Supersister

Reviews

Present From Nancy

Present From Nancy
(1970)

One of the absolutely best groups from the Dutch progressive rock scene. They had a sound very much in the Canterbury vein, and if I had to compare them to another band it would with no doubt be Caravan. This incredible debut-album features great tracks, lots of flute and distorted organ and a vocalist who sounds quite a bit like Richard Sinclair. The album opens with some excellent instrumentals, "Introductions" and the title-track. Very energetic, with great themes and very good performed. "Memories are New" features Caravan-like vocal parts and a very disharmonious instrumental part in the middle. The instrumental "11/8" is a energetic blow out dominated by the most distorted and Cantebury-ish organ sound you can imagine. The relaxed, beautiful and flute-dominated "Dreaming Weelwhile" is some of a contrast to all this energy. "Mexico" is a dramatic track with some awesome, jazzy riffs in the vocal part, while "Dona Nobis Pacem" is an atmospheric improvisation with some strange organ sounds and flute. One of the most essential bands from Holland.

(Tommy Schonenberg, Progforest)

Supersister released their first album in 1970, and the musicians pictured on PRESENT FROM NANCY's front and back covers look like teenagers. Although I cannot document it here, I believe they ranged in age from 14 to 16. Whatever their age, their musical abilities and ambitions were mature. Like most progressive rock musicians of that era, they did not think of "prog" as a category, but as a release from categories. Their music was far-ranging. An unsigned (but probably by Alan Freeman) article in AUDION #24 (March, 1991), written soon after the Polydor CDs came out, credits them with having been influenced primarily by "the Canterbury scene, and in particular the music of Soft Machine, Caravan and Egg" and by Frank Zappa. "Supersister's style involved a very multifaceted, complex concoction of rock, beat, psychedelia and jazz fusion, extensively featuring keyboards, flutes, a lively song style and many surprises. In common with many Canterbury bands, Supersister had no guitarist (a guest guitarist, one Gerhard Schmid, is featured on one track), in their music processed keyboards and bass guitar being given more freedom as solo instruments."
Robert Jan Stips was the keyboard player and lead vocalist (all vocals/lyrics are in English); Ron van Eck was the bass player; Sacha van Geest played flute and tenor sax and contributed vocals; and Marco Vrolijk was drummer and vocalist.
PRESENT FROM NANCY is an amazingly accomplished album for such a young new band. Here one finds piano segueing into Gentle Giant-like angular melodies, with Zappa-esque vocals. (One twenty-second track, "Eight Miles High," consists of the single lyric -- taking off on the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" -- of "Eight miles high, and the living is easy!") Into this is blended cabaret, maniacal laughter, and Canterbury-style instrumental sections. (The inner sleeve of the original LP has "psychedelic" art and doodles interspersed with lyrics and credits in the "hippie" style of the time.) And all the tracks are segued into side-long suites. Very trippy.

Dr. progressivo

SUPERSISTER were a Canterbury'ish 4 man act from The Hague who managed to release a few real beauties with 'Present From Nancy' being one of the standout albums. Drawing on aspects of GENTLE GIANT and EGG this band get in to some real musical predicaments. The line-up: on this album was Robert Jan Stips (vocals, keyboards), Ron van Eck (bass, guitar), Marco Vrolijk (drums, vocals) and Sacha van Geest (vocals, flute). SUPERSISTER's music is quite varied and complex with an original mix of progressive, jazz, rock, classical and fusion genres never really resting. Musically this is actually shares some of the musical shifts reminiscent of the work of Frank ZAPPA. Also at times I get an early PINK FLOYD (aka "Ummagumma") vibe which may rest more in their use of percussion and keyboards. SUPERSISTER blend complex drum and fuzz bass interplay with keyboards and flutes and really create a wall of fantastic music for your mind. Surprisingly this album does not really feature any dominant guitar work and yet feels so lively and fresh. Very much recommended to all lovers of Canterbury prog.

(James Unger, Progarchives)

I had just finally got in to SUPERSISTER. I was aware of this group for ages, but for some reason, I never got any of their stuff until now. Just the name SUPERSISTER might be enough to scare any self-respecting prog rock fan, as someone stated, you might think they were a black female disco group or one of those mellow '70s rock groups like Player or Pablo Cruise. Luckily all that isn't true about SUPERSISTER, and one thing, they pre-dated disco, and were instead one of the finest prog rock bands to come out of the Netherlands. I heard they were a Dutch answer to the Canterbury scene, and after hearing "Present From Nancy" they are right. They are frequently compared to CARAVAN, but CARAVAN tended to be much more accessible, and SUPERSISTER tended to be much more twisted, like many of the other Canterbury bands.

The band consisted of keyboardist/vocalist Robert Jan Stips, flautist Sacha van Geest, drummer Marco Vrolijk, and bassist Ron van Eck. The band didn't feature a guitarist, but the heavily fuzzed organ (that brings to mind Mike Ratledge or Dave Stewart) more than makes up for that. The title track brings to mind SOFT MACHINE circa "Third" especially became of the piano and the drumming that's very much like Robert Wyatt. "Memories are New" is a great vocal track with a strange, Krautrock-like experiment in the middle. "11/8", which I presume is the meter the song is played in, features some electric piano, and parts of this reminds me of MATCHING MOLE circa Little Red Record (although MATCHING MOLE had yet to exist, and as everyone knows, Robert Wyatt was still with SOFT MACHINE). "Corporation Combo Boys" is another vocal track with references to Frank ZAPPA's "Mothers of Invention", letting people know one of the band's influences. "Mexico" is a more aggressive number, a bit KING CRIMSON-like but with that heavily fuzzed organ. The song remains like this until the vocals kick in and the band gets jazzy. "Metamorphosis" is an odd piece with this strange choppy fuzzed organ, when then segues in to "Eight Miles High", which is 20 seconds long. This is not exactly an excerpt of the BYRDS song, but rather the BYRDS song combined with George Gershwin's "Summertime", in other words the song goes, "Eight miles high, and the living is easy". I really liked the organ and the psychedelic vibe that went with this short piece. There are also two rather moody experiments that seem at odds with the rest of the album, that is "Dreaming Weelwhile" and "Dona Nobis Pacem". These are basically experiments with organ, the former also featuring flute. The latter has a rather sinister feel to it, and even a little chanting in Latin. Then unexpectedly this piece suddenly turns in to cheesy circus music that lasts about a minute, before fading and the gong closes the piece and the album.

