reviews plackband

After the Battle

"Legendary Dutch Symphonic Rock band makes debut studio album after 25 years!"

This is an incredible story; a band that had a famous live reputation in the seventies and only made one EP with the two songs "Seventy Warriors" and "Some Party" in the year 1978. After finding some tapes of a live gig (Christmas Eve 1981 at "de Paap" in The Hague) in the year 2000 the band released a re-mastered version of the tapes under the name "The lost tapes". After a lot of rehearsals the band did a very successful reunion concert at 23 June 2000 at "de Boerderij" in Zoetermeer - The Netherlands. The first concert in 18 years with the original line-up. And now in 2002 the band is presenting their first studio album entitled "After the battle". But we have to go back in history to tell the incredible tale of Plackband.

Plackband was formed in the mid seventies by musicians from the music scene of The Hague in The Netherlands. Their music slowly develops into Symphonic Rock with influences out of Jazz Rock. Their sound became influenced by the legendary bands of those days like Genesis and Yes. The band got the nickname, "The Hague's Genesis"!
They build up a famous live reputation in those days. The band owned at that time the most professional sound and light gear of all the amateur bands in the Benelux. People are still talking about those concerts. The band made that EP but never managed to release a full studio album. In the year 1982 the band slowly died. After that two members (Ronald and Michel) did a project under the name November (together with For Absent Friends drummer Edwin Wernke). John and Tom founded a recording studio. And here they found.. "The lost tapes".
The year 2002 will be the year of: "The return of The Hague's Plackband".

The original line-up of the band:
Kees Bik - vocals; Ronald Brautigam - guitars; Albert de Keijzer - bass; Michel van Wassem - keyboards; Tom van der Meulen - drums.

First of all I want to make things clear to you. Besides progVisions I have also made some other websites. One of them is the website of Xymphonia Records … yes the website of Plackband's new record company. I first didn't want to write this review because I didn't want to mix up things. But as you all know by now progVisions is completely independent and our reviewers (including myself) dare to give "big" bands two stars and "small" unknown bands five stars out of five. It would have been very easy not to tell you this and give Plackband five stars. But … I didn't do this.

The positive thing is that I have followed the band during the last months while they were making this recording. And it was a complete surprise to me (and also to the band) that they managed to get such a great result. As you can see I gave the album four stars because it is a great sounding album with good compositions. The album is made as a concept album with some songs of the old days and some complete new material. But the oldies have developed over the years into great songs.

The album starts with "The battle" (3:28) in which we immediately recognise that Genesis atmosphere created by the guitars. This little melodic instrumental opener of this concept album also includes some battlefield sounds that indicate the time period in which the story develops. We hear horses instead of tanks.

"After the battle" (11:18) is not only the title track but also the longest track of the album. And here you can hear what Plackband music is about. The first two and a half minutes are instrumental and the music sounds like "fat" sympho from the seventies. Michel van Wassem creates all kinds of classic sounds of the seventies. We here Hammond and Moog solos. The end of this first part is a really beautiful combination of Steve Hackett like guitar and Rick Wakeman Mellotron sounds ("Close to the edge" -"Topographic Oceans" period). This is paradise for old sympho lovers. The next thing, which is typical Plackband, are the melodic vocals and harmonies. Very well done. This is one of the best tracks of the album with delicious memories of the old Yes era. But don't understand me wrong, it are small parts and atmospheres in a typical Plackband sound.

If you hear the first notes of "See the dwarf" (6:50), you think you are listening to Genesis. The keyboards have the sound of the "Follow you, follow me" period. Albert de Keijzer is playing on his Rickenbacker bass and Kees Bik is singing like we have never heard him singing before. OK, he is not one of the best singers in the world (there are not many in the prog scene) but without him it would not be Plackband music. And he is really doing a very good job. He surprised me in a positive way. And this counts for the whole album.

"Sleeping warriors" (0:52) is a small bridge between "See the dwarf" and the following track "End of the line". A nice melody and a great "flute" sound from Michel.

