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TRIUMVIRAT

Symphonic Prog • Germany


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Triumvirat biography
Formed in 1969 in Cologne, Germany - Disbanded in 1980
(In 1999 Fritz tried to revive Triumvirat; They recorded a new album, "Website Story", which remains unreleased)

TRIUMVIRAT is one of the most maligned but at the same beloved bands, they were accused of being ELP clones, but at the same time most people love the pristine music they created and the unique arrangements by that virtuoso keyboardist named Jürgen Fritz.

In 1969 TRIUMVIRAT was formed in Cologne, Germany by Hans-Jürgen Fritz (keyboards), Hans Bathelt (drums) and Werner Frangenberg on bass. The musicians admit that their main influence was THE NICE, but their pristine arrangements and respect for the melody marked the difference. Being that Frangenberg had a compromise with a dance band, he had to leave TRIUMVIRAT and was replaced by Hans Pape in 1970, who had the advantage of being a very decent vocalist.

The band sent a demo to EMI Cologne, and the guys from the label loved it, so soon they were signing the first contract. With this lineup, the band released in 1972 their debut album a semi conceptual LP called "Mediterranean Tales", and were brave enough to open the album with the 16 minutes epic "Across the Waters". Due to the great success in Germany, the band started to work in their second release that was called "Illusions on a Double Dimple", but during the recording Hans Pape left and Helmut Köllen (guitar, bass and vocals) took his place, and their most famous lineup was born.

With this conceptual album about depression and personal relations, enhanced by the Cologne House Symphony Orchestra, the band became international, and the album was a hit in many countries, even in my native Perú (Where Prog records never reached the public), every major store had some copies recorded by a Peruvian label.

But still the USA market was elusive, until the band had the idea to launch an historical conceptual LP about the gladiator who challenged Rome in 73 B.C. and called it simply "Spartacus". Capitol Records USA heard it, and decided that was what they were looking for due to the blend of elaborate tracks and beautiful ballads.

When things were going really well, Helmut announced his departure to search for a solo career, and with the support of his teammate and cousin Jürgen as well as other well-known musicians, his debut started to take form.

In the meanwhile, the band was having a hard ...
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TRIUMVIRAT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.62 | 255 ratings
Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)
1972
3.95 | 435 ratings
Illusions On A Double Dimple
1974
3.86 | 380 ratings
Spartacus
1975
3.48 | 195 ratings
Old Loves Die Hard
1976
3.09 | 170 ratings
Pompeii
1977
1.68 | 102 ratings
À La Carte
1978
1.47 | 92 ratings
Russian Roulette
1980

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

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Gold Collection - The Best of Triumvirat
1995
3.83 | 9 ratings
Essential
2012

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Be Home for Tea / Broken Mirror
1972
2.85 | 11 ratings
Take A Break Today / The Capitol Of Power
1976
2.00 | 1 ratings
Waterfall
1978
1.00 | 1 ratings
Party Life
1980

TRIUMVIRAT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Illusions On A Double Dimple by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.95 | 435 ratings

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Illusions On A Double Dimple
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Argentinfonico

3 stars 1. Illusions On A Double Dimple (4/5): A rather Genesian suite that opens as sad as possible. Fritz starts the album by being almost entirely the protagonist of what happens: a succession of failures viewed ridiculously. The instrumental method is heavily symphonic and prioritizes the keyboards. The bass and drums simply accompany the rhythmic changes and the madness of the electronic piano with neatness.

The instrumental section called "Triangle" is probably the first step of the album, where the frenzy delivers the quality we expect after such a pessimistic introduction. The percussion comes into its own a little more in these moments and the backing vocals serve as passages. The song gradually raises its level, and by part IV ("Illusions") has captured us on an island of carefree defeat, but with that hidden optimism so characteristic of human beings that is almost always due to the frustrated dream of happiness that can never be fully embraced with our hands or our soul.

Apart from its verses and its lyrical concept, the entire song gives a sense of rebelliousness when its instrumental parts arrive, due to the fact that everything is constantly changing places. The hammond in the final minutes seems to say that nothing has a solution any more, by means of wild and spectacular sounds, as if a madman was giving a circus performance as funny as it is embarrassing. The bass lines at times remind me of Richard Sinclair's technique and his muffled notes.

I think this is a song that cannot be modified in any way. It has an attractive structure and brings strength and emotion to this fine work.

2. Mister Ten Percent (3/5): The second and last suite of the album (this one more inclined to ELP's entire discography) starts electronically presenting an instrumental mess not easy to digest. Both the first and the second epic consist of 6 parts and last about the same length. In certain aspects I see this side very different from the other, but what doesn't vary (and what gives the album its essence) is the prominence of the keyboards and their crazy chaos.

