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SAHARA

Eclectic Prog • Germany


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Sahara biography
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)

3.42 | 25 ratings
Subject Esq.
1972
3.67 | 29 ratings
Sunrise
1974
3.80 | 33 ratings
For All The Clowns
1975

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SAHARA Reviews


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 For All The Clowns by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.80 | 33 ratings

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For All The Clowns
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

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 Schönenberg from Norway (I guess he was of German heritage, given the name, and the fact he used an ö rather than ø). 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.

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 For All The Clowns by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.80 | 33 ratings

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For All The Clowns
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Subject Esq. by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.42 | 25 ratings

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Subject Esq.
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Subject Esq. by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.42 | 25 ratings

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Subject Esq.
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

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!

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 For All The Clowns by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.80 | 33 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.

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 Sunrise by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.67 | 29 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.

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 Sunrise by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.67 | 29 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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 For All The Clowns by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.80 | 33 ratings

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For All The Clowns
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Their third album, second one and unfortunately last one under the name Sahara did not feature an ambitious and experimental side-long track as did "Sunrise" but should nevertheless be considered inferior to that one because on the other hand it didn't have a rather mediocre first side as did that one and instead here they delivered a more coherent and very fine album in the best tradition of symphonic Prog from that era. The courageous but slightly half-baked mix of styles like jazz fusion, experimental Krautrock and west-coast vocal harmonies from their previous outputs made place for a mature and more polished progressive rock much in the spirit of bands like Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull. Nonetheless Sahara doesn't sound here like a rip-off of any of these bands at all but rather delivered one of the best symphonic rock albums ever done by a German band.

Opening with the appealing but quite straight forward "Flying Dancer" featuring catchy vocal lines this album offers with "The Source", the title song and "The Mountain King" three brilliant Prog pieces almost in a row with running times between 7 and 13 minutes. The music presented is dominated by gorgeous keyboard sound, excellent guitar play (at times by three guitarists) and great vocals by several band members. Especially the title song and "The Mountain King" exemplify very well the change and development of this band. Although I'm usually not a huge fan of twanging moog sounds I find it much appealing how they're combined here with lively flute play, great guitars and nice vocals. The mentioned three tracks are certainly the highlights of this disk but the remaining ones are far from being just filling material. This album should most probably appeal to any fan of symphonic Prog right from the beginning but due to its versatility it's as well an interesting listen for many repeated spins. I'd highly recommend this one as a starting place for this band and I think it's for sure worth 4 stars!

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 Sunrise by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.67 | 29 ratings

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Sunrise
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I've got to say that this one isn't my favourite Sahara album and honestly I don't think it should be considered as good as its follow-up though many progsters loving long experimental tracks might find this one more interesting. But especially this side-long track makes it quite difficult for me to fully enjoy this record. Though it certainly has its great moments (more in its second part) and into parts it reminds of Yes-Relayer-period I find it just much too long and especially in its first half there's little happening and the music sounds too pointless and incoherent. But this might have to do with the fact that I'm usually not fascinated by synthesizer tunes which are dominating here. So what about the three tracks on side one? Of those ones actually only the opener "Marie Celeste" which alternates between a more symphonic sound and jazz rock appears convincing to my ears in terms of Prog. "Circles" though being a pleasant song reminds too much of west-coast or even country rock style and "Rainbow Rider" starts like a straight forward rock'n'roll song becoming more interesting just in its second half. Thus overall I couldn't say at all that Sunrise is throughout an excellent album although it's really not a bad one either. Fans of experimental long-tracks and progressive electronic might find side two interesting but in general I'd rather recommend their third and last album as a starting point. But I'd add an extra half star if possible!

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 Subject Esq. by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.42 | 25 ratings

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Subject Esq.
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The origins of this band hailing from Munich reach back to the year of 1965 when four school friends joined together and named their quartet after an English lesson "The King and the Subject" playing some cover versions of beat staple hits. During the following years they've shown as well ambitions to compose own material and opened for blues legend John Mayall in 1969. It took a couple of years more until 1972 that they released their debut under the name Subject Esq. here in review containing six tracks which are stylistically still rooted much in the late 60's blending psychedelic pop with influences of jazz rock. For their 40th stage anniversary they had a reunion concert of their Sahara 1975-line-up in 2006 here in their home town which I missed unfortunately. But I've got the chance for watching them live again just yesterday and I've got to say their performance presenting a great compilation of the best from all their three albums was absolutely impressing.

The album starts off very lively with "Alone" in a progressive jazz rock vein with excellent sax and Hammond play and continues in a quite up-beat pace with catchy vocal lines in the psychedelic sounding "Giantania" having a nice section with soaring flute in between. "What is Love" then is initially a more pop-ish sounding song in late sixties' style but has great sax and later on a nice percussive section. The all-instrumental "5:13" presents brilliantly played jazz rock on Hammond, guitar, bass, drums and sax alternating with flute. The long-track "Mammon" is certainly the highlight of this disk and offers a very versatile mix of jazz rock and psychedelic with vocal lines reminiscent of US west-coast bands and brass rock bring Blood, Sweat & Tears into one's mind. Sections with mouth organ are alternating with others dominated by sax or flute here, this track was especially on stage a big fun to listen to. Last song "Durance Is Waiting" starts quite different in a Byrds-like manner but soon shifts more into Prog territory with excellent organ/guitar interplay. The two live tracks added on the CD re-issue as bonus had been recorded in 1971 under quite semi-professional conditions and should be considered more a historical document since the sound quality is really low. The version of "Giantania" they played there sounds much different from the final one.

As a summary I can say that this one had been a quite solid and remarkable debut of this band that would present even things on the two following albums released in a slightly changed line-up and under the name Sahara. Though probably not to be considered an essential one it might still be an interesting additional purchase for anyone who owns already their others or for fans of early 70's progressive.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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