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A wonderful early French prog band, SANDROSE were formed in 1971 by guitarist Jean Piere ALARCEN. The other members of the band were Christian CLAIREFOND on bass, Michel JULLIEN on drums and Henri GARELLA who played organ and Mellotron. Vocals were supplied by powerful female vocalist Rose PODWOJNY singing with English lyrics. Let's notice some beautiful dialogues between the majestic guitar soli and the splendid keyboards sonorities into the progressive field.

SANDROSE's debut and last was considered as one of the top 5 French progressive album. Some superb melodies are lightened by an excellent female vocalist, by masses of keyboards and guitar to keep you happy. In the 70's, this album was hard to find and quite expensive. If you like EARTH & FIRE (both singing and style), RUPHUS, FANTASY (USA), ANALOGY, you'll like this album. A MUST HAVE FOR EVERY FAN!!!!!

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3.47 | 76 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In short: interesting, Mellotron-loaded and charmingly vintage (ie. slightly worn-out sounding) progressive rock, but an awful female singer! The latter is the sole reason I'm now finally removing the CD from my collections. Frankly I've hardly ever listened to it since I wrote the prog book chapter about it in July 2012. The CD edition that I have (Lion Production, 2011) includes a long article and band photos.

SANDROSE, as a symphonic prog band with a distinctive female voice singing in English (very rare in the french scene), could be compared to e.g. AFFINITY, BABE RUTH and perhaps most of all to the Dutch EARTH & FIRE. The mellow sound contains a lot of Mellotron, often reminiscent of Gabriel-era GENESIS. The composers, guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen and keyboardist Henri Garella, had an instrumental band called Eden Rose (their sole album being On the Way to Eden, 1970). Then they met the Russian-born Rose (!) Podwojny and renamed the group as Sandrose. OK, she can sing also decently enough, definitely not a great voice even then, and her shaky vibrato is ugly. But when she raises her voice in a scream-like manner, as she often does, it sounds pretty annoying to my ears. Worse than SHIRLEY BASSEY, and that's a big statement. (I actually like entertainment vocal music with all the evergreens and emotional impact, but Bassey I have to pass due to her vocal style.)

So, Rose Podwojny's vocals ruin many songs that I'd otherwise would enjoy. The delicate 'Never Good at Sayin' Good-Bye' with all the Mellotrons in the chorus is one of such songs. The 7-minute 'To Take Him Away' is a highlight, or would be with a good vocalist. 'Summer is Yonder' has a beautiful, dreamy atmosphere but sadly there's that screamy voice. Good grief.

Happily there are two instrumentals. 'Metakara' is a jazzy, fast one. The 11-minute, very proggy 'Underground Session' is without a doubt the whole album's highlight. It makes me give the third star. "Sandrose" has become a classic album. I'm not saying it wouldn't deserve it, but I advice to approach it with incorruptible ears. Even if you didn't hate the vocals like me, the compositions may lack something too.

 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars No matter how classic some albums might be, if classic is an apt word for such an obscure piece of prog as far as the number of ratings is concerned, it does not manage to really act out all of it's praise. At times it's like acquiring a splinter from the cross of Christ, only to fill you with a sense of doubt as to whether it is real or not. Maybe that is symbolism a bit stretched but I dare say some of you get my drift.

Sandrose is a great band. Don't get me wrong. They are. The thing is, the problem or whatever you would like to call it, is that the songs, no matter how enjoyable they are when you listen to them, leave little to remember. Whenever I look at the CD I cannot recall more than a few tracks, though I have been listening to the album many a times. More than really able to hum some of it's contents I go "That's a good track, if I am not mistaken" and then I start to doubt the authenticity of the cross.

Two tracks in particular stay in my head and those are "Never good at saying goodbye" and the great "Underground session". These I know for a fact to be truly fantastic. The rest blends together in big lump of music. The reason for this is the similar sounds produced. Sort of mellow, organ based semi-progressive music. If I listen to one song only, and that can be any song on the album, I go "This is so amazing", but as a whole I enjoy it though little remains, as I have stated. It is like eating a too big a bag of sweets. In the end all taste the same and you fill full of it.

With all this said I guess it sounds like Sandrose really is a substandard album but it is not. It is very enjoyable and I will not part with it. It is a great album to relax to, a wonderful rainy day companion and a fine example of french progressive music. Take a listem. Maybe you'll agree with me or maybe you won't. At least you will have been able to touch the cross. Then it's up to you to judge it's authenticity.