SUPERSISTER sounds pretty untypical for a Dutch band, especially if you're familiar with such groups as FOCUS, EARTH & FIRE, ALQUIN, KAYAK, TRACE, and SUPERSISTER. You might not get "Present From Nancy" upon the first listen, but it's a real grower, and it comes with my highest recommendation.

(Proghead, Progarchives)

Supersister is a real surprise because unlike many dutch band , they were not followers but somewhat of a forerunner in the Canterbury style. In 1970, they sounded already like Hatfield & The North and developped a very Jazzy-prog with the exact strange humour present in their music present across the North Sea.

This particular album is made of four lenghty tracks (some subdivided) and one short. The title track is a long piano dominated piece and Metamorphosis is full of excellent powerful drumming and ends in a spoof Eight Miles High (a wink and a nod to countrymen Golden Earring who had made this Byrds songs their bravado in concert a few months before - Read this -). Although the Canterbury-like inspiration will stay intact for years , the sound will slightly evolve with each album (peaking with the Pudding album) but in this one we shall say a mix of Floyd's UmmaGumma and Matching Mole's debut.

(Hugues Chantraine, Progarchives)

With their debut album 'Present from Nancy', Supersister started what would be one of the most amazing prog musical careers in the Netherlands. Heavily influenced by Soft Machine, Supersister managed to come out with an original approach to their jazz- tinged prog stuff: in no small degree was van Geest's vivacious flute playing a crucial factor for the band's originality, since his bucolic style complemented beautifully the jazzy vibrations delivered by his three partners. In this way, the quartet fulfilled a delicious sonic amalgam, seasoned by abundant touches of witty weirdness – the sense of humor that comes out in many passages of the album (and in general, throughout the band's whole repertoire) helps to enhance the sense of excitement that all four musicians seem to be genuinely enjoying while they move across the complex melodies and rhythm patters. Perhaps this is the key to understanding Supersister's peculiar genius: a combination of demanding musical intelligence and easy-going dadaist irony. Main writer R. J. Stips makes his keyboard and vibraphone deliveries take center stage, with van Geest assuming the role of creative interlocutor while the duo of van Eck and Vrolijk lay down a robust rhythm foundation for the complex frame of each track. Supersister is practically a well-ordained organism in which every individual portion challenges the others in a most playful way while its heart pumps frantically fiery blood through its veins – a funny organism, indeed! The 2-part namesake opener sets the general mood for the album: a sheer display of pure energy delivered through neckbreaking performing and interplaying. Things get even more frantic in the first two sections of 'Memories are New (Boomchick)' - a sort of SM on steroids - until its last section takes us to a more languid ambience. 'Corporation Combo Boys' is a brief musical parody including some silly ensemble chanting and a final applause. A merry joke that serves as a prelude to 'Metamorphosis', another typical Supersister number that includes the densest passages in the album, together with other playful ones: there is a frantic jam that reminds me of a pursuit scene in a WB cartoon. 'Dona Nobis Pacem' closes down the album in a most extravagant way (yet!), focused on a twisted use of Gothic ambiences. Stips' electric organ provides lots of successive phrases and layers for quite a long time before, near the end, an unexpected shift brings in merry- go-round motif, as if we ere being transported to some kind of funfair: finally, with a gong bang the song ends, and so does the listening experience. I recommend any of Supersister's first two albums as a starting point for the uninitiated; I also regard 'Present fro Nancy' as an indispensable item in any good prog collection.

(César Inca Mendoza Loyola, Progarchives)

While the Progressive Rock scene in the Canterbury-era was growing in the Psychedelic-era of the late '60s and the Prog-era of the early '70s with The Soft Machine, Caravan, Egg, Gong, and Khan. But there was one band from the outskirts of the Netherlands that would make Captain Sensible really enjoy these dutch prog underground cult obscurity. Supersister was a combination of fuzztone organs, fast-sped time signatures, and a homage to the Bebop and Traditional Jazz sounds of the '50s and early '60s.

It's hard to describe these guys. They had a sense of humor, similar to Frank Zappa's humor with Apostrophe, We're Only In It For the Money, Freak Out!, and Lumpy Gravy, But Supersister was different than Zappa. Way different. The music was weird, bizarre, funny, and off the wall when they released their debut album in 1970 on the Polydor label, Present From Nancy.

This album was their Apples and Oranges and their cooking pot because they were really cookin'! with their first album. The tributes to Robert Wyatt, Miles Davis, Coltrane, and the first two Soft Machine albums shows Present from Nancy how fucking good that Supersister can bring the classical references to a standstill. Robert Jan Stips is mind-boggling with his dutch vocals related to Kevin Ayers and Wyatt and his keyboard playing shows the similarities of Mike Rateledge and Dave Stewart of Egg with the fuzztone sounds on the organ that gives it a good kick while Sacha van Geest does his jazz routine on the flute in an upbeat tempo on the self-titled track. Ron Van Eck is like jazz bassist Paul Chambers and Marco Vrolijk keeps the tempo going for Supersister with the marching beat tempo on the drums to give it a racing edge.

But lets get to Present From Nancy. The album is so goddamn good, you NEED to buy it! The opening of Introduction sets the mood for the album on what is about to come with a robotic sound on the guitar and a classical related jazz intro on the Grand Piano while Present from Nancy and Memories are New gives it a darker edge with a speeding time signature that is way out into the Outer Limits. 11/8 is their homage to Egg and Mike Rateledge in this arrangement that is like a ticket to hell. Dreaming Wheelwhile, an atmospheric ambient somber piece in Space and time. Corporation Combo Boys is a jazz rock intro of the group's background and their roots and influences in Tango and Progressive music as it goes straight into the sinister composition of Mexico.

Metamorphosis, reminds me a bit of the early punk rock sound of a cross between The Soft Machine meets the Damned with its counterpoint attack on their instruments as the band go for ramming speed while Eight Miles High closes it into an Atomic annihilation. The band go to their Tangerine Dream relative sound on Dona Nobis Pacem.

Sense of humor and Jazz-Fusion meets the Canterbury-era? No wonder these dutchmen were riding on the Prog mountain with weird obscurity to go into a whirlpool of madness!

