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TRIUMVIRAT

Symphonic Prog • Germany


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Triumvirat biography
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 time finding a replacement for Köllen, so they decided to call their old friend and former band mate Dick Frangenberg as bassist plus Barry Palmer for the vocals, and as a quartet they recorded "Old Love Dies Hard", the first ...
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SpartacusSpartacus
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2002
Audio CD$7.25
$6.12 (used)
Illusions on a DoubleIllusions on a Double
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2002
Audio CD$5.69
$8.45 (used)
Mediterranean TalesMediterranean Tales
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2002
Audio CD$7.25
$6.12 (used)
Old Loves Die HardOld Loves Die Hard
Import · Remastered
EMI 2002
Audio CD$7.25
$6.12 (used)
PompeiiPompeii
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2002
Audio CD$7.25
$7.58 (used)
Russian RouletteRussian Roulette
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2002
Audio CD$23.98
$16.44 (used)
Illusions on a Double DimpleIllusions on a Double Dimple
Import
Eastworld Records 2012
Audio CD$4.61
$13.43 (used)
Mediterranean Tales (Across the Water)Mediterranean Tales (Across the Water)
Audio CD$50.00
$29.98 (used)
EssentialEssential
Import
Imports 2012
Audio CD$6.00
$5.94 (used)
Old Loves Die HardOld Loves Die Hard
Import
Eastworld Records 2012
Audio CD$4.52
$12.54 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
TRIUMVIRAT: A La Carte (Rock & Pop Capitol ST-11862 VG+ Vinyl LP) US $9.94 [0 bids]
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TRIUMVIRAT shows & tickets


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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)

3.61 | 146 ratings
Mediterranean Tales
1972
3.92 | 245 ratings
Illusions On A Double Dimple
1973
3.78 | 226 ratings
Spartacus
1975
3.43 | 114 ratings
Old Loves Die Hard
1976
3.05 | 96 ratings
Pompeii
1977
1.70 | 60 ratings
A La Carte
1978
1.51 | 45 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)

3.86 | 5 ratings
Essential
2012

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

2.82 | 6 ratings
Take A Break Today / The Capitol Of Power
2000

TRIUMVIRAT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Illusions On A Double Dimple by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.92 | 245 ratings

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Illusions On A Double Dimple
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Alrixa

5 stars You are almost forcing me to comment. But I think I am a pretty layman compared with you in musical knowledge and skills. But I can say I listened to Triumvirat for the very first time in a very unlikely circumstance, it was in a small mexican city named Jalapa (Xallapan, in nahuatl native language) in 1976, same region where Jalapeno chilis are from (they are jalapenos as me). It was very weird but it happened. From all my friends from those times, I am the only one who kept going with progressive rock, jazz-rock, etc.

I don't know much about music and I am not an englishman, so I don't have to pay tribute to ELP. I definitely like Triumvirat a lot more than them, and I am deeply sorry at the fact they just had some few records recorded.

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 Russian Roulette by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.51 | 45 ratings

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Russian Roulette
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Vibrationbaby

5 stars Triumvirat were playing Russian Roulette with their fans. Like an idiot I went out and paid my hard earned money for this thing that crawled out of a sewer. Even ABBA fans would run away from this disaster with their tails curled. I'm just wondering if there's anybody else on the planet who bought this atrocity who didn't use it for skeet shooting. Maybe Jurgen had too many chicks that he could handle and he said " down girls, down girls I'm trying to make an intelligent romantic album, merci".

Why are there hamburgers on the cover and no guns. I would expect a graphic photo of a guy lying with his brains blown out by a .38 Special. Looking not unlike a spaghetti buffet after being attacked by 100 famished Italians. And then Jurgen has this dumb song with steel drums. He thinks he's Jamacian. Maybe he had some Jamacian chicks who did him some weird sexual favours.

If I were to make an album called Russian Roulette I would have hired some assasins from the Russian mob. I would accompany them on some hits and made a heavy metal album out of it that would make Norwegian Black metal sound like Perry Como on Qualudes.