"End of the line" (6:34) is a song some readers will know from their "Lost tapes" album. But the song developed over the years and sounds very mature. The solid rhythm section sounds extra "fat" because of the use of the famous Moog bass pedals. Why is nobody using them nowadays anymore? Over this slow rhythm Ronald Brautigam (guitar) and Michel van Wassem (keyboards) are playing solos at the same time. In the second part of this track there are some beautiful "Wind and Wuthering" keyboards.

"Death and lost glory" (0:59) is another bridge in which that "flute" sound is combined with those typical "Genesis guitars". The next parts of the album are the three tracks that are forming the basis of this album.

The first one "Ghost town" (5:17) opens with a fat synth sound combined with that delicious Mellotron sound which we thought only Rick Wakeman could make. The music is up-tempo and melodic. Again those mix of Genesis and Yes atmospheres. Maybe not very original but it sounds great and sympho fans of the seventies will love this. And only the best things has still to come!

Another song we already know from that "Lost tapes" album is "The hunchback" (9:48). Small detail: "The hunchback" is about Quasimodo! Delicious melodies on guitars and keyboards. The atmosphere is mainly Genesis but in the end there are some Howe like guitar pieces. Plackband is the only band I know who can mix those two influences into a unique sound. The Plackband sound!

And then it is time for my favourite track of the album. "Sign of the knife" (8:26) starts with a fantastic instrumental part. Everything comes together now in this "new oldie". The tension is slowly building up and there are great melodic guitar and keyboard pieces. The "flute" sound is also returning in this great intro. There are also some very nice vocal harmonies. The old days of Plackband are returning with this piece.

The "flute" sound, which is a kind of main theme of the album, is introducing the final track of this concept album. "There comes the warlords" (3:06) is like the first track completely instrumental and is a nice melodic piece with great keyboard sounds.

People who can read Dutch and are subscribers of the Dutch magazine "IO-pages" already know the bonus track of the album. Together with the February issue of this magazine they received a promotional single of the band. On the single are beside a first recording of this track "Remember forever" also the re-mastered versions of the only two studio tracks the band ever recorded for their EP out of 1978. For this album the single "Remember forever" (4:23) is re-recorded and remixed. But.. however this new version is much better than the mentioned single, I don't think this composition which is the most commercial but also the weakest composition in my opinion, earned a place on this great album. It is a nice gesture to the foreign fans that missed that single (which is not for sale). The album brings the listener to that "higher atmosphere" and mood of the seventies. The bonus track spoils this feeling for me. But in the days of the Compact Disks this is of course not a big problem. I just stop listening after track 10 and try to keep that feeling of the seventies as long as possible.

After listening to this album I can only congratulate the band with this great comeback. The album sounds great, has a very transparent mix and those "fat" sympho sounds the fans already knew from their concerts are captured very well on this album. I can't wait to see the band performing live again (in a few days Plackband will present this album at "de Boerderij" in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands). If you like melodic and uncomplicated sympho from the seventies this album is for you. It is a very good album in my opinion. If I was writing for another magazine I would maybe give it five stars. But because this is progVisions, I can only give it four stars because however the compositions are sounding great, it is not very original (read: progressive). For people who know Plackband from the seventies this is absolutely a must! After 25 years it is like a very important document. Hopefully for the band this album will be the start of the next stage in their career. If not, they have documented Plackband with this album in a worthy manner.

Douwe Fledderus, April 2002

"¡La legendaria banda holandesa de rock sinfónico lanza su album debut tras 25 años!"

Esta es una historia increible; una banda que había tenido una gran reputación en directo durante los setenta y que solo lanzó un EP con los temas "Seventy Warriors" y "Some Party" en el año 1978. Tras haber encontrado algunas cintas de un show en directo (Nochebuena de 1981 en el club "de Paap" de La Haya) en el año 2000, la banda lanzó una versión remasterizada de las cintas bajo el nombre de "The lost tapes". Tras muchos ensayos la banda dio un exitoso concierto de reunión el 23 de Junio de 2000 en "de Boerderij" de Zoetermeer - Holanda. El primer concierto en 18 años con la formación original. Ahora en el año 2002 la banda presenta su primer album de estudio titulado "After the battle". Pero debemos retroceder en el tiempo para contar la increible historia de Plackband.

