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AUNT MARY

Eclectic Prog • Norway


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Aunt Mary biography
One of the early and by many considered to be one of Norways definitely best prog bands. Their music is a mix of heavy hard-rocking tunes, combined with clear influences from the symphonic genre. The more symphonic sound however didn't appeared until their third, and last studio album, "Janus". A great concept-album to start with. If you want the more thundering sounds coming from AUNT MARY, look for 1972s "Loaded". High-skilled musicians combined with good, creative melodies makes AUNT MARY a important Norwegian band to become acquainted with.

Discography:
1970 - Aunt Mary (Polydor LP)
1972 - Loaded (Philips LP)
1973 - Janus (Vertigo LP)
1974 - Whispering Farewell (Karussell RE AV 1.LP)
1974 - Best Of Vol. 1 (comp.) (Philips LP)
1975 - Best Of Vol. 2 (comp.) (Philips LP)
1977 - Janus (Philips RE - LP)
1981 - Live Reunion (Philips LP)
1992 - Bluesprints (Sonet CD)

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Barbed Wire WavesBarbed Wire Waves
Import
Pan Records
Audio CD$21.39
$94.24 (used)
Aunt Mary / JanusAunt Mary / Janus
Import
Progressive 2006
Audio CD$21.99
$19.99 (used)
LoadedLoaded
Import
Progressive 2006
Audio CD$18.74
$14.56 (used)
JanusJanus
Import
Universal 2006
Audio CD$59.99
$11.95 (used)
Best of Aunt MaryBest of Aunt Mary
Import
Universal 2006
Audio CD$67.20
$61.16 (used)
Gnu / Dis-Corporation / The Power of HashGnu / Dis-Corporation / The Power of Hash
Limited Edition
Deep Six Records
Vinyl$24.99
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AUNT MARY
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AUNT MARY discography


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

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

3.14 | 36 ratings
Aunt Mary
1970
2.90 | 32 ratings
Loaded
1972
3.37 | 58 ratings
Janus
1973

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

2.75 | 4 ratings
Live Reunion
1981
3.60 | 5 ratings
Barbed Wire Waves (Swedish Radio 1971)
2009

AUNT MARY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Aunt Mary, Vol. 1
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best of Aunt Mary, Vol. 2
1975
2.00 | 1 ratings
Bluesprints
1992

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Did You Notice
1970
3.67 | 3 ratings
Jimi, Janis & Brian
1971
2.00 | 1 ratings
Rosalind
1972
2.00 | 1 ratings
G Flat Road
1972
2.00 | 1 ratings
Nocturnal Voice
1973

AUNT MARY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Loaded by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.90 | 32 ratings

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Loaded
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Loaded' - Aunt Mary (64/100)

Admitting my own bias as a reviewer, having first heard Aunt Mary's third (and final) album Janus before anything else, the knowledge that these guys would evolve into a full-fledged progressive act has no doubt coloured my impression of Loaded. While an eclectic progressive sound is usually preferable to the sort of psychedelic-tinged hard rock that flooded the early 70s, it's not the difference in style that makes Loaded the lesser testament in hindsight. Aunt Mary made themselves out to be an impressive hard rock act here, but with songwriting chops ringing true only around half the time, Loaded is left feeling less impressive than might befit a band of their thunderous energy.

It has everything to do with consistency. Beginning with the debut (which I've heard compared to the rockier side of Jethro Tull, and rightly so) Aunt Mary always had an inventive side to them. It would be wrong to say they 'evolved' into progressive rock on Janus- it was just a matter of highlighting an element that was there all along. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, the best cuts on Loaded are those in which Aunt Mary are openly strutting their progressive side. Make no mistake; Loaded is a hard rock album and never strays far from that path, but the particularly sophisticated riffs in "Joinin' the Crowd" and inventive flair of "Fire of My Lifetime" feel cut from a different cloth than the regular sort of 12 bar bluesy same-old that influenced so many of these bands.

