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LUCIFER'S FRIEND

Heavy Prog • Germany


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Lucifer's Friend picture
Lucifer's Friend biography
Formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1970 - Disbanded in 1982 - Reunited from 1993 to 1997 - Reformed in 2015

URIAH HEEP certainly comes to mind when you hear LUCIFER'S FRIEND, as do LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE and BLACK SABBATH to some extent, although you can't accuse the FRIEND of cloning them as none had attained their notoriety as yet. The band started off as ASTRIX in 1970, with frontman and future URIAH HEEP vocalist John Lawton teaming up with guitarist Peter Hesslein, keyboardist Peter Hecht, bassist Dieter Horns and drummer Joachim Rietenbach. Through various personnel changes over the course of twelve years - including Lawton exiting in '76 and then returning for a last gasp in '81 - the band released nine studio albums and two compliations. In '82, they split up but reunited in '94 for a night album.

Their earlier releases are aggressive and raw, not unlike The SCORPIONS, JANE or LONESOME CROW. Living up to their sinister name, they performed heavy, mean, keyboard-based rock that should please LED ZEP, SABBATH or PURPLE fans. Then came their absolute masterpiece, "Banquet", in 1974, which focusses on epic prog numbers with complex instrumentation, complete with string and horn arrangements, and Lawton giving his full-throttle vocal performance. This album perfectly pulled together the many different elements of their sound: prog, soul, jazz and hard rock. If you want to sample some LUCIFER'S FRIEND, you could try their compilation albums; if you want to hear LUCIFER'S FRIEND at their proggiest, go for the "Banquet" - their subsequent releases received mixed reviews, particularly "Sumogrip" in 1994.

Fans of URIAH HEEP or those interested in the roots of heavy metal definitely ought to get their hands on some of these items.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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LUCIFER'S FRIEND discography


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

LUCIFER'S FRIEND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 156 ratings
Lucifer's Friend
1970
3.98 | 108 ratings
Where The Groupies Killed The Blues
1972
3.16 | 58 ratings
I'm Just A Rock'n'Roll Singer
1973
3.96 | 151 ratings
Banquet
1974
3.23 | 60 ratings
Mind Exploding
1976
2.22 | 40 ratings
Good Time Warrior
1978
2.23 | 38 ratings
Sneak Me In
1980
2.56 | 33 ratings
Mean Machine
1981
1.63 | 30 ratings
Lucifer's Friend II: Sumogrip
1994
3.48 | 25 ratings
Too Late To Hate
2016
3.77 | 16 ratings
Black Moon
2019

LUCIFER'S FRIEND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 7 ratings
Live @ Sweden Rock 2015 (Official Bootleg)
2015

LUCIFER'S FRIEND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.33 | 3 ratings
Live At Rockpalast
2015

LUCIFER'S FRIEND Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
The Devil's Touch
1976
3.00 | 2 ratings
Rock Heavies
1980
4.00 | 9 ratings
Awakening
2015
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Triple Album Collection
2016

LUCIFER'S FRIEND Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 4 ratings
Ride the Sky / Baby You're a Liar
1970
4.00 | 4 ratings
Ride the Sky / Horla
1970
4.20 | 5 ratings
Hobo / Prince of Darkness
1972
3.00 | 1 ratings
Fire and Rain / Born to the City
1981

LUCIFER'S FRIEND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Black Moon by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.77 | 16 ratings

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Black Moon
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars I must confess I hadn't realised that Lucifer's Friend had reformed a few years ago, so this album was a pleasant surprise. Founder members John Lawton (vocals), Peter Hesslein (guitar, keyboards) and Dieter Horns (bass) are there strutting their stuff again. Original drummer Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach has passed away, so his place was taken by Stephan Eggert, while keyboard player Peter Hecht declined to return so on the album keyboards are provided by Hesslein. Any fan of classic rock will know about Lucifer's Friend, which for me I always think of as a German Uriah Heep, for musical reasons as well as of course that Lawton replaced Byron in that band.

It must be said that playing this album is like putting on a warm blanket, it is instantly comforting, and Lawton (if Wikipedia is to be believed) shows no sign at all of being 73 years old! His voice is as powerful as it has ever been, and the ten numbers he has written with Hesslein shows a band who are determined to make their presence felt as opposed to resting on their laurels. It has been fifty years since Lawton left Stonewall and joined the members of The German Bonds in forming Asterix, which became Lucifer's Friend', but those decades have flown by on this classic hard rock album which could have been recorded in their heyday. The guitars are as tough, plenty of riffs, while the keyboard provide levity, but whatever is going on underneath is lifted by the superb vocals of Lawton. I dare anyone to play "Call The Captain" and not smile at its' annoying infectious simplicity ? one can imagine this being a radio hit in the Eighties, and that is probably as up to date as the band gets, but who cares? Classic rock, from a band who really were there at the beginning, this is for fans of bands as diverse as Uriah Heep and UFO, and everything in-between. If ever an album defined "fun" then this is it.