OK have I reached 75 words yet? I'm actually going to give this dishrag 5 stars for badness. It just can't get any worse than this. I can't believe I just listened to the whole thing.

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 Illusions On A Double Dimple by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.92 | 245 ratings

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Illusions On A Double Dimple
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It's become almost a cliché to dismiss Triumvirat as 'the German ELP', but that knee-jerk label doesn't fit the band's second (and best) album. To begin with, they hardly sound German at all, singing English lyrics (memorized phonetically one line at a time, or so I've been told), and playing in a crowd-pleasing, extroverted style far removed from anything that might be considered Krautrock.

And unlike other keyboard whiz-kids Jürgen Fritz never leaned on the crutch of classical music with the same reverence as Keith Emerson, despite being supported on this album by the Cologne Opera House Orchestra, plus a separate brass section and a quartet of distaff backing singers. The ELP influence is hard to miss: one song is even titled "Lucky Girl" (and was written in what sounds to this non-musician like the same key as Greg Lake's "Lucky Man"). But if the German trio was making a conscious effort to walk in ELP's footprints they at least did so wearing sensible shoes, unburdened by the high artistic pretensions of their English role models.

The band was allowed an astonishing level of creative freedom by EMI after only one other (uneven) studio album, and they responded with their most fully realized and ambitious effort. The new LP was divided into an unmatched pair of side-long suites, but without the often trite thematic overkill common elsewhere in Prog Rock at the time. Side One relates the downward spiral of an alcoholic (a Dimple is a blended Scotch whiskey), and does so with more kinetic energy than the subject matter would otherwise suggest, cued by the furious attack of Hans Bathelt's curiously foreshortened drum sound.

The flipside "Mr. Ten Percent" is a satire of sorts of the music business. Neither suite (to their credit) has a defined narrative, but each is held together by the flow of the music, unified to a point where even the occasional copycat riff sounds entirely natural in context. Besides the expected nods to ELP you'll notice a wink or two at classic YES, including a sudden "Close to the Edge" vocal interruption at the top of the "Tarkus"-like opening to "Mr. Ten Percent" (a later episode is titled "Roundabout", but any resemblance to its namesake ends there).

If you can only hear one Triumvirat album, this should be it: a five-star pinnacle in the arc of their own career, and still a vital addition to any well-rounded European Prog Rock library. They certainly weren't pioneers or innovators, but how many of our musical heroes actually were?

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 Spartacus by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.78 | 226 ratings

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Spartacus
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "It has everything that makes entertainment great!"

That was the breathless claim on posters advertising the epic 1960 Kirk Douglas film about the legendary Roman slave-turned-rebel hero, and the same PR hyperbole applies to the concept album of the same title, released at the peak of Prog Rock's Golden Age by everyone's favorite ELP clone: Triumvirat.

Okay, so maybe 'clone' is too strong a word. If imitation really is the highest form of flattery then Jürgen Fritz was only extending his appreciation of Classical Music to include Classical Rockers like Keith Emerson. In truth Triumvirat at its mid-'70s best represented a version of how ELP might have sounded without any pretensions to High Culture, making the German keyboard trio a welcome alternative to their English role model. And "Spartacus" found the band at its popular (if not quite its aesthetic) zenith, performing with an energy and confidence that easily offset their often derivative style.

The opening theme to "The Capital of Power" is uncomfortably close to the title track of ELP's "Trilogy" album. But after that the similarities are merely (and not unpleasantly) cosmetic, right down to the ratio of moog solos and radio-friendly ballads. Some of the latter ("The Gladiator's Song"; "The Deadly Dream of Freedom") anticipated the dumbed-down commercial pop of later Triumvirat line-ups, but were arranged and played here with conviction, despite the occasional tonal faux-pas. Hearing the lyric "I've been trained to kill a man / a sword, a spear or with my hand" crooned in the manner of Greg Lake singing "Still...You Turn Me On" can be a little disconcerting, if you think about it.

