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Alquin - The Mountain Queen CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.81 | 107 ratings

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2 stars 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.

Finnforest | 2/5 |


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