Eela Craig was an Austrian rock band of the 1970s and 1980s, that combined progressive rock with jazz and classical music influences as well as Christian lyrics. The band’s name is without known meaning.
The band was founded in Linz in 1970, and recorded its first album, entitled Eela Craig, in 1971 with a circulation of 1,500. Critics compared this album with established bands such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Colosseum. The band had a few onstage performances with the Zürich Chamber Orchestra in 1972, which led to more performances in well-known opera houses of Italy, Germany and Austria, uncommon venues for a rock band at the time.
The band signed a contract with Virgin Records in 1975, to release a number of singles and albums, including the Christian concept album Missa Universalis, and a signature ethereal cover version of Chris de Burgh’s “A Spaceman Came Travelling”, both released in 1978.
Missa Universalis was a musical translation of a (Catholic) high mass, which embraced lyrics in Latin, German, English and French. The compositions resembled the works of Anton Bruckner, mixed with elements of rock and electronic music. The premiere was performed at the Brucknerfest of the city of Linz and received positive acceptance.
The band was largely inactive between 1982 and 1986, but the two founding members produced solo music under the Bognermayr/Zuschrader name with Bognermayr’s own New Age label, Erdenklang. 1987 saw the release of three singles, which were targeted to match the contemporary pop music style. Eela Craig released their last album, Hit or Miss, in 1987.
On 17 November 1995, the band reunited for a one-time live performance in Linz. At the same time, Hubert Bognermayr published a compilation of the band’s music entitled Symphonic Rock. (wikipedia)
Wonderful symphonic rock that takes you to cloud number nine! (Erik Neuteboom)
And here´s theird 3d album.
Now here’s something you don’t hear too much in the world of prog rock: a Christian prog rock album. But EELA CRAIG did such an album in 1978. “Missa Universalis”, their fourth album takes a Roman Catholic Mass to a prog rock context. Luckily they didn’t have to water down their prog rock sound to have a religious theme. At this point, they were playing a rather lush style of prog rock heavy on the string synths, not unlike what ELOY was doing at the same time, only more polished, and surprisingly (given EELA CRAIG were Austrians), no ridiculously accented vocals like you do Frank Bornemann. For this concept, the members of the band decided to sing in four languages, Latin, French, German, and English, quite a lot for the band to do, put they pulled it off. Without a doubt, the opening cut, “Kyrie” is by far the highlight. The droning string synths and a voice that repeats “Kyrie Eleison” over and over really trips me out. “Credo (Part 1)” is a pretty nice ballad while “Credo (Part 2)” tends to be a bit more on the funky side. “Sanctus” borrowed from Anton Bruckner, and at the end goes for a funky jam reminescent of “One Niter”.
The closing song, “Amen” reminds me a little of VANGELIS circa “Heaven & Hell”.
But I also have a big complaint of this album: since I’m not Christian, every time I listen to this album, I really feel like I’m being preached at, like on “Credo (Part 1)” where the lyrics go: “And I believe, in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God”. I expect to feel like I’m being preached at when I’m unlucky to hear something from a CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) artist, not a prog rock band. Regardless, like the ELECTRIC PRUNES’ “Mass in F Minor” some 11 years before, “Missa Universalis” is a not entirely successful attempt at a rock Mass, but the music itself is decent enough. (by Proghead)
Hubert Bognermayr (keyboards, vocals, electronics)
Gerhard Englisch (bass, keyboards)
Frank Hueber (drums)
Wil Orthofer (vocals)
Fritz Riedelberger (guitar, vocals)
Hubert Schnauer (keyboards, flute)
Harald Zuschrader (keyboards, guitar, electronics)
Walter Karlberger (lyrics)
01. Kyrie (Bognermayr/Orthofer/Schnauer/Karlberger) 12.06
02. Gloria (Englisch/Orthofer/Karlberger) 6.04
03. Credo Part I + Part II (Zuschrader/Orthofer/Bognermayr/Karlberger) 8.07
04. Sanctus (Bruckner/Riedelberger/Schnauer/Karlberger) 8.53
05. Agnus Dei (Schnauer/Orthofer/Karlberger) 5.26
06. Amen (Englisch/Zuschrader) 2.02
More from Eela Craig: