Once upon a time, there was a band from Germany named Eloy. The band was founded in 1969 by guitarist Frank Bornemann and he named it after the people from the novel The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. He originally planned to play his own compositions, which was a somewhat strange decision because at the time hardly anybody did. After four albums and several line-up changes he finally got success when he joined forces with keyboardist Detlev Schmidtchen, who initially was a guitarist. The rhythm section consisted of Klaus-Peter Matziol (bass) and Jürgen Rosenthal (drums). The last one also wrote the mystical lyrics that fitted the mood of the music perfectly. During rehearsals the four musicians wrote the music for their fifth album Dawn (1976). A string-ensemble added orchestral elements to the newly written songs. This album marked the start of a very successful period that continued with Ocean (1977). Nothing seemed to go wrong, but shortly after they recorded Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes (1979) under heavy time pressure, key members Schmidtchen and Rosenthal left Eloy. This meant that Mr. Bornemann had to form a new line-up again. Second guitar player Hannes Arkona had already been recruited and with the new keyboardist Hannes Folbert Eloy recorded again some great albums as Colours (1980), Planets (1981) and Time To Turn (1982).
Then the tide turned for Eloy. The band recorded three rather poor sounding albums that lacked the magic of the above-mentioned albums: Performance (1983), Metromania (1984) and the absolute lowlight Codename Wildgeese (1985), a soundtrack for a war movie with Lee van Cleef. Then Eloy maintained silence; the band even broke-up. However, Bornemann met keyboarder Michael Gerlach and together they could again write songs that sounded similar to the sound on the previous and successful Eloy-albums. The band made a second start and released the new album Ra in 1988 that even made it to the German charts. Bornemann and Gerlach started to work as a project and with the help of guest musicians they recorded Destination (1992), The Tide Returns Forever (1994), The Ocean II: The Answer (1998) - a sequel to the successful Ocean-album - and the compilations Chronicles I & II which featured new recordings of old favourites. Then again silence fell around the band. However, the release of Timeless Passengers (2003), a 'best of' compilation album with remastered versions of the old albums provided for the band to return in the spotlight which resulted in the come-back album Visionary (2009, see review). And so this story ends with the famous words: and they lived happily ever after.
This is in short what you can expect on the documentary Mighty Echoes And Silent Cries. Many musicians who once joined the band are interviewed and tell amazing stories about the history of the band both in good and in bad times. You can enjoy this well-made documentary on the first DVD ever from Eloy named The Legacy Box. This really is a must for Eloy-fans all over the world. Especially the second disc contains a great collection of clips taken from TV and from live performances over the years. This is something many die-hard fans were waiting for a very long time. The history of the band is very nicely visualized, but it's a pity that the credits don't mention the programs from which the footage was taken. For instance, the studio play back shows made for the German TV-shows like RockPop are not mentioned. Moreover, not all performances are included in this clip collection and some video clips you can watch on YouTube, are not featured here. Maybe these were left out since these are different versions of songs that already have been included from other TV-performances. I very much enjoyed the live performance recorded for a French TV-show in 1983. During the songs Shadow And Light, Fools, Heartbeat and On The Verge Of Darkening Lights you can witness how strong the band performs with two keyboard players in the line-up. Also the live footage with Michael Gerlach behind the keyboards and a couple of female background singers is very impressive. Unfortunately only Poseidon's Creation, Generation Of Innocence and The Tides Return Forever have been included. The very old footage of the song Work It Out has nothing to do with progressive rock whatsoever, but it still belongs to the legacy of this great German rock band. The band's latest line-up can be seen during the recording of Age Of Insanity which was shot at a recording studio.
When a band releases a DVD or a CD that deals with their history, it's almost impossible to be complete. It's practically always a cross-cut or a summary. That can also be said about this fine document. I wondered why an important band member as Detlev Schmidtchen wasn't present in the documentary. And I wondered why no more videos of live performances were added in the clip collection. Anyway, despite these omissions I'm still glad the band released a fine document that's not only a compulsory purchase for Eloy-fans, but also for prog heads who enjoy the sound of the seventies progressive rock bands in general!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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