone riffs remind of early VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR. There are some spacier and/or symphonic parts that recall NEKTAR, GENESIS (around "Trespass"), and maybe early ELOY. With the arrival of ex-OUT OF FOCUS Hennes Henring on keyboards, the band continued under the new name SAHARA after this album. Sunrise has been a minor classic , especially for its sidelong epic title track. Their second album, "For All The Clowns", is straighter with an overdose of progressive influences, notably FOCUS / YES and CARAVAN and a potpourri styles.

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SAHARA discography


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

3.55 | 38 ratings
Subject Esq.
1972
3.83 | 46 ratings
Sunrise
1974
3.86 | 52 ratings
For All The Clowns
1975

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

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

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SAHARA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sunrise by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.83 | 46 ratings

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Sunrise
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars A hidden gem from Germany that I didn't have a chance to discover until having listened to hundreds progressive rock albums before. Out of three albums, I acquired the latter two ones and what a high quality prog rock that is. You can recognize group's ambitions by not only using progressive elements but also throwing bluesy, folky and classical elements. Nick Woodland has always been a versatile guitar player and he provides lyrics in English for this album. Singing is very good, in English, and inspired by late' 60's and early 70's folk music. Two keyboard player show off a vast array of keyboard sounds including church organ, Moog, hammond. The first song is a nice 7-minute ouverture with some bombastic sounds. "Circles" brings warm harmony vocals, bluesy harmonica, Hammond and a laid-back feeling. Also, don't miss out a nice acoustic guitar solo that slightly goes into a bluesy one. "Rainbow raider" borders with a harder-edged rock, it has an aggressive bass guitar, emotional guitar solo as well as organ/deep synth tandem making the sound majestic before turning into a jazzier territory with guitar and Moog. "Sunrise" is easily the most ambitious song or suite with its 27 minutes. Starting off as a Camel-spirited work (judging by flute and odd-rhythm), there is a lot of complexity by guitars, drums and keyboards with irregular rhythm. By now, you can recognize some Yes influences. Thankfully, singing is limited on this piece and instruments take the lead. The work graduates by rising and decreasing tones, similar to some Blue Effect stuff from the same years. Very progressive!

Although Sahara has not influenced or brought about revolutional elements in their music, their execution and ideas are baked together into a very tasty cake that will please almost everybody.

Look for a remastered edition that contains two live tracks, one of them being Sunrise with 23 minutes :-).

A masterpiece of German progressive rock! 4.5 stars.

 For All The Clowns by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.86 | 52 ratings

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For All The Clowns
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Sometimes it takes you to see a band in a concert and read in a local press before you get to know them, especially when the band is unknown in the international space. I managed to miss Sahara this way. While not a gem, it rightfully deserves attention for the two high quality albums - Sunris and For all the clowns. The music on that album is well crafted and played rather than virtuoso and you can see British such as Jethro Tull, American as well as local German influences such as Krautrock. Melodies are strong, the vocals OK and my most favourite instrument are keyboards. The band is still alive and does perform from time to time, recommended to acquire their music and/or attend a concert in Germany!
 Subject Esq. by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.55 | 38 ratings

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Subject Esq.
Sahara Eclectic Prog

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

4 stars Starting out as one of the many 60s beat music groups that looked towards England rather than their homegrown German underground scene, SUBJECT ESQ started out humbly in 1966 as The Subjects but would change their name in 1968 to SUBJECT ESQ. The band would release this sole album under this moniker in 1972 before switching gears one more time and changing their band name to Sahara under which they would release two additional albums. Based in Munich, The Subjects turned SUBJECT ESQ were more interested in creating a hard rock tinged melodic guitar driven sound that utilized English lyrics and incorporated touches of more progressive elements such as jazz-rock and some psychedelic features.

