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1. The Clown And The Queen (8:37)
2. Moldau (5:24)
3. Friend (7:04)
4. City Monster (8:42)
5. Alone (9:24)
Pell Mell's debut is the one that should appeal most to people here. While later albums might have been more airy, fluffy, and even silly, while still being very worthwhile, Marburg is dominated by heavy organ, at times screeching vocals, some blistering lead guitars, and a more gritty violin sound than would appear just a few short years later. While blatantly symphonic and employing some recognizable classical themes, this most impressive first album is more krautrock sounding if you will. Still, their penchant for juxtaposing moods and skillfully shifting tempo was clearly intact from day 1, and if you like a good melody you will find more than a few here. Hence, something for everybody, but a special dollop for those, like me, who think no one did progressive rock like the Germans did in the 70s.
To dispense with the obvious, the vocals can be quite obnoxious at times, no more so than in the closer "Alone", but if you give it time, even there you will be impressed with its musicality and its suitability for the undeniably skilled playing. Sure, the faux scat is of "Friend" wears thin after the first 5 innovative seconds, but its first part is brilliant, and "City Monster" is a master epic. "The Clown and the Queen" carries a delightfully nostalgic vibe. Even if you can't get past the vocals at any price, the flute, organ and mad fiddling of the souped up classical instrumental "Moldau" justifies seeking out this CD.
One can hear the influence of this album in the works of endearing bands like JANE, far lesser artists like STREETMARK, who knew not what to do with their inspiration, or the brilliant one-off ZOMBY WOOF, and probably a lengthy list of even more obscure bands who barely published during the golden era. But for the source, start with Marburg, one of the keystones of German symphonic prog and a must have release from this period.
Pell Mell biography
Not to be confused with a 1980s American band of the same name, Pell Mell was a symphonic band from Marburg, Germany (Marburg is also the name of the debut album). The band was formed in 1971 by keyboard player Otto Pusch, bass player Jorg Gotzfried, Rudolf Schon on vocals, recorder, and guitar, drummer Mitch Kniesmeijer, and Thomas Schmitt on violin, guitar, and vocals.
The first album is characterized by a rough edge, especially in the vocals. Subsequent albums would smooth out the edges. However, there are aspects reminiscent of Hawkwind, HP Lovecraft, The Nice, and even ELP. Mellotron and classical themes are abundant. It also should be pleasing to fans Krautrock.
Over the next releases they would explore the realm of Mike Oldfield, and then settle into keyboard dominated symphonic. The old psychedelic sounds completely gone. Much of the music is considered some of the best German symphonic ever recorded.
The usual lineup changes occurred over time, and the band began to disintegrate after 1978's "Only a Star." Thomas Schmitt formed the '80s style rock band Skyrider, with former band mate Otto Pusch. They released one self-titled album, and then took back the name Pell Mell. This incarnation released "Moldau" in 1981. However, the old magic was gone, and that is where the Pell Mell story ends.