Albatros - Garden Of Eden

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD 043
Format: CD
Total Time: 41:34:00

Unlike the creature in Coleridge's "Rime Of The Ancient Manner," this is not one that you need feel saddled with by the likes of the Garden Of Delights label. This Albatros is a pleasure to have around, and at 41-plus minutes, is far too short. There are only three tracks on this album, and these are the "short" versions. "Detlev Jahn entered their rehearsal room [...] inviting them to come to the Krings studio [...] they chose three songs that band had written themselves: 'A Man Like Me', 'Sundriver', and 'Garden Of Eden' but each in a short version since the original version would been too long to fit the LP format," say the liner notes. These short versions are 19:49, 11:32, and 10:13 respectively, and this CD is lifted from a copy of the original album, using the Cedar NoNoise technique for de-clicking the tracks. The sound is wonderful, as I would never have guessed that this was lifted from vinyl.

All the aspects that make classic songs those memorable beasties they are can be found here. Catchy refrains, great licks - whether it's the keys, guitar, or drums - a voice you can sing along with. Plus all those elements we like in our prog, extended arrangements, great interplay, intriguing patterns and rhythms. Albatros were a sextet from Hagen that formed in 1974, but didn't record an album until 1978. Internal conflicts and the pressures of the "real world" lead the band to disintegrate, thus leaving only Garden Of Eden as their only recorded document. The album was originally only pressed in 500 copies and pristine copies are now worth about US$500.

While vocalist Hansi Köppen sounds quite like no one else, at least that I can name, the music is a mix of early Emerson Lake and Palmer and early Genesis with psychedelica thrown in for good measure. There's a part, however, at about 10 or minutes into the first track, "A Man Like Me," where Köppen briefly sounds a bit like Greg Lake, and at another point, much later on the album I thought of Roine Stolt. Otherwise, Köppen sings in a very open, warm, rich, theatrical style. He can be expansive, as on the second third of "Garden of Eden," and at the same time, come across as very intimate. He's in your living room. Each track is eclectic, not really being this thing or that, varied enough that even the ELP and Genesis comparisons seem inadequate.

There are faint echoes of "Cherokee Nation" in "Sundriver," though I'm guessing it's pure coincidence - and for those cynics it was meant as a favourable comparison. There is that same pounding, repetitive percussive rhythm with what one might call a "Native American" flavour. During a gentle keys (Harald Hubricht) and guitar (Peter Breitbarth) interlude, NASA soundbytes can be heard, starting with Neil Armstrong's famous words, and then other space chatter (voices from Houston Contol). Like Bowie's "Major Tom" and John's "Rocket Man," "Sundriver," is about an astronaut "miles from home." I love the rolling piano during the second section, which made me think of "A Summer Place" (I think that's the title) - in fact, it is Christian Köppen's piano parts that are the highlight nearly throughout. Breitbarth does get a guitar solo in there, at about two-thirds in.

While I don't think Breitbarth's style and tone is exactly like Steve Hackett, I did think of him during the intro to "Garden Of Eden." Keys next take the lead, though, under Köppen's vocals. The only production quibble comes here, and I suspect it was present on the original recording rather than this reisssue - the sound volume drops a bit here ... It's not really a quibble, just an observation. Thomas Büscher gets the drum spotlight here for a few moments, as the track veers close to both surf music and, well, I thought of the classic 50's instrumental "Walk Don't Run."

Albatros really could have been a household name in prog if things had worked out for them. Maybe at the same level as ELP and Genesis. There is still a chance of course, as Garden Of Delights have made this album conveniently available on CD, for much less than US$500, with an informative booklet (as we have come to expect from GoD, though lyrics would have been an added bonus). So, you buy the CD and listen to it; you'll like it so much, that you'll tell two friends, who will buy it, listen to it, and tell two friends, who will buy it ... and so on and so on. Yes, this is one Albatros you'll be glad to have around your neck (figuratively speaking, of course, as they've much more convenient carrying cases these days).

A Man Like Me (19:49) / Sundriver (11:32) / Garden Of Eden (10:13)

Peter Breitbarth - guitar
Thomas Büscher - drums
Achim Hubricht - bass
Harald Hubricht - keyboards
Christian Köppen - piano
Hansi Köppen - vocals
Jürgen Polzin - congas, PA

Garden Of Eden (1978/2000)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: December 27th 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1288
Language: english


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