They originated from Bodø in the Northern part of Norway. With a Dylan-esque, electric folk-rock single titled "Graveyard Paradise" they gained massive national recognition, so much so that they still are remembered for it. Their album is a mixed bag of sixties pop, folk-rock and a couple of aspiring psychedelic efforts. 'Asa' later played with the interesting group Taboo (making the singles "Vampire Tango" and "Queen Of Spades" in 1968, but regrettably no albums).
Akasha must have been the most unlikely entity to emerge from a small town in Northern Norway - an internationally oriented space rock band with . an impressive light and multivision show. In an air-raid shelter they recorded an album's worth of tapes on a semi-professional TEAC 4-track machine. A few hundred copies of it were released on a local label. Their music sounds like a lost demo for an album by Amon Düül II (adding a synthesizer player) circa 1971. It consists of ambitious long tracks with lyrics dealing with space, time, death and the void. They also inserted a live broadcast from a foreign radio station in the best "I Am The Walrus" tradition!
Aunt Mary came from the small town of Fredrikstad in Østfold, but were one of the best Norwegian bands of the early seventies. Their first album was recorded and released in Denmark, as they lived there at the time. Aunt Mary lacked distinction at this early stage with various imitations of Jethro Tull, Traffic and Led Zeppelin among the short tracks. In late 1971, they recorded a dreadful ballad with gospel overtones named "Jimi, Janis & Brian" (included on Best Of). Luckily Groth left soon after and took the gospel with him.
Loaded (1972) saw the arrival of Bengt Jenssen, who brought in some classically-inclined organ style to counterbalance the progressive blues of the others. The songwriting was much better, as evident on the tough "Joinin' The Crowd" and "G Flat Road", but many people forget Aunt Mary's softer side (influenced by the 1968 version of The Beatles ) on "Delight" and "Farewell My Friend". "Blowin' Tiffany" represented Aunt Mary at their most progressive, hinting at things to come. This track also revealed a hitherto hidden Emerson, Lake & Palmer and King Crimson influence (spot the tightly echoed, manipulated vocals and compare it to "Indoor Games" from Lizard).
Janus (1973) was no doubt their most accomplished album with some tracks forming mini-suites and more extended instrumental segments. The Beatle-esque folkish songs merged in with impressive electric guitar and organ creating different textures to each track. This heavy progressive plus folk formula has similarities to the Danish groups Culpeper's Orchard and Old Man & The Sea, giving the impression that Aunt Mary adopted the Danish vibes of the Summer of '71! Unfortunately they disbanded at the end of 1973 for the usual reasons (an indifferent public and lack of both money and motivation). Their 1980 Live Reunion was a very good one with no Clapton imitations. Indeed it was their most powerful work, recorded as a trio.
|1||AUNT MARY||1971||POLYDOR 2380 002 (DK)|
|2||LOADED||1972||PHILIPS 6317 010|
|3||JANUS||1973||VERTIGO 6317 750|
|4||LIVE REUNION||1980||PHILIPS 6327 059|
|S1||THE BEST OF||1974||PHILIPS 6478 009|
|S2||THE BEST OF VOL. 2||1975||PHILIPS 6478 055|
A group from the Oslo area who played political rock with Norwegian lyrics (dealing with democracy, Vietnam, the EEC and adolescence in Oslo). These are very trite and self-conscious songs, and the music on Det Er Ikke Så Enkelt has aged terribly. Drabantbyrock represented some improvement with more guitar work by the talented player Kåre Virud.
|1||DET ER IKKE SÅ ENKELT||1973||SAMSPILL SAMS 732|
Øistein Boassen is a studio engineer and multi-instrumentalist who has written instrumental music for countless movies. His two "do-it-yourself" solo albums are variable in musical quality but display a playful sense of humour and a lot of studio effects (particularly echo effects and tape vari-speeding).
|1||JEG HAR MIN EGEN LUKE||1977||PRIVATE PRESS|
|2||URGATA HURGATA||1980||VILDE VINGE WS 003 PL|
A long forgotten record of the Norwegian folk-rock boom (did it really exist?), which contains 11 pleasant songs akin to Dando Shaft, including a reasonable version of "Matty Groves".
|1||CONTINIUM||1971||POLYDOR 2922 001|
A guitar, bass and drums trio who played unimaginative rock songs with English lyrics. They were label mates of Universe, a British band who lived in Norway for a while.
