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ODIN

Odin

Heavy Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Good (and sometimes excellent) hard Hammond-driven prog rock that was so usual in the very early part parts of the 70's (Odin can also be called UK proto prog), this "standard prog" quartet, lead by Kb/perc Jeff Beer, released their sole album on the legendary Vertigo label in 72.

Opening on the killer 11-mins Life Is Only, after a gradual build-up, Beer's infernal Hammond drives the rest of the group into many great twists and detours, very ably seconded by guitarist Terstall. Beer's organ playing is a composite of a wise Emerson and calmer Vincent Crane and a lesser riff-oriented Jon Lord, and reminds most of Uriah's Hensley, but certainly more inclined to lead role than the last two cited. The singing is good but unremarkable, but should not turn anyone off. The short instrumental Tribute To Frank (Zappa I guess, given the vibraphone) is another winner. However, the following Turnpike Lane has a heard-elsewhere melody (although I could never place), while the acoustic Be The Man You Are closes the first side in a rather less then enthusiastic fashion.

The flipside-opening 9-mins cover Gemini is the other highlight of the album, where Beer's organ rumps wildly in the middle section, although the chorus gets on my nerves (this writer is detests astrology and anything remotely related to it). The short Eucalyptus is a rather nice downbeat instrumental while the closing 8-mins+ Clown is another strong track where the instrumental passages are again taking the upper hand over the chorus-verse part of the song.

A very worthy one shot album that should ravish most of the early 70's buffs, looking for such beauties like Indian Summer, Steel Mill and more of Hammond-driven prog. I wouldn't call this album an unearthed gem, because of its release on Vertigo and its constant availability through the high-profile Repertoire record in CD format, but also because the songwriting is rather uneven at times and the band's strength was clearly in the good instrumental interplay.

Report this review (#30243)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars ODIN a British prog rock band....put out this record on the famous Vertigo label in 1972. They sound like a nice blend of Epitaph and Birth control (first period)...and the production are as could be expected from way back then. I kinda like the music...which is heavy on the hammond and keys in general,bass player Ray brown does a nice job, as do guitarist Rob Terstall...the drummer misses a few beats underway...but hey ..those were the days of funny tobacco....!! Second track is quite a nice tribute (tonal and arrangement wise) to Frank Zappa....mind you, not as brilliant as the old master himself would have done it... but still a nice little ditty.Fourth track "Be the man you are" sounds like it could have been out of a Steamhammer album....when they were in the acoustic mode!! Nice track!! Funnily enough the acoustic guitars recorded back then, sounded more like...ahem.... the musicians were right beside you...there in your living room.This might be because of the many options,gadgets,effects...and so on, the musicians nowadays have the possibility to use. Anyway...this is a nice litte obscure thing from the past...should you meet it on your quest for more progmusic...give it a try. So 3 stars....actually i think it deserves 3 and a half......and please, do not ignore the old albums and groups...there are plenty of great music and fun to be had there!!! Have a nice prog summer!!
Report this review (#30244)
Posted Wednesday, May 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Odin, like NEKTAR was a British band residing in Germany. While NEKTAR received some success (especially the United States when Passport Records showed an interest in their music), ODIN simply released one album, disappeared, and has pretty much been ignored. The album was released on the swirl Vertigo label, and due to its obscurity, one of the more desired titles on the label. While NEKTAR sometimes flirted with Krautrock styles (often so far as being called Krautrock, even if they weren't German), ODIN mainly stuck to a heavy guitar/organ-dominated prog style that was typical of the British scene of the early '70s. The band consisted of Jeff Beer on keyboards, Ray Brown on bass, Stuart Fordham on drums, and Rob Terstall on guitar, all credited to vocal duties, aside from the drummer.

If you love the sound of the Hammond organ, this album is a total must, often Jeff Beer played his organ with fuzz tone, not unlike DEEP PURPLE's Jon Lord, or Peter Robinson's work with QUATERMASS (whose style was much closer to Lord's in that band than say, when he was in BRAND X, which was much more similar to Robin Lumley's). In fact the band so much as covers a QUATERMASS song as well!