 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

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

3 stars A French band formed around guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen with some members of Eden Rose and others, Sandrose released one sole self-titled album in 1972, and it's well worth the rediscovery by vintage prog fans. This symphonic prog band were somewhat comparable to Earth and Fire, mostly due to a striking female singer out front and plentiful use of emotional Mellotron in just about every track of their album. Singing in English, charmingly accented vocalist Rose Podwojny is a powerhouse performer, the perfect balance of gutsy and feminine charms, although her sometimes exhausting delivery won't be to everyone's tastes (Gudny Aspaas from Norwegian band Ruphus is instantly comparable). Recorded in only a week, `Sandrose' is delicate one minute, overwhelming with power the next, and while it's certainly no classic, it's still exquisitely performed by a talented group of musicians and distinctive vocalist.

Opener `Vision' quickly builds in urgency, a pounding relentless drum-beat beside Rose's vocals that border on losing control, reverberating heavy echoing electric guitar strains racing along the background. `Old Dom Is Dead' sees Rose adopt a more gospel influenced vocal, reaching ear-splitting levels of spiritual rapture over sublime lifting clouds of Mellotron that never cease. The main repeated theme of `To Take Him Away' melds romantic Camel-styled lead guitar and accompanying Mellotron with a catchy repeated chorus, plus a powerful instrumental outro where the 'Tron comes closest to resembling a sweeping orchestra. `Summer is Yonder' is a downbeat psych/folk ballad, but some pained and slightly pitchy higher vocals from Rose almost derail it.

Two lengthy instrumentals are sure to be favourites of prog listeners. After a majestic gliding Mellotron fanfare opening for `Underground Session' (which will also be repeated throughout the piece at regular intervals), a bombastic wordless male band member chorus booms before ragged extended electric guitar soloing, rippling Hammond organ, crashing gongs and pulsating bass reach maddening moments of tension and drama. A thick dirge-like slab of Mellotron with King Crimson-like intensity smashes all in its path in the final minutes as well. Later on, the up-tempo `Metakara' is an infectious and tightly constrained jazz/fusion workout, with dancing electric piano and bubbling Hammond, Jean- Pierre moving through lightly jazzy guitar licks to some ripping scorching faster runs. The album concludes on a baffling psychedelic snippet that sounds like nothing else on the album and is really quite out of place!

But special mention must to `Never Good at Sayin' Goodbye', a restrained and heart- wrenching ballad. Acoustic guitars gently float with Rose's wounded whisper, and then when the chorus hits, the piece roars to life with a rising vocal and Mellotron crescendo. "I'll look back on the love we knew...I'll remember when you're far away that I love you...". Rose completely nails the right level of heartbreak and dignity on this track, and it's impossible not to be moved by this powerful display, a real showcase for her.

Easier to find again due to a recent Mini LP CD reissue from Musea, Sandrose and their album are not an essential purchase for prog listeners, with endless other albums, both French and otherwise, worth tracking down beforehand. But long-time prog collectors looking for some other worthwhile titles to add to their library can be easily assured they'll receive a quality album if they were to take a chance on this. It's a sumptuous work that deserves some more attention, and fans of rare female singers in vintage prog bands and Mellotron fiends who can't get enough of the instrument should probably make a note to look into this one right away!

Three and a half stars.

 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars This is not the sort of album that causes the jaw to drop on first listen, or even one that goes through that heavy rotation in the first few weeks of acquisition. In fact, until recently I thought I had at least provided a review for said disk in the 3 odd years of ownership. But it quietly slid to the back shelf only to be resurrected as a result of a relative flurry of recent reviews.

This is a fine symphonic progressive album from a pretty early period for the genre. The combination of celestial mellotron, expressive lead guitar and edgy feminine vocals brings to mind EARTH AND FIRE, but Rose does not curb her enthusiasm to nearly the same degree as Jenny Kaagmen. I wonder how different the album would have been had BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST not released "Once Again" a year prior, as the keeing lead guitar/tron attack more than suggests John Lees and Woolly Wolstenholme. But SANDROSE is more adventurous and seemingly more musically versed. While it is not terribly intricate, this release might nonetheless appeal to fans across the prog spectrum, even those who like complex prog.

Influences dispensed with, it must be stated that Sandrose appears to have exacted their own influence on later French bands, in particular TAI PHONG, who borrowed a particular style of suddenly quieting the music in the middle of a vocal section, and the much later ECLAT for the reined in theatrical aspects.

Apart from a few weaker shorter tracks, this is all good especially the "Underground Session" , "Old Dom is Dead", and "To Take Him Away", highly melodic and gently improvised symphonic rock with richly layered guitars and electronic keyboards, and a colourfully dramatic side.