A group formed by Svein Rønning and Knut Lie after they had left Høst. Their demo album was unknown even among Norwegian collectors before Research Records re-issued it in 1995. The material is in a style quite similar to the first Høst album, but with even longer tracks and a vocalist with different qualities than Geir Jahren.
|1||BETWEEN THE LEAVES||1976||TESTPRESS ONLY|
Aware of the winds of change blowing through 1967, Reim and Stormoen quit the r&b group Public Enemies and formed the short-lived Dream with Terje Rypdal (ex-Vanguards) and Tom Karlsen (ex-Saphires - a soul-beat group). Get Dreamy (1967) is still a classic and one of the most visionary Scandinavian albums of 1967. Among the charming white-eyed soul-beat crossovers were stunning improvisations going as far as any 'pop' musician dared at this time.
Sadly the group suffered a premature death in 1968 when the members failed to agree on their future direction. The only further Dream recording is "Dead Man's Tale", which opened Terje Rypdal's first solo album Bleak House (1968).
|1||GET DREAMY||1967||POLYDOR SLPHM 184 099|
Apart from some very minor guest contributions, Alf Emil Eik recorded this album entirely on his own! His music is soft and symphonic with a slight jazz touch, predominantly instrumental and with an aptitude for pastoral melodies. The album was apparently influenced by English sympho-rockers such as Camel and the keyboard parts of Genesis. Harvest label collectors should not have a difficult task regarding Norwegian issues. Apart from this, only two mediocre groups, Flax and Bergen Blues Band, appeared on the label up to 1980.
|1||JOY & BREATH OF ETERNITY||1979||HARVEST 8C062-37377|
Jahn Teigen later became known as the powerful vocalist of Popol Vuh/Ace. At this stage he recorded beat and r&b of very limited interest only.
The promising heavy rock group Jumbo (comprising Finjarn, Jensen, Lindquist and Syvertsen) disintegrated during the sessions for their first LP in 1970. Finjarn and Jensen completed it with a little help from session musicians. The album was strongly influenced by British rock artists such as The Beatles and Deep Purple. Arguably, the album was a minor disappointment considering the potentional of Jumbo. It suffers from a lack of identity, short running time and a tedious drum solo. Still this is an interesting effort. Among the highlights were "One More Day" with some great guitar passages. Finjarn and Jensen then formed the short-lived Fresh Air in late 1970. A single was recorded but never released ("See The Light" appeared posthumously on the 1975 compilation album Hot Socks - Norway Rocks).
Andresen and Rud are well-known jazz musicians in their homeland, but international collectors might know them from the trio Min Bul (with Terje Rypdal). Their album with Svein Finnerud is powerful and serious free-jazz in a similar style.
They have the honour to have recorded the earliest Norwegian rock album still of interest today (Pussycats are best remembered by a few early singles). Other bands only recorded a couple of singles or made dubious albums mixing pop and beat. In contrast to this, Firebeats Inc. learned more from the dirty r&b of The Pretty Things and early Rolling Stones. The album is a freakbeat classic, but impossibly rare in its original form. Luckily it's been repressed lately.
A heavy rock group which formed in 1972. The first Flax album sold poorly at the time of release in 1976 and has become something of a collector's item. It contained theatrical heavy rock (vocalist Hermod Falch was occasionally dressed in a skeleton costume when the group performed live), strongly influenced by Deep Purple (at the time of Machine Head) and, to a lesser degree, Uriah Heep and Queen. Their music also had some symphonic elements.
Flax disbanded in 1975 some months before their debut album was released but a new line-up appeared in 1978. The resulting Flax Tapes (1980) showed some musical improvement, but was indeed closer in content to heavy rock than to progressive rock.
