Machiavel might be Belgium's best known and most successful progressive rock band, but they weren't the first.
Probably the earliest band from that country playing this kind of music is Mad Curry, who released a single called "Antwerp", and then a self-entitled album, both in 1970 on the small Pirates label, meaning LP copies aren't likely to float around, and a legitimate CD reissue hasn't surfaced.
The band came from Antwerp, which is in the nothern half of the country (where the Flemish variety of Dutch is spoken). The band included female vocalist Viona Westra, who sounds remarkably like Curved Air's Sonja Kristina, with saxist Joosk Geeraerts (apparently also known as Giorgio Chitschenko), organist Danny Rousseau, bassist Jean Andore (or Vandooren), and drummer Eddy Kane (or Verdonck).
Notice they don't have a guitarist. Despite the band being Belgian, they stick to a British style of jazzy progressive rock.
Really, Mad Curry is truly one of the great, lost gems of progressive rock. This is simply an incredible collection of music, with some really creative drumming from Eddy Kane, and some killer organ work from Danny Rousseau.
This one of those progressive rock albums that isn't particularly pretentious (for those who run at the thought of this kind of music), as they tend to borrow more from jazz than classical. The music is really full of great twists like on "Beauty", "Music, the Reason for Our Happiness", and "Longhaired Children in a Cave".
"The Worker" is a real interesting one where it the keyboard heard sounds like a cross between a piano and harpsichord. While vocals are largely from Viona Westra, one of the guys (not sure who) do actually share vocal duties on "Beauty" (a song with reference to sex) and he reminds me of the Amon D??l II male vocalist.
Frequently Mad Curry gets compared to Soft Machine and Julian's Treatment, which is understandable, the Soft Machine comparison coming from the jazzy nature of the music, and Julian's Treatment for the female vocals and Hammond organ.
Other groups I get reminded of are Affinity, Catapilla, and even Curved Air (thanks to Viona Westra sounding like Sonja Kristina, which means if you like Sonja's vocals, you'll have little problem warming up to Viona's vocals, although like Sonja, she is an acquired taste).
Really, had Mad Curry been British, they'd likely end up on the Vertigo label, as it's very much in the vein of the more jazzy progressive albums on that label.
But since they were Belgian, they ended up on the Pirates label. Remember, in Belgium, the progressive rock scene hadn't been as so well represented as the progressive rock scenes in the countries that surround it (Netherlands, France, Germany), but Belgium had their share of groups worth your time, and if you're a fan of those British groups I mentioned, I really think you can't go wrong with Mad Curry. I was simply blown away from the first listen!
by Ben Miler
1.Men - 4:08
2.Big Ben - 4:53
3.Beauty - 3:31
4.Music, The Reason Of Our Happiness - 4:05
5.Jack Is Away - 5:17
6.5 Longhair Children In A Cave -
7.The Worker - 3:48
8.Sound For Tomorrow (Giorgio Chitschenko) - 3:16
9.Antwerp (single A side) - 2:57
10.Song For Cathreen (single B side) - 2:26
All titles by Viona Westra and Giorgio Chitschenko except where noted
*Viona Westra - Vocals, Percussion
*Giorgio Chitschenko (Joosk Geeraerts) - Varitone Saxophone
*Danny Rousseau - Keyboards, Sounds
*Jean Andore (Vandooren) - Bass
*Eddy Kane (Verdonck) - Drums