Ekseption was one of the very first Dutch
progressive rock bands, and with no doubt the most successful in
terms of hits and commercial success. They were originally a
pure jazz-band, but their keyboardist Rick van der Linden had
far higher ambitions and his interest for classical music and
rock would transform Ekseption into probably the most
classical-influenced progressive rock group ever. The most
dominant elements in the very distinctive Ekseption-sound were
Linden's keyboards, including organ, piano, Mellotron and
harpsichord. He used the latter instrument more than any other
progressive rock keyboardist, and that gave the music often a
very baroque feel and sound. But what really made them more than
just another keyboard-driven classical-progressive band was the
wind instruments of Rein van den Broek that included trumpet,
saxophone and flugelhorn. Guitarist Rob Kruisman also
contributed with some very Ian Anderson-sounding flute on their
debut-album "Ekseption". The album was almost completely made up
of cover-material. The only exception was "Little X Plus", a
quite jazzy piece dominated by a nice theme played on flute and
vibraphone. The album also included some of the band's
best-known tracks. "The 5th" became a big hit and their
signature tune, and it was a complex track based on Beethoven's
5th symphony. It demonstrates quite well how Linden's various
keyboards melts in with the horns and creates the unique
Ekseption-sound. Saint Saens' dramatic "Dance Macabre", Bach's
beautiful "Air" and Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance" are other
highlights and showing the band's talent for arranging classical
pieces into a progressive rock format with their own signature
sound. We also get an energetic version of Gershwin's "Rhapsody
in Blue" and some very Jethro Tull-ish early progressive rock in
"Canvas" and not at least in Tull's own "Dharma for One". The
only track that I don't care much for is the version of
Cannonball Adderley's "This Here" and even not a part with
strings and harpsichord can prevent if from being just a boring
and repetitive jazz-blues number. But the rest of the album is
quite fun and amusing early progressive rock.
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
The cover you see here is the
American cover, which is obviously different from the Dutch, but
still released on the same label, Philips. The songs are all the
same. To this day, this is the only EKSEPTION album I have, I
hadn't got around to getting their other albums to give a real
solid opinion of this band. What I do know is the band wasn't
known for a steady lineup, and most people lost interest in the
band after keyboardist Rick van der Linden left in 1973 to form
TRACE. It seems no matter who was in the band, bassist Cor
Dekker was the one constant. This was their first album, which
consisted of covers of classical (which they were best known
for), one original, and more. They do a cover of Beethoven's
"Fifth Symphony", entitled "The 5th", which actually became a
hit. This is basically a rock version of the famous Beethoven
composition, with organ, guitar, bass, drums, and horns. The
song starts off with the famous symphony version (sounds like a
recording sampled from a real symphony orchestra), but then
quickly changes to a rock version. They do a cover of JETHRO
TULL's "Dharma For One", which is quite a bit tamer than the
original, not so aggressive. They even include the proper, Ian
Anderson-like flute where needed (just like the original).
"Little X-Plus" is a band original, and a nice piece with some
jazz influence and nice use of flute. "Ritual Fire Dance" is a
nice number complete with horns, some '60s sounding guitar. They
also cover George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", which is truly
the album's high point. There's also Bach's "Air on G String",
which is the song that PROCOL HARUM borrowed for their hit "A
Whiter Shade of Pale". This of course, is the Bach composition
done EKSEPTION style, with harspichord from Rick van der Linden,
and horns, and you won't mistake this for Procol Harum.
EKSEPTION is one of those bands that don't have much middle ground, you either dig the band or you don't. It all depends how much you like the idea of a band "rocking the classics". I still think this is much better than what Apollo 100 done (Apollo 100 was a British group who gave us the hit "Joy", which was a pop take on Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", and most of the rest of the stuff they did was rock versions of classical songs, and in my opinion, not as good as what EKSEPTION did).
If you do enjoy the music of EKSEPTION, this is a nice album to own.
This is the debut album of
Ekseption, where Rick van der Linden (renown for his virtuosity
on the keys) presents the formula that was to make Ekseption one
of the most successful Dutch bands of it's time: mixing
classical music with rock and Jazz. Thus the 5th of Beethoven,
Khachaturian's sabre dance, Bach's famous Air, De Falla's ritual
fire dance, Gershwin's rhapsody and Saint-saens's Dance macabre
are mixed with Jazz and rock influences in the famous unique
cocktail that was so characteristic of Ekseption: the dominant
keys of Rick on piano, Hammond and synth together with trumpet
and sax, supported by Cor Dekker's skillful bass playing and
Peter de Leeuwe on drums. Besides the classical reworkings you
will also find three covers from other rock artists as well as
one composition written by the band. The quality of the audio is
typical of the late sixties: 'limited', compared to today's
recording technology. It's an album of a band just starting out
with their own unique formula that was to be at the foundation
of their success.
Beggar Julia's time trip
Ekseption's highly successful debut-album had
made them a big name even outside of Holland but Kruisman,
Kampen and Leeuwe decided to leave the band in 1970. Dick
Remelink and Dennis Whitbread soon replaced them. The band also
included singer Michel van Dijk in the new line-up, introducing
vocals to their sound. Their second album "Beggar Julia's Time
Trip" was an ambitious and continuous concept-album that told
the story of a female beggar who lived in year 900. One day she
encounters some kind of a time-machine/space-ship that takes her
on a journey through the centuries and up to our time.
Musically, the album mixes classical themes with original
material written by Van der Linden. This includes a very
beautiful, medieval-influenced overture, the rocking/jazzy "Pop
Giant", the baroque "Feelings" and the vocal-number "Julia". The
classical adaptations included Albinoni's "Adagio", Bach's
"Italian Concerto" and Tchaikovsky's "Concerto". The latter also
includes an uncredited theme from Beethoven's "Patetique". All
these pieces are tasty and beautifully arranged in the typical
Ekseption-way, dominated by Van der Linden's organ, piano,
harpsichord, Mellotron and the various horns and
wind-instruments of Van den Broek and Remelink. Overall I think
that this was maybe Ekseption's most symphonic and typical
progressive album, and that would probably also make it the best
starting point for many of you.