The subject matter was fitting for a talented secondhand act dogging the footsteps of a conquering supergroup, although maybe Fritz should have considered the fate of his album's hero: captured and crucified on the Appian Way. But the album itself likely profited by a happy accident of timing, appearing while Emerson and company were on their long hiatus before the stumble of "Works Volume 1".

It might have led to even greater success had singer / bassist Helmut Köllen not quit to pursue a solo career (releasing one studio album before his untimely death, ironically titled after the Beatles song "You Won't See Me"). Triumvirat was never quite the same afterward, but "Spartacus" still carries enough nostalgia value to earn three strong stars, especially from anyone who can recall hearing it (almost) fresh off the racks.

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 Mediterranean Tales by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.61 | 146 ratings

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Mediterranean Tales
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Triumvirat has long been pegged (not altogether unfairly) as ELP copycats, so it makes sense that the band's earliest incarnation was heavily in debt to THE NICE, by coincidence even matching the rough singing voice of bassist Lee Jackson. But frontman Jürgen Fritz enjoyed a few advantages over his idol Keith Emerson, never indulging in the same ready-made classical music covers, and often handling his keyboards with a more natural gift for simple yet memorable hooks.

His own band, even at this embryonic stage, also functioned better as a cohesive group than either ELP or The Nice, although the chemistry wasn't entirely settled (that would happen the following year, with the hiring of Fritz's cousin Helmut Köllen to fill the Greg Lake role). Until then the singing would be a dangerous weak spot, undermining the energy of their debut even more than its now primitive mix of classical, jazz, pop and rock gestures.

Listening to the album over forty years later is like throwing open a dilapidated window to a brighter, more innocent age of musical idealism. The episodic, side-long suite "Across the Waters" almost resembles a parody of Prog Rock clichés when heard today, but there was a time when this was fresh and exciting stuff. And it can still be invigorating, when heard in the proper rose-colored spirit: that baroque downbeat at the top of the opening movement has real bite, and the obvious enthusiasm of the players helps to maintain a headlong pace, despite the almost total lack of thematic focus.

In retrospect it needs a forgiving ear to receive the album as it might have originally sounded, especially when listening to the trio of shorter songs on Side Two, which saw Fritz and company struggling to locate a stable identity and not fully succeeding. Consider the effort a test run for later Prog Rock Formula races: the newly-tooled engine was firing on all cylinders, but still needed a little fine-tuning.

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 Pompeii by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.05 | 96 ratings

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Pompeii
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Triumvirat was a band so besotted with ELP that they followed their role models into "Love Beach"-style perdition at the end of the 1970s. The German quartet would record far worse albums (see the aptly-titled career nadir of "Russian Roulette"), but the cracks that had appeared in their previous "Old Loves Die Hard" widened a little further on this 1977 LP, the band's last half-way progressive effort before Jürgen Fritz surrendered to commercial pressures and creative rigor mortis.

The cinemascope cover art and breathless PR hyperbole ("New" Triumvirat, indeed) promised a return to form, perhaps even another Roman Legion epic à la "Spartacus". But most of it was strictly sales talk, despite a few isolated thrills ("Viva Pompeii"; parts of "Vesuvius 79 AD"), and unlike "Spartacus" there wasn't a firm narrative to hold it all together.

The reconfigured line-up enlisted some veteran players, but left them stranded without much to do. It was certainly discouraging to hear an old pro like PASSPORT's ace drummer Curt Cress sleepwalking through ersatz Broadway showstoppers like "Hymn" (even worse, the song is repeated as a bonus radio edit on the '02 CD re-issue). Try to imagine Bill Bruford joining Toto after leaving King Crimson, just to put the letdown in perspective.

