|......................................THE BAND AND RECORD OF THE MONTH|
is a special case of an exciting and amazing band from years 70', who knew how to create a special musical formula, combining diverse musical elements becoming one of the most inovative groups from these last three decades. In a few time the band was acclaimed by many musical magazines and the press, quickly gained a legion of fans around the world. I confess that I'm one of those fans, and I believe Eloy as one of the most important revelations until the present time. Their musical conseption is highly sensitve, full of varied styles, Symphonic, Progressive, Melodic, Hard, everything well mixed with atmospheric arrangements, including perfect lyrics. Always leaded by founder and constant member of the band the guitarist and vocalist Frank Bornemann, Eloy is, and always will be one of the most important bands into the Progressive Rock scene. After some years Frank Bornemann and Eloy members are back with a new album titled as "Visionary", where the band returned to many of their greatest moments, an incredible musical adventure in the same line of the Eloy's albuns such as "Planets", "Time To Turn" and "Destination". "Visionary" is an ambitious album, well played, exactly what we normally expect from the band, a festival of emotions and fantasy, totally symphonic, progressive and melodic, filled with atmospheric sounds, where you can listen to all the trademarks of the band. "Visionary" is one of those recordings that we delight in listening to carefully many times. All the seven songs on the album are amazing but my personal favourites are "The Secret", "Age Of Insanity", "The Challenge" and "Mystery". I would recommend Eloy and "Visionary" to anyone who is into the more adventurous symphonic progressive rock. Brilliant, fantastic, and an amazing album, highly recommendable...
line-up on Eloy for the recordings on the album "Visionary" are:
Frank Bornemann was born in Hanover in April 1945. He began playing music in the early 60s, in 1969 founded his first band, he named the band after a people from the novel "The Time Machine" by HG Wells. He planned on playing his own compositions, a rather bold move in Germany at that time. After changing the line-up a couple of times, an initial formation evolved, which was ready to follow this path. At that time, the band consisted of singer and pianist Erich Schriever and guitarist Manfred Wieczorke, with Wolfgang Stöcker on bass and Helmut Draht on drums providing the rhythmical backbone. They won a regional band competition and got the chance to record songs at a studio for the first time. The result was their first single, launched in 1970, comprising the songs "Walk Alone" and "Daybreak".
In 1971, Eloy got their first recording contract with Philips and went to Hamburg to record their debut album with sound engineer Conny Plank (who was also working with "Kraftwerk", "The Scorpions" and "Jane" at that time). The sometimes socio-critical lyrics were reflected in the iconic folding dustbin album cover. Frank Bornemann, reflecting on this debut in 2008 said "Despite the often polarising positions concerning the artistic line, we nevertheless managed to put an album together which aptly depicts (...) the zeitgeist of this era."
Due to a serious car accident, which left him unable to play for a long time, Helmut Draht, had to be replaced by Fritz Randow. Erich Schriever was not prepared to abandon all other activities and focus on music in the future, so he left the band. Thus Frank Bornemann took over the vocals and Manfred Wieczorke switched to playing the organ, which expanded the instrumental range of the band, and fitted in better with their musical intentions. With this line-up, they recorded "Inside" which was released in 1973 on EMIís prestigious Harvest label ("Pink Floyd", "Deep Purple" among others). These changes proved successful, and now a clear musical outline was visible. The typical Eloy sound, a synthesis of spherical sounds, pulsating rhythms, powerful guitars and complex concertante arrangements was born, and set out to enthuse an ever growing community of fans.
Sales figures for "Inside" were good enough to call the album a succès d'estime. "Wherever we could plug in our equipment, we performed" says Frank Bornemann regarding the number of gigs the band played at that time. The band coalesced and after the first single, "Daybreak", flopped, proceeded to the next album. With their new bass-player Luitjen Jansen, they recorded the album "Floating" which consolidated their success. However, the band did not consider this rock-orientated material a step forward and went on to tackle a more substantial project. "Power And The Passion" was Eloy's first concept album. It was released in 1975, and featured new synthesizers. Putting a story into music allowed the band to give their work a broader narrative scope, while second guitarist Detlef Schwaar added a few extra facets.
Unfortunately, the influence of Eloyís manager at the time, Jay Partridge, caused strong tensions. The band fell apart, and eventually, Frank Bornemann found himself without fellow musicians. However, EMI stood by him, still trusting his artistic abilities. They offered to help him to rebuild the band with new members and continue his career.