Plackband se creó a mediados de los setenta por músicos provenientes de la escena musical de La Haya, en Holanda. Su música terminó evolucionando hasta llegar a ser rock sinfónico con influencias de Jazz Rock, y su sonido fue influido por las legendarias bandas de aquellos días como Genesis o Yes. La banda incluso llegó a tener el apodo de "Los Genesis de La Haya"!

Consiguieron una buena reputación en directo en aquellos días puesto que poseían el sonido y el juego de luces más profesional de todas las bandas amateur del Benelux. La gente aún habla de aquellos conciertos. La banda hizo ese EP del que os hablé y jamás intentó lanzar un album completo. En 1982 la banda lentamente desapareció después de que dos miembros (Ronald y Michel) formaran un proyecto bajo el nombre de November (junto a Edwin Wernke, batería de For Absent Friends). John y Tom fundaron un estudio de grabación en donde encontraron... "The lost tapes".
El año 2002 es el año del "Retorno de los Plackband de La Haya".

La formación original de la banda:
Kees Bik - voz; Ronald Brautigam - guitarras; Albert de Keijzer - bajo; Michel van Wassem - teclados; Tom van der Meulen - batería.

Primeramente me gustaría dejaros algunas cosas claras. Además de progVisions yo también hago algunas otras páginas web. Una de ellas es la de Xymphonia Records … si, la web de la nueva compañía de discos de Plackband. Al principio yo no quería escribir esta crítica porque no quería mezclar las cosas pero, como todos sabéis, progVisions es completamente independiente y nuestros críticos (incluyéndome a mí) se atreven a otorgar dos estrellas a las "grandes" bandas, y a otorgar cinco estrellas a pequeñas bandas que nadie conoce. Sería muy fácil no haberos dicho todo esto y haber dado cinco estrellas a Plackband. Pero... no habría sido honesto.

Lo más positivo de todo es que he estado siguiendo a la banda durante estos últimos meses mientras se encontraban grabando el album. Y ha resultado ser una completa sorpresa para mí (y también para la banda) ver cómo ha ido evolucionando todo hasta conseguir un buen resultado. Como podéis ver, he dado cuatro estrellas al album ya que suena genial y tiene estupendas composiciones. El album es un album conceptual con algunos temas antiguos y otros completamente nuevos, habiéndose modificado los primeros para conseguir que no se note en ellos el paso de los años

El album comienza con "The battle" (3:28) y rápidamente reconocemos una atmósfera Genesis creada por las guitarras. Este corto y melódico tema instrumental que abre el album también contiene sonidos de batalla que nos sitúan en el momento en que la historia se desarrolla, ya que escuchamos caballos en lugar de tanques.

"After the battle" (11:18) no es sólo el tema título del album sino también el tema más largo. Y aquí podemos comprobar de qué va la música de Plackband. Los primeros dos minutos y medio son instrumentales con rotundo sonido setentero. Michel van Wassem recrea todo tipo de sonidos clásicos de los setenta, incluyendo solos de Hammond y Moog. El final de esta primera parte es una bella combinación de guitarras a lo Steve Hackett y sonidos de Mellotron a lo Rick Wakeman (periodo "Close to the edge" -"Topographic Oceans"), un paraiso para los amantes del viejo progresivo. Lo que también caracteriza al sonido de Plackband son las melódicas voces y armonías, muy bien ejecutadas. Este es uno de los mejores cortes del album, con deliciosas reminiscencias de la antigua etapa Yes. Pero no me malinterpretéis, son sólo pequeñas partes y atmósferas dentro del original sonido de Plackband.

Escuchando las primeras notas de "See the dwarf" (6:50) pensaréis que estáis escuchando a Genesis. Los teclados tienen el sonido del periodo "Follow you, follow me". Albert de Keijzer toca su bajo Rickenbacker mientras Kees Bik canta como nunca lo había hecho antes. OK, no es uno de los mejores cantantes del mundo (no hay demasiados en la escena progresiva) pero su aportación es básica para la música de Plackband. Y realmente hace un buen trabajo, sorprendiéndome positivamente.