The band spent many years on the local scene honing their skills before they got around to recording and releasing this eponymously titled SUBJECT ESQ release and therefore this debut album sound like it was delivered from a well-seasoned band that had successfully honed their Beatles melodies, their Who inspired heavy chops and incorporated a more local flavor with Embryo styled jazz-rock that offered interesting extended progressive workouts that spread out beyond the strongly melodic songwriting process. The band at this stage consisted of Michael Hofmann (flute, alto sax, vocals), Peter Stadler (keyboards), Stephan Wissnet (bass, vocals), Alex Pittwohn (mouth harp, 12-string acoustic guitar, vocals) and Harry Rosenkind (drums) but the band would add even more musicians as they continued to tour.

SUBJECT ESQ is a very strong example of completely unknown music by today's standards was ridiculously good and leaves me wondering why these guys haven't been relegated to a higher level of historical standing. The melodic hooks are solidly addictive as they immediately reel you in before the arrangements are allowed to develop into more intriguing complexities. While not exactly jazz-fusion, the jazz elements are wickedly strong as they accompany the hard rock guitar parts but are just as integral to the band's overall sound as are the guitar and bass. The vocal performances are outstanding. Vocals in German bands of the era can be less than optimal for the musical style but several vocalists exhibit very strong harmonies as well as instrumental command that ranges from technically adept to ridiculously playful.

SUBJECT ESQ was one of the underground prog legends of the Munich area in the day but never really broke beyond the German market unfortunately. With an eclectic sound that sounded part English rock including a Jethro Tullish flute performance, a jazzy rock dominance and a strong American folk element that reminds a bit of Crosby, Still and Nash, it's no wonder the band were quite popular in their region for their day as all members maintained a strong command of the instrumentation and musical delivery. This is one of those albums you can drift into decades later and the melodic hooks are so strong that it will instantly drag you in and leave you wondering why you haven't heard of them before and even worse make you wonder how many other excellent bands of similar ilk have also been lost to the bulk of product in the historical bins. This was a surprise but a pleasant one. A super strong album that deserves rediscovery.

 For All The Clowns by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.86 | 52 ratings

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For All The Clowns
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I first heard of Sahara from a website called Tommy's Forest of Progressive Rock back in 2000, the website was ran by someone named Tommy Sch÷nenberg from Norway (I guess he was of German heritage, given the name, and the fact he used an ÷ rather than °). The website was later renamed Vintageprog.com, and it's still available, unfortunately he hadn't updated it since 2008. It doesn't seem Tommy has much of a web presence these days, because he sure reviewed a ton of great albums you need to hear, although I found it strange he didn't include Pulsar's Pollen or anything else from Osanna other than Palepoli. But he did review all the Sahara albums, including the Subject Esq. album, but for some strange reason I never got a hold of anything from them, until now, probably due to tons of other obscurities there were taking higher priority. Not to mention it's not always easy to get a hold of this stuff. But I found an original LP of this, on the Ariola label for a decent price, and glad I did. This was their final album and it's rather obvious that they were taking on a more symphonic approach. The most catchy piece is the first one, "Flying Dancer", and I believe this was released as a single. Great piece, I notice some Gentle Giant influences. One of the keyboardists (there were two) gave quotes from Mussorgsky's "A Night on Bare Mountain". "The Source" is a bit in the Pink Floyd realm, and a short dissonant King Crimson-like passage, although the nasally vocals got me thinking of what Jane were about to do around this time period (Fire, Water, Earth, Air). The title track is nothing short of amazing, ditto for "The Mountain King". You'll notice more Pink Floyd influences, and strangely you'd expect Edvard Grieg to get quoted in "The Mountain King", but that didn't happen. This is basically yer typical Yes, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd type of prog rock album. While some prefer Sunrise, some prefer this one due to being more consistent. It was their last album, but given prog rock was on the decline after this (disco was already starting to take hold in '75, and punk not too long after, as soon as the Ramones released their debut in the spring of '76). Nice prog, but it's not likely to make my top ten all-time favorites.
 For All The Clowns by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.86 | 52 ratings

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For All The Clowns
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars "For all the clowns" is the third and final effort by Sahara and from my perspective it is their finest hour. Sahara was a highly competent band throughout their career but this album holds a sombre, symphonic tone I find myself very attracted to. I think that there is quite alot of similarities to both Nektar and Gentle Giant on this album. Obviously, it must have been hard not to be influenced.