The search for new musicians was soon successful. First, Frank joined forces with Hanover guitarist Detlev Schmidtchen. As Manfred Wieczorke, had done before, Detlev switched to another instrument and now operated the keyboards for Eloy. Klaus-Peter Matziol and Jürgen Rosenthal were a very creative new rhythm section, enriching the sound of the band. The music became even more orchestral, structurally diverse and atmospheric. Jürgen Rosenthal's lyrics were heavily mystical and reinforced the mood of the music. During rehearsals, the new quartet wrote the music for the new album, "Dawn". At subsequent recording sessions in Cologne, a string orchestra added orchestral elements. This gave the music a unique touch, something special. The album hit the stores in 1976, at once becoming Eloyís greatest success so far. With two subsequent tours, the band gained a growing followership.
The ground was cleared for the big one, which followed in 1977 with the album "Ocean", which has remained Eloy's best-selling album till today. This album precisely mirrored the zeitgeist, with its synthesis of atmospheric electronic sounds, orchestral rock-music patterns and esoteric lyrics. It brought about the band's breakthrough and put them at the top of the so-called progressive-rock movement. The opening song "Poseidonís Creation", was even used as the soundtrack for a TV-production with Hansjörg Felmy (Tatort, a hugely popular crime series on German television), and the sensational fold-out album-cover, adorned with a surreal painting by Wojtek Siudmak, got numerous awards. "Ocean" became a cult album with continuous sales. It eventually turned out to be the best-selling Progressive Rock album by a German band to date. In 1995, it was awarded a gold award by EMI - 25 years after the release, with sales figures in Germany alone at 250,000. Eloy were high in the German charts in 1977, sometimes outperforming their British colleagues in "Genesis" and "Pink Floyd". The subsequent tour was elaborately staged with a laser show. The audiences were growing and the live show was triumphant. Recordings of it were released in 1978 as a double album named "Live". The fans were enthusiastic, although the reviews in many parts of the German media, especially in the relevant music magazines, were alarmingly negative, sometimes even aggressively denigrating and almost hostile. Never before had any band inspired such strongly divided opinions between the audience and the music press as Eloy did after "Ocean".
musicians retired to the French Atlantic coast to write new songs. Strong
tensions developed between the artists. Jürgen and Frank could not
find common ground concerning the lyrics. Jürgen had been writing
all the band's lyrics since "Dawn", but Frank now thought
his colleagueís scenarios to destructive in tone and difficult to adapt
to melodies due to their phonetic quality. Shortly after, "Silent
Cries And Mighty Echoes" was recorded in Cologne under heavy time
pressure. Musically, the band managed to implement their sound, but the
conflicts among the musicians did not cease. One point of issue was the
building of a studio for the band in Hanover. For the last few concerts
of the tour in France, the band took on a second guitar player, something
which had not happened since "Power And The Passion", and
again it was Hannes Arkona. Frank wanted him to stay as a permanent member
of the band to expand the musical and instrumental range they could cover.
But unfortunately, Hannes only saw the end of this very successful era
of the band. Detlev Schmidchen and Jürgen Rosenthal left Eloy
Soon enough he had sufficient material for a double album. However, the record company pressed him to release it as two albums in quick succession, "Planets" and "Time To Turn" The music was a mixture of the old with floating sounds and new, tighter material. Hannes Arkona played guitar and keyboards both on stage and in the studio. During studio time, an old friend, drummer Fritz Randow returned to the band. Unfortunately, Eloy were losing larger and larger parts of their audience at that time: The fashion of the time had changed. German lyrics and new wave had become fashionable, replacing progressive rock. Unfortunately, sales figures for the albums were dwindling as were the sizes of concert halls the band played. The one consolation was that "Time To Turn" made the radio playlists and drew attention to the album of the same name. It stayed in the charts for many weeks. In England, Heavy Metal Records was the first label to launch Eloy in the UK. "Planets" and "Time To Turn" were graced with new cover artwork by British illustrator Rodney Matthews. These albums found great acclaim in the English media and received very positive reviews.
In times of declining sales figures and changing fashion, tensions arose within the band. Frank Bornemann recalls that "between me and the other band (...) members there was strong discord concerning the attitude with which we handled our artistic work." So Frank stepped back for the first time. The new album, "Performance", mirrored the contradicting influences of the two parties to the bewilderment of many fans. Even the artwork on the sleeve conveyed a completely different image and foreshadowed significant changes to the music. Most Eloy fans could neither relate to the visual expression nor to the musical content of the album and "Performance" sold badly.