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
"Beggar..." was Ekseption's second album, from 1970, and one of their most sympathetic. As many albums from the era it's a concept album with a story, each LP side containing a suite of continuous sound.
Some of the material is cheesy, as always with this band, but some is great. To this day, their own songs "Pop Giant" and "Feelings" move me to tears, so it's easy to forgive them the mistake of changing Tchaikowsky's first piano concerto's famous theme from 3/4 into 4/4 in order to accomplish an easier foundation for improvisation, thus removing the drive. Classical hit tracks are Adagio, Italian Concerto and Concerto. The other 70% of the album was written by the band themselves.
(Bert Vijn, Amazon)
Although Ekseption was essentially an instrumental band, this album as well as the third album features a singer, even though a lot of the compositions are instrumental. Beggar Julia's Timetrip is based on a story of a man who travels through time in a spaceship and observes the great composers at work. Thus, the story is of course a perfect setting for introducing some rock/jazz versions of Albinoni's Adagio, Bach's Italian Concerto and Tchaikovsky's piano concerto garnished with some Beethoven. Much more than on their first album this one features music written by Rick, who offers some very explosive Hammond on Pop Giant, experiments with synthesizers, and uses the church organ to conclude the album. Featured on this album are also the trumpet of Rein van den Broek and the sax of Dick Remelinck. This really is a must have album.
The 3rd album was another concept-work, this time
based on Saint Exupèry's book "Le Petit Prince". It was also
Ekseption's most vocal-orientated album as 4 of the 9 tracks
included vocals. The band had got a new singer in Steve Allet
and his deep and low voice sounded quite different from Michel
van Dijk. All of the vocal tracks are good songs, especially
"Morning Rose" and "B 612". The latter includes a complex and
jazzy instrumental-part in the middle and is in my opinion one
of the most beautiful horn-passages they ever recorded. The
dramatic "On Sunday They Will Kill the World" is maybe a bit
repetitive, but still quite powerful and enjoyable. "Another
History" starts very jazzy, but turns into a pleasant and
atmospheric progressive ballad when the harpsichord and
shimmering organ starts. The instrumental-part of the album
includes the well-known opening theme "Peace Planet" and this
Bach-adaptation became another hit for the group. "Bottle Mind"
is a cool and catchy track where the theme is clearly inspired
by Grieg's "I Dovregubbens Hall". The loud and heavy break in
the middle only makes it more entertaining. The version of
Beethoven's "Rondo" demonstrates Van der Linden's skills on the
organ and also lets Van den Broek stretch out in the jazzy
mid-part. But the highlight of the instrumental-numbers is Van
der Linden's own two-part suite "Piece for Symphonic and Rock
Group in A Minor". The first part is a beautifully dark and
atmospheric passage played by strings and wind instruments that
slowly build up to the energetic and rocking last part that
includes many cool riffs with more excellent organ and
harpsichord from Van der Linden. "Ekseption 3" will be another
winner if you like old-fashioned, early 70's classical
influenced progressive rock. But Steve Allet left the band after
this album, and Ekseption would from then remain a pure
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
opening track, 'Peace planet' was a big hitsingle, very remarkable for an all instrumental track based on a Badinerie written by Bach. Two of the songs on this album feature a singer, the rest is all instrumental music. Bach is featured in two compositions, Rachmaninoff is used in 'On Sunday they will kill the world', Grieg is incorporated in Bottle Mind, and finally the last track on the album is Beethoven's Rondo from his third pianoconcerto, which transforms after the initial theme into a very relaxed Jazz waltz with great solos from Dick Remelinck, Rein van den Broek. The other compositions are written by Rick van der Linden again, of which the most notable is the Piece for Symphonic and Rock Group in A minor, where a sad orchestral movement leads into a fiery explosion of Rick on the piano. In short: an excellent album which was re-released on the double CD 'Three Originals'.
You have forgotten for a several time the classical music, and it's famous composers? Well, Bach and Beethoven are still alive, here, yes, in the prog rock music. I'm talking about Ekseption; somebody said van der Linden was a great Keith Emerson follower, ,maybe; this man is a 20th century master, but he lost connection with the world after Trace, beginning his solo career. Coming back to this album, it was the third in Ekseption discography; here you can listen songs with b vocals, but being this its weak point; and symphonic pieces like "Peace Planet", where van der linden execution is really amazing, and "The Lamplighter", with jazz influences and a exact inclusion of wind instruments. And you can't imagine this disc without "Morning Rose", or "Family, i'm going away, don't await for me, 'cause i won't come back, i'll give my body and soul for my country" and things like that. And, if you like this disc, you should have "Trinity" and the complete "Selected Ekseption" album.
(Alpaca GonzÃ¡lez, Progarchives)
Due to their style and nature, it was only a
matter of time before Ekseption would attempt to do something
with an orchestra and they finally did it on their 4th album.
But the orchestra (The Royal Philharmonic) was used in a rather
modest way. Actually, the 15-minute closing-number "Piccadilly
Sweet" is the only track where the orchestra really comes to the
fore. The composition itself is maybe not fantastic, but it's
still enjoyable and the orchestra and band melts quite well
together. The track goes through several different parts. Some
passages are jazzy and energetic, while other are quiet and
builds up to grandiose symphonic themes. A quite powerful piece
and one of the better attempts at mixing a rock band with an
orchestra. The rest of the album is a typical Ekseption-mix of
covers and original material. The old jazz-tune "Monlope" has
been turned into an organ-driven progressive piece in three
parts where part 2 is a symphonic baroque passage written by Van
der Linden. The synthesised version of Bach's "Partita No. 2 in
C Minor" is maybe a little limp and cheesy, although it
maintains the baroque feel that characterized so much of
Ekseption's music. "Ave Maria" works much better and opens the
album in a promising and beautiful way. Van der Linden penned
the rest of the material. "Body Party" and "Monkey Dance" are
both two rocking and catchy tracks while "Choral" is a very
beautiful piece that builds up to a great finale with choir and
church-organ. A good album, but not Ekseption's best release.
