Zeno - Zeno

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited October 13 in year-1986

image
ARTIST: Zeno
ALBUM: Zeno
LABEL: EMI/Parlophone
SERIAL: CDP 7-46270-2
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2004, MTM, 0681-117 * 2005, Z (EMI Japan), TOCP-67704

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Zeno Roth - all guitars, harmony vocals * Michael Flexig - lead and harmony vocals * Ule W Ritgen - bass, harmony vocals

Additional Musicians: Drums - Stuart Elliot, Chuck Burgi, Rudy Kae * Keyboards - Carl Marsh, Don Airey

TRACK LISTING: 01 Eastern Sun * 02 A Little More Love * 03 Love Will Live * 04 Signs On The Sky * 05 Far Away * 06 Emergency * 07 Don't Tell The Wind * 08 Heart On The Wing * 09 Circles Of Dawn * 10 Sent By Heaven * 11 Sunset

Background

An interesting chap this Zeno Roth, very mystical and spiritual, qualities I admire in a person, let alone a musician. It's a pity the record-buying public didn't cotton on to Zeno and his mystical qualities at the time of this release, as he could literally have become a legend in his own right.

His history goes back a way, following in the shadow of his elder brother Uli-Jon Roth, better known as the premier guitarist with The Scorpions (Mk1).

When Uli-Jon left them to form his own outfit Electric Sun, he recruited Zeno's good friend, bassist Ule Ritgen. By 1983/84, Zeno had secured a huge deal with EMI, one of the biggest ever at the time, an advance reputed to be 2 million pounds!

Electric Sun were about to release their third effort 'Beyond The Astral Skies' which included Ritgen and by this stage, singer Michael Flexig. Pretty soon, both would leave and hook up with Zeno, lured by the promise of bigger riches ahead.

The Songs

By 1986 the debut Zeno album was released, though it had been in the can since 1985. Zeno spared no expense in travelling the world to get the right 'sound'. No doubt, this is where all the EMI dollars went.

The album, is a mixture of Boston's melodic power and Queen's symphonic tapestries. An acquired taste for some, especially the vocals of Herr Flexig, but all in all, a nice slab of German melodic rock, if a bit inconsistent at times.

Surely though, excellent tracks like 'Love Will Live', with its simplistic anthemic style reminiscent of early Queen, plus 'Eastern Sun' (once we get past the oriental intro) are flagbearers for melodic rock.

Elsewhere, the mystical theme, with tracks such as 'Don't Tell The Wind', 'Heart On The Wing' and 'Sent By Heaven' don't quite carry it off. And therein lies the problem, a lot of promise and potential, but not quite hitting home for the buying public.

In Summary

Though the band toured during 1986 alongside contemporaries Keel, Krokus, Black Sabbath and Queen, the high mileage and accumulated air points did not equate to great sales unfortunately.

By 1988, Zeno had lost their EMI deal, and Flexig had moved on, replaced by Tommy Heart. In 1989, Zeno (the band) called it a day, with Ritgen and Heart going off to start up another GDM fave band: Fair Warning.

Interest was retweaked with Zeno during the 90's, especially in Japan. Subsequently, we saw the release of 'Zenology' (1995) and 'Listen To The Light' (1998).

I am a bigger fan of those Zeno albums to be honest (tracks such as the awesome 'Heat Of Emotion', plus most of his unreleased demos are in the collection too.

I could sit and write heaps about the man and his music. Suffice to say, my time would be better spent preaching to the unconverted. As mentioned earlier, it is an acquired taste, so you are forewarned. But if bands like Fair Warning or Dreamtide appeal, then you'll need to discover Zeno first. Eventually, you may well end up in the same position I am now, an admirer.


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Comments

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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
    edited October 13

    Have been listening to this album non-stop for a week now. Brilliant '80s-style AOR.

    Plenty of melodies, hooks and harmonies here, the high-pitched vocals of Mr. Flexig shine throughout, plus there's enough fire from the great late Zeno Roth on the guitar department and a keyboard fest courtesy of Don Airey. The sound the band achieved vindicates the (these days) lost art of music production.

    Side A of the original album is almost perfect to these ears. 'Emergency' is also a superb, catchy song.

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