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Albatross - 1976 Albatross

ARTIST: Albatross
ALBUM: Albatross
LABEL: Anvil Records
SERIAL: AT-100-1
YEAR: 1976


LINEUP: Mike Novak - vocals * Paul Roe - guitars * Mark Dahlgren - keyboards * Joe Guarino - bass * Dana Williams - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse * 02 Mr Natural * 03 Devils Strumpet * 04 Cannot Be Found * 05 Humpback Whales

Going back into the dim dark days of the seventies (actually they weren't dim, it was a happy go lucky era in comparison to the 21st century!), we trace an American progressive rock band from Rockford Illinois called Albatross. The town, better known as the home of eternal pop rockers Cheap Trick, would have been none the wiser about this five man band, who were doing their damndest to emulate British outfits Yes and Emerson Lake And Palmer. Albatross could've been lumped into the burgeoning American prog scene alongside fellow Yes emulators Starcastle, Happy The Man, Cathedral and Stencil Forest. Listening to Albatross, it wouldn't be difficult to slap on the first Starcastle album and play spot the difference.

The Songs
Kicking off with the 14 minute extravaganza 'Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse', I am immediately reminded of Steve Walsh's keyboard work with Kansas around about this timeframe. Mark Dahlgren also manages to throw in some violin like passages which reinforce the Kansas comparison. The song takes different directions, and it sounds like a master class in analog synthesis is being conducted by Mr Dahlgren. Second up, is the totally weird 'Mr Natural', with voice effects to match. Mike Novak sounds very much like SPYS John Blanco, but most of the time it ends up in the court of Messrs Anderson, Wakeman, Squire et al. The second of the 'epic' tracks onboard is 'Devil's Strumpet'. It contains a series of blatantly confusing time changes, while the vocals don't kick in until the 3 minute mark. Let's just say this track is all over the place. The predominant piano ballad 'Cannot Be Found' is unobtrusive as it is short, while the closer 'Humpback Whales' will surely drill holes in your head with those gnawing sine wave synth patches that Dahlgren dredges up from the deep. Albatross at least dedicate a tune to whales, much like their heroes Yes, who were also obsessed with the kings of the ocean.

In Summary
Despite the passing of time, this is still a good listen, for those who can stomach prog rock going back this far. Yes, the five tracks, some of which are overly long, makes for a testing listening session, should you decide to take up the challenge. Not much heard of the band members in later years, though I do recall seeing Joe Guarino's name popping up on a prog rock discussion forum somewhere (not quite sure where), while vocalist Mike Novak joined an outfit called the Blues Hawks around about 1996. Fans of Yes and possibly early Kansas and Starcastle might find some worth here.

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#1 | trillion1999 on October 08 2011 01:57:32
I listened to the whole album over at youtube.Hopefully it is still there.One of those enthusiasts that had uploaded hundreds of albums on his progrock-channel.Frown

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