Quill - Sursum Corda

Year of Release: 1993
Label: Syn-Phonic
Catalog Number: SYNCD10
Format: CD
Total Time: 35:32:00

This one is a bit hard to write. I generally like even highly derivative works, as long as they do a reasonably good job of it. I've said before, till it gets old I guess, that the pillars of progressive rock didn't make so many albums of great music that I can't be left wanting more of the same. And with this release by Quill, that's exactly what one gets, more of the same. Quill, in case you don't already know, recorded and intended to release this in 1977. Oh, what great timing that was, eh? A limited number of vinyl LPs were pressed, after which, oh what the hell, reality set in. An ELP clone in Southern California in the late 1970s was DOOMED.

Quill were not a bad band, just an uninspired and cold blooded one. This CD re-issue of the original LP sounds good, is well performed, and sticks to the straight and true road of Hammond and Moog led classical progressive rock. I'll give them the classical moniker, they claim it in the CD booklet that adorns this release. There is little though that could be mistaken for a "classical" pedigree. This is full on ELP worship from keyboardist Ken DeLoria, and Jim Sides and Keith Christian, on drums and bass, respectively.

DeLoria sounds best when working his will on the B-3. His Moog work sticks almost entirely to the usual Emerson Moog voice that we all know so well. DeLoria also seems to feel that vigorously rolling the pitch wheel on his Moog is the same as instrumental virtuosity. The rest of this trio also follow the lead of DeLoria, and avoid any hint of originality in their approach to their instruments.

Ok, now I've slagged them, so what is good about Sursum Corda? Well for one thing, the B-3 work that I've mentioned. I will walk a mile to hear a blazing, distorted B-3, and there is plenty of that to be found on Sursum Corda. That alone is enough for me, providing the organist is backed up with sufficiently competent drums and bass. In this, Quill makes the grade. Also the obvious care that the band has taken to mirror the early work of ELP is commendable. They're not copying Works Vol.II, thank God for that. They stick mainly to re-hashing Tarkus and Pictures At An Exhibition. One could make worse choices. They artfully avoid the trap of going on too long in their obeisance to any one work by ELP, and they do mix things up well. The band also does a very good job of working in the direction of their obvious goal. Which is, if you've nodded off reading this, to sound exactly like ELP circa 1972/73.

I would have enjoyed a little bit of their own vision on this work, but I'd rather hear this than a few ELP releases I could name.

So, I listen to Quill occasionally. Shoot me, go on. I dare you. My ONLY real problem with Quill is this. They are to calm and laid back in this work. Please, by all means, copy ELP to the last detail. But do it with the kind of absolute fury that the real ELP brought to their early works. Get pissed off! Quill is just too calculating to show any real emotion or fire.

As always seems the case with Syn-Phonic releases, this CD comes with an extensive booklet insert, with lyrics, band history and plenty of photos. Never let it be said that Syn-Phonic doesn't put out a top notch product. They have brought out some brilliant, mostly unknown bands, and to be honest, some mediocre bands as well.

I. First Movement - Floating -Interlude - The March Of Dreams - The March Of Kings - Storming The Mountain - Princess Of The Mountain - Storming The Mountain II (19:54) / II. Second Movement - The Call - Timedrift - Earthsplit - The Black Wizard - Counterspell - The White Wizard - The Hunt-Rising - The Spell - Sumnation - Finale (15:32)

Jim Sides ? drums, orchestral bells, tubular bells, tympani, vocals
Ken DeLoria ? Hammond B-3, Moog synthesizer, Mellotron, electric harpsichord, piano, Arp String Ensemble
Keith Christian ? vocals, bass, nylon string acoustic guitar

Sursum Corda (1977/1993)

Genre: Progressiv Rock

Origin US

Added: March 28th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1924
Language: english


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