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Triumvirat was a German progressive rock band from Cologne, Germany. They became, during the 1970s, a key figure in Eurock, the progressive rock of continental Europe whose German variant is called krautrock. The name Triumvirat comes from the Latin word triumvirate, which refers to a group of three powerful individuals.
|Genres||Progressive rock, symphonic rock|
|Years active||1969–1980, 2002|
|Past members||Hans-Jürgen Fritz|
Werner "Dick" Frangenberg
Members of the original band were Hans-Jürgen Fritz (aka Jürgen Fritz) on keyboards, Werner Frangenberg on bass and vocals, and drummer-percussionist-lyricist Hans Bathelt. However, that line-up would be in a constant state of flux over the band's career, with each album featuring at least one different member. The band was often criticized for the similarity of their sound to British band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, something that band members may have had in mind when they wrote the song "Lucky Girl" for their Illusions on a Double Dimple album, perhaps in response to one of ELP's greatest hits "Lucky Man".
The group was formed in 1969 in Cologne, Germany. They became known by playing chart hits in local clubs around town. Heavily influenced by the musical style of The Nice and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, they incorporated some of these bands' songs into their repertoire, like Rondo and Hoedown. They eventually abandoned cover versions and started composing their own music, still with a strong Keith Emerson influence for keyboard sounds that is most evident in the prominent use of the Hammond organ. At the height of their glory, the band was often called a clone of ELP by the specialized press, not only because of the similarity of their music and the sound of their keyboards, but also because of keyboardist Fritz's virtuosity and classical training.
First recordings (1972-1975)Edit
In 1972, 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 in 1973, consisting of two full-side suites. Just before entering the studio, bassist Frangenberg had left the band, to be replaced by Hans-Georg Pape to handle bass duties as well as vocals, with notable exceptions on the song Eleven Kids, sung by Fritz, who also delivers two verses in the song Broken Mirror.
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 in 1974 to produce their second album, Illusions on a Double Dimple with the Cologne Opera House Orchestra, Kurt Edelhagen's brass section and Karl Drewo's saxophone for the Mister Ten Percent suite, as well as a chorus composed of Ulla Wiesmer, Brigitte Thomas, and Hanna Dölitzsch. But that same year, bassist-singer Pape left the band to get married and was replaced by Helmut Köllen, a young guitarist-bassist-singer who was already working with the band as a sound technician and also happened to be Fritz's cousin. The resulting album showcased the work of both bassists, with Pape playing bass on most of side one's Illusions on a Double Dimple suite, and Köllen playing bass and guitar on side two's Mister Ten Percent suite. Köllen also handled vocals for the entire album.
Spartacus and Old Loves Die Hard (1975-1977)Edit
In 1975, the trio began recording their third album, Spartacus, a retelling of the story of the famed Roman slave and Thracian gladiator in the year 73 BC. The lyrics were written by drummer Hans Bathelt, with the help of keyboardist Fritz and the album was released on EMI / Electrola, distributed in America by Capitol Records. The album debuted at number 27 on the Billboard album chart.
After the album release, 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. He did return to the band, who had already composed new songs, but this return was cut short, among other reasons because the new songs no longer suited his tone of voice. He then dedicated himself to his new solo career, which was also cut short 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 the engine was running and died from carbon monoxide poisoning. His completed album would be released posthumously two years later after his death under the title You Won't See Me on the Harvest Records label and dedicated to his parents.
The Köllen album included a Beatles song (the title-track), which he was fond of, and another whose lyrics were written by Triumviurat's drummer, The Story of Life. Musicians present on the album include, among others, Hans-Jürgen Fritz on keyboards, Brigitte Witt on choirs who would later take part in the New Triumvirate band, as well as Helmut's sister, Elke Köllen also on chorus. Matthias Holtmann played drums while Köllen handled guitar, bass and vocals. Köllen also featured as a guest on songs by the group Jail, including a single called Julie in 1976. 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, on their album Increase produced in 1977.
As for Triumvirat, the group decided to move on after Köllen's departure, hiring British singer Barry Palmer and calling on their original bassist Werner Frangerberg to record their next album Old Loves Die Hard, released in 1976. The album's cover would be the last to feature the iconic white rat that had become the group's mascot since their second album.
Pompeii and À la Carte (1977–1979)Edit
In 1977, bassist Frangerberg and drummer-lyricist Hans Bathelt left the band, which called on Curt Cress on drums (from the German band Passport) and bassist Dieter Petereit for the album Pompeii. After temporary legal quarrels between the keyboardist Hans-Jürgen Fritz and the drummer Hans Bathelt concerning the name of the group, the album was released under the new name of New Triumvirat. It would be the last album to contain prog-rock; the rest of their discography would not be the same style. This was 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 commercial pop music sound.
The next album released in 1978, À la Carte, had 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. As the last original member, the other musicians on the album being merely contract players, Fritz did not feel able to protest, and the result was this album that sold less than the previous ones. Changes of personnel for this album comprised Barry Palmer's replacement on vocals by David Hanselmann, Werner Kopal taking bassist Dieter Petereit's place, and Curt Cress giving way to drummer Matthias Holtmann.
Russian Roulette and separation (1980)Edit
The band's last album Russian Roulette was released in 1980, with Toto members Steve Lukather on guitar and bass and drummer Jeff Porcaro (who had also played with Steely Dan) plus other studio musicians. But the album dissatisfied keyboardist Fritz who subsequently disbanded the group.
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.
- Hans-Jürgen Fritz - Keyboards, piano (1969-1980, 2002)
- Hans-Georg Pape - Bass, lead vocals (1969-1974, 1977-1979)
- Hans Bathelt - Drums, percussion (1969-1976)
- Helmut Köllen - Bass, lead vocals (1974-1975)
- Barry Palmer - Lead vocals (1976-1978)
- Werner Frangenberg - Bass (1976)
- Dieter Petereit - Bass (1977-1979)
- Curt Cress - Drums (1977-1979)
- David Hanselmann - Lead vocals (1978-1979)
- Arno Steffen - Lead vocals (1980)
- 1973: Mediterranean Tales/Across The Waters (1973, 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 a 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)
- 2002: The Website Story (Uncompletly Issued)
- 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
- Let The Chips Lay Down (2002)
- 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
- 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.
- 1971: Lieder by Kurt Demmler - Label: AMIGA - 8 55 236; Hans-Georg Pape participated in the composition of the music and made the arrangements for the song Die Jazzmusik Des Fabian Scheinemann.
- 1992: "Basement Arrangements" by Kemélions; The piece "Liquid Dots Of Kaos" contains samples taken from "Illusions on a Double Dimple".
- 2003: Beg for Mercy by G-Unit; The piece "G-Unit" contains samplings of the song "Million Dollars" by Triumvirat.
- 2006: Rotten Apple by Lloyd Banks; The piece "The Cake" contains samples of the piece "I believe" by Triumvirat.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time. From the Court of the Crimson King to the Comatorium, Rolling Stone, June 17, 2015