As I said before, listening to Janus has influenced the way I see Loaded. The problem is not that Aunt Mary were playing familiar blues rock for the most part; it's that the mileage of their songwriting success varies to the point of a fault. "Playthings of the Wind" is a solid tune, and as I mentioned before, "Fire of my Lifetime" is a fantastic song, and probably the best tune Aunt Mary ever wrote. On the other hand, "Delight" feels like a shrill half-baked ditty at best, and "Upside Down" is plainly boring- with its tired blues rehashes, it sounds like a poor man's Rolling Stones, without the benefits of that band's natural talent as songwriters.

Even "Blowin' Tiffany"- eight minutes long, and my greatest initial hope for the album- feels sort of aimless; it's as if Aunt Mary felt the urge to write a hard rock epic, but lacked the inspiration for it at the time. Be it progressive or your garden variety hard rock; Aunt Mary are successful half of the time with both on Loaded. So much of the criticism I see regarding this album attacks the album for not being 'progressive' enough. That is not the issue at all. Aunt Mary could have made an excellent hard rock record just as well as a progressive one. Where Janus succeeded over Loaded was not necessarily a matter of style, but the fact that they made each song somehow memorable. That album flowed. This one flows around half the time.

More enduring fans of Aunt Mary seem to be torn between this and Janus as their favourite. I'll conclude the review on a more positive note: while Loaded's songwriting is impressive only half the time, they had a thunderous, organic punch to their sound. I think they lost a bit of it on Janus. For my money, it's that album that will stand the test of time (as best as Aunt Mary can, at least) but Loaded has got its moments.

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 Janus by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.37 | 58 ratings

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Janus
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Janus' - Aunt Mary (71/100)

If anyone has seen fit to keep the memory of Norway's Aunt Mary alive, it has been the progressive rock crowd, always eager to pay respects to the names that the bigwig magazines might have missed at the time. With that preface, it is notable that Aunt Mary only graduated into the world of full-fledged prog with their third LP, Janus. The hard rock of their first two albums is met with a strong grasp of heavy psych, art pop and symphonic prog. Looking back at the album now, Janus doesn't really excel in any particular way. Rather, Aunt Mary culminated their career with an enjoyably varied and consistent piece of work.

Although 1972's Loaded was replete with proggy undertones, there was a great deal of new territory for Aunt Mary to explore on Janus. While some bands may have used the template of another band's sound to forge their own, Aunt Mary didn't settle for a single style. Sure, there's a certain closeness on "For All Eternity" to Yes Album-era Yes- "Mr. Kaye" might have even passed for one of the deep cuts off a psychedelic Beatles album. Hell, I'd even go one further and say there's a certain Bowie glam to "Nocturnal Voice". From organ-heavy symphonic rock to pop and heavy psych, Aunt Mary weren't trying to evolve or identify with a particular sound so much as taking a sample of each. Had Aunt Mary stuck around for a fourth album, I sure we'd have seen them make a more confirmed decision. The jack-of-all-trades approach undeniably comes at the cost of the album (and band) leaving a rather indistinct impression. Had Aunt Mary made a purebred symphonic prog, or a pop, or a glam rock album, they would have had an easier time selling Janus.

At the same time, there is something to be said for the kind of variety Aunt Mary tackled here. While the fact that they were willing to explore so many options means little by itself, the confidence Aunt Mary approached each style with is striking. With the stylistic difference, for instance, between the symphonic "Path of Your Dream" and quaint pop of "Mr. Kaye" is easily recognizable, the album flows so well together that it's easy to overlook the fact that that Aunt Mary are really shifting gears to begin with. Even beyond the eclectic angle, Janus has a near-immaculate sense of flow; even the goofy "Untitled" snippet that closes off the first side feels in place. Considering I would usually think of a band that jumped between styles like this as non-committal and undecided, it's all to Aunt Mary's credit that the album works together so well.

