Triumvirat was a German progressive rock band from Cologne. They became, during the 1970s, a key figure in Eurock, the progressive rock of continental Europe, whose German variant is called krautrock. The term Triumvirate is a derivative of the Latin word triumvirate, which refers to a group of three powerful men.

Triumvirat
OriginCologne, Germany
GenresProgressive rock, symphonic rock
Years active1969–1980
LabelsHarvest, Capitol
Websitewww.triumvirat.net
Past membersHans-Jürgen Fritz
Hans Bathelt
Werner "Dick" Frangenberg
Hans Georg-Pape
Helmut Köllen
Barry Palmer
Dieter Petereit
Curt Cress
David Hanselmann
Mattias Holtmann
Werner Kopal
Arno Steffen

The musicians of the original band were Hans-Jürgen Fritz on keyboards, Werner Frangenberg on bass and vocals, and drummer-percussionist-lyricist Hans Bathelt. What is amazing and certainly did not help to give some stability to the trio are the frequent changes of musicians throughout their career, on each album a member left them to be replaced by another. And then, the band was often criticized for their more than striking resemblance to the British band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, but where it gets really ironic, is when the album Illusions on a Double Dimple was released, there is a song on this album called "Lucky Girl". One of the greatest hits by ELP is called "Lucky Man".

HistoryEdit

Beginnings (1969–1974)Edit

The group was formed in 1969. They became known by playing chart hits in local clubs in the city of Cologne, Germany. The musical style of The Nice and Emerson, Lake and Palmer was a great influence for them, so much that they incorporated music of these two bands in their repertoire as Rondo and Hoedown, for example. However, they gradually abandoned the songs of other bands and start composing their personal music with always a strong influence of Keith Emerson, especially in the sound of the keyboards, the Hammond organ among others. At the height of their glory, they were often called "clones" of ELP by the specialized press, not only because of the similarity of their music and the sound of their keyboards, but also by the virtuosity and classical training of their keyboardist Hans-Jürgen Fritz.

In the early 1970s, the trio sent a demo to the local record company EMI Group, with which they signed their first recording contract. The group then produced their first album, Mediterranean Tales/Across the Waters in 1972, consisting of two long one-sided suites each. But in the meantime, the bassist Frangenberg having left, he was replaced just before the trio entered the studio by Hans-Georg Pape on bass and vocals. A notable exception on their song Eleven Kids, while it is Hans-Jürgen Fritz who sings, same thing for the verses of Broken Mirror which are also sung by Fritz.

They undertook a European and American tour, during which they played in the United States, opening for Fleetwood Mac. Back in Germany, they returned to the studio to produce their second album, Illusions on Double Dimple in 1974 with the Cologne Opera House Orchestra, Kurt Edelhagen's brass section and Karl Drewo's saxophone for the Mister Ten Percent part, as well as the chorus of Ulla Wiesmer, Brigitte Thomas, and Hanna Dölitzsch. But again, the same year, they lost their bassist-singer, Hans-Georg Pape who left to get married. He was replaced by Helmut Köllen, a young guitarist-bassist-singer who was also the cousin of keyboardist Hans-Jurgen Fritz. Köllen was already working with the band as a sound technician. Surprisingly enough, however, each side has its own character since most of Illusions suite, Hans-Georg Pape plays bass, but it is Helmut Köllen who sings while on the B side on which he occupies the place of guitarist, bassist and singer.

Spartacus and Old Loves Die Hard (1975-1977)Edit

All this leads to the year 1975 when the trio begins the recording of their third album, Spartacus, which tells the story of this slave and Thracian gladiator in the year 73 BC. The lyrics are written by drummer Hans Bathelt, with the help of keyboardist Hans-Jürgen Fritz and the album appears on EMI / Electrola, distributed in America by Capitol Records. The album is thus in 27th position on the charts of Billboard Top 100.

After the release of the album, Helmut Köllen left to pursue a solo career. He began recording his first solo album with the help of Fritz on keyboards and Hans Bathelt for lyrics on one of the songs, The Story of Life. However, he returned a little later with the band that had already prepared new songs, but this meeting was cut short, among other reasons because the new songs did no longer suited his tone of voice. He was then fully devoted to his new solo career when he unfortunately died on May 3, 1977 at only 27 years old. He was listening to a demo tape of his future solo album on his car radio in his garage while it was running, he was then poisoned by carbon monoxide. His finished album was released posthumously two years later under the title You Won't See Me on the Harvest Records label and dedicated to his parents.

The album contains a Beatles song in fact it is the title-track, which he was fond of, and another whose lyrics are written by Triumviurat's drummer, The Story of Life. The musicians present on the album are, among others, Hans-Jürgen Fritz on keyboards, Brigitte Witt on choirs who will later take part with the New Triumvirate as well as Helmut's sister, Elke Köllen also on chorus, Matthias Holtmann on drums and Helmut himself on guitar, bass and vocals. He also recorded as a guest, some songs with the group Jail, including a single called Julie in 1976, the album contains the song You Can Help Me. Shortly after his death, the German group Birth Control recorded and published a song in tribute to the bassist, entitled We All Thought We Knew You, it is on their album Increase produced in 1977.

