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Nikos Kazantzakis

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mad Curry - Mad Curry (1970 belgium, superb progressive rock with jazz glances, bonus tracks remaster edition)



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


Tracks
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

Mad Curry
*Viona Westra - Vocals, Percussion
*Giorgio Chitschenko (Joosk Geeraerts) - Varitone Saxophone
*Danny Rousseau - Keyboards, Sounds
*Jean Andore (Vandooren)  - Bass
*Eddy Kane (Verdonck) - Drums

Free Text

9 comments:

echoes said...

One more from this great site.
And thx again and have a nice weekend!

echoes said...

Yes, and after listening of few songs definitely Curved Air comes to mind. A little more rhythmic one.
Which is not bad at all...

titokzatoscsatater said...

many, many thnx, GREAT prog from Belgium

DanP said...

Really good album, I've listened to this one.

mukahnlor said...

thanks !!!

LRRooster said...

Never heard before.
Thx from Paris

psychonaut said...

Really a superb album! Thanks!!

adamus67 said...

Mad Curry was a Belgian band which had this remarkable line-up for a rock band: Sax, organ, bass, drums and vocals. No guitar appeared in their ranks. Their sound can be described as ‘progressive jazz rock’

The band was founded in early 1970 during one of the countless jam sessions held in Leuven, a Belgian university city once called the Liverpool of Belgium.

Eddy Verdonck and Jean Vandooren had played together as rhythm section since they were 16.

Danny Rousseau has a degree in music and writes fluently paper music scores. He played together with Jean Vandooren and Eddy Verdonck in CTS, a band that recorded a live album. However after trouble with their manager the LP stayed unreleased and CTS called it a day.

Viona Westra recorded one single before Mad Curry as a result of being chosen in ‘Ontdek de ster’ a television contest on Belgium TV. She also sang in some blues bands.

Giorgio Chitschenko came from the Belgium jazz scene. He also has a degree with a first prize in music at conservatory.


They gave up their studies and jobs to rehearse intensely behind closed doors for 6 months, before they played their first gig. Meantime they invited Bob Leonard at a concert in an Antwerp youth club. He was so impressed he & Louis De Vries offered a contract. Louis De vries was active with ‘underground’ bands, and who even organized the first Belgium Pink Floyd gig in a local Antwerp café. He was also manager for Pebbles, Irish coffee, Ferre Grignard, Louisette, etc. Later he became ‘famous’ for being a football manager!

The first release was a 7" single with the tracks: ‘Antwerp’ regarded as their most commercial track and ‘Song for Cathreen’ a song written by Giorgio Chitschenko & Viona Westra and dedicated to Giorgio’s then new-born daughter Katrien.

A few months later an album was released on the Pirate label.

The record is characterized by repeated time signatures that give a 'progressive' feeling. Sax and organ bring a specific jazzy element in the performance and the unique high bluesy voice of Viona is very recognizable. All this supported by a solid rhythm team which gives a rock sound. The album was housed in a beautiful very original fold-out cover made by Jef Winnepenninckx. He knew Mad Curry from local café’s in Leuven like The Harp, Seven ox, etc..
He says now, his inspiration for the cover was a spur of the moment. But the cover represents the craziness of the music. It was his first work he made as a designer. These days he is a professor at St Lucas art school in Brussels. The band played many concerts in Belgium, France & Holland. The Paradiso gig in Amsterdam was regarded by some members as a ‘highlight‘. The ‘success’ there was because of the fact that everybody was lying stoned on the ground after the gig ended!

A second album was written & prepared. However the touring and personal conflicts took their toll and in mid-1971 Mad Curry disbanded and the second album stayed unrecorded.

Thx Marios!

Pierre said...

wow, just found this one and crystalline in the vault, very impressive, both these bands well worth a listen. many thanks for the listen.