Junipher Greene - Friendship (1971)

Yes, what a discovery! This really is early progressive gem. I found about this band by accident, and don't remember actually how. I have this text file, where I collect good, promising bands, which I haven't heard before. One day I noticed that Junipher Greene was in there, and decided to order their debut album. You can clearly hear the 70's rock in this piece, but the music is strongly progressive. Very jazz influenced music and singing too. Can't say this band was a pioneer of some sort not being so famous, but excellent music from Norway. I've own this album only couple of weeks, but I've listened it so furiously and so I feel qualified to review it.

The band consists of two guitars, drums, bass, and keyboards. And flute of course. It's great that the lyrics are in English, but the booklet is written in Norwegian. Being a Finnish lad, I know some Swedish and therefore very few Norwegian words are familiar, but that really bothers that the story in the booklet can't be read. The album title is 'Friendship', which is also the last, epic, 20 minute long song's title. The concept friendship is pretty lame in the last song, but doesn't bother me much.

The album begins with the song 'Try to Understand'. Very rocky flute beginning. This is exactly what was prog rock from the 70's. Good flute jamm and couple of fine guitar solos. There is actually a guitar duel part. The song reminds little of Focus. Very good song. The next song, 'Witches' Daughter' is the weakest link. Very boring, short, mid tempo rock song with very simple rock riff and rock drumming. Fortunately, this song include a great guitar solo. 'Music for Our Children' begins with calm bass tune, and soft vocals. Very relaxing moment. "Music makes you feel free..." After that, comes very interesting part. Fast tempo, great bass playing and "Hey!" at the end of bar. Part, which folk metal bands use much. Good keyboard and guitar solos in this piece too. Good, progressive song.

'A Spectre Is Haunting the Peninsula' is short, mid tempo rock track. Great guitar work and funny story. The song ends well. 'Sunrise/Sunset' is very interesting track. This is a jazz song, but because done by rockers, it is prog rock track. If rockers do jazz, it's prog. But if jazz musicians do rock, it's jazz fusion. Back to this song. Very nice track, which has perhaps the weirdest ending. Very odd change to happy smile guitarring. The next song is wonderful. "Wake up to the sun bright and let the reasons lie, come out of the twilight and let your senses fly." 'Magical Garden' is the best track in the album. It begins with funky bass and calm vocals. There are many tempo changes to fast and back to slow. Great guitar solos and calm flutes. "Lie in the shady grass and float into the blue, the magical garden takes care of us and it can help you too."

'Autumn Diary' is beautiful track with nice guitar work. Vocal beginning and solo till the and. 'Maurice' is great track. Very beautiful, wonderful flute playing. The song is just one long flute solo. But very interesting one. The rhythm section plays this relaxing beach beat. The song is mixture of that and marvellous, beautiful flutes with good pianos and acoustic guitars. One of the best tracks in the album. 'Attila's Belly-Dance' is hypnotizing, funny, short, crazy keyboard track before the epic 'Friendship'. 'Friendship' is something brilliant. The prelude, 'Take the Road Across the Bridge' is very easy goin', relaxing rock song with great guitar work. I'm not going to go through every part in this track. What these parts combine is something great, which every prog fan should experience. There are some vocals, but mostly the last song is instrumental with incredible feelings. It is mysterious, happy, sad, relaxing, and confusing. Excellent track, just great. This exactly is something that every prog rock fan should have. There are stuff that I don't like; The song 'Witches' Daughter', dragging tempo in some songs. But that's that. Things I like: Almost all the other song, the vocals, the fact that all of the musicians are very talented, the jazz influences, guitar solos, the 70's rock sound, flutes. This album is great. Perhaps it is not a masterpiece of progressive music, but it definitely is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. And particularly for those, who are in search for early progressive rock gems and are fans of early prog music and its development. I really recommend this album. 4/5 stars. I end this review with the words of Alex K. Carlsson:

"Friendship my friends, is a matter of thought, It's a wonderful thing that cannot be bought, It comes from the heart and lasts through the years, Through hardship sorrow and human tears, It shines, like the rays of the Sun." - Review by Agemo

Track Listings

1. Try To Understand (4:47)
2. Witchesi' Daughter (3:28)
3. Music For Our Children (7:03)
4. A Spectre Is Haunting The Peninsula (2:53)
5. Sunrise/Sunset (4:09)
6. Magical Garden (7:06)
7. Autumn Diary (1:54)
8. Maurice (4:23)
9. Attila's Belly-Dance (0:41)
10. Friendship (26:01)
a) Prelude: Take The Road Across The Bridge (6:09)
b) Friendship (2:20)
c) Interlude (2:37)
d) Mountain Voices (3:08)
e) Land Of The Foxes (3:00)
f) Friendship That's Earned (2:55)
g) Into The Cloudburst (2:05)
h) Manitou's Skylands & Down To Earth (1:25)
i) Friendship (2:03)

Total Time: 62:26

- Helge Groslie / lead vocals, keyboards
- Bent Aserud / electric & acoustic guitars, flute, harp, vocals
- Oyvind Vilbo / bass, vocals
- Geir Bohren / drums, vocals
- Freddy Dahl / lead vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, vibraharp
Releases information

LP Sonet SLP 1413/14, Double LP, 1971)
CD Sonet KSCD 4, 1989)
LP Dodo DDRLP 515, 2001)
CD Dodo DDR 515, 2001)
CD Sonet 0385102, 2003 Remastered)


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