On the 21st of September 2012 it was exactly forty years ago that the Dutch progressive rock band Kayak were formed. To celebrate this, the band went on a tour called Journey Through Time (see review), named after one of their songs. During these performances they played at least one song from each studio album, but also an excerpt from their forthcoming album Cleopatra - The Crown Of Isis. This piece has been released on an EP as well, together with a newly recorded version of Symmetry, a song that founding members Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards, backing vocals) and the late Pim Koopman (drums, backing vocals) originally wrote in 1971.
This special 40th anniversary release recalls the time when they recorded two rock operas, namely Merlin - Bard Of The Unseen (2003) and Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man (2005). These albums clearly showed why their music is regarded to be progressive rock, a musical style that I didn't always recognize on their three previous CDs Coming Up For Air (2008), Letters From Utopia (2009, see review) and Anywhere But Here (2011). Especially the latter had little to offer as far as my personal taste is concerned, since most of the tracks sounded too mediocre, too radio-friendly perhaps. However, when I heard the new composition Cleopatra - The Crown of Isis during their anniversary tour, I knew that Kayak had returned to the musical style of the aforementioned rock operas. This I welcomed with open arms.
Also the recorded studio version of this track filled me with joy after playing it on my sound system. Wow! This is really something special! The two lead singers Cindy Oudshoorn and Edward Reekers just sound amazingly sometimes singing alone and at other times singing together. From time to time the music sounds bombastic, but also mellow just to give the music the right balance. I think the outstanding guitar solo by Joost Vergoossen lifts the song to an even higher level. His playing on Cleopatra - The Crown of Isis mostly reminded me of Andy Latimer (Camel). Well, after listening to this piece of music my expectations run very high for this new rock opera by Kayak!
However, not only Cleopatra is a superb song, but also the second track Symmetry is true progressive rock. This piece, originally written in 1971, was never recorded by Kayak. The remake of it is a pure pleasure to listen to! When I heard it for the first time I didn't know that it was written in the seventies, although it occurred to me that it had all the trademarks of Kayak in those days. This means a typical Scherpenzeel-Koopman composition that could have been recorded for an album like Royal Bed Bouncer (1975, see review) or their debut See See The Sun (1973, see review). You can enjoy great solos performed both on the synthesizer and the electric guitar as well as superb close harmony singing.
This amazing EP released on the occasion of their 40th anniversary is a real surprise to their fans. But also for people who enjoyed both rock operas and their albums of the seventies, this disc undoubtedly is a must have! Happy anniversary Kayak and up to the next forty years!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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