 Banquet by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.96 | 151 ratings

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Banquet
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Artwork, yes. The principle idea behind the cover would be or should be to point out the direction of the music housed within. At least one might argue that the artwork ought to do just that. If you don't know anything about Lucifer's Friend you are truly forgiven for thinking that these leatherclad (apparently) metalheads on the cover must be the birthgivers to some of the most hardhitting heavy metal of the day. And not only that, they may well be participants in some occult order, practicing witchcraft and summoning the Devil at their will. If you listen or have listened to the first album by the group you might guess according to your knowledge that the heavy metal line of music is exactly what the guys play but you are mistaken. Not sadly mistaken but mistaken nevertheless.

Heavy prog was the bands genre on the first two albums. Then they changed direction. Progressive they remained but in another way. This, their fourth, is not very much hard rock but is instead one of the most accomplished jazzrock albums I have heard, and I've actually listened quite alot to that genre. The fact that pure hardrock is almost entirely missing from the album does not mean it is any less powerful. The songs on this album are extremely energetic and just as majestic, muscular and forceful as any hardrock album from the day. To me this is the most focused of all Lucifer's Friend albums I have heard. It's like everything came to them in a haze of divine inspiration. Each and every instrument is something to marvel at and follow. Just listen to the bass player, for instance. He works his way up and down that neck like there's no tomorrow. And you mustn't forget the utterly brilliant vocalist John Lawton. Man, what a voice.

Out of the five tracks on this album three are five star songs in my book. "Spanish galleon" with it's pirate themed imagery, "Thus spoke Oberon" and "Sorrow" are mindblowing examples of jazzrock and rank (according to me) alongside the supposedly greatest in the genre. I do not think it's possible to make greater jazzrock than this, actually. Out of the two remaining tracks one is merely okay and the other one great. "High-flying lady goodbye" (2 stars) is somewhat in the Status Quo vein and the closing "Dirty old town" (4) is a ballad-y but energetic song. Quite a good way to end an album of such sparkling and powerful music.

Sorry to say Lucifer's Friend really never hit these heights again. This was and is their greatest moment. And what a statement it is! I have loved this album for the last 20 odd years and it feels as vibrant and engaging now as it did back then. If you like jazzrock (Chicago, If, Blood Sweat and Tears, Colosseum and so on...) I bet you will find things on this album to cherish. If you bought this album thinking it would be filled to the brim of heavy metal, don't be too disappointed. Listen to it with an open mind and I'll bet you just might reconsider.

Had it not been for "High-flying lady goodbye" I just might have considered giving this album five stars but as it stands I'll give it four. Still, a marvellous album by a sometime marvellous band.

 Banquet by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.96 | 151 ratings

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Banquet
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Heavy prog? More like light jazz: 6/10

What do you think that would be the world's reaction if BLACK SABBATH, on their fourth album, decided to swap their sonority to jazz fusion? In short terms, this is what happened here. Heavy & doom metal (too) forerunners LUCIFER'S FRIEND took no time to abandon their dark style and opt for freaking jazz. Doing something like this in the 70s naturally got them criticized; it was an era where familiarity was fundamental for a band's success (no one would buy BLACK SABBATH hoping for jazz fusion) after all. Actually, they did this swap earlier - on their second album - but it was with BANQUET they departed from everything they represented hitherto. A highly venturesome move and progressive indeed.

Sadly, they don't do so well. BANQUET is a mountain peak album. It climaxes rapidly, but its captivation dies equally quickly. There are no flaws found in Spanish Galleon, the album's peak: John Lawton's vocal performance is intense, the guitar is virtuoso, the piano is smooth and quick-paced, and Herb Geller's brass sections sounds terrific. Simply put, it is a perfect multi-layered allegory for what a band can achieve with jazz fusion pretensions. Thus Spoke Oberon - the edge of the cliff - lacks the instrumental eclecticism, being more guitar and piano oriented, but is nonetheless good.

What happens next is that LUCIFER'S FRIEND bluesy sides, which weren't properly exorcised, start to speak louder. The frenzied energy begins to fade, turning mostly into piano tracks a la Elton John (with, uhm, 'jazz', I suppose). High- Flying Lady is an absolute buzz killer after the first two excellent tracks. Sorrow is as large as Spanish Galleon but not nearly as interesting. Dirty Old Down is almost boogie-woogie, if I recall correctly.