So the band rethought old virtues, and, in 1984, returned to atmospheric sounds, coupled with pulsating rhythms, heavy riffing and grippingly arranged compositions. The new album was called "Metromania". Yet this new common ground was not enough and the tensions within the band did not die down. While Frank Bornemann exhausted himself putting the finishing touches to the production of the album, the other musicians turned to the film project "Codename: Wildgeese". "Metromania" was well received by the fans and earned the band an invitation to England from the BBC. Two concerts at the legendary Marquee Club in London were sold out and recorded by the BBC. They found an excellent response with both the media and the public and this opened up an opportunity to continue establishing Eloy in England.
Eloy had a chance to make it in England, but instead of gaining strength and motivation from their successful performances, they broke up. Exhausted and burdened with the constant debate surrounding artistic positions, they failed to find common ground. Everything that had once characterised Eloy - the spirit, the magic, the charisma and enthusiasm - had disappeared. So they agreed to separate.
For a long time, not much was heard about Eloy. After the break-up, few expected to hear from them again. But the creative spark was not extinguished. Together with keyboarder Michael Gerlach from Berlin, Frank wrote songs for a new album "Ra", which was released in 1988. To the surprise of everyone involved it made it to the German charts. After the painful experiences with the old band, Frank kept the line-up to two permanent members plus studio musicians and guests.
Due to professional obligations, it was not feasible to continue Eloy right away. It was not until 1992 that there was another sign of life with the release of "Destination". The sound involved fewer keyboards and more guitars now. Whether it was intentional or not, this mirrored the successful style of Frank's famous Hard'n'Heavy production company, Horus-Sound-Studios, rather than the essential Eloy sound. "Every step that we take is linked to our personal destiny, we cannot escape it." According to Frank, this is the key message of the album.
1993 was a special year in the band's history with the 25th anniversary of Eloy the following year. It was to be celebrated with the ambitious "Chronicles" project, with two CDs comprising the best Eloy songs. Some of the material was re-recorded with the original cast, some was remixed or remastered. Klaus-Peter Matziol rejoined the band for this, making Eloy a trio. Inspired by the old song, they immediately started production of a new album which was intended to retain much of the original spirit. Autumn of this year saw the release of "The Tides Return Forever", and, for the first time since the 80s, they were touring again. Backed up by drummer Bodo Schopf, guitar-player and keyboarder Steve Mann (both formerly of the McAuley Schenker Group) and backing singers Susanne Schätzle and Tina Lux they celebrated a quarter-century of Eloy, to the delight of many fans.
Due to public demand, there was a second part to the tour in 1995, and the second part of "Chronicles". was released that year as well. "What more is to come?" asked Frank Bornemann? The answer was "Ocean 2". This ambitious project also owed itself to the fan club, which had been set up for the tour of '94. At that time, there was simply no way of finishing Eloy off. The song writing and recording went on for a long time. In 1998 the 16th studio album eventually saw the light of day. Positive reactions everywhere sent the band on another tour. Unfortunately, this was to be the last sign of life from Germany's most successful progressive rock band for a long time.
In 2003, EMI released "Timeless Passages", the ultimate song collection on two CDs. The product was graced with elaborate cover artwork, strongly suggestive of the band's heyday. Shortly afterwards, the last newly mastered old EMI studio albums hit the market. The back catalogue sold in respectable quantities, proving the interest of the fans was still alive. And so the people at Frank's label, Artist Station, which he founded together with Martin Kleemann, had to figure out a way of meeting expectations. In 2009, Eloy are celebrating their 40th anniversary. "The Legacy Box" DVD-set comprises a documentary on the history of the band, enriched with video clips, concert footage and TV appearances of the band. Many of the former and current members of the band have their say. Up to date? Yes, on the occasion of the anniversary, new music is being written and recorded. "Visionary", is the title of the new album, set to challenge the best of the old ones. Frank has brought the band together again and inspired them to give their best.
Eloy is back!
release: 2009 (ASR), Recorded at Horus Sound Studio (Hanover), Bodo Schopf's
Homestudio (Stuttgart), Hitmann Productions (Hanover). Producer: Frank
Bornemann. Sound-engineer: Timo Soist, additional recordings: Michael Krzizek,
Benjamin Schäfer, Bodo Schopf, Emanuel Klempa, Michael Gerlach and
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