The album starts off with "Life Is Only", a totally killer piece stuffed with cool guitar and organ solos. There are some passages that bear more than a passing resemblance to ELP, in fact it's the only piece on the album to feature ELP-like passages. "Tribute to Frank" is a jazzy instrumental that brings to mind some of ZAPPA's instrumental works, so unsurprisingly the tribute would be to Frank ZAPPA. "Turnpike Lane" features a lot of wordless vocals, and at times almost reminding me of certain Italian prog bands. Of course, the guitar and organ solos are more typical of British bands. "Be the Man You Are" finds the band doing a nice, laid-back acoustic piece. Certainly the vocals are no CSNY, but still a nice piece. Then there's the cover of QUATERMASS' "Gemini". If you know the original, you'll find they pretty much stick to the original, except they added on guitars (since of course ODIN featured a guitarist and QUATERMASS didn't), and an extended solo the original didn't have. "Eucalyptus" is a rather laid-back instrumental piece with some early string synth (presumably a Freeman, as it's too early for the Elka or Solina, and the Eminent, which was around in '72, didn't seem to get much use outside of Italy and France). "Clown" goes back to the heavy style that is most typical for this band.

The album was luckily reissued on CD, and given the kind of music this is, this album would be perfect for Repertoire Records out of Germany to reissue. Instead a small German label called Living in the Past got a hold of it, making it not as easy to get a hold of, but if you can find a copy, get it!

Certainly the music is dated, the heavy organ/guitar format of the music makes it obvious that this was the early '70s, but as long as the music is great, as this album demostrates, I don't care.

Truly an amazing and forgotten gem of British prog. If you like early '70s guitar/organ- driven prog, this album is a total must!

Report this review (#30245)
Posted Wednesday, May 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Odin made one album that was quite good, but not really that distinctive. Despite recording this in 1972, the band's style was very much raw proto-prog with the odd jazz inflections, and mediocre vocals atop it all. While there are better proto-prog bands out there, I do enjoy sizable chuncks of this album.

The "proggier" (and consequently, better) songs here are unsurprisingly, the three lengthier ones. The opener Life Is Only promises much but doesn't really deliver, the cover of Quartermass' Gemini starts off very much in blues-rock staple mood before breaking into some Heep/Purple styled proggressive hard rock, with Jeff Beer's fantastic organ solo a dead ringer for a Jon Lord special. As for my favourite overall song on the album, the closing Clowns is a nice fat slab of proto-prog, with the guitar/organ exchanges overcoming the shortages in the vocal department.

Elsewhere, though, without making poor music, Odin is generally ordinary. Most of the shorter songs ride by on a single gimmick. Turnpike Lane has an unusual tribal vocal chant. Tribute To Frank is an all-too brief Zappa-esque instrumental (if you can believe it, I only just got the deliberate nod to Zappa as I was typing this!). Be The Man You Are is unexceptional, but could easily be a folkie's favourite Odin song. Eucalyptus is a passable stoner instrumental.

Odin's only work is far from bad, and I wouldn't pass up on it, but I would suggest sniffing out the likes of Tonton Macoute, Marsupillami, East Of Eden or indeed Quartermass first. ... 63% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#51049)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Man, what a letdown. Man, what a bring down, Man if this is Odin's trip I wanna get off. Let's just say my expecations were very high on this one, I had heard about it as a teenager, and I had wanted to own it for years. I found the reissue and bought it. I put the needle down on the record and thought I'd be in for something really earth shattering. My reaction was, to put it bluntly, this is not very good at all. The playing for starters is barely together, in fact I find it hard to believe that this was a professional outfit. Particularly shifting from one passage to the next is hard for Odin. When a guitar comes in to replace an organ riff or vice versa it sounds as if the whole ceiling is caving in on them! Out of all four band members not one is particularly impressive, and in a musical genre where a keyboard player is very important Odin fail almost completely. The guitar player is OK, mediocre, and commonplace, but he tries too hard to overcompensate for his lack of ability and same goes for all four of the group. And I haven't even mentioned the vocals yet, which are so straining and slurred that it makes it hard for me to believe Odin really were British. They seem to be struggling with the language and this leads to huge problems. I kept thinking something would come in to change the downward-from-the-start flow of this album, but it doesn't. Worst thing of all might be the fact that Odin aren't even heavy! The music veers towards the jazzier side of prog rock, but not in a good way. "Tribute To Frank" shamelessly steals from Zappa in a blind homage, and the worst inclinations of ELP (and I LIKE Emerson Lake And Palmer up to and including Trilogy) come into play with inept Emerson steals. As we all know Keith Emerson is a great musician, Odin are not. The constant pseudo jazz fake musical poetry isn't poetry, but doggerell. I wish this wasn't such a damning review of this album, but I tried to see something that lived up to what I hoped this would be in the music, and I couldn't no matter how hard I tried. I didn't want to like this album, I wanted to LOVE IT. With the music as bad as it is and the bad vocals, awful lyrics, and wasted production time all I can do now is know that I've heard this group for what they really are, and that is something barely higher than exploitation level which at least can be fun. Don't waste your time on this album, this group are best forgotten about, and "Clown" is a really bad close to the album where all the weaknesses bombard you. Pretty bad.
Report this review (#87164)
Posted Sunday, August 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A good vintage prog rock