The hammond, in the way it's played here, inevitably reminds me a lot of Keith Emerson in ELP's middle period, especially Brain Salad Surgery. This song has more instrumental length than the previous one, and that allows for a different kind of artistry and creativity to shine through. Unexpectedly an electro-acoustic guitar emerges in the middle of the suite (beginning of the V-part "Lucky Girl" composed by Helmut K'llen) to change its course and sing about a little girl dealing with her dramatically exaggerated little problems. The transition to part VI "Million Dollars" is fantastic, but the whole thing becomes less and less original. Not only in the keyboards but now also in the vocals there is a grey imitation of Greg Lake that leaves a lot to be desired towards the end of the song. After two long epics, the long-awaited ending fades in your mind as sadly as almost the entire album.

Almost three quarters of an hour of professional performances and a more than satisfactory production, but without a defined style, no album can thrive. It sounds as symphonic as I've rarely heard, and that's why it's such a shame that they didn't get off the ground enough for this album, because I think it could have been a truly memorable piece of work.

 Spartacus by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.86 | 380 ratings

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Spartacus
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 481

"Spartacus" is the third studio album of Triumvirat and was released in 1975. This is a conceptual album based on the story of the Roman gladiator Spartacus who led the third slave uprising in the Roman Empire in 73?71 BC. This is an album in the same vein of Emerson, Lake & Palmer but it isn't a clone. It was certainly inspired by their music and style but the music of Triumvirat has a personal touch of their own. "Spartacus" is considered by many their best album, deserving many reissues in different countries all over the world. It was also the band's greatest commercial success.

The line up on the album is Jürgen Fritz (Hammond organ, moog synthesizer, Steinway grand piano, ARP string ensemble and electric piano), Helmut Köllen (vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitars) and Hans Bathelt (drums and percussion). After this album Helmut Köllen left the band to start a solo career. However and unfortunately, fate decreed that two years later he died dramatically of carbon monoxide poisoning when he was in his car, when he was listening to his own studio musical compositions on his car's cassette player while running the engine of the car in his garage.

"Spartacus" has nine tracks. The first track "The Capital Of Power" written by Jürgen Fritz is a magnificent and very powerful overture for the album. It's an instrumental epic piece of music which leads us into the ambient of the concept and also of the atmosphere and music on the entire album. This is an excellent instrumental musical section. The second track "The School Of Instant Pain" is divided into four parts: "Proclamation", "The Gladiator's Song", "Roman Entertainment" and "The Battle". All were written by Jürgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt. This is an incredible and brilliant multi-part epic piece of music. Musically it's a song very diversified with great individual works performed by the trio of the band. It has also a fantastic and powerful ballad, an interesting jazz section, and in the end, Hans Bathelt performed a massive drum solo so typical on the albums of the 70's. The third track "The Walls Of Doom" written by Jürgen Fritz is another instrumental song. We can divide this song into two distinct parts. In the first part the music is dominated by drumming work and has also a very nice bass line. In the second part the music explodes and has an excellent keyboard work in the style of Keith Emerson, but with a very own approach and style. The fourth track "The Deadly Dream Of Freedom" written by Helmut Köllen and Hans Bathelt is a very sweet and beautiful ballad, essentially made of vocals and piano, very well accompanied on the back by a very beautiful guitar work. Despite be a song with a different style of music, it keeps totally the musical cohesion of the entire album. The fifth track "The Hazy Shades Of Dawn" written by Jürgen Fritz is another instrumental song with the music style of a march. It's a progressive and complex track, very majestic and grandiose in the style of Emerson, Lake & Palmer but once more with the very own Triumvitat's approach and style. The sixth track "The Burning Sword Of Capua" written by Jürgen Fritz is another great instrumental track. Despite be a very small song, it's very complex with several musical changes, what makes of it a brilliant piece of music. The seventh track "The Sweetest Sound Of Liberty" written by Helmut Köllen and Hans Bathelt is a very short ballad in the same vein of "The Deadly Dream Of Freedom". Once again, this song is a break in the kind of the music of the album, but it also keeps in totally the musical cohesion on the album. The eighth track "The March Of The Eternal City" is divided into three parts: "Dusty Road", "Italian Improvisation" and "First Success". All were written by Jürgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt. It's another multi-part epic song very diversified. This is a song with some extremely complex parts with crossed rhythms and complex keyboards, has also lengthy instrumental sections and has also some improvisation musical parts. It's a very progressive track. The ninth track is the title track "Spartacus". It's also divided into three parts: "The Superior Force Of Rome" written by Jürgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt, "A Broken Dream" written by Jürgen Fritz and "The Final" also written by Jürgen Fritz. Like the previous track this is another mini epic track. This is another very progressive and complex song, very powerful and full of contrasts and musical changes. It has some musical sections very frenetic where others are more soft, nostalgic and sad. This is a nice way to end this great album.

