The Savage Rose “Savage Rose”

Savage Rose

This is one of the great rock albums from 1968. Denmark’s Savage Rose are one of the greatest European experimental, progressive bands with a career that successfully spans over 40 years. Legendary rock critic Lester Bangs ranted and raved over the Rose and lead singer Anisette’s stunning vocal approach. He once described the frightening, powerhouse lead singer: “Grace Slick at 78 RPM”; “Minnie Mouse on a belladonna jag” and claimed that the band’s early 70’s album Refugee alongside 71’s Who’s Next, were a reason to believe in the magic and life force of rock & roll.

The band was formed in 1967 by songwriters Thomas and Anders Koppel (keyboards, piano and harpsichord) and drummer Alex Riel. Their sound was organ/keyboard dominated but guitarist Flemming Ostermann lent a helping hand with some wonderful jazz influenced guitar licks. This stunning debut appeared a year later featuring 11 strong tracks straight from the streets of Demark. Incredible songs like A Girl I Once Knew, You’ll Be Alright and Open Air Shop are highlighted by Annisette’s wailing vocals but it’s the arrangements that are equally brilliant and a breath of fresh air. Some people refer to this disc as psychedelic but that’s not really the case as there are no whacked out studio sound effects, phased vocals, raga guitar solos and the like. Many of the songs are strongly influenced by European folk, jazz, classical and soul music though the organ playing occasionally delves into some trippy, underwater soundscapes. Other tracks like Sleep and You Be Free are beautiful, dreamy statements that drift away in a Euro haze but are equally as good as the more intense, hard rocking numbers.

This record is strong all over with impressive musicianship, excellent tracks, diversity and of course, great songwriting. It’s also worth noting that in recent years the band as well as Anisette’s vocal style have provided a major inspiration to many of the new folk and progressive artists. The Savage Rose’s first 8 albums are all worth getting but it’s In The Plain (68-), Your Daily Gift (71), Refugee (71), the progressive Dodens Triumf (72) and this fabulous debut that are considered great Euro rock classics.

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“Open Air Shop”

Below is a track from the Your Daily Gift album. Unfold deserves special attention because not only is it a great track but it shows the band taking in an experimental C&W influence. Anisette’s vocals sound weathered, wise, and fantastic and Unfold is also notable for a fine harpsichord intro.

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“Unfold”

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One Comment.

  • Stephen Ridley

    Dear Jason
    I enjoyed your perceptive review of the first Savage Rose album. It may be their best album……many of the melodies are so beautiful they can stand alongside anyone from Abba to Zappa. McCartney, Dylan ,Wilson and Newman included. You are right to moderate the use of the word psychedelic though things do go that way on their awesome second record In The Plain. How about a review of that slightly weird sounding record (in part due to the odd engineering/mixes perhaps). To use the word “mindblowing” really sounds like a dumb silly sixties pre Rolling Stone Magazine d.j. or journo but for anyone (even enlightened teenagers today happy exploring talented 60s bands) who can “get into” the likes of the Airplane, Its a Beautiful Day, Traffic etc then In The Plain is mostly genuinely exciting. My favorite SR album is Travellin’. At points they verge on pop songs (I’m Satisfied Mr. Captain) but there’s tons of awesome beauty and more than a liittle gravitas in songs like The Castle and Your Lifetimes A Fairytale.
    The kind of people reading this are probably open to bands new to them. Usually a newish friend may tell you about a band they love who are totally unique but when you finally listen it’s big disappointment. For sure they are unique but they have no……well….talent. Admittedly Annisette’s vocals can make Kate Bushe’s sound plain ordinary by comparison and some folk don’t get beyond it so maybe be a liitle patient.
    The band’s fame does rest on their first eight albums so start there! A large part of their work after that is not rock and instead ventures into …….well…avant guarde classical music, ice ballets for children, Palestinian freedom songs, modern cool chill groove songs and sometimes returns to rock. That’s all another thirty years of music and stories!
    I’m not the first person to consider them the most underrated group ever. Why that exactly should be is again another set of stories.
    Thanks again…… Steve.

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