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TRACK LIST: 1. On the Way to Eden 5:09 2. Faster & Faster 3:05 3. Sad Dream 4:09 4. Obsession 4:24 5. Feeling in the Living 4:19 6. Traveling 3:26 7. Walking in the Sea 5:29 8. Reinyet Number 4:34 9. Under the Sun 2:30 All music: by Garella. All arrangements: by Eden Rose. LINE-UP: Henri Garella - keyboards Jean-Pierre Alarsen - guitars Michel Jullien - drums Christian Clairefond - bass Produced by R. Gachner. Recorded in Paris.
Prolusion. One of the very first progressive bands in France, Eden Rose, has formally released only one album, the title of which is in the heading of this review. However, Eden Rose and Sandrose, whose eponymous album of 1972 features the same line-up plus a female vocalist Rose Podwojny, can in many ways be regarded as the same outfit. On the other hand, "On the Way to Eden" is the brainchild of Henri Garella, while the main mastermind of "Sandrose" was Jean-Pierre Alarcen. But well, my main object is to review this obscure musical object, and not to be occupied with conjectures and deductions.
Synopsis. According to the CD press kit compiled by the people at Musea Records, Eden Rose was a proto-progressive band performing all-instrumental music in the vein of Procol Harum and The Nice. Personally, I don't find the Nice traces on this Way to Eden:-), not to mention those of Procol Harum, which is of another story altogether and is indeed a proto-progressive band, unlike all the others, the names of which are featured in this material. The spirit of a genuine inspiration was hovering over the Prog society during the heyday of our beloved genre, and I don't remember any band that would play a completely unoriginal music during those times. There are some stylistic similarities between the music of this French band and that on Colosseum's Valentyne Suite (1969), but overall, Eden Rose had a very unique sound, and their album is IMHO stronger than any of those by Colosseum Mk-1, including the aforementioned one where only the eponymous sidelong epic is really outstanding. "On the Way to Eden" is brilliant from the first to the last note and is by all means a very coherent album. The predominant stylistics is a real classic Symphonic Art-Rock with pronounced elements of Jazz-Fusion and is presented on seven out of the nine compositions here: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 (see track list above). The music is predominantly intensive, rapid, and complex and is above all notable for highly diverse and masterful, almost constantly developing interplay between all of the band members and the continuous use of complex meters. The solos of Hammond organ are glaringly virtuosi and inventive. When listening to the album you'll make sure that Henri Garella was one of the very best keyboard players at that time. Both of the remaining tracks: Sad Dream and Under the Sun (3 & 9) are also remarkable, even though they consist mostly of soft and moderately slow arrangements. These are the entities of a mellow and romantic, yet, still classic Symphonic Art-Rock where there aren't improvisational-like solos and, thus, elements of Jazz-Fusion.
Conclusion. A complexity typical for Classic Symphonic Progressive, the virtuosity of Jazz-Fusion, and the energy of Hard Rock are merged on this remarkable album. While not as essentially profound and intricate as Van Der Graaf Generator's "H to He Who Am the Only One", to name only a few, "On the Way to Eden" is in my honest opinion better than Yes's "Time & a Word" and many other progressive albums released in >1970.
VM: January 15, 2004
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