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Pell Mell - Marburg CD (album) cover

MARBURG

Pell Mell

 

Symphonic Prog

3.56 | 77 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Pell Mell's debut album, named after their home city Marburg, this sextet (violins, mellotrons, flutes and solid all-around musicianship) developed a symphonic rock that owed much to the classical masters, but mixed them with a solid dose of Hammond-driven heavy rock, providing a sometimes exhilarating sound that approaches Rooster, Purple and Heep, but at the same time progging it out a bit in the same register as Quartermass (with more options since there is double the musicians) and Kansas (partly due to the violin, but the vocals as well), I'll bet Kansas heard this album during their Proto-Kaw days. Released on the collectible Bacillus label and graced with a fantasy psyched-nightmarish artwork, this first album does live a bit to its reputation as a minor gem, but certainly will not over-shake your certainties either.

Aside from the Smetana's Moldau piece, the borrowings many people accuse the band are not that obvious. While the first side of the album is good but no more, clearly the flipside is were the band was keeping its trump cards. Indeed the almost 9-min City Monster has great drama and lengthy interplay, but it represents their best songwriting effort of the album. The 9 min+ Alone starts out on a violin/piano duo and develops slowly its crescendo with the organ coming in than stopping dead to start in a dissonant percussion/keyboards improv, before the drums takes control and send us in Black Sabbath (the group/album/track) territory, before veering into the usual Hammond-driven heavy prog then veering into an early Saucerful Floyd and finishing as Pell Mell.

Although some people might want to compare early PM to Ekseption or Trace, I find that with the debut Marburg, it is only partially relevant, but with their next one From the New World, this remark rings truer. While I wouldn't call any of Pell Mell's albums essential, this one is their better one and the ideal intro.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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