In local mailing list, i-Rock! googlegroups, one of the members posted a question about Odin couple of weeks ago. I then checked with my review at this site because I was so sure that I wrote one altogether with CZAR (because I got the CD of these two bands almost at the same time). In fact I have not reviewed it here. I then decided to spin the CD. What I experienced was - in the middle of spinning relatively new prog CDs like ACT "Silence" - having a full nuance of 70s sound where the sonic quality was predominantly midrange and less treble and bass. But, I do enjoy vintage analog record even though the hi-fi quality is not that good. It represents the sound of 70s really. The CD sleeve is also quite minimum as it contains one folded paper as cover which copies the LP cover, I think. The CD was reproduced in 2000 by Living In The Past, Germany. Thanks God, I can now enjoy a true 70s music in its raw form.

The album starts with "Life Is Only" (10:55) which has a combination of hard-rock and symphonic prog composition. Ray Brown, the bass player, plays his instrument dynamically and it lays strong rhythm section coupled with stunning guitar solo by Rob Terstall. The vocal department has two singers : Rob Terstall and Ray Brown. The beuty of this song is its structure - not quite straight forward, in fact it has multi styles - as well as Hammond / keyboard work. The keyboard work reminds me to vintage rock music. Next is a short instrumental track "Tribute To Frank" (1:58) which has vibraphone work and a bit reminds me to Gentle Giant but with less complex arrangement.

"Turnpike Lane" (3:43) is basically an instrumental track because the singers are basically not singing any lyrics, as they do singing ini "aaaa . aaa.." instead of lyrical verses. The key characteristic is the combined vocal and guitar work. I do enjoy the stunning guitar solo in the middle of the track. Oh yeah, the bass lines are as usual, excellent! "Be The Man You Are" (2:45) is basically a ballad and I don't favor this track - because it has repetitive and boring chords.

"Gemini" (8:54) is another proggy (sort of) track. The music reminds me to bands like Frumpy, Atlantis or Babe Ruth but the vocal quality is similar to Cuby + Blizzards (Dutch) blues band. The structure of the song is basically hard-rock but the keyboard work combined with guitar solo remind me to symphonic prog kind of music. In terms of composition, this is as good as opening track "Life is Only". The soaring keyboard work that accompanies guitar solo is really nice. Having played as rhythm section, the keyboard performs its solo like Jon Lord performs in Deep Purple.

Overall, Odin has laid down quite a solid debut album. It has good songwriting, arrangement and performance. Unfortunately this was the only album they have ever produced and was only distributed in Germany. It's recommended to all of you who want to explore prog music in the old days - vintage prog rock. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#134808)
Posted Saturday, August 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Odin were a band with an interesting background, possibly more interesting than their music which was rather run-of-the-mill psych and blues rock sprinkled with a bit of funky jazz. The lineup consisted of a German, Dutchman and a couple of Englishmen transplanted to Germany in the late sixties. An early formation was known Honest Truth and made their modest reputation through live shows for the most part. Odin came to be after a breakup of Honest Truth in the wake of the death of their keyboardist and the theft of their equipment.

The Odin lineup included a new keyboardist (you know, because the old one was dead) named Jeff Beer, the only German and a converted guitarist. This band also concentrated on live shows, and secured a contract with Vertigo in 1972. Their self-titled and only studio release followed shortly thereafter. While the group had worked on a follow-up and had recorded tracks in a radio studio that would be released a quarter-century later, their fortunes in 1973 were rather bleak and by early 1974 the band had disbanded after less than three years together.

“Life is Only” and “Turnpike Lane” were among the four tracks the band would re-record in their radio studio sessions in 1973 and while those recordings were nearly identical, the production quality of both on this record is quite a bit better. “Life is Only” appears to be the band’s magnum opus, a nearly eleven minute foray into jazz, heavy blues and psychedelic guitar riffs that is a bit undisciplined but pretty ambitious for a fledgling band of young musicians.

“A Tribute to Frank” is just what the title says, but interestingly enough the short track’s keyboard and percussion bear a striking resemblance to a lot of jazzed-up New Age music I heard in the early eighties. This is also the only track of its kind on the album. “Be the Man You Are” is the other oddity, a mellow, folk-like guitar number with Beer providing dime-store philosophy backed by some decent harmony courtesy of guitarist Rob Terstall.