(zmnathanson, Head Heritage)

To The Highest Bidder

To The Highest Bidder
(1971)

Reviews:
Another album not to be missed. The tracks were longer this time, and the album consisted of just four. The opening track "A Girl Named You" is one of the best examples I've how of how el-piano should be used. The track itself is awesome. Intense with incredible themes and instrumental parts. The other highlight is the 15-minute "Energy (Out of Future)". Personally I can hear some minor Focus influences here, especially on the organ theme. But most of the track is in the Canterbury vein, both on the instrumental- and vocal-parts. A fantastic track and with no doubt progressive rock at its best. The two shorter tracks here never reaches the same heights, but they're quite nice and listenable anyway. And the album should definitively be in your house.

(Tommy Schonenberg, Progforest)

Following in the same path as their debut album, Supersister achieved their definite masterpiece in the shape of 'To the Highest Bidder': in fact, Supersister proves to be one of the most prominent Dutch prog acts of the 70s, equalling to Focus and Finch in prowess, fier and excellence. In many ways, Supersister incarnates the Netherlands' response to Soft Machine, since their music is overtly inspired by Canterbury's jazziest self; they also have clear hints to Zappa's sophisticated absurdity and the distinctive dynamics of avant-garde free jazz (track 3 being the best example). Supersister's approach to humour in the context of jazz-oriented prog is a crucial component of their musics, since it allows all four musicians to keep a light-hearted feel in their performancers, while exhibiting their own individual skills and challenging interplay. The flautist's role is certainly special, since van Geest's style has a remarkable tendecy towards the pastoral, yet in a strange way, it works effectively in the middle of the combined jazzy leaning of his other partners. The fact that two tracks are 10+ minute long allows the foursome to explore into their musical ideas and explore its potential variations: 'A Girl Named you' (a Supersister classic) is full of Latin-jazz colours, while 'Energy (Out of Future)' adds some exotic African-like beatings in the middle of the band's exhaustive musical and rhythmic travels. The remaining tracks are apparently more serene, but not less funny: 'No Tree Will Grow (On Too High a Mountain)' ends its reflective portrait with the sound of a crowd cynically laughing, while 'Higher', in contrast to the previous track's tour-de-force, is a bossanova theme, serving basically as a sweet frivolous closure. Together with Focus and Finch, Supersister is part of the Netherlands' Prog Holy Trinity, and they surely deserve to be as acknoweldged as the others... at least.

(Cesar Inca Mendoza Loyala, Progarchives)

After a stunning debut album, SUPERSISTER came back with another great release with 'To The Highest Bidder'. Essentially this album picks off right where 'Present From Nancy' left off and unleashes another complex album of FOCUS and CARAVAN inspired music full of unusual yet very enjoyable twists and turns. Essentially this album is comprised of 3 great epic tracks with 'No Tree Will Grow' representing one of Canterbury's best numbers of all time IMHO. Musically these guys blend keyboard and flute over some melodic bass lines and intricate percussion. Vocals are well done and often reverberate with a bit of GENTLE GIANT'ish grandeur. No really a daft moment on this album and I would highly recommend this to all lovers of prog especially the Canterbury sub genre.

(James Unger, Progarchives)

Can you say "sophomore slump"? Well I have to say that, because it's true regarding this second album. The music doesn't quite reach the heights of "Present From Nancy". "To the Highest Bidder" this time around features just four cuts. It's often said that the two longest cuts, "A Girl Named You" and "Energy (Out of Future)" are the album's two finest cuts, and I really can't disagree on that. The lineup is still the same with keyboardist/vocalist Robert Jan Stips, bassist Ron van Eck, drummer Marco Vrolijk, and flautist Sacha van Geest. The electic piano is more dominant this time around, and I swear I hear a little Mellotron creep up, but it's hard telling. Frequently the vocals had been compared to Richard Sinclair, but on "A Girl Named You", they remind me of Pye Hastings. There is a bit of that "Waterloo Lily"-era CARAVAN feel to this piece (because of the dominant electric piano, although that album was still a year off), but with better jazzy passages. "Energy (Out of Future)" has a lot of that CARAVAN feel, but near the end they really go off the deep end with Krautrock- like experiments with these eerie sounds. Now for the other two, shorter cuts, these two prove how "To the Highest Bidder" just doesn't live up to the greatness of their debut. "No Tree Will Grow" features some nice, trippy droning sounds, but then it turns in to a overly dramatic piano-ballad. There's a much stronger romantic/symphonic feel to this piece, and for some reason I am reminded a bit of what CARAVAN would be doing on their album "Cunning Stunts", although this album came out the same year CARAVAN gave us "In the Land of Grey & Pink". This song unexpectedly ends with the sounds of laughing. The other short piece, "Higher" is a pop-oriented number dominated by electric piano, and actually works fine in context of the previous cut, "Energy (Out of Future)" after being hammered with unexpectedly relentless experiments for the final ending of that cut. I hadn't heard anything from these guys after this album, so I can't say if this was a temprorary slump or not, but whatever the case, make sure you start with "Present From Nancy" first before you come here (or better yet, just get the 1990 2-for-1 CD reissue that contains both these albums).

(Proghead, Progarchives)

I have rounded off to the upper unit but still not in my mind 4* but it is definitely good. With this album the logical follower of Nancy , Bidder is better refined and hovers more in the region of Caravan and National Health or Hatfield. No Tree Will Grow even sounds like Robert Wyatt joining GonG and ends in a weird laugh. As this album was recorded in 71 , we can say that Supersister was definitely precursory of that typical Canterbury sound and will hold a very high level of creativity along their first four and weel recommended albums but peaking with the album Pudding and Gisteren

(Hugues Chantraine, Progarchives)

Progressive music is one of the most accomplished genres since the beginning of man. But why is this so? Could it be that the focus of the music at that time was to create moments rather than just fictitious emotions that sporadically pop of up from riff to riff, which is ever so common in today’s modern music scene. While there were artist's of many different fashions, the progressive phase of the early 70's is hands down my favorite progressive scene, with the exception of Rush who’s greatest musical accomplishments we';re in the mid to late 70's. Supersister's second LP release "To the Highest Bidder" is the perfect example of the style of progressive I enjoy amongst many others. Supersister’s birth place is the Netherlands and they are known as one of the earlier progressive players during the Canterbury Scene. "To the Highest Bidder" is a blend of the finest classic progression, jazz, blues, drone, and soft [yet fair tempo'd] rock music. The emotions of both positivity and serene like depressions express themselves in well balanced manners, which gives good flow to the overall album. The 4 tracks act like snares that pull you in and play with your different emotions, accomplished by the use of zoney mellow vocals and psychedelic like progressions. Although there are many moments of jazz, rock, and blues, these are presented in psychedelic manners, yet balanced enough to still be considered the afore. This perspective of psyche manipulation is respective and should be expected as the whole of the pie.