The supposedly defunct band, thanks to the internet, hit the road again since 2015. LUCIFER'S FRIEND released an (apparently) good album in 2016. They are also actively searching for their old record songs' lyrics. For as much as BANQUET failed to impress me as a jazz fusion album, I recommend trying it nonetheless. The first two tracks (which by themselves are roughly half the album) suffices to make it a worthy purchase. Well, worthy enough to make me interested on its creators' interesting historic after all, especially now they've been brought back from the dead.

 Awakening by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
4.00 | 9 ratings

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Awakening
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars I got this CD 2 days ago on my mailbox and I had mixed feelings and I always have with old bands' new releases.

It turned out that this is a compilation that also brings us 4 brand new tracks from the core of Lucifer's Friends line up.

Now, let me say that this CD had everything to be a 5 stars. Lucifer's Friend is a great (and underrated) band with some amazing material and a great singer (John Lawton). And indeed, the music here is absolutely amazing, both the old tracks and surprinsingly the new 4 tracks too!

The fact this is going to be a 4 stars to me is the way they packaged everything. TO begin with there's only ten tracks on the compilation (CD 1). According to the CD booklet the tracks were chosen after a research in the web and the band thought that these were the tracks the fans liked most... this is dubious. In the end they have 4 songs out of the first album, one song out of Where The Groupies Killed The Blues, 2 songs out of Mind Exploding, 1 song out of Banquet and 2 songs out of Mean Machine. That means that there's no songs from I'm Just a Rock 'n' Roll Singer, Good Time Warrior, Sneak Me In or Sumo Grip for that matter and the CD is only 47 minutes long. The band could have packed the CD1 with more songs, songs from all the studio albums, etc.

Then we have a second CD with the 4 new tracks and it clocks only 17 minutes long. Now, if you have 47 minutes in one CD and 17 on the other, why not pack them together? Aesthetic reasons? Well, CHerry Red (their distributor) is selling it for the price of a single CD so I think it doesn't matter in the end, but for practical reasons it should have been better off with a single disc.

But hey, don't let my ramblings fool you, Awakening is well worth it buying, specially if you don't own their old studio records. For the old fans the 4 new songs are high quality material that brings the old Lucifer's Friend to a new era and John Lawton still sings amazingly well!

 Lucifer's Friend by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.86 | 156 ratings

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Lucifer's Friend
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If this album had come out in 1973 I would have called these guys a rip off of Uriah Heep's heavy rock numbers. It would have been as though they had listened to songs like "Gypsy", "Time to Live", "Look at Yourself", and "Love Machine" and said, "That's the kind of band we want! Let's make music like that!"

Only the album is from 1970. Uriah Heep had only just released their debut with "Gypsy" and Deep Purple's "In Rock" album was still fairly fresh. There was no excuse; no one to blame. Lucifer's Friend, with its bone- reverberating, fuzz-toned guitar, power chords, its rumbling Hammond organ, its pounding drums and bass, and John Lawton howling and screaming at the mic, was quite simply right there are the starting gate when 1970 delivered this new European take on high-powered, heavy rock music.

I found this album after checking out a playlist of proto-metal bands of the early 70's on YouTube and was floored. I had already heard and acquired albums by several proto-metal bands whose existence I had never heard of previously, but this was something else. Why hadn't I heard of these guys?! As a 1970 album this should have been ringing in the annals of heavy rock history straight through the 70's and into the 80's. But this album, among dozens of other enjoyable but less impressive, never crossed my path until late 2013.

There are no slow songs here. Everything is charged and powered up to full. There are some great heavy riffs and a consistent feeling of power behind the music. The title track features John Lawton wailing out some fantastic screams and there are some superb heavy guitar chords. The album opener pays tribute to Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song" using French horn for Robert Plant's classic vocal intro. There are some short rockers and some longer developed pieces and nothing is short on early metal energy and volume.

This is one hekuva proto-metal album and worth a solid four stars for that. However, this here is a prog site and I honestly hear very little that sounds "progressive". If you consider that what gave progressive rock its name in the first place was the music by bands like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator, and Premiata Forneria Marconi then Lucifer's Friend has almost nothing to offer except for the instrumental "Horla" which appears as a bonus track and features some more advanced time signatures. But that's alright because this album doesn't sound like that of a band trying to prove themselves as a rock group performing music for an orchestra. This is pure and simple proto-metal at its finest. I'd give it two stars for prog. But a solidly planted four stars for an early heavy metal album. Split here to three stars.

