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EELA CRAIG

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Austria


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Eela Craig biography
This often overlooked Austrian band epitomizes the whole Austrian progressive movement. The prime mover is Hubert Bognermayr (keyboards and vocals) who later became known because of his pioneering with the Fairlight computer and his 'electronic hunter's lodge' (blessed by international musicians and the famous Bob Moog). The other members were Hubert Schnauer (keyboards and flute), Harald Zuschader (keyboards, flute and guitar), Fritz Riedelberger (guitar, piano and vocals), Gerhard Englisch (bas and percussion) and Frank Hueber (drums and percussion). They released the eponymous first album ('71), "One Niter" ('76), "Hats of Glass" ('77), "Missa Universalis" ('78), "Virgin Oiland" ('80), "Hit or Miss" ('88) and "Symphonic Rock" (from '95 containing the 2nd and 3rd LP on 1 CD). I'm only familiar with the LP's "One Niter" and "Hats of Glass". The music on these albums is 24-carat symphonic rock but hard to compare, maybe some hints from RICK WAKEMAN solo, ELOY, PINK FLOYD and CAMEL can be traced.

My collection contains the great compilation-CD "Symphonic Rock" including the songs from the albums "One Niter" and "Hats of Glass", considered as their best ones (I prefer the more compelling "One Niter"). The melodic and harmonic music from EELA CRAIG is build upon beautiful interplay between four members with their keyboards (ranging from soaring strings and bombastic choir-Mellotron to the typical sound of the Fender Rhodes electric piano, sensational Moog flights, swinging clavinet and powerful Hammond organ runs) and sensitive and howling electric guitarplay. The moving compositions sound warm and are coloured with lots of instruments, from the aforementioned keyboards to flute, acoustic guitar and assorted percussion. Wonderful symphonic rock that takes you to cloud number nine!

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
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One NiterOne Niter
Import
ESOTERIC 2010
Audio CD$10.72
$14.20 (used)
Eela Craig - Missa Universalis - Philips - 6360 639Eela Craig - Missa Universalis - Philips - 6360 639
Philips
Vinyl$34.22 (used)
Eela Craig - Virgin Oiland - Ariola - 202 311, Ariola - 202 311-320Eela Craig - Virgin Oiland - Ariola - 202 311, Ariola - 202 311-320
Ariola
Vinyl$32.93 (used)
Hats of GlassHats of Glass
Import
Indies Japan/Zoom 2009
Audio CD$118.00
$132.36 (used)
Missa UniversalisMissa Universalis
Import
Indies Japan/Zoom 2009
Audio CD$49.28 (used)
A spaceman came travelling / Vinyl single [Vinyl-Single 7'']A spaceman came travelling / Vinyl single [Vinyl-Single 7'']
Import
Vinyl$10.94 (used)
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EELA CRAIG discography


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EELA CRAIG top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.76 | 38 ratings
Eela Craig
1971
3.87 | 46 ratings
One Niter
1976
3.49 | 20 ratings
Hats of Glass
1978
3.03 | 19 ratings
Missa Universalis
1978
3.00 | 6 ratings
Virgin Oiland
1980
3.04 | 4 ratings
Hit or Miss
1988
3.35 | 8 ratings
Symphonic Rock
1995

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EELA CRAIG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.87 | 46 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Heading to a second album, Eela Craig's leading figures Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader were determined to push the group into a more Classical-oriented sound.This fact led to several departures and new entries in the line-up and the fresh direction of Eela Craig could be heard in the 74' single ''Stories / Cheese''.From the original line-up only bassist Gerhard Englisch remained within the formation.The new Eela Craig included another keyboardist, Hubert Schnauer, drummer Frank Hueber and guitarist/pianist Fritz Riedelberger, while Zuschrader performed also on keyboards.The second album of the group ''One niter'' was finally released in 1976 on Vertigo.

