CD Marks (CD 6233303),
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  • 1. Oriental Journey
    2. Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers, The
    3. Soft Royce
    4. Mr. Barnum Junior's Magnificent and Fabulous City - (live)
    5. I Wish I Could
    6. You Always Can Change
    7. Marc's Occasional Showers
    8. Catherine's Wig
    9. Hard Royce
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): ECLEC2144

  • Credits
    ProducerHans Van Oosterhout

    Like most young bands, Alquin proudly wore their influences on their sleeves, but unlike most of their fellow progressive rockers, the Dutch group eschewed opulent arrangements and showboat soloing. Simplicity seems to have been the byword for their 1973 debut album, MARKS, recorded while the members were still attending Delft's Technical University. This understandably led to the album being tagged as jazz-folk, but that label does injustice to the breadth of Alquin's vision and wide range of styles, with their songs encompassing everything from a conga line to disco, Dixieland to Gypsy violin. The unadorned arrangements counterintuitively make MARKS sound far less adventurous than it actually is, but correspondingly far more accessible than it might otherwise have been. It's also a reflection of the set's lack of improvisation, but live the band soared into more experimental territory, as "Mr. Barnum Junior's Magnificent and Fabulous City" well illustrates, an extended piece that giddily shape-shifts through numerous genres and styles. Contrast that number with the lilting in and out of pomp rock and jazz during "Oriental Journey," the cheery jazz-pop of "The Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers," or the moody jazz fusion of "Soft Royce"; it's like night and day. Even better, compare the latter number with its metal-flanged companion, "Hard Royce," a 1973 B-side, debuting as a bonus track on the 2009 CD reissue. The original vinyl album's A-side was entirely instrumental, and the flip initially follows suit with the haunting extended intro to "I Wish I Could." And then the vocals come in. The band had no proper frontman, and with several so-so singers within its ranks, the vocals on "Wish" and "You Always Can Change" could be described as adequate at best. Alquin's instrumentals shine far brighter, although the choral harmonies on the glorious "Marc's Occasional Showers" are effective. Positioning themselves between the Canterbury scene, the jazz clubs, West Coast psychedelia, and the rock greats, Alquin took the best of all worlds and threaded it into a sound uniquely their own. They had much growing to do, but this was an impressive start.

  • Critic Reviews
    Record Collector (magazine) (p.90) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Ferdinand Bakker and Job Tarenskeen weigh in with vocals on the persuasively pretty 'I Wish I Could' and 'You Can Always Change.'"
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