The album starts off on a positive note, yet with mysterious undertones as "A Girl Named You" builds off a jazz rock sequence layered with the flute playing skills of Sacha Van Geest and the jazzy brilliant bass lines of Ron Van Eck. The song continues in its building/progressive fashions, always pushing forward until the song breaks down into a bluesy breakdown that levels the increase of tempo to a very enjoyable cruising ride that you crave never ends; fortunately it last for about 4 minutes so be very thankful for the easy going qualities of the progmasters.

"A Girl Named You" blends quite well into the drone-like track "No Tree Will Grow" which utilizes the use of constant background low end octave notes that lays down the atmosphere behind the soft rock pastures of rhythmic intercessions, with phaser instrumental effects. This track continues the lyrical theme of personal differences and ultimate loss of all things when the body dies. "Energy Out of Future" is considered to be the major album closer although it's not the last track, but the last track is a little under three minutes in length and is mainly used to smooth the album out and end again on a serene high note. "Energy Out of Future" is overall a very positive sounding track but it's never overdone. It focuses on the greatest level of creativity and several different synth sounds are used including an oboe. Keyboardist and lead vocals Robert Jan Stips adds a great number to the enjoyabillity of record with highly creative keyboard and vocal patterns, even throwing effects over his voice and harmonizing his voice to sporadic keyboard catchy lines. The ultimate closer to this album is the short track "Higher", whose main purpose is to conclude the albums lyrical theme of a person wondering through life whose ultimate succumbing is just to get high and not worry about the bigger things that we can't control. Although the track is talking about a women lighting her room on fire one would think suicide, but this actually denotes blowing your brains out with psychedelic drugs.

If you want to experience early progressive music that favors the psychedelic sides more so than others, because they all do to a certain extent [which is why I love them, plus they riff hard], then "To The Highest Bidder" is the album for you. It's a nice introduction into classic progressive music which is easier to absorb than other album of the like. Timeless moments are awaiting you; it’s up to you to take the plunge.

(captaindooright, Sputnikmusic)

Superstarshine vol. 3

Superstarshine vol. 3
(1972)

On this compilation there a tracks which were released on previous albums, but there are also some tracks that were released as singles and didn't end up on an album. The first of these tracks is She was naked. In fact it was there first single released in 1970. And it is a great and typical Supersister track and it really defines their sound. Beautiful piano work, fuzz bass and strange lyrics (and this time also vocals, like the "choral" donna nobis pacem, give us peace). Missing link was released in 1971 as the b-side of the single A girl named you. It is an al instrumental track and sounds a lot like early Soft Machine. The next track, Fancy nancy, is the a-side of a single released in 1970 and is a strange Elvis Presley kind of a song. The long Wow (including a long introduction by Stips, who tells this is an intelligent song with intelligent lyrics) is a sort of a cabaretesque jam and was a live favorite. The groupies of the band is the b-side of a 1971 release (the a-side was No tree will grow). The funny thing about this track is that there is a clip of Frere Jacques, where Stips sings about "She has no head, she is my mother". This is a clear reference to the song Mother No-head by Groep 1850, which they released as a single in 1968 an can be found on the CD release of the album Agemo's Trip To Mother Earth (1968). The spiral staircase is the b-side of the 1970 release She was naked. In 1974 the album Spiral Staircase was released under the name Sweet Okay Supersister which include more of this strange music. The last of the "new" tunes is Gonna take easy. Released in 1970 as the b-side to Fancy nancy.

(Dutch Progressive Rock of the Seventies)

... There's more kookiness on "The Groupies Of The Band" which includes refrains sung to the Beach Boys' "In My Room" and some holiday-time traditional I can't quite name. "Fancy Nancy" is where Supersister do Elvis...think "Don't Be Cruel." "Gonna Take Easy" made me think of the quirkier of the Camel tunes, by way of Richard Sinclair and Caravan.

According to the New Sonic Architecture site, the tracks from Superstarshine are from a "Dutch compilation of live material (a twelve minute version of the annoying yet ultra-fun "Wow"), singles, edits, alternate versions, etc." So...perhaps that explains some of it. "Wow" is a jam session that begins with flute, switches to keys, keys and percussion...with full stops in between. You'll hear hints of other pieces of music, but I don't get the feeling that it was intentional. It just seems to roll along, following a path that seems more improvised than composed. At the six and half minute mark it breaks into what I can only describe as, well, Monty Python-like...

(Stephanie Sollow)

Pudding En Gisteren

Pudding En Gisteren
(1972)

Reviews:
The third Supersister album is a big favorite with prog fans because it provides a good representation of the group's combination of Caravan-inspired jamming and Zappa-esque humor. Pudding and Gisteren consists of a pair of pop songs and pair of lengthy prog jams. The songs are instantly appealing: Both "Radio" and "Psychopath" combine witty narratives with jaunty, hook-laden tunes that pack plenty of musical complexity into a compact space. The longer-form jams show great technical prowess and the occasional element of wacky humor ("Judy Goes on Holiday" finishes with an unexpected but amusing parody of doo wop music), but they lack the cohesiveness and memorable themes that define the best prog rock epics. That said, fans of art rock are likely to enjoy this album thanks to the group's considerable instrumental chops: Robert Jan Stips in particular shines, coaxing a variety of sounds out of his electric piano to fit the shifting styles of the music. Ultimately, the appeal of Pudding and Gisteren will depend on the listener's tolerance for eccentricity and musical self-indulgence, but it will offer plenty of surprises and musical fireworks for the patient prog rock enthusiast.

(Donald A. Guarisco, Allmusic)

Supersister. Sounds like a name for a 70's disco band, right? Or at the very least a band of long blond-haired guys a la Player, Pablo Cruise...etc. Well, they were a 70's band, alright. And they had long hair (if the cover of Superstarshine is any indication) but...disco this isn't.

But then again, they aren't quite the purveyors of staid seriousness like Yes were and are, either. The best way I could describe them, Supersister, would be to say they are the Monty Python of progressive rock (or at least bordering on it).

