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Sandrose - Sandrose CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.58 | 104 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars A French band formed around guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen with some members of Eden Rose and others, Sandrose released one sole self-titled album in 1972, and it's well worth the rediscovery by vintage prog fans. This symphonic prog band were somewhat comparable to Earth and Fire, mostly due to a striking female singer out front and plentiful use of emotional Mellotron in just about every track of their album. Singing in English, charmingly accented vocalist Rose Podwojny is a powerhouse performer, the perfect balance of gutsy and feminine charms, although her sometimes exhausting delivery won't be to everyone's tastes (Gudny Aspaas from Norwegian band Ruphus is instantly comparable). Recorded in only a week, `Sandrose' is delicate one minute, overwhelming with power the next, and while it's certainly no classic, it's still exquisitely performed by a talented group of musicians and distinctive vocalist.

Opener `Vision' quickly builds in urgency, a pounding relentless drum-beat beside Rose's vocals that border on losing control, reverberating heavy echoing electric guitar strains racing along the background. `Old Dom Is Dead' sees Rose adopt a more gospel influenced vocal, reaching ear-splitting levels of spiritual rapture over sublime lifting clouds of Mellotron that never cease. The main repeated theme of `To Take Him Away' melds romantic Camel-styled lead guitar and accompanying Mellotron with a catchy repeated chorus, plus a powerful instrumental outro where the 'Tron comes closest to resembling a sweeping orchestra. `Summer is Yonder' is a downbeat psych/folk ballad, but some pained and slightly pitchy higher vocals from Rose almost derail it.

Two lengthy instrumentals are sure to be favourites of prog listeners. After a majestic gliding Mellotron fanfare opening for `Underground Session' (which will also be repeated throughout the piece at regular intervals), a bombastic wordless male band member chorus booms before ragged extended electric guitar soloing, rippling Hammond organ, crashing gongs and pulsating bass reach maddening moments of tension and drama. A thick dirge-like slab of Mellotron with King Crimson-like intensity smashes all in its path in the final minutes as well. Later on, the up-tempo `Metakara' is an infectious and tightly constrained jazz/fusion workout, with dancing electric piano and bubbling Hammond, Jean- Pierre moving through lightly jazzy guitar licks to some ripping scorching faster runs. The album concludes on a baffling psychedelic snippet that sounds like nothing else on the album and is really quite out of place!

But special mention must to `Never Good at Sayin' Goodbye', a restrained and heart- wrenching ballad. Acoustic guitars gently float with Rose's wounded whisper, and then when the chorus hits, the piece roars to life with a rising vocal and Mellotron crescendo. "I'll look back on the love we knew...I'll remember when you're far away that I love you...". Rose completely nails the right level of heartbreak and dignity on this track, and it's impossible not to be moved by this powerful display, a real showcase for her.

Easier to find again due to a recent Mini LP CD reissue from Musea, Sandrose and their album are not an essential purchase for prog listeners, with endless other albums, both French and otherwise, worth tracking down beforehand. But long-time prog collectors looking for some other worthwhile titles to add to their library can be easily assured they'll receive a quality album if they were to take a chance on this. It's a sumptuous work that deserves some more attention, and fans of rare female singers in vintage prog bands and Mellotron fiends who can't get enough of the instrument should probably make a note to look into this one right away!

Three and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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