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
The Dutch quintet Ekseption, led by keyboardist Rick van der Linden, was always an uneven mix of progressive rock, at times burdened by excessive special effects, along with some catchy original compositions by the leader. This studio release has the usual overdone arrangements of classical music, including a tedious "Ave Maria" that incorporates excerpts of several works by Johann Sebastian Bach, along with a very distracting and disappointing treatment of Bach's "Partita No. 2 in C Minor." The most intriguing piece is the leader's "Piccadilly Sweet," in which the group is augmented by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This extended work finds van der Linden on organ, grand piano, and even a bit of a majestic pipe organ, while Rein van der Broek's trumpet solo and a fine effort on tenor sax by Dick Remelink add to the appeal of this compelling suite. Unfortunately, the rest of his compositions and arrangements on this long unavailable LP have not stood the test of time very well.
(Ken Dryden, Allmusic)
I have seen in several websites dedicated to reviews that Ekseption seems to be underrated. Sometimes i`ts hard to define this band as "progressive", because the sound of their music is a mixture of classical, commercial pop, jazz, rock and sometimes "prog" rock. In this album, these styles are mixed. Ekseption also seems to be remembered because they recorded arrangements of classical pieces, and sometimes they are underrated because they did it. In this album, "Ave Maria" is in this kind of arrangement, with a very good version, which includes a combination of trumpet and sax leading the melody of this piece of music. The rest of the band and the piano and the spinet played by van der Linden are in the background. I like it very much. The other classical piece arranged by van der Linden for the group is "Partita No. 2 in C minor", played on a pipe organ and with a synthesizer, accompanied by the band. The rest of the songs are original pieces composed by van der Linden, and they also are very good. "Choral" has a choir and the music is similar in style to Bach, with van der Linden using the pipe organ . "Picadilly Sweet" has an orchestra (Royal Philarmonic Orchestra) playing along with the band, and here the jazz influences are more obvious. Van der Linden uses the pipe organ again in this piece of music. Some of the other songs sound in a jazz-rock style, sounding sometimes like commercial pop. But the arrangements (done by van der Linden) are very good, and all the musicians are very good.
One of the things many reviewers miss about this album is that is was specifically planned. At the time of its conception, Phillips Corporation (a Dutch company) was promoting their new recording system (24-track tape, if I recall properly), and they recruited Rik van der Linden and Ekseption as the premier orchestral rock band in the Netherlands at that time. The combination of Phillips' corporate influence and van der Linden's credentials as a composer gave them access to one of the finest pipe organs in the world, and this album was largely (if not entirely) recorded in a cathedral in Holland. The selection of tracks was dominated by what would demonstrate the capabilities of the recording system rather than those of the band - but in the end, that was not a bad thing. No matter - this is an album that clearly demonstrates the debt progressive rock owes to classical music, and stands on its own merits.
(Tony Higgins, Progarchives)
It's no big mystery why this became Ekseption's
best-selling album as it was the only one to be released outside
of Europe too. But it was still well deserved as it's maybe
their best album. There's not a bad or mediocre moment here at
all, and Van der Linden delivered some of his best material ever
together with more b adaptations of classical themes.
There's also a version of The Nice' "For Example" and it works a
lot better than the original as it's turned into a pure
instrumental-number that focus on the b riffs and themes of
the track, instead of the poor vocals on the original. Van der
Linden had also integrated a self-written part, called "For
Sure". Next to "Dharma for One" on the debut, this was the only
track from another progressive band that Ekseption would cover.
"My Son" was a musical tribute to Linden's young son, and
remains one of their most rural and cosy tracks. It varies
between a pleasant flute-melody to more aggressive passages
dominated by the organ. The 10-minute "Midbar Session" is truly
impressive and features a string of majestic themes and
different moods where the organ, harpsichord, synth and horns
melts together and really demonstrates the classic
Ekseption-sound at its best. "Virginal" is another winner, based
in a really beautiful melody. The combination of Van der
Linden's swirling organ, harpsichord and piano with Van den
Broek's trumpet gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. It's
just so majestic and atmospheric, creating a perfect
barouqe-prog sound. The rest of the album was made up of
classical themes, including Bach's "Siciliano" and "Vivace" and
Mozart's "A La Turka". The Bach-pieces are mostly dominated by
the wind-instruments with the organ working more as a back-drop,
while the Mozart-adaptation goes the other way round with the
organ in front and playing the main-theme. This is a truly
wonderful album and one of the best you can get if you want to
explore Ekseption's unique and atmospheric mix of progressive
rock, classical music and jazz.
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
Ekseption's finest release is Ekseption 5, which was also its only LP released in the U.S. This Dutch quintet, led by keyboardist Rick van der Linden, blends elements of classical, jazz, and rock within its music. The band sounds much larger than a quintet. The leader begins with an excerpt of the famous theme of Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5," played on a pipe organ. "Vivace," taken from J.S. Bach's "Concerto for Violin and Strings in A Minor," is turned into a lively fusion vehicle as van der Linden plays piano, Hammond organ, and harpsichord, and Rein van den Broek adds some tasty flügelhorn. But one of his most intriguing arrangements is the medley of "For Example/For Sure"; the former is a piece written by Keith Emerson while he was with "The Nice," while the latter piece is credited to van der Linden but seems very similar to Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Living Sin," which was released the same year. "For Example" is sandwiched around "For Sure," and has some of the album's best solos, including van den Broek, Dick Remelinck's tenor sax, and a playful synthesizer feature by van den Linden that never turns bombastic. There are several originals by the leader, including the somewhat plodding "Midbar Session," the brief feature for solo piano "Pie," and the cheerful easygoing ballad "My Son," which features the howling "vocal" of his infant son Rick van der Linden, Jr. Sadly, van der Linden left the group not long after this release to form the trio Trace, and Ekseption steered more toward run of the mill rock during the remainder of its existence.