“Gemini” is a very prototypical early seventies Hammond organ-driven heavy rock song with wailing lead guitar and a toe-tapping though not particularly ambitious drumbeat. In all the tune isn’t bad, but sounds just like at least a couple dozen other bands of that era that come to mind but who I won’t bother to list out here.

The only instrumental on the album (“Eucalyptus”) is another slow number with an almost maddeningly plodding guitar and bass line that just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I’m guessing there are no lyrics because the band couldn’t think of anything to say about the music. Me either.

The band ends the album and their career with “Clown”, another hard-rocker with psych guitar much in the vein of the opening track. Again, not bad but nothing any prog fan hasn’t heard countless times before.

The CD reissue has a bonus track (“Oh No”) which was also featured on the 1973 SWF session tapes released on the Long Hair label in 2007. This is another organ orgy (that sounds weird when I read those words back out loud), although I’ll admit the tune is representative of the rest of the band’s work so I suppose it fits here.

I’ll say the same of this album that I did about their SWF Sessions CD – not essential by any means, but a record that will likely have some appeal to fans of heavy prog. Three stars just because I think the music is a little better than just for collectors and fans of the band.

peace

Report this review (#173253)
Posted Saturday, June 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh yes, this is a fantastic gem of a find for me. What I was expecting from a heavy prog band called Odin was something more raw, with heavy distortion, pounding drums, and occasional mythological references. This would have easily satisfied the hard rock side of my musical preferences, but what I hear on this record is entirely different than any of that, and excites the eclectic side of me, particularly the Frank Zappa fan that consumes a lot of my musical fondness. Rightly so, for this group were clearly big fans of Frank's music, containing within a song entitled "Tribute To Frank", which faithfully and tastefully mimics his late-sixties and early-seventies jazz-influenced excursions. A large portion of the record is made up of this kind of influence. Save for the more typically UK Rock vocals you'd probably mistake a lot of the material here for something Frank had come up with at some point.

This is far from a Zappa clone, however. Partially because a true clone of Zappa would probably be an incredibly daunting task, but partially because this group were also quite fond of heavier rock of the era, probably blues fans as well. This is of course a side of Zappa that would come out more and more later in his career, but here we hear it side by side with that earlier style of his, and with the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies of this individual group, clearly making the sound their own. Be The Man You Are also exhibits a possible Yes influence for me, although it's much farther from copying them outright.

Gemini, on the other hand, is a track much more in keeping with the heavy prog spirit, with those distorted guitars, hard rock riffs, UK blues style vocals and frantic organ work, but not without its own amount of goofiness.

Guitarist Rob Terstall keeps things very interesting with his own original style, often complimented by an uncanny reproduction of the Zappa style of guitar solos, some of which actually somewhat foreshadows Frank's future work on albums such as Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar, particularly early in the album's closer, Clown, which also manages to fuse these Frank and Yes influences in spurts, combined with more of the heavy rock influence and other inklings of progressive groups of the time. It could be considered as the closest thing on the album to a Yes-like prog rock suite, twisting and turning through several progressions, tempos, and styles.

Throughout the album are spurts of exotic instrumentation, and very good production considering the very small evident commercial success of the group. It runs the gambit from slow, melancholic and melodic rock tunes, to heavy blues-inspired riffage, with lots of eccentricity and fun experimentation and influence from the lighter side of jazz. Every musician is obviously very skilled, including bassist Ray Brown who clearly did not settle for the simple and repetitive reproductions of the guitar's general progression that sometimes can doom an otherwise excellent record to relative mediocrity. He instead adds creative and skillful basslines throughout while not losing sight of keeping the rhythm maintained.

There are occasional tidbits of psychedelic editing techniques, particularly some sparing usage of reverb and phaser effects, that create a mild space rock feel in parts of Clown and throughout most of Eucalyptus. Radiating through the album is perhaps the most important part of all: The impression that the band genuinely very much enjoyed playing and recording this material. It's fun and occasionally goofy, without becoming hokey or novelty, simply adding a few good vibes into some very well-performed music.

It saddens me that a group such as this would fall by the wayside as they did, but this record of their work was still more than worth their existence, and will make a special addition to the music collection of anyone inclined to the sorts of influences and artists I've listed here, or perhaps even those less familiar with them, as the album can very easily be taken in and of itself for what it musically is. A very fine record by a very nice group.

Report this review (#722928)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink

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