Saturday, 16 April 2016

"Modern Masquerades" by FRUUPP (2009 Esoteric Recordings 'Expanded' CD Remaster)- A Review by Mark Barry...



"...Misty Morning Way..."

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 (formerly with Blues Of Five). 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).

"Modern Masquerades" is the fourth 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 acts like Supertramp, Queen, ELO, Man, Focus, Hawkwind and the Peter Gabriel line-up of Genesis).

This February 2009 CD reissue/remaster of "Modern Masquerades" by FRUUPP on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2105 (Barcode 5013929720527) gives us their 7-track fourth album (no bonus sides) with a 12-page booklet. This CD reissue is also available digitally at losttunes.com. Here are the knapsack details (48:59 minutes):

1. Misty Mountain Way
2. Masquerading With Dawn
3. Gormenghast
4. Mystery Might [Side 2]
5. Why
6. Janet Planet
7. Sheba’s Song
Tracks 1 to 7 are their 4th studio album "Modern Masquerades" – released February 1975 in the UK on Dawn Records DNLS 3070.

FRUUPP were:
VINCENT McCUSKER – Lead Guitars and Vocals
PETER FARRELLY – Bass and Lead Vocals
JOHN MASON – Keyboards, Vibraphone and Vocals
IAN McDONALD – Alto Saxophone and Percussion
MARTIN FOYE – Drums and Percussion

Organised and Co-ordinated by MARK POWELL - the 12-page booklet reproduces the album’s lyric insert and has affectionate, witty and highly informative liner notes 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). Charles continues the FRUUPP story from the previous three CDs (Part 4) and there’s some concert fliers/posters, greeting cards, gig lists and press clippings – as well as Charles’ near-death experience in a London flat when a fire evaporated the band’s next album and all his possessions (McCusker saved his life as he clung on to the window ledge). But the big news is a BEN WISEMAN remaster from original master tapes that brings out the dense playing of all seven originals.

With Stephen Houston having exited the band (he features on the first three albums mentioned below) – his replacement John Mason (rather like Patrick Moraz in Yes) made himself known to the music pretty quickly. It opens with "Misty Mountain Way” - 6:57 minutes of beautifully produced Prog Rock by Vincent McCusker which shows Mason's incredible playing chops and then progresses into his equally accomplished 7:16 minutes of “Masquerading With Dawn”. Like so much of their stuff – the long FRUUPP songs come at you like YES circa 1971's "Fragile" or GENESIS around 1972’s "Foxtrot" (the musicianship is fantastic). Side 1 ends on the monumental "Gormenghast" written by John Mason - at just shy of eleven minutes – its a mishmash of wild keyboards flourishes and choppy breaks (very impressive stuff and a real grower). Yet again Vince McCusker provided the next two – “Mystery Night” and “Why” - while he co-wrote the final selections of “Janet Planet” and “Sheba's Song” with Paul Charles. I’m also reminded of “Focus III” with those strangulated vocals and shifting rhythms – but in a good way.

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...

PS: see also reviews for their debut “Future Legends”, “Seven Secrets” (their 2nd album) and “The Prince Of Heaven’s Eyes” (their 3rd album)...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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