(Ken Dryden, Allmusic)
At the time of writing this album has yet to be released on CD. This album starts off with Beethoven played by Rick on church organ, and it ends with Beethoven on church organ. In between we are in for a very diverse musical treat, where the famous Ekseption formula of mixing classical with rock and jazz is mingled with original compositions from the leader of the band, Rick van der Linden, as well as one arrangement of Keith Emerson's For Example. Just for the record, Rick's mixes of various styles with an original theme of a classical composer is far more than just an arrangement, he does it very effortlessly, as opposed to many other albums out there which have so called 'popular reworkings of the classics', Rick's own way of melting it all together is anything but dull. He definitely has created his own signature by means of his style of writing as well as his instrumentation, which makes him very recognizable. One composition of Mozart (A la Turka) and three of Bach are also featured on this album in addition to Beethoven. The longest piece on the album (a little over 10 minutes) is the composition 'Midbar Session', an original from Rick. It's a great piece of music, and suddenly in the middle where Rick improvises a solo on the Hammond he plays the first measure of the Dutch nursery song 'Alle eendjes zwemmen in het water' ('All ducks swim in the water'), very funny. It probably has to do with the fact that he had become father, and a recording of his newborn son crying can be heard on the intro to the song 'My Son'. Again a very enjoyable album from Ekseption.
I would not recommend this compilation as the
place to start with Ekseption, as it sure gave me a wrong
first-impression of this excellent band. The problem with
"Ekseptional Classics" is that it's just what the title says: a
collection of their best-known adaptations of classical themes.
Ok, so this was what the band was best known for but they still
did a lot of other things than just classical pieces and people
who aren't familiar with their original albums and just hears
"Ekseptional Classics" will believe (like I did) that Ekseption
was not able to do anything else than that. "The 5th", "Adagio",
"A La Turka", "Italian Concerto" and "Air" do all work great
when they're heard on the original albums and mixed in with the
band's own material. However, a whole album with nothing else
than progressive versions of classical pieces quickly becomes
boring and gives a painfully wrong picture of a band who also
had varied and great self-penned material like "Midbar Session",
"My Son", "Virginal", "Choral", "Little X Plus", "Pop Giant",
"Feelings", "Piece for Symphonic and Rock Group in A Minor",
"Morning Rose", "B 612" and many more. They have included
"Rhapsody in Blue" to show another side of the band too, but
it's all to little to give a fair representation of what
Ekseption really was capable of. Start with one of the original
albums instead, and do not judge Ekseption if this is the only
album you've heard.
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
This is a Dutch compilation (made in Germany) called "The 5th", on the Rotation label (PolyGram/Hunter, 1998) and in itself a reissue of "Ekseptional Classics", with the exact same content and catalog number, but as stated with different name. Tracks are from Ekseption's first six albums, all with Rick van der Linden. Tracks (in Ekseption format) are: The 5th, Air, Rondo, Peace Planet, Adagio, Italian Concerto, Rhapsody in Blue, Partita No. 2 in C Minor, A La Turka, Introduction (not mentioned in tracklist), Siciliano, Romance, Concerto, Vivace, Toccata, Sabre Dance, Ave Maria.I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest only in Ekseption's "classical" side. Since almost all tracks were released on hit singles at the time, this compilation is indeed an "early greatest hits". But as it completely overlooks Ekseption's own compositions (roughly half of their output), afficionados should go for "Selected Ekseption" instead, at the cost of missing out on "Partita", the poignant "Vivace", the elegant "Introduction/Siciliano" and the powerful and crafted "Rondo". Ehm... buy both!!
Update: or better, buy "Selected Ekseption" and "Air". "Air" contains all tracks from "The 5th" and 32 more.
(Bert Vijn, Amazon)
A one-disc overview of the Dutch group, who specialized in making jazzy rock versions of well-known classical tunes. The original classical tunes used for these are very much Music for the Millions, and this is the main criticism I have on this group. A little more adventurous choice of the original material would have made their effort more interesting. Still, they are very accomplished musicians, and the results are often pleasing, although in all cases I prefer the original versions. If you want a one-disc introduction to this group, this would be suitable, especially if you can pick it up in Holland where it sells for 3-5 Euro. Best track: the sabre dance.
(Dragon Phoenix, Progarchives)
Don't be fooled by the title: This is not a reissue of the Ekseption 5 album, the LP by which the group was best-known among art rock fans in the United States -- that doesn't mean it's not worth owning, merely that one should temper one's expectations. The 5th opens with "The 5th," the group's three-minute classical pastiche centered principally on the first movement of Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5 in C Minor," with detours into the "Moonlight Sonata," with parts for trumpets, Nice-era Keith Emerson-style organ, and other accessible touchstones of the period, all of which make it sound like a lost track from the second or third Nice albums on Immediate. Material derived from Bach ("Air," i.e. "Air On A G-String"), Gershwin ("Rhapsody In Blue"), Albinoni ("Adagio"); and more are here in profusion -- missing, alas, is Ekseption's cover of a Nice original, "For Example/For Sure," which appeared on Ekseption 5. Today, with the house bands on every late-night talk show working out their rock and classical inclinations regularly side-by-side, hearing a stripped-down progressive rock outfit cover "Rhapsody In Blue," doesn't have the distinction that it would have had in 1969 -- the era in which Hambro & Kingsley did Gershwin: Alive And Well (And Underground) -- but it's still entertaining; "A La Turka/Piano Sonata No. 11" is the most entertaining track here, and serves to remind listeners where the group's Dutch compatriots, Focus, got their introduction to "Hocus Pocus." The sound throughout is excellent, and at 62 minutes the disc is reasonably generous, though there is no annotation, just a track list and a plug for other reissues from Philips' rock catalog.