I mean, "Judy Goes On Holiday" begins innocently enough with fuzzed organ (Robert-Jan Stips), energetic but controlled percussion (Marco Vrolijk), and gritty bass (Ron van Eck), moves to a pastoral section of gentle flute (Sacha van Geest) and understated percussion - actually, it all becomes * very * understated. Until the keys return at more than 5 minutes in, you might think the track has ended. But this section of the track is quite beautiful; guitar enters, plucking out a few notes here and there. * Of course, a few moments later it's 50's doo-wop, or at least, doo wop-esque. It's one part Frankie Valli and one part...Bowser from Sha-Na-Na, say. In other words, a contrast between falsetto and baritone voices

Oh, but there is "traditional prog" here as well, of course. The "Pudding en Gisteren Music For Ballet" has a very nice flute led section about halfway through. Percussion and keys of various sorts keep it moving. At about 11 minutes in, it becomes a playful, ELP-like piece, but soon, and suddenly, switching to a gentle, subtle flute lead piece (again, but a different arrangement).

None of this would work, of course, if they weren't talented musicians. Then it would come off as crass; instead, the humour quotient is fully intact. What a fun, very skilled, band. Stips has quite a nice voice, slightly accented which adds character to the otherwise "British" sound he has. I quite like this witty type of music - the dichotomy between light, airy, and friendly arrangements - piano, keys, minimal percussion - and dark, cynical, and humourous (and yet "spot on") lyrics. If you like both progressive rock and humour then Supersister is a band to check out.

(Stephanie Sollow)

It's too bad there are no sound samples for this disc, because I believe anyone who heard 30 seconds of "Psychopath" would buy this album immediately. But kudos to Amazon for even offering it. Supersister was a quartet of young Dutchmen who put out some fabulous music in the late 60's and early 70's which wasn't even released in the U.S. I first heard them on Rhino Records' progressive rock box set "Supernatural Fairy Tales" (which I highly recommend). Since I acquired this album (had to order it from overseas 4 yrs ago), seldom has a week passed that I haven't listened to it. Although often characterized as a progressive rock band, for lack of a better label, Supersister is more oriented towards catchy melodies and lyrics than the sort of musical masturbation often associated with the prog-rock genre -- sort of like Phish in that they play complex music and play it well, but are playful and tuneful rather than bombastic. The focal point is the keyboard playing of R.J. Stips, who later went on to join Golden Earring and the tragically unknown Dutch band the Nits. There's no guitar to speak of, but it isn't missed, due to the rich sound of Stips' keyboards, Sacha Van Geest's flute, and the dense rhythym section. "Radio" would've been a huge hit if released with any support in the U.S. It's a delightful ode to the magic of a child discovering music over the airways, which takes a wonderfully twisted turn near the end, reflecting how the crass commercialism of corporate radio threatens to stomp the neck of musical discovery. My favorite song, "Psychopath", consists of nothing more than a sparkling riff played alternately on piano and harpsichord, accompanied by great lyrics such as: "It is not strange to have a heart attack/Since we've got nothing like a tail to wag/All our frustrations heaping up inside/Make the Dr. Jeckylls change into the Mr. Hydes". Other standout tracks are the alternately mellow/wild tune "She was Naked", the pretty 20-minute instrumental "Pudding en Gisteren Music for the Ballet", and "Groupies of the Band", a satire on the music scene replete with vaudevillian harmonies and homages to classic rock sounds, including musical quotations from the Beach Boys' "In My Room". It's difficult to compare Supersister to any other groups because they are totally unique. There are definitely elements of Zappa and the Bonzo Dog Band present on the satirical and humorous tunes like "Psychopath", "Groupies of the Band", and "Spiral Staircase", but Supersister isn't a comedy act by any means. The music is intricate and beautifully played and should appeal to all fans of good music. For me, this album typifies how much incredible music is out there waiting to be discovered. I implore all music heads to listen to it at their earliest convenience.

(?)

A rather bizarre psych fusion album from a Holland rock/jazz/pop group that released several albums in the 1970s, this being probably their "best" known, though I'm not quite sure what that means in this context. The mix of music on here is eclectic to say the least but it has two notable tracks for the funk-oriented. The first is "Judy Goes On a Holiday" which starts off with the revving sound of a motorcycle and then switches directly into a raucous guitar riff that DJ Shadow made excellent use of on the "Organ Donor" remix. For the next three minutes or so, the song clips along on an uptempo pace but it's not really rockin' on the one so the dance floor possibilities are limited. Mid-way through, it drifts into some mellow jazz atmospherics. On the flipside, "Pudding And Gisteren" is a monster jazz-fusion cut that probably clocks at least 10 minutes long (if not more). About two or three minutes in, it hits an unexpected, funky jazz breakdown complete with floating Rhodes notes and a strong rhythm riff and this holds up for the next three or four minutes and then flips into some moog-ed out electronic sh*t.

(The Ozone)

Did you ever wonder what you would get if you cross Canterbury and Symphonic? You might get something that sounds like Supersister. This band sounds great alongside their Dutch compadres Finch, Focus, Earth & Fire etc. Absolutely killer chops, and very focused, clever, evolving compositions. This review applies equally to their other albums, because I have a sort-of 'best' of. The 20-minute "Pudding en gisteren (Music for ballet)" is a classic example of a well-written long suite. They also have inherited the Monty Python-esque humor from the Canterbury school, just listen to "Radio", which makes fun of pop music. Wonderful stuff, but unfortunately hard to find.

(Elliot Minkovitch, Progarchives)

"Pudding En Gisteren" (Music For Ballet) was SUPERSISTER's third album and a clear continuation of their trademark mix of Canterbury and Symphonic genres. As with all SUPERSISTER albums, there is also that omnipresent sense of humour within their music. This well balanced album is composed of a pair of pop songs and pair of lengthy prog jams. One thing you can not criticize this band on is their innate creativity. Musically they move for a humorous attack a pop music to a parody of doo wop music. Of course surrounding all this musical creaitivity is a strong polarization towards a jazz-like-fusion progressive rock which takes at times a slight GENTLE GIANT flavour. Sonically the Polydor re-masters are excellent and the sound has been quite cleaned up.