There is indeed a dramatic turn in Eela Craig's sound in this release, leaving all Psychedelic and Jazz influences in the past and offering a grandiose Symphonic Rock with some spacey and Fusion touches, quite old-fashioned for the time.The group delivers some nice musicianship in four long tracks, opening with the 14-min. ''Circles'', split in four parts.Echoes of ELOY, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, PINK FLOYD and MANDALABAND are evident in this track, which combines a decent Orchestral Rock with spacey and keyboard-driven textures, led by synths, harsichord, piano and clavinets.The atmosphere of the track is pretty grandiose with an exceptional last part, led by Riedelberger's powerful guitar moves.The 9-min. ''Loner's Rhyme'' is another story.A very THE ENID-like Classical-oriented symphonic section opens and closes this composition, which however has a long and frenetic instrumental middle-part in a Fusion style with obvious funky vibes, characterized by strong clavinet and organ exercises, not far from GENTLE GIANT's sound.With the 11-min. ''One niter'' Eela Craig return to the opening MANDALABAND/THE ENID style with romantic, instrumental Classical textures, based mostly on mellotron, flutes, piano and harsichord, creating a delightful atmosphere.Again some funky moves are evident in the third part of this epic.The short ''Venezuela'' is a beautiful instrumental cut with acoustic guitars and flutes driving the music into more medieval ages, while the 7-min. closing ''Way Down'' follows a style between instrumental Fusion and synth-drenched Symphonic/Space Rock, featuring some nice changing climates.

''One niter'' contains some pretty fascinating music throughout, the mix of Symphonic Rock and Fusion stylings is not always succesful, cohesive or conveincing, but the tremendous instrumental work is sure to reward the listener.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.87 | 46 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is an impressive recording. Certainly the keyboards dominate and these guys had lots of them. Three of the band members played keyboards along with other instruments. Mellotron is very prominant but what is significant is the abundance of mellotron brass. I've never heard it so often on one record. Now I admit it's not my favourite mellotron sound by a long shot but it makes for an interesting listen.This album is quite spacey and symphonic as well.

Two long suites make up the bulk of this record. First up is he 14 minute "Circles" suite which is divided into five parts. It begins with "The Almighty" where we get those mellotron brass outbursts before it settles then it kicks in with the mellotron again. A calm takes over with flute then it kicks back in late with drums and mellotron to end it. "The Nude" is kind of funky with clavinet and it's uptempo. Mellotron sweeps across the soundscape. An explosion ends it. "The Curse" opens with piano and flute.Vocals for the first time after a minute. Drums, bass and organ eventually join in as it becomes more passionate. Check out the Gilmour-like guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. Nice. "The Blessed" sounds excellent as the tempo picks up with guitar still leading. Mellotron brass ends it. That ends the "Circles" suite.

"Loner's Rhyme" opens with keys, flute and a light beat as reserved vocals join in.The guitar replaces the vocals before 2 minutes. It's more dynamic after 2 1/2 minutes. Some impressive keyboard work follows.Vocals are back just before 8 minutes. Next up is the five part "One Niter Medley" suite. "Benedictus" opens with what sounds like harpischord then these spacey sounds come in including mellotron. Is that theremin? "Fuge" is classical sounding. "V.A.T." is eventually led by the guitar and a funky groove. Nice bass too. "Morning" is where they slow it down some but the sound is actually richer. "One Niter" ends the suite with guitar, mellotron, drums and piano all standing out in a positive way. "Venezuela" is a relaxed tune with acoustic guitar. "Way Down" is spacey to start as flute comes in then random drum patterns.Very cool sound here. It kicks in at 2 minutes and again it's funky with guitar playing over top. It settles as vocals come in after 5 minutes.

A low 4 stars for me only because my enjoyment level isn't that high for this one. I actually get more of a kick out of the followup "Hats Of Glass". It's more dynamic and easier to digest I suppose, but above all I connect with it emotionally.

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 Hats of Glass by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.49 | 20 ratings

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Hats of Glass
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I wasn't expecting a lot from this one given the ratings i've seen for it but this was a pleasant surprise. EELA CRAIG were a seventies band from Austria who used a variety of keyboards including mellotron to great affect. While they are listed as Jazz / Fusion here believe me this album has absolutely nothing to do with that.This is spacey, mellow Symphonic music with some aggressive outburts here and there. PINK FLOYD came to mind the most which isn't too surprising given they were one one of EELA CRAIG's favourite bands.

"A Spaceman Came Travelling" has this spacey intro as reserved vocals join in. I like the vocal melodies before 2 minutes.Themes are repeated in this mellow tune. "Hats Of Glass" is also laid back with reserved vocals. I like the prolonged instrumental section part way through that is guitar / drum led. Lots of mellotron too. It turns dark and haunting before 6 minutes. "Grover's Mill" has these light vocals and drums that standout. I really like this one. "Chances Are" opens sounding a lot like "Funeral For A Friend" then it kicks in with a fuller sound including vocals. A spacey calm 2 minutes in then it retruns to that fuller sound.