"Sleeping warriors" (0:52) es un pequeño puente entre "See the dwarf" y el tema siguiente "End of the line". Una bonita melodía y un gran sonido de "flauta" por cortesía de Michel.

"End of the line" (6:34) es un tema que algunos lectores conocerán de su album "Lost tapes". Pero la canción ha evolucionado a través de los años y el sonido ha madurado mucho. La sólida sección rítmica suena extra rotunda gracias al sonido de los famosos pédales de bajo Moog. ¿Por qué nadie los utiliza ya?. Sobre un lento ritmo Ronald Brautigam (guitarra) y Michel van Wassem (teclados) están tocando solos a la vez. En la segunda parte de este tema tenemos bellos sonidos de teclados al estilo "Wind and Wuthering".

"Death and lost glory" (0:59) es otro puente en el que el sonido de "flauta" se combina con típicas guitarras Genesinanas. Las siguientes partes del album son los tres temas que forman su columna vertebral.

El primero de ellos "Ghost town" (5:17) se abre con un gran sonido de sintetizador combinado con un delicioso sonido de Mellotron que pensábamos que sólo Rick Wakeman era capaz de hacer. La música es vigorosa y melódica y de nuevo nos encontramos atmósferas a lo Genesis o Yes. Quizás no sea demasiado original pero suena genial y estoy seguro que los fans del sinfónico setentero lo apreciarán. ¡Y lo mejor está por llegar!

Otro tema que ya conociamos del album "Lost tapes" es "The hunchback" (9:48). Un pequeño detalle: "The hunchback" va sobre Quasimodo!. Deliciosas melodías de guitarras y teclados. La atmósfera es principalmente Genesiana aunque al final nos encontramos con fraseos de guitarra típicamente Howe. Plackband es la única banda que conozco que puede mezclar esas dos influencias dentro de un sonido original

Y entonces es el momento para mi tema favorito del album, "Sign of the knife" (8:26), que comienza con una fantástica parte instrumental. Todo termina por converger en este "nuevo clásico". La tensión poco a poco va creciendo y hay estupendos momentos de guitarra y teclado. El sonido de "flauta" también regresa en la introducción y nos encontramos también con muy buenas armonías vocales. El pasado de Plackband regresa con este tema.

El sonido de "flauta", hilo conductor de todo el album, nos sumerge en el último tema. "There comes the warlords" (3:06) es completamente instrumental y es muy melódico y con geniales sonidos de teclado.

La gente que sepa holandés y que sea suscriptores de la revista holandesa "IO-pages" ya conocerán el bonus track. Junto al número de febrero de la revista se regaló un single promocional de la banda. En este single se contiene, además de la primera grabación del tema "Remember forever", las dos versiones remasterizadas que la banda grabó para aquel EP de 1978. En este album el single "Remember forever" (4:23) está re-grabado y remezclaro pero, aunque esta nueva versión sea mucho mejor que la del citado single, es el tema más comercial y más flojo de todo el album. No obstante es un bonito gesto para los fans extranjeros que se perdieron el single (el cual no está en venta). Mientras que el album transporta al oyente a las pomposas atmósferas y al ambiente de los setenta, el bonus me quita toda esta sensación. Pero en la época del Compact Disc esto no supone un grave problema, tan sólo hay que parar el reproductor en el décimo tema e intentar mantener el feeling de los setenta el mayor tiempo posible.

Tras haber escuchado este album sólo me queda felicitar a la banda por su gran regreso. El album suena genial, con una mezcla muy cristalina y con un sonido sinfónico realmente potente que ya conocen aquellos fans que los han visto en directo. Estoy deseando ver a la banda de nuevo en directo (en pocos días Plackband presentarán este album en el "de Boerderij" de Zoetermeer, Holanda). Si os gusta el sonido melódico y sinfónico de los setenta, este album está hecho para vosotros. En mi opinión es un album muy bueno. Si escribiera para otro medio, probablemente le daría cinco estrellas. Pero dado que estamos en progVisions, tan sólo les doy cuatro estrellas ya que, aunque las composiciones suenan muy bien, no es muy original (es decir, progresivo). Para la gente que ya conoce a Plackband desde los años setenta, esto es imprescindible! Tras 25 años es un documento muy importante y esperemos que este album sea el comienzo de una nueva etapa en su carrera. Si no fuera así, al menos Plackband han plasmado su música en un album de una forma que merece mucho la pena.

