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ARENA Marsupilami Esoteric (2007)


Released in 1971 on Transatlantic as part of the label's bid to break out of its comfort zone (folk) into the embryonic and potentially more profitable progressive field, Marsupilami's second album took the organ and flute-fuelled folk/prog of the previous year's debut to new levels with this original and melodramatic concept piece exploring the gladiatorial arenas of the Roman Empire (as you do).

Now based in the Netherlands, the band grew an additional member on flute and sax and wheeled in Pete (Camel) Bardens to play and produce.

Over five extended tracks, it's powerful stuff with wild passages of screeching vocal and manic guitar soothed by pleasing instrumental pieces featuring the progger's tricky friend, the mellotron.

At times sounding like someone crossed Comus with Egg, this was demanding fare and clearly all too much for band, label and music buyers as Marsupilami duly folded.

In this age of rock revisionism, Arena stands up rather well as an attempt to reach new ground and its audacity, compositional and performance strengths will tick all the right boxes for the bold buyer.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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