Ringleader Jürgen Fritz had already proved himself a gifted keyboard player, with an obvious schoolboy crush on Keith Emerson. The ELP cloning heard in earlier albums was diluted here by a less colorful symphonic palette, and yet still showed a few lingering traces of copycat mimicry: the instrumental "Dance on the Volcano", for example, was a blatant rip-off of "Abaddon's Bolero". Like Emerson (and every other synth wizard at the time) Fritz found himself in 1977 surrounded by a decadent array of technology, but to his credit he was at least favoring the more natural sound of his Steinway grand piano.

You could accuse him of opportunism and not be too far wrong: Herr Fritz was changing hats with every shift in the prevailing musical winds. But I'm prepared to cut him some retrospective slack, at least for this album: the talent was there, even after his well of inspiration had gone dry. "Pompeii" was hardly a catastrophe on the same scale as the historic event it supposedly depicts, but the mild tremor of excitement it provided never builds to a full-scale Prog Rock eruption.

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 Old Loves Die Hard by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.43 | 114 ratings

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Old Loves Die Hard
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars German synth wizard and Keith Emerson wannabe Jürgen Fritz had one foot on a bar of soap while recording this follow-up to his popular "Spartacus" album. The recruitment of British pop singer Barry Palmer, hired through a Melody Maker advertisement after the departure of Helmut Köllen, quickly undermined the original dynamic of the classic keyboard trio. Palmer's radio-friendly voice never meshed well with the band's higher (i.e. proggier) aspirations, and his AOR smoothness only greased the floor beneath a composer already looking for commercial salvation.

But don't blame the new guy for such an inconsistent change of pace. The revamped line-up was only one part of a deliberate bid by Fritz to simplify the Triumvirat sound and balance the band's deeper European heritage with a more shallow mainstream style. The richness of the former is evident in the albums stately opening notes; the compromise of the latter can be heard as soon as Palmer opens his mouth, unconsciously summing up the future of his adopted band in one ominous cliché: "I sold my soul to rock 'n' roll / I never got it back..."

More than enough traces of genuine Prog Rock vitality remained to make the album certainly worthwhile, with at least two highlights equaling anything the band did before: "Panic on 5th Avenue", and the mini-trilogy "A Day in a Life" (both entirely instrumental, please note). "The History of Mystery", originally split over two sides of vinyl, has some attractive grand piano as well, plus a few too many stylistic nods to ELP's "Karn Evil 9". But the bulk of the album ("A Cold Old Worried Lady"; the chorus of "I Believe"; and even the title track) was closer to Elton John than Keith Emerson, hardly recommending it to discriminating listeners.

Curiously, the European LP presented the music "in deepest sympathy", the words written on the back cover in mock-gothic script (but not a reference to the accidental death of old comrade Helmut Köllen, still a year away). The alternate artwork on the U.S. edition depicted the mascot rat, trapped in a corner, and both versions pretty much summed up the band's position in 1976. As any ardent Proghead will tell you, old loves do indeed die hard. This particular flame may not have expired yet, but (paraphrasing Frank Zappa) she was starting to smell a bit funny.

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 Spartacus by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.78 | 226 ratings

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Spartacus
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by wehpanzer

5 stars When I heard that Triumvirat was an ELP clone, I sneered. When a friend of mine actually played me the album, I was excited.

Triumvirat had an undeserved reputation as an ELP knockoff - only in the fact that they were a keyboard led three piece band were they actually similar.

I've always loved the story of Spartacus (I majored in history and now teach it in high school), so finding a prog band writing concept album around the history of Spartacus was quite special. The story is well told, the melodies are interesting, the solos are not noodling. There is nothing here you can't like!

Personally, I think that this is one of the greatest lost prog albums of all time. I recommend it. Five stars.