Douwe Fledderus, April 2002
Spanish translation by Alfonso Algora

As a teenager back in the seventies I used to get out of my head during concerts of a band that was named Plackband. Me and my brothers traveled to all kinds of concert halls in Holland to see this band in action. This was from 1977 until 1982. The band were called "The Hague's Genesis". Because the music they played was very much like Genesis played on albums like "Trick Of The Tail" and "Wind & Wuthering". The music featured a lot of mellotrons and bass pedals. Guitarist Ronald Brautigam sounded like Steve Hackett and the keyboard playing of Michel van Wassem was very much the same as Tony Banks. They only released one single on their own, but no albums. Record companies were in those days not interested in the band. I lost contact with the band and heard that they had split up. Michel and Ronald released later on one CD with their band November. Also very Genesis orientated. But if somebody would have told me back in 1977 that the Plackband would release their first album in 2002, 25 years later, I would have called this person insane. Now in the present time we all now that it is nothing but the truth. "After The Battle" is the bands debut album. Recorded in the original lineup as they was 25 years ago. With the above mentioned musicians but also with lead singer Kees Bik. In the early days he also played mellotron but he is not mentioned on the album as a keyboard player. But we certainly can hear the instrument on some of the tracks. Bassist Albert de Keijzer and drummer Tom van der Meulen are the original rhythm section right from start and can also be heard on "After The Battle". A lot of the songs from the seventies are used for this album but they also wrote a lot of new stuff. Strangely enough all in the same style as the rest of the material. They shaped the old material together with the new songs into a concept album dealing about war, peace and relations. The album opens with the sound of gunfights and we hear a newly written instrumental piece. They called it "The battle". It is the introduction for the first old classic track. The title track of the album. Still much the same as it was originally played. We hear the already mentioned Genesis sound. Only more updated. "See the dwarf" is the second newly. Again a great track with a lot of room for instrumental passages. The second instrumental is "Sleeping warriors". A short one minute track with beautiful mellotron flutes. It is followed by another old one, "End of the line". Again we hear beautiful mellotron sounds. Only this time choirs. The song has an instrumental part which is almost the same as the end of "Entangled" done by Genesis. Also mellotron choirs and acoustic guitars. "Death and glory" is a short 59 seconds instrumental version of "After the battle". Acoustic guitars and mellotron flutes play a leading role. "Ghost town" is again a new song with vocal contributions of Kees Bik. A lot of people don't find his vocals good enough. But I don't have a problem with his voice. The next two tracks "The hunchback" and "Sign of the knife" are again classic Plackband songs and probably the best songs they have ever written. It again includes beautiful instrumental passages. Genesis could not have it done better in those days. "There come the warlords" is the last song of the concept. It starts with an intro on keyboards. A part of the melody played is very much the same as a melody from The Kinks/Van Halen. "You really got me". What follows reminded me of "Follow you, follow me" (Genesis). The song ends with military drums as on the beginnings of the album and after 3 minutes the last instrumental piece has come to an end. As an extra bonus we hear an extended version of "Remember forever". Which we reviewed in BM# 77. A great track with strong Rickenbacker bass guitar parts. The info sheet that was included with this CD called this album absolutely the best Dutch sympho production ever made. If this is true. I don't know. But it is certainly one of the better records ever made. If you have a musical heritage with songs that were already played in 1977. It is not so difficult to record an album with only strong material. Certainly if you know that the band has almost one hour of music left which is not yet recorded. It does not mean that it must have been easy to record all those old and new songs. Which they did perfectly. The band can be proud that they finally after 25 years have something they can hold in their hands with music of them on it. It took way too long. A great album indeed. If I say that they hopefully don't have to wait another 25 years I know I am using a cliché. But its true. Don't keep us waiting a second time.

