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BONDAR & WISE

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Bondar & Wise biography
The story of this duet goes back to 1971 when in Michigan - USA, the keyboardist Allen Bondar joins the drummer Bob Wise, according to their site because "they were obsessed to create and design a music that might personify their innermost emotions and feelings that were laced with passion." A goal that I'm not sure if they ever achieved, being that their music is so close to EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER, that sounds like an album that the famous power trio never released.

Even when their music borders the limit of cloning, they are excellent performers who I believe never allowed themselves to find an own and original sound, a characteristic that didn't help BONDAR & WISE to sign with an important label and release an album when active.

During the next eight years the band tours around USA creating a loyal fanbase, but it's not until 1994 (According to the label page) that their only album called "A Live Legacy" (recorded during a 70's concert)is released and in 2009 Dharma Records presents a remastered edition.

BONDAR & WISE is not the most original band in the market, some even may call them clones, but the performances are outstanding and the music well constructed, surely interesting for ELP fans.

Ideal for Prog listeners who like the most bombastic sound of the 70's.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

Bondar & Wise official website

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3.12 | 6 ratings
A Live Legacy
1994

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BONDAR & WISE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Live Legacy by BONDAR & WISE album cover Live, 1994
3.12 | 6 ratings

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A Live Legacy
Bondar & Wise Symphonic Prog

Review by OldSchoolProg

4 stars Quite a surprise here, when considering that it is just two musicians on stage, Al Bondar on Keyboards and Bob Wise on drums, they really fill up the sound and create something special. They didn't get the love they probably deserved from the record labels at the time, but I'm glad they have this gem of a live recording to share. Perhaps it was the lack of lyrics and vocals, Al Bondar actually does a nice job with vocals on his later recording but stuck to an all instrumental offering as Bondar and Wise (later recording some vocals for a 45rpm release). The talent is there, take yourself back to the 70's and listen to the blistering drums and multiple keyboards blaze through some solid arrangements. This would have been fun to see live.

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 A Live Legacy by BONDAR & WISE album cover Live, 1994
3.12 | 6 ratings

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A Live Legacy
Bondar & Wise Symphonic Prog

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Bondar & Wise is an obscure American duo which seemed to gain some sort of recognition as a live act in mid 70s. However from one reason or another they weren't able to record any album back then. So it's a really happy information for organ-dominated prog fans that in 2009 CD with their material was finally released. "A Live Legacy" is an album including band's live performance from 1972 and it's a damn good concert I can tell you. Music of Bondar & Wise is often compared to Emerson, Lake & Palmer and The Nice but I can also find some Hansson & Karlsson or Brian Auger's & The Trinity influences in their few more jazzy fragments. Definitely you can expect full-blown, restless Hammond organ slaughtering all the way through this LP, so if you prefer melodic symphonic prog, you have nothing to look for here. But if you're in love with busy, bombastic & technical music, these two guys should fully satisfied your needs.

Let's check out all of these instrumentals one by one:

1. "Quintessence" - it's just a quintessence of organ-led madness! Unbelievably fast, blasting organ & high-pitched, noisy analog synthesizer solos are truly spectacular here. References to ELP's flashy style are obvious here.

2. "Sin" - from this track we clearly see what's the main problem of the album: horrible bass pedals sound. I suppose that it's some kind of recording fault, not a real mistake of Allen Bondar but it doesn't change a fact that this ultra-loud, booming & distorted bass sound is a sheer horror for listeners' ears. It's a pity. However overall "Sin" is a truly spectacular (albeit short) piece as usual dominated by lightning-flash speed organ riffing.

3. "Man" - in the beginning our ears are devastated by blasting bass pedals sound (again...) but later isn't so bad with it. I love this marching-style drums making perfect background for thrilling, doomy Hammond solos. Somehow similar to German proggers from "Tyburn Tall", "Sixty-Nine" or "Amos Key".

4. "Woman" - this one begins with untypical slow-moving, very gloomy melody (a bit like Atomic Rooster's "Black Snake") which is at first very calm but becomes louder & more "oppressive" as the track proceeds. Brief description: "Quatermass" meets "Trikolon". Near the end there are truly up-beat organ runs in the vain of another legend of Hammond-driven rock - "Beggar's Opera".

5. "Psychic Necessity" - surprisingly this track is much more synth-oriented and Hammond stays mainly in the background. Allen Bondar's ARP 2600 sounds really spacey here, so I can compare it to "Eloy". However "Psychic Necessity" is more dynamic than most of Eloy's space rock period material.

6. "One More Time" - the most jazzy composition with clear references to Brian Auger's output but more rocky & "out there". I can also think about "Hardin & York" or "Tetragon" while listening to this staff. Synthesizer fragments sound a bit out of place here (I think piano would be more suitable for jazz-like track) but in general it's a really good piece. As the time goes on, "One More Time" starts to sound more aggressive and then Atomic Rooster comparisons become more precise.

7. "Midnight Ride" - first minute of this track is a galloping drums beat taken almost directly from "Rondo" which was popularized by Emerson's "The Nice". But the rest of the track is equally impressing showcase of ARP & Hammond furious playing. Middle part with bagpipes-like sounding synthesizer is really hilarious! Nice Scottish element.

