Kayak - Seventeen

Kayak Seventeen cover
InsideOut Music
Often I wonder to myself, if the quote of the late Frank Zappa about most rock journalism being conducted by people who can’t write, when they are interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read, is sadly too true…
Too true when you witness just how gullible and susceptible people are to what they read, to the point where they repeat it as mantras until they believe it and if confronted about it, they feign apathy or proclaim ignorance to be a virtue. It is what makes the whole pop-culture and industry sort of work… having the admission of even some high profile British journalists for example that they’d simply trash out every 70s band during punk’s heydey, just for the sake of their style being out of vogue. Queen for one were on the receiving end of such bullshit tactics, but we shouldn’t go too far back to the reviews that doubted Uriah Heep would have a career, calling them a heep of dung. I wonder where those guys are these days… some no doubt still trying to promote the latest fad, while dismissing the “dinosaurs”.
So, back in a time when the dinosaurs roamed the earth… there was a prog band, with symphonic aspirations hailing from The Netherlands. They were active from 1972-1982 and released as many albums. They did re-form in 1999 and have released music since, but the media has not really paid as must attention as it should have…
“Seventeen” signifies their seventeenth studio album and without striving for insane complexity, it’s nicely layered sounds along, which range from pomp to circumstantial ambiance and placid soundscapes along with the outstanding and emotional vocals of Bart Schwertmann create a magic little world, from which escape is difficult… not that you’d want to escape the aural bliss that Kayak create anyway…
Opener “Somebody” quickly establishes its foothold with a nice symphonic Queen-esque riff – complete with nice multipart harmonies fluttering all around.
“Love, Sail Away” is piano ladden, with some accordions (or keys that mimic them) and is a ballad that gets pretty epic along the way.
“Cracks” employs both beautiful and atmospheric melodies as well as tons of vocals, to create a very typical 70s symphonic prog atmosphere that’s oh so perfectly recreated that you simply wish it never stopped and it’s a song that clocks above eight minutes already.
To An End” reminded me mildly of the epic pomp of Magnum, obviously a bit toned down, but still having the same majestic tone and lyricism about it.
What can one say about “La Peregrina” (roughly translates to the “Female Wanderer/Traveler”); it’s a self-contained symphony – easily the heavier piece on offer and a fantastic one at that.
“Falling” is another piano laced numbered that simply works due to its sublime harmony vocal work… sheer perfection.
“Feathers and Tar” begins with a squeaky riff and some pretty epic counterparts. Epic and prog – it just makes you wonder why people would rather try to stomach an overblown 2 hour epic by some heavyweights than simply look a little off the center of where the attention of the press might lie.
“Walk through Fire” has a touch more of the epic UK prog, of the era, that’s also been perpetuated by a handful of bands. Majestic keys and guitars lead it through fiery leads and straight into triumph as it reaches a climax past the ten minute mark.
“Ripples on the Water” is a fragile and poignant instrumental, that releases any tension that its predecessors on the album might have created in a cathartic solo and just feels oh so beautiful.

“All That I Want” comes out bright and pleasantly optimistic in tone, a poppy love song that is simple and to the point. What’s not to like?!
“X Marks the Spot”, which clocks a little under two minutes, is not an instrumental, a thought that did pass my mind before it started looking at its length, but a soft acoustic number that ponders about life’s treasures and feels like an easy way to introduce the albums last track…
“God on Our Side” a some-flamboyant, little folk, little big band, little swing, little bit of everything you could think off, really, piece that seems to sum up the album quite nicely, if not a little eccentrically.
Dreamlike, rich in melody and subliminally arranged, “Seventeen” doesn’t have to try hard to be likable that’s a given. And with not a single boring track, it’s not hard at all to call it a seminal prog album in the real sense of the word.
Fans of Magnum, Queen, Styx and a lot of UK prog of the 70s, will simply eargasm to no end. The rest might want to try and join in the fun.