Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Unsinkable Rock And Roll...
...created by Four Norwegians and an Englishman...

I've always made it a point to, when I go to record shops, to look for odd or obscure records, but since my favorite musical era is from about 1968 to 1980, the greater part of my record collection involves groups who made records during those years. For example, I bought the first "Boston" album long before "More Than A Feeling" ever hit the airwaves. It just 'looked' like it would be a good rock and roll album, and boy, was it ever...I bought it, and, wow. I like that kind of rock and roll, that has some 'flavor' injected into the proceedings; bands that make great use of guitar and keyboards have always scored highly with me.

One such band was a group called "TITANIC", and yet, they only had One Song released in the U.S. That's right, One Song, which was included on a various-artists compilation issued by Columbia Records in the mid-1970s. The group had basically No Success in the U.S., but they were one of the more famous groups in Europe. And their label, CBS, was related to the Columbia Records label over here in the States. So, "Titanic" was poised for stardom. Of course, they were one of a legion of bands who were playing it heavy and loud back in those days. Remember those days? Groups like Deep Purple, Humble Pie, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and others really blasted away, and I loved 'em. "Titanic" was every bit as good, but with all those other bands out there, it was probably tough for a European group to gain much of a foothold waaay over there in North America.
Actually, "Titanic" had an ace up its sleeve, which would've allowed them to compete for fame here in the U.S. Most of the European bands I've heard have singers, who, when they try to sing in English, wrestle with the English Language, and come up with some fairly awkward phraseology in trying to put over a lyric line. That's not their fault; I sure couldn't sing or write in French or Russian, and even if I learned how to pronounce words in those languages, I'd probably sound really primitive to residents of those countries. But, "Titanic" had a special something going...they had an English Singer, Roy Robinson, who wrote most of their songs and sung 'em...and so Titanic, with four Norwegians and an English Chap, recorded some very heavy music that sounded totally 'English'...and given a chance, I think they could've been big over here. Oh well...
There were so many great bands out there back then, that Titanic was destined to, well, not be famous in the USA or anywhere else in the western hemisphere. When I found a copy of their first album, which is a made-in-Holland pressing on the CBS label, and played it, I was blown away. On one song, they sounded like Deep Purple in hyperdrive. On another, they sound spiritually fatalistic on an eight-minute tune that sounds more like Procol Harum than Procol Harum ever did. On still another tune, they rock harder than Black Sabbath Ever Did. I tell ya, the group could play in Almost Every Style. As a matter of fact, one of their biggest hits (in Europe) was a song called "Sultana", which was an instrumental that sounded almost exactly like the ultra-percussive sound of, you guessed it, Santana...
It's so difficult to hear everything, and, no matter where you are in your Musical Universe, there's great music that you're probably never gonna get to hear, 'specially if you're "stuck in your era" like I am. And when you've heard all the music made here in the States, well, there's lots more coming out of places not really noted for a great music 'scene'. Such as Norway, or Czechoslovakia (or whatever that country is called these days...) or elsewhere. I'm still finding records by obscure artists I've never heard of, and I'm happy if those artists are even Half as good as, say, Yes, Kansas, Genesis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nazareth, or any other of the famous groups from back then. I've indeed heard it with mine own ears; "Titanic" played at the same level as those more famous groups. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present...Titanic, the Band...

The plain-looking album with the green cover is Titanic's first album, from 1971, which has some really mindbending music on it. This is the one that has songs which sound like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Procol Harum, et al. That long, slow Procol-Harum-ish song is titled, "I See No Reason"...and is every bit as gloomy as the title suggests; the song is over 8 minutes long, and is a (depressing) masterpiece...The album next to it is their second, "Sea Wolf"; it came out a year later and contains their big hit, "Sultana" (a hit in Europe, not over here); this album has a bit more of a smooth pop sound, and isn't quite as earth-shattering as their first one...
...and that's why I was surprised with Titanic's 3rd album, (below) from 1973, "Eagle Rock" (No, it's not about bald eagles dancing in the streets; the title song is actually "One Night At Eagle Rock", which, in this case, is a 'place', not a bird.) And "Eagle Rock" is hard, tough and heavy just about all the way through, and it's very crisply engineered, so the keyboards, guitars and tortured vocals come shinin' through, and it is a Very Good Album, on par with their First Album, and that's saying a lot, because their First Album is one I'd want with me if I was marooned on a desert island. If anything, "Eagle Rock" is HEAVIER than their first album; albums like that force me to sit still in front of the turntable, watching the record spin 'round like an idiot for the better part of an hour...

The Black Album next to "Eagle Rock" came out in 1975; it's titled "Ballad Of A Rock And Roll Loser", which veers away from the heavy bombastic approach, and is basically a concept album about the Trials and Tribulations of a Rock Star, and sounds more like Mott The Hoople or Bad Company, perhaps, in that the instrumentation isn't really all that fancy; it's closer to basic unadorned heavy rock, well done, but without some of the "ear candy" that's featured on their First and Third albums (see above). It's more of a 'narrative' album than others of theirs which I've heard, and Roy Robinson certainly worked hard on the album's lyrics. It shows. It's a good album, although really different than the others I've featured here.
Titanic's music is hard to find; their CD's are fairly expensive, if you can find them at all. So how did I come by all this music? I'd found their first album, long ago, in a used record shop. Some twenty-odd years later, I was surfing around in Ebay when "Titanic" crossed my mind, and that's where I found the other three albums described above. I'd thought they'd recorded just the one album and then split up, as groups do. They actually had a long career, and put out quite a few records. All of my Titanic records are foreign pressings, and I'm proud to be (probably) one of the few people in the USA that's heard even One of their songs, let alone several albums' worth.
Below, you'll find a YouTube thing which features "Something On My Mind", a truly amazing piece of work from Titanic's first album, and this is some of the Very Hardest Rock I Have Ever Heard. You've just gotta hear it...go ahead, try it...you'll like it...oh, and in order to fully appreciate it...TURN IT UP...

One of the Titanic albums I don't have shows that the group has a bit of a sense of humor going for it...you've heard the phrase, "Raise The Titanic"...with that in mind, they released an album called "Lower The Atlantic". I've never looked at the Ocean quite that way before...


Anonymous CESAR PALACIOS said...

I'm a 40-year-old Ecuadorian guy who has always been interested in all kinds of musinc ranging from the 50's onwards. I don't have a particular taste for metal or hard rock but I do enjoy the very good music several musical genres have presented so far. One of them is One night in Eagle Rock which I heard when I was 12 years old at a friend's house whose brothers got the album. Yes, the music blows up your mind and you can't get enough listening to it. Me, as an Ecuadorian Spanish speaker, found it very difficult (still now) to get the lyrics of the song in several parts. A frien of mine from England helped me out once a logt time ago but unfortunately I lost the paper and can't get it on the net (quite unusual I would say, not to find the words to a song).
I was wondering if you or anybody else can help me out with it.
my email address is cpalacios@andinanet.net.
Greetings from Ecuador, South America and... LON LIVE ROCK N'ROLL!
C├ęsar Palacios

7:30 AM  

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