Kayak: Out Of This World-2021.

Kayak:Proggressive Rock from Netherlands.

Founded in 1972 in Hilversum, Netherlands – Disbanded in 1982 – Reformed in 1999 (still active as of 2017)

KAYAK is a Dutch band, originating from the early seventies. The band began as a symphonic progressive rock act with an emphasis in songwriting, but from 1977 on KAYAK changed direction moving into crossover territories. KAYAK revived in the 21st century, recording new albums and touring again.

The original line-up of KAYAK was quite strange. Most members were trained musicians at the conservatoriums of Holland. Max WERNER was a professional drummer that had to sing and Pim KOOPMAN was a professional piano-player that had to play the drums (which actually was his true love). Luckily Ton SCHERPENZEEL was able to play on the keyboards, which was his profession. Later on, from 1977, Pim KOOPMAN left the band and Max WERNER became the drummer. A long-time fan, Edward REEKERS became the new vocalist.

Their debut “See See The Sun” (1973) is often seen as their biggest contribution to the symphonic prog genre. Their mix of naïve, but very melodic symphonic songs is attractive and evokes early GENESIS, YES and some have mentioned SUPERTRAMP (which I never fully understood). KAYAK has two main composers, Ton SCHERPENZEEL and Pim KOOPMAN. The typical classical influenced style of SCHERPENZEEL remained recognizable throughout KAYAK’s long career. The vocals of Max WERNER (’73-’77) are very distinctive because of his high-pitched voice that has a powerful strength-through-weakness appeal. KAYAK used many of the recognizable symphonic prog key-instruments, such as Moog and Mellotron. KAYAK’s second album in 1974 was a good continuation of KAYAK’s melodic/symphonic prog style, but it had a bigger focus on long compositions which was profitable for the music. “Royal Bed Bouncer” (1975) continued this course, whilst “The Last Encore” (1976) has a distinctive atmosphere with lots of great progressive songs that were perhaps the most original the band created in their progressive period. The first four albums of KAYAK are recommended to fans of the symphonic progressive rock genre.

After this the band wanted to have better sales and changed direction in to pop-territories with “Starlight Dancer” (1977), which only had the title track as a progressive song. The 1979 album “Phantom of the Night” became the biggest hit in the charts, but in the beginning of the eighties they disbanded after making their last progressive effort; the 1981 semi-prog/semi-pop “Merlin”. Though KAYAK had made seven albums at this point, it’s members had never seen a penny earned by it.

In the new millennium KAYAK was resurrected from a twenty years pause and came back with the strong symphonic crossover album “Into the Fire” (2000) with again Max WERNER on vocals. After the mixed bag “Night Vision” (2001) (with new vocalist Bert HEERINK of VANDENBERG fame) the band re-invented itself with a prestigious mediaeval/symphonic concept album called “Merlin – Bard of the Unseen” with assistance of real orchestrations and female vocals by the amazing Cindy OUDSHOORN. New guitarist Joost VERGOOSSEN also turned out to be a great addition to the already great guitars of Rob VUNDERINK. VUNDERINK was called “the secret weapon” of the band, because of powerful backing vocals – if not his part in lead vocals on KAYAK’s rock-operas and live shows. The “Merlin – Bard of the Unseen” album is the most attractive KAYAK album of 21st century for fans of the progressive genre.

After that “Nostradamus – Fate of Man”, their second rock-opera, saw daylight. In 2008 the band again changed direction and recorded the conventional symphonic rock album “Coming Up for Air”. This time Edward REEKERS returned for vocal duties (before he had been replacement during the Merlin and Nostradamus theatre tours). He had to share his place as a vocalist with Cindy OUDSHOORN, whose performance on the “Merlin” album and tour was very well-received by fans of the band. After that “Letters from Utopia”(2009) was released with the same line-up. A big tour was planned to celebrate this brand-new 2CD album, but as a total surprise drummer/pianist/composer Pim KOOPMAN died. Since then KAYAK paused, not knowing how to deal with the much missed KAYAK pillar that was KOOPMAN. In the end of 2010 they found a new drummer and the band has decided to continue.

