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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Omega - 1981 Az Arc
Omega - 1981 Az Arc

LABEL: Pepita
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1993, Hungaroton, HCD 17690


LINEUP: János Kóbor - lead vocals * György Molnár - guitars * László Benko - keyboards, vocals * Tamás Mihály - bass, vocals * Ferenc Debreczeni - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Életfogytig Rock And Roll * 02 Kemény Játék * 03 Az Arc * 04 A Nagy Folyó * 05 Nasca * 06 A Fényképésznél * 07 A Holló * 08 A Fehér Holló * 09 Az Üzenet * 10 Tizenhat Évesen * 11 A Mixer * 12 A Látogató


Omega entered the 80's on top of the world, their space pomp trilogy of albums had been massive sellers in the Eastern Bloc and their English versions had found favour in Western Europe, most especially in Germany where they were now very established. Their 'Live At Kisstadion' vinyl in 1979 served as a punctuation point at the trilogy's end, and served as evidence of how huge the band had become. For reasons I cannot fathom, Bacillus Records did not renew their contract in Germany, leaving Omega to search for a new label to support their next English album. WEA stepped in for a one album deal and the 'Working' album was born, up to now it has never been on cd and it ranks high on my vinyl wish list! The Hungarian version became 'Az Arc', and contained many of the same tracks simply translated, but one or two new ones were added. This time around Omega re-recorded everything, instead of simply replacing the English vocals with Hungarian. Maybe something to do with the new contract, but it does give either version some sonic autonomy from the other. The space themed pomp rock was abandoned for a more direct and commercial AOR direction to coincide with the new decade's ambitions.

The Songs
'Életfogytig Rock And Roll' gets us off to an uptempo start right away, that's a big riff from Molnar and Kobor sounds like he means it, although I have no idea what he's singing about! There's a simple 'chant it out' chorus in place, surprisingly effective and adding to the crackling energy on display. There's more than enough AOR appeal here, further evidenced by the long instrumental outro full of classy piano and guitar interplay, interspersed with shifting tempo nuances. Great opener. 'Kemény Játék' springs into action next, a zesty pomp AOR workout with a synth hook that embeds itself into your mind. This is highly commercial yet still retaining Omega's flourish of old, sonic iced coffee I would say. Title track 'Az Arc' (The Face) quite literally floats in next, plenty of 70's BJH influence in the acoustic work, gentle tempo and dreamy synth soundscape Omega conjures up here. However it's the melody and Kobor's vocal performance that takes the gold medal. Probably one of my top Omega tracks, very high AOR appeal and sheer class from beginning to end, never forgetting Molnar's swirling outro solo. 'A Nagy Folyó' (Love Games) returns us to uptempo AOR, again very commercial with some chilly zest factor and a very Cheap Trick styled melody at work. Really enjoying how uncluttered and simple this arrangement is, allowing the melody to flourish. 'Nasca' is a brief synth instrumental leading into 'A Fényképésznél', another hugely commercial AOR track with a killer chorus. This reminds me of the Kiss 'Unmasked' era, with Vini Poncia producing. Very similar right down to the drum production and high attention to melody. One of the highlights so far.

'A Holló' maintains the uptempo AOR theme, possibly a little tougher sounding but still enjoyable. The same cannot be said for 'A Fehér Holló' though, lots of chanted/spoken vocal through some strange processing device, this one leaves me cold. 'Az Üzenet' is better, crackling with energy and melodic intent, plus I can hear period Cheap Trick in the wings again which is always a welcome development. Like most of the album, this is relentlessy catchy with a slight powerpop undercurrent to the expected pomp AOR theme. No complaints from me. 'Tizenhat Évesen' is more typically Omega from their late 70's pomp style, a grand ballad with a big melodic theme, powerful synth and guitar interplay, and a memorable chorus that's pretty uplifting to be honest, although I have no idea what Kobor is singing about. Special mention to the outro coda, simple guitar magic from Molnar with Kobor wrapping some stirring vocal parting shots around the melody. As a pomp AOR ballad from 1981, it fits all requirements for classic status. The album closes with two brief vignettes, 'A Mixer' reprises the 'Kemény Játék' melody for just over a minute and 'A Látogató' working up quite a chilling synth instrumental to see us through to the end.

On the Hungaroton remaster I got hold of, there are two bonus tracks taken from the English vinyl version Working. Machines is basically the same song as 'A Fényképésznél', if anything even more like Kiss 'Unmasked' than it's Hungarian counterpart. In English it really comes to life even more, and the pomp section in the middle recalls prime Roadmaster. 'So Long' begins with some pounding polyrhythm on the drums going right through the verses, Styx at their most pomp would be the calling card here. This all gives way to yet another blinding AOR chorus at midtempo, again I can hear Kiss 'Unmasked' all over this. 'So Long' was not on the Hungarian album in any form, making the English version suddenly very urgent to track down. Who knows what other English AOR treasures Omega has in store?

In Summary
'Az Arc' was a big deal In Hungary and the Eastern Bloc, plenty of television appearances to promote the hits and a captivating video for the title song which can all be seen on youtube. Judging by this album's AOR qualities, as I mentioned above my overriding priority is to track down that promising 'Working' album, which should warrant it's own review down the line. In 1982 Omega would go very hi tech with patchy results, but for now rest assured that 'Az Arc' is a high quality AOR album deserving of investigation.

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#1 | AOR Lee on May 19 2014 06:35:47
Finally got a copy of the Working vinyl Thumbs Up, but the hunt for an affordable turntable that works is not going as well Sad[right][/right]
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