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BEL AIR

Neo-Prog • Germany


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Bel Air biography
People often lament prog's near death in the '80s, but it was still very much alive in certain areas of Europe. One such place was Germany, and Peter Wustmann's WMMS label. One of the first bands to come from this fledgling company was Bel Air. In 1986, guitarist Frank Baur, guitarist / vocalist Steffen Wertz, drummer Fifi Maurer, bass player Hansjörg Vogt, keyboard player Markus Vogt, and flautist Felicitas Oettinger got together and recorded "Welcome Home." They had enough success to record a follow up, but three years was enough to take its toll. When they went back to record the follow up, 1989's "The sleeping Beauty," Fifi Maurer had been replaced by Holger Oberfell, Steffen Wertz was replaced by Klaus Meyer, and they brought in Andreas Kanthak to handle lead vocals. They never recorded another album of original music. However, in 1994 the debut was repackaged and released as "A Golden Dream." This version changed the original track order, and added two additional songs.

This very AOR based Neo, although they do break into a little more symphonic styles from time to time. On the whole though, I think they were listening to a lot of Asia. I do find the vocals a bit confusing. After losing Steffen Wertz, they were in the market for not just a guitarist, but also a new lead vocalist. Since they decided to split the duties between two people, I think they could have done much better than Andreas Kanthak. Perhaps that is why they never recorded again.

H.T. Riekels (bhikkhu)

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BEL AIR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BEL AIR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 5 ratings
Welcome Home
1986
3.14 | 10 ratings
The Sleeping Beauty
1989
1.42 | 5 ratings
A Golden Dream
1994

BEL AIR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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BEL AIR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Sleeping Beauty  by BEL AIR album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.14 | 10 ratings

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The Sleeping Beauty
Bel Air Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Bel Air - this totaly unnoticed neo prog band from mid '80's from Germany did a great job here with this second album and the final one from their career. They play in vein of Pallas, Chandelier or Deyss but with their own twist. Very pleasent this second album from 1987 named The sleeping beauty. Lots of great guitar chops, great key passages not far from Genesis (Duke era) very well puted together by Markus Vogt who really knows how to interplay with the rest of the musicians and create something worthy investigate. The best piest is the title track - The sleeping beauty - near 11 minutes of the highest class neo prog, the rest of the pieces are great aswell. I wonder why they are so unknown to prog circles this germans, this is really a great album who desearve a wider recognition. So a good album who desearves fro me 3 stars easely, well not a masterpiece but a good and catchy album all the way. Is quite hard to find this album, but if you do, give it a try, you will not be deseppointed for sure.
 A Golden Dream by BEL AIR album cover Studio Album, 1994
1.42 | 5 ratings

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A Golden Dream
Bel Air Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

1 stars When I bought this album I somehow knew I was descending to the dungeons of neo prog. This is not really psychic of me because this band is already on our site for several years and received just one rating on three albums in those years. I wonder why ? Not really unlogical to think we are dealing with an inferior band here. I don't want to be disresepctful to my German neighbours but this band or at least this album is really below par in practically every department. The production is poor (thinnish sound), the bands sound is shy and amateurish. The title track gets a sort of sweet atmosphere because of this mainly thanks to the female vocals. And if I say this track is probably the best (least poor) of the album and gets about 2 stars at best I think the story is just about told here. The only other track that is slightly worth while is A Fairy Tale with some nice flute. Worst of all tracks is A final Song in which the band suggests they are succesfully touring through Europe with gigs in a.o. Cardiff and Stuttgart. I'd say keep dreaming, I don't think this tour has ever occurred. I witnessed bands myself in those days that were ten times better than Bel Air and didn't get any crowds at all so I'm not buying this. Another strange aspect is that the language on this album is half English and half German. This very unusual, I'm not saying it's forbidden but it makes a very strange impression on me. And when they sing English it's with a terrible accent.

I could do a song by song review but to be honest I don't feel like it, besides: the scores would vary from 1 to 1,75 stars in almost all cases so that's not very useful. I'm usually not that harsh in my reviews but in fact it's not strange that this happens right now. It's like life itself, there will always be winners and losers; not every album on this site can be good enough for 3,4 or 5 stars. And in this way this album also has a purpose: by listening to this you realize what (prog)music can also be like. Like this obviously and then you appreciate the really good albums the more, after hearing this. Anyway, I can do no better than 1 star I'm afraid. Not recommended unless you can bear just about all neo prog and are not choosy at all.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Neo Team for the last updates

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