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Walpurgis - Queen of Saba  CD (album) cover




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2.92 | 30 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars One-and-done German rock band Walpurgis had plenty going for them, but it just didn't really happen for the group in their heyday of the early Seventies. They boasted Wallenstein's keyboard player and main composer Jurgen Dollase, they fused Jane-like plodding heavy rock with West Coast bluesy psychedelic flavours to their light `krautrock' textures which should have made them quite accessible, they were signed to the legendary Ohr record label, and just look at that attractive and eye-catching front cover on their debut album! But there's several niggling factors that hold their sole LP `Queen of Saba' from 1972 back from being placed alongside the stronger German rock releases of the era, even if it's still a perfectly enjoyable listen once in a while.

Opener `Disappointment' is a mellow and subdued melodic ballad, all shimmering Hammond organ and gentle acoustic guitars chiming around warm piano with brief acid-rock electric guitar soloing popping in and out as well. The singer (unsure who it is exactly, as both guitarist Jerzy Sokolowski and drummer Manfred Stadelmann are credited to vocals) is a little flat throughout and overreaches vocally here and there, but there's a heartfelt sincerity to his (heavily accented) English reading of the romantic (but oh so awkward!) words.

There's a nice snarl to `Hey You Over There' that mixes both jangling psych-pop guitars and twirling flute with heavier dustier bluesy struts. The title-track `Queen Of Saba's chugging charging riffing, molten slow-burn guitar soloing and relentless drumming almost reminds of the earlier Eloy albums in brief moments, and the uplifting `Daily' is mellow and embracing with a reflective quality, where its flights of humming Hammond organ, dreamy extended guitar soloing passages and the agreeable piano outro makes it one of the highlights of the LP.

Once the histrionic painful vocals on the second side's `What Can I Do (To Find Myself?)' take a step back, the piece lifts into chilled skies with ringing guitars, exotic percussion and the littlest teases of dustier eastern vibes. But the centrepiece of the album is the eleven-minute closer `My Last Illusion', full of everything from sudden up-tempo fiery bursts, foot-tapping smouldering grooves and slow-building contemplative ruminations. Frequently vocal-free and highlighted by lengthy jamming soloing from all the players, twisting electric guitars vibrantly spring to life and take on a mantra-like intensity as they wind seductively with murmuring bass, the piece reminding in parts of both Jane and early Eloy once again, and the low-key mellow come-down outro ends the disc beautifully. Had the whole album been more like this, with the vocals taking a back-seat, chances are `Queen of Saba' would have ended up a much more special album than it was.

Perhaps some will feel the album is a little too straightforward, and many will likely find the weezy vocals a total breaking point, but if you can overlook those inconsistencies and pay a bit closer attention, there's plenty of cool playing and lovely qualities scattered throughout all the tracks. It will never be able to be considered among the essential German rock releases of the Seventies, but if you have all the best, Walpurgis' `Queen of Saba' helps make up the rest to enhance a collection of cool adventurous rock titles from that country.

Three stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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