Supersister - M.A.N. (Memories Are New)

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Soss
Catalog Number: 55 23272
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:24:00

Having not been familiar with Supersister prior to this year's ProgFest, they have gained another fan because of it. So, whilst there at the fest, I picked up this special, limited edition disc that contained a few live tracks and several previously unreleased tracks. The band had split around 1975 and is only now getting back together. Their ProgFest performance was their first in the US; hopefully it will pave the way for more.

Whilst their humourous bent might get them thought of as a novelty band, the do have some great jazzy-fusion-like chops. You can read my impressions of their ProgFest performance elsewhere, but listening to the first four tracks here, which are the live ones, you can get a sense of the energy they put into their set. There are no dates for when the live tracks were recorded, but a note on the Supersister section of R J Stip's site, it mentions 1971. The album opens with a muscular version of "Present From Nancy" from their album of the same name. This is followed by a very nice version of "Radio" from Pudding En Gisteren, which so seamlessly glides into "Mexico" that if you aren't a Supersister expert, you might think its an extended jam on "Radio." Okay, at least I did, until I actually checked the tracking timing and the CD player. The production is very clear here, allowing the fullness of the arrangement to shine through. "Judy Goes On Holiday" is sharp-edged even with the fuzzed organ; in fact, it is that fuzzed organ that gives it that rough, ragged edge. [rough and sharp? serrated? ed.]

"Hommage" is the second of the previously unreleased tracks, and is a symphonic, classically influenced piece with beautiful keys and flute, somewhat tinny percussion and barely perceptible bass. This track and those that follow were recorded in 1971 with the Tanz-und Unterhaltungsorchester des NDR. "Sweet Suicide" has a playful feel, with stuttering keys, trilling flute, energetic percussion ... and then the swell of the orchestra just opens it open. I'm brought to mind of Moody Blues, actually, and UK pop bands of the late 60's - Herman's Hermits is what springs to mind. "Modest Man" as well, though I couldn't help but think of "The Little Drummer Boy" while hearing this, as it slowly develops. It is a rather dark track, and the orchestra swell a third of the way through made me think of the incident music composed for movies made in the 30's and 40's, used to underscore a melancholy moment.

"Nothing Is Real" will sound familiar, as it forms one of the middle parts of "Judy Takes A Holiday," though it has more instrumentation and a lighter feel. Instead of deep bass taking the lead, it is the flute and keys. "Workman's Song" returns to the obvious humour of other tracks - imagine if Shirley Temple sang sweetly about committing violent acts ... well, Shirley Temple with a bit too much testosterone singing sweetly about committing violent acts. "House In The Country" also takes that happy feel and twists it with dark lyrics. "Seven Ways To Die" is psychedelic ... I'd say almost stereotypically psychedelic, but with Supersister one can't be sure if that's part of the point. "Woods Of Frustrated Men" is psychedelic as well, in the way that The Doors' "The End" was ... in fact, I think "The End" is a very good comparison here, at least for part of it, as the track moves in so many directions.

Strangest here is "Psalm," where you're not quite sure whether they're laughing or crying through a familiar psalm. Actually I think it's both, one of those "we should be sad, but we can't help giggling" kind of things. And since they're singing in Dutch (I think), I'm not sure if there's more to the joke or not.

It's an interesting document, but I'd have to hear more of Supersister to see how the unreleased stuff compares to the released stuff. There are also tracks that date from the 60s, what is refered to in the booklet, cheekily, as their "Dutch period." Although it was compiled for their ProgFest appearance, I suspect there are still copies available, either from Greg Walker at Syn-phonic, who seemed to be the only vendor selling it, or from the RJ Stips site.

Present From Nancy - live (7:23) / Radio - live (2:20) / Mexico - live (6:23) / Judy Goes On Holiday -live (9:07) / (2x3=) 6 Blauwe Dwergen (1:16) / Hommage (3:35) / Sweet Suicide (2:32) / Modest Man (4:12) / Wine Melody (2:44) / Nothing Is Real (3:56) / Workman's Song (3:10) / House In The Country (3:29) / Seven Ways To Die (3:05) / Woods Of Frustrated Men (3:41) / Corporating Comboboys (0:48) / Manke Boerenwals (1:08) / Psalm (2:13)

Marco Vrolijk - drums
Sacha Van Geest - flute and vocals
Ron Van Eck - bass
Robert Jan Stips - keyboards and vocals
Rob Douw - trumpet, ideas, and vocals (lead on 5, 13-17)
Gerhard Smid - guitar and vocals (13-17)

Present From Nancy (1970)
Spiral Staircase (1970)
To The Highest Bidder (1971)
Supersister (1971?)
Pudding En Gisteren (1972)
Superstarshine Volume III (1973)
Iskander (1973)
Startrack Volume 1 (1973)
Sweet Okay (1974)
Iskander/Spiral Staircase (1990)
Pudding En Gisteren/Superstarshine (1990)
Present From Nancy/To The Highest Bidder (1990)
M.A.N. (Memories Are New) (2000)
Supersisterious (2001)
Univeral Masters Collection (2002)

Sweet Ok Supersister (2006) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: September 10th 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 949
Language: english


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