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 FRANKLIN : "Life Circle" (1974)

Franklin was one of the first Spanish underground bands and existed in two line-ups between 1970 and 1975. The sound of Franklin I was in the vein of the legendary USA band The Allman Brothers Band (bluesrock with twin-guitars and Hammond organ). One of the two guitarists/singers was Antonio Garcia De Diego who later made the Spanish progrock classic Ciclos with Canarios.

After the release of the two singles What is Wrong? in 1971 and Satisfaction Part I and II in 1973, guitarist/singer Pablo Weeber disbanded Franklin I and founded Franklin II with a totally new line-up featuring drummer Terry Barrios (later Topo and Asfalto). In 1975 Franklin II recorded a concept album but in the end the project folded. In the second half of the Seventies Pablo Weeber joined German progrock band Hoelderlin on the albums Rare Birds (1977) and Traumstadt (1978). Fortunately this was not the end of the story because Cocodrilo Records retrieved the master tapes of the whole band output (including the unreleased album), among with 2 unreleased tracks, compiled it and released it on CD and a limited double LP edition (only 500 copies were made) in 2007.

Listening to Franklin II on their album Life Circle is making a genuine progressive rock journey as usual in the late Sixties and early Seventies: what a varied and adventurous sound, sometimes a bit too experimental or fragmentic but mostly wonderful and very compelling. The climates range from spacey and psychedelic to Sixties rock, symphonic prog and avant-garde. A good example of their great musical ideas is the first track Beginning: it starts with a psychedelic sounding organ, then the organ blends with propulsive drums beats and in the end we can enjoy twanging acoustic guitar and Moog flights. The composition Caos-Descompsing delivers a totally different sound: first fat Moog runs, then experimental interplay between piano, fiery guitar, a dynamic rhythm-section and in the final part even some violin-Mellotron, .. indeed close to chaos. But for me the most interesting progressive element on Life Circle is the very pleasant colouring by an array of classic vintage keyboards in the compositions Take Off (jazzy Fender Rhodes electric piano solo and swirling Hammond organ work), Renaissance (great work on Hammond and violin/choir-Mellotron and strong interplay between guitar and organ), the highlight Iniro For Cosmic Body (lush Hammond, dreamy piano, intense Mellotron and fat Moog flights) and the final track End Of The Beginning that starts with dreamy piano and organ waves, then a slow rhtyhm featuring a fine blend of Moog synthesizer and violin-Mellotron, concluded with a slow rhythm delivering twanging electric guitar and a pleasant Moog synthesizer sound. In those compositions we can enjoy an unique symphonic rock sound with that typical early Seventies flavor.

As a huge fan of the Spanish progressive rock I am very glad with this interesting release, its another good example of the unique sound of that often overlooked country.

Erik Neuteboom

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