 Lucifer's Friend by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.86 | 156 ratings

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Lucifer's Friend
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by thwok

4 stars I am generally not a fan of keyboard-driven rock. I don't care for organ or synthesizer music, and I never listen to Emerson, Lake and Palmer.. However, Lucifer's Friend are an exception. That's especially true of this self- titled album and Banquet. My fellow reviewers on PA seem to agree, based on the overall ratings for those albums. I haven't listened to the band's second album, although it has a slightly higher overall score. If reviewers had the option of giving albums quarter stars, I would give LUCIFER'S FRIEND 3.75 stars. I don't believe it's quite as progressive as LF's second or fourth albums.

This is top shelf heavy prog; it's fully recommendable to fans of the subgenre. Every track on LUCIFER'S FRIEND is good. However, one could say there's some justification for the fact that the last five tracks were just bonus tracks for many years. My favorite tracks are "Keep Goin" and "Lucifer's Friend:. I think it's because of the menacing atmosphere of these songs. It injects some variety into the overall intensity of the band's sound.

I stated that I'm not a big fan of keyboard-driven music, but all the band members are brilliant. Peter Hesslein's a terrific guitarist, and the other players sound just right for this type of heavy metal. John Lawton is just amazing, one of the best singers in hard rock. I haven't listened to much Uriah Heep, but I have a feeling that I'm really missing out. In conclusion, this is an excellent album for prog fans with any love for hard rock. Only BANQUET would earn the extra quarter star for being more progressive on a track-by-track basis. 3.75 stars rounded up.

 Lucifer's Friend by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.86 | 156 ratings

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Lucifer's Friend
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by JellySucker

5 stars What do you got when you try to blend in Deep Purple and Black Sabbath together? This album. This debut album from the straight Heavy Prog band truly blows my mind right when i first started listening to it. With the blend of Jazz and Hard Rock off from this album, it creates a truly beautiful yet harsh sound of this band. The theme on this album are rather Black Sabbath-esque and the music are rather Deep Purple-esque which is great from what i can recall. I rarely found any albums like this.

Straight 5/5 stars rating for this awesomely heavy album!

 Lucifer's Friend by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.86 | 156 ratings

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Lucifer's Friend
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With Peter Hecht's stalwart Hammond organ underpinning a set of heavy psych-prog compositions, you could almost be forgiven for mistaking the debut album by Lucifer's Friend for a lost album from Deep Purple's In Rock lineup. In fact, I think it's markedly more consistent than In Rock-era Deep Purple ever were, with the band successfully establishing an intriguingly dark atmosphere. At other points - particularly with John Lawton's vocals in the picture - the band resemble a somewhat more Satanic Uriah Heep. For those who like the heavier side of psych-prog or the trippier side of hard rock or proto-metal, this is a real treat.
 Banquet by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.96 | 151 ratings

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Banquet
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It seems that in the process of making Banquet Lucifer's Friend must have been listening to a lot of early Santana, because opening track Spanish Galleon - one of the album's two major centrepieces - sounds uncannily like Santana's Latin-infused jazzy psychedelic rock. Although Lucifer's Friend are mainly known as trailblazers for metal, this album really isn't that heavy, but it's still a grand showcase for Peter Hesslein's guitar skills and in general offers an interesting listen which expands and builds on the sort of musical territory Santana had opened up on their first four or so albums. Not essential, but not one to overlook by any means.
 Good Time Warrior by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.22 | 40 ratings

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Good Time Warrior
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars After a successful album (my view) 'Mind Exploding' (1976) John Lawton left the band to join Uriah Heep. Mike Starrs, previously with Colosseum II, joined the band and recorded two albums 'Good Time Warrior' (1978) and 'Sneak Me In' (1980). When I purchased the cassette of Good Time Warrior I was shocked knowing the band changed its direction into much more commercial approach. I thought it was a good strategy as Mike Starrs voice quality more appropriate to this kind of straight rock or AOR kind of music. There is no longer stunning and long guitar solo backed with solid bass lines like the one I could hear in previous albums. Unfortunately the album did not reach commercial success either.

That's the story of the band and let's talk about the music. Despite the change in musical direction, the Lucifer's Friend name had already big when this sixth studio album was released. I was so fortunate could buy this album in the year of its release even though I lived in a small town, Madiun of Indonesia East Java. To me this cassette meant so much as everyday I always visited the cassette stores in town to check new release of rock band at that time. I purchased the cassette of Good Time Warrior without asking how the music was because I trusted that something from Lucifer's Friend must be good. Overwhelmed by that big name I forced myself to like it. In fact one of the radio stations kept playing track number 2 "Meet You in L.A." (4:03) and also the third track "My Love" (5:57) was featured in compilation cassette well known and popular in my country at that time called Dream Express 2. What a great time.

Of course, this album is for collector or die hard fans of Lucifer's Friend. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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