Review: Lucassen & Soeterboek’s Plan Nine – ‘The Long-Lost Songs’

Lucassen & Soeterboek’s Plan Nine – ‘The Long-Lost Songs’ is an adventure 30+ years in the making. The collaborative effort between Dutch musicians/artists Arjen Lucassen and Robert Soeterboek was originally planned for a release in the early 90s; but then Grunge hit and the hard rock/metal landscape changed dramatically. The pair struggled to find a home for an album that had more in common with British rock legends of the 70s and 80s that it had with angst-ridden, flannel-shirt wearing dudes from Seattle. The album was shelved and powerhouse vocalist Soeterboek joined the German band Wicked Sensation, as well as being the frontman for The Cotton Soeterboek Band. Lucassen, meanwhile, began to create the enviable Ayreon legacy with the 1995 debut album ‘The Final Experiment’.

The pair remained great friends and continued to work together – Soeterboek performed a few roles on ‘The Final Experiment’ – and after the vocalist wanted to record his version of Plan Nine track ‘Annie Moore’ for a solo album, the pair realised what they had created decades ago was special and inspired by collaborating again, they dusted off the original tapes, put together a stellar band and re-wrote and re-recorded songs from a time when Donald Trump was best known for his cameo role in ‘Home Alone 2’.

Equal parts classic rock, and blues-rock, with a few prog flourishes, ‘The Long-Lost Songs’ is a fun album; which is perhaps why it didn’t fit in the early 90s. If it was a Whitesnake era then the album would be Bernie Marsden (RIP) Whitesnake, rather than MTV/Tawny Kitaen (RIP) Whitesnake. As much as Whitesnake was about Lord Coverdale’s vocals, the lush keyboard work from the much-missed Jon Lord was as equally important, and with Plan Nine, the Hammond work from Lucassen’s go-to guy Joost van den Broek is often the glue that holds the songs together.

Cleem Determeijer handled the Hammond parts on the original recordings and here he pops up to reprise his role on ‘Annie Moore’ alongside Plan Nine studio members: Koen Herfst (drums), Rob van der Loo (bass), Irene Jansen (backing vocals) and Marcel Singor (guitars)

Opening with the lazy, easy-going rolls of ‘Doctor Robert’s Medicine Show’, Lucassen & Soeterboek paint a bluesy, swaggering picture where no-one is in a rush to get to their destination and are having fun on the journey. Soeterboek’s vocals have often been compared to Coverdale’s and it doesn’t take long to realise why. The same blues-filled, soul-drenched vocals that made DC stick out from the pack are front and centre here; especially on moments like ‘The Preacher’ where Soeterboek’s vocals are often more narrative-like – sidebar: Irene Jansen steals the show time and time again and constantly proves why she is invaluable to Lucassen.

‘Annie Moore’ is all about the duelling Hammond and guitar, and it’s no stretch of the imagination to think of Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore having at it to this one in primetime Deep Purple MKII (likewise, the shuffle of ‘Let It Ride’ often strays into Purple’s classic ‘Lazy’); ‘Get Down to Bizniz’ is ridiculously catchy and very much of that era (as is the bluesy power-ballad ‘Before The Morning Comes’).

‘Ice On Fire’ is crying out to be licensed to a show like Cobra Kai or Stranger Things, insanely good, it couldn’t be more 80s-like even if it wore legwarmers. Damn, the 80s were fun. As are the campfire-vibes of ‘Long Cold Night’ and album-closer and 80s-metal-fuelled ‘Die With Your Shades On’. The guitars are mighty on the latter. Mighty, I tell ya.

Go check the album out. It truly is worthy.

Available HERE via Mascot Label Group

Connect with Plan Nine HERE

Review – Dave

Group photo – Lori Linstruth

 

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