Janus is a remarkably consistent album, though calling it that limits the possibility of truly excellent, as well as weak material. The bluesy "Stumblin' Stone" or proggy "Candles of Heaven" would probably be my picks if the jury was ever out on choosing 'highlights' off of Janus, but there isn't a song here passionate enough, complex enough or otherwise ambitious enough to have nominated Aunt Mary for the big leagues. The band's performance kinda strikes me the same way. I like the Keith Emerson-y synth runs Bengt Jensen delivers on the album's proggier pieces, but even then it's never wild or nuanced enough to distinguish the band from so oh-so-many of their contemporaries. If in doubt, you can always tell how tight or technical a prog rock band is from the drumming; in this case, Kjetil Stensvik holds a steady beat for Aunt Mary, but personal flourishes are minimal. Their vocals fare a little better; three of the four members lend their voices in arts, although none really serve to replace the considerable charisma of former vocalist Jan Groth.

Janus is a strong, consistent and enjoyable album, and even so it feels like a disappointing place for Aunt Mary to have ended their career. Janus is demonstration of a young band playing with fresh styles, quickly gaining confidence with a considerably expanded range of styles. Had there been a fourth album from these guys, I'm near-certain it would have been even better than Janus. Whatever the case, Aunt Mary closed their career on their best note, and however short their journey together may have been, it resulted in at least one standout record.

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 Janus by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.37 | 58 ratings

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Janus
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

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

3 stars The third and final album from Norway's Aunt Mary, 1973's `Janus' sees the band incorporating gentle symphonic prog touches to their usual hard-rocking style, and along with a dose of psychedelic pop, some E.L.P/Yes-like influences and occasional jamming, this is good honest 70's rock with extended instrumental sections, strong musicianship and tasteful vocal arrangements. Despite never to be confused with being a classic, there's still plenty of interest here, and undemanding prog fans should enjoy this album and band.

The band open and close the album with a run of different tracks stitched together, attempting to create some longer progressive pieces, but I'm not entirely convinced how well this works. The individual pieces are all fine on their own, but trying to sell them off as actual `suites' of music is pushing things a little! However, the opening 12 minute trio offers three great poppy numbers. Despite `Path of Your Dream' starting the album with drum rolls, frantic hard guitar riffs and shimmering Hammond organ, it soon diverts into a jaunty sing-along acoustic Moody Blues-like chorus, the band telling the tale of "A fairy-like gnome with the magic hand, from the clouds is watching this land...'. `Mr Kaye' aims for a Beatles psychedelic acid-pop sound, a playful shorter interlude with drowsy Lennon-esque vocals and a cute double-tracked guitar solo in the middle. It then kicks right into `Nocturnal Voice', a confident and more serious mid-tempo rocker with light country guitar fills and a nicely executed electric jam in the middle, all wrapped around a winning melody. The piece is only let down by a bafflingly screeching vocal in the chorus that sounds completely out of place!

The almost 7 minute `For All Eternity' is an energetic rocker that borrows many elements from the Yes template - sweet Jon Anderson-like harmonies, galloping Hammond runs and thick chugging bass are all accounted for. But the band add some nice mellow country-rock flavours, a loopy instrumental run in the middle full of deranged whirling Moogs and some addictive jazzy licks too. Especially listen out for these little blasts of guitar aggression and distortion in the opening minute, very tasty! `Stumblin' Stone' starts as a lush thoughtful instrumental rocker, driven by constantly upfront bass, gentle Hammond washes, bringing an early 70's laid-back Pink Floyd quality overall. It then abruptly morphs into a snarling dirty groover, with a frantic wailing bluesy electric guitar outro. `All We've Got To Do Is Dream' is a pleasant and heartfelt acoustic folk interlude. `Candles of Heaven' aims for an Emerson, Lake and Palmer/Triumvirat level of bombast, with Hammond organ flourishes, chunky but fluid bass and rumbling drums, and even the lead vocal sounds uncannily like Greg Lake. It follows the E.L.P template exactly, but most impressive is the ballistic instrumental run in the final minute that has the band playing as if their lives depended on it! The band then wraps on a lovely spiritual number with a powerful epic guitar solo and Rick Wright-styled Hammond that lifts you to the heavens. "Oh Lord, what a lovely day you give us all...' the band sigh, and it's hard not to be swept along with the positivity and warmth.