(Bruce Eder, All Music Guide)
Ekseption's 6th album included some
personnel-changes as both Dick Remelink and Peter de Leeuwe were
kicked out of the band and replaced by Jan Vennik and Pieter
Voogt. But these tensions didn't affect the band's musical
inspiration and artistic quality as "Trinity" proved to be
another of their best albums. The album opens with an adaptation
of Bach's "Toccata" that reminded a bit of "Vivace" from the
previous album, but maybe even better. "The Peruvian Flute" is
based in a traditional Peruvian theme that has been transformed
into a 8-minute masterpiece of progressive rock, ranging from
jazzy, horn-driven passages to mighty symphonic parts and then
to the cheerful main-theme played on flute by Vennik. You will
notice that Vennik's style of playing sounds very much like Ian
Anderson, something that hadn't been heard on an Ekseption-record
since the debut. "Dreams" is a short piece where more of
Vennik's flute can be heard, but this time in a more quiet and
(surprise!) dreamy way. "Smile" is a nice and laid-back little
tune written by Van der Linden. "Lonely Chase" is a structured
organ-solo based in a theme that sounds somewhat familiar to me,
but the track is credited to Van der Linden. The version of
Beethoven's "Romance" is just as sweet as you could expect, but
it's very strikingly and unexpectedly ripped up in the middle by
an energetic organ-solo. Cool! The 9-minute "Improvisation"
gives room for some great jamming from all the members of the
band, built around another Tull-ish flute-theme from Vennik.
"Meddle" is a beautiful short piece that featured the best
medieval-atmosphere the band had created since "Beggar Julia's
Time Trip". The version of "Flight of the Bumble Bee" has lots
of energy and joy and some impressive playing from Van der
Linden. The album closes with a grandiose finale that includes a
guest appearance by the Dutch chamber-choir. Mighty! "Trinity"
was yet another great work from Ekseption, but it was in my
opinion their last classic album and also the last to feature
main-member Rick van der Linden for a long time.
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
I doubted whether to give this album four stars or five stars, but I decided on four stars since the next album that Van der Linden would make with his new band Trace deserves that honour. Nevertheless, this truly is an excellent album which shows a fully matured Ekseption with its unique own mix of prog rock, classical and jazz. Of course, the classical composers are not forgotten: Bach's famous 'Toccata', Beethoven's 'Romance from his second violin concerto' as well as Rimsky Korsakov's devastatingly fast 'Flight of the bumble bee' are transformed through Rick's unique recipe into a unique, exciting cocktail. Besides the classical composers there also are Rick's own compositions as well as a great piece of music written by Tony Vos, 'Dreams', where the brass is carrying Jan Vennik's flute. 'The Peruvian Flute' is based on a Peruvian traditional, but of course Rick places his own stamp on the music to such a degree that it becomes unmistakenly Van der Linden. In 'Improvisation', the longest track on the album, each of the band members is allowed a solo, and whereas usually this can lead to some boring showcase of the individual's mastery of technique, on this song everything blends ekseptionally well together. The album ends with the beautiful 'Finale III', where members of the Dutch Chamber Choir sing their part as well, an inspired closing track to an uplifting album. I hope it will see its release on CD soon. This one definitely is a must have.
The tensions inside the band culminated with Van
der Linden's departure in late '73. Van der Linden went on to
Trace and was replaced by Hans Janssen. This new line-up
attempted to re-create the classic Ekseption sound on several of
the tracks on "Bingo". They succeeded quite well in tunes like
the beautiful "Nightwalk", the short and catchy single-track "De
Fietser" and a new version of "Sabre Dance" that was slower than
the one on the debut and also featured a beautiful flute-solo
from Vennik in the middle. But the absence of Van der Linden's
personality became very clear on the rest of the album that is
mainly made up of average and faceless jazz-rock of the kind you
can hear in 70's TV-series and movies. Not directly bad or
painful to listen to, but it completely lacks everything that
made Ekseption a unique band. And this is with no doubt due to
the fact that Van der Linden had been the band's musical leader.
Hans Janssen is a much more ordinary keyboardist than Van der
Linden, and also using el-piano most of the time instead of Van
der Linden's tasty mix of harpsichord, organ, Mellotron and
piano. "Bingo" was a disappointment (although not an unexpected
one) and proved beyond any doubt that Ekseption simply couldn't
be Ekseption without Rick van der Linden.
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
After the album 'Trinity' Rick van der Linden was removed from the band Ekseption because the other band members wanted to have more individual freedom and did not like Rick's bhold on the music and the development of the band. This turned out to be a BIG mistake, because Rick's successor, Hans Jansen, did not have the same fire as Van der Linden, often Jansen sounds lukewarm, and in addition to that Van der Linden was much more classical oriented and used different voicings for chords he used, he had much better chops, and whereas Rick avoided the Fender Rhodes electric piano sound on albums, Jansen uses it wherever he can. As a result, the music on this first Ekseption 'New Formula' album is much more Jazz-rock oriented than previous albums, and it sounds very different due to Rick's absence. It does not mean that this is a bad album; if you set your expectations aside it definitely has its good moments. Listen for example to Jan Vennik's songs 'Nightwalk', and 'De fietser', or the track 'Sunny revival, co-written with Hans Jansen. But then there are tracks like 'From Ekseption', where Ekseption sounds like studio musicians freaking around. All in all I am divided over this album, and I would rate it as 'reasonably well, but non essential'. If there was an option for 2.5 stars, I would choose for it.
