❉ James R Turner dips into a new sampler of the ’70s Irish proggers.
One of Ulster’s premier progressive rock bands, Fruupp were formed in the late ‘60s, from the ashes of local blues bands (like so many prog acts of the time) and by 1973 were signed to PYE’s Dawn imprint. Between 1973 & 1975 they released 4 albums (Future Legends, Seven Secrets, the Prince of Heaven’s Eyes and Modern Masquerades) and became favourites on the progressive concert circuit, before disbanding in the mid 70’s, when their brand of music started to fall out of fashion.
There are a few things about this anthology that I’m not sure about. One is the fact that it doesn’t actually include any unreleased or missing tracks, so I’m not sure who it’s designed to appeal to, as Fruupp fans will have picked up either the remastered individual albums which were reissued by Esoteric a few years ago, or failing that (as both Modern Masquerade and Seven Secrets are no longer available on individual CDs) they’ll have picked up the clamshell box that was released towards the end of last year, with all four albums in a cardboard slipcase and retailing at a reasonable £21.99. Furthermore, if there’s any casual fans out there looking to discover the band, this best-of is around a tenner, but for all four of the bands albums you could spend the same again and have a full collection.
The album is compiled by and has sleeve notes from former manager and lyricist Paul Charles (interesting how, out of the tracks he could have chosen, he’s picked the ones up where he wrote the lyrics, out of four albums’ worth of material!), is big on details, if a tad one sided, and it would have been nice to have the input of the rest of the band to balance out the commentary and give us the full picture.
Still, those few misgivings aside you cannot deny the power of the music, and I continue to maintain the fact that out of all the underground ‘second division’ prog bands, Fruupp are one of those that should have been promoted in the ‘73/’74 season and joined their peers like Hawkwind, Tull or Yes on the bigger scene, and it’s a shame they fell through the gaps.
With a classic line-up of Vince McCusker on guitar and vocals, Peter Farrelly on bass, flute and lead vocals, Martyn Foye on drums, Stephen Houston on keys, oboes and vocals who was replaced by John Mason for their final album Modern Masquerades, Fruupp were a classically-influenced, traditionally progressive rock band.
With undoubted classics like Prince of Heaven, Sheba’s Song (sampled by hip-hop artist Talib Kweil on his track Soon the New Day), Janet Planet and Wise as Wisdom, this is a fantastic collection of great songs, performed by a musically tight band who had a great idea of where they wanted their music to go, and what they wanted to say, it’s just a shame that there are no lost sessions or unreleased live tracks that could bolster this collection.
I guess that this collection is designed to either sway floating voters or pick up those who can’t quite afford to buy the clamshell all Fruupp albums box.
This is a great selection of tracks from a classic, if forgotten, band, however I think as compilation based on previous releases, it’s superfluous and ultimately, I am unsure as to who this is aimed at.
❉ Fruupp: ‘Maid In Ireland – The Best Of Fruupp: Remastered CD Edition’ (Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2728) is released July 24, 2020 by Cherry Red Records, RRP £10.95. Click here to order directly from Cherry Red Records.
❉ James R. Turner is a music and media journalist. Over the last 25 years he has contributed to the Classic Rock Society magazine, BBC online, Albion Online, The Digital Fix, DPRP, Progarchy, ProgRadar and more. James’ debut book is out in September and he is head of PR for Bad Elephant Music. He lives in North Somerset with his fiancee Charlotte, their Westie Dilys & Ridgeback Freja, three cats and too many CDs, records & Blu-Rays.