Conclusion: "Spartacus" and "Illusions On A Double Dimple" are, without any kind of doubt, the two best releases of Triumvirat. These are two masterpieces with a very unique and own sound, despite the clear influences of the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Both albums placed Triumvirat as one of the best German progressive rock bands in the 70's. Both albums also made of Triumvirat a classic and necessary progressive rock band to check, even in our days. The genius of Jürgen Fritz and his virtuoso musical performances, and the technical superior drumming of Hans Bathelt are absolutely unique, fantastic and completely unforgettable. So, the only thing I can do, in this moment, is to recommend strongly both albums and the band to all prog heads. Both albums must be in your collection if you are a real prog fan.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Illusions On A Double Dimple by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.95 | 435 ratings

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Illusions On A Double Dimple
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 445

"Illusions On A Double Dimple" is the second studio album of the German symphonic progressive rock band Triumvirat and was released in 1974. It was a breakthrough for the band after their debut studio album "Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)" which was released in 1972. It increased the popularity of the band in a number of countries.

The line up on the album is Jügen Fritz (vocals, Steinway grand piano, electric piano, Hammond organ and moog synthesizer), Helmut Köllen (lead vocals and bass, acoustic and electric guitars) and Hans Bathelt (drums and percussion). The bassist of their previous debut studio album "Mediterranean Tales", Hans Pape, left the band and was replaced by Helmut Köllen midway through the recording of this album. Beyond the band's members some guest artists also appear on "Illusions On A Double Dimple". So, we have, Peter Cedera (spoken the words on "Illusions On A Double Dimple"), Karl Devo (saxophone solo on "Mister Ten Per Cent"), The Cologne Opera House Orchestra, The Kurt Edelhagen Brass Section and also Hanna Dolitzsch, Vanetta Fields, Brigitte Thomas and Ulla Wierner (backing vocals).

This is an album divided into two distinct musical parts, "Illusions On A Double Dimple" and "Mister Ten Percent", which correspond to the side A and side B of the LP, respectively. Each part is also also divided into six small parts. Relatively to "Illusions On A Double Dimple": The first track "Flashback" written by Jügen Fritz and Hans Bathelt is a kind of an introduction to the theme of the first part. It's a short melancholic piece of music with piano and where the vocals resume the spirit of the theme. The second track "Schooldays" written by Jügen Fritz and Hans Bathelt is a song that represents the opposite of the previous song. This isn't a sad and melancholic song but a shining and happy song. Here, we have the performance of all band's members with special emphasis to the fantastic guitar work. The third track "Triangle" written by Jügen Fritz is an amazing piece of music. This is a very progressive song, very complex and with some hard and aggressive musical sections. All band's members have an absolutely fantastic performance with special highlight to the bassist and the drummer. It has also nice chorus on the back of the song. The fourth track "Illusions" written by Jügen Fritz and Hans Bathelt is also a very short song, but despite this, it's also one of the most beautiful songs on the album. It's another sad and melancholic song that reminds us the first track. The fifth track "Dimplicity" written by Jügen Fritz and Hans Bathelt is another fantastic song very progressive and also very complex. It's a song with constant rhythmic and dramatic musical changes with complex musical passages very well supported by beautiful and fantastic chorus, providing us a wonderful musical moment. The sixth track "Last Dance" written by Jügen Fritz is another great song on the album, more in the rock style, and also very progressive and complex with constantly rhythm changes. It's, in my opinion, the song with more influences of Emerson, Lake & Palmer on this first part of the album. Relatively to "Mister Ten Percent": The first track "Maze" written by Jügen Fritz is a little bit aggressive song clearly influenced by the jazz style. It's a song with great rhythm section especially with solid drumming and a strong bass line. The second track "Dawning" written by Jügen Fritz is the shortest song on the album. It's a song with beautiful piano, performed only by Jügen Fritz and is a kind of introduction to the next song. The third track "Bad Ideal" written by Jügen Fritz and Hans Bathelt is another short song. It's a very energetic song with great keyboard work that ends with a touch of jazz style. The fourth track "Roundabout" written by Jügen Fritz is another great song with a nice line rhythm section. This is another song strongly influenced by jazz and with very dramatic changes. It's also the second song that more reminds us the influence of Emerson, Lake & Palmer on this album. The fifth track "Lucky Girl" written by Helmut Köllen and Hans Bathelt is a song completely different from the others. It's a beautiful and soft song, in a ballad style, which is probably a reference to "Lucky Man" of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I particularly like this song because is very enjoyable and brings to us a kind of a new musical atmosphere to the album. The sixth track "Million Dollars" written by Jügen Fritz and Hans Bathelt is a very good song to close the second part and the album itself. It's a calm, nostalgic, beautiful and sad song, all at the same time, and so we can consider that summarizes the ambient on the whole album.