This record has outstanding, clean and expressive rhythmic trumpet arrangements, a bit in the genre of early Frank Zappa (Grand Wazoo, Waka/Jawaka), but more dynamic, funky and rhythmic: it gives an ambience of winners! there are trumpet, saxophone, clarinet and flute, so that these wind instruments take a huge place in the music. There are also omnipresent & complex electric guitar, keyboards (Fender Rhodes among others) and very elaborated bass & drums. It is jazzy with all the catchy & rhythmic rock elements, plus some progressive tendencies. It is a very joyful music: you play it after a victory, a success or just simply for the joy of feeling happy. It will induce positive and pleasant moods. There are really fast parts, and the music is rather loaded; the omnipresent rhythm is very changing: it is never dull! Hard to believe they are a Dutch band. The sound can be very American funky jazz rock. There are not enough bands like that!
"Mindmirror" was Ekseption's second and last
album without Rick van der Linden. Just like "Bingo" it was a
competent piece of work from a pure technical point of view, but
also yet another nail in the coffin for Ekseption's personality.
Never before had a guitarist been more involved in the sound of
the group than what Hollestelle was here. As a result, "Mindmirror"
sounded often like several other Dutch groups, especially
Finch. Even the version of Bach's "Bourree" had more in
common with those two bands than classic Ekseption. The version
of The Average White Band's "Pick Up the Pieces" took the band
further into funky fusion-territory than even anything on
"Bingo". It's fun to hear Jansen finally let loose on the organ
in "Tramontane" but he still lacked van der Linden's classical
style and personality. Ok, I'll admit that the 17-minute
title-track IS a solid and worthwhile piece of jazzy and complex
progressive rock. It includes many b riffs and melodies and
a beautiful flute-solo from Vennik. But no matter how good it
is, it still missed Ekseption's distinctive sound that made them
so unique. And the main reason for this was of course the
absence of Rick van der Linden. I think both "Bingo" and "Mindmirror"
proves how important he was to the band, and Ekseption broke up
shortly after the release of "Mindmirror".
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
This is the second album of Ekseption without Rick van der Linden, and it is better than their previous one which sounded a bit 'dull'. The opening track is a track from the Average White Band, 'Pick up the pieces', followed by an inspired arrangement of Bach's Bourree by Hans Hollestelle, the guitarist of the band, Jan Vennik and Hans Jansen. I can't help wondering what the track 'Ramses' is doing on the album; it's a short track with some spoken text from Ramses Shaffy. The longest piece of the album (a little over 17 minutes) is the title track, 'Mindmirror'. It's a piece of music that is very pleasant to listen to, and all in all this album (although it failed to achieve the same commercial success as previous Ekseption albums), although not excelling, is not a bad one either. After this record one more album was released by Ekseption without Rick van der Linden, 'Back to the classics'. The members wanted to get away from the typical Ekseption formula, so they simply broke up Ekseption, re-baptised themselves 'Spin', and recorded two (good) albums under that name.
Ekseption attempted some sort of a comeback
with Rick van der Linden back in the line-up in the late 70's. "Ekseption
'78" was one of the albums by the re-united group, and the only
one they would release on the Dutch label CNR. It's overall a
rather tedious and forgettable album, played by a band that
tried to squeeze the last drops out of an exhausted musical
formula that no longer did appeal to anyone else than the most
devoted fan. Their mix of progressive rock, baroque classical
music and jazz worked great on classic albums like "Ekseption 5"
and "Trinity" but it had steered into self-parody on "Ekseption
'78". The record opens actually quite promising with a beautiful
and majestic excerpt from Bach's "Matthäus Passion" complete
with mellotron-choirs and synths. And it continues not all that
bad with Linden's "Your Home". But everything just goes downward
from there. The only other memorable tracks are the fresh
version of Gershwin's "Summertime" and a fine version of
Schubert's "Impromptu" in the typical Ekseption style. Most of
the self-penned material is uninspired drivel, and the many
classical-themes just replicated what the band already had done
much better several years earlier. The inclusion of re-recorded
versions of "Jesus Joy" (a single B-side from 1973) and "Doubts"
(from Linden's "White Ladies" album, and re-titled as "Faith"
here) didn't exactly show a band that had anything new or
interesting to offer. Get some of their six first albums, and
avoid anything they have done after 1973.
(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)
Ekseption suffer from the Mozart syndrome, meaning some of their music is so well crafted that it sounds weightless and easy to accomplish. Well, it isn't - as proven by the many who tried to repeat after them. Admittedly, at times Ekseption sound unbelievably cheesy, but then again the gems more than make up for it. Despite what CNR hope you will think, this CD does not contain one hit. It is in fact the third CD release of the studio album "Ekseption '78", and also carrying the third misguiding title. However, despite its year of origin, probably giving some
Ekseption fans the chills, this is a release by the core line-up of Rick van der Linden, Rein van den Broek, Dick Remelink, Cor Dekker and Peter de Leeuwe. It even contains "Jesu Joy", a track from their heyday years that was released on single in '72 but didn't make it to the album "Ekseption 5".
Partially misguided by the cheesiest of album covers (the band dressed in Liberace white with cape!), at the time I thought this to be a weak album, but it grew on me. I now rate this among their very best albums. Sometimes cheesy, as always, and sometimes highly original, well-crafted and... rocking! Highlight: Lalo Schifrin's "The Cat".
This stuff is very under-represented on the many collection CDs, so if you're a fan: get this! If you have an interest in the hit side of this band, buy "Selected Ekseption" or "Air" instead.
