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Triumvirat - Old Loves Die Hard CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.45 | 178 ratings

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4 stars Even an experienced hunter may miss the prey

Since 1976 when I received a 90 minutes cassette with "Illusions on a Double Dimple" on side A and "Spartacus" on side B, I've been a fanatic of TRIUMVIRAT, not only because of the incredible talent and skills of Jürgen Fritz, but for the sound of the whole band and the hallucinating arrangements. But after the Helmut Köllen left the band, the average "Pompeii" and the disastrous "A La Carte", lost he interest and never had the will to listen "Old Love Dies Hard", mainly because of Barry Palmer's voice, doesn't matter the strong accent, the late Köllen was a stronger singer.

So the years passed and a few weeks ago during one of my usual CD safaris, found a very cheap copy of "Old Love Dies Hard" that the guy in the store was never ale to sell, after a short deal, I agreed to pay 3 bucks, took it to my house and placed it on the TRIUMVIRAT section of my collection, until past Monday when I took it to the car and placed it on the CD player....God, what a surprise!

Won't say it's in the level of "Illusions" or "Spartacus", but it's an excellent album that I missed for some decades due to a prejudice against the post trio formation of the band. The first surprise is the fact the album is absolutely guitarless (Well Köllen wasn't mainly a guitar player neither), but this lack of guitar enhances the listening experience of Fritz as a virtuoso keyboardist, specially with the piano where his technique is impeccable.

It's also important to notice that the original bassist Dick Frangenberg (Was replaced By Hans Pape before recording "Mediterranean Tales") is back, and the guy gave the size, because his performance is solid, as if he had never left the band. About Hans Bathelt is not necessary to talk, being that his style is part of the band since the start and is the only one capable to complement the style of Fritz.

The album starts with "I Believe", a well elaborate ballad in which Jürgen Fritz shows his skills with the Moog but mainly with the piano, changing the usually pompous atmosphere of the band for a more pristine sound that reminds of the softer tracks of "Spartacus" .

As I said before, Palmer's voice is not my cup of tea, but neither is annoying, and when Fritz does the backing vocals the sound is very pleasant, and if we add the perfect arrangements and the nice choirs, all the band sounds well, not brilliant by way above the average.

"A Day in Live" is another soft correct track in which again the arrangements make it sound much better, Bathelt (usually compared with Carl Palmer), achieves something that the great ELP drummer never could, to keep perfect timing, maybe needs more strength to play in band that keeps working as a Power Trio (Barry Palmer only sings so they are essentially a trio), but his technique makes any minor problem vanish. But the fascinating characteristic of this track is the clear and perfect piano, Fritz avoids using complex synthesizers to give an image of clarity and clean sound.

"The History of Mystery" (Talking about the whole track, because the division between parts 1 and 2 is only product of the limits of vinyl format) starts soft and melodic as the precious tracks, but after a short piano and vocals passage, TRIUMVIRAT takes us back in time to 1973, performing a pompous and brilliant track in the vein of "Illusions on a Double Dimple", as 4 years before Jürgen Fritz picks the heavy artillery and gives a lesson of versatility with each and every keyboard instrument he has on hand, demonstrating he hasn't lost the touch with the mighty Moog, while Frangenberg and Bathelt manage to follow his lead with the usual dexterity.

The track is anything but predictable, the changes are so radical that the casual listener doesn't know what to expect, the vocals enter when nobody could imagine and vanish as soon as he appeared to leave the keyboards reign, yes, they still remind of ELP, but in my opinion they are better most of the time, a fantastic song and a highlight of the album.

After a powerful epic as "The History of Mystery" a relief is required, and "A Cold Old Worried Lady" provides it, strangely in this beautiful melodic song Barry Palmer sounds great, his vocal ability sounds beyond his usual range and the band doesn't leave him along complementing him in every moment, not as vibrant ads the previous ones but still a solid song.

But anybody who knows TRIUMVIRAT must be sure that thee calm doesn't last forever, "Panic in the Fifth Avenue" is frenetic from start to end, as in their best era, the band doesn't rest for an instant, providing a breathtaking instrumental with memorable Hammond and Moog performances with a rhythm section that keeps the feet of the band solid in the ground and allowing maestro Fritz to wander wherever he wants, 10 minutes of pure Progressive Rock.

"Old Love Dies Hard" ends with the title song, which provides a softer closure to the album with excellent vocal performances by all the members and pristine clear arrangements.

As I said when starting this review, don't believe this album is in the level of "Illusions" and "Spartacus", but lets be honest, hardly any album is in that level, if I had only listened "Old Love Dies Hard", I'm sure would still consider THE RAT an icon of Prog and one of the best German bands ever.

Can't rate the album with less that 4 stars because it's an excellent addition to any Prog collection, a gem that I left behind for three decades due to an absurd prejudice.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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