In 2010 there was a Pim KOOPMAN Tribute concert in Amsterdam’s Paradiso hall, exactly (save one day) a year after his passing. KAYAK played a special set with guest artists or band members that Pim had worked with in the past as a producer and songwriter. Pim’s place as a drummer that night was taken by Hans EIJKENAAR. A few weeks after the concert KAYAK announced their intent to continue as a band with Hans as Pim’s successor on drums. In 2011 the tribute concert DVD of the Paradiso concert in honour of Pim was released, along with a new album ‘Anywhere But Here’ in September of that year. Hans not only took Pim’s place behind the drum kit, but also mixed the new album. From October to December a re-energized KAYAK embarked on a club tour to promote the album.

In 2012, to celebrate their 40th anniversary, KAYAK embarked on a club tour called ‘Journey Through Time’. Due to his many other musical commitments, Hans EIJKENAAR was not available for the whole tour, and was replaced by Sjoerd RUTTEN for some of the concerts. The band released a special maxi-single with a previously unreleased track (‘Symmetry’, dating back to 1971) and a new song ‘Cleopatra – The Crown of Isis.’ Plans were announced for a new, ambitious rock opera about the life of the legendary Egyptian queen Cleopatra.

In 2014, after a period of over two years preparing and recording, the new rock opera was finally released. The double album was financed partly by a crowdfunding campaign. The CD featured several guest vocalists: Martin van der STARRE, Alexander van BREEMAN, Marjolein TEEPEN (who had been part of the Nostradamus cast in 2005) and Greek singer Tatiana MANOLIDOU.

To everyone’s surprise singers Cindy OUDSHORN and Edward REEKERS announced that they would leave KAYAK after the last gig in 2014. The news came only a few weeks before the release of the album and the upcoming club tour, but in March 2015 KAYAK (Ton SCHERPENZEEL, Rob VUNDERINK, Joost VERGOOSSEN, Jan van OLFFEN and Sjoerd RUTTEN (replacing Hans EIJKENAAR) & guests (in particular Marjolein TEEPEN and Rolf KOSTER, who replaced Cindy and Edward) performed the rock opera at a special outside event on the Dutch island of Texel.

In March of 2017, Ton SCHERPENZEEL introduced two new band members – singer Bart SCHWERTMANN and guitarist Marcel SINGOR – who, along with himself, would become the band’s creative core. It had become apparent that nobody from the most recent line up would return – except for Ton himself, of course. This meant the most radical line up transformation in KAYAK’s long history, quite a remarkable feat after so many years. KAYAK’s live line up was eventually completed by the addition of Swedish bass player Kristoffer GILDENLÖW (ex PAIN OF SALVATION), and drummer Collin LEIJENAAR (AFFECTOR, NEAL MORSE, DAVE BAINBRIDGE). Kris and Collin had already played together before in Neal MORSE’s band.

In July 2017 KAYAK found a new management (Glassville Music) and signed a worldwide deal with Inside Out Music, and although it had originally been announced for October 2017, the latest KAYAK album ‘Seventeen’ was officially released by them on January 12th 2018. The new album featured a guest appearance by Andy LATIMER (CAMEL) on guitar, and a reborn KAYAK once again proved that the band’s name – though chosen randomly back in 1972 – was still as appropriate as ever. Just when everyone expected the boat to sink, it miraculously resurfaced and sailed on!

Biography written by Friso, edited by Ian Cownie and expanded by Yam Yam (May 2018).