While not a classic, SANDROSE's self titled album deserved to be the beginning of a notable career rather than a one-off. Thankfully it remains a sought after relic with more than mere historic value. 3.5 stars.

 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars This is the only album from a lineup formerly known as Eden Rose, with the exception of lead singer Rose Podwojny (aka Laurens). And also with the exception of Laurens, the music in my opinion isn't dramatically different than the blend of folksy, slightly psych and jazz-tinged stuff Eden Rose recorded in 1970.

Laurens does make a difference though, her rich contralto voice lending more weight to the shorter tracks with its distinctive lounge-act timbre and mood. The best examples of these songs include the opening "Vision", "Never Good at Saying Goodbye" and "Summer is Yonder" which projects a bit of the dramatic stage flair band leader Jean-Pierre Alarcen probably picked up during his stint with the one of the traveling productions of the musical 'Hair'.

Elsewhere the band relies on longer, more instrumental tracks to flesh out the album. On these Alarcen's guitar soloing style and Henri Garella's symphonic-leaning keyboards shine, much as they did on the Eden Rose album a couple years' prior. The lengthy "Underground Session" is the highlight of this type of arrangement and of the album in total, although the alternating keyboard/guitar leads and passionate rhythm of "Metakara" makes it a strong contender for my favorite track.

Not everything works here. For one, even though Laurens' articulation and vocals are quite good, I think the music would have had greater depth and passion had she sung in her native French rather than English (which I suppose had more to do with commercial appeal than artistic merit). "To Take Him Away" is an awkward track that smacks of being nothing more than filler. And the closing "Fraulein Kommen Sie Schlaff" bears no resemblance to anything else on the album and although quite brief really doesn't belong here.

From what I've read these guys were quite popular in France, and the original vinyl of this album still fetches tidy sums today. No need to make that investment though thanks to Musea's CD reissue (though truth be told even that one isn't particularly easy to get your hands on).

In any case I like this record, a little more so every time I play it. Lauren's vocals sound more like 1977 than 1972 though, and even though she is a very good and emotive singer I have a bit of trouble reconciling her singing with much of the instrumental music. Despite that this is easily a three star effort, and worth seeking out if you are into contemporary French prog folk or eclectic styles of early seventies prog. Well recommended.


 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Sandrose was a one shot french band that gained much praise from prog circles in latter years. So I was quite curious about them for a long time. And when I found their only CD I can´t say I was exactly thrilled from what I heard. Ok, they were good. Instrumentaly speaking I could find no fault about them: excellent guitarrist, very good keyboards and a tight rhythm section, as the non vocal track Metakara proves very well. The main problem you have to overcome is Rose Podwojny´s affected, over-the-top, style of singing. She has a good voice but her singing is too forced on some parts, as she is trying to reach some tones she obviously can´t. When she restrains her exaggerated perfomances, which unfortunatly she often does not, it works very well.

Which is really a pity since Snadrose has some strong tunes and very good musicians. The production is also very good for the time. I loved the use of Hammond organ and the waves of melltrons working together with Jean-Pierre Alarcen´s brilliant, slightly jazzy, guitar playing. I´m sad this band broke up soon after they released this album. Certainly they had lots of talent and the group could evolve into something really big if they persisted a little more time. As it is I think this album is quite good, especially for the ones who enjoy early 70´s prog rock stuff. Rating: something between 3 and 3,5 stars.

 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Sandrose is one of the french early '70's progressive band that didn't manage to release only one album in 1972 selftitled. Everything on this band is around excellent guitar player Jean- Pierre Alarcen, who had already a moderate succes in late '60 with Système Crapoutchik before joyinig Sandrose in 1970. Sabdrose is one of the better bands from sumphonic prog movements from France from early '70's, the music offered is from mellow sectios to more up tempo full of great interplay between musicians. The female voice of natural born polish Rose Podwojny did a great job here. Underground Session (Chorea - is a perfect ex of Sandrose at their peak and the instrumental one Metakara are the highlights here, specialy the latest where musician realy shine , a very uptempo piece with great musician ship and some superb guitar arrangements made by Jean-Pierre Alarcen. So, a pleasent album for sure, not realy something excellent, but good and decent most of the time. 3 stars is a fair rating, a good album but nothing special about.
 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Unfortunately, I have to agree with idea that this album, as instrumental one, will be almost perfect one. Her vocals aren't bad completely, just when she's singing loud, these shouting passages. For example Never Good At Sayin´ Good-Bye is good, because (oh, I forgot to say that songs here are mostly calm ones, so - ) her vocals are calm too. Guitar work is also perfect, maybe not virtuoso's in modern way, but guitar solos here are tremendous.