At first I was very disappointed when I first bought this CD at a local record fair. I thought I was buying an album by either the U.K or Italian bands both called Janus, not realising this was instead the title of the album by a band called Aunt Mary - I thought it was the other way around! But after a few listens, Janus (the album, not the band, are we clear on that like I wasn't?!) reveals itself to be a charming, well played and melodic easy listenening prog-lite rocker. It's a bit of a shame that in several sections, the band merely recreates the sound of other popular prog bands, when they clearly had the musical talent to forge their own identity, but everything still sounds good. So hardly essential, but certainly a nice addition to any prog collection from a fine band.

Three stars.

(Just a quick note - anyone purchasing the Polygram Norway CD reissue should be aware that the track-listing on the back is not the same as what is on the disc. The CD itself has 9 tracks, and oddly credits a false start/some studio muckaround as it's own track running 41 seconds in the middle of the disc. A minor complaint, but initially confusing! Ignore it, just enjoy the album!)

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 Loaded by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.90 | 32 ratings

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Loaded
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by Jeff Carney

4 stars Reading some of the reviews for this truly leaves me concerned as to whether the goal is sometimes to try the first couple of tracks from an album and then report here about how "prog" it is.

An excellent album, Aunt Mary's Loaded covers quite a bit of ground. This is certainly a hard rock album, but it is much more. "Delight" would not be out of place on some obscure RPI album from 1970 or 1971, with amazing multi-falsetto vocals finding harmony in a sensationally catchy chorus that is draped over a soft acoustic guitar backdrop. Pt. II of "Farewell My Friend" is like some amazing ELP outtake, with bass that cuts through a minefield of ripping organ work. In fact, the latter part of the album really sounds quite ELP-influenced, but often retains a riffing style more in the Deep Purple vein.

The CD released by Phillips/Polygram sounds excellent. No credit that I can find but very nicely mastered by somebody with a nice ear for this album and an obvious appreciation for what seems to have already been a quality engineering job on the original recordings. If Deep Purple appeals to you and you have a soft spot for a bit of an early 70s progressive twist on that sound, this is going to hit the spot.

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 Janus by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.37 | 58 ratings

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Janus
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Aunt Mary's third and final album is an odd beast. The heavy psych I remember from their debut is still there, but they seem to have tried to spice up their sound by borrowing extremely heavily from the most popular prog acts of the time. In particular - as in the songs Path of Your Dream and For All Eternity - the band will from time to time do their absolute best to sound as much like Yes as they possibly can, though other influences do creep in - some quiet acoustic passages a la Trespass-era Genesis here, a few Keith Emerson keyboard lines there.

But it's the shameless Yes mimicry that really stands out, and that's a shame, because it overshadows some of the more original aspects of the album, such as the sinister Nocturnal Voice. On balance, I have to give this only two stars. It's a competently performed album that shows promise, but the fact is that there's a thin line between paying homage to your musical influences and just trying to hitch a free ride on their success, and Janus crosses it at a couple of points with gusto - and more than that (and this is the greater sin) it doesn't do so in an interesting way.

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 Aunt Mary by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.14 | 36 ratings

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Aunt Mary
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Aunt Mary's debut album isn't really in the prog style they would eventually develop on Janus, their third album; instead, it's a rather typical and not especially interesting hard rock album with plenty of psychedelic touches. There's brass and string sections popping in here and there, but they're used in a fairly unimaginative way and don't add very much to proceedings. The performances and the material performed are adequate, but adds nothing particularly new or vital to the body of psychedelic work from the era.

Most of the ideas the band try out had previously been done better by other groups back in the 1960s, so the sound of the album must have been rather dated even when it first came out. By modern standards, it's decidedly inessential; there's plenty of superior hard rock-psych hybrids out there, and most of them are more memorable than this album.

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 Janus by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.37 | 58 ratings

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Janus
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Third and the last studio album from Norwegian early progressive band Aunt Mary. Not so heavy, as previous two, but still hard rock based. More symphonic elements added.