Willy Bendiksen also played with Høst and Jørun Bøgeberg occasionally with Junipher Greene
ALBUMS UP TO 1980
|1||ONE||1976||VERTIGO 6317 751|
|2||MONSTER TAPES||1980||HARVEST 8C062-37415|
Pioneered by British groups such as Fairport Convention, Pentangle and Steeleye Span, the folk-rock movement was blooming in the early seventies. Not surprisingly, this also inspired musicians in the rest of Europe to examine their own heritage of traditional folk music. The most important contributors to this genre in Norway were a group appropriately named Folque. They formed in Oslo in 1972 with the aim of making a Norwegian form of folk-rock, using guitars and banjos instead of the traditional treatment with Hardanger fiddle or solo vocals. Their first album Folque (1974) also included adaptations of two Scottish folk songs (among them "Allison Gross" in a similar arrangement to the 1973 Steeleye Span version, although with Norwegian lyrics), but for the future they stuck to Scandinavian material. For this reason, Kjempene På Dovrefjell (1975) and Vardøger (1977) are usually considered their best albums, offering great insight into Norwegian folklore, ie. medieval ballads, old Norse poems set to music, fiddle instrumentals and traditional dance music. Their musical ability is impeccable, highlighting fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer and electric guitars. The arrangements always function well, meaning that the bass and drums do not disturb the original rhythm and rhymes. On top of this, Lisa Helljesen had a clear and strong voice (a bit similar to Maddy Prior in Steeleye Span and Mandy Morton in The Spriguns), perfectly suitable to the music. There is no better starting place than Vardøger, where their own blend of folk-rock was fully developed.
After some personnel changes, Folque signed to the political left-wing label Mai after their Philips contract expired. Jørn Jensen and Trond Villa were later involved in Kong Lavring and the group Folk & Rackare (along with Swedish musicians). Dans, Dans Olav Liljekrans (1978) revealed the new line-up to be as musically competent as the previous one, but the new female vocalist Jenn E. Mortensen had a rougher voice (and a strong North-Norwegian regional accent) that might be disturbing to those who dislike her more aggressive attitude (less suitable to Folque's music in my opinion). Fredløs was a transitional record with a wider musical span than their previous records. Their last two original albums contained increasing numbers of self-penned compositions, Sort Messe (1982) being dominated by the competent songwriting of Morten Bing.
Folque were undoubtedly the most influential Norwegian folk-rock band and among the best in Europe, on a par with Malicorne in France or Ougenweide in Germany.
|1||FOLQUE||1974||PHILIPS 6317 0|
|2||KJEMPENE PÅ DOVREFJELL||1975||PHILIPS 6317 034|
|3||VARDØGER||1977||PHILIPS 6317 046|
|4||DANS, DANS OLAV LILJEKRANS||1978||MAI 7802|
|6||LANDET DITT||1981||TALENT TLS 4046|
|7||SORT MESSE||1982||STRAWBERRY SRLP 11|
A short-lived group from the Vestfold area who didn't manage to make an album in their lifetime. All that was left to posterity was a 22 minute radio tape which was finally released in 1992 by Colours. For completists and rock historians only!
ARCHIVE MATERIAL (MINI LP)
|1||HADES (1974)||1992||COLOURS COMLP 007|
A short-lived group (uniting Rune Walle from Oriental Sunshine with Trygve Thue from Saft) who played country and folk-influenced rock inspired by Bob Dylan, The Band, Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Byrds. All the material is song-oriented but the melodies are still worth hearing after all this time. Their sound reminds me of the third album by the Danish group Culpeper's Orchard. Rune Walle later co-founded the country-rock oriented Flying Norwegians, who also recorded for Sonet.
|1||HOLE IN THE WALL||1972||SONET SLP-1420|
Høst came from the Østfold-area, roughly situated between Oslo and the Swedish border. They were strongly influenced by Swedish bands such as November and Life. Høst ("Autumn") became the only important Norwegian progressive rock group of the 70's to sing in their native tongue.
På Sterke Vinger (1974) was a great combination of Lasse Nilsen's screaming guitars, Svein Rønning's symphonic keyboard textures and Geir Jahren's poetic Norwegian lyrics. His powerful way of singing is reminiscent of several Italian groups. Several people cite this as the best ever Norwegian progressive rock album, and this is understandable. However, the reliance on Swedish rock was perhaps too strong: "På Sterke Vinger" was almost a remake of November's "En Lang Dag Är Över", and "Fattig Men Fri" paraphrased the lyrics of Solar Plexus' "Den Tanklöse Spelmannen" (written by Emil Hagström). This version of Høst soon dissolved with main writer Svein Rønning soon forming the ill-fated group Déjà-Vu.
Jahren and Bodahl recruited three new members, among them the talented guitarist Fezza Ellingsen (ex-St. Helena). He composed most tracks on Hardt Mot Hardt (1976), not surprisingly a more guitar-oriented heavy rock album.
