Ibis - Sun Supreme. 1974 Italy


Ibis - Sun Supreme. 1974 Polydor

CD reissues: 1989 Edison (Japan); 2001 Universal (Japan mini-LP); 2003 Vinyl Magic; 2010 Universal (Japan mini-LP)

LP reissue: 1982 Polydor (Japan)

Packaging: I've had an original LP of this for many years - finding a new copy at a record convention in the late 1980's. It's a single sleeve but with a wonderful textured cover. As I look over the CD issues, I'm surprised to see it was never reissued legit in Italy before 2003 - especially when considering that the self-titled second was put out by Mellow in 1992 and "Canti d'Innocenza, Canti d'Esperienza" came out in 1991 from Fonit-Cetra (Vinyl Magic). But then again, I can't think of any Italian issues from the 1990s either. I originally picked up a copy of the 2001 mini-LP but was shocked (really, shocked) that the cover wasn't textured so I sent it back. The new 2010 mini-LP version fixes that issue, and so I now have a CD to supplement the LP. To the best of my knowledge, "Sun Supreme" hasn't been reissued on vinyl in recent years.

Notes:
Divine Mountain / Journey of Life

1. Part 1 - Vision of Majesty 3:42

2. Part 2 - Travelling the Spectrum of the Soul: 5:59
a. Flow of the River of the Mind
b. A Magical Cavern
c. On the Edge of it All

3. Part 3 - The Valley of Mists: 5:00
a. Song of the Valley Deep
b. The Elements Clash - Storm of Life

4. Part 4 - Vision Fulfilled 4:33
a. Jungle - Rythm Colour (Steam, Sweet, Pulse, Throb, Vibrate)
b. Over the Crest

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5. Divinity
a. Part 1 4:00
b. Part 2 7:12
c. Part 3 6:06

Ibis were made up of ex-New Trolls members (and a former drummer from Atomic Rooster - and whose name is not Carl Palmer) and this was their debut album (though technically the first album was under the name Nico, Gianni, Frank, Maurizio). It was far more geared towards symphonic progressive rock, heavily influenced by Yes, especially when compared against their second, more straightforward, hard rock album.

So you'll notice I didn't highlight any tracks for "Sun Supreme". Honestly, I'm amazed this album gets the praise it does, especially since it walks right into the usual "prog is pretentious" argument (an argument that I absolutely disagree with, even here at its most obvious). And yet this album - of all albums - somehow gets a pass from the critics. For starters this has nothing to do with the Italian progressive rock movement (indigenous melodies are missing, English vocals, really everything about what is now called RPI - is not here). Not that one should get automatic demerits for that, but it is worth mentioning given the time and place. What we have with "Sun Supreme" is a huge heaping mess of Yes. And I mean mess as in "Tales From Topographic Oceans" Yes (disclaimer: I really like TFTO - but not necessarily going to fawn over a copycat attempt that falls short). From the song titles to the "higher key" religious aspects (oh hello Satguru Maharaji and his followers: Did you like this album dedicated to you? How come nothing like this from the home country, anyway?). I should offer minuses too, since 5b) is nothing but a very long, and very dull, drum solo. That's 7 minutes of boredom right there. God, even Yes managed to avoid that on a double album (percussion pieces do not equal drum solos for the first smart ass who points it out) - at least in the studio.

So it seems I'm really down on "Sun Supreme" then? Well, no, that's not true. I do like it - as I do appreciate a good Yes imitation (hell, I adore Druid's "Towards the Sun"). It's hardly a style that is easy to emulate, and it's good entertainment taken on its own if you can ignore the influences. But it's barely above the "I'll keep it level". I'm loathe to use terms like overrated, since albums like this are barely rated in the first place (it's not like the NY Times was pushing this down everyone's throat as the next big thing). But I have to say that I disagree with those that claim this is a classic work. It's not a classic by my estimation. Unless you want a somewhat tepid response to Yes' "Tales From Topographic Oceans". It screams New Trolls cash-in. Probably because that is exactly what it is. Buy it only if you can't get enough of that sound. And perhaps I fall into that category. I can't help it.

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