Kayak – Seventeen


Will this float your boat?

Released by Inside Out Music on 12 January 2018 and reviewed by Andrew Manning

A career spanning 45 years and the release of album number 17 is impressive by any standards. But who are Kayak? Well their career started out in the Netherlands back in 1972 and it must be said that they have had a very low profile across our fair and pleasant land since keyboard player Ton Scherpenzeel and drummer Pim Koopman struck up a friendship in their early teens after meeting at a local volley ball club and formed the band. Visits to the UK have been very sparse with one tour back in 1977 when they played at the Birmingham Hippodrome on a bill featuring Jan Akkerman (Focus). Does anyone remember this? Probably not!

During the 70’s they did have a series of successful albums and hit singles in their homeland along with prestigious support slots with ELO and Queen. They were on the verge of an international breakthrough in 1977 when the single ‘Want you to be Mine’, from Starlight Dancer achieved chart success in the U.S, peaking at #55 in the Billboard Charts. They were even voted Most Promising Band of the Year by the influential American music magazine Record World. But career progression faded out across the world before it had really begun and success was eventually limited to their home territory where they remain one of Holland’s most successful progressive rock bands.

Original member Ton Scherpenzeel has recently gone back to the drawing board, after numerous personnel changes over the years, and found both the energy and enthusiasm to form a new band under the Kayak moniker. This has resulted in the album Seventeen and there are no prizes for guessing the inspiration for the album title.

And what a great contrast we get. A mixture of shorter melodic rock pieces alongside some lengthier progressive rock compositions. ‘Somebody’ sets the scene nicely with a catchy chorus and is spot on for a short opening track to introduce us to the vocals of new singer Bart Schwertmann. This is on a par with some of Foreigner’s early output.

‘La Peregrina’ follows and this epic track is the longest on the album clocking in at 11 minutes. A real absorbing piece which all lovers of progressive music will find delight at with the sweeping time changes. Plenty of symphonic guitar and keyboards which at times gives way to some beautiful mellow piano segments.

Its then back to a couple of shorter pieces, ‘Falling’ and ‘Feathers and Tar’ which could both sit very well in a rock opera. Strong memorable songs which will sound great in the live arena.

Tempo changes and different atmospherics are in abundance on the next longer symphonic track ‘Walk through Fire’. New guitar player Marcel Signor shows versatility on this track, with great feel and melody.

Camel’s Andy Latimer makes a surprise appearance on ‘Ripples on the Water’. A wonderful instrumental piece which starts off with a delicately played acoustic passage before finishing with some fine electric guitar playing.

The AOR sound returns on the Journey sounding ‘All that I Want’ before ‘X Marks the Spot’ which is an acoustic ballad sung very much in the style of Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep). Rock operatics return with ‘God on our Side’ and ‘Love, Sail Away’.

‘Cracks’ is the final epic track with all the drama and turbulence you would expect from a Prog band. A well crafted number with passages of emotional change displayed throughout.

Bringing the album to a close is the intimate ballad ‘To an End’.

Overall Seventeen is a very fine piece of work with a nice balance of commercial melodic and progressive rock music. It is now time to start the education of looking into the back catalogue.

In the live environment the band will be joined by new bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw (ex Pain of Salvation, Neal Morse Band) and drummer Colin Leiijenaar (Neal Morse band). There are no current plans to visit the UK but if they do then they will be well worth checking out.

Kayak – SeventeenTrack list:

  1. Somebody
  2. La Peregrina
  3. Falling
  4. Feathers And Tar
  5. Walk Through Fire
  6. Ripples On The Water
  7. All That I Want
  8. X Marks The Spot
  9. God On Our Side
  10. Love, Sail Away
  11. Cracks
  12. To An End