Womega


Band members                   Related acts

- Jos Bertrand -- drums, percussion

- Herman Merken -- vocals
- Paul Peters -- brass, flute

- Duk Vanlessen -- guitars

- Jen Vanlessen -- bass
- Jos Vanlessen -- guitars
- Paul Vrijens -- keyboards

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  A Quick Step

Company: Skruup

Catalog: 162210751
Year: 1975

Country/State: Belgium

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: includes insert

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 6143

Price: SOLD $175.00

In the mid-1970s my father took a job working for NATO in Brussels, Belgium.  In addition to the wonderful beer (yeah Stella Artois), thanks to my buddy Mark (thanks mark), one of the coolest things I ran into were record libraries ...  yeah, literally libraries that instead of loaning out books, circulated records.  To join you paid a small fee, brought in your record player stylus so they could check it for quality (naturally the library didn't want you playing their albums with a nail), and could then check out a dozen LPs at a time for a nominal fee.  I think the paperwork said you wouldn't make copies, but that was just the theory ...   Anyhow, these record libraries had tens of thousands of albums and the choices ranged from top-10 stuff to amazingly obscure European releases ...   Mind you, one of those obscurities was Womega's "A Quick Step" which caught my eye due to the Jos Vanlessen cover painting.  So some thirty years later I stumbled across another copy of the album and snapped it up.  

 

With the exception of what I read in the insert that came along with their album, can't say I know a great deal about Womega.  The band was apparently founded in 1974 by three brothers - Duk and Jos Vanlessen on guitar and Jen Vanlessen on bass.  They started playing local clubs, eventually gaining some press attention with an appearance at the Bitzen Jazz Festival.  By the time the band recorded their 1975 debut the lineup featured the Vanlessens, along with drummer Jos Bertrand, singer Herman Merken, horn/woodwind player Paul Peters, and keyboardist Paul Vrijens.  Signed by the small Skruup label (love the name), their album was actually recorded in England with Johann Dubois and keyboardist Vrijens producing.  Featuring all original material musically the overall feel was that of a progressive-rock hybrid that strove to find a balance between experimentation and more commercial moves.  Merken sang in heavily accented English (I suspect he may have been singing phonetically), but the overall results weren't unpleasant; certainly no worse than anything Golden Earring every did.  The rest of the band were quite good, easily handling the materials occasionally complex structures with considerable ease.  Keyboardist/synthesizer player Vrijens (who also wrote most of the material), had a subtle touch while guitarist Duk and Jos Vanlessen were particularly good, providing many of the album highlights (check out their solos on 'Christo Said').

 

- 'Nympho's Belly Button' seemed structured to provide all of the members an opportunity to showcase their talents.  The song started out with some nice guitar and a tasty splash of synthesizers, before Merken's wobbly vocals kicked in and the song started to bounce all over the genre map including stabs at pop and progressive moves.  To my ears the highlights have always come in the form of the Vanlessens' electric and acoustic guitar solos.   rating: *** stars

- 'Along Came You' started off as a more standard rock ballad with touches of Pink Floyd and Beatles-styled harmony vocals.  Unexpectedly, there was also a Latin percussion midsection.  Doesn't sound particularly impressive, but the end product was quite enjoyable.   rating: *** stars

- I have no idea what the subject matter was about (perhaps French artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff - yeah I know he was actually born in Bulgaria), but 'Christo Said' started out as one of the album's most rock oriented tracks before shifting gears and showcasing the Vanlessens' first rate fret work.  Their solos on this track made for some of the album's most beautiful work.   rating: **** stars

- Yeah, Paul Peters flute solo wasn't necessary, but once you got accustom to Merken's somewhat shrill, double timed vocal, '(Sweet) Sleeping Sixteen' was one of the album's most pop flavored and catchy numbers.   rating: **** stars

- It wasn't pop. progressive, or rock, but opening up with some lovely, almost classical twin acoustic guitar, 'Bagatel' was the kind of instrumental Jan Akkerman would have killed to have composed.  Simply stunning.   rating: **** stars

- Except for an odd mid-section segment that briefly shifted gears into acoustic guitar solo, 'Heros Of Flames' (their spelling) was the album's most conventional rocker.  Quite good with a touch of Santana-styled lead guitar thrown in.   rating: *** stars

- Kicked along by Vrijens' see-saw keyboards, 'Tearful Thoughts' opened up with a slightly dark and ominous, mid-tempo song structure, but about halfway through jumped to a Focus-styled jazz-rock mode with way too much Peters flute.   rating: ** stars

- In terms of merging rock and progressive moves, the closer 'Tu Quoque' stood as their most successful performance.  A nice melody with interesting structural shifts, great electric guitar, and some surprisingly impressive harmony vocals made it well worth hearing.   rating: *** stars

- The final song  "Felix the Dwarf' wasn't shown on the liner notes track listing - a strange horn-powered instrumental, it sounded like a mix between a slice of polka and a toothpaste commercial.   Should have left it off the album.   rating: * star

 

Yeah. there isn't a great deal of originality here, but I liked it when I first heard it thirty years ago and I liked it even more when I stumbled across it again.  Well worth looking for, though be forewarned it's hard to score and has a big ticket price.

 

"A Quick Step" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Nympho's Belly Button   (Paul Peters - Paul Vrijens) - 5:12
2.) Along Came You   (
Paul Vrijens) - 4:21
3.) Christo Said   (
Paul Vrijens) - 4:51
4.) (Sweet) Sleeping Sixteen   (
Paul Vrijens) - 5:37

 

(side 2)
1.) 
Bagatel (instrumental)   (Vanlessen) - 1:57
2.) Heros Of Flames
   (Vanlessen  Paul Peters - Paul Vrijens) - 3:51
3.) Tearful Thoughts
   (Paul Peters - Paul Vrijens) - 6:57
4.) Tu Quoque
   (Vanlessen - Paul Vrijens) - Vanha, - 5:11

5.) Felix the Dwarf (instrumental)   (Paul Vrijens) - 

 

 

 

The band continued to work through the early-1980s, releasing at least two non-LP singles:

 

- 1976's 'Don't Work Yourself' b/w 'Doctor Make me Well' (EMI catalog number 4C 006-97909)

- 1980's 'Two Red Lights' b/w 'Emma' (Skruup catalog number 280 47 901)

 

They subsequently called it quits, but I think there have been a couple of reunions through the years.  Love to know more about these guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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