Sounds Of Passion; The Album - The Demos 21st Anniversary Edition
Type: 2 CD
Genre: Progressive Rock
Catalog number: CDP-1086
Sounds Of Passion: The Album - The Demos
21st Anniversary Edition
The history of the Dutch group CODA dates back to the beginning of 1980, when Erik de Vroomen and Ton Strik, who both lived in the small Dutch town of Wijchen, first came into contact with each other. This was the start of a partnership, which would last for 16 years and would produce two legendary rock albums for the lovers of symphonic- and progressive rock music.
The most spectacular achievement of this period was, without doubt, the LP Sounds Of Passion, released by Boni Records in 1986 and still a much sought after album amongst sympho fans in the Netherlands and abroad. Before the LP first saw the light of day the group had, in 1983, made a demo-cassette with a different line-up than on the LP. The name CODA didn’t yet exist though; they called themselves Sequoia, but shortly afterwards they settled on CODA. You’ll find this interesting demo-performance of Sounds Of Passion in Chapter 2 of this deluxe 21st Anniversary Edition, so you can hear the growth and development, which the music has undergone. Even though the 31 minute epic on the demo-cassette gave a good impression of Erik de Vroomen’s artistic qualities they decided, to re-record the tape in a professional 24 track studio. After just seven rehearsals in a classroom at the music school in Wijchen – where Erik worked as a piano teacher – the group, consisting of Jacky van Tongeren (bass guitar), Mark Eshuis (drums and percussion), Jack Witjes (guitar and vocals) and Erik, went onto the MMP studio to record the LP Sounds Of Passion plus a number of extra tracks. You can find these extra tracks in Chapter 2 as well.
In June 1985 Ton Strik had the opportunity to play the studio recordings on Wim van Putten’s LP and CD show on the national pop music station, Radio 3. Ton is a great admirer of symphonic- and progressive rock music and had offered to finance the expensive studio recordings. Van Putten’s radio program, with music and interview, produced scores of positive and favorable reactions, which didn’t go unnoticed by two Dutch record companies: Dureco and Boni Records. In September 1986 Boni Records released the LP Sounds Of Passion, and the first pressing sold out within one week. The second pressing sold out within two weeks. Meanwhile the group made preparations for live performances, rehearsed with a second keyboard player (Frank Bieker), and gave the requisite radio interviews to promote the LP and the single, Sounds Of Passion (4th Movement - Final), taken from the LP. They even had plans to work live with projection screens, film, slides and ballet, directed by choreographer Chiquita Zonneveld. This didn’t, alas, get further than the planning stage, because this kind of show is too expensive without the financial backing and support of a major record company.
After about five year’s silence Ton Strik was approached by SI Music Records to release Sounds Of Passion on CD. The release, in 1991, was followed a year later by the CD-single Crazy Fool And Dreamer. Shortly after that, they inked a licensing deal in South Korea and in 1993 the Korean company Si-Wan Records released a CD and LP version (with gatefold sleeve) of Sounds Of Passion on the Asian market. Many copies of S.O.P. were sold in Japan and South Korea and for quite a while CODA was one of the best selling European symphonic bands. The worldwide demand for new CODA material was satisfied in 1996 with the release of a follow-up album for S.O.P. with the title What A Symphony, a release on the well-known Dutch high-quality label Transmission. This impressive second album effectively concluded CODA’s career. Although Erik de Vroomen made one fruitless attempt to record new material, it is highly unlikely that we will ever hear any new music by CODA. So enjoy this atmospheric deluxe 2-CD document with previously unreleased bonus material and the original master recording of Sounds Of Passion.
Duo Review; Dutch Progressive Rock Pages (dec. 31th, '07)
Leo Koperdraat's Review
In 1986, Sounds Of Passion, the debut album of Dutch band Coda was released, and now 21 years later a beautiful packaged 21st Anniversary 2CD Edition is released with a lot of extras.
In 1985 band manager Ton Strik was a guest in Wim van Putten's LP and CD Show, a radio programme on Dutch radio. Van Putten, an enthusiastic promoter of all things progressive, played two songs by this unsigned band. After that show the band got themselves a record deal and Sounds Of Passion was released. In the early Eighties we had seen a rise in popularity of progressive rock music with bands like IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Twelfth Night and of course Marillion. Coda, however, sounded totally different. Band leader Erik de Vroomen was fond of the old Seventies prog bands as well as classical music and Sounds Of Passion combined those two influences and it resulted in a highly ambitious sounding debut album. The first pressing of the album sold out within a week and the second pressing within two weeks. There were plans to perform the album live with projection screens, slides and even ballet, however, this proved to be too expensive, so after a promising start things started to go downhill and the name of Coda started to fade into obscurity and the album became a collector's item. In 1991 the album was re-released on CD by SI-Music and even got a release on CD in Japan and South Korea. In 1996 Erik de Vroomens' Coda released a second (and last) album, the even more ambitious What A Symphony, but after that release Coda disbanded.