I should rate highly, because I just can get myself over some vocal parts, which I see as only major mistake. At least it's not just my problem (personal problem), that other people feels it too. Underground Session actually reminds me Caravan's "In the Land..." last song. And even it's not tear bringing, it brings great deal of memories about things I know from my childhood. Similar to "Rare Bird's" 1969 album, where similar situation occurs, but with different mood and instruments.

4(+), guitar solos, atmosphere, vocal parts (surprising ? just some of them are bad) sometimes.

 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

3 stars Whew, Jean-Pierre Alarcen changed EDEN ROSE into SANDROSE - namely, he changed an organ-psych-based band into an eclectically symphonic one.

Needless to say, SANDROSE were formed by the same members as EDEN ROSE (and a female vocalist was recruited to them). However, their musical style was a bit different from the former one. We can easily imagine that the most important reason is the difference of the frontman of each band. Henri Garella, the founder of EDEN ROSE, had pushed his organo-pop style tinged with jazzy and psychedelic colours aggressively, but here Jean-Pierre should have a well-balanced eclectic sense and therefore produce a really eclectic tower of progressive rock. The good example is the third track Underground Session (Chorea), the longest one of this album. There are various colours - the jazzy mainstream and a heavy rock flavour, and a psychedelic keyboard solo plus oldie & goodie symphonic spice added... A very eclectic stuff like chorea! On the contrary, the fifth track To Take Him Away, the masterpiece of this album in my opinion, is the most suitable one for the definition of Symphonic Progressive Rock. Jean-Pierre's streaming and rumbling guitar solo can have a leadership in this song, with heavy and steady keyboard basis and soft'n'warm but strict rhythm section. Consider that this is one of the masterpieces of all French Progressive Rock songs alright?

Pity that the last two tracks have EDEN ROSY flavour left, composed by Henri, so I feel there is a motley combination of musical styles in this album. That is I wanna say their style on this work cannot have coherence as a well-balanced symphonic one. Not difficult for us to think that they could not have been active for a long while - for conquering the French Progressive Rock scene.

But believe me, this album is terrific. Undoubtedly can let us weep. Listen!

 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.47 | 76 ratings

Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Classic early French band with female vocals

Sandrose is a legend of early French symphonic, releasing their stalwart debut in 1972 and disbanding after only a few gigs in support. A real shame given the promise of the release. It was recorded in but one week's time and released in April 1972. The group's leader and main writer was guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen. They were also noteworthy for the distinct vocals of Rose Podwojny who made their sound instantly memorable. I have read other writers claim this is one of the 10 greatest prog albums of all time which is ludicrous to me, others claim the top 100 which is more realistic but still a stretch. It is however an enormously beautiful and powerful symphonic album that builds upon good melodies first and foremost. The songwriting is not aloof or dissonant but very pleasant in the melodic sense and fills in with genuine emotion.

The Sandrose sound is both mellow and powerful.built around mellotron and organ along with a solid rhythm section. The first main weapon as mentioned is the fluid and gorgeous electric leads of Alarcen who has a very wet sound and can play fast, but more often than not delivers sensual and somewhat nostalgic moods. His style is so perfect for the peaceful mellotrons. The other weapon is the controversial vocals of Rose Podwojny. While I have really grown to love her powerful, unusual voice, I surely understand the reservations expressed by fellow reviewers. She has a very strange voice that I cannot explain, occasionally it sounds like she's off-key but I can't be sure. Sometimes she reminds me a little bit of Laura Nyro with a French accept, that may be as close as I can get to a comparison. She is capable of really pushing the tracks to another level with her energy. The 11-minute "Underground Session-Chorea" is the centerpiece of the album with both symphonic and jazzy elements. Alarcen has some spirited electric guitar solos here over the keyboards at a mid pace and Garella returns the favor with some organ noodling. It features a repeating falling melody line that is very pleasant and lots of mellotron. But the real heart of the album resides in the dreamy passages to the middle two tracks "Old Dom Is Dead" and "To Take Him Away" which feature rather traditional sounding pieces adorned with aching vocals, dreamy trons and guitars. I would suggest to French prog lovers who can handle a somewhat contentious vocalist, and also to mellotron fans who will find oodles here. The Musea issue features a bio and great black/white photographs taken from one of their rare live appearances.

Thanks to The Symphonic Team for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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