Their record company woudn't finance a third album and only allowed Høst to record three new tracks. The group had intended to record a complete album with English lyrics for international release under their new name Ice Band (with Fezza Ellingsen replaced by John Hesla). Tired of the rock business, the group finally called it a day in 1978. The first Høst line-up has reformed on several occasions doing sporadic concerts.
|1||PÅ STERKE VINGER||1974||ON 6317 601|
|2||HARDT MOT HARDT||1976||ON 6317 605|
|S1||EXTRA! EXTRA!||1977||ON 6317 ?|
|S2||LIVE & UNRELEASED||1994||RESEARCH REC. 666-1|
This Oslo group did what The Mothers Of Invention had done in 1966 and Magma had done in 1970: they started their recording career (in 1971) with a double album! Junipher Greene were the first Norwegian group to release a double album, although among the Scandinavians they were preceded by Burnin' Red Ivanhoe's M144 (dating from 1969). The album Friendship is an ambitious effort and a milestone in Scandinavian (if not European) progressive rock, bridging the hippie idealism of the sixties to the growing instrumental aspirations of the seventies. Junipher Greene started performing under this name in 1967 and the content of Friendship spanned several years. Many of the songs on the first album of the set echo the slow rock of The Beatles and Pretty Things circa 1969/70 with vocals treated with Leslie effects (as favoured by John Lennon) and clever guitar riffing. "Try To Understand" embraced the sentiments of "Come Together" and the young generation's movement. It's the excellent songwriting that lifts Friendship above many of its rivals. Still many parts of it proved they had learned from contemporary Deep Purple, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd. The more 'progressive' parts (full of electric guitars, organ and flute) are most notable on the second album's "Friendship Suite" - a masterwork of progressive rock lasting for over 25 minutes.
Freddy Dahl left Junipher Greene soon after the album was released. Demoralized by an exhaustive tour in Poland, Helge Grøslie also left the band. He would later play with Titanic for some years.
The remaining trio nonetheless decided to carry on. Their rather laboured efforts resulted in Communication (1973). The joy and enthusiasm of Friendship had now gone and the two albums offer a striking illustration of how the hippie dream turned sour (as it did for thousands of people). Rarely have I heard such a bad spirited, patchy album. You are invited to take part in a self-indulgent search for artistic fulfillment by musicians short of both studio time and money. They almost succeeded on the 12-minute title track, but the remaining tracks are sleepy, rural progressive folk-rock numbers high-lighting their crumbling motivation. None of the three members had strong voices for lead vocals and even worse was their mischievous treatment of the English language.
Rewind (1981) contained, apart from a remix of "Take The Road Across The Bridge" and the 1973 single "Ugha Mugha Sunshine Boy", previously unissued tracks (two from 1969 and ten from the period 1976 to 1978). This material sounds more dated today than their earlier output and is of limited interest. Bøhren and Åserud kept the group moniker for various new incarnations in the 80's. These bore little resemblance to the original group. Since then, they have built up a strong reputation as the supreme creators of movie soundtracks in Norway. Surprisingly, they now detest their early work and it's unlikely that Communication will ever be officially re-released.
|1||FRIENDSHIP||1971||SONET SLP 1413/14|
|S2||REWIND (1969-1978)||1981||HAMMER HLP 4001|
A little known private pressing I've seen compared to Pluto.
|1||TOLVTE TIME||1980||PRIVATE PRESS|
Freddy Lindquist had played with Beatnicks and Vanguards, two of the most famous Norwegian beat bands of the sixties. In 1969 he formed Jumbo, a promising heavy progressive outfit inspired by Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. For reasons long forgotten, Lindquist quit halfway through the recordings of their first album and began working on his solo album. This is excellent throughout with powerful tracks such as "Sundae Sellers" highlighted by Lindquist's superb fuzz guitar.
