Reviews:


Tom Hayes 19-Aug-2006 Inside

Inside is Eloy’s second album and their first foray into progressive rock. This was one of my very first Continental European albums to own, and would have to consider it a strong influence on my personal preferences, especially upon initial discovery in the mid 1980s. More overtly complex than most albums from Germany, and not really Krautrock in the traditional sense of the word (i.e. Brain, Ohr, Pilz, Bellaphon labels). Blindfolded, and not knowing any better, I’d say Eloy on Inside anyway, sounds more like an early 70s group from England. While vocal/guitarist Frank Bornemann is the clear leader of the band, the musical focus on “Inside” is squarely on the shoulders of organist Manfred Wieczorke. He carries most of the solos, as well as many of the melody lines. In fact, the organ virtuosity displayed here is some of the finest to ever be committed to a rock album (and that’s quite a statement!). In some ways, it almost seems they’re hiding Bornemann’s guitar playing. Without question he’s competent, especially during the composed melody runs, but does seem uneasy in the improvisational solo sections. Bornemann’s vocal style heavily resembles Ian Anderson, which I think leads to the frequent Jethro Tull comparisons Eloy gets tagged with (during this stage at least). Also of note is the rhythm section of Fritz Randow and Wolfgang Stöcker, which is strikingly crisp and fiercely driving. Side long opener ‘Land of No Body’ contains Manfred’s jaw dropping organ performance (both the atmospheric sections and in the ripping solos). The title track demonstrates the group’s complex compositional side. ‘Future City’ is Eloy at their most creative, with the musical emulation of a wind-up toy gone mad. ‘Up and Down’ is more in line with what other Germanic groups were doing at the time, recalling the haunting work of Paternoster or the more inward looking songs by Twenty Sixty Six and Then, My Solid Ground or Murphy Blend. Interesting to note that Wieczorke took on the vocal duties here, and his heavy German accent gives it a completely different feel than Bornemann’s more refined English. Without a doubt, this is a Hall of Fame album, and one of the finest German symphonic rock albums ever made.



Sjef Oellers 19-Jan-2001 Inside + Floating (and beyond)

Eloy is a German band, who started in the early 70's. Their first self-titled album I have not heard yet, but is supposed to be fairly ordinary hard rock with marginal progressive touches. The two albums that follow, Inside and Floating, are two excellent albums of spacey rock with some symphonic touches (mostly provided by the keyboard playing). The tracks are mostly in the 5 to 15 minute range, which allows the band to venture out in long, spacey jams for guitar and keyboards (lots of organ). The style they present on these albums is fairly original although Pink Floyd seems a source of inspiration (think of the track "One of These Days" for example) and maybe Deep Purple as well.. Some passages also remind me of a harder edged version of early Pulsar. Inside and Floating are very similar in style and both albums are recommended. The fourth album The Power and the Passion reveals a significant shift to a more symphonic-based sound. The Pink Floyd references might be even more prominent here. The music is still spacey, but the hard rock edge has almost disappeared. The Power and the Passion features two nice long tracks of spacey symphonic rock and several short songs of varying quality. Overall, a decent album. I have heard some of their albums that did not impress very much. Ocean is rather bombastic symphonic rock, reminding me of the albums of Grobschnitt in that style. Although Ocean sounds more professional and sophisticated than their earlier works, I don't particularly like this style of music. I can't comment on other 70's albums as I have not heard them. I have heard some of their 80's albums, which were very disappointing. For example, Time to Turn is from the early 80's and somewhat typical for the time, a rather slick, uninspired album of synth-dominated symphonic rock.



Alan Mallery 19-Jan-2001 Overview

Eloy is/was one of the most famous of German progressive bands and have had a very long career with some distinct phases. The first album is really a baby step, influenced by some of the English proto-prog groups such as Colosseum. Nothing to get too excited about. Different people usually prefer one "phase" of Eloy over another, and that varies considerably based on individual taste. Some people really like the next two albums, Inside and Floating which have a similar sound. By this point, Frank Bornemann had become the leader of the band on guitar and vocals. Vocals are always in accented English, never German. Other key members at this point included Manfred Wieczorke on organ and Fritz Randow on drums. On these albums the band takes a basic organ/guitar approach, and are highly influenced by bands such as Jethro Tull and Focus. Bornemann really tries to sound like Ian Anderson, and the song "Future City" off of Inside sounds like an outtake from Aqualung, from the music down to the production. These two albums don't do much for me. Power and the Passion is a transitional album, and is the first science-fiction concept album they would attempt of which many others would follow. They inject more tonal colors on this album, and the sound becomes more "spacey." However, they would drastically improve on this sound on the albums to come.

