Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mainhorse ~ Mainhorse

Amongst those in the know, Patrick Moraz’s album with the band Refugee is regarded as a lost gem of 70’s progressive rock. I think there is a strong case to be made for the album he made before that with his previous band Mainhorse. Mainhorse were more of a proto-prog band, quite bluesy in places, maybe more akin to the likes of Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple and The Nice. The band members were half Swiss and half English. Guitarist and vocalist Peter Lockett sounding a bit like Roye Albrighton from Nektar. Drummer Bryson Graham is pretty good here, lots of nice complex flourishes befitting the music on show. Then there is bassist Jean Ristori who would later work with Yes as sound engineer during Moraz’s stint with the band. But the star is Moraz of course. He writes the majority of the material and his keyboard work is the dominant factor. On this early work, it’s mostly Hammond organ and electric piano, though on the lengthy “God” he uses a ‘klavio-synthesiser” to produce a very eastern flavoured synth solo.

The opening song, “Introduction” has some very meaty organ work, which I think Keith Emerson would have been impressed with. I particularly like “Pale Sky” with it’s very laid back, jazzy instrumental section with some very good electric piano work from Moraz. That the band could produce something as restrained as this is quite refreshing and indicates what thoughtful players these people were. The highlight here is maybe “Basia”, very catchy with superb harmony vocals. There is a lot to enjoy on this album. A little rough round the edges maybe, but there was such huge potential here. Because the album failed to receive much attention, the band soon disbanded. A shame really, though Moraz of course would go onto greater things.

This remaster sounds pretty good, considering when it was recorded and is worth searching out by anyone interested in early 70’s prog rock. I was quite surprised by how good this was and hence I would place it alongside “Refugee”, “Relayer” and “Story of i” as prime examples of how an important figure Patrick Moraz was in the 70’s as both a keyboard virtuoso and composer.


The next batch of Moraz remasters should see "The Story of i". For me this is a very impressive example of 70's keyboard based prog rock. It is also Moraz at a creative peak of sorts.

What previous CD issues have lacked is reproducing the luxurious gatefold sleeve of the original LP with it's massive list of credits, including all the keyboards used by Moraz and the hand written insert with Moraz's notes, scribbles and doodles on each track. If this release does not try and match the original LP, then it will be a tragic missed opportunity. We shall see!


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