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avestin View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Marsupilami
    Posted: October 14 2007 at 13:15
MARSUPILAMI 
 
Their second album Arena has been re-issued by Esoteric Records (formerly Eclectic) and I though it's a good occasion to look into this band and their two albums, especially the interesting, complex, varied, experimental in a way and overall great second album which has now been re-released.
 
Here's their PA bio:
 
MARSUPILAMI were an English proto-prog outfit who relocated to the Netherlands. The complexity of their music is quite unusual for the times – we’re talking 1970 here, when the big guns such as YES, GENESIS and CRIMSON were barely coming out of the woodwork. A mixture of blues, experimental jazz and hints of folk, their music is often dark and foreboding, favouring perilously complex structures. Try to imagine a mixture of KING CRIMSON, JETHRO TULL, the STRAWBS and EAST OF EDEN.

Their two albums feature weird/oblique melodies and harmonies, lots of heavy keyboards, electric guitar and flute (at times purposely off key), with the drummer pounding on his skins as if his life depended on it. This is very early prog and you particularly feel this in the organ work, which has a typical early 70’s psych feel. Their second album, which features an additional member on flute and sax as well as the appearance of the Mellotron, is an ambitious concept album about the brutal culture of ancien Rome – quite a sordid affair, really, but well done. It has a slightly better sound than the first album although most progsters generally favour the first.

Fans of EAST OF EDEN or those interested in vintage prog will certainly want to check them out.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :
 
 
You can read the review for their albums Marsupilami and Arena.
 
Highly recommended for those looking for a mixture of sounds and an intriguing and thrilling one at that.
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2007 at 13:25
I think I saw one of their albums in a store in Florence when I was last there, a couple of weeks ago. I've heard of them, obviously, but never got around to hearing anything from them. Hopefully the album is still there when I go back!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2007 at 13:30
I hope you'll see it here as well. Both are good albums, but Arena is simply special with its approach and unconventinality.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2007 at 14:08

Both albums by Marsupilami are not simply recommended, but highly, hugely, immensely recommended. Especially their debut album (my personal opinion), which is as strong as some albums by so-called "big names". If I knew English I would write reviews for both of them.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2007 at 16:16
Originally posted by Fassbinder

Both albums by Marsupilami are not simply recommended, but highly, hugely, immensely recommended. Especially their debut album (my personal opinion), which is as strong as some albums by so-called "big names". If I knew English I would write reviews for both of them.

 
Your English is just fine, I think you can go ahead and write those two reviews.
 
For those interested, here's several places to get the re-issue:
Laser's Edge - Marsupilami - Arena
 
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2007 at 16:35
Originally posted by Fassbinder

Both albums by Marsupilami are not simply recommended, but highly, hugely, immensely recommended. Especially their debut album (my personal opinion), which is as strong as some albums by so-called "big names". If I knew English I would write reviews for both of them.




Shocked Come on, Eugene - yours is better than mine f.e. and a lot of reviewers here are not native english. Marsupilami is on my list - hope to review them soon ...

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2007 at 18:44

My English is not better than yours, Uwe, by any means...

I don't know... maybe I really should write some reviews... I'll think of it...

Marsupilami is indeed a group that deserves more attention than it gets today, even though it is an "obsolete" (for some people) group...

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 19:26
Originally posted by Fassbinder

Marsupilami is indeed a group that deserves more attention than it gets today, even though it is an "obsolete" (for some people) group...

 
I second those sentiments. I also think you'll do a great job reviewing them.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 19:57
This band was also in Symphonic, but in the eight ssession on June 22 2006 we moved them:
 
Here is the quote:
 
Marsupilami (England): The person who added them says: MARSUPILAMI were an English proto-prog outfit who relocated to the Netherlands. The complexity of their music is quite unusual for the times – we’re talking 1970 here, when the big guns such as YES, GENESIS and CRIMSON were barely coming out of the woodwork. A mixture of blues, experimental jazz and hints of folk, their music is often dark and foreboding, favouring perilously complex structures. Try to imagine a mixture of KING CRIMSON, JETHRO TULL, the STRAWBS and EAST OF EDEN…WHY IN HELL SHE ADDED THEM TO SYMPHONIC? Should go to ART ROCK.
 
Of course we managed to get some music, it was clear that this band had no relation with Symphonic, but by that moment, we were used to this surprises. Wink
 
Iván
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 23 2007 at 13:08
Reviving this due to a veyr good review by James:
 
MARSUPILAMI — Arena
Review by Finnforest (James)
Prog Reviewer

4%20stars Into the Arena!!