"Heaven Sales" is much more dynamic sounding with keyboards and drums leading the way. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes as the vocals arrive. It then picks back up. "Holstonwall Fair" is mellow with vocals, a beat and mellotron. A change before 2 minutes and the birds are singing in this pastoral section. It's building 3 1/2 minutes in then the tempo picks up a minute later. Guitar then kicks in. Nice. Check out the majestic mellotron before 7 1/2 minutes then the vocals return. "Remove Another Hat Of Glass..." is a catchy and energetic number with guitar outfront early. Synths take a turn as they continue to trade off.

This is a low 4 stars but it's one I look forward to playing again in the future.This is a great example of seventies Prog.

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 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.87 | 46 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A wonderfully inventive slice of Austrian symphonic prog, 'One Niter' is in fact the second full- length studio album from the oddly-monikered Eela Craig. Released in 1976, a full five years after their self-titled debut, 'One Niter' is a step-up in class over it's predecessor in just about every way possible, showcasing a talented group who obviously have a penchant for 1970's Pink Floyd, 'Wind & Wuthering'-era Genesis and German symphonic rockers Grobschnitt. The album is mainly instrumental, featuring several lengthy tracks that are helpfully split into several concisely-labelled and easily-identifiable sections, with polished keyboards, soaring guitars, shrill flutes and glossy synthesizers coating 'One Niter' in a slick melodic glaze. What vocals there are fit nicely, with singer Hubert Bognermeyr(who also doubles on keyboards) singing in a high-tempo, Jon Anderson-ish pitch, but in reality it is the wonderfully-layered, lushly-realised sound the group achieve that makes 'One Niter' so enjoyable. The influences may be obvious, but Eela Craigs' fulsome sound is not, and nor is it derivative, instead fusing carefully-selected prog ingredients with tasteful aplomb and instrumental verve. To pick a favourite track is, for this reviewer at least, a very difficult task. 'One Niter' is one of those rare beasts that can be listened to all the way through without the need to skip various tracks, with each piece segueing delicately - and, at times, brilliantly - into the next carefully constructed section. Austria may not be known for it's progressive rock, but in Eela Craig at least, they have yet another example of the pure originality and beauty to be found in the European end of the genre. A highly impressive symphonic album. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.87 | 46 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by beebfader

4 stars Esoteric's Reactive label continues to unearth forgotten European gems at a steady and welcome rate, and while Germany is usually regarded as the hotbed of creativity there was much activity elsewhere on the mainland. Eela Craig were an Austrian outfit formed in 1970 from the ashes of various Linz based groups.

After some initial activity `One Niter' was the result of a contract with Vertigo records, and is generally regarded as their definitive work. It is an extremely strong album from the opening Mellotron blasts which herald a colourful, varied and rich series of mainly instrumental movements. As was obligatory in 1976 the pieces are extended and made up of linked sections which move through a series of moods, tempos and textures. There are light and airy flute and synthesiser sections, muscular guitar solos backed with clavinet and driving drums, and some classic Hammond organ work. It is all brightly played, melodic and lively without being show-offy, and on show is a cornucopia of vintage keyboards played by no less than three players (count 'em!).

There is a wonderful photograph on the back cover of the band outdoors with all their equipment which recalls `Ummagumma' and would surely have acted as enticement to the discerning buyer holding the sleeve. It really is all about the instrumental work, the vocals are something of an afterthought, but work well enough in an unobtrusive way. The keyboards are intertwined with some excellent flute work and some equally fine guitar soloing. Nothing sounds forced, and the pieces are well composed and flow together very well.

As an album it works as a whole piece to become a very satisfying 45 minutes of prime european symphonic progressive music along the lines of Camel, Greenslade, Refugee and Trace. It certainly deserves to be heard alongside such names and is in many ways the equal to them.

We await with interest to see what else Reactive have up their sleeves if it is of this standard.

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 Symphonic Rock  by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.35 | 8 ratings

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Symphonic Rock
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars One of only a handful of Austrian progressive bands, EELA CRAIG, at least on this CD release of their 2nd and 3rd albums (less one track each) straddles the lines between symphonic, fusion and Canterbury, which promises a hearty musical mulligan. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the right volume at which to appreciate EELA CRAIG. If it's down low I turn it up thinking that I am missing something, but soon enough I consider whether lower was better after all.