The opening "Flying dancer" echoes of the sound off their first album, though more up to date, if that is a phrase to use when talking about a nigh on 40 years old album. Anyway, it is good and quite ominous. The next track, "The source part I & II" is really amazing. Opening in a mellow, symphonic way it builds into a fantastic epic. It has no real outbursts of harder sounds, though slightly apparent in the eerie keyboards at the end of the song. I think this song shows a Nektar-ian influence.

Similarities to Gentle Giant can be found in the title track, which, again, is very good. Dramatic, flowing, symphonic and of epic proportions. The spacey keyboards (which can be found a bit everywhere) makes it especially emotive and engaging.

"Mountain king part I & II" (with the track "Prelude" coming right before it) is again a number close to the sound on their first album but holds a clear Jethro Tull sound, circa "A passion play". Great track. Again. The numerous musical visions that comes to life in this one song is flabbergasting. Their jazzy approach comes to the fore here, both in the keyboards and guitar.

"Dream queen" is a beautiful piece, quite ballad-y. The album ends with a little tune called "Fool for the fortune", which reminds me of the renaissance. Birds and gentle sounds of nature makes this a perfect ending to a multi-facetted and varied album of progressive rock.

I think that I have listened to this album more than the other two they made. Simply because it shows their ability all the more clearly than the others. All their albums showed great promise and skill but this is, really, their finest hour. I like it alot and think that the merging of progressive, symphonic, jazz, hard rock and classical really is one fine brew to enjoy.

Four stars.

 Subject Esq. by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.55 | 38 ratings

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Subject Esq.
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars I have a soft spot for Sahara and am in the possession of all three albums. I think they show great progress and have a certain charm in many ways. I may not be able to thruthfully say it is brilliant all the way through, because it isn't. That becomes apparent on this, their debut.

The music on "Subject Esq." is what I would like to call progressive jazz rock. Now, jazz rock or fusion is already a genre in itself so what do I mean? Well, simply that Sahara leans more towards "real" prog than some other jazz rock outfits. That's all. Because they do. Their ambition seems to be, genuinely, to really broaden and deepen jazz rock. It works. Mainly.

The album opens up in great fashion. Really raw and energetic piece of jazz rock, that one. And while all of the tracks show their skills I feel that it sometimes is sort of leading nowhere. Or at least not forward in any true sense of the word. I think that they lose track of what they're doing. Not to the point where it all falls apart in mediocracy but more to the brink of making me as a listener to lose interest.

All in all, this is a good album and it shows the promise of Sahara. There is plenty of life in the desert, as they prove. However, being their debut I guess they really hadn't honed their skills enough to really make that an exceptional imprint on me.

Good enough jazz rock but it does not hold it's own all the way through.

 Subject Esq. by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.55 | 38 ratings

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Subject Esq.
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Overlooked progressive rock band from Germany,later known as ''Sahara'',who's roots can be found in mid-60's,when they played beat music under the name ''The king and the subjects''.By 1969 they were renamed to SUBJECT ESQ and began playing a more complicated rock format.In 1972 their eponymous debut was released by Epic Label.

For a 1972 album,I would list it among the best of its time,as it was certainly one of the most varied,diverse and dynamic albums of the year,delivering a great amount of styles,instruments and tempos.There is plenty of tasteful driving flutes,heavy doses of Hammond organ,jazzy saxes here and there and even some harmonica touches to be found in this,making ''Subject esq'' a hard to categorize album,but on the other side one of the most interesting releases of the early progressive rock scene.Hard is also to fully decribe their sound,but a good simulation would if you combined the progressive side of BIRTH CONTROL with all these energetic and complex elements,meeting the vocal harmonies of YES in their 1970-1971 transition era and the elaborated playing of early 70's CARAVAN.So do not pass by this fantastic release,which would heal your ears and fill your time with some excellent music.A lost and overlooked treasure of the past!

