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TRACK LIST: 1. Bilder av en dag 5:19 2. Stille timer 4:44 3. I ly av market 5:56 4. Sandkorn I ett timeglass 4:26 5. Betong boogie 3:15 6. Ase 3:21 7. Samhold 4:58 8. Fattig men fri 6:25 9. Pa sterke vinger 11:09 10. I'm a Star 3:13 11. Sweetest Song 4:53 12. Last Trip 3:29 13. No Regrets 3:37 All tracks: by Host. LINE-UP: Geir Jahren - vocals Bernt Bodahl - basses Knut Lie - drums Svein Ronning - keyboards; guitar Lasse Nilsen - guitar With: John Hesla - guitar; flute Halvdan Nedrejord - keyboards Willy Bendiksen - drums
Prolusion. To all appearances, HOST is one of Norway's oldest Rock bands and has been in existence since the early seventies, and "Live & Unreleased" is a compilation of their rarities. My attitude towards compilations, consisting of unreleased tracks, is practically the same as towards full-fledged albums. I've just recalled Jethro Tull's "Nightcap" (2CD, 1993), "B-Side Themselves" by Marillion (1988), etc.
Synopsis. Above all, it must be mentioned that there are no studio recordings on the album. Eleven of the thirteen tracks are songs, most of which are with lyrics in the band's native language, and three are in English. It's clear that the four tracks, titled in English and located closer to the end of the CD, are from Host's latest creation. Nevertheless, the album is surprisingly uniform in style, at least for the most part. With the exception of Sweetest Song, to which I'll return below, each song represents Classic Hard Rock with distinct elements of Blues Rock and some of those of Symphonic Progressive. I must admit I didn't expect to find something impressive on this recording, which, besides, would be free of any cliches and influences, starting with those that were lavishly 'submitted' to the Metal scene by the mighty Three of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. The group's power Rock is not only original and tasty, but is also definitely progressive and has that charming feel to it, which was so much typical for the genre in the seventies. Some relative style-related comparisons are possible between Host and Holland's Living Blues (at their creative peak in 1975-'76), though I doubt that these bands would have ever known of the existence of each other. However, the music of our heroes is heavier and is much more diverse than a traditional bluesy Hard Rock, the number of the representatives of which is too large to list here. It seems to me that bassist Bernt Bodahl is the main mastermind behind the band, as most of the songs begin with his diverse and heavy, riff-like solos on bass that later become basic themes and usually set the mood for the further musical events and principal interplay between solos of guitar and organ in the instrumental parts as well. One of the two instrumental pieces, Ase (6), features no heaviness and is about a classic guitar Art-Rock with some symphonic and bluesy shades. Another instrumental, Last Trip (12), as well as the aforementioned Sweetest Song (11), are the only tracks on the album where there are parts of flute and piano present. The interplay between these instruments is somewhat of a departure from the context of the band's joint arrangements and being interwoven with them as well. Of course, the style of these two is a blend of Hard Rock and Symphonic Art-Rock.
Conclusion. Even if this output consists exclusively of outtakes from the band's studio albums, there are no weak spots among them. Recommended, especially to the devoted to Classic Hard Rock. Host may become a revelation for many fans of the genre.
VM: June 4, 2004
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