After that album the rest of the band besides Bornemann turned over. Many Eloy fans consider the period of 1976-1979 to be their peak. Joining were Klaus-Peter Matziol on bass, Detlev Schmidtchen on keyboards, and Jurgen Rosenthal on drums/lyric writing (who came from The Scorpions). The music on continued from the sound started on Power and the Passion, but with stronger compositions and playing. Rosenthal's lyrics are similar to that of Jon Anderson, with very obtuse and mystical qualities. He also drums in a style similar to Neal Peart, with lots of roto-tom rolls. Schmidtchen expanded the keyboard arsenal to provide a number of different atmospheres, and Bornemann stopped trying to sound like Ian Anderson on vocals. Ocean is a concept album about Atlantis, and one of Eloy's best known albums. It is very strong from start to finish, except for a bit of too-long narration on the last song. 1978 saw the release of their only official live album, concentrating on Ocean and Dawn with a couple older tracks as well. I usually don't think of live albums as being essential, but this album shows that Eloy were a very good live band. I think of Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes as the best album Pink Floyd never made. On this album, they are at their spaciest, with layers of synths and guitar. While the sound is influenced by Wish You Were Here, Eloy were much better instrumentalists. Each song is a winner, and this album introduced some female backing vocals, which they would subsequently use on many of their other albums. This album and Ocean would be a good starting point to check out Eloy.

After Silent Cries, Rosenthal and Schmidtchen left the band. New members joined, including second guitarist Hannes Arkona, which gave the album Colours a somewhat heavier sound. New keyboardist Hannes Folberth is perhaps the best keyboardist Eloy had, and turns in a number of fine solos. Many Eloy fans consider Colours to be their favorite. Musically it has continuity from Silent Cries, but the spacier element has been toned down in favor of a slightly heavier and direct approach. On this album I hear influence from early Alan Parson's Project albums such as I Robot. The next two albums, Planets and Time to Turn, can be thought of as a pair, since they entail a long sci-fi concept spread over the two albums. Hannes Arkona starts doubling on keyboards on this album, creating multi-layered synth sounds. Fans of analog synthesizers will like these two albums just for that. Planets contains some classic tracks such as "Sphinx" and "Mysterious Monolith" (in which some Banks-ian chord progressions can be heard). Time to Turn features one of their best tracks, the epic "End of an Odyssey." The title track sounds like something off of Pink Floyd's The Wall. The next album, Performance, is not a concept album, and has a somewhat more direct sound. Not usually a fan favorite, it still contains some fine pieces and is one of the more underrated items in the Eloy discography. This edition of Eloy ended with Metromania. Some of the members wanted to take a heavier rock/heavy metal approach to the band, which shows through in the album. There are still plenty of keyboards and much use of vocoder, which gives this album a very 80's sound. Some deem this album "space metal." After this the band broke up, with three members recording the soundtrack Codename Wildgeese under the Eloy moniker.

In 1988, Bornemann reformed Eloy as a duo of himself and keyboardist Michael Gerlach. They handle the majority of instruments for Ra. Musically, they continue somewhat in the same line as Metromania, but with the heaviness toned down. Musically the songs are very strong, although some proggers won't like the programmed drums on most of the songs. I don't think they detract that much. The duo's next album was Destination, which to me was a disappointment. The songs aren't as strong as Ra, and on this album, Bornemann sings in a falsetto a lot, trying to sound like Jon Anderson. It doesn't work too well. A couple albums recorded around this time were Chronicles I and II, which are a re-recorded "greatest hits" package with older Eloy members participating. The next studio album, The Tides Return Forever, was much improved over Destination. Klaus-Peter Matziol returned on bass. The production is very modern, and the songs are much better. The signature Eloy sound is in place, with a slightly commercial feel in some places. There are still long epics such as "Company of Angels." The most recent studio album is Ocean 2 - The Answer, which is intended to be a musical sequel to the original Ocean album. Musically it sounds more like the Planets album, albeit with more modern production. Bornemann enlisted Bodo Schopf on drums, who plays in a style similar to Rosenthal. So, Eloy has come back to being a full band once again. This is perhaps their strongest album in quite a while, and the best of the Gerlach-era albums. Nothing revolutionary, but a satisfying album.




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