 For All The Clowns by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.86 | 52 ratings

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For All The Clowns
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Overall I do like this one better than their previous one ("Sunrise") but both are just short of being 4 star records in my opinion. As others have mentioned "Sunrise" has those highs and lows while this one is more consistant and a little better.

"Flying Dancer" has this catchy guitar intro as vocals and drums join in quickly. Synths come and go. A fuller sound after 2 minutes. "The Source Part I & Part II" has this quiet intro, vocals a minute in with light drums. Organ joins in as well. The guitar aftyer 2 1/ 2 minutes is an absolute pleasure to listen to. A change after 4 1/2 minutes then we get a heavier sound after 6 minutes.

"For All The Clowns" is darker to open and the vocals are almost whispered. Mellotron and orchestral sounds follow. A change after 3 minutes as it becomes fuller sounding with the guitar and vocals standing out. Love the way the guitar goes on and on after 8 minutes. Great section ! "Prelude" is a short piano piece. "The Mountain King Part I & II" is uptempo with vocals a minute in. Spoken female words 3 minutes in.The guitar before 5 minutes starts to light it up. Piano follows as it settles. A lighter mood after 8 minutes. "Dream Queen" is fairly mellow with prominant flute. Vocals after a minute. "Fool The Fortune" is the pastoral short closing track with the birds singing along with flute and vocals.

Humerous album cover as well. Easy to recommend this one and their "Sunrise" record. 3.5 stars.

 Sunrise by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.83 | 46 ratings

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Sunrise
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This album is very much a mixed bag with lots of highs and lows and plenty of variety.

"Marie Celeste" opens with orchestral music that is promptly blown away by a great guitar led soundscape that stops too soon. Sax a minute in followed by an organ solo. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. We get a jazzy section 4 1/2 minutes in with piano, sax and bass. Vocals are back a minute later. Kicks back in at 6 minutes with flute, guitar, organ and drums leading the way. "Circles" has a country flavour to it with some harmonica and harmonies. Actually I was reminded of the ALLMAN BROTHERS.

"Rainbow Rider" opens with piano and as the vocals come in the tempo picks up. Don't like this section at all. A calm 2 1/2 minutes in then it starts to build. Some nice guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. It settles back 6 minutes in with a jazzy flavour before kicking back in. Not a fan of this one. "Sunrise" is the over 27 minute closer. A light pleasant melody takes over a minute in before it turns spacey as the melody stops. I must say the bass in this song is huge and the highlight for me. Thunder comes booming in after 10 minutes. The mood and tempo continues to shift. Check out the mellotron before 18 minutes. This song is clearly the highlight of the album and worth the price of admission.

Overall this is worth 3.5 stars in my opinion.

 Sunrise by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.83 | 46 ratings

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Sunrise
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by jasonpw.

4 stars This is a somewhat complex one to review,as there are several tempo changes in the songs that can take you by surprise. Anyway, here goes...the cd kicks off with "Marie Celeste'' (7:32),which starts out with a classical piece for 20 seconds,then gets rocking! But,just when you think it will be an all out rock song, thing's quiet down at 1 minute and the tempo changes between mellow(mostly mellow) and heavy for the rest of the song. "Circles'',which is just over 4.5 minutes long, is more of a country twinge song."Rainbow Rider''(8:35) seems to flip-flop back and forth between heavy and mellow. Of course, the real highlight is the "Sunrise'' song, which clocks in at almost 27.5 minutes. I will give a rundown of the ''Sunrise'' song..In the first 38 seconds, you can hear water sounds. Then,the music kicks in,with some flute work(it sort of reminds me of the Jethro Tull song "Living In The Past'').Between 2:16 and 5:20, there is a keyboard solo,then the music comes back into play,with several tempo changes throughout the rest of the song and musical influences,including rock,classical,and thunder sound effects between 10 and 11 minutes into the song. There is also some flute work at times.You have to hear this to believe it,though it may take a few listens. If I had to compare Sahara to anyone, it would have to be NEKTAR or ELOY , with a bit of JETHRO TULL thrown in for the flute parts.In my opinion,this should have gotten more recognition. I recommend getting this.
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