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 Illusions On A Double Dimple by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.92 | 245 ratings

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Illusions On A Double Dimple
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars During the recording sessions of the second album Triumvirat had to deal with the departure of bassist Hans Pape, who got married and life on the road did not suit with this new chapter.Bathelt and Fritz were now searching for a new bassist, who could actually sing.This was meant to be Jürgen's cousin Helmut Koellen, who was a mechanic but also a talented singer and bass player in a number of bands around the Cologne area.The result of this collaboration was the album ''Illusions on a Double Dimple'', released again on Harvest, and featuring help by the orchestra of The Cologne Opera House and the brass section of The Kurt Edelhagen Brass Section plus some guest backing singers.

This was definitely among the most ambitious efforts of the whole German Prog scene, as the album consists of two sidelong epic compositions.The eponymous 23-min. one is a great seminar on how to use Hammond organ , grand piano and moog synths to create a tight composition full of epic, dramatic or romantic atmospheres.Full-blown keyboard-based Progressive Rock with some instant melodies, keyboard pyrotechnics and discreet use of electric guitars, divided into E.L.P.-like virtuosities and more smooth NOVALIS-like moments with Koellen's voice on the forefront.Actually Koellen prooves to be also an excellent bassist and next to Hans Bathelt he completes a confident rhythm section.Among the monster sound of synths and organs there are some nice string sections performed by the orchestra of Cologne, but the majority of the track is characterized by Fritz'es dual and triple keyboard crescendos.

The flipside is also dedicated to one track, the 21-min. ''Mister Ten Percent'', which contains actually some pretty humourous vocal lines that are more than welcome to my ears.Musically this continues from where the eponymous suite stopped, E.L.P.-influenced organ-driven Progressive Rock with huge Classical references. But this time there are also some differences, as the rhythm section sounds really pounding and bombastic, given more space, while the great brass section appearing on the chorus sounds great.There is even an acoustic part around the middle performed by Koellen, who's voice comes closer and closer to GREG LAKE's, and as a whole the composition sounds a little more flexible than the opening one, but at the end it doesn't sounds as tight.

Very talented group.Although the music of Triumvirat constantly steps on the fundamentals of E.L.P., noone can deny that these guys could perform great and come up with some majestic moments.Strongly recommended to all keyboard freaks out there...3.5 stars.

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 Pompeii by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.05 | 96 ratings

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Pompeii
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars I've really not given this Triumvirat album much of a fair go in the past. I came across `Pompeii' in a crate full of rubbish dross albums, so I picked it up very cheap for a couple of dollars (likely the seller had no idea what it was). It had a badly damaged cover that was really ugly to look at, so the idea of actually touching it to take the record out to play was very unappealing! I had also read several negative reviews on the Archives, so I figured it wasn't worth much of my time. But after eventually giving it a go, several listens later, it turns out to be a respectably decent, though deeply flawed and frustrating prog/pop album that is more of a severe missed opportunity than an outright disaster.

Triumvarit main man Jurgen Fritz is the real star of this album. Under difficult circumstances (the death of fellow band member Helmut Koellen and the exodus of previous band members), Fritz threw himself into the work and tried to make the best damn album possible. In addition to his army of reliable keyboards (Hammond C3, Organ, Moog, Polyphonic synth, Steinway Grand, fender rhodes, Arp string ensemble, Clavinet, and more), he produced the entire album, wrote all the lyrics (more on that later), and arranged all the choir and orchestral parts. The project comes across as a huge undertaking, so it's a shame that the album didn't turn out quite as rewarding as all the effort would have hoped for.

Two Passport members in Curt Cress and Dieter Petereit were brought in to fill out the sound on drums and bass/guitar, and they are excellent additions to this album. Not so the return of schmaltzy vocalist Barry Palmer. It's not that the guy can't sing, as he has an immensely strong and commanding voice, very technically proficient. It's just that his overwrought style is perhaps more suited to commercial music, and he really cripples much of the good work done by the other musicians on this album. He is frequently draining to listen to, and his voice has really dated this album terribly in parts. There's a few sections where he's a little more restrained, and it works much better. The truth is, this album would probably be rated a lot higher with a different vocalist on board, or if Palmer had seriously toned down his overly dramatic style. I would suggest even being a totally instrumental album might have been better, but with much of the music trying to find a balance between technical progressive and friendlier pop/rock, I'm sure an accessible singer was quite necessary.