Conclusion: "Illusions On A Double Dimple" is, without any doubt, a great album. The first part of the album "Illusions On A Double Dimple" is better than the second part "Mister Ten Per Cent". Despite the division of each theme into six parts, we can say that the music in each theme flows naturally as if they were only two songs. "Illusions On A Double Dimple" is one of the greatest albums released in the 70's, very progressive, and it's also an album where its music is extremely creative and original. Despite, the influences of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Triumvirat proved they were able to create a very own sound with high level. This album proved why Triumvirat is one of the best German prog rock bands.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters) by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.62 | 255 ratings

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Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Mirakaze
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars The first attempt by these talented German boys to blatantly copy ELP's overall sound and songwriting formula turned out halfway decent. It excels when keyboard player Jürgen Fritz is let loose to quote Mozart on his goofy organ or travel at the speed of sound through ever-changing baroqueish soundscapes, but falls down again whenever anyone is allowed to sing: even if you can get past the thick German accents and stupid lyrics, Hans Pape's voice sounds unsure and uncharismatic while Fritz's voice is just an ugly hoarse grumble. The first two tracks are rather frustrating in this respect, being composed of more or less equal amounts of beautiful intricate symph-prog and weak vocal parts you'll probably want to get over with as quickly as possible (the silly falsetto choir in the "Be Home For Tea" movement from "Across The Waters" is of no help either).

Things pretty much wind down afterwards too, with tracks three and four being little more than aimless, forgettable jams. Fritz is a good keyboard player but he's certainly no Emerson and his improvisation style isn't nearly as interesting to listen to for extended periods of time, especially not on top of the shrill and rather annoying main theme of "E Minor 5/9 Minor/5".

The whole album is perfectly listenable, but better things were most certainly to come for this group.

 Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters) by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.62 | 255 ratings

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Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 413

Triumvirat was a German progressive rock band that was formed in 1969 in Cologne, Germany. Triumvirat was initially a classical based trio were the founding members were Hans-Jürgen (later simply Jürgen) Fritz, Hans Bathelt and Werner "Dick" Frangenberg. Bathelt was the drummer/lyricist, Frangenberg the bassist, and Fritz the keyboardist. Triumvirat was strongly influenced by The Nice. In fact, they played some of their songs, like "Rondo". Being fans of The Nice, they loved when Emerson, Lake & Palmer got together. Frangenberg left the group and was replaced by Hans Pape in 1970. With Pape injecting some more life on vocals and bass, Triumvirat soon began to experiment with studio recordings. The result of that was a smart classically adapted debut album, "Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)".

So, "Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)" is the debut studio album of the German symphonic progressive rock band Triumvirat and was released in 1972. The line up on the album is Jürgen Fritz (vocals, organ, electric and acoustic piano, synthesizer and percussion), Hans Pape (lead vocals and bass) and Hans Bathelt (drums and percussion).

The album has four tracks. The first track "Across The Waters" is divided into six parts. The first part "Overture" was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and was arranged by Jürgen Fritz, the second part "Taxident" was composed by Jürgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt, the third part "Mind Tripper" was composed by Jürgen Fritz, the fourth part "5 O'Clock Tea" was composed by Jürgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt, the fifth part "Satan's Breakfast" was composed by Jürgen Fritz and the sixth part "Underture" was also composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and once more was arranged by Jürgen Fritz. This is an incredible start for the album, with sixteen minutes of a multi part epic musical piece clearly influenced by several classical musical influences that go from the Baroque style to the Romantic style, inclusive with two small pieces of music signed by one of the masters of classical music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. With this strong debut suite, Jürgen Fritz convinces as a keyboard virtuoso and brings in his energetic game in addition to rocking-driving ideas also classical elements to advantage, with complex rhythms, sweeping keyboard runs and constantly changing chord progressions. This is an impressive and amazing starting point for the career of this band. The second track "Eleven Kids" is also a very good song with the instrumental part with plenty of diversity, harmony and beauty with classical good keyboard work supported by powerful bass and drums. The main problem is the vocals because we have to get used to the voice with the German accent of Hans Pape, which isn't a great singer. The third track "E Minor 5/9 Minor/5" is also a very good, incredible and seductive instrumental track with some exploratory keyboard work, which curiously some keyboard parts remind me Peter Bardens of Camel. This is probably the track that also reminds me more The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The fourth track "Broken Mirror" is another great song that is separated in several distinct parts. The first part shows clearly what their classical sound is and showing a very complex musical structure and the second part is a jazz fusion section, indicating the possible way that Triumvirat could follow in the near future. It also showcases the style of Fritz's touch on the piano, highlighting some great work.