As for Triumvirat, the group decided to continue, by hiring a British singer Barry Palmer, and calling for their first bassist Werner Frangerberg, and released their new album Old Loves Die Hard, in 1976. This would be the last cover of the group to contain the little white rat, which was the mascot of the group since their second album.

Pompeii and À la Carte (1977–1979)Edit

In 1977, other changes of personnel, the bassist Frangerberg and the drummer-lyricist Hans Bathelt leave the ship, the group then calls Curt Cress on drums (from the German band Passport) and bassist Dieter Petereit for the album, presented under the new name of New Triumvirat, following temporary legal quarrels between the keyboardist Hans-Jürgen Fritz and the drummer Hans Bathelt, concerning the name of the group. It will be the last album to contain prog-rock, the rest of their discography would not be the same anymore. This is also the main reason for the departure of drummer and lyricist Hans Bathelt, dissatisfied with the direction taken by Hans-Jürgen Fritz and pressure from the record company, which pushed the group towards a more pop music and therefore more commercial in sound.

The next album released in 1979, À la Carte, has little or nothing to do with the band of previous years, due to the pressures of the record company that wanted more sales from the group. Being alone to lead the boat - the other musicians present on the album having been contracted, they had no voice - Fritz did not feel able to protest and argue his ideas and his point of view, he must yield and the result is this album that sells less than the previous ones. Again, a new change of musicians is made for this album; Barry Palmer leaves to be replaced by David Hanselmann on vocals, Werner Kopal takes the place of bassist Dieter Petereit while Curt Cress gives his job to drummer Matthias Holtmann.

Russian Roulette and separation (1980)Edit

In 1980 will be released what will be the last album of the band, Russian Roulette, with musicians such as Steve Lukather on guitar and bass and Jeff Porcaro on drums of the American group Toto plus other studio musicians. But the album no longer satisfies keyboardist Fritz who will end the adventure after what he considers the album of the end. In 1987, Barry Palmer produced a maxi-single titled Shimmering Gold (Max Version) / Shimmering Gold (Single Version) / Cold Nights, co-produced by Hans-Jurgen Fritz and Andreas Martin Krause; Fritz also wrotes the lyrics of Shimmering Gold, which the music was composed by Eugen Römer. It was published on Titan Records.

In 1989 Hans-Jürgen Fritz released an album that consists of a soundtrack for a movie titled Es ist nicht leicht, ein Gott zu sein, in english it was called It's Hard to Be a God, on the CBS Records label. The last song, "Hard to Be a God", was sung by Grant Stevens, the rest of the album being instrumental. The film was by Peter Fleischmann, based on a screenplay by Peter Fleischmann and Jean-Claude Carrière, with Edward Zentara and Werner Herzog. Then in 1990, he released his only solo album, again on Columbia Records in Europe, and Sony in America, in the Millennium collection, entitled Dreams of Amadeus with Ralf Hildenbeutel, in which the music is based on Mozart themes.

Aborted return and reissue of their discographyEdit

Since 2002, according to the band's official website, Triumvirat had to be back with a project called The Website Story, which they recorded in 1999, with songs written in partnership with Fritz and John Miles; the project remains unpublished for lack of interest from record companies.

In 2012, EMI released the Essential compilation with songs from their seven albums. Note that all their albums, including their latest Russian Roulette have been reissued in 2002 with additional titles, previously only available in singles, special mention for Illusions on a Double Dimple which is adorned with a different cover.

In 2015, the Illusions on a Double Dimple 1974 album was ranked number 45 in the Rolling Stone list of 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time.[1]

DiscographyEdit

TriumviratEdit

AlbumsEdit

  • 1972: Mediterranean Tales/Across The Waters (1972, re-released in 2002 with four bonus songs, Be Home for Tea, Broken Mirror, Ride in the Night and Sing Me a Song)
  • 1974: Illusions on Double Dimple (1974, reissued in 2002 with four bonus songs, Dancer's Delight, Timothy, Dimplicity and Million Dollars)
  • 1975: Spartacus (1975, reissued in 2002 with two bonus songs, The Capital of Power (live) and Showstopper)
  • 1976: Old Loves Die Hard (1976, reissued in 2012 with a bonus of two songs Take a break today and The Capitol of Power)
  • 1977: Pompeii (1977, reissued in 2002 with bonus song The Hymn)
  • 1978: À la Carte (1978, reissued in 2002 with the two songs Waterfall and Jo Ann Walker)
  • 1980: Russian Roulette (1980, reissued in 2002 with a bonus song The Ballad of Rudy Törner)