The album and side A starts out with the hugely promising `Earthquake 62 AD', a killer instrumental intro (very influenced by ELP, but let's get that clichéd observation out of the way right away!) that's all busy drums and pounding organ. We then get a scene-setting and thoughtful narration before a busier reprise of the instrumental, but then we have the first appearance of Barry Palmer. This is the track his vocals are probably best on, but that's not saying much. Nice bass on this bit too. `Journey Of A Fallen Angel' is fairly commercial, with nice subtle synths and lovely piano, but Palmer's cheesy dramatic vocals on the verses frequently let the track down. The chorus is actually rather good, and Palmer is more restrained and quite effective on this section. `Viva Pompeii' is a wonderful orchestral instrumental with relentless piano and furious drum-work. Mesmerizing bass and inventive synth/electric piano solos. This track shows so much fire and energy, it's also very catchy and gets your head nodding! Best track on the album! `The Time Of Your Life...?' has a vile almost honky-tonk intro, but an upbeat and jolly foot-tapping melody kicks in with a syrupy Palmer vocal and female backing chorus vocalists that are more restrained than him! The orchestral strings are quite pleasant and effectively used on this one, before a very dizzying finale.

Side 2's `Rich Man and the Carpenter' has a lovely majestic intro piano/drums/bass intro, before the vocals and rollicking melody comes in. The `What do I do...?' chorus is strangely reminiscent of later Alan Parsons Project pop songs, and it's kind of catchy! There's a nice low key quiet piano and vocal middle section that Barry sings perfectly here! The band seems to relish the drama of this track, their playing a little more energized and frantic on this one when they get to cut loose on the instrumental sections. The marching drums add a real sense of tension on the second instrumental `Dance On The Volcano', an energetic classical workout. Everything you love about the band is in this track. `Vesuvius' begins as yet another instrumental, before a rapid-fire narration and hideous wail from Palmer, before a reprise of themes from the first track. "The day Pompeii died, it was the Devil's fair....Vesuvius raised his hand..." is a very evocative lyric. `The Hymn' ends the album on a grand uplifting and spiritual finale, with a mostly very effective Barry Palmer vocal. He's really rather good on this, though it probably helps that he has such a lovely melody to sing. In addition to a soothing choir, there's some beautifully restrained piano from Fritz on this, that really shows the band didn't function on the one setting of `bombastic classical overkill' at all times.

No doubt the tragedy of Pompeii is a terrific and grand theme for a prog concept album, and Jurgen Fritz really went out of his way to pen some high quality lyrics. Utilizing a clever mix of historical situations, fictional characters and personal observations, despite suffering from occasional `lost in translation' English moments, Fritz' lyrics are rich in detail. They are also lovingly reproduced on the LP inner sleeve so they can be appreciated properly. I think the lyric "Exotic birds came with the wind, singing songs only birds can sing" is especially lovely. The liner notes confirm how passionate Fritz was about this album and making sure it came together.

Despite the number of problems with the album, `Pompeii' never sounds less than amazing, with Fritz providing a warm production where every instrument sounds full and thick.

Before I had even started writing this review and playing the album properly over and over in preparation of it, I had set in my mind that two stars would probably be all the album was worth. However I've come to really appreciate how much effort went into making a decent mix of progressive and pop-rock, with technical playing and arrangements and easy- listening vocals. It may not have the longer classical workouts from their earlier albums, but I'd rather see a band try and fail something new than keep sticking to the same pattern. `Pompeii' is a very admirable effort from a great band.

Three and a half stars really!

(Special thanks must go to fellow Archives member Presdoug for our back and forth discussion on this album that helped me see it's highlights and faults much clearer! I've always admired his devotion to Triumvirat, and I truly appreciate his contribution.)

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