On Sounds Of Passion Erik de Vroomen was accompanied by Jack Witjes on guitar and vocals, Jacky van Tongeren on fretless bass and backing vocals and Mark Eshuis on drums and percussion.
The majority of the album was taken up by the 29 minute (nearly all instrumental) title track that consisted of a prologue and four movements (with the original album, side one ended with the third movement and the track continued with the final part on side 2!). After a spoken word prologue (very badly pronounced English by the way) things get going with the first movement. It starts with a longish atmospheric keyboard part accompanied by rain, thunder and finally the rest of the band. A short drum solo leads us to the song's main theme. It's a beautiful theme. We are treated to some nice Moog, guitar and Hammond solos. Very progressive! The second movement starts with some nice acoustic guitar followed by a short but beautiful piano part. Earlier parts of the song reappear in different shapes and forms during this part. Very cleverly done. There's also some nice Mellotron (Novatron?) string work to be heard. The third movement relies heavily on the other guests of the album Pip van Steen on flute, piccolo and recorder and Auke de Haan on alto sax. It's a very moving part of the song which has a Camel feel to it. The tension however is built up during movement three. A short guitar solo gives way to Auke de Haans short appearance on alto sax. The fourth movement (final) starts with chanting monks, an owl and again some light rain and thunder. When a door shuts a mighty Church organ leads the way into the final part of the song. From that moment it's full on progressive rock till the end. Guitar solos and Moog solos galore. When you think you've had it all, that church organ reappears again for a solo accompanied by choirs! The sound of thunder, Mellotron choirs appear and someone shouts "to regain victory" and we are taken right back to the opening melody of the first movement. It really is an extraordinary composition.
When I was listening to the title track, The Enid was a name that sprung to mind a couple of times. But when I asked Erik de Vroomen this in 1986 he told me he had never heard one note by this band. It suffers a bit from some of the eighties sounds (those digital bells!) but it's a very dynamic song that doesn't feel like it's 29 minutes long. There is some great playing by all the band members. Erik de Vroomens love of classical music can be very much heard in this song. It's Sounds of Passion indeed.
The other two tracks of the album are no fillers either. These are the two songs that feature the nice voice of Jack Witjes. First up is the very UK sounding Crazy Fool and Dreamer. It's a very good song with an incredible progressive ending with a great guitar melody, choirs and bass pedals. Predictable, but very well done and it works. It certainly has some commercial charm. There's a single remix of the song included as a bonus with some new parts. The progressive ending is featured again fully which is why it probably never became a hit. The original album closes with the very strong Defended. Again, like with Crazy Fool and Dreamer it's verse, chorus, verse, chorus for the first half of the song but then again a very impressive progressive ending. The first CD ends with some single edits from parts 4 and 3 of Sounds of Passion a bass solo by Jacky van Tongeren (Central Station) and a sort of collage song (Reverberating Sounds).
The second CD starts with a demo version of Sounds of Passion from 1983 recorded under the name of Sequoia. The contours of the officially recorded composition are clearly there. After listening to this version it's also clear that a professional studio and an experienced co-producer (Jan Schuurman) make a big difference. The real surprises of this re-release are the other extras of this second CD. These are demo recordings made just before the recording of the album started. In between versions of Crazy Fool and Dreamer, Defended and Reverberating Sounds there are also four songs that would be part of the second Coda album What a Symphony from 1996. Now, I never liked that album. It was too ambitious, too digital and overproduced. It missed the warmth that Sounds of Passion did have. But these versions of The Proud Tower parts I and II and What a Symphony parts I and II are brilliant. Lots of great Hammond work, some excellent bass playing (especially on the Proud Tower part I), Moog solos, guitar solos and lots of mellotron (highlight are the strings solo parts on What a Symphony part I). What an excellent 30 minutes of prog rock!
What the exact reasons were why Coda never took off we will probably never know. In my opinion the album was released 15 years too late or 20 years too early. This 21st anniversary edition hopefully introduces a lot of (young) progressive rock fans to this underrated album by a very ambitious Dutch progressive rock band. Then hopefully Erik de Vroomen will call his old band mates, surround himself with Hammonds, Moogs and Mellotrons and starts to record again. According to the liner notes by Ton Strik there is not a lot of chance of that happening. But one can always hope.
