Parzival

Parzival

After 50 years: new album

Parzival – the German rock legend returns

23 new songs, 130 musicians from 23 nations – Germany’s classic rock legend Parzival returns with a spectacular concept album back. “DAVID – THE HYMN” is the title of the first Parzival album in almost 50 years. 

It was a long, long time ago that German rock musicians let themselves be influenced by what their Anglo-American role models have always lacked: Classical music and a Middle Age full of heroic legends. The first and most popular band of the new genre, known as classical rock, was Parzival. According to  Rolling Stone magazine, they were “the first of this genre”. The British trade magazine Melody Maker ranked the trio among the “most interesting groups in Europe”.

Now – after an eternity – Parzival is presenting a new musical work. A critical view of the present: The concept album “David – The Hymn” pillories the destructive greed for power against the background of the climate and refugee crisis. But the decisive moment is the longing for peaceful community and love.

About 130 artists from 23 nations were involved in the recordings. These include musicians from the worlds of rock, pop and classical music, veterans of acts such as Santana, Prince, Backstreet Boys and Nigel Kennedy, members of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg and Master Drummers from Ivory Coast´s and Benin´s National Ensembles. No designer pop from the music computer, but handmade songs. Rock, classical music, folk, African and Arabic sounds merge into that independent sound that had already distinguished Parzival five decades ago.

The band from Bremen (Germany), named after the medieval Grail Knight Parzival, basically consisted of a threesome: Lothar Siems (guitar & vocals), Thomas Olivier (drums, percussion & vocals) and Walter Quintus (violin, piano & bass). Classic instruments such as violin, cello and flute encountered folk and rock instruments such as guitar, bass and drums.

In 1971, the most inventive German sound designer of his time  signed Parzival: producer Conny Plank (Kraftwerk, Scorpions, Ultravox, Eurythmics, Gianna Nannini).

On the venerable Telefunken label, Teldec released the albums “Legend” (1972), “BaRock” (1973) and the single “Souls Married To The Wind / One Day” (1972). In England, RCA signed the band exclusively. To date, the LPs are being reissued again and again worldwide, most recently by Warner in Japan. 

The avant-garde classic folk rock elated reviewer at home and abroad: A strong individualistic debut (San Francisco Chronicle) – Strange sound world with a mysterious touch (Pop) – New pop music with flutes and violins (BILD) – The most musical German pop group (HÖRZU) – Record of the year (Petra) – Funky Psychedelic and concertante classical music (Rolling Stone) – One of the real pearls from Germany’s folk scene (New Musical Express, London) – Sound castles of discreet elegance and beauty (Berliner Morgenpost) – More than a rock legend (Neue Zürcher Zeitung).

With the societal changes ushered by the 1968 revolt, the music scene in Germany had changed. Even before that, rock ‘n’ roll and beat music had helped bury the decorous old music times, but now bands playing what English critics had christened “Krautrock” eperimented  ever more more daringly. 

The Parzival founders were way ahead of their time: Long before the London Symphonic Orchestra played Beatles songs, ELO, Metallica and Lady Gaga showed how to play with an orchestra, i.e. long before rock and classical music met effectively, the 1970s saw the public arrival of a German band that had already realized this concept, to the delight of critics: Parzival was the first German classic rock outfit. With their extravagant style Parzival provided the template for many bands of the 1980s and 1990s.

With their earlier band Beazzic Conservatory in the 1960s, the school mates Siems, Quintus and Olivier had already created a style of music that was unique at the time. In England, groups like The Nice, Moody Blues and Procol Harum tentatively experimented with classical colorings, although this was mostly limited to organ or keyboard sounds. Jethro Tull brought the flute to rock music, but there was no rock band anywhere which strings provided half of the music.

In 1972, Germany’s music journalists prized Parzival´s debut album “Legend” as one of the “most interesting productions of the year”. At the same time, the German Ufa newsreel produced several film clips of Parzival. These were the first German music “video clips” to be shown in cinemas worldwide. Radio stations boycotted some of the songs whose lyrics, condemning the Vietnam war and the nuclear arms race, had sparked outrage among the guardians of public morals: “Political pornography!”

Parzival were pioneers, however lacking the endurance of their medieval namesake: In 1973 the band disbanded. Today music encyclopedias name Parzival in the same breath as The Nice and Procol Harum. To date, the LPs are being reissued again and again worldwide, most recently by Warner in Japan. The original editions of the albums “Legend” and “Ba-Rock” are now valued as jewels by record collectors all over the world. A specimens of one of the original vinyl LPs can fetch hundreds of Euros today.

After Parzival’s swan song, the three music knights parted ways:

Lothar Siems (guitar, vocals), now a sought-after media designer, turned to photography, writing poetry and short stories. Walter Quintus (violin, bass) rose to become a well respected producer and sound engineer on the international jazz and world music scene (Kraftwerk, Jan Garbarek, Eurythmics, Pat Metheny, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, NDR Bigband, Gary Moore). He never saw the completion of the album. The Parzival co-founder suddenly and unexpectedly left this world forever in February 2017.

Parzival´s singer and drummer Thomas Olivier founded a press agency. As a free lance journalist and author he met many celebrities in the international music and film world. Whether David Bowie or Brigitte Bardot, Peter Ustinov or Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Elton John or Paul McCartney – Olivier’s archive of stories, anecdotes and photos is almost unparalleled.

The music never let go of him. He founded a music publisher, worked as a composer, studio musician and producer. In 1980 his band Strawberry Sky were among the winners of the German Phono Academy. In 2002, the resident of Hamburg made his debut as an interpreter of children’s songs. He became the voice of the cartoon hero Pettersson on the “Pettersson & Findus”-CDs by the Hamburg musician, composer and producer Dieter Faber (Karat, Die Prinzen, Nena, Lindenberg), who now plays a key role in Parzival’s comeback.

The concept album “David – The Hymn” unites singers from all over the world. Individually or combined, they form a multinational choir, giving the album individuality, musicality and thus a special charm.

Guitars and strings, flutes, trombones, trumpets, horns and pulsating percussion all contribute to the magic of the album. A world-spanning sound journey, an international sound painting. Three songs have been written by the triumvirate Siems, Quintus, Olivier. To be heard from October 29, 2021 on CD and on all download portals. A release as a vinyl double LP follows.

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