Eela Craig - Missa Universalis (1978)

Now here's something you don't hear too much in the world of prog rock: a Christian prog rock album. But EELA CRAIG did such an album in 1978. "Missa Universalis", their fourth album takes a Roman Catholic Mass to a prog rock context. Luckily they didn't have to water down their prog rock sound to have a religious theme. At this point, they were playing a rather lush style of prog rock heavy on the string synths, not unlike what ELOY was doing at the same time, only more polished, and surprisingly (given EELA CRAIG were Austrians), no ridiculously accented vocals like you do Frank Bornemann. For this concept, the members of the band decided to sing in four languages, Latin, French, German, and English, quite a lot for the band to do, put they pulled it off. Without a doubt, the opening cut, "Kyrie" is by far the highlight. The droning string synths and a voice that repeats "Kyrie Eleison" over and over really trips me out. "Credo (Part 1)" is a pretty nice ballad while "Credo (Part 2)" tends to be a bit more on the funky side. "Sanctus" borrowed from Anton Bruckner, and at the end goes for a funky jam reminescent of "One Niter". The closing song, "Amen" reminds me a little of VANGELIS circa "Heaven & Hell".

But I also have a big complaint of this album: since I'm not Christian, every time I listen to this album, I really feel like I'm being preached at, like on "Credo (Part 1)" where the lyrics go: "And I believe, in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God". I expect to feel like I'm being preached at when I'm unlucky to hear something from a CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) artist, not a prog rock band. Regardless, like the ELECTRIC PRUNES' "Mass in F Minor" some 11 years before, "Missa Universalis" is a not entirely successful attempt at a rock Mass, but the music itself is decent enough. - Review by Proghead (Ben Miler)

Track Listings

1. Kyrie (11:50)
2. Gloria (5:57)
3. Credo Part 1 (4:14)
4. Credo Part 2 (3:33)
5. Sanctus (8:27)
6. Agnus Dei (5:20)
7. Amen (2:00)

Total Time: 41:21

- Hubert Bognermayr / keyboards, electronics, vocals (1-5)
- Gerhard Englisch / bass, keyboards
- Frank Hueber / drums
- Alois Janetschko / live mixing
- Wil Orthofer / lead & back vocals
- Fritz Riedelberger / lead guitar, lead vocals (5), backnig vocals
- Hubert Schnauer / keyboards, flute.
- Harald Zuschrader / keyboards, electronics, guitar

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