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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Listen to Alquin (Netherlands)
    Posted: March 10 2008 at 23:32
ALQUIN 
 
This past week I went back to the two Alquin albums I have:
This is not ground breaking stuff or amazing complex prog; This is FUN to listen to music! Beautiful tunes, cheerful mood, cool and very enjoyable. A flirt of jazz-rock with symphonic rock. Great stuff. Recommended.
 
 
 
Their PA bio:
ALQUIN were an innovative Dutch band who released four studio albums during the early to mid-70's, their first two being of particular interest to progsters. With a mixture of rock, jazz and classical music, they show elements of SOFT MACHINE, CARAVAN, PINK FLOYD, CURVED AIR with tinges of ROXY MUSIC. The band split up in 1977 following line-up changes and differences in musical direction – some of its members went on to form a new wave/punk band called The METEORS.

"Marks" (1972), their first release, is mostly instrumental with a highly jazzy feel. Quite versatile, it features snippets of calypso, circus music, Dixieland and (of all things!) country music. Their best progressive effort, however, is their second album "Mountain Queen" (1973) which features long instrumental passages with prominent lead guitar, whirling Hammond organ, dual saxophones, electric violin and catchy choruses in a slightly Canterbury style. With the release of "Nobody Can Wait Forever" (1975) and "Best Kept Secret" (1976), however, the band went for a more hard rock sound with shorter, more accessible tunes. Two live albums as well as six compilation cd's of their material were subsequently released by Polydor and various other record labels.

The symphonic style of "Mountain Queen" should appeal to progsters; "Nobody Can Wait Forever" is recommended if you like a more bluesy/funky approach.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :
 
 
 
Here, read this review from James about Marks:
 
4%20stars Hits the “mark” big time….

This album was such a pleasant surprise. Alquin is a Dutch band that released this monster debut in 1972. What makes it so impressive is the tons of variety here: songwriting with some real flair and pizazz, great chops, and very good sound. Rather than simply being influenced by the English giants you have a feisty bunch of songs that challenge them on their own turf, getting right in there and throwing a few elbows around. This is music that is delightfully playful, shimmering in melodies, and balances nicely the instrumental prowess proggers love—but it does so while constantly changing from one fresh idea to the next rather than getting lost in endless jamming. This is where I differ starkly in opinion from most reviewers here and elsewhere. Most people prefer their second album because they say it streamlined their sound and grabbed a heavier groove, the latter of which is true for sure. But I don’t think that makes it better. From my vantage point now that made the 2nd album sound a lot more like so many other albums in the 70s with long, sometimes repetitive jamming that began leading down the road to the less exciting 3rd and 4th release. I prefer this debut because it is such a smörgåsbord of influences, but always injected with a big dose of enthusiasm and irreverence. You can just tell how excited they are here and every track has something that makes me smile. Some will say there are too many influences here and too many directions but I disagree—they do hold it together and it’s very satisfying. I don’t like “Marks” just a little better than “Mountain Queen,” I like it a lot better. Frankly, it’s just more damn fun even if it doesn’t rock as hard as MQ.

“Oriental Journey” begins with flute and acoustic guitar soon joined by bass and e piano in a most delightful Canterburyish sound. The guitar joins and the track really picks up with some effects drenched leads that morphs into a crazy moment of street parade music, like Mardi Gras or something. A door slams and the song shifts again, horns come and go and there’s an air of psychedelic whimsy afoot. I hear Supersister, Camel, and Caravan it this great freakin opener. It leads right into “The Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers” which is a jazzy melody with horns. Half way through it stops and the second half sounds a bit like Traffic with a little improv sax over piano to very minimal percussion. “Soft Royce” is a smashing track with a jazzy sax and bass highlighted by a blistering solo early on, then there is a sort of Santana-type rhythm that erupts in the middle. Again, very playful and loose in attitudes while staying deadly serious on the tight chops. After some rousing vocals there is a laid back organ section with nice rhythm guitar behind it. Another sax solo follows this, the musicianship is top notch and the sound is great for ’72. The 11-minute plus centerpiece here is the stunning “I Wish I Could.” This incredible song opens with a Floydian sounding fuzzed guitar over mellotron. The similarities to “Echoes” seem possible as the track slowly builds until about half-way through when acoustic guitar and a tempo change leads to some vocal verses. Some have criticized the vocals and while not the strongest I think they’re just fine, a bit of an accent on the English but it’s not a big deal. Strong presence of bass and flute accent the imaginative guitar licks dancing around the singing. The production is great with sound that allows every musician to be heard very well. The song is laid back but so lush and spacious, waves of floating keys but plenty of hooks. “You Can Always Change” is a simple and pleasant ballad with great melody. “Marc’s Occasional Showers” begins with sax and rapid-fire cymbals to brisk guitar chords. The sax becomes very serene and peaceful in the second half with lovely vocal harmonies dressing the window. “Catharine’s Wig” closes the album with eccentricity again. A folksy number with violin and bouncy bass it would sound a bit out of place anywhere else, but here is works.

This is a very easy recommendation to anyone who loves Supersister and Caravan but would like to hear a different twist, a little mischief, a buffet with all the tasty standbys but also some weird looking side dishes that you need to be dared to try. If you’re just a meat and potatoes rocker, proceed to their 2nd album. Or if you can find the Polydor “2 on 1” series, you can get both of them on one CD. Now that’s a picnic no one can turn their nose up to. 4 plus stars. Perhaps not groundbreaking but on the quality and musical enjoyment level it is a masterful work. This music lifts my spirits in a big way.

Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
 
 
 
 
 
 
His review for Mountain Queen is not so positive (though you can read other raving reviews there), but I'll give it to you nonetheless:
 
2%20stars A step down from their amazing debut.

The 2nd album by the Dutch band Alquin. Consensus opinion has it that this was their best album but I have to disagree. “Marks” was an amazingly varied and interesting treat filled with fun and great songs. “Mountain Queen” is clearly less bold to me—it’s like they surveyed the landscape of the early 70s and decided to trade in the quirks (fun) for a more typical, predictable rock album. MQ does rock and it is good in parts, but it trades in the magic of the Camel/Caravan/Supersister/Floyd mixed breed for a showy purebred who may have the papers, but who lacks the charm of the mutt. The album is dominated by two 13-15 minute long jam tracks that are plenty competent on chops, but in dire need of inspiration. Both have their good moments but are woefully short on ideas to sustain those kinds of lengths, these are the kind of jams that spawned the joke about people yelling “Freebird.” There are points in both songs where I’m just baffled as to where the spark went. “Soft-Eyed Woman” reminds a bit of Clapton with some nice, expressive bluesy leads. “Convicts of the Air” is another blues rocker that uses some flute but is really quite mediocre, going nowhere fast. “Don and Dewey” is a short little violin piece. “Mr. Barnum Jr’s Magnificent and Fabulous City” is probably the highlight of the album with more variety to the feel. Violin, horn, and flute parts accent the jazzy rhythms that venture into Soft Machine territory just a bit. This track is very well assembled and convincing. The latter part features good organ work, a flute solo, and some raunchy guitar work. 2 ― stars and not enough for me to round up. A huge disappointment after my excitement with their debut but keep in mind most reviewers disagree with me. There is a “2 on 1” CD edition out there that features both “Marks” and “Mountain Queen” so if you can find that, you’ll get great value and be able to decide for yourself which direction was more interesting. In my humble opinion there is nothing on Mountain Queen that approaches the best moments on Marks.

Posted Thursday, January 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
 
 
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 11 2008 at 19:02
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2008 at 07:36
I bought Nobody Can Wait Forever back in the 70s and promptly forgot about it. I listened to it again over the weekend and have to admit I didn't care for it very much - the mid-70s american sound and vocals kill it for me. Given the Canterbury sound of the first two albums, perhaps I should give them a go instead.
 
Incidentally, the backing vocals on NCWF were by the Thunderthighs, not the Thunderlights - I'll correct that minor error on the album page. Wink (a minor Thinderthighs fan - I've got one of their singles and currently looking for the other)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 13 2008 at 14:46
Mountain Queen is the album i know, and probably i was not that convinced, since i donīt really remember itīs music Embarrassed
Will have to listen ot it.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 17 2008 at 15:26
My favorite is Mountain Queen, I find The Dance one of their best tracks. The debut is maybe a bit more versatile but also lighter. Also very good though. Both albums can be bought as a "2 on 1" cd and is really worthwhile.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 01 2008 at 11:29
I listened to New Guinea Sunrise (streaming on PA) and Darling Superstar (from the band's website) from the Nobody Can Wait Forever album and it definitely has that 1975 hard rock sound to it.  On New Guinea Sunrise, the singer sounds remarkably like David Coverdale to me.  On the Darling Superstar track, the female backing vocals have a very familiar 70's pop music sound to them.  I assume that these must be the Thunderthighs that Dean referred to above. 
If you choose not to decide...you will get a side of fries with that.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2008 at 02:36
For those who are close enough to be able to make it: Alquin are playing at this years edition of the Symforce festival in Tilburg (NL) on August 23rd.
More details in the Gigs & Festivals section of course!
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I stopped blogging and reviewing - so won't be handling requests. Promo's for ariplay can be sent to [email protected]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2008 at 04:14
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3%20stars As I mentioned in my review about the compilation CD "Wheelchair groupie", Alquin was the first band I ever saw live, I must have been at about 13 or 14 years old. They played at a schoolparty near my hometown The Hague, later I realised how lucky I was to witness this unique progrock band from The Netherlands. The enthousiastic reactions to their reunion a few years ago have turned into a new studio album featuring no less than five members from the original line-up, including lead vocalist Michel Van Dijk. In some tracks his distinctive voice reminds me of a 'crooner', like in the bluesy "Murder in the park" (howling electric guitar and fiery saxophone) and the melancholical "Enough=enough" (tender piano and fragile slide-guitar). On some tracks I hear the magic from their first two albums "Marks" and "Mountain Queen": a powerful and swinging sound delivering wonderful Hammond waves, flowing electric guitar and fiery saxophone, topped by the strong and distinctive vocals from Michel Van Dijk. But at others moments Alquin has a more polished sound, a bit too smooth for me although Alquin plays good and inspired with strong work on guitar, saxophone and keyboards. They are still an unique band delivering an entertaining and often swinging blend of prog, blues, soul, jazz, funk and rock, on two tracks supported by the Stylers Horns. And it defenitely doesn't sound dated, just listen to the great final track "The beach" with a strong grand finale featuring howling guitar and fiery saxophone!



Edited by erik neuteboom - July 02 2008 at 09:12
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