This just isn't very captivating very often, Caravan-era CAMEL did a better, albeit not stellar, job of blending these styles, and also struck a better balance between vocal and instrumental. Of course there are teutonic references at work as well, thinking of JANE and GROBSCHNITT in their mellow moments. At times the music does awaken from its stupor, usually in the form of an overly shrill and extended lead guitar solo which hovers about the same few notes. This dichotomy diminishes even the best of the lengthier pieces, like the NEKTAR influenced "Loner's Rhyme", in which the sparkling flute and vocal melodies, and an even better guitar solo, are derailed by incompatibly harsh themes. In "Way Down" is even less "together", and it is supposed to be the epic. Both "Hats of Glass" and "Holstenwall Fair", originally from the later album, are even weaker. The less said about the disco-ey guitars of "The Nude" and "V.A.T", the better.

Still, if you like mellotron and aren't picky about contextual issues, you may enjoy this, especially the ambient opener "The Mighty", but its main tune is too close to the old Soviet anthem for me. "Morning" and "Benedictus" are intriguing short mellow-tronic instrumentals, the latter sporting a rather sophisticated classical influence that should have been better developed. One of the strongest vocal cuts is "Grover's Mill", a traditional prog ballad, again swamped in mellotron. "Heaven Sales" is a more energetic song with an almost poppy Canterbury feel - OK it reminds me of someone else whom I can't recall. It works because of the skilled instrumentation and contrast to the rest of the CD.

While on paper this might get rounded up to 3 stars, I can't be quite so generous because there really isn't alot to draw me back to E.C. Competent and worth a listen especially for fans of the genres, it really has all the staying power of a one nighter for me.

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 Eela Craig by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.76 | 38 ratings

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Eela Craig
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars This album would be very representative of the type of oddball music still pervasive in 1971, a time away from even wilder musical trips to come , a rawer , more psychedelic Woodstock era sound (lots of groove , baby) that would be played in countless underground European clubs (some not even serving alcohol, hint?) in those early days. I remember one in Sankt Gallen, Switzerland in particular that played this album often in its entirety. As was often the case then, the testing verve had a tendency to veer off into some sublime side of the sonic sky, a breathless adventure of style and less form that could encapsulate everything from a violin to a kitchen sink. This Austrian band from Linz had quite an impact on the prog community and pioneered many future prog methods in terms of pure progressive experimentation. But it will not come across as 21st century release by any stretch, rooted deeply in the prog-rock nativity as a baby step. "New Born Child" starts off with a swirling organ dirge that introduces both a painful birth (that howl is creepy) and a morose funeral procession. Halfway through a pulsating bass comes rumbling through, supremely confident while riding Hubert Bognermayr's electric piano and Harald Zuschrader's wild sax. Heinz Gestmair rippling guitar only adds more promenade to the puzzle. The 10 minute + "Selfmade Trip" is quite aptly named, a brooding, restrained, groovy little flight, the fuzzy/bluesy guitar laying down the melodic spine, with some fab percussion work, a lazy lead vocal careening into the fray ("Acid pills no more as I have myself to play"), the chugging section flips up the tempo with the flute fluttering, the bass bopping along for the ride. Yeah, groovy, man (as we used to say)! Just as mightily, the euphoria then abates temporarily, a quiet respite before another tour of the garden (complete with tricky back-tape effects). "A New Way" is closer to West Coast psychedelia, with a laid back vocal and a butterfly flute carving the new route of aural bliss and musical adventure (as per the lyrics!). "Indra Elegy" is another extended hysterical trip into the land of Krautrock with vocalist Wil Orthofer pleading his case with sincerity. The saturated effects on the axe add even more angst to the e-piano musings, the rhythm section keeping it loosely tight, if you see what I mean. The bonus tracks are quirky to say the least, the 2 minute "Imminsul" a drum solo with added percussives , sliced with a slithery synth and "Yggdrasil" a slightly longer moody piece that search out the "dimension between Pop and Classical" , giving the guitar a front row podium to express and explore to its 6 string content in a dreamy wispy context. "Stories" is a warm cascade of string organ washing over a classy melody, thus inspiring a strong ITCOTCK?feel, as the mellotron spews its lush melancholy. "Cheese" is probably well-named, as the Santana rip-off guitar induces initial amazement and abruptly metamorphoses into a languorous pastoral arrangement that introduces a massive male/female vocal duet that is pleasing in its simplicity (I guess that's what they meant by cheese!)

