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. 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.
by Dave Thompson
1. Oriental Journey - 4:22
2. The Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers - 2:26
3. Soft Royce (F. Bakker, Ronald Ottenhoff) - 6:57
4. Mr. Barnum Junior's Magnificent And Fabulous City (Alquin) - 5:36
5. I Wish I Could - 11:47
6. You Always Can Change (Job Tarenskeen) - 3:05
7. Marc's Occasional Showers - 3:23
8. Catharine's Wig - 2:38
9. Hard Royce (F. Bakker, Ronald Ottenhoff) - 2:40
All songs by Ferdinand Bakker except where noted
*Hein Mars - Bass
*Paul Westrate - Drums
*Job Tarenskeen - Saxophone, Percussion, Vocals
*Ronald Ottenhoff - Saxophone, Flute
*Ferdinand Bakker - Guitar, Electric Violin, Piano, Vocals
*Dick Franssen - Organ, Piano, E-Piano
1973 Alquin - The Mountain Queen