Midnight Sun - "Midnight Sun" (Sonet 1971)
Midnight Sun originally went under the name Rainbow Band and released an album with that name too, before switching to Midnight Sun. Their first LP with their new name was weirdly enough just a re-recorded version of their first record as Rainbow Band! Anyway, "Midnight Sun" is a really good album, melting jazz, blues and energetic rock into a '70s sound. It's quite obvious with such influences that the band had listened a lot to bands like Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears, but didn't end up sounding like them at all. "Talkin'" is a superb opener to the album, fusing the bluesy vocals of Alan Mortensen with an irresistible rhythmic theme dominated by Niels Brønstedt's el-piano and Bent Hesselman's jazzy sax-riffs. The hard rocking and jam-oriented instrumental section turns the spotlight over to Peer Frost's razor-sharp guitar. "King of the Sun" has a pretty similar structure, but with a much lighter feel where the outstanding and tight solo-parts are what really save the track. The ballad "Nobody" is based around some eerie piano-chords, but increases the tempo during the instrumental passage where the piano veers into some classical influences too. "Where You Going to be" is in a more straightforward rock-fashion, but with a great mid-tempo groove and a jazzy sax-solo. "B.M." is a short instrumental written by bassist Bo Stief, and is mostly a showcase for his skills on acoustic bass. "Sippin' Wine" is the band from their lightest and least interesting side, with some clear influences from Blood, Sweat & Tears. The complex, intense and energetic 15-minute "Living on the Hill" is on the contrary the highlight of the record. It should also be mentioned that the band had a very good and thoroughly active drummer in Carsten Smedegaard. Guitarist Frost also surprises a bit here by turning into a classical-influenced heavy metal-styled guitar-solo in the middle of the song, followed by some even more aggressive jamming. The album closes in a far more peaceful way with Hesselman's instrumental "Rainbow Song" where he plays a beautiful theme on flute while some Mellotron turns it into the only slight symphonic moment on the record. This is definitively one of the Danish '70s rock albums you should check out.
Midnight Sun - "Walking Circles" (Sonet 1972)
"Walking Circles" was in my opinion a slightly disappointing album that only occasionally reaches the same heights as the superior debut. It starts with a song called "Can You Hear the Music Play", a bland and lightweight pop-tune that never would have made it to their debut. Things do improve a bit during "Country Song", especially because of the typical good solo-passages that Midnight Sun always incorporated into most of their songs, but as a whole it's still not fully convincing. But the album finally catches fire when we get to track three, the powerful instrumental "A La Turca". This track has many trademarks of Midnight Sun at their best; melodic, jazzy saxophone and piano blended with heavy riffs and some outstanding soloing. This level of quality continues in "The Way of Zen", but in a very different musical frame, as this is a laidback and atmospheric ballad based mostly around the piano and some ethereal flute. Stief's acoustic bass also makes a return here. But the record unfortunately decreases into mediocrity again with "I've Got A New Mind" that opens the second side in a not very promising way. Luckily, the band goes back to form for the rest of the album. "Winds Gonna Blow" opens with some beautiful, jazzy flute-themes and also has a nice string-arrangement that further enhances the strong melody. Definitively one of the best on the record. The title-track is the most complex piece here, with the el-piano playing one of the main roles. "I'm Living A Dream" is very short but good, mid-tempo jazzy song that closes this partly uneven but still worthwhile album. But the be sure to get the debut first. By the way, I think Midnight Sun were the only Scandinavian band who got covers designed by Roger Dean. Lucky guys...