Their album contained 12 mediocre, self-written electric folk-rock songs with clumsy lyrics (in Norwegian dealing with political and Christian issues). Their sound might be compared to the rural style of The Marmalade in the early seventies.
|1||MUSIKK FRA BALDERS HAGE||1974||PHILIPS 6317 022|
The album by this short-lived trio is so obscure that even Terje Rypdal's most devoted followers aren't familiar with it. The first track "1 Cried A Million Tears" starts off so violently that you would swear Rypdal is demolishing his guitar bit by bit. Things calm down after the first minute, but this is close to free improvisation in the spirit of John Coltrane. "Champagne Of Course" (11:05) has a more solid construction with a repeated bass pattern behind Rypdal's guitar and sax solos. This is the central piece of the album, revealing him in an inquisitive stage between his first solo album Bleak House and his ECM debut, strongly influenced by his experiences with Jan Garbarek Group. Opinions on this album vary among rock collectors, because many are unfamiliar with the tonal spectrum of free-jazz, which incorporates a lot of blue notes. In my opinion it's a very good album, but certainly not to everybody's taste.
|1||MIN BUL||1970||POLYDOR 2382 003|
Jon Eberson eventually became a well-known musician in Norwegian jazz-rock circles. Moose Loose was one of his earliest groups, playing instrumental jazz-rock blending elements of ECM jazz and the Canterbury sound.
The first album featured five compositions typified by massive keyboards, Eberson's guitar interventions and unusually loud drums. This is the work of a young ensemble attempting to figure out their own direction. Blix and Hovensjø also played on several Terje Rypdal albums during this period.
Transition (1976) was a more polished and generally better effort. Their new sound with keyboards, electric violin and guitar was related to the French fusion sound (Spheroe, Michel Ripoche, Nemo, etc.).
Blow Out (1977) was recorded by three ex-members of Moose Loose plus the well-respected jazz drummer Jon Christensen. This is a relaxed, traditional 70's jazz-rock album, centered around guitars and keyboards. Eberson later formed Jon Eberson Group, featuring female vocalist Sidsel Endresen among others. Håkon Graf (previously of Ruphus) went off into a more bland and commercial jazz-funk direction.
|1||MOOSE LOOSE||1974||MAI 7403|
|2||TRANSITION||1976||VERTIGO 6317 752|
|A1||BLOW OUT||1977||COMPENDIUM FIDARDO 10|
A studio group comprising two Norwegians and one Englishman. They were offered studio time in London by a budget record label, augmented by strings and several studio musicians (the presence of Junipher Greene members Bent Åserud, Freddy Dahl and Geir Bøhren is confirmed, but Helge Grøslie was most probably also there). The material is rather variable, starting with the excellent "Witchita Falls" but this standard is not maintained throughout - indeed most of the remaining tracks sound more like late sixties pop. "Neptune's Empire Parts 1 and 2" consisted of music for strings only. A mediocre curiosity piece only of historical value.
|1||NEPTUNE'S EMPIRE||1971||POLYMAX PXX 01 (UK)|
An obscure album of soft progressive rock with long tracks. Seen offered for a fortune these days but probably not worth the price!
|1||WORLD OF DREAMS||1976||APOLLO APO 01|
The most exotic sounds to escape from Bergen came from Oriental Sunshine, a trio who recorded beautiful hippie songs full of innocence, incense and high spirits (vaguely comparable to Incredible String Band circa 1967). The tracks had great female vocals (in English) by their main composer Nina Johansen. No other albums of this kind were released in Norway during this period.
|1||DEDICATED TO THE BIRD WE LOVE||1970||PHILIPS|
This is almost a one-man album, which cleverly mixes symphonic rock with soft-synthetic new wave influences. The result is ten nice, melodic tracks (about half of them instrumental) similar to Kerrs Pink with a more urban consciousness.
|1||VOYAGE INTO A DREAMER'S MIND||1980||STRAWBERRY SRLP 103|
This group was originally known as Arman Sumpe Dur Express, which included an additional brass section. They recorded one single under this name. Before that, Andreassen, Knutsen and Methi had played together in the Kirkenes group The Scavers since 1959. Jahn Teigen had an illustrious past from groups such as The Enemies and The Red Squares. The latter was in fact a British group who lived and recorded in Denmark, but who were on tour in Israel when Teigen was asked to join Arman Sumpe (this may sound ridiculous but it's true!).
Popol Vuh's nicely packaged first LP was released in Autumn 1972. Musically it ranges from easily accessible progressive rock ("For Eternity" -distinguished by its good use of mellotron and flute) to funky jazz-rock ("Joy & -Pleasure"), dreamy ballads ("AU We Have Is The Past") and on to more powerful tracks. The group didn't entirely master all these styles at this point and sometimes appeared hopelessly provincial (not being helped by Teigen's dreadful English pronunciation!).
