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Jazz Rock/Fusion • Norway

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Undertakers Circus picture
Undertakers Circus biography
UNDERTAKERS CIRCUS is a jazz-rock band from Lillestrøm, Norway, with their most active period between 1967 and 1976. With a full horn section accompanying traditional rock instruments their sound resembles bands like CHICAGO and BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS, but with melodies and harmonies more of the BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and THE MOODY BLUES mode.

They were the first rock band in Norway to write social critical lyrics in their native language. They also put music to two poems by working class poet Rudolf Nilsen. Other lyrical subjects was, amongst others, Norwegian history and Norse mythology.

In 1968 they released their first single, "Little Boy Blue"/"Gotta Get Away" (both Curtis MAYFIELD covers), but it took them another four years to get signed by Polydor and release their second single, "Riil køntri mjusik"/"Menuet silikose". A shortened version of "Menuet silikose" later emerged on the bands first album, while "Riil køntri mjusik", which was an ironic comment to the discussion between music snobs and the rest of the country's artists, became their greatest ever hit, although, as it was musically based on THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL's "Nashville Cats", it wasn't very representative for the band's sound.

The following year they released their first album, "Ragnarock". At the time the band counted 11 members: Thor S. GRENI (vocals), Per Kristian LINDSTAD (guitar), Frank MYRSETH (guitar), Stein GUDMUNDSEN (vocals, congas), Erik THOEN (bass), Frode KILDAL (drums), Øystein BJØRK (trumpet), Johnny TORP (trombone), Kjell KRISTOFFERSEN (trumpet), Ivar HOVDEN (tenor sax) and Wiggo NILSEN (trombone). HOVDEN left the band later that year to join NEW JORDAL SWINGERS. "Ragnarock" was remastered and re-released by Pan Records in 2004, with "Riil køntri mjusik" and "Menuet silikose" (single version) as bonus tracks.

One of the songs on the album, "Nettenes Prinsesse" (The Princess of the Nights), originally titled "Queen of the Night", was composed and written, with lyrics in English, by guest piano player Eigil BERG (NEW JORDAL SWINGERS), and later reappeared on his solo album "Alhambra" (1981). The Norwegian lyrics on UNDERTAKERS CIRCUS' version was written by Thor S GRENI. In 1999 the song once again reappeared, this time as "Long Distance Man", on "Electric Psalmebook", an album by BIGBANG, a band fronted by Thor S. GRENI's son, Øystein GRENI, who has performed with UNDERTAKERS CIRCUS on a few occasions in later years.

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UNDERTAKERS CIRCUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 10 ratings
4.50 | 4 ratings
Undertakers Cirkus: Brød & Cirkus

UNDERTAKERS CIRCUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)


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

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

4.00 | 2 ratings
Little Boy Blue / Gotta Get Away
4.00 | 1 ratings
Riil Køntri Mjusik / Menuet Silikose


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