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Hoelderlin - New Faces CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.36 | 29 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Seventies German band Hoelderlin have an interesting history. The initial line-up was responsible for one of the seminal prog/acid-folk works `Hölderlins Traum' in 1972, and a reworked version delivered three superb English language symphonic works and a live album in the three short years covering 1975-78, but it as was at that point that several founding members departed the group. Keyboardist Joachim von Grumbkow and bassist Hans Bäär recruited several new musicians and took the Hoelderlin name in a more streamlined commercial rock direction here with elements of jazz and funk, and taken on its own merits, 1979's `New Faces' is quite a nice crossover mix of accessible rock that has plenty of touches of a Camel-like sound in parts, and it still finds time for a few instrumental pieces.

The addictive `Somebody's Callin' is a chugging groovy opener full of propulsive momentum due to both Hans Bäär's relentless and unceasing thick murmuring bass and the constant powerful driving beat from new drummer Eduard Schicke of the sublime symphonic group Schicke Führs & Fröhling. Tommy L'Ohr offers a reliable vocal, but more importantly his and Rüdiger Elze's guitars smoulder and wail through the entire track, delivering protracted soloing in the final minutes. The supremely likable `I Want You' is a peppy and unashamedly cheerful AOR rocker with nice ringing twin guitar melodies, and damned if the sun-kissed chorus wasn't blessed on high by the gods of pop! `Cold Winds' is a tasteful low-key shimmering electric piano ballad with a humble vocal from Christoph Noppeney off Hoelderlin's `Rare Birds', and despite a slightly pained lead vocal from Tommy, `Gentle Push' instantly calls to mind mid-Seventies onwards Camel with its silken rising guitar soloing, plus the warm repeating group vocal refrain is very pleasing.

But fear not, prog-freaks, side two's `High In Shanghai' delivers the first of two instrumentals, with this undemanding yet interesting six-minute one having a dreamy ambient intro, twitchy electronics and electrifying twin electric guitar themes with more dramatic bursts making it really not too far removed from what Camel would do on both `I Can See Your House From Here' and `Nude'. `The Shouter' is a soft pop piece with a gentle acoustic guitar melody that faintly calls to mind moments of Peter Gabriel's `Solisbury Hill', and `Footsteps' is a cute and harmless romantic popper with sweetly accented singing, chiming guitars and Camel-like breezy synth trills that is very easy to fall for, with a quietly ambitious and exotic middle instrumental passage. Closer `Weekend' also reminds of that same band again and manages to cram a lot into not even three minutes with its upbeat and victorious nimble guitar heroics and wisping keyboards.

Yes, there's a slightly dorky quality here and there, some of the vocals are a little unlovable and for many prog-snobs this is going to be far too straight-forward, but it's a hugely charming and undemanding disc, and one definitely recommended for fans of Camel's `Breathless' through to `Nude' period. Sigh...if only all commercial/lite-prog/AOR albums where as successful and enjoyable as this one is!

Three and a half stars (but personally it's a four!)

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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