Norwegian prog formation Ruphus released 7 albums between 1973 and 1979. After their acclaimed debut album New Born Day (see review) from 1973 the band moved to Germany. During the years the sound of Ruphus gradually turned from harder-edged prog to more jazz-rock oriented. The band had success in Germany but due to multiple line-up changes eventually they dissolved in the late Seventies. Nowadays Ruphus first album is considered a real gem in the Norwegian progressive rock market. In 2018 it was reissued by Karisma Records and in 2019 this prolific Norwegian label reissued the second album entitled Ranshart, originally from 1974. Between the first and second album three members left, and a new singer arrived so it was pretty much another band that recorded the second album.
Despite the changes in the line-up Ruphus still has obvious hints from early Yes, the main difference concerns the vocals, not that emotional as the former singer (in the vein of German Inga Rumpf from Frumpy). Most of the five melodic and harmonic compositions (between 4 and 9 minutes) contain catchy beats and the pleasant vintage sound of the Hammond organ, Mini Moog synthesizer and the unsurpassed Mellotron. The track Easy Lovers, Heavy Moaners starts with wonderful twanging acoustic guitars, Fallen Wonders delivers fiery work on the electric guitar and Pictures Of A Day is loaded with beautiful, folky sounding flute, from soaring to sparkling.
My highlight is the final song Back Side (8:10). It starts with a swinging rhythm featuring Hammond runs, Mini Moog and Mellotron violins, and fuelled by dynamic rhythm-section (a big plus on this album). The powerful female vocals evoke Jon Anderson, and also bands like Druid and England come to my mind, due to the Anderson-like vocals and the vintage keyboards. Halfway the music turns into a Vintage Keyboard Extravaganza: first a Mellotron flute solo, then a flashy Mini Moog solo with lush Hammond and finally a bombastic atmosphere with strong vocals and Hammond, yet another sparkling Mini Moog solo, with lush Hammond, again fuelled by the excellent rhythm-section. Wow, this is Ruphus in its full splendor!
To me this reissue sounds as a pleasant and solid effort, between Classic Prog and melodic rock, embellished with wonderful work on Hammond, Mellotron and Minimoog.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Dave Smith)
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