SinglesEdit

  • Be Home For Tea / Broken Mirror (1972) Harvest – 1C 006-29 976
  • Ride In The Night / Sing Me A Song (1973) Harvest – 1C 006-30 407, EMI Electrola – 1C 006-30 407 U
  • Dancer's Delight / Timothy (1973) Harvest – 1C 006-30 484, EMI Electrola – 1C 006-30 484
  • Dimplicity / Million Dollars (1974) Harvest, EMI Electrola - 1C 006-30 576
  • Take A Break Today / The Capitol Of Power (1976) Harvest, EMI Electrola 1C 006-31 609
  • Waterfall / Jo Ann Walker (1978) Harvest, EMI Electrola 1C 006-45 189
  • For you/Darlin' (1978) Harvest – 31c 006 31149
  • The Hymn / Dance on the vulcano (1978) Harvest – 1C 006-32 548, EMI Electrola – 1C 006-32 548
  • Waterfall / (Oh, I'm) Late Again (1978) Capitol Records – SPRO-9080, Capitol Records – SPRO-9081
  • Party Life / Games (1980) Harvest, EMI Electrola 1C 006-45 918
  • Come With Me/We're Rich On What We've Got (1980) EMI – 006-4607

CompilationsEdit

  • The Gold Collection (1995)
  • The Best of Triumvirat (1995) EMI Gold 853658 2
  • Veni, Vidi, Vici (2000)
  • Essential (2012) EMI – 50999 6 44353 2 9
  • The Best Of The Gold Collection - Novo - Date of release unknown

BootlegsEdit

  • Triumvirat - Illusions On A Double Dimple Live - Palace Theatre, Providence, USA October 1974.
  • Triumvirat - Illusions On A Double Dimple Live - St. Bernard Cultural Center, Chalmette, LA, USA November 1974,
  • Triumvirat - Live from Ultrasonic - Recorded in Studio Ultrasonic, Hempstead, New York, October 1, 1974.
  • Triumvirat - Live Tour 1974-75 - American Tour 1974 - 75.

Solo albumsEdit

Helmut KollenEdit

  • You won't see me (1977)
  • With collaboration from Hans-Jürgen Fritz on keyboards & production and help from drummer Hans Bathelt for lyrics on The story of life.

Hans-Jurgen FritzEdit

AlbumsEdit
  • Es Ist Nicht Leicht Ein Gott Zu Sein (1989) - CBS – 466250 - Original Movie Score for the film It's hard to be a god starring Werner Herzog.
  • Millenium - Dreams Of Amadeus (1990) Columbia – COL 468863 2, Sony Music – 468863 2 - Music based on themes from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
SinglesEdit
  • Ohne Moos Nix Los/Keiner Kümmert Sich Um Mich (1982) - Synth Pop
  • Nix-Keiner Kümmert Sich Um Mich (1982) - Synth Pop

Various compilations with other bands and musiciansEdit

  • 2007: Krautrock (Music For Your Brain) Vol. 2; The Spartacus piece from Triumvirat is featured on this German 6 CD album released in 2007 on Target Music - The serial number is: Target Music - 06007 5300659 7.
  • 2009: Krautrock (Music For Your Brain) Vol. 4; The Illusions on a Double Dimple sequel is on this German 6 CD set, still on the Target Music label - The serial number is: Target Music - 30059.
  • 2013: Krautrock (Music For Your Brain) Vol. 5; The piece The School of Instant Pain is part of the songs included in this box set German compilation again with 6 CDs on the label Target Music. The serial number is: Target Music - 013659-30060.

CollaborationsEdit

  • 1972: Tanned Leather's Child of Never Ending Love - Hans-Jürgen Fritz plays the piano as a guest on this album by German band Tanned Leather.
  • 1977: Eric Burdon's Soul Survivor - Hans-Jürgen Fritz plays keyboards with John Bundrick and Zoot Money, Alexis Korner and Geoff Whitehorn on guitar, singers P.P. Arnold and Maggie Bell, etc.
  • 1981: Do not Stop The Satin Whale Show - Hans-Jurgen Fritz at the Grand Piano on Too Late. Barry Palmer is singing all over the album.
  • 1984: Fly Dirt's Gladbacher Freunde - This album by the German band Fly Dirt was an opportunity for keyboardist Hans-Jürgen Fritz and drummer Hans Bathelt to work outside the strict frameworks of Triumvirat. Fritz was a technician in addition to mixing, and then collaborated on the composition of the title song with Hans Bathelt and Fly Dirt drummer Burkhardt Unrau.
  • 1986 - Bad Boys Blue Heartbeat : Hans-Jurgen Fritz keyboards and arrangements.
  • 1987 - Love Is No Crime from Bad Boys Blue: Same as before.
  • 1988 - My Blue World from Bad Boys Blue; Hans-Jurgen Fritz does not play but made the arrangements.
  • 1992: Basement Arrangements from Keméleons - Label: Zoo Street - 72445-11047-2; Hans-Jurgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt wrote the music for Liquid Dots of Kaos.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit