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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$6.44
$5.59 (used)
Illusions on a DoubleIllusions on a Double
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2002
Audio CD$6.88
$4.78 (used)
Illusions on a Double DimpleIllusions on a Double Dimple
Import
Eastworld Records 2012
Audio CD$1.23
$11.07 (used)
PompeiiPompeii
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2002
Audio CD$6.44
$5.85 (used)
Mediterranean TalesMediterranean Tales
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2002
Audio CD$6.44
$5.46 (used)
Old Loves Die HardOld Loves Die Hard
Import · Remastered
EMI 2002
Audio CD$6.44
$1.52 (used)
EssentialEssential
Import
Imports 2012
Audio CD$5.57
$5.53 (used)
Mediterranean TalesMediterranean Tales
HARVEST
Vinyl$10.99 (used)
PompeiiPompeii
CAPITOL
Vinyl$7.50 (used)
Old Loves Die HardOld Loves Die Hard
Original recording · Import
Capitol
Vinyl$6.00 (used)
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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)

3.62 | 167 ratings
Mediterranean Tales
1972
3.90 | 272 ratings
Illusions On A Double Dimple
1974
3.77 | 250 ratings
Spartacus
1975
3.42 | 128 ratings
Old Loves Die Hard
1976
3.05 | 110 ratings
Pompeii
1977
1.72 | 67 ratings
A La Carte
1978
1.50 | 53 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)

3.80 | 6 ratings
Essential
2012

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

2.83 | 8 ratings
Take A Break Today / The Capitol Of Power
2000

TRIUMVIRAT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Russian Roulette by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.50 | 53 ratings

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Russian Roulette
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by OldSchoolProg

1 stars I will always give releases multiple listening before passing judgment on whether I like a disc or not. I tried with this one...it's not the Triumvirat that we have come to love. Gone are all progressive elements of anything they have done previously. It sounds like Randy Newman meets the Bay City Rollers meets Dean Friedman. I keep wishing the next track will be better than the first...it just doesn't ever happen. Even the vocals are grating an not pleasant at all (just listen to Party Life). I will never listen to this again, it is not the great Triumvirat of Illusions or Spartacus, something went terribly wrong. I need to go back and listen to anything else they have done, I cannot leave this as the last Triumvirat I listened to today.

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 Pompeii by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.05 | 110 ratings

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Pompeii
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars The band was now called New Triumvirat, given Hans Bathelt and Dick Frangenberg left and there were legal matters over the Triumvirat name. So Jurgen Fritz and Barry Palmer brought in Dieter Petereit for bass, and none other than Curt Cress on drums who played with Passport, Atlantis (basically Frumpy with a new name and a more mainstream sound), and tons of others. For most, this was the beginning of the downfall of Triumvirat, but for me the decline was already showing on their previous, Old Loves Die Hard. Honestly, I don't find Pompeii any worse. In fact, some of the ballads I actually find easier to take in than say, "I Believe" or "A Cold, Old Worried Lady", like "Journey of a Fallen Angel" or "Rich Man and the Carpenter". They still hadn't abandoned prog, as demonstrated on "Vesuvius 62 A.D.", "Viva Pompeii", "Dance on the Volcano", and "Vesuvius 79 A.D.", although Barry Palmer's voice does not seem most fitting of this kind of music, but he doesn't sing that much on these songs, and "Dance on the Volcano" is all instrumental. I noticed Jurgen Fritz looked up so much to his hero Keith Emerson that he himself got a monster Yamaha GX-1 polyphonic synthesizer (how he managed to pull that on off I can't say given I'm certain he didn't quite have anywhere as big a budget as Emerson, or John Paul Jones or Stevie Wonder, other GX-1 users, but then Rick van der Linden of Ekseption and Trace also owned one). Fritz still uses plenty of that Hammond organ, as well as Moog, and other keyboards. Like Old Loves Die Hard, even progheads will find the proggy stuff the most to enjoy, but the Barry Palmer-sung ballads might be avoided, but as I stated, I found them easier to take in, aside from "The Hymn", which bad as the worst moments of Old Loves Die Hard. That choir really doesn't help matters any. Certainly not in the same league as Mediterranean Tales, Illusions on a Double Dimple or Spartacus, but it's still not bad. Of course, they completely abandoned prog for the next two albums, and to this day, I still don't own A La Carte and Russian Roulette, given there's likely little I'll find much to enjoy.

