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Folque - Folque



Comments:
Folque started out in the early 70s as a progressive folk band, and released several albums through the 1980s. The group released at least 3 albums in the 70s that mixed acoustic instruments like the violin, mandolin, banjo, and piano with electric guitar, bass, and keyboards to create an earthly music that came very close to American bluegrass, and Irish Celtic music(if you're not familiar with Norwegian folk). At the time, many bands around Europe began to re-introduce local folk music to younger generations by updating it with rock music. Folque were certainly part of this movement. The novice listener will instantly notice the group's talent for creating catchy songs based on traditional Norwegian folk music. Your ears are quickly treated to playful melodies from violins, mandolin, dulcimers, banjo, Traditional Norwegian instruments, bass, and guitar. The star of the show here is female singer Lisa Helljesen, whose voice is charismatic. A few tracks also feature male vocals, as well as male/female vocal interplay. Overall, if you enjoy Nordic and Irish folk music this is a group worth checking out.

Year: 1974
Compositions: 9/10
Vocals(in Norwegian): 9/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

Folque - Kjempene På Dovrefjell



Comments:
Kjempene På Dovrefjell, Folque's second album, continues the style on their debut album. Yet, at times, some of the tracks are spiced up with a touch of symphonic progressive rock. But most of the music here leans towards the traditional side of Norwegian folk. Most of the tracks feature melodies that are catchy, and well-written. Overall, if you like Folque's first album, or if you are a fan of bands like Malicorne, The Pogues, and Gryphon you'll like this band.

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Norwegian): 9/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

Høst - På Sterke Vinger

Click on the album cover to hear a sample



Comments:
I would like to thank Magne Røskaft of Some Progressive Rock from Norway for introducing me to Høst. Høst released two albums in the mid-70s before calling it quits. Their sound combined seventies hard-rock/metal with prog, and Norwegian folk. Both albums are excellent, but På sterke vinger is my favorite so far. The main reason for that is that many sections remind me of early Iron Maiden and Judas Priest(Sad Wings of Destiny-era). But På Sterke Vinger was released in 1974! Those sections feature Maiden-like twin-guitar duels, galloping rhythms, and Harris-like bass playing. The music here is a bit more complex, and less heavy, than Maiden, but the similarities are surprising. Høst also enjoyed to mix Norwegian vocals, melodies, and rhythms into their hard-prog sound which sounds very unique. Overall, this is an excellent album that will please early-metal collectors as well as most prog fans.

Compositions: 9.5/10
Vocals(in Norwegian): 9/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

Høst - Hardt Mot Hardt

Click on the album cover to hear a sample



Comments:
Hardt Mot Hardt was released in 1976, and, compared to På Sterke Vinger, sounds like it was done by a completely different band. Actually it was done by a slightly different band. Both of the original guitarists left, leaving the bassist and vocalist behind to continue the project. The music on Hardt Mot Hardt was mostly written by the new guitarist who seemed to favor complex symphonic prog. His diverse electric guitar playing mixed both 70s hard-rock with local influences(Norwegian melodies and rhythms), and classical music. The vocalist sounds different on this release, but it's the same guy as on På Sterke Vinger. His voice is stronger and confident here. The tracks tend to mix a bit of everything. Some tracks lean on the heavy-prog side, while a couple of other tracks feature a small orchestra and symphonic atmospheres. The quality of the music remains high throughout the various changes in style. In fact, the band had real talent for creating catchy riffs, melodies, themes, rhythms, and beautiful vocals. It's hard to find fault anywhere. Overall Hardt Mot Hardt will end up pleasing prog fans. But do yourself a favor and check out På Sterke Vinger as well. Both albums are classics.

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Norwegian): 9.5/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

Junipher Greene - Friendship

Comments:
Junipher Greene's 1971 release Friendship stands as one of Norway's earliest progressive rock album, and the country's first double-LP. As the naive 60s vanished into history, and the 70s prog scene started to gain momentum, this young Norwegian band, musically speaking, got caught between two worlds. Their English lyrics continued to speak of hippie concerns, while their music strived to get away from 60s psychedelic noodling by favoring a harder, Jethro Tull-like, sound. As song-writers, these guys had talent for creating catchy 70s rock featuring soulful singing, flute-led interludes, twists and turns every few minutes, and a hard rocking guitar/organ sound. But compared to other, more complicated, prog bands at the time Junipher Greene were pretty much a straight-forward 70s rock band. Does that mean that Friendship should be taken off of your want-list because it's not 100% prog? Of course not, unless you're mostly into very complex, instrumental, music. If you are, you will probably not enjoy most of Friendship. But, I would say, that listeners who enjoy groups like Spring, Fantasy, Pentacle, Rufus Zuphall, and 70s classic rock in general should enjoy the sounds on this album.

Year: 1971
Compositions: 8/10
Vocals(in English): 8/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

Ruphus - New Born Day


Comments:
New Born Day is the 1973 debut album by Ruphus. The band released several album during the 70s, but, from what I've heard, their first two albums are the most progressive. The band's "sound" here features bass/hammond organ/guitar interplay, male vocals, and a rather powerful female singer. The bass and hammond playing really stands out on most tracks. Their bassist plays in a style that reminds listeners of Chris Squire, and the keyboardist has a very "hot" Hammond B-3 style typical of the 70s. Once in a while, the guitarist stands out with a riff, solo, or acoustic guitar strumming. But, for some reason, my ears focus in on the bass and hammond interplay over the guitar playing. Once in a while, I also hear other musical instruments such as the vibes, and flute, but the music is similar to other progressive hard-rock bands of the time. Most of the tracks are song-based(with mostly verses, and little to no repeated choruses), and feature some rather complex extended sections. The male vocalist tends to sound average, but the female vocalist really stands out with a charismatic vocal style. She has a powerful, soul-based voice. At first, I have to admit, that it sounded odd to hear "soul" vocals on a prog album, but after just a few listens her style became very enjoyable and simply added a unique touch to the music. In fact, I sort of wish that she sang on all of the tracks. My only complaint here is with the lyrics. The band sings in English(the female singer's English is excellent, the male singer's English is average), but unfortunately the lyrics really date the album, and I mean these lyrics bring the album down a notch. They are so naive that they would fit right in with the stereotypical 60s hippie scene. Overall, New Born Day is a strong album with noticeable flaws.

Compositions: 9/10
Vocals(in English): 8/10
Lyrics: 6/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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