Exposé Online banner

Ruphus — Ranshart
(Karisma KAR163, 1974/2019, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, 2019-07-23:

Ranshart Cover art

Karisma Records has begun a reissue campaign for the catalog of Norway’s Ruphus, a band formed in 1970 that went through a lot of changes and gained some notoriety in Europe, though they failed to make much of an impact elsewhere. That’s not for lack of quality, however, especially not on these first two albums. On 1973’s New Born Day the band consisted of Asle Nilsen (bass, flute), Hans Petter Danielsen (guitar), Kjell Larsen (guitar, flute), Håkon Graf (keyboards, vibraphone), Thor Bendiksen (drums, percussion), Gudny Aspaas (vocals), and Rune Sundby (vocals, guitar, sax). The shared male / female lead vocals of Aspaas and Sundby are one of the band’s distinctive features, with both singers contributing powerful tones. The music has elements of Deep Purple in the heavy guitar riffs and overdriven organ, and those factors combined with the strong vocals may bring to mind Uriah Heep. The music is progressive in the way that a lot of 70s bands were — not overly symphonic or complex, but a definite step above simple hard rock. The songs have varying sections, sometimes going from a propulsive riff to a delicate passage with acoustic guitar and piano. Much of the music has a detectable relation to the blues, but extended beyond its roots with chromaticism and some jazzy chords. It’s a strong debut with a lot going for it, both vocally and instrumentally.

By the time of their second album, both lead vocalists had departed, along with Danielsen, and new singer Rune Østdahl came on board. When I first saw the song titles, I was a bit worried — “Easy Lovers, Heavy Moaners” does not sound promising, but in spite of the questionable lyrics of the chorus, it’s not a bad song. In general, the music is less based on heavy riffs than on the debut, with more emphasis on keyboard chords and backing vocals. At times I’m reminded of Peter Banks’ Flash, especially since Østdahl’s voice is less gutsy than either Sundby of Aspaas, and also the way Nilsen’s bass figures in the mix. Gone is the Deep Purple resemblance. Side 2 of the original LP starts with “Pictures of a Day,” a nearly nine-minute instrumental piece which starts out with some nice keyboard work from Graf, with layered synths, organ, and Mellotron. Ranshart definitely has a different flavor than New Born Day, but both are worthy, and they set the stage for further changes that were to come for the band.


by Mike Ohman, 2000-05-01:

Regarding Ranshart:

The Norwegian group Ruphus suffered a drastic lineup shift after their 1973 debut, New Born Day, which resulted in the loss of, among others, both vocalists: Gundy Aspaas and Rune Sundby. New vocalist Rune Østdahl fills their shoes ably, and while Aspaas isn’t credited, her soulful voice is much in evidence on “Easy Lovers, Heavy Moaners” and in the background of a few other tracks. (She would be back full time for the band’s next album, Let Your Light Shine). In spite all the confusion, Ranshart can’t be seen as anything but an improvement on its predecessor. Kjell Larsen, now also doing the work of two, proves that no second guitarist is needed... his nimble-fingered playing is more than enough. Keyboardist Håkon Graf adds Moog and Mellotron to his rig, and uses them with reckless abandon. The result is a far more symphonic sound, based more on instrumental interaction than the vocal melodies that dominated New Born Day. Much to the delight of all, Asle Nilsen continues to double on flute, adding a wonderful contrast in timbre to Larsen’s guitar and Graf’s organ. If the English lyrics aren’t quite up to snuff, at least there’s the instrumental “Pictures of a Day,” certainly the most impressive song on the disc, and probably the band’s finest prog-rocker ever. Ranshart remains a unique album in Ruphus’ output, later albums turning toward a more jazzy sound. Fans of Yes-like prog, prepare for symphonic nirvana.


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 19 , 2019 releases, 1974 releases

Related artist(s): Ruphus

More info

Latest news

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hugh Hopper Band - Alive! – After his glory days with Soft Machine, Hugh Hopper went through some lean times (musically at least), until the mid to late 80s, when he hooked up with a crew of Dutch musicians for a number of tours...  (1999) » Read more

Klaus Schulze - Kontinuum – With great anticipation I waited for the release of Klaus Schulze’s 45th solo album Kontinuum and I was not disappointed. Klaus has been reissuing lots of music lately, but it is two years since his...  (2008) » Read more

Everon - Paradoxes – Getting me to review an SI release is somewhat analogous to trying to get Rolling Stone to review a Zamla Mammaz Manna album. Both would have their fair share of negative comments. I am really...  (1994) » Read more

Michael Zentner - Present Time – Formerly of the Muffins, Michael Zentner and his solo release drifted into obscurity over ten years ago, from which they have just been rescued. The lineup on this album differs from track to track,...  (1994) » Read more

Various Artists - Burning Shed Sampler Two – Burning Shed is an independent U.K. label that tries its best to span many genres. The label’s second sampler puts an emphasis on chilling out as ambient is the forte with a few notable...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues