The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Birth of Joy: Prisoner


Prisoner: 2014

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Sweet Hammond organ grooves and rough guitar strings

These are a few of my favorite things

Yes we have heard the classic organ and metal guitar combo before. It began in the era of Deep Purple and Atomic Rooster. Modern day standard bearers like Bigelf and Cosmic Nomads have kept it alive. I was really into Cosmic Nomads when I first heard “Vultress” and assisted in getting them added to Prog Archives. But it was nothing compared to how Birth of Joy grabbed me when “Prisoner” hit the speakers.

“H.T.,” you may ask, “what’s so special about this one? You said we have heard it before.” True, all the classic elements, including an infusion of the psychedelic and prog rock excess remains intact. A case like this deserves to be broken down. First, can the band even pull off an acceptable copy of the masters? Check. Next, can they write a good song? Check. Finally, can they rock your socks off? Hells yeah!!! Sounds good enough already right? Sure if a band wants to be nothing more than a good retro act. This trio from the Netherlands decided to thrown in some Hives attitude, INXS swagger and are surely fans of ‘90s Seattle grunge.

One description reads “dirty organ rock” and the band’s own tag is “Sixties on Steroids.” Both accurate but neither encompasses all of what Birth of Joy accomplishes on “Prisoner.” Oh yes there is balls to wall rockin’ and that will suck you in. Initially lulled into a false sense of no nonsense security until a light bulb clicks on, along with your brain. Damn, it’s intelligent too! The awakening will take no longer than “Three Day Road” as it courses through a gloom cloud laden, spacy journey. The title track is unexpectedly an experimental dirge, and “Holding On” plays like jazzy hippy jam. Three very different songs and all definitely belong on the same album. Other tracks take supernatural control of your hand forcing it to independently turn the volume higher and higher. Rock that is a load of fun… and stimulates the intellect… hmmm.

I didn’t mention the proficiency of the musicians yet either, did I? Honestly there is no need. Sometimes you hear individual musicians do amazing things and there is a desire to prostrations in their honor. Birth of Joy is about totality of sound. I could take out the scalpel and did even make an attempt. It was to no avail. The whole refuses to be taken as anything less. Thus it’s a given that these guys are no amateurs.

I hear many things that hit me just right but don’t always believe many others will be along for the ride. I have eclectic (some would say odd or weird) tastes. “Prisoner” satisfies on many levels. You’re covered if you just wanna’ jam, only like classic rock, keeping it hip or need to maintain your cred as a discerning musical connoisseur (i.e. snob). The only way to lose is if your idea of great music is restricted to Kanye West, or (gulp) Justin Bieber.

P.S. I will be seeking out their previous two releases.

Kevin Stunnenberg – vocals & guitar
Bob Hogenelst – drums & backing vocals 
Gertjan Gutman – organ & bass

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