(James Unger, Progarchives)

I cannot get enough of Supersister lately. What's not to like? Unless you absolutely detest a little humor in your prog, Supersister has something for every prog fan. 'Pudding En Gisteren' is an excellent representation of the band, and along with 'Present From Nancy', 'To The Highest Bidder' and 'Iskander' is mandatory for fans of quirky, clever, ambitious prog.

"Radio" begins with a fairly light jazzrock bounce, the vocals sounding impossibly English (despite the fact the band is Dutch)...but things are disturbed in the song's final half, with some heavy-handed keyboard/bass interplay and sinister group-vocal onomatopoeia. An unexpected twist, something Supersister specialize in. S. Van Geest's narrative in this spot is humorous and draws attention to itself thanks to his sincere and believable dialogue (despite utterly silly lines like "...and filling her pants with the substance of a custard supplier..."). Masterful keyboard playing from R.J. Stips tops this off and you've just heard one of the band's best-ever songs. Things move swiftly from the very brief keyboard tweek of "Supersisterretsisrepus" to "Psychopath", which could've easily fit on the Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd debut.

The album takes a turn to the even-weirder with "Judy Goes On Holiday". A perplexing 12 minutes, this seems to be several songs lumped together under one title, as the various pieces don't even pretend to be musically related. We're taken through keyboard-driven Canterbury, doo-wop, busy symphonic noodling, minimal atmospherics and ambient cosmic trips. Oddball, and totally enjoyable. Final track "Pudding En Gisteren Music For Ballet" is 21 minutes of "serious" Supersister, thick jazzrock of an experimental and unpredictable nature: fuzzy keyboards, fuzzier bass, folky flute, groovy vibraphone...

At the risk of sounding incestuous, I totally love my Supersister.

(Jeff Wagner, Progarchives)

Iskander

Iskander
(1973)

Reviews:
The fifth album, ISKANDER, goes off in an entirely different direction. It was not originally recorded in Holland as the other albums were -- and I never heard it before getting the CD. The album was produced by Georgio Gomelsky (who had a hand in early Soft Machine and Gong-offshoot albums) and recorded in England at The Manor (where Oldfield recorded TUBULAR BELLS). A jazz-fusion-oriented album, although traces of Supersister's distinctive melodic style peep through in places, it uses middle eastern motifs and is a "concept album" (as though Supersister's other albums weren't!) based on the life of Alexander the Great (Iskander was his Turkish name). Jazz saxophonist Charlie Mariano, who had gone to Germany to record with the German group Embryo, replaces Sacha van Geest, bringing a fuller jazz sensibility to the music. Drummer Herman van Boeven replaced Vrolijk, and Pierre Moerlen (of Gong) sits in for one track. AUDION notes that "the songs are rather subdued in a much jazzier music featuring Charlie's sax, flute and clarinet playing quite extensively, and with such a leaning the sound draws closer to the likes of National Health," but adds, "As a more sedate and serious respite ISKANDER (especially with the opening and closing deeply ethnic sounding nagasaram solos) is arguably Supersister's most complete and balanced album.." I would question that conclusion. The words "sedate and serious" offer a clue to my disagreement -- one could hardly apply them to anything else in Supersister's recorded output. ISKANDER sounds like Supersister processed and molded into a "respectable" jazz-oriented group, and lacks entirely their sense of humor and fun.

Dr. progressivo

Based loosely on the life of Alexander the Great, this was SUPERSISTER's 4th album released and their concept album contribution. Clearly this was a departure from their earlier Canterbury'ish sounds being replaced by a more free jazz direction which works well for me... somewhere in the later SOFT MACHINE sound. Regardless in the change in direction, there is still a strong organ and bass interplay on this album with some great sax and flute work. Line up was Robert Jan Stips (keyboards, lead vocals, vibes), Ron van Eck (bass, guitar), Charlie Mariano (saxophone, flute) and Herman van Boeyen (drums, percussion). In many ways "Iskander" ebbs and flows more like a movie soundtrack than an album. Overall a pretty cool album and a good one for the headphone listening freaks out there.

(James Unger, Progarchives)

With this album comes the first few minor blunders from an otherwise impressive discography. If I am to enjoy a conceptual album , I was never fond of those who are particularly thin on the inspiration/originality. Again , Supersister was ahead of their time because they were the one of the first to try a historical concept (here the life of Alexander the Great - Iskander is the Turkish surname I believe) along with those Rock Opera in the line of JC Superstar or Julian Jay Savarin's works. Here on top the music is almost instrumental - that is normal by Supersister standards but makes for a difficult listening but rewarding if you persever. The tracks are much shorter than usual , you might also guess that some Eastern Ethnic Influences pop-up in sone of them.

Still recommended but much more difficult to enjoy even though the complexity of the music is not as ..... "complex" as in previous albums.

(Hugues Chantraine, Progarchives)

It is said usually that "Iskander" is less listenable album of Supersister than early albums of this band. As though, "Iskander" is "avant-garde". I do not think so. Yes, this album is more difficult for perception and understanding. Yes, this album is closer to "avant-prog" or "RIO" than early Supersister works ("Present from Nancy" and "To The Highest Bidder"). But the same situation took place with music of the other leading prog-bands of those years. "Tales From Topographic Oceans" is more "avant" than "The Yes Album"; "A Passion Play" is more "avant" than "Aqualung"; Crimson albums of 1973-74 are more "loading" than early albums; and so on. In other words, "Iskander" was natural, organic product of musical evolution of Supersister, and this evolution was, to some extent, similar to the evolution of some British prog-bands in this period. "Iskander" is the concept album which is devoted to Alexander the Great. Please do not forget that 1973 is the year of the prog concept albums. Music continuously develops, and this album is the most monolithic, coherent work by the band. Moreover, this development is symphonic by its nature. Therefore reviewed album is not "avant- garde" like Frank Zappa, Henry Cow or Soft Machine (although the general features can be found). Yes, we face with a lot of "avantish" dissonances, breaks and changes in tempos, rhythms and measures, but symphonic component matters. It is more symphonic music than works by any of Canterbury or RIO bands. Moreover, symphonic and avantprog elements are very closely interlinked (like in the best albums of Yes, King Crimson and Gentle Giant). Another important thing is the presence of Arabian "motives". Arabian elements in the progressive rock are the extroordinary rarity. Possibly, therefore many reviewers strongly emphasized such ethnic elements in the famous "Rajaz" album by Camel (1999). But 26 years before there was the album containing much more organic mix between European prog-rock (and also jazz) and Arabian music. "Iskander" is opened by brass wind solo which creates "Near-Eastern" mood from the beginning of the album. And further Arabian "motives" are intertwined with many themes and "pieces" of this album. It is almost impossible to mark out the best tracks. As I already noted, the album is very monolithic; it is breathtaking from the beginning till the end. But it is necessary to mention marvellous and wonderful melodies in "Roxane" and "Looking Back", and also really progressive development of themes in "Alexander" and "The Battle". "Iskander" is not only very good album which is both melodic and grooving. It is not only highly imaginative and very eccentric work. It is indeed innovative album which has surpassed time. Unfortunately, this absolute masterpiece is underestimated up to now. Nevertheless, "Iskander" album by Supersister is the Beautiful Brick in the Wall of the World Progressive Music which is important not less than "Larks' Tongues In Aspic", "In A Glass House", "Tales From Topographic Ocean", "A Passion Play", or the other famous Bricks. "Iskander" is a must know for any lover of prog.