This is part of the pioneering series of rock groups that formatted the future of prog and even rock music along with King Crimson, Deep Purple, Procol Harum and Roxy Music , to name only a few. Thus it is required listening for those who want to understand where today's music came from. 4 Linzer tortes

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 Eela Craig by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.76 | 38 ratings

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Eela Craig
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by loserboy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Years ago I really self discovered the wonder of Eela Craig with "One Niter 1976" and "Hats Of Glass (1978)" both of which are great albums. The debut album in review here is very different for their mid 70's albums that I was familiar with carring a less symphonic approach for sure. This is pure classic 70's Krautrock thru and thru ...and an amazing album for sure. Saturated in tons of organ, sax, flutes, e piano this album really will blow your mind! Again very spacey and the band really like to ebb and flow between more serene moments and heavier parts. Lead vocalist Wil Orthofer has a great voice and a deep soul which really adds nicely to the music. Throw in a couple of 10 min tracks and you have an album that will work for all lovers of 70's Krautrock.

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 Eela Craig by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.76 | 38 ratings

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Eela Craig
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Austria is a country known for a bunch of things, ike the beautiful cities,the kings and queens,the amazing rivers,the unbelievable nature but surely not for its strong progressive rock scene.From the few bands I'm aware of,EELA CRAIG might the most well known of all.This austrian act showed the progressive world a double face as they started as a clear jazz/psych prog outfit but transformed to a space/symphonic rock band in the years to come...In both occasions the band can't be considered nothing less than talented...

EELA CRAIG made their debut in early 70's with their eponymous album and an evident jazz rock style influenced also by the blues and psychedelia.The opening track ''New born child'' spins off with some atmospheric organ and the dramatic cries of the vocalist and by the middle of the track the guitars take over until the end with some jazzy solos...''Selfmade trip'' (what a name for a track) shows clearly the blues influences of the band,as the track unfolds the flute dominates until the end where the guitars return and in the final minute the sound of the guitars and drums gets distorted...On ''A new way'' the band follows again the previous succesful bluesy/flute space/bluesy combination with a style very close to BURNIN' RED IVANHOE...''Indra Elegy'' is the most experimenting and multi-formed track of the album with some influences by KING CRIMSON...It opens with a very atmospheric piano/flute combination,then the organ and heavy guitars take over until the break of blues/jazz strikes again...The track ends exactly how it started,with the beautiful piano/flute interplay...

The CD version contains also 4 bonus tracks which are a very good example how experimental this band was while transforming to a symphonic one during the 5-years period between the first and the second album...''Irminsul'' is a psychedelic instrumental piece of...hmmm...sounds I would say (and not music) which contains electronic effects and percussion exclusively...The experimental/electronic face of the band continues on ''Yggdrasil'' which also contains smooth guitar work and some bass and drum playing...In ''Stories'' the symphonic transformation of EELA CRAIG is completed.You won't believe your ears that this is the same band that played in the original album.Very romantic organ playing,mellow guitar work,smooth vocals,an excellent track in the vein of first period GENESIS.''Cheese'' is another symphonic piece of music but this time the sound is more intense,very close to YES,with Jon Anderson style in singing and guitar play with Steve Howe influences!

EELA CRAIG were one of the most experimental and daring bands in prog rock.Although I prefer their more symphonic version,I really like their debut very much and I recommended to all fans of jazz/psychedelic/King Crimson-esque progressive rock...3.5 stars...

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 Hats of Glass by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.49 | 20 ratings

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Hats of Glass
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Carl floyd fan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a hard album to review as parts of it rock out, like the second half of Holstenwall Fair or the closing track while other parts of the cd are boarder line cheesy, like the end of the opening track or much of "caught on air". Overall this is a unique cd though and one every prog fan should experience once they are done with the key prog bands. Eela Craig may draw comparassions to Eloy but they certinatly add their own unique touch. I also would not call this fusion at all. Maybe this was mislabeled? Because this is pure symphonic rock with maybe a few elements of space rock here and there. 3.25 stars really.

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