Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ragnarok - Selftitled (1975)

(New Zealand 1974 - 1979)
Ragnarok (which means 'twilight of the gods') were formed in Auckland in 1974, out of the remnants of breweries band Sweet Feet. Andre, Ross and Mark were originally from Christchurch, where they were together in a three piece called Flying Wild at the beginning of the seventies. They then formed Sweet Feet and moved to Auckland, where they played the pub circuit. In 1974 they disbanded this group, and it was at that point they met up with Ramon York and Lea Maalfrid.
Applying glitter, dressing loud and developing a song list of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Yes, they formed Ragnarok. They quickly established themselves as being the ultimate acid band of the mid-seventies. They were right into synthesizers, where their instruments featured guitar synthesizers, keyboard synthesizers and mellotron. They all shared the vocals, but were also very fortunate to have one of the finest female vocalists around at the time, Lea Maalfrid, as a member of the group (see pictured right).
During 1974 they had a residency at Granny's and also appeared regularly at the 'Buck-a-Head' concerts, that saw them as popular as Split Enz and Dragon. In January 1975, Tommy Adderley closed Granny's for renovations, and when he re-opened it two months later as Granny's Rock Palace, he decided not to run with resident bands. This left the group without a regular place to play, so they decided to take to the road and toured the country extensively. They became one of the countries top draw-cards during 1975, particularly in the South Island and the provinces.
In August 1975, they released a self-titled album on Revolution, that they had recorded at Eldred Stebbing's new 16-track studio. It sold reasonably well and from it came two singles, "Fenris"/"Fire In The Sky" and "Cavier Queen"/"Born To Wander". "Fenris" provided them with a minor hit that made the bottom reaches of the charts.

At the end of 1975, Lea Maalfrid left the group to turn solo. She released one single on Atlantic in 1977 called "Pleasure Machine" / "Lavender Mountain", before leaving for Sydney in June 1978, and then later moving to Los Angeles and London, where she gained international recognition as a songwriter. For a more recent photo of Lea, see this brilliant photo by David Roberts.
Ragnarok continued on without Lea, and in 1976 they released a second album called "Nooks" and a single from the album, "Five New Years"/"The Fourteenth Knock".
In December 1976, Ragnarok appeared at a one-day festival at Waikino. Other headlining acts included the Country Flyers, Rockinghorse, Hello Sailor and Th' Dudes. By this time though, Ragnarok's cosmic rock was definitely out of favour, and their support was now wholly confined to the provinces. They had even tried a self-promoted national tour of theatres to promote their second album, but this was a failure, and the group disappeared to the east-coast of New Zealand before disbanding in 1979. Mark Jayet later went on to join Moviez, a Christchurch based pop group. [extract from New Zealand Music of the 60's, 70's and a bit of 80's]

For more recent information on Lea Maalfrid, see the following article in the New Zealand Musician
This is an amazing debut album from an incredibly talented progressive rock band. The only way I can describe Ragnarok is to compare them to German bands such as Eloy and Jane, with heavy Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis influences. Most tracks are instrumentals, however Lea Maalfrid's vocals help take their music to a different level. It is hard to say which tracks are my favourite as they are all exceptional, but the highlight would definitely be the medley on the B-Side: Raga, Caviar Queen and Dream. If you like synths, mellotrons, violins and slick bass / guitar riffs then you are really going to enjoy this lost gem.
The rip was taken from vinyl at 256kps and includes full LP album artwork. There are a few pops and crackles at times, but over all this is the best rip I have been able to find (thanks to Electric Flower).
Track Listing
01 - Fenris
02 - Butterfly Sky
03 - Fire In The Sky

04 - Rainbow Bridge
05 - Raga

06 - Caviar Queen
07 - Dream
08 - Dawning Horn

.Band members:
Lea Maalfrid (Vocals)
Andre Jayet (Drums/Synthesiser/Mellotron /Vocals)

Ross Muir (Bass Guitar/Synthesiser/Vocals)
Mark Jayet (Drums/Percussion/Vocals)

Ramon York (Synthesized Guitar/Vocals)

Ragnarok Link (78Mb) New Link 30/09/2013

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