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ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM AROUND EUROPE IN 80 PROGRESSIVE BANDS

Please note that, while we have a few pre-orders we are still short of the number we would need to justify the production of a physical book which was our original intention. The illustrated book we envisage will be a nice addition to the bookshelf and a valuable reference guide, the first of its kind. The price will be reasonable, certainly no more than £10. All we ask is not a firm commitment, but an expression of interest by e-mailing phil7jackson@madasafish.com or phil7jackson@outlook.com


ELOY – GERMANY

ELOY originated in Hanover in 1969 and play in a symphonic prog style, with some appeal also to Metal fans. The group underwent many personnel changes in their early years, with Franck Bornemann, composer, lyricist, guitarist and vocalist at its heart. The name Eloy is a derivation of Elot, a futuristic race of people in H.G.Wells’ classic sci-fi novella ‘The Time Machine’. Olivier Sauce, writing in ‘Acid Dragon’ commented that, “many tracks give Eloy’s music an elaborated colour.”


ELOY (1971) was a tentative start and lead singer Erich Schriener departed before INSIDE (1973). Bornemann stepped up well to the lead vocalist’s mike, and keyboards became more integrated with the music, with many twists and turns within the 17-minute opus, ‘Land of No Body’. Good reviews followed, but sales were poor. FLOATING (1974) concentrated on longer tracks as Eloy’s music became more complex and progressive. A concept work about time travel, THE POWER AND THE PASSION (1975) was a transitional album with two guitarists. Keyboard player Manfred Wizorcke left to join JANE after a disagreement with Bornemann about musical direction as Eloy delved deeper into progressive rock. There are three progressive gems here “with a wide variety of keyboards, unique and varied atmospheres inside the epics, more fluid and romantic” than before.


A recruitment process was put into place, with Klaus Peter Matziol coming in as bass player, and Jürgen Rosenthal, ex SCORPIONS as drummer. Detlev Schmidtchen was the new keyboard player and extra guitarist for two highly important albums in the Eloy discography: DAWN (1976) and OCEAN (1977). It is hard to separate them in terms of lasting quality, but we are going with Thierry’s ‘favourite’ (He also has many!) as our:


PROG ALBUM CHOICE: SILENT CRIES AND MIGHTY ECHOES (1978): Thierry, in Acid Dragon #41 (March, 2006) in an extensive feature on Eloy, describes this epic as “perhaps their best album, for some fans.” He describes the opening as most PINK FLOYD “Wish You Were Here” era in “forty minutes of pure magic” with “outstanding melodies, sumptuous arrangements, never equalled in my opinion.” I think Thierry likes this as he goes on to say, “The perfect mix reflects every instrument, while creating a very refined blend, a mystical atmosphere, with deliciously smooth guitar interventions. Each musician plays his part with a rarely equalled cohesion. Why hasn’t this album had the deserved success of its predecessor (200,000 in Germany); the sales are similar but “Ocean” has much a better reputation” despite being more obsolete (implying “Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes” is the album you will return to most often). After this, Schmidtchen and Rosenthal left to create their own combo.


2nd CHOICES: DAWN (1976): This album carries extra significance because it marked the emergence of a distinctive Eloy style, more prog rock, less space rock while still retaining elements of psychedelic and heavy rock, and established Eloy as a leader of the prog rock movement in Germany and elsewhere. Featuring a symphony orchestra “Dawn” is “a real concept album, the melodies skip endlessly while staying coherent, the whole rhythm is sustained with many variations, guitars in front.” It was a hit with record buying public and a start to the legendary years of Eloy as a top progressive rock band.


OCEAN (1977): A big concept, Atlantis, drew these words from the Acid Dragon: “Excellent musicianship, gorgeous melodies with an intro, a development, a finale in apotheosis or epical, the kind of music that obsesses you all day long” but “the album is rather slow, the sound is monolithic; on the other hand “the musical climates are more developed than on “Dawn” in a very spacey progressive rock.” A double ELOY LIVE album followed it. There is an extended ‘Poseidon’s Creation’ from “Ocean” a rather overblown side-long 21-minute version of ‘Agony at June 5th - 8498 13 p.m. Gregorian Earthtime’(!?) Many will say they prefer Eloy live to studio even during this halcyon period, but is the doubling the running time of classic songs from their best period really such a great thing – wouldn’t fans want to hear more of their great music?


There is more great music to come on COLOURS (198) with some new musicians: a Scottish drummer no less, Hannes Arkona on guitars and Hannes Folberth on keyboards: “We are at the beginning of the 80s, of course, Eloy’s music evolves too, but in such a successful way.” “Colours” divided opinion amongst fans with less elaborate compositions and musicianship, which did not please the diehard prog rock fans, but a more song- oriented approach akin to Art Rock in some eyes and the likes of THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT appealing to others.


The idea of a double concept album was rejected by EMI, but fans largely kept the faith through PLANETS (1981), considered more of a psychedelic and space rock album, and TIME TO TURN (1982). Of less relevance to prog, but still a very listenable album, the approach on PERFORMANCE (1983) has been compared to bands like SAGA. The acid dragon says that the album is “more rhythmical, more direct, full of energy, keyboards everywhere. METROMANIA (1984), with the exception of ‘Follow the Light’ took the band, struggling to get past the eighties production values, in a more poppy direction repellent to some prog fans. RA (1988) saw Eloy reduced to a duo Bornemann concentrating on singing and playing the guitar and Michael Gerlach handling the keys, bass synth and sequenced drums/ percussion (which were much criticised) supported by a plethora of guests; after a promising start with the 9-minute opener ‘Voyager of the Future Race’ the rest is disappointing apart from the nice melodies that appear on ‘Dreams’ and ‘Rainbow’.


Of the seven studio albums released in the nineties and noughties, DESTINATION (1992) didn’t make much of an impression, although the drums were better and the arrangements, production and melodies are still recognisably ELOY. THE TIDE RETURN FOREVER (1994) had a “perfect sound, awesome production, keyboards and guitar back on top form, catchy melodies” and a return to live performance impressed the dragon, as did OCEAN 2 (1998), a sequel to “Ocean”: “A PINK FLOYD-ish intro, a first enchanting song, a powerful second track enlightened with sumptuous and incisive keyboards. Yes, symphonic rock is back!” Drummer Bodo Schopf develops a more fluid and inventive rhythm to underpin the band’s creative endeavours.


And let’s not forget the final part of a trilogy of albums about Joan of Arc, ECHOES FROM THE PAST (2023) where the electric guitar riffs, the orchestral keys and synth washes and vocals full of emotion (with female backing vocalists too, a regular addition throughout Eloy’s long career) tell the sad story that began with THE VISION: THE SWORD AND THE PYRE PARTS 1 & 2 (2017 and 2019).

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