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On disc: Saracen

Marilyn - Claudia Ehrhardt - 7 stars


(Escape Music - 2011)

Saracen started as Lammergier in the mid-70's, in the early 80's renamed and since that time they released a couple of albums. The last one was Vox In Excelso in 2006. Now they present a concept album about Marilyn Monroe, dealing with her life before she became famous and her untimely death.

The opening track The Girl: Norma Jeane kicks off with kids screaming and then saxophone, Saracen hired Snake Davis for this job. Due to the melancholy of the saxophone the keyboard-laden passages get a strong counter part which takes off the bombastic edge. After the instrumental they continue with The Orphan: Wither The Wind Blows which sounds a bit like Uriah Heep... At The Dreamer: Hold On they present the first guest singer, Issa. This time you get a slow, melancholy tune with acoustic guitar and saxophone. Then they speed up and present a melodic rocker called The Model: Make This Body Work where Robin Beck is taking over the role of Marilyn Monroe. After the rocker they present The Actress: Who Am I? which is sung by FM's Steve Overland and Robin Beck. First a power ballad, then a powerful melodic rocker. At The Wife: Love Like A Razorblade Saracen singer Steve Bettney takes over again. The slow 70's rock tune offers Hammond organ sounds combined with bluesy guitar play. For The Patient: Break The Spell they speed up a little, the memorable guitar play makes this one stick out. But not enough to make it an ear catcher. More acoustic guitar you get with The Mistress: Not For Sure, another song which is sung by Robin Beck. Personally I find her vocal performance a bit too dramatic... Same with the next in line, The Forsaken: Feel Like Going Home, another song Robin Beck did sing. Spoken words lead into The Witness: Unfinished Life, taken from a JFK speech - parts of his address to ANPA in 1961, I think.... The song also has embedded CBS news about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and so this song creates different atmospheres... A heavy rocker, only Steve Bettney's performance can't convince me. And they close the track with a bit of a news comment about the tragic event in Dallas. The closer is called Marilyn and is another powerful rocker with Robin Back on vocals. The slower passages where the vocals are accompanied by keyboard are quite emotional, just to lead over into a bombastic rock part.

Saracen stick to the 70's rock / early 80's hard rock sound without trying to add some sounds of time Marilyn Monroe lived. To be honest I think that Issa's performance is fitting much better to the tunes and I wish she would have done the main part of the female vocals.... But as always it's a matter of taste. It's a decent album, but I think they could have made more out of the story...

7 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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