(Bert Vijn, Amazon)
After Ekseption split up in the mid seventies, Rick and Rein came together and decided to reunite Ekseption, with the same band members of their fourth and fifth album. The opening track of this album ('Again') is probably the best opening track from Rick ever. It's an arrangement of Bach's 'Kommt ihr Tochter helft mir klagen' from his Mattthaus Passion, and Rick's arrangement is breathtaking in its beauty. The rest of the album consists of 5 originals written by Rick van der Linden and/or Rein van den Broek and 5 arrangements from music written by classical, plus one composition ('The Cat') from Lalo Schifrin in an excellent arrangement from Rick. The 5 original compositions vary in quality, at times they sound a bit polished and dull, other times they have spunk, and the same is true for the arrangements of the classical compositions, Handel's Andante is very polished, however, Gershwin's Summertime has an excellent driving rock rhythm. Bach's 'Jesus, bleibet meine Freude' is a new recording of the B-side of a single released in 1973, and the track 'Faith', written by Rick, was previously released on the album 'The white ladies' from Trace in 1976. In short, the album is mixed, it knows some excellent moments (the opening track with music from Bach, 'Summertime', 'The Cat', to name a few) as well as times when the music sounds a bit tame.
Well, well, well ... a music that combines themes from classical composers with rock music? You might find The Nice or ELP. But if it then being combined with contemporary rock and jazz in a blend of dominating, virtuoso keys and trumpet plus sax(es), only Ekseption â€“ the Dutch band â€“ you might be referring to. And for this, Ekseption is probably the only band that has built the music in this arena and no one â€“ as long as I know â€“ has followed their path. Too odd? Not really, actually. But thatâ€™s the fact. I can hardly find any band that continues the kind of music Ekseption has played.
As the title implies, this album is a compilation of what the band has interpreted and arranged the music of classical composer Bach into the kind of unique music by Ekseption. No one would argue that Johan Sebastian Bach is a genius classic composer and itâ€™s not my intention to write this review. The focus is only one: how good Ekseption interprets and arranges the music composed by Bach on songs featured here. Am not actually familiar with all songs by Bach but since I knew classical music through prog music in early seventies, finally Iâ€™m familiar with some composers.
As far as interpreting and arranging the music of Bach, I have to give two thumbs up for Ekseption who has successfully delivered a classical composition in such a dynamic way blending many styles. The use of multi instruments like organ, trumpet and saxophone has enriched the arrangement which makes the music is not just rewarding but itâ€™s also inquiring the mind. The opening track â€œItalian Concertoâ€ starts beautifully with sounds of Hammond organ that gradually moves up with the other instruments: sax and trumpets. The grand piano solo shows the jazzy style combined with pulsating organ work by Rick Van Der Linden (RIP). Trumpet by Rein van den Broek and saxophone by Dick Remelink give excellent accentuation for this arrangement.
â€œToccataâ€ is a very famous song which starts with well-known Church organ sound typically many people have heard already. What follow is a great combination of trumpet, sax, clavinet / keyboard. Remember how fast the notes played at â€œVivaceâ€? This time Ekseption uses trumpets to do the job. The result is an awesome sound! The melancholic â€œThe Lamplighterâ€ has a killing melody through the use of organ and clavinet / harpsichords with excellent trumpet solo in jazzy style. â€œSicilianoâ€ brings the symphonic nuance combined with jazzy style especially during trumpet solo.
â€œBoureeâ€ was a song that I knew the first time through Jethro Tull who arranged it beautifully with Ian Andersonâ€™s flute. This time Ekseption arranges differently with much rocking style using dynamic music at opening followed with guitar and bass work intertwiningly. Itâ€™s an excellent arrangement and gives me another look of the composition. The guitar solo punctuated with brass section and organ solo are truly stunning. â€œHave Mercy On Meâ€ is very melodic stuff with great clavinet sound. â€œAirâ€ concludes the album peacefully.
Well, I have to admit that this is an excellent addition to any prog music
collection, especially if you appreciate classical composer. But
itâ€™s not only that- this album proves to be successful in
blending classical, rock and jazz into excellent music. For
those of you who are not familiar with classical music can learn
from this album.
(The Sky Moves Sideways)
I don't have this album, but I have a double L.P. album called "Greatest Hits", which has the same songs, the same record label and album number (Philips 6677025, "Made in France" as the labels say), but a different cover:in the front cover, Ekseption`s members photographed walking over a train`s line, and with also another photo which looks like being made in a photo studio; and in the back cover, a photo of Ekseption`s members walking in which looks like a parking lot). The gatefold cover has in the inside the titles of the musical pieces for each of the L.P. sides, with a year assigned for each musical piece (like "Flight of the Bumble Bee", (P) 1973). But it seems that some of the years are incorrect for some of the musical pieces. Also this album has not a date of production, so I don`t know when it was released (I bought it in 1979).This album is a compilation of arrangements done to classical music pieces. It seems that these musical pieces were taken from their original albums, but I don`t know (with the exception of "Ave Maria" and "Partita no. 2 in C minor", which are from the "00:04" album, which is the only one of their original albums that I had listened to) if these are the same versions. It includes musical pieces originally released in the albums: "Ekseption", "Beggar Julia`s Time Trip", "Ekseption 3", "00:04", "Ekseption 5", and "Trinity", all these albums with Rick van der Linden on keyboards and main arrangements. It also includes two instrumentals of Ekseption`s line-up after van der Linden was replaced by Hans Jansen, which are not included in other of their original albums: "Persian market" (released as a single, 1974) and "El Barbero" (which seems a previously unreleased track). I visited two websites dedicated to Ekseption, and I found that "Persian market" was also released as a single. There is a live recording, "Rondo", which I don`t know if it is the same version released in the "Ekseption 3" album. Ekseption was criticized and underrated because they did these arrangements for Classical music pieces, but for me the best in this album are: "Adagio", "Sabre Dance", "Aria", "Italian concerto", "Peace planet", "Ave Maria", "Vivace", "Partita no. 2 in c minor", "Siciliano in G", "The Fifth", "Romance", "A la Turka", "Concerto" and "Rondo". Van der Linden was a very good arranger, and it seems that Ekseption was more successful and better in the years with him in the line-up. The arrangements are very influenced by jazz, and sometimes by rock.