(felonafan, Progarchives)

Spiral Staircase

Spiral Staircase
(1974)

Reviews:
We are offered no personnel credits for SPIRAL STAIRCASE SASS (on either the original LP or the CD -- which also fails to give credits for ISKANDER; I gleaned those from AUDION), but van Geest is back, credited with "Set up, lyrics, and additional musical ideas," while Jan Stips is credited with "musical scores & arrangements." That seems to suggest that van Geest came up with the idea and the lyrics, while Stips supplied the music, and the song credits are uniformly Stips/van Geest, but AUDION claims the album "was entirely composed by Sacha van Geest." AUDION describes it as "To put it mildly, this is one of the craziest and eccentric albums I've heard! Opening as a continuation from the single, we are set for a trip of radical and schizophrenic invention, where almost anything goes: we have rock 'n' roll, calypso music, full-blown jazz-rock riffing (ex-Soft Machine [saxophonist] Elton Dean is featured as guest) and even bagpipes! This tongue-in-cheek set of eccentricity is almost certain to brighten up anyone's day." Indeed. It hooked me!

Dr. progressivo

Lots of confusion of this album so let me attempt to simplify by saying that this is not a SUPERSISTER album, but instead a solo album by Sascha van Geest under the name 'SWEET OKAY SUPERSISTER'. The confusion I think is that many of the musicians also played in SUPERSISTER incarnation that appear on this album. Having said that though this overtly quirky album resonates with a certain flare and offers some pretty interesting moments. Musically this album clings to a certain ZAPPA'esque magnetism offering strange musical compositions and challenging time signatures. Instrumentally this is a full album with a large cast contributing : Robert Jan Stips (keyboards, lead vocals, vibes), Jan Hollestelle (bass), Ron van Eck (bass), Sacha van Geest (flutes, vocals), Mien van den Heuvel (mandolin), Hans Alegres (steel drum), Inge van Iersel and Jose van Iersel (backing vocals). Lots of background effects, talking/chanting and noises adds this the mysticism of this album, which clearly verges on the cliffs on insanity. I hear all kinds of musical influences here like Syd Barrett, GENTLE GIANT, SUPERTRAMP, Steve HACKETT and of course SUPERSISTER. This album has grown on me as I found it slightly too arcane on first listen, but now find I am quite fond of it's progressively psychedelic zaniness... may not be for everyone's taste buds though I appreciate !

(James Unger, Progarchives)

With this album , Supersister makes a big blunder (by Supersister standarts , this is relatively minor but noticeable) but with Staircase they went overboard. There is complete Zanyness (even Further than GonG in their prime ) with a strange humour/sillyness (not entirely unlike Monthy Python but not quite also) . This ruins the fairly good music behind bad singing (sometimes intentionaly bad to fit the crazy moods of this album , I believe) and they are not Zappa!!! This might be in the line of Alice In Wonderland on real bad acid trip.

the album still holds a musically impressive Dangling Ding Dong but GiGaGo is very close to calypso music. Not my cup of tea but excellent production job.

(Hugues Chantraine, Progarchives)

With groups like Focus, Earth & Fire, SUPERSISTER and Kayak, there was a tremendous amount of great progressive music emanating from The Netherlands in the 70s. Possibly my favorite band from the country is Supersister. They were an intense group of very talented musicians that played a diverse style of guitar-less prog, displaying an almost infinite amount of eclectic influences. Led by keyboardist/vocalist Robert Jan Stips and often compared to such things as Frank Zappa and Canterbury artists like Caravan, Supersister released six very solid albums before disbanding long before anyone outside of their homeland even knew who they were.

Due to internal turmoil within the band, this final album almost didn't see the light of day. I'm sort of fuzzy on all of the details (the liner notes on the 2 on 1 CD are very slim as I've heard are the ones on the original Polydor LP) but apparently this was not technically a Supersister album but a solo album written entirely by flautist Sacha van Geest. Released under the band's original name – Sweet Okay Supersister, Spiral Staircase Sass is one of the most unique and eccentric recordings ever made.

Apparently the concept was based on the track 'Spiral Staircase' from the Superstarshine vol. 3 LP, a very warped tune in which we first met the affable 'Schizophrenic Spiral Staircase Gnome' with his chipmunk-like voice and abundant supply of 'magic' tea. To say that this album is a little silly would be an enormous understatement! With track titles like 'Jellybean Hop', 'Dangling Dingdongs' and 'Gi, Ga, Go' it's a bit difficult to take this album seriously and hearing the music doesn't help all that much.

Throwing in everything but the kitchen sink (if you listen closely you can probably make that out too), this is one of the most diverse recordings ever made. There's a large array of different of musical styles represented, loads of unusual instrumentation and staggering doses of trippy production techniques as well as several sound clips from various sources. Stips' keyboards take center stage quite frequently; there are some really nice clavinet moments on here. There are also a few notable saxophone parts that I've read are from none other than Elton Dean himself.

The only unfortunate aspect about the album is the length. At a paltry 32 minutes, it is shorter than most Italian prog albums and seems to always leave me thinking there could have been a few mores stairs added to the tower. Luckily on CD this album comes with the brilliant fifth release, the instrumental masterwork Iskander.

I can't stress the fact enough that this is a very unusual work. It took me a very long time to be able to take it seriously. Actually, it may be impossible to take the album seriously at all, you just have to sit back and marvel at all the nonsense presented. Once I gave up trying to search for explanations, the sheer beauty of this music was able to shine through. Not for everybody, but those that have an open mind and aren't afraid of a little humorous fun may find this one a very enjoyable trip.

