The Old Man & The Sea “The Old Man & The Sea” (Shadoks, 2013)
It was barely a year ago when we sat down for a lengthy interview with The Old Man & The Sea organist Tommy Hansen, which is reproduced in the booklet to Shadoks Music’s reissue of this rare (only 500 copies) heavy progresive rock album from Denmark. The majesterial “Living Dead” opens the album with pomp and circumstance, Hansen’s organ darting in and out of Ole Wedel’s appropriately histrionic warbling. Toss in Benny Stanley’s ferocious guitar soloing and we’re off to a very promising start. “Princess” introduces fine harmonies from three strong vocalists on a softer, poppier track which presages the popular prog-pop that Styx would become famous for a few years later.
“Jingoism” is a virulent anti-war plea for sanity that evolves into some tasty, jazzy jamming, with Stanley exercising appreciated restraint and drummer John Lundvig particularly impressive. The original release is bolstered by two lengthy bonus tracks, the first of which is Hansen’s impressive showcase, “Lady Nasty”, again featuring blistering Stanley solos alongside Hansen’s fluid organ runs, which rival Keith Emerson in their complexity, timing, and inventiveness.
Hansen’s other centrepiece, the 3-part “Monk Song” (actually two parts, prefaced by a brief instrumental “Prelude”) is another floating contribution to the early canon of classic progressive discography consisting of those early Yes and ELP albums, although the band were acknowledged fans of other contemporaries like Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin and, of course, Deep Purple. But the jawdropping antics of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Vincent Crane’s memorable organ solos are also inherent in Hansen’s own impressive keyboard work throughout.
The epic, 10½-minute original album closer “Going Blind” allows each member to stretch out and demonstrate their considerable skills, mostly centered around Stanley’s once-again impressive guitar runs. The introduction of Paul Åge Hersland’s tender flute flourishes ads a reflective air to this fine track which sums up the band on a positive note.
Shadoks also added a second bonus track, “Circulation”, a group composition-cum-jam that is closer to the poppier Yes tracks of the day and could have done wonders as an introduction to the band if released as a single. Unfortunately, as you will read in our interview, Sonet had no idea how to market the project and, dspite soldiering on with a slightly revised lineup for another few years, the band finally dissolved in 1975. But this is your opportunity to experience one of Denmark’s finest progressive bands with bonus material to fill the cracks in your musical library.
Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
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