Marsupilami - Marsupilami (1970) + Arena

A personal favourite album of mine from the era, from one of the most obscure bands but also, despite making only two albums, one of the best bands too. This incredible debut is testimony to that. Marsupilami were, as far as I'm aware, a group of British ex-pats who resided in the Netherlands. They had the honour of being the first prog band on Transatlantic, and along with Gryphon, one of only two prog bands- Transatlantic was one of the best folk labels of all time, featuring the wonderful Bert Jansch, Pentangle, Mr Fox and many others- including a pre-fame Mike Oldfield in Sallyangie with his sister Sally. They have a very distinctive sound that cannot be compared to anyone else.

'Dorian Deep' sets the tone of the album- a wonderfully operatic opus with lots of dramatic vocals, much spacey organ accompaniment and lots of jazzy guitar- the band get pretty heavy too, with some furious drumming and thunderous bass playing. Terrific stuff. 'Born To Be Free' starts out with a bluesy feel, with some neat guitar flourishes and great organ accompaniment, plus ominous and bleak vocals. This track then speeds up into a very uptempo jazz rock interlude with terrific solos on guitar. 'And The Eagle Chased To The Dove To Its Ruin' was the first track I heard of the band, and sold the album to me right there; it was one of the most mindblowing musical experiences I had ever had in my life. It starts out very doomy, with some unusual chord changes on guitar and organ, with funereal vocals, which turn into some pseudo poetic rambling. The bass playing propels this track into a fast and stupendous prog masterpiece- operatic caterwauling, lovely flute playing, great organ fills and Steve Howe-esque guitar runs. It then slows down into a more tranquil part, until going into a flute tour-de-force with some of the most amazing vocals you'll ever hear, and lots of heavy guitars. This then reverts to the main theme, before coming to a sudden holt. Truly astonishing. What's it about? Lord knows- but it sounds AMAZING. 'Ab Initio Ad Finem (The Opera)' is an extremely dramatic instrumental, with lots of complex solos on guitar and organ- really great stuff. 'Facilis Descencus Averni' has some more incredible vocals and wild flute, guitar and organ playing- with some crazy evil cackles for good measure. Again- terrific stuff, and truly shows high drama at its peak.

So there- one of the most bombastic prog albums ever made, and consequently one of the better hidden treasures, being a particular favourite of mine. Deserves a place in any prog fan's collection. - Review by salmacis (James Jeffery)

Track Listings

1. Dorian Deep (7:40)
2. Born To Be Free (5:45)
3. And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin (6:38)
4. Ab Initio Ad Finem (The Opera) (10:54)
5. Facilis Descencus Averni (9:37)

- Mike Fouracre / percussion
- Fred Hasson / vocals, harmonica, bongos
- Leary Hasson / organ
- Richard Hicks / bass
- Dave Laverock / acoustic and bowed guitars, vocals
- Jessica Stanley-Clarke / flute, vocals


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