My CD version is the remastered edition of 2002 and has four bonus tracks. The fifth track "Be Home For Tea" is an edition of the fourth part "5 O'Clock Tea" of the opening track, the sixth track "Broken Mirror" is also an edited version of the fourth track with the same name, and the seventh track "Ride In The Night" and the eighth track "Sing Me A Song" are two new songs that didn't appear on the original vinyl version. As usually, I will not review bonus tracks but I must say they're much weaker than the songs of the original release and didn't bring anything interesting to the album.

Conclusion: Triumvirat is a great band and despite the clear influences they suffer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, including into their line up, a keyboardist, a bassist/vocalist and a drummer, I refuse the idea that they're an Emerson, Lake & Palmer's clone. It's true that there are some strong influences and similarities between both bands, but there are also a big number of differences too. So, Triumvirat is far from being a clone and "Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)" is certainly a perfect example of that. Despite the band have declared that they were huge fans of The Nice, I sincerely think that their musical arrangements, the lyrics and the way they sing with a strong German accent, are absolutely unique and, in my humble opinion, I really think that they deserve much more recognition than they've got until now. "Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)" is a great debut album from this fantastic and very interesting German symphonic progressive rock band. It's true this album isn't a masterpiece but certainly is a great album and we may ask how many bands were able to release their debut album as a masterpiece. Anyway, "Mediterranean Tales (Across The Waters)" represents only the beginning of their music proposal and soon, other better things would come.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Pompeii by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.09 | 170 ratings

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Pompeii
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Up to this point, Triumvirat was doing pretty good holding their own as what could be a respectable symphonic progressive band. Yes, they sounded very much like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but their talent made them sound very authentic while doing it. Granted, Fritz was an amazing keyboardist and was the closest thing out there to Keith Emerson. Unfortunately, by 1976, the line up was quickly changing, and when 1977 came around, the only original member left was Fritz. After losing their original lead singer to a disastrous solo career and his untimely death, Barry Palmer did the lead vocals on the previous album and would also remain with Fritz for what was to be called The New Triumvirat.

Both respected musicians Dieter Petereit (bass) and Curt Cress (drums) would join into the lineup for the album "Pompeii". On the surface, this looked like an ambitious project, which I suppose it was. But would this new version of the band be able to tackle a project like this? Fritz definitely had his sights quite high for this one, and sure enough, this album is a concept piece. But, record company pressures were wearing on Fritz and he was giving in to them in order to keep his band going. He was holding on to whatever he could, and he did at least do a decent job of it for this album. But the pressures were increasing and that also is apparent here.

What could have been an excellent album that would have matched up to "Sparticus" turned out to sound more uneven instead. Now, ELP fans that look to Triumvirat for that signature sound will still find it on "Pompeii", but will also find the band wavering, not quite as much as ELP did on "Love Beach", but close. "Pompeii" fortunately, is still salvageable to some extent. But the 8 track album doesn't really do justice to the subject matter, and most of that is because about half of the material is too commercial or not convincing enough.

Opening with "The Earthquake 62 A.D.", we get the sounds of the sea and gulls, light synth starts to build with bass and drums coming in with the organ later taking charge, and you get an authentic sounding ELP fanfare to open things up and to give an impressive extended opening. Things quiet down as spoken word accompanied by a choral group and orchestra with the fanfare returning later. There are symphonic traits throughout, so all is not lost. "Journey of a Fallen Angel" show the bands reliance on lyrics more than before, but the song structures are not quite completely sold out to the usual patterns of pop music. The piano is the lead instrument here and through a lot of the tracks on the album even in the heavier parts of the songs. "Viva Pompeii" is the first of two fairly short instrumentals, and it features ever changing keyboard textures and complex percussion. Cress is definitely a talented drummer and is one of the best things about the album making it even more convincingly ELP-like. The last track on the first side is "The Time of Your Life" and this features guest Sondra singing on the chorus of the song. The song reminds me a bit of the style that the band Kayak was using at the time, sort of a ragtime-y feel, probably too cheerful sounding for the material, but driven with a catchy beat. Vocal effects give the last part of the track a chaotic feel.

