Formed in the Netherlands in the early seventies, Kayak's initial line-up featured keyboard players Max Werner and Ton Scherpenzeel, together with bassist Cees van Leeuwen, drummer Pim Koopman and guitarist Johan Slager, with Werner handling most of the vocals. Their debut album, "See See the Sun", released on the EMI Harvest label, came out in 1973. Alan Parsons had a hand in remixing some of the tracks. Kayak demonstrated an intelligently and competently performed brand of keyboard orientated progressive rock, complete with a number of guest female vocalists. Scherpenzeel also proved to be an outstanding keyboard player, and the fact that he later appeared with Camel in 1984 is testimony to his abilities. The band had a minor hit with their "Starlight Dancer" album in 1977 and were considered to be one of Holland's best progressive bands at the time. They split in the early eighties after their "Eyewitness" album, but reformed in 2000 and released " Close to the Fire", an excellent 'come-back' album, that year. Scherpenzeel, Werner and Koopman are still with the band, together with bassist Bert Veldkamp (who featured on "Merlin"), and new guitarist Rob Winter. 
  

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Biography by Paul Collins
With their instrumental prowess and keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel's facility at writing lyrics in English, you might be forgiven for mistaking Kayak for a bunch of clever proggers from London. But this Dutch band began in 1968 in the city of Hilversun, where Schenpenzeel and drummer Pim Koopman attended a music conservatory. After the addition of guitarist Johan Slager, bassist Cees van Leeuwen, and vocalist Max Werner, the group solidified by 1972 and commenced recording. Stylisically they featured the instrumentation and chops of progressive acts like Yes and Genesis, but the pop song structures of Supertramp and the Alan Parsons Project; as time passed they increasingly favored the pop side of the equation. Royal Bed Bouncer, the most even balance between these two styles, was to be a commercial and artistic high point for the band. They continued to meet with minor success throughout the seventies on a variety of record labels, and in 1974 toured in support of Queen-a move that influenced the flavor of their later work.

Like most progressive bands, Kayak never had a terribly stable lineup; at one point they went through three bassists in as many years. With Scherpenzeel as the sole constant, Kayak's first lineup also proved to be their finest; but Koopman's asthma forced him to retire in 1976, and Werner was so tortured by stage fright and unfounded doubts over his singing ability that he demanded the vacated drum chair for himself, leaving the vocals duties to new member Edward Reekers. Scherpenzeel's central role in the band eventually wore on the others, and Kayak fell apart in 1980. Scherpenzeel continued on to work with the English band Camel and now composes primarily for the theatre. Koopman and Reekers work in music production and performance; Werner left the stage to become a postal worker, and van Leeuwen has become-of all things — a prominent lawyer. The band reunited in 1997 for a Dutch TV special, though no new recordings have yet emerged. 

 

Ton Scherpenzeel
Max Werner
Pim Koopman
Peter Scherpenzeel
Johan Slager
Cees VanLeeuwen

Yes
IQ
Genesis
Camel

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Kayak - 1973 - See The Sun - 3.5/5

Kayak - 1974 - Kayak - 3/5

Kayak - 1975 - Royal Bed Bouncer - 4/5

Kayak - 1976 - The Last Encore - 2.5/5

Kayak - 1977 - Starlight Dancer - 2.5/5

Kayak - 1978 - Phantom of the Night - 2/5

Kayak - 1980 - Periscope Life - 2/5

Kayak - 1981 - Merlin - 3/5

Kayak - 1982 - Eyewitness - 4/5

Kayak - 2000 - Close to the Fire - 3.5/5

Kayak - 2002 - Night Vision - 2.5/5

Kayak - 2005 - Nostradamus - The Fate of Man - 3.5/5

Rating

 

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