Ruphus — Ranshart
(Karisma KAR163, 1974/2019, CD / LP / DL)
Ruphus — New Born Day
(Karisma KAR162, 1973/2019, CD / LP / DL)
by Mike Ohman, 2000-05-01:
The Norwegian group Ruphus suffered a drastic lineup shift after their 1973 debut, New Born Day, which resulted in the loss of, among others, both vocalists: Gundy Aspaas and Rune Sundby. New vocalist Rune Østdahl fills their shoes ably, and while Aspaas isn’t credited, her soulful voice is much in evidence on “Easy Lovers, Heavy Moaners” and in the background of a few other tracks. (She would be back full time for the band’s next album, Let Your Light Shine). In spite all the confusion, Ranshart can’t be seen as anything but an improvement on its predecessor. Kjell Larsen, now also doing the work of two, proves that no second guitarist is needed... his nimble-fingered playing is more than enough. Keyboardist Håkon Graf adds Moog and Mellotron to his rig, and uses them with reckless abandon. The result is a far more symphonic sound, based more on instrumental interaction than the vocal melodies that dominated New Born Day. Much to the delight of all, Asle Nilsen continues to double on flute, adding a wonderful contrast in timbre to Larsen’s guitar and Graf’s organ. If the English lyrics aren’t quite up to snuff, at least there’s the instrumental “Pictures of a Day,” certainly the most impressive song on the disc, and probably the band’s finest prog-rocker ever. Ranshart remains a unique album in Ruphus’ output, later albums turning toward a more jazzy sound. Fans of Yes-like prog, prepare for symphonic nirvana.
by Jon Davis, 2019-07-23:
Karisma Records has begun a reissue campaign for the catalog of Norway’s Ruphus, a band formed in 1970 that went through a lot of changes and gained some notoriety in Europe, though they failed to make much of an impact elsewhere. That’s not for lack of quality, however, especially not on these first two albums. On 1973’s New Born Day the band consisted of Asle Nilsen (bass, flute), Hans Petter Danielsen (guitar), Kjell Larsen (guitar, flute), Håkon Graf (keyboards, vibraphone), Thor Bendiksen (drums, percussion), Gudny Aspaas (vocals), and Rune Sundby (vocals, guitar, sax). The shared male / female lead vocals of Aspaas and Sundby are one of the band’s distinctive features, with both singers contributing powerful tones. The music has elements of Deep Purple in the heavy guitar riffs and overdriven organ, and those factors combined with the strong vocals may bring to mind Uriah Heep. The music is progressive in the way that a lot of 70s bands were — not overly symphonic or complex, but a definite step above simple hard rock. The songs have varying sections, sometimes going from a propulsive riff to a delicate passage with acoustic guitar and piano. Much of the music has a detectable relation to the blues, but extended beyond its roots with chromaticism and some jazzy chords. It’s a strong debut with a lot going for it, both vocally and instrumentally.
By the time of their second album, both lead vocalists had departed, along with Danielsen, and new singer Rune Østdahl came on board. When I first saw the song titles, I was a bit worried — “Easy Lovers, Heavy Moaners” does not sound promising, but in spite of the questionable lyrics of the chorus, it’s not a bad song. In general, the music is less based on heavy riffs than on the debut, with more emphasis on keyboard chords and backing vocals. At times I’m reminded of Peter Banks’ Flash, especially since Østdahl’s voice is less gutsy than either Sundby of Aspaas, and also the way Nilsen’s bass figures in the mix. Gone is the Deep Purple resemblance. Side 2 of the original LP starts with “Pictures of a Day,” a nearly nine-minute instrumental piece which starts out with some nice keyboard work from Graf, with layered synths, organ, and Mellotron. Ranshart definitely has a different flavor than New Born Day, but both are worthy, and they set the stage for further changes that were to come for the band.
Related artist(s): Ruphus
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more