written by: Nigel Camilleri
Published: December 2004
A Brief History
Eden Rose may not be the most well known band in French progressive rock history, yet they were an important stepping stone in the evolution of another band, Sandrose, who are considered as one of the most important French progressive rock bands from the early seventies.
The coming together of Eden Rose seems to have been the formation of a band after advice given to a trio of musicians to team up with guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen. This advice was given by the artistic director of record label, Katema and the trio consisted of Henri Garella (keyboards), Michel Jullien (drums) and Christian Clairefond (bass). These musicians had already gained experience playing in the backing bands for various artists such as Claude Francois and Guy Mardel as well as within the pop orchestra Age Tendre Et TÍte De Bois and the band Les Golden. Alarcen on the other hand had gained experience playing with Jacques Dutronc and Le Systeme Crapoutchik.
Alarcen immediately blended in perfectly within the band and Eden Rose was born. By the time he had joined the band, the trio had already released the single Travelling/Under the Sun (Katema 45.512; 1970) which was devoid of guitars and featured just keyboards, bass and drums.
By March 1970 work had begun on the band's first album with most of their recordings being done live at 10 Washington Street. However, the band fell out with the producer and had no say say the final stages of the album.
On the Way To Eden (Katema 33.507, 1970) was released on the Katema label in 1970 with distribution by Sonopress. As regards sales, of the album, these are rather hazy. Supposedly the album must have been relatively successful because they toured heavily to promote the album which even had the single Travelling used as a soundtrack for a television show. However, that was the age when musicians had little access to royalties! The end result was the split of Eden Rose.
Alarcen went on to form Sandrose (another Forgotten Sons story!) together with Henri Garella and Michel Jullien. Garella would go on to join the backing band of France Gall and then move into work as a session musician. Jullien has played in the backing band of diverse artists such as Gilbert Becaud, and Stone & Charden as well as played jazz with luminaries such as Michel Petrucciani and Ted Curson. Alarcen on the other hand released a three solo albums, also in a progressive rock vein as well as worked with diverse artists such as Jacques Dutronc, Louis Chedid and Geoffrey Oryema.
Albums reviewed here are:
Eden Rose - On the Way To Eden
Tracklist: On The Way To Eden (5:09), Faster And Faster (3:05), Sad Dream (4:09), Obsession (4:24), Feeling In The Living (4:19), Travelling (3:26), Walking In The Sea (5:29), Reinyet Number (4:34), Under The Sun (2:30) (Bonus Track)
Under The Sun was not featured on the original album but was the B-side to the single Travelling
Musicians: Jean-Pierre Alarcen (guitar), Henri Garella (keyboards), Michel Jullien (drums), Christian Clairefond (bass))
All tracks were composed by Henri Garella. The album was recorded in Paris (Seine, France) at the studio located at 10 Washington Street in March 1970.
Produced by Katema
Artistic direction by Richard Gachner
For starters one should stress the fact that On the Way To Eden is an instrumental album which has its main focal point the Hammond organ which immediately gives away the period when this album was recorded. Bands termed as proto-progressive such as Procol Harum had pushed this unmistakeable sound forward and Eden Rose, though not very similar to Procol Harum could be coined as such a band. However, they seem to do away with complexities and go straight for the jugular delivering their various tunes in short sharp pieces. At times the music sounds too
cliche and almost kitsch-like in nature - yet most of the times it works.
The pieces are well executed, so much so that at times one tends to feel that he has heard some of the tunes beforehand. However, one could split the tracks into two distinctive sections. There are those pieces that have a languid feel with the key tune being played out over and over again - literally ramming it down your throat. These are the pieces, such as the opener On the Way To Eden and Walking In The Sea, that somehow do not do it for me. However there are some cleverly crafted works on this album that definitely deserve a mention.
Faster And Faster, as its name implies is a well paced piece that has the Hammond and guitar really jostling for the frontline, exchanging licks in between the occasional bass run. Sad Dream is the complete opposite of Faster And Faster. Opening with the theme to children's tune Frere Jacques, this piece is possibly the closest the band get to Procol Harum with the Hammond set to the background as the piano and guitar come forward with plaintive solos, giving the album one of the more dramatic pieces. You could see this piece placed in the soundtrack of one of those tear-jerker films!
Pieces like Obsession, Feeling In the Living and the album single Travelling are the reasons why this album is indeed a gem of a release. Here the band seem to let loose playing in a controlled frenzy allowing the various members to express themselves within a concise time frame revolving round a clear melody line. The more I hear these pieces, the more I feel that should this band have had a quality vocalists, they could have gone places. Also featured on On The Way To Eden is the B-side of the only single released by Eden Rose, Under The Sun, which is one of the more psychedelic pieces on the album.
Musea have managed (once again!) to unearth a true Forgotten Son. "On The Way To Eden" is not one of those masterpieces that is a must have for progressive rock fans and one has to admit that the music sounds very dated. On the other hand it is an interesting look into the way progressive rock evolved, and indeed how Sandrose came to be.
There is no official Eden Rose website yet. The only information found related to Eden Rose was acquired from the album liner notes which were written by Yves Javier. Should you have any further information regarding Eden Rose that could be added to this page, do not hesitate to contact me using the link above.