8. "Indecision" - "A Live Legacy" finishes with another wild, organ-driven track in a truly ELPish tradition style. Wow, these guys surely had ADHD :-). Jazzy fragment in the middle is another highlight of the album.

To sum up: Bondar & Wise's sole album is a solid prog-rock record which can be easily recommended to fans of the genre. The only real problem of "A Live Legacy" is this horrible bass sound, but it's not played all the time so it's bearably. This material is especially directed towards fans of such organ-based groups like: "ELP", "The Nice", "Triumvirat", "The Trip", "Collegium Musicum", "Trace", "Refugee", "Trikolon", "Amos Key" and so on. I can even find clear parallels to Allen Bondar's style in Toshio Egawa's (from "Gerard") flashy keyboard playin' (but I don't think Egawa ever had a chance to listen to these guys in fact...). And of course Bondar & Wise is a must have for duo bands collectors, who like such 2-people-only formations like: "Twogether", "Magma", "Attila", "Hardin & York", "Bondar & Wise", "Rustichelli & Bordini", "Hansson & Karlsson", "Atlantis Philharmonic", "Sound Express", "Sixty-Nine" and "Bootcut".

Best tracks: "Quintessence" & "Man"

4 solid stars from ozzy_tom

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 A Live Legacy by BONDAR & WISE album cover Live, 1994
3.12 | 6 ratings

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A Live Legacy
Bondar & Wise Symphonic Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars Only a barbarian would fail to notice that from the beginning, the sound of this duo bears a striking resemblance to a classic prog supergroup. A lucky man might say "I love that classic band. But they stopped playing this style of music decades ago." But the endless enigma is: Why do two very obviously talented musicians play in a style created by others? Is it the only way they could get gigs? Well, there is a time and a place for it. But they could be accused of being pirates.

Seriously, I love classic ELP. But they gave up on their sound after "Brain Salad Surgery". So where does one go for high flying classical based bombastic keyboards? These guys are very good at what they do. Bob Wise is very close, but not quite up to Palmer's precision, and Allen Bondar may actually be a faster (but not more clever) keyboard wizard than Keith himself. While not a single riff was taken from any ELP song, the feel of each piece is so similar to the bombastic ELP tracks that the comparison is unavoidable.

I will take a star away for lack of originality in the sound, but there are lot's of bands here that are nearly as close to a classic prog band's sound as these guys are to ELP (*cough* *cough* Starcastle *cough* cough* Marillion *cough* *cough*). That shouldn't diminish the enjoyment.

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 A Live Legacy by BONDAR & WISE album cover Live, 1994
3.12 | 6 ratings

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A Live Legacy
Bondar & Wise Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars A feast of Hammond and jazz drumming should be a glorious experience. It should be, except for the fact that at every turn one is reminded of Emerson Lake & Palmer and it is difficult to shake this trait off as the band launch into huge keyboard instrumentals and time signature changes soaked with Emerson-ian flavour. I am still riveted to the music as an ELP addict and of course there is nothing on this as shameful as ELPs last albums namely 'Love Beach' and 'In The Hot Seat' that are torturously painful. Bondar & Wise's live album is a masterpiece in contrast.

They play the way ELP should have in their last albums, and so it is intriguing to listen to this album thinking how it could have been for ELP in those latter years. Of course nothing on this live album can possibly measure up to the grand 'Trilogy', or the masterpieces 'Brain Salad Surgery' or 'Tarkus', but it is still great compelling music.

There are some inspirational moments on this specifically the shimmering Hammond and low dark tones on "Man". "Sin" rocks along with a nice pace, the drumming is fantastic on this and I like the stop start staccato Hammond bashing, and some of those keyboard motifs are gloriously frenetic. So at the end of the concert one may be left feeling a bit drained, as the Hammond is absolutely dominant and never lets up.

My feeling is this is one for the ELP connoiseur as it is a wonderful tribute to the legends of prog who inspired this type of symphonic grandeur.

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 A Live Legacy by BONDAR & WISE album cover Live, 1994
3.12 | 6 ratings

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A Live Legacy
Bondar & Wise Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

2 stars Bearing the name "clone" of other band (usually very famous one, one of founders of genre) isn't easy. But when your knowledge is big enough, you can see common traits, patterns and so on. There's also big problem of determining originality - Progressivity (something new) & Prog sound (something that sounds like Prog that has already been done before).

The story of this band (presented on artist page) is common one. Usual for many Symphonic bands from 70s, except Bondar & Wise sounds A LOT like ELP (and by "a lot" I mean really a lot). Not doing covers or the same songs, so no typical tribute band, but trying to find their own sound. Within borders set by ELP. And because ELP went very far in exploration and expanding their horizons, possibilities available for B&W (or other bands that are half their own, half cloning (a little bit)) are big.

It's easy to say that if you want to know how "A Live Legacy" sounds, you can say that it's ELP without their more weird stuff (there's mostly pompous stuff) in quite Heavy way (not as subtle as their role model - and also the sound quality is not so great, which adds to roughness). It's easy, but as long as you expect "just another band with ELP sound", you're safe.

3(+), not bad music, just not their own sound.

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