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 Old Loves Die Hard by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.42 | 128 ratings

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Old Loves Die Hard
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars I don't think I was too shocked Old Loves Die Hard never really reached the heights of Spartacus. Late '70s pop tendencies that would totally take over Triumvirat within two albums was already starting to rear its head here. Helmut Kollen left to pursue a solo career, unfortunately he never lived to see his sole solo album. You Won't See Me (1977). In his shoes come Dick Frangenberg on bass, who was the original bassist for the group, before Mediterranean Tales was released, and Barry Palmer, a singer where the grasp of the English language was never in question given his British origins. I have to say the ballads on this album really throw me over the edge, especially "I Believe" and "A Cold Old Worried Lady". Although from 1976, these are two very insipid late '70s type of soft-rock balladry. I can hardly handle listening to these without my stomach turning. Barry Palmer's voice not helping. Although I was never a fan of punk, hearing these ballads make me understand more clearly why that movement was well under way roughly around this time period. At least Triumvirat did not abandoned prog, and "A Day in the Life", "The History of Mystery" and "Panic on 5th Avenue" show they can still do it, Jurgen Fritz often doing his best ELP imitations, although none of these reach the heights of Spartacus. I guarantee you had I heard this album twenty years earlier (like when I was 21 years old) I probably would have absolutely hated this album, but not now. But at least there are good moments, I just need to skip those ballads. At least I found a used LP copy on the cheap. Although the proggy stuff I like best here, I prefer Spartacus overall.

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 Spartacus by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.77 | 250 ratings

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Spartacus
Triumvirat Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The export department of Harvest decided to send the second Triumvirat album over to the offices of Capital in the USA, which issued the album in the States, and this opened the door for the Germans to visit the other side of the Atlantic, performing in about 40 gigs as the supporting act to Fleetwood Mac.Third work of the band was a concept one around Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator, who led the slaves' revolution against the Roman Republic in ancient years.Recorded at EMI's Electrola Studio in Cologne, the album's issue did not met any delays.It was released both on Harvest and Capitol in Germany and the US/Canada market at the same time in 1975.

This time Triumvirat have chosen a more conservative style in terms of pieces' length, as most of the tracks are short and dense.Just in terms of length of course, because the music remains highly virtuosic, symphonic and atmospheric with Triumvirat's ability to change climates in evidence.From romantic Classical-based interludes to powerful organ pyrotechnics to extreme synth acrobatics, the Germans display again their comfort on creating complex music with plenty of dramatic as well as pleasant tunes.The album is mainly led by Fritz'es impressive executions on piano, Moog synthesizer and Hammond organ in a very rich enviroment, which blends the romantic mood of NOVALIS with the massive workouts of E.L.P. and LE ORME, while the trio appears to deliver smooth and emotional moments, based on Koelle's very nice voice.Beautiful symphonic textures with some great melodious soundscapes are the driving force of this release, which sounds less flexible than ''Illusions on a double Dimple'' with the short tracks' length being the main reason for the fact.Even so the level of musicianship is up there, facing the best moments of E.L.P., full of bombastic, dual keyboard waves and more laid-back and harmonic lines.

Yet another consistent and tight album by Triumvirat with a great concept supporting the music.Strongly recommended to all fans of keyboard-driven Progressive Rock...3.5 stars.

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 Illusions On A Double Dimple by TRIUMVIRAT album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.90 | 272 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
1.50 | 53 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, 1974
3.90 | 272 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
3.77 | 250 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
3.62 | 167 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 | 110 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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