Eric Scott | Bloomington, California USA | 10/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After God knows how many years, "Spartacus" is finally available on CD!! And about time, too. Triumvirat generated a number of classic albums in the '70s, but this one clearly stands head and shoulders above the rest of their work (although "Illusions on a Double Dimple" is a very close second). The concept behind "Spartacus" is strong, the lyrics work well, and the musicianship is absolutely unstoppable. "Capitol of Power", "School of Instant Pain", "The Burning Sword of Capua", and "The March to the Eternal City" are each signally powerful and energetic numbers, while "The Deadly Dream of Freedom" offers a smoothly lyric break from the hurly burly. And the finale, "Spartacus", simply has to be heard to be believed ... wow!Of course, Triumvirat still bears an inescapable resemblance to Emerson, Lake & Palmer ... but that's not a bad thing at all, and fans of the latter group should run screaming to their computer keyboards to order "Spartacus".It would be lovely if the EMI folks would hunt up some old tapes from some live performances ... !"
Spartacus: Free At Last!
bostonears | Lincoln, MA United States | 10/18/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a teenager in the 1970's, this was absolutely one of my favorite LP records (remember those?). I practically wore out the groove in the vinyl playing it so often. Then in 1985, I bought my first CD player and gave away the turntable, and I've been waiting for the CD release of Spartacus ever since. Now that it's here, I have finally gotten another long-awaited fix of Spartacus. To my pleasant surprise, the audio quality of the CD remastering is quite good. Kudo's to EMI for doing it right.
The album concept is excellent. The lyrics are appropriate for the theme. (A gladiator/slave revolt is a gory matter, so this ain't no namby-pamby New Age disc.) And the musicianship is fabulous. On the LP, Juergen Fritz's keyboard work was always spectacular, and the incredible groove of Helmut Koellen's bass line on "March To The Eternal City" was instantly addictive to anyone who'd heard it. (This was THE bass demonstration song back in the '70's.) But on the CD, Hans Bathelt's drumming is what really stands out to me now. It's far more intricate and exiciting than that of most other rock and roll drummers, then or now.
The two bonus tracks on the CD aren't of much added value IMHO. The live version of "The Capital of Power" is almost a note-for-note duplicate of the studio version, so why bother? And the previously unreleased "Showstopper" sounds like an outtake from EL&P's "Karn Evil 9" suite.
The only reason I didn't give this one a 5-star rating is that Fritz's primitive Moog synthesizer, which is prominent in many of the tunes, just sounds so dated and simplistic compared to full-bodied modern synth. That's not to fault the musicianship, it's just a limitation of the tools available at the time. Nevertheless, the bottom line: Go out and buy this disc, even if you weren't born yet when Spartacus was originally released.
P.S. I still don't understand the light bulb on the cover. (The rat, on the other hand, is self-explanatory.)"
We're So Glad To Find This Again!
Dumb Ox | Manassas, VA United States | 04/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We are bigtime progressive rock fans, and loved groups such as Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, early Rush and UK. Triumvirat, which hailed from Germany, was a relative latecomer in the ranks, but helped to keep progressive rock alive through the latter half of the 70s. We have quite a few of their albums on vinyl and they've been played half to death. Vinyl being vinyl, much of the sound quality has suffered. We searched for a couple years to find replacements on CD and were at last delighted to find that Triumvirat was releasing remasters on compact disc. We pre-ordered Spartacus, our favorite album of the bunch, and received it at long last. It was worth the wait. The sound is crisp and clear, very impressive. Like Rush and Pink Floyd, the entire album is a story, in this case the saga of Spartacus, who led the gladiators' revolt against Imperial Rome. Triumvirat was clearly the brainchild of Jurgen Fritz, the keyboard player, who never left the lineup no matter how often it changed. His indelible mark is found in the classical elements lacing each song. Soaring and powerful music and haunting vocals make this a fine example of progressive rock. Their sound is so timeless that even our teenage children fell madly in love with Triumvirat. This CD is an excellent investment and we highly recommend it for hours of listening pleasure."
