Saturday, 16 April 2016

"Future Legends" by FRUUPP (2009 Esoteric Recordings CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...Day Breaks..." 

Hailing out of Northern and Southern Ireland’s notorious show-band circuit – Guitarist and Vocalist Vince McCusker of Co. Derry dreamed of bigger and better arrangements. So he turned his back on cover versions of insipid chart hits and formed his very own Progressive Rock unit delightfully called FRUUPP - taken from a Letraset Sheet that didn’t have the letters FRUP used (he added the extra U and P).

"Future Legends" is the first of four albums FRUUPP made for England’s Dawn Records – all of which are held in Proggy affection by those who bought the platters at the time or witnessed FRUUPP as a band in their impressive live form (they backed up huge bands like Supertramp, Queen, ELO, Man, Focus, Hawkwind and the Peter Gabriel line-up of Genesis). This CD reissue/remaster (47:25 minutes) gives us their debut album plus one very rare bonus track withdrawn from the album at the last minute. Here are the details for Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2104 (Barcode 5013929720428):

1. Future Legends
2. Decision
3. As Day Breaks With Dawn
4. Graveyard Epistle
5. Lord Of The Incubus [Side 2]
6. Olde Tyme Future
7. Song For A Thought
8. Future Legends
Tracks 1 to 8 are their debut album "Future Legends" – released October 1973 in the UK on Dawn Records DNLS 3053

BONUS TRACK:
9. On A Clear Day (Withdrawn Track only featured on the first 100 copies of the LP)
[Note: originally intended to be on the album as last track on Side 1 - the song uses a part of Holtz’s “The Planet Suite” which was not cleared in time for Copyright purposes (a relative of Holtz objected) and so had to be withdrawn at the very last minute and replaced with "Graveyard Epistle"]

FRUUPP were:
VINCENT McCUSKER – Guitars and Vocals
PETER FARRELLY – Bass and Lead Vocals
STEPHEN HOUSTON – Keyboards, Oboe and Vocals
MARTIN FOYE – Drums and Percussion

Organised and Co-ordinated by MARK POWELL - the 12-page booklet reproduces the beautiful hand-drawn gatefold artwork of Peter Farrelly (front and back pages) and the inner gatefold with its photos of the suitably serious longhaired musicians and their "tales of tomorrow" stories and lyrics. The affectionate, witty and highly informative liner notes are by PAUL CHARLES who was their "Manager and general fixer" at the beginning - and is today a published author of the Christy Kennedy mystery books (Charles in fact wrote the original liner notes for the LP). There’s some concert fliers, press clippings and tour schedule adverts – but the big news is a BEN WISEMAN remaster from original master tapes that brings out the dense playing of all eight Vince McCusker originals.

It opens with a gorgeous and beautifully produced string-piece that lasts 1:32 minutes. It then goes into the wild and eclectic guitars of one of their best tunes – the six and half-minute "Decisions" that features sophisticated vocal work ala Thijs Van Leer’s Focus and a blistering McCusker guitar solo similar in places to Steve Howe on "Relayer" (the band reckon they got signed on the strength of this one piece alone). The timing-changes onslaught continues with "As Day Breaks With Dawn" – a flirty piece dominated by cymbals and piano at first only to break into a vocal/guitar romp – and then back again to ethereal and mellow (the playing and cleverness of it is impressive). Side One ends with the frantic/slow/frantic "Graveyard Epistle" which sounds like Procol Harum on a couple tabs of acid – a very sophisticated piece actually.

We go a bit too Focus and "Trespass" on "Lord Of The Incubus" where Farrelly’s vocals aren’t quite Peter Gabriel even if the tune is good musically (especially the clever string arrangements). Better is the truly excellent Prog of "Olde Tyme Future" where guitar and organ blend to make a melody that would make Genesis proud. And on it goes to another all instrumental string passage of "Future Legends" that ends the album with its under-a-minute duration. And at last fans get to hear the withdrawn track "On A Clear Day" which runs to a crowd-pleasing 7:46 minutes – similar in fact to "Olde Tyme Future" in its composition (great double lead-guitar work half way in).

So there you have it – Hairy Ulstermen and Celtic Legends ahoy – FRUUPP were/are an acquired taste for sure. But if you were a fan – this fab-sounding CD remaster will remind you and your receding hairline why you loved em in the first place...

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