(Ffroyd, Progressive Ears)

Supersister's 'Spiral Staircase' album from 1974 may not be in-keeping with their previous Canterburian offerings, but is every bit as delightful and enjoyable an experience. Opening with a re-hash of a previous idea (inspired by/based on the single 'Spiral Staircase', found on the compilation LP 'Superstarshine') the album continues with a freaky concept of a 'schizophrenic spiral staircase gnome', with very quirky music accompanying the whimsical story that's being narrated by flautist Sacha Van Geest (bless him), at least on this introduction.

The first serious stop in this adventure is 'Dangling Dingdongs', a lengthy, complex jam which is a cleverly composed rhythmic idea comprising of an up-front upright Bass riff supported by some sensational drumming, which I can't help being reminded of John Marshall's style, especially during his tenure with Soft Machine - a very impressive piece of music here. 'Sylvers Song (Groan, Stamp, Shock, Hoot) has some silly voices and vocals, backed up by some amusing, carnival-like music. The sound of a Mandolin heralds the upcoming track 'Cookies, Teacups, Buttercups', an arrangement for a set of Bagpipes !!

Side 2 of my precious LP starts with a bizarre take on calypso music, the track titled 'Gi Ga Go (Gollumble Jafers)', and lyrically states that 'We are one, we are schizo, We are two, she is schizo, They are three, he is schizo, Four five six, they are schizo' - seems like there was some sort of fascination with the schizophrenic condition. Amusing, if you aren't Bi-Polar. This is followed by some sped- up voices (resembling chipmunks on helium) telling us the story of a Scotsman and a Chinaman who are both in prison, and they try to escape, whilst all the while there is insane shrieks of laughter. This section always has me in hysterics. 'It Had to Be' sounds like a sentimental track utilising piano, some shimmering organ and a xylophone. 'Nosey Parkers' is as close to a 'normal' pop-song as the album gets - clavinet as the feature instrument and jams hard during the second half, replete with some saxophone playing from who knows who (Charlie Mariano, Elton Dean??). There are no credits stating the players on the album so it's difficult to say. Album closer, We Feel So Strange, or actually, 'We Steel So Frange' starts out in a humourous setting, but eventuates into a most beautiful, serene, peaceful, gentle (you get the idea) feel-good passage which sounds like pure magic to these ears, and is the closest thing to Canterbury on the album (it actually recalls Kevin Ayers' track 'Margaret') and thus ends this wonderful and engaging offering, which is every bit as unique as their earlier albums, but of course it's not to be taken that seriously. 4.5 stars.

(Tom Ozric, Progarchives)

m.a.n.

m.a.n.
(2000)

Reviews:
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.

"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 60's, 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.

(Stephanie Sollow)

In the year 2000, Dutch prog legends Supersister surprised everyone when they played live at the Progfest 2000 in Los Angeles: together for the first time in over 25 years, and also the first time they visited the US! After that, they released the limited edition record reunion CD 'm.a.n. (Memories Are New)', a compilation of old, unreleased material. Except for the first four tracks, which are great live recordings that could be enjoyed by all progheads, this record is for Supersister fans only. But what a treat this is for them (and that includes me)! Besides the live tracks I just mentioned, there are demo's and outtakes from the early seventies as well as the late sixties (if you are familiar with the band's material, you will even hear a few early versions of tunes that would later appear on one of their albums) and some tracks are recorded with an orchestra. All of this is accompanied by a very nice booklet, including photos, record and single covers and some articles from Dutch magazines.

Let's listen to the tracks now! The album starts off with four astonishing, swinging live versions of Supersister classics, two from 'Present From Nancy' and two from 'Pudding En Gisteren'. When they are finished, you ask yourself why this fantastic jazz fusion/canterbury band never got any real international fame. But there's no time to dwell on that a little longer, for you are taken to Supersister's (early) Dutch period, with the goofy '(2x3=) 6 Blauwe Dwergen' ('blauwe dwergen' means 'blue dwarfs'). After that, the fans will recognize the tune from 'Pudding En Gisteren' in the beautiful 'Hommage'. And after the nice 'Sweet Suicide' (unmistakably Supersister), 'Modest Man' (do you hear that Soft Machine influence as well?) and 'Wine Melody', the track 'Nothing Is Real' will also be of particular interest for Supersister fans, for it features the passage used for the middle section of 'Judy Goes On Holiday', from the 'Pudding En Gisteren' album. Except for the alternate version of the extremely funny 'Corporation Comboboys' (known from 'Present From Nancy'), most of the remaining songs, although pretty nice, are not extremely notable. But the last two tracks, sung in their native tongue, will certainly bring a smile to the face of the Dutch fans ('manke boerenwals' means something like 'crippled farmer-waltz').

It is very sad that the band's flautist, Sacha van Geest, died shortly after the reunion, so Supersister was forced to disband once again and the chances that I will ever see this band live were brought back to zero (at the time of the reunion I didn't know them yet). Lucky for me, they released the live double album 'Supersisterious', a registration from one of the reunion shows, in 2002.

(Joren van Ree, Progarchives)

Universal Masters Collection (2002)
Universal Masters Collection
(2002)

If you want a one disc introduction to this worthwhile Dutch group, this is not bad. It includes their hits (in Holland) She was naked and Radio - songs that have stood the test of time and still sound remarkably fresh after more than 30 years. You also get a taste of their longer works with Dona Nobis Pacem and A girl like you. Of course, as with most compilations, investing in the orginal albums will ultimately be more rewarding. However for a fringe group like Supersister, who at least in my opinion did not reach the level of their compatriates Earth and Fire, Focus or Kayak, a single disc is a good option.

(Dragon Phoenix, Progarchives)

Of course this isn't a prog masterpiece, it's only a way to get easily into Supersister. It contains their greatest hits, She was Naked and Supersister, and also some other tracks from their 3 studio albums (Present from Nancy, To the Highest Bidder, Pudding & Gisteren). There are also some B-Sides that appear on Superstarshine vol. 2.

Although it's only a compilation, I think it's a quite good way to start with the music. It shows the many influences of the band in a chronologic order (except from the last song, it was a b-side from "She Was Naked") and I recommend it to anybody who likes progressive rock but has never heard of Supersister before.

(Daniël, Progarchives)