This was a tough one. Circle was listed on Prog Archives with one album to tis credit, and no other information. I searched, and searched, but turned up nothing. I couldn’t even find the album for sale. As fortune would have it, I somehow located a email address that seemed likely to be for one of the band’s members. Indeed it was Circle’s co-founder, Volker Stern. The following commentary is based on what he told me.
The band was founded in 1984 in Düren Germany. The original lineup was Frank Rövenich on guitar and vocals, Michael Braun on bass, Josef Kirschgens on drums, and Volker Stern on keyboards. In late 1985 they were joined by Andy Franke on lead guitar, and Ingo Jannes on keyboards. This would be the lineup for the debut album. In 1986, “Foreign Skies” was released.
The band stayed intact until 1989, when the two newest members (Andy and Ingo) departed. That was when they welcomed Bernd Hilgert on lead guitar. This lineup recorded “Twist of Events” in 1990.
Volker and Frank wrote all the songs. However, they were not exactly Lennon and McCartney. Rarely did they work together on a composition. The main problem was musical vision. While Volker was after a more progressive direction, Frank wanted a more mainstream sound (Volker suggests a comparison between “Harlequin” and “Circles Edge” to see this delineation). After a few concerts in support of “Twist of Events,” Josef and Bernd left the band. This, combined with increased struggling between Frank and Volker, led them to dissolve Circle altogether in late 1990.
Volker and Michael still play together, but have made no new official releases. He views it more as a “hobby” now.
Circle stands as one of my most interesting experiences in creating a biography. Many times when the artist is very obscure, all you can do is go from the music and liner notes. In this case I didn’t even have the music to give me a clue. I was almost ready to give up when I found the email address (I actually had many times, and came back to it again). Not only did I get the story, but I found out about the other album, received photos, and was provided with digital copies of all the music.