Quiche Maya was packed in a black plastic bag with letters printed on it. The opening track "Queen Of Queens" was their most powerful offering and probably their most well-known song. Elsewhere melodramatic ballads with distant mellotron strings prevailed, sometimes turning to over-the-top operatic eruptions from Jahn Teigen.
In 1975 Florian Fricke (leader of the German group Popol Vuh) discovered his Norwegian namesakes and threatened them with a lawsuit. For this reason Popol Vuh changed their name to Popol Ace.
Stolen From Time (1975) was their most ambitious effort benefiting from unusually generous amounts of studio time, provided by a record company dreaming of international success. It's one of those albums that was carefully produced, second by second, and which consequently lacked spontaneity. Included were some of their strongest and most mature songs, such as "Bury Me Dead" and "Today Another Day". Their overall sound (with more elaborate instrumental passages than before) was influenced by Genesis circa 1972-74. Maybe the rigid production deterred the album from being recognised as a minor masterpiece - today its compositions appear stronger than those on the two preceding albums.
Jahn Teigen then left Popol Ace to start his highly successful solo career, eventually becoming one of the most famous entertainers in Norway. Popol Ace continued with Asbjørn Krogtoft (previously a member of 1-2-6) as their new vocalist. Their final album was a total disaster (commercially and artistically) with seriously uninspired songwriting.
ALBUMS AS POPOL VUH:
|1||POPOL VUH||1972||POLYDOR 2923 009|
|2||QUICHE MAYA||1973||POLYDOR 2382 038|
|3||STOLEN FROM TIME||1975||POLYDOR 2480 332|
|4||CURLY SOUNDS||1978||POLYDOR 2383 498|
|2||2 FZ / THE BAND STOPPED TO PLAY||1977||POLYDOR|
|3||THIS YEAR'S LOSER||1978||RCA|
|4||EN DAGS PAUSE||1979||RCA|
This group from Namsos took their name from the famous Beatles song "Dear Prudence". Partly influenced by Bob Dylan, The Band, Jethro Tull and The Beatles their idea was to make a new kind of rural Norwegian rock with the unhip accordion as one of their main instruments (along with electric guitars, mandolin and recorder).
Their first album Tomorrow May Be Vanished (1972) was an uneven affair, but included some of the best tracks they ever wrote ("Going Through His Life" and the title track).
Drunk And Happy (1973) was a more united rural rock effort. No. 3 (1974) showed some signs of stagnation and their songs sounded rather dull this time around. At this point they gave up their international aspirations.
Their last studio album Takk Te Dokk (1975) was an improvement and now featured only Norwegian lyrics. As Prudence was known as a great live band, a double live album became a suitable epitaph.
In the final analysis, none of the Prudence albums are fully convincing but as they more or less invented "Trønder-rock", Prudence have an important position in Norwegian rock history. Åge Aleksandersen and Terje Tysland later became highly successful solo artists.
|1||TOMORROW MAY BE VANISHED||1972||POLYDOR|
|2||DRUNK AND HAPPY||1973||POLYDOR|
|4||TAKK TE DOKK||1975||POLYDOR|
|5||11/12 '75 (2LP)||1976||ARCTIC|
|S1||THE LEGENDARY TAPES VOL. 1||1992||COLOURS COSLP 008|
|A2||BONBEN OG GRANATEN||1976||ARCTIC|
|B3||TIL MODER JORD||1979||SONET|
|B4||SEND MÆ HJÆM||1980||ARCTIC|
Ruphus were among the most important and most enduring Norwegian groups of the seventies, even though their line-up changed several times. The first incarnation known under this name came together in 1970 and included Asle Nilsen and Hans Petter Danielsen. Ruphus didn't have any serious aspirations until 1972, though, when they were signed by Polydor.
New Born Day (1973) was a powerful heavy progressive statement with symphonic developments and pompous vocals. It's enjoyable but sounds rather dated nowadays (in my view their sound at this stage could be parodied by Shirley Bassey backed by members of Uriah Heep, Genesis and Yes).
Gudny Aspaas, Rune Sundby and Hans Petter Danielsen soon left the rather large group, who engaged Rune Østdahl as their new vocalist. Ranshart saw a softening of their style, to one more in line with the symphonic rock of Yes and Focus.