Discography:

Studio albums

Compilations

  • “Ruthless Queen”/ “Keep the Change” (singles) (limited edition vinyl) (2020)

Live albums

  • Eyewitness (1981) (live album)
  • Chance for a Livetime (2001) (double CD)
  • Kayakoustic (2007)
  • The Anniversary Concert (2008) (double CD + ‘Highlights’ DVD)
  • The Anniversary Box (2008) (4 CD + DVD)
  • Live 2019 (2020) (Double CD)

Box sets

  • Journey Through Time (2017)[3]

UK and US singles

  • “Wintertime” / “Serenades” (UK, 1974)
  • “We Are Not Amused” / “Give It a Name” (UK, 1974)
  • “I Want You To Be Mine” / “Irene” (US, 1978)
  • “Keep the Change” / “Ivory Dance” (US, 1979)
  • “Periscope Life” / “Stop That Song” (US, 1980).

Members:

Current membersTon Scherpenzeel – keyboards, backing vocals, bass (1972-1982, 1999–present)Bart Schwertmann – vocals (2017–present)Marcel Singor – guitars, vocals (2017–present)Kristoffer Gildenlöw – bass (2017–present)Hans Eijkenaar – drums (2009-2016, 2018–present)Former membersMax Werner – vocals (1972-1978, 1999-2000), drums (1978-1982)Johan Slager – guitars, backing vocals (1972-1982)Pim Koopman – drums, vocals (1972-1976, 1999–2009; died 2009)Cees van Leeuwen – bass (1972-1975)Bert Veldkamp – bass, backing vocals (1975-1976, 1999-2005)Theo de Jong – bass (1976-1978)Edward Reekers – vocals (1978-1982, 2003, 2005-2014)Charles Schouten – drums (1976-1978)Peter Scherpenzeel – bass (1978-1982)Irene Linders – backing vocals, lyrics (1978-1981)Katherine Lapthorn – backing vocals (1978-1981)Rob Winter – guitars (1999-2003)Bert Heerink – vocals (2000-2005)Cindy Oudshoorn – vocals (2003-2014)Monique van der Ster – vocals (2005)Rob Vunderink – guitars, vocals (2001-2016)Joost Vergoossen – guitars (2003-2016)Jan van Olffen – bass (2005-2016)

One thought on “Kayak: Out Of This World-2021.

  1. Out of This World
    Kayak Crossover Prog
    Review by Kev Rowland.

    4 stars It is strange to think that soon we will be coming to Kayak’s 50th anniversary, an achievement for any band. Of course, there have been multiple line-up changes over the years, plus the band has had breaks, but the current five-man line-up stands proudly when looking back over their achievements. Of course, at the heart of it is all is Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards, lead & backing vocals), the founder who has kept it going all these years. Drummer Hans Eijkenaar joined in 2010 before leaving and then rejoining recently, while the others all joined when Ton reset the band after 2014’s ‘Cleopatra ‘ The Crown of Isis’. They are of course Bart Schwertmann (lead & backing vocals), Marcel Singor (guitar, lead & backing vocals) and Kristoffer Gildenl’w (bass, lead & backing vocals). Yes, there are a lot of singers on here, and while Schwertmann can be heard on most of the tracks, Marcel Singor takes lead on three, while Kristoffer Gildenl’w and Ton Scherpenzeel have one each. On top of that, drummer Hans Eijkenaar debuts as composer, working with Ton to write the music of ‘Traitor’s Gate’ while the rest of the album was written by the band leader alone.
    This is not a band using a name to get some publicity, but instead are showing they are standing on the shoulders of giants as they continue to thrive and deliver an album which is a delight from beginning to end. This is not some geriatric outfit with nothing to offer who are still surviving on loyalties built from music in the past, but have produced an album which is exciting, inventive, immediate and an awful lot of fun. There is a mix between different styles, some more commercial than others, and the result is something which any proghead will enjoy the very first time they play it and will continue to gain more as they repeat. There is some tasteful guitar here and there, while Ton is of course a wonderful in- demand keyboard player, here providing both swathes as backdrops or taking leads, while the drums set the foundation and of course multi-instrumentalist Gildenl’w is always there to add to some finesse.

    It is a highly polished release, full of crossover elements which sees it bring in some pop as well as some symphonic, and it is nice to listen to an album which is just so easy to enjoy and not have to work at. Let’s hope they have more in them yet as this is not the sound of a band ready to retire.

    Like

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