Geoff Feakes' Review
The mid 80’s was without doubt a watershed period for prog. Many of the classic acts of the 70’s had by this point taken the AOR route in an endeavour to find a wider audience. To fill the void several new bands came onto the scene spearheaded by the so called neo-prog movement. Some excellent albums were released around this time demonstrating that there was still plenty of life in the old prog horse yet. One of the better releases was Sounds Of Passion, the 1986 debut by Dutch band Coda. Masterminded by multi-keyboardist Erik de Vroomen the album was distinctive for its marriage of progressive and classical musical styles. Nothing original there of course, the likes of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman had been doing the same thing back in the 1970’s. They however had tempered their classical leanings with comical elements possibly to distract from criticism that they were taking themselves too seriously. Erik on the other hand takes it all very seriously, which is to his credit and something he shares with The Enid bandleader Robert John Godfrey.
It was interesting to read in Leo's review that Erik had never heard The Enid when he produced this album because musically the likeness is very close. Like Robert John Godfrey he obviously has a passion for 19th century romantic classical music which comes through strongly in the title track. In addition to Camel and Steve Hackett’s solo work I was also reminded of the early Barclay James Harvest albums on the Harvest label. Not surprising I guess as the orchestral arrangements for these had also been provided by Godfrey. Clocking in at nearly 30 minutes the five part Sounds Of Passion includes grandiose sweeping gestures from an array of keyboards supported by the fluid guitar of Jack Witjes. String synths provide a suitably dense and rhapsodic backdrop contrasting with some monumental and memorable celestial organ parts. The guitar sings and weeps at appropriate moments in true Steve Hackett and Andy Latimer fashion. And at the risk of overstating a point I would also have to single out the dual playing of Francis Lickerish and Stephen Stewart on The Enid’s In The Region Of The Summer Stars as a comparison.
Jacky van Tongeren (bass) and Mark Eshuis (drums) have the unenviable task of providing the rhythm for this richly structured and complex work which they pull off in style. Eshuis adds some splendid percussive flourishes including tympani that are very much in keeping with the classical style. The other two songs on the original album Crazy Fool And Dreamer and Defended are in the more traditional prog vein but no less effective for that. The vocals, which are provided by guitarist Witjes, are for me the albums weakest element but in fairness they are sparingly used. Erik and his compatriots clearly know where their strengths lie, which they demonstrate to the full.
With the original album running at a little over 40 minutes this 21st Anniversary two CD set comes with a host of bonus material to complete disc one and the entire second disc. This includes single edits, remixes and demos which Leo describes in more detail in his review. If you missed out on Sounds Of Passion first time round, or like me have a vinyl version that’s seen better days, then this re-release should be close to the top of your shopping list for the new year.
LEO KOPERDRAAT: 8.5 out of 10
GEOFF FEAKES: 8.5 out of 10
CDP-1086 CODA - Sounds Of Passion: The Album - The Demos 21st Anniversary Edition
Chapter 1 - Sounds Of Passion: The Album
1. Sounds Of Passion 29.14
a. Prologue (2.17)
b. 1st movement (7.12)
c. 2nd movement (4.07)
d. 3rd movement (5.37)
e. 4th movement - final (9.59)
2. Crazy Fool And Dreamer 4.25 - Album Version
3. Defended 7.07
4. Sounds Of Passion 4th 4.43 - Single Version
5. Sounds Of Passion 3rd 2.28 - Single Version
6. Crazy Fool And Dreamer 4.24 - Single Remix
7. Central Station 2.06
8. Reverberating Sounds 4.03
Tracks 1-5: p 1986 Tracks 6-8: p 1992
Track 4: p 1986 previously unreleased Single Version
Chapter 2 - Sounds Of Passion: The Demos
1. Sounds Of Passion 31.25 Demo Version
a. Prologue (3.07)
b. 1st movement (7.33)
c. 2nd movement (4.06)
d. 3rd movement (6.53)
e. 4th movement (9.43)
2. Nevermore (The Proud Tower I) 4.25 - Demo Version
3. Dance In The Mirror (Defended) 6.53 - Demo Version
4. True Melody (The Proud Tower II) 3.19 - Demo Version
5. Crazy Fool And Dreamer 4.31 - Demo Version
6. What A Symphony (Part 1) 4.48 - Demo Version
7. What A Symphony (Part 2) 5.16 - Demo Version
8. Reverberating Sounds 2.52 - Demo Version
Track 1: p 1983 previously unreleased Demo Version,
recorded under the band name: SEQUOIA
Tracks 2 - 8: p 1984 previously unreleased Demo Versions
Tracks 1 - 8: Rough Mixes / Demo Sound Quality
REMASTERED IN THE 24-BIT DOMAIN FROM THE ORIGINAL MASTER TAPES