With Gudny Aspaas back again Ruphus made their masterpiece Let Your Light Shine (1976), produced by Terje Rypdal and strongly influenced by main composer Håkon Grafs new affection for polished jazz-rock. "Sha Ba Wan" and the title track are among the best Norwegian progressive jazz-rock tracks made in the seventies. The album impressed the executives of the German record company Brain enough to warrant album releases and live performances there. In fact, Ruphus became much better known in Germany than in Norway and sold a lot of records there. Unfortunately, both lead vocalist Gudny Aspaas and main composer Håkon Graf left within weeks. Undeterred, Larsen and Nilsen kept on with new members Sylvi Lillegaard and Jan Simonsen.
Bearing these changes in mind, Inner Voice (1977) kept surprisingly close to the formula of their previous album. Scat vocals and long keyboard flights still prevailed, although never surpassing Let Your Light Shine. In contrast, Flying Colours (1978) lacked imagination and one felt the group had become a spent force.
Major line-up changes followed in late 1978 with Gudny Aspaas rejoining for the third time. Their final effort Man Made (1979), recorded in Sawmills Studios, England, was an improvement with a more modern sound, more based on melodies than before.
|1||NEW BORN DAY||1973||POLYDOR 2382 037|
|2||RANSHART||1974||POLYDOR 2382 046|
|3||LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE||1976||POLYDOR 2382 071|
|4||INNER VOICE||1977||POLYDOR 2382 081|
|5||FLYING COLOURS||1978||POLYDOR 2382 085|
To trace the career of Terje Rypdal from the early days of Beatnicks and Vanguards to more recent classical compostions would require a whole book of its own.
Starting with crude Shadows-instrumentals, Rypdal soon progressed to beat and psychedelia before discovering the possibilities of the jazz-rock hybrid around 1968-69. His first album Bleak House (1968) was recorded in this transitional phase, showcasing countless possible paths to follow. After a period of academic music study, he joined Jan Garbarek Group (fronted by the well-known sax player). He played energetic free-jazz on the albums Afric Pepperbird (1970) and Sart (1971). His own group Min Bul experimented with a similar free- jazz, although more centered around the electric guitar.
By the time of his 1971 album (this might be regarded as his first real solo album) he was settling down to play more accessible jazz-rock with a very distinctive style. Even though Rypdal has always sought new musical horizons, his basic formula was now in place.
Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away (1974) was a superb effort, combining progressive jazz-rock (two dramatic tracks with mellotron and electric guitar) and a classical piece for symphony orchestra and guitar.
However, Rypdal's greatest masterpiece was Odyssey (1975), a double album with a perplexing cool sound filling the listener with images of undulating northern lights and wilderness. Tides such as "Darkness Falls", "Midnite" and "Adagio" also demonstrate the calm, dark and reflective mood of his music.
Terje Rypdal is one of the best and most versatile musicians from Norway, regardless of genre and is one of the few Norwegian artists to have a significant international profile. He wrote his first opera "Orfeus Snur Seg I Graven Og Ser På Eurydike" in 1972 and his first symphony in 1975. He has also written countless concertos and string quartets, These works have some stylistic similarities to the late Romantic period, influenced by Mahler and Pendercki among others.
SOLO ALBUMS (UP TO 1980)
|1||BLEAK HOUSE||1968||POLYDOR 184 189|
|2||TERJE RYPDAL||1971||ECM 1016|
|3||WHAT COMES AFTER||1973||ECM 1031|
|4||WHENEVER I SEEM TO BE FAR AWAY||1974||ECM 1045|
|6||AFTER THE RAIN||1976||ECM 1083|
A group from Bergen formed in 1970. Thue, Thue and Halvorsen earned their living as musicians during the local staging of the "Hair" musical. Their first album was a really mixed bag with moments of both glory (the beautiful, pastoral "Couple Of Freaks", the energic progressive rock of "Don't Look Back" and the warbling, quasi-psychedelic "Fly") and failure (the hopeless "Opus 1", the painstakingly naive "All The Time" and the tedious "So Long"). Main writer Ove Thue had a fascination for The Beach Boys and The Beatles, resulting in some favourable vocal arrangements. The problem for Saft was the lack of a specific sound and the mixture of English and Norwegian lyrics.
