Many bands outside of the English-speaking countries have at almost all times had an extra challenge in trying to break through worldwide. The language barrier is there for those who doesn`t sing in English, and then there are those who sing with such an accent that it makes it harder for them to be taken seriously.
With an English vocalist, the Norwegian band Titanic shouldn`t have experienced those problems, but still never became a household name. Famous in Norway for having the first international hit for a Norwegian rock-band, the single “Sultana” also made it to No. 5 in the UK. Check it out on Youtube if you never heard it before.
Titanic – did they sink or were they pushed?
By Billy Walker
Titanic, four Norwegians and a Briton, attempt next week what many “Continental” bands before them have failed to do with any real convictions – make it in Britain. For varying reasons their contemporaries just haven`t made an impact, Burnin` Red Ivanhoe perhaps the only real exception, and they too did not really build up any hard and fast following.
The most obvious disadvantage for any of these bands is the language barrier – the vocalist trying desperately to wrap himself wholeheartedly round English lyrics – and this does have some bearing on a band regardless of their ability as musicians.
But Titanic, French based but working all over Europe may have a trump card in British vocalist Roy Robinson, the rest of the band talk pretty good English and their material is all done in English. This, added to the fact that there`s the need for new faces around now, could help Titanic in their bid over here.
CBS Records are suitably impressed with their property, their single “Sultana” has shown a steady increase in Britain, and so far there are dates at the Marquee (September 20) and the Lyceum (26) and the possibility of a TV spot.
With this in mind CBS sent over a party of four journalists (including myself) and two CBS representatives to catch the band live in Belgium, not Brussels as you might expect but Hasselt, quite a large and important town that stands on the Demer river and no doubt owes its name to the Belgian romantic poet Andre Henri Constant Van Hasselt.
The Germinal Hall (more shadows of literary genius here) was the chosen venue and Titanic were expected to set sail around 9 in the evening or 21.00 as we know it now, but due to their equipment having to come all the way from Spain (their gig the day before) by road things went pretty much as unexpected from then on. With all these hang ups it was the audience in the tiny, over-crowded and terrifically hot Germinal Hall that felt it most and they showed it later.
I`d seen them streaming into the hall around 7 p.m., there was no supporting act just Titanic and a disco to fill in the time until the band went on stage. The equipment arrived late, the crowd got hotter and less tolerant, the band didn`t go on stage until after 11 p.m. and when they did the amps were far too high and the sound obviously hadn`t been balanced properly.
Despite it all Titanic roared in Santana`s “Soul Sacrifice”, (a band with who they have quite a few musical line-ups consisting of guitar, organ, vocal, drums, timbals) and the audience seemed to like it. “Santa Fhey” (another of their hit singles on the Continent) and “Sultana” got the same sort of response but when the lights in the hall and the band`s equipment fused, it seemed like the straw that broke the camel`s back.
A few pleasantries from stage were met with either dis-interest or heavy expletives in return and although the band were really trying to get things to take off it was without result. The over amplification was such that inside the tiny hall it was hard to separate instruments correctly but from outside they sounded good.
It`s hardly fair to assess the band`s potential in Britain by this performance. The vocalist punishes his voice to incredible lengths to get a really hard rock sound, guitarist Janny sounded, beneath the banks of amps, to have a nice style and the organ really propelled the band along in their Santana-inspired excursions.
But at the Marquee, which has never claimed to be Britain`s most acoustically perfect venue, Titanic should be much more at home and will have the chance to show what they are really about and they`ll sink or swim on their ability. In Hasselt they sank but I think they were pushed a little.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: John Lennon, Humble Pie, Soft Machine, Albert Lee, Bob Dylan, Mountain, Elton John, Jim Gordon, John Coltrane, Brian Auger, Rankin File, Archie Fisher.
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