Nearly 5 Stars
Jason P. Gold | Long Beach, CA | 04/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of half a dozen albums I have on vinyl which I really wanted on CD, but could not find. So, I actually bought an secondhand audiophile preamplifier, a second secondhand turntable, a SoundBlaster Audigy soundcard for my 'puter and software to record, de-hum, denoise and remove the scratches from the vinyl so I could burn it to CD. Luckily, they now have an import which you can buy without having to go through the gyrations I went through!Anyone actually reading this review probably knows this album. It is one of the great (if not well known) concept albums of the '70s. The album delves into the universal theme of hope against overwhelming odds -- preferring to risk death while fighting for freedom to a life in slavery. The album tells the historical story of Spartacus, a Thracian/Roman slave who was trained in a gladiator school around 70BC. He then led the other gladiators in revolt, and assembled a huge army of thousands of slaves to challenge the might of Rome. Rome eventually crushed the rebellion and crucified 6000 survivors. Given its theme of fighting for freedom, it is not surprising that the album is comprised of rock marches of "countless slaves [marching] to go to war." The three man keyboard driven structure of the band invites comparison to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Like ELP, the music is driven by some exceptional keyboard work, anchored by very strong drum work, and consists of a fusion of rock, classical and jazz. Musically, the album lacks the complexity and of ELP, and the musicianship is more mechanical and less emotional. This is not necessarily a bad thing as the album is musically more accessible. At times, the band sounds more like Supertramp than Crime of the Century. The transition from one style to the next is effortless as the entire album is heavily echoed.This is a great album. I highly recommend it. I just which they would come out with a DVD-Audio or SACD version."
The Rat Ups the Ante - Epic Ambition Pays Off
Mark D Burgh | Fort Smith, AR United States | 09/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What had a poor proggy lad like me to look forward to in 1975? More Yes solo albums? When Triumvirat appeared on the radar screen in 1974 with "Illusions on a Double Dimple," their ELP cloned proggy sound made people like me smile and sigh. With ELP and all the other major Prog groups still on hiatus, Triumvirat had center stage largely to themselves, and for their third album, they swelled like bread in the rain. Some other reviewer will give you the personnel changes, but the essence of the band was always Jurgen Fritz, the slightly plump dude in the frilly collar who could play as well as of the other keyboard virtousos of the that era. Looking for a suitable epic as a subject for this third album must have been daunting. The German national epics had been done by Wagner and then co-opted by the Nazi regime, so that a German band doing Siegfried was out of the question then, and probably now. A suitable anti-Siegried was the socialist wet-dream of Spartacus, turned into a kitsch epic film starring Kirk Douglas. Also, Pre-Nazi socailists called themselves "Spartacists" thus giving the RAT even more distance from the disquieting cultural baggage of their homeland, and currying favor with the leftist sympathies of their student listeners. If "Illusions" was the direct musical heir to "Tarkus," then "Spartacus" is the child of "Trilogy" and "Brain Salad Surgery." The album even begins with a rip off the opening of the ELP song "Trilogy." "Spartacus" isn't on the same level as Emerson's masterpieces, but it has some of the same virtues of Triumvirat's previous work: intense musicality, and an album-long cohesion that few progsters were capable of sustaining. Once again, I must question the style of music coupled with the content; surely a song-cycle about Spartacus would be far more dissonant than Fritz's fundamentally conservative musical offerings. Still, the album is filled with the same musical precision that made the Rat's two previous works so listenable. Utilmately, this album comes to signify the end of the prog cycle; every move is expected, every sound has been heard before, yet it is done so well, that those short-comings hardly matter. Perhaps Trimvirat saw themselves as underdogs; their logo is the trapped mouse, but they stood alone in 1975 and this epic album holds up still."