Their second single "People In Motion", a really banal and annoying song, won a European radio hit contest and soon sold in large quantities.
European radio hit contest and soon sold in large quantities.
Horn managed to maintain a more homogenous sound throughout, mixing song-based jazzy progressive rock with American folklore. The problem this time was an underlying lack of enthusiasm and sparkle - most of the tracks sound tiresome and dull.
The group slowly drifted apart with Trygve Thue joining Rune Walle in the short-lived group Hole In The Wall. Walle followed Thue back to a revamped Saft. Their new album Stev, Sull, Rock & Rull (1973) merged simple rock'n'roll, folk and country to much critical and popular acclaim, but will be of restricted interest to foreign collectors several decades later.
|1||SAFT||1971||POLYDOR 2382 009|
|2||HORN||1971||POLYDOR 2923 005|
|3||STEV, SULL ROCK & RULL||1973||PHILIPS 6317 020|
|S1||BEST OF||1974||PHILIPS 6478 019|
A short-lived jazz-rock group from the Oslo-area. Most tracks on Saluki had funky rhythms and the album hasn't aged too well. Freddy Dahl once was a key member of Junipher Greene, which explains the inclusion of a jazz-funk version of "Take The Road Across The Bridge". His later musical endeavours in the pop-rock area were rather pitiful. Kjell Rønningen was a member of Ruphus for a short time.
|1||SALUKI||1976||COMPENDIUM FIDARDO 6|
St. Helena formed in Hammerfest in 1972. At one stage, On Records intended to let them record an album, but for reasons long forgotten this never happened. All that remained from the short lifetime of St. Helena were five demo tracks recorded in a cheap studio. These barely showed hints of their true potential, but were released in 1991 by Colours.
Fezza Ellingsen and Willy Bendiksen later joined Høst for their second album Hardt Mot Hardt. Some years later, Ellingsen also played in Flax.
ARCHIVE MATERIAL (MINI LP)
|1||HELLO FRIEND (09.07.74)||1991||COLOURS COMLP 004|
Along with Saft's "People In Motion", Titanic's "Sultana" was among the very few Norwegian pop-rock singles to gain some recognition in Europe. The group evolved out of The Beatnicks, who moved to Denmark in 1969, then to Germany where British vocalist Roy Robinson joined, and finally to France where they picked up the name Titanic and sold millions of records over the next few years. Their breakthrough came with the 1971 single "Sultana", a bit ironic as the track was made as a Santana parody!
Seawolf and Eagle Rock contained a mixture of rock and more progressive material with extended organ and electric guitar parts quite similar to Spooky Tooth. Rock'n'Roll Loser was less imaginative and the group temporarly split. When they reformed, Titanic was more or less forgotten in their homeland but still had a loyal following in France.
Titanic's commercial success on the European continent was unique among Norwegian bands but their albums didn't have much musical endurance. Fans of heavy progressive rock might be interested in their first album, though.
|3||EAGLE ROCK||1973||CBS 65661|
|4||BALLAD OF A ROCK'N'ROLL LOOSER||1975||CBS 80786|
|5||RETURN OF DRAKKAR||1976||BARCLAY (F)|
|6||EYE OF A HURRICANE||1978||EURODISC (F)|
A short-lived, large and brassy heavy rock band. In retrospect, their soul, funk, jazz and rock'n'roll pastiches appear rather tedious and dated today, although Undertakers Circus were among the first to use Norwegian lyrics in rock. You're advised to let this album rest in peace.
Another Norwegian fusion group with a sound similar to ECM jazz. Graf and Blix from the first line-up also played in Moose Loose. City Lips (1975) was a technically competent album, but overshadowed by the best in this genre due to a lack of its own personality. There are hundreds of albums of this standard and there is no reason to chose this recording above the others.
Black And White (1976) was a more adventurous effort, closer to jazz than rock, with even longer tracks showcasing some really decent solo improvisations from Undseth and Holm.
|1||CITY LIPS||1975||ON 6317 603|
|2||BUCK AND WHITE||1976||COMPENDIUM FIDARDO 3|
|.||BEAT OG PIGGTRÅD (2LP)||1976||SONET|
|.||HOT SOCKS, NORWAY ROCKS (2LP)||1976||PHONOGRAM|