Henri Strik, April 2002

Tracklist: The Battle (3:28), After The Battle (11:19), See The Dwarf (6:50), Sleeping Warriors (0:53), End Of The Line (6:35), Death And Lost Glory (0:59), Ghost Town (5:18), The Hunchback (9:48), Sign Of The Knife (8:26), There Come the Warlords (3:08)
bonus track: Remember Forever (re-recorded, remastered) (4:24)

Over twenty years in the making, the world is finally honoured by the arrival of a full-length Plackband studio album. Luck and the overall situation of progressive rock in the late Seventies and very early Eighties left Plackband only be able to release a self-financed 7" single before their breaking up in 1981. 1999 saw the band re-uniting in the original line-up, and what started off as having just a bit of fun, the enthusiastic response from audiences led them to seriously think about doing studio recordings. The making company with Xymphonia Records led to that silver thing turning round in my CD player this very moment, as it has been doing for the last couple of hours actually.

Plackband have been playing their twenty-year old repertoire during the last couple of years. From the first gig on, it has never ceased to amaze me how well those songs still stand out. This CD features mostly older compositions as well, but unlike you have ever heard before.

In their early days, the band was often referred to as The Hague's Genesis. Quoting that title saves me a lot of reference problems. And indeed, taking the best from this side of prog, you'll end up referring to the Genesis from 1974 - 1977 anyway. Comparisons are in the way the songs are built up, I think. A tapestry of sounds, strong emphasis on melody, not too complex, emotional playing, melodic soloing.

But there's a lot of differences too, of course. Guitarist Ronald van Brautigam is a Hackett fan, but also a Steve Howe fan. Keyboard player Michel van Wassem can provide the keyboard contributions to the song like Banks did, but he has an eye for more interesting weird stuff and sounds, making the music sound more modern that what you'd expect from something described as having mid-Seventies influences. I thought this way about the music when I first heard them (in the mid-Eighties), but I still think of it this way. The songs still stand out.

Compared to all the recordings I know (the official self-financed 7" single and a studio demo, but mostly live recordings and the gigs I have attended), especially the mix is noteworthy. I have never heard Kees Bik's voice so clearly. I have heard people say he doesn't have a great voice. I disagree on that. He does have a great voice, but it's not a typical prog rock voice. No, he doesn't have a slightly higher-pitched voice than average without a personal touch. Bik has a voice at maybe average height, but warm, personal, and powerful. He writes all the lyrics, making himself being the best interpreter of them. His feel for drama adds to the experience of hearing this band, live but also on the studio recordings.

About the lyrics - I think they're very orignal. No dragons or rainbows (nothing wrong with that, at times), but real issues, sometimes presented in a funny form. The title of After The Battle might say enough, but "after the battle, nature can lick her wounds" shows a new approach to apocalypse. Human relationships are part of many songs, but putting it in the story of Quasimodo (in The Hunchback), I think is very orignal. Not on this CD, but also great lyrics deal with the vampire in Bloodmaster (from the vampire's point of view: "I've got to eat", "who blames the shepard for eating his sheep"), or the guy who is burying himself into a cellar to survive a nuclear war, but realizing his basic needs in "I certainly could use some female volunteers", since he's "got a whole lot of time to kill"... Since I have a pre-release CDR without a booklet, I don't have the lyrics to all the songs yet, but I am looking forward to reading them all thoroughly (assuming the lyrics are included in the booklet).

Most of the music is drama. No frivolous verses, but creating an ominous air, threatening pompous parts and menacing silences... That's what I like in music - not technically showing off, but getting sucked into the atmopshere. The compositions building up the tension, the contrasts between several parts of the song is why I like this music so much.

For those who do know the band's music, here's some words on how this first full length studio recording compares to the live material. Already during the first listen, I noticed several re-written parts. Some parts you're anticipating a certain break, and it's postponed till after a new section. Some parts have a different sound. Of course, you know most of the songs. But the sound quality and mix is of course better than you have ever heard. I am very glad to see See The Dwarf included here, and even very surprised they recorded Ghost Town, which they haven't played live since the reunion.

It's again a couple of hours later, and that silver thing is still turning in my CD player. Says enough of what I think of it. Now are you going to take the chance and listen to it as well?! If you are into the heavy side of prog, technical and highly complex stuff, don't bother. If you like the melodic, symphonic side of prog, song-based, emotional playing, have a listen soon.