This title was the first CD collection ever to
really represent both sides of Ekseption: their pop/jazz
reworkings of classical themes as well as their own compositions
which after all _were_ roughly half of their output. Songs are
mainly from '69-'73, the Rick van der Linden period, but also
present are 5 songs from the '76 album "Back to the Classics",
made by what must be called an ad hoc band, as only two of the
players had been member of Ekseption at one point.
This collection is not to be missed by any Ekseption fan, and is also a great introduction for anyone with an interest in the hit side of Ekseption. Adding to this: "Selected Ekseption" is the best sounding Ekseption ever, CD or LP (and I virtually drown in different releases). Beautiful!
(Bert Vijn, Amazon)
I grew up on this stuff!
Unfortunately it wasn't available on cd until recently. If you
like progressive music with a classical influence then this is
the cd you've been looking for. With 33 tracks on two discs,
terrific sound quality and expansive selection of material from
"Peace Planet" to the "Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor" and
Beethoven's symphony #5(affectionately Known as "the Fifth")
make this a must have in your collection, even if your not
already a fan. This music has a very "live" feeling to it even
though all tracks are studio recordings (due to ambient
microphone techniques, something lacking miserably in today's
music!). In short, this stuff cooks! I've waited a lifetime for
this, order it now and you can here what I'm talking about
within a week or so. Fabulous, I want all their albums
(Aaron Goldman, Amazon)
More than suffices at capturing the progressive rock-meets-classical essence of this Dutch band. Led by Rick Van der Linden's marvelous keyboard artistry, Ekseption's albums of the early '70s fused some of classical music's most renowned suites, concertos, and movements into a modern rock environment, much like what Emerson, Lake & Palmer were doing at around the same time. Without any instrumental theatrics or barrages of percussion and feedback, Ekseption adds electronic energy to Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5," Khacaturian's "Sabre Dance," and Bach's "Toccata" with brilliant progressive flair. Selected Ekseption is a two-disc set, with disc one focusing on the band's classical infusions, including a spectacular collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the famed "Ave Maria." The second disc includes their more rock-oriented material, with highlights stemming from Keith Emerson's "For Example," the overly intriguing "Piece for Symphonic and Rock Group in a Minor," and the astounding ten-minute "Midbar Session." The attention is automatically focused on Van der Linden's experimental keyboard approach. Without being wildly extreme or instrumentally brash, his crisp tempos and bright electronic melodies convey the same type of energy by staying in the lines. Excitement is wonderfully mustered through tracks like "Smile" and "Monkey Dance," while the gorgeously woven "Peruvian Flute" is arranged superbly by Van der Linden himself. After the demise of Ekseption, Rick Van der Linden went on to form Trace, where he played the same type of symphonic rock in which structure once again dictated his sound. Lovers of Yes, early Genesis, and Focus will appreciate Ekseption's material, as will any keyboard or progressive rock enthusiast.
Ekseption suffer from the Mozart syndrome,
meaning their music is so well crafted at times, it sounds
weightless and easy to accomplish. Well, it isn't - as proven by
the many who tried to repeat after them. Admittedly, Ekseption
sound unbelievably cheesy at times, but then again the gems are
worth your money. This collection is both better and worse than
"Selected Ekseption". It has 48 tracks -15 more than
"Selected..." - and it better than ever represents Ekseption's
own compositions, as well as the regular pop/jazz reworkings of
classical themes. A whole twelve tracks have never appeared on
official CDs before (the 24 track claim on the cover is darn
wrong). On the other side, this is not as well-sounding as
"Selected Ekseption", and it is also a cheapo haste job that
includes mistakes, like a 1-minute spoken track that really has
nothing to do on a collection of this type, and the track
"Introduction" appearing twice on the set. So I count this as a
46 track set. The haste job also clearly shows in the terribly
badly designed cover with ruined Ekseption logo.
Still, fans who want all of Ekseption's CD tracks absolutely need this CD set. Others are better served with "Selected Ekseption".
Ekseption suffer from the Mozart syndrome, meaning their music is so well crafted at times, it sounds weightless and easy to accomplish. Well, it isn't - as proven by the many who tried to repeat after them. Admittedly, Ekseption sound unbelievably cheesy at times, but then again the gems are worth your money.
This collection is both better and worse than "Selected Ekseption". It has 48 tracks -15 more than "Selected..." - and it better than ever represents Ekseption's own compositions, as well as the regular pop/jazz reworkings of classical themes. A whole twelve tracks have never appeared on official CDs before (the 24 track claim on the cover is darn wrong). On the other side, this is not as well-sounding as "Selected Ekseption", and it is also a cheapo haste job that includes mistakes, like a 1-minute spoken track that really has nothing to do on a collection of this type, and the track "Introduction" appearing twice on the set. So I count this as a 46 track set. The haste job also clearly shows in the terribly badly designed cover with ruined Ekseption logo.
Still, fans who want all of Ekseption's CD tracks absolutely need this CD set. Others are better served with "Selected Ekseption".
(Bert Vijn, Amazon)
It is interesting to be able to listen to
Ekseption LIVE. However, I'm terribly sorry to say, that various
musicians -Rick van der Linden included - make horrible
mistakes. Why did they choose this evening to be their first and
only live CD? One is simply not used to hearing Rick and the
others playing wrongly and shoddily! Actually, the more you
listen to this CD, the more you just wait for the next blunder.
It's really a shame, because the choice of songs is fine.