Lyrical heaviness continues with "The Rich Man and the Carpenter". Unfortunately, Barry Palmer's vocals are a bit weak and have a hard time carrying this style of music the way that Greg Lake's vocals could. There is a softer, slower middle section here which contains a choral section, but the song ends returning to a quicker tempo with heavy orchestration and piano once again leading the way. The 2nd instrumental follows, the too short "Dance on the Volcano" which starts out a lot like "Abaddon's Bolero" (from ELP's "Trilogy" album) with a much shorter build up before getting more complex as synth and organ trade places with great drum support. The excellent drum work continues with "Vesuvious 79 A.D.", a track that is noticeably darker in tone. This is a showcase for the drums for the first part of the song until the organ and orchestra cut in. This one also has the most dramatic vocals and the most exciting instrumental sections of all of the tracks on the album. The longest track on the album, "The Hymn" ends the album beginning as the first song, with the sound of waves and then a piano plays a soft, hymn-like passage. The intensity builds as the orchestra, chorus and piano come together in a track that is way too sentimental sounding, giving it a rather schmaltzy ending.

In the end, the band hasn't quite got to the point of being written off completely, but it was showing some growing pains as the members try to deal with a line up that was changing and record label pressures. There was room here for the band to grow back to the status of previous years, though, but instead, they would give in completely to the pressure of record management and the following albums would be too embarrassing to be remembered, even ending up worse off than anything ELP put out after they also succumbed to record company profits. This is the last album by Triumverat that is worth spending any time on, and even then, the failing band is apparent on "Pompeii" and will only get much worse.

 Spartacus by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.86 | 380 ratings

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Spartacus
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars Triumvirat's heyday was limited to just two or three albums from the early to mid 1970's (before Helmet Kollen's departure), and "Spartacus" was their magnum opus. Despite other reviewers' unjustified complaints that they were simply an ELP ripoff band, Triumvirat proved with "Spartacus" that they could compose and play an intricate and interesting concept album on an original subject, and deliver a work that has stood the test of time as well as anything that their progenitors ever produced.

The original album contains about 42 minutes of great music, and the remastered version rewards the listener with three previously unreleased live versions of songs from the "Spartacus" album, plus two so-so bonus tracks recorded after this album (more in the prog-pop vein, and sung by the less likable [to me, at least] Barry Palmer). The highlight of the bonus tracks has to be the middle section instrumental of "March to the Eternal City" - they go from the dark and foreboding march theme to an almost funky(!) groove with a extended keyboard solo that sort of sounds like what the Alan Parsons Project would do if they had Triumvirat's chops and audacity. Pretty cool.

But back to the original album - what a fantastic treat this was for anyone into keyboard-driven prog. Jurgen Fritz was just a phenomenal keyboard player; he was fast and inventive and knew just the right time to use the piano or organ or synth or some combination of all. Helmet Kollen played a very busy and melodic bass, supplied some appropriate guitar riffs, and sang the English lyrics in a nice tenor that bore little German accent. The drumming by Hans Bathelt was crisp and clever. While some of the songs bordered on prog-pop and ballads, there were some simply stunning prog workouts throughout the album, not the least of which was the album closer "Spartacus" - layered keyboards, inspirational melodies, and a driving rhythm section make the perfect ending to a very exciting album. Even though some of the lyrics could be a little cheesy or clumsy, they nevertheless to told a good story that you could not ignore despite the virtuosity of the playing.

The sound quality here is fantastic, and even more pronounced for me since the only other copy of this album that I owned was the original vinyl from 1976, the second side of which never quite recovered from the spilled beer incident... (Note to self on one foggy-headed morning in 1977: Hide your albums after the third keg is tapped!) Surely reminiscent of ELP without overt plagiarism, this was a standout keyboard-prog jewel of the mid 1970's. Look for the mouse inside the light bulb, and ENJOY.

4-1/2 stars

 Spartacus by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.86 | 380 ratings

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Spartacus
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by The Genre Spanner

4 stars The tale of Spartacus is an epic and bloody one. In ancient Rome, an escaped gladiator slave leads an uprising of slave rebels to fight in the war against the oppressive higher powers.

Meanwhile in 1975, a German trio of Emerson, Lake and Palmer impersonators were looking for a concept to hang their latest imitation on. They looked to our pal Spartacus and thought, 'well that will do I guess', despite their collection of cheesy musical numbers, despite the album cover being a mouse in a light-bulb, despite the lead vocalist sounding like a German George Costanza...

And yet this album is a lot of fun.