If you have the chance, go and see Plackband on Friday 19th 2002 in Zoetermeer at the CD launch party!

Jerry van Kooten, April 2002

Following on from the piece in our news section back in February, we now have as promised the album. After The Battle consists of 11 tracks of well-produced music, of which a lot of time and thought has gone into. There is a strong mid-Genesis feel around the time when Collins took over the mic duty, and I can sense some Eloy too in the guitar jangles. There is a lot of strong riffs from Ronald Brautigam on guitar, the keys are flowing and plenty, the bass playing from Albert De Keijzer is very good and technical, and the drums from Tom Van Der Meulen just pop up in the right places. Singer Kees Bik has a voice like Peter Gabriel and is quite powerful on all the songs.

For me, the title track After The Battle is my favourite one on the album, and it is the longest cut at 11:18, and has a strong guitar 9/8 type Suppers Ready riff in the opening few bars, and a moog sound you would die for, nice harmonies which you could mistake for Utopia. The Hunchback has a nice swirling synth and a Hackett Entangled type guitar, which flows along very freely.

I have enjoyed this album very much and is one I would recommend to someone looking for a mellow type Eloy/Floyd/Genesis album. It has had many plays, and it has hidden pieces that grab you later on. I would say the live show judging by the cover inside is very visual with the singer wearing changes of headgear, and for a `comeback` recording is a great effort. Twenty years after the band `died`, several members kept their hand in so to speak, and now this is the result.

So, that is my opinion, what is yours? There is only one way to find out!

Danny Mayo, April 2002

We moeten maar eens ophouden met het gezeur dat Plackband eindelijk, na 25 jaar, hun bekende nummers vorm heeft gegoten in een langverwachte studio-cd. We moeten ook maar eens ophouden hen de "Haagse Genesis" te noemen. Daarmee doen we deze Haagse band namelijk ontzettend te kort. Om te beginnen hoor ik niet dat deze liedjes inmiddels zo oud zijn en bovendien zijn er naast Genesis zeker ook bands als Yes, Saga, Gentle Giant en Eloy aan te wijzen als referenties.

Het belangrijkste is dat deze cd een hecht Plackband laat horen, dat de concurrentie met elke band van de laatste jaren met gemak aan kan. Concurrentie zoals de eveneens veertigers van The Flower Kings, Spock’s Beard, Arena en IQ. Waar praten we over. Dus vanaf nu: Plackband, de nieuwe naam op het symfonische toneel, dat met dit debuut hopelijk het startschot inluidt van een lange internationale carrière.

De plaat opent, na een instrumentaal intro, met het verbluffende After The Battle, nu al een klassieker. Het nummer kent een sterk refrein, heerlijke toetsenthema’s en kostelijke solo’s. Zowel gitarist Ronald Brautigum als drummer Tom van der Meulen laten bovendien horen erg door Saga beïnvloed te zijn. Het thema van After The Battle komt overigens telkens op de hele cd weer terug, hetgeen de plaat een opmerkelijke eenheid geeft.

Heerlijk is ook het toetsenintro van het agressieve Ghost Town, waarin zanger Kees Bik z'n aparte stemgeluid de ruimte geeft. Zijn niet-accentloze Engels is wellicht de reden dat de groep met name in het eveneens mooie See The Dwarf erg op Eloy lijkt. Dat is een charme die zij vooral niet moeten proberen kwijt te raken.

Het Genesis-element is het sterkst vertegenwoordigd in het trage Sign Of The Knife, dat langzaam naar een emotioneel hoogtepunt toewerkt. Ook heel emotioneel is The Hunchback, dat bovendien een verrassend actuele tekst kent, over discriminatie en vooroordelen in het algemeen.

De plaat sluit af met de enige lichte smet, namelijk het Kayak-achtige Remember Forever, een zwak nummer. Dat mag de pret echter niet drukken, want met After The Battle heeft Plackband bewezen een overigens perfect klinkende cd af te kunnen leveren. Met mij zullen vele fans hopen dat het hier niet bij zal blijven. Wat zullen we after "After The Battle" krijgen?

Markwin Meeuws, April 2002



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