I like this music - early hard rock based progressive, with still very acoustic sound, melodic songs and natural energy and beauty. Later too many will try to exploit this formula for making money unhappily.

Sound is well balanced, all musicians -very competent. Just to imagine what their music is, think about early Uriah Heep (without heavy organ passages). Vocals are great as well, and common music atmosphere is real early 70-s.

Very important band in Norwegian progressive rock history. Dated quite well, so it is really pleasant album for every early heavy prog lover.

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 Janus by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.37 | 58 ratings

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Janus
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 for sure

Third album of this legendary band from Norway named Janus from 1973 is a big inprovement over previous one Laded. Now we can talk about a heavy prog album, nothing realy eclectic here and less rockier than Loaded for sure. Aunt Mary begun to sound better, more progier, the hard rock elements are just second phase and the progressive rock come first in their vision here. This album remind me a lot of May Blitz or Birth Control, almost same heavy key passages who invade the album, but combined very well with the guitar who now is more diverse and less hard rock. This album s a perfect blend between hard rock and hevy prog, with up tempo pieces, good musicianship , good vocals and solid druming. The instruments sound better then before with a plus on guitar, very fine moments but aswell the keyboards are more influnced by prog arrangements, is a little more complicated rather then a background instrument like on Loaded. Some acustic guitar interplay very well and change the mood of the piece in a good manner.This time Aunt Mary tried and succed to come with a more valueble album, they are more confident in their musical abilities, is better crafted and for sure more diverse. I wonder why when they reach to the perfect balance between hard rock and heavy prog they disbanded, they just become better then before with Janus. Better in any way then predecesors this album was the last one from this famous norwegian band, who has a meteoric career but left their mark in heavy prog movement from this country. Not an essential listning for sure but worth some spins if you like this kinda of prog.3.5 for Janus , pleasent all the way. Forte tracks all, not a weak moment here, specialy I prefer opening track Path of your dream, For all eternity or Candles of Heaven who represents the best what this band has.

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 Loaded by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.90 | 32 ratings

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Loaded
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One of the pioneers of norwegian rock is for sure Aunt Mary. They are considered one of the best from this country and aswell one of the first who explore the hard rock territories with progressive elements. They released 3 albums in early '70's this one is from 1972 named Loaded. I know Aunt Mary for 2 years now and I was quite pleased to have their last two albums. Loaded is a hard rock album with some heavy prog leanings and for sure not an eclectic one as is stated here in the description of the band. Being similar with Jeronimo from Germany same period, Jerusalem or Junipher Greene their country fellows Aunt Mary did agood job on this second effort but nothing over the top, just almost plain hard rock all almost all the pieces. It was a typical album foor that period to combine hard rock with progressive elements, but in this case the progressive elements are only fiew and specially in keyboards department, who are to tell the truth not very adventurous. The album beggin very strong with an instrumental pieces Playthings of the wind, pure hard rock with some excellent guitar work and solid bass lines, one of the best from here for sure, the next piece Joinin the crowd is a bluesy kinda tune up tempo , good piece remind a lot of the old good times in rock music, great piece while nothing complicated here just pleasent . The rest of the pieces are ok, nothining groundbreaking but pleaset all of them. So a good album , far from being an essential listning but with some catchy riffs and solid bass lines and drum chops.3 stars

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 Aunt Mary by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.14 | 36 ratings

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Aunt Mary
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars I see something. It looks like signs of progressivness, but for example first track, "Whispering Farewell" is combined with so annoying melody, that it's hard to hear them here (first I though that the line is ""ice cream man""). but second one, "Did You Notice?" is instant change. And second change (in pace, from flute driven sound to heavy prog) within song, after 1/3 is done.

Anyway, it's strange pattern in their albums. GOOD-BAD-GOOD. But there is something I don't like about how this album sounds. This is strange kind of prog, which does not sound like it should for me, for my prog taste. It has all ingredients (I hoped that I will never use this phrase), but don't fit me at all. Something here is not right. I listen to good albums, if I can make a decision. It's difficult to rate album which (as I know) will never listen to again.

3(+) and strange feeling.

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