The vibe of Triumvirat's Spartacus is like a rock opera or musical in the style of ELP. There's a strong keyboard focus, with percussive organ solos, fanfare synths, as well as wacky time signatures - it's clear their nod to their heroes is not at all subtle. Songs that come to mind upon grooving to this album are 'Tarkus', 'Trilogy' and 'Karn Evil 9'. But the more restrained tracks sound reminiscent of The Who.

The tunes are very melodic, filled with memorable themes, and are short and sweet for the most part, so it's easily digestible. Compared to ELP there's more compositional focus and accessibility, and it all goes by quickly, perhaps with exception to 'The March to the Eternal City' which plods on a bit. The album is performed with high level of competence and energy, as if Triumvirat were coming from a genuine and inspired place, even if it's clear exactly where that place is. There is perhaps an over-abundance of synth strings, which cheapens the album somewhat, but it's all part of the fun really.

The experience of this album is quite cute; the accented vocal, the adjective-heavy song titles, the lyrics: "In the Gladiator's school, things were perfect, things were coooooooool." It's one big cheese-fest and hard to take seriously. There's even a song called 'The Walls of Doom' that's goofy and cheerful and completely void of any darkness. What on earth were they thinking? Again - all part of the fun.

This is a super entertaining album. There aren't as many dramatic ups and downs as one should expect from a Spartacus themed album, but it's still better than Jeff Wayne's attempt 17 years later.

 À La Carte by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1978
1.68 | 102 ratings

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À La Carte
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

1 stars Triumverat was unfortunately losing their progressive edge and the record label was pressuring Hans-Jurgen Fritz (keyboards) to take the band to even a more radio-friendly sound. The band had gone through an almost complete change of personnel after both Frangerberg (bass) and Hans Bathelt (drums, lyrics) left the band leaving Fritz as the only original member left. Just like Keith Emerson and ELP, Triumverat just couldn't exist without Fritz, and he caved into the pressure from the record label. The album "Pompeii" was released in 1977 and would be the last album to have any semblance of progressive style.

By the time "A la Carte" was released in 1978, there was hardly anything left related to the original band. Except for Fritz, the record company had pretty much taken over and ended up contracting all of the other musicians leaving Fritz with no power forcing him to accept their choices. Barry Palmer, the vocalist on "Pompeii" was replaced by David Hanselmann, Werner Kopal was contracted as the bassist taking over for Dieter Petereit and Matthias Holtmann was hired to take over for drummer Curt Cress. Once again, the band experiences a complete makeover. At least an orchestra and chorus was hired to try to give some backbone to the album, and the result is a top heavy array of musicians standing on top of a very weak and unstable foundation that was destined to fail. What a waste of talent, time and people.

There are no suites or concepts making up this album. It's made up of individual songs that are not tied together at all. Right from the beginning, the sweet saccharine sound of pop blasts your senses with offensively simple music. The Emerson-like keyboards are gone exchanged by cookie cutter electric piano passages and typical rock/pop clichés. And the songs aren't even catchy or interesting at all. The music has hardly any passion even with the forced screaming on "Late Again". The first side of the album is just filled with poppy, yet flat songs that end up all sounding the same, even with the addition of extra background singers and trumpet on "Jo Ann Walker", which tries to get the listener's attention with a story that, frankly, no one cares about. The only thing that breaks up the monotony of the first side is a schmaltzy, over-produced ballad called "For You". Oh my God, it is soooooo bad that it's almost hilarious.

Side 2 starts off with a bad disco rip-off "I Don't Even Know Your Name" complete with brass that sounds like it came off of a conveyor belt that gets even worse when it tries to become a rumba in the instrumental break. The closest thing to any semblance of their past is on "A Bavarian in New York" with some great organ and synth sections, but the vocals (more forced screaming) and brass is so bad that you probably won't even notice. The only instrumental follows with "Original Soundtrack from the Movie 'O.C.S.I.D.'" which will remind you of a disco tornado, that's not a good thing if you were wondering. "Darlin'" is an over-produced cover of The Beach Boys song. The miserable collection of songs ends with "Goodbye", another awful ballad.

This record is a perfect example of what happens when corporate takes over for a band and ruins it completely. No one was interested in this sound and the album sold poorly. Yet, no one learned their lesson from this failure as there was one more attempt at pop stardom with an even worse album to follow. It seems this band was following the same formula as what their main influence followed. "A la Carte" is Triumverat's "Love Beach", but even worse. At least ELP tried to add something that resembled prog with their "Officer and A Gentleman" suite, but for "A la Carte" there is absolutely nothing to hold on to unless you have a desire to hear some really bad pop/disco/commercial music. It's a sad ending for what was once a proud and excellent band. I can't even see how this album would appeal to even die-hard fans and it isn't worth anything to collectors, so I will proclaim this one for completionists only, unless you are interested in seeing just how bad it can get. If you see this one walking down the street, walk on by.