An amazing and complex album that was in line or even ahead of where the competition was at the time it was made in 1970. As you likely know this is a concept album about the Roman culture that was produced by Camel’s Peter Bardens who also plays some percussion. Musically and lyrically it is heavy, dark (mostly), and quite adventurous. More than anything though this is a near perfect example of early English progressive rock (though recorded in the Netherlands.)

“Prelude to the Arena” (subtitled “the undertones of violence in a drifting generation”) starts quite violently with Sabbath style dramatic chords and the theatrical exclamations of Fred Hasson, whose vocals are adequate for this material but sit just on the edge of being annoying at times. This leads to alternating calm and rock sections with organ, guitar, flute. Bass and some furious drumming are pretty stellar throughout the jamming. Quite a nice opener. “Peace of Rome” (“they manufactured death to keep the peace”) starts with a back and forth between vocalizations and flute. Then there is a section of sung spoken narrations about the Roman concepts with lovely flutes and another fluent rock section with organ. “The Arena” (“the fighting, the killing, the mother of fornication”) begins with more dramatic narration over Hammond blasts and then some extended organ over subdued drumming, bass, and female background vocals. The flutes come in and the sound is quite eerie and a bit exotic. In the middle there is a great section of piano, flute and whispered female vocal, the calm before the chaos to follow. Starting at 9:20 is a section that sounds quite Camel-ish, one wonders if Barden’s picked up some subconscious influence here although most of Marsupilami is much more brash than Camel. The latter half of this song features some truly fine prog rock moments, great guitar work, mellotron, vocals, and overall memorable textures.

Side 2 begins with “Time Shadows” (“lay low the past, the future brings hope”). This one starts very weird with echoed vocal and organ, then acoustic and flute join and then harmonica and vocal. Soon a brisk bass and jazzy drum beat grabs the weirdness and pulls it along, then some piano joins in. If this sounds like a mess, well it kind of is a musical car wreck and yet is quite fulfilling. About half way through we get the saxophone and electric guitar trading licks with an urgent flute and rhythm section behind. The last minute gets pretty crazy with the sax and guitar laying down some very heavy rock. “Spring” is a great closer and another good hippie rock moment. After yet another insanely dramatic beginning the track suddenly jumps into the most delightfully melodic passage of flute, piano, and gentle Camel like rhythm. That stops and we move into a vocal weirdness section with cathartic wailing to edgy strings and keys. Then a short e guitar solo-the lead guitar work is good enough though by no means jaw dropping. But with everything else going on around it doesn’t need to be. The sound here again is VERY busy and ambitious, and somewhat difficult. This will be just too bizarre for some to enjoy, but others will feast on the eccentricity of the album. After several minutes of strangeness it slips back to the Camel-like melody to provide a pleasing and memorable ending.

“Arena” is an album that puzzled me at first but I’m glad I stuck with it, I now find it to be a challenging and always entertaining listen. To give a bit more info on the overall sound I quote just a short section from the GEPR: “There is also a strong folk feel in the vocal melodies and some of the music. The organ work gives a bit of a early '70s psych feel. Arena is a concept album but the songs on both albums run in the 7-9 minute range. Perhaps not essential but generally pretty nice if you like melodic prog with folk touches and a bit of an early feel. I especially like the heavy keyboards and busy drumming. Their overall sound is somewhat typical of the period - full of late sixties influences - but unique enough to be worthwhile. They occasionally sound like In Search of Space era Hawkwind but with more emphasis on vocals and keyboards. The instrumental proficiency and variety will keep the average prog-head interested.” [part in quotes from GEPR]

It’s certainly true that parts of this sound dated but that isn’t necessarily the same thing as “not aging well.” If you don’t mind theatrics I’d say this has aged quite well, the strange complexities of the composition and arrangements make it as interesting to me as some of today’s ultra complex prog. The Japanese remaster is not a gatefold unfortunately but it does offer some decent sound quality considering how old this is. 4 solid stars for a great early prog album and recommended to anyone intrigued by what they’re read.

Posted Sunday, December 23, 2007, 11:27 EST
Review Permanent link | Submit a review for this album

 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 23 2007 at 13:23
Just saw the review. Very interesting. I'll check them out.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 24 2007 at 15:54
I have both albums. They have a very melodramatic sound that might not be to all tastes but I love that debut album; 'And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin' was one of the earliest prog obscurities I heard and it made a very good impression. Hard to compare them to anybody else; I think they have a pretty unique sound, not as obviously debted to Yes, Genesis or King Crimson that a lot of these UK prog obscurities are (albeit I do still enjoy those albums a lot).
 
I got the 2nd album 'Arena' recently and it's even more dense and complex. One thing's for sure though; I really could have done without that hammy narration that appears on it. Narration on these albums is a personal bete noire of mine, though...maybe it isn't for anyone else.
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