 Old Loves Die Hard by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.48 | 195 ratings

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Old Loves Die Hard
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars The fourth album for Triumverat marks a big change for the band. Their last two albums were successful in about every way possible and they had proven themselves to be capable progressive rockers that play music very similar to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Up to this point, the band had been a trio and the original keyboardist, Jurgen Fritz (whom the band was centered around) and drummer/lyricist Hans Bathelt were still the loyal members of the band. For the last two albums, which the band is most known for, Helmut Kollen was the vocalist and bassist, but, finding that he was having problems singing the new songs, left the band and died not too long after that. A new singer was hired named Barry Palmer after he submitted a cover of Paul McCartney's 'Maybe I'm Amazed' in answer to an ad for a new vocalist to Fritz. But, the band was still without a bassist, so a fourth member had to be brought in. Instead of hiring someone new, Werner Frangerberg, who was the band's original bassist who actually left before the recording of their debut album, was brought back in, meaning that this would be the first album he would be featured on.

Getting used to this new line-up, and the fact that they were now a quartet, was something they would have to quickly adjust to. Would the band be able to retain their sound and their popularity with this new line up? From the surface, the album called 'Old Loves Die Hard' looks like it could be a contender with a mix of long and shorter tracks, one on the long ones being a 3-part suite and two others that exceed the 10 minute mark. The first side is made up of 3 good sized tracks starting with 'I Believe'. The song has a moderate beat with some complex rhythms and the topic is quite contemporary, not quite as epic as some of their previous tracks even at almost 8 minutes. It's an interesting enough track, but is definitely more 'straightforward' sounding than pervious, but still pretty good. Even though the keys are still prevalent, it sounds less like ELP than before, and more like Styx and also what sounds like a children's chorus towards the last part of the song.

Next is 'A Day in a Life' which is the 3-part suite mentioned earlier. This one is completely instrumental and it begins with 'Uranus' Dawn' which starts off with electric piano and synth playing a more mellow and laid-back feel than on their previous efforts. This meanders melodically along until it comes to 'Pisces at Noon' when the piano takes over. This is a nice and rhapsodic piano solo (mostly), but still not as complex as their previous albums. Fritz still gets to show off his mega-talent though, so it's not bad. It all ends with a sudden upbeat section called 'Panorama Dusk' where layers of synths and keyboards are all joined by bass and drums, now sounding more like before, but this section of the suite is quite short and is over quickly.

'The History of Mystery' follows the suite and is the longest track on the albums at almost 12 minutes. As the track begins, it continues with the more straightforward sound while it goes through a vocal section, but when the tempo picks up a bit more, it starts to sound more like ELP again, so at least there is a return to a bit of complexity as the keys take the band through various tempos, meter shifts and styles. Even though it took a while, at least all hope is not lost yet. Also Barry's vocals are definitely stronger than Helmut's were. On the LP version of the album, this track is divided into two parts with part 1 ending the first side and picking up with part 2 on the 2nd side. The break between parts is quite natural sounding though with no fade outs/ins needed.

'A Cold Old Worried Lady' is a piano-led ballad with nice vocals by Barry. The synths come in bringing in some nicely done string effects with other orchestral sounds. It sounds very much like Kayak's 'Ruthless Queen', or at least seems styled after it. It's quite straightforward, but still very nice. A long instrumental 'Panic of Fifth Avenue' follows this one, and the band returns to it's ELP style with heavy keys and synths backed up by great bass and drum work, tempo and meter shifts and so on. Excellent track, styled somewhat after 'Toccata'. It all ends with the title track 'Old Loves Die Hard', a moderate track with vocals, which acts more like a closer for the album than anything else.

Overall, the album is decent, but is a bit more straightforward than the previous albums by the band. It has some great tracks that recall the sound of the band that gave them the respected status from fans and critics alike. It is not yet a turn away from their signature sound, at least not yet completely, but it also isn't as solid as their best albums. However, classic prog lovers and ELP fans will still find plenty to love here anyway. But it does mark the beginning of a steep descent into failed commercialism that the band would embark in later. The band would even become more unstable as the original two members would soon separate with Bathelt leaving the band because of pressure from the record label to commercialize their music even more and Fritz going along with that plan. Also, the original bassist Frangerberg would leave the band once again. Still, this album was able to still give enough quality material to be considered an excellent album. 3.5 rounds up to 4 stars.

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

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