It is sometimes said it’s the journey not the destination. That simply doesn’t cut it for me. I am Mr. Impatience and I always need a goal. Nobody can wait forever … right? Have to catch that train, while running on the platform, like Alquin’s band members on this LP’s inner sleeve. There have been a few times when I just managed to catch a train whereas my wife and children were still on the platform. The doors of the car were already closed. My train took off with me, leaving behind two crying children and a wife not amused. Fortunately, family reunification invariably came at the next station. This cover by Alquin reminds me of those moments.
A beautiful surrealistic cover in the style of the Belgian painter René Magritte. The cover was made by George Noordanus, of design agency ‘The Cream Group’ from Amsterdam. He is, among other things, the designer of the famous 1971 Dutch poster for a pacifist political party with a naked woman and a cow, with the slogan “PSP disarming”. Haarlem train station is depicted on the photograph on this cover, designed in 1906 by the Hague architect Dirk Margadant. According to many, it is the most beautiful station in the Netherlands. The beautiful steel and glass roofs are interspersed with elegant Art Nouveau architecture of glazed brick. Looking like that, a train station can easily last another hundred years.
The album was made in 1975. Clearly visible from the haircut of said band members. More than 45 years ago, hair onto your shoulders was the fashion for men. I was 16, 17 years old when Dutch prog rock flourished. Focus, Kayak, Supersister, Alquin just to name a few bands. I’ve seen them perform many times at community centers and high school parties.
For Alquin, this album meant their breakthrough to the general public. I don’t really know whether it also meant their big international breakthrough. Alquin’s music has a special place in my heart. As it appears, this has to do with age. Your brain seems to be at the peak of its development from the age of 16 to 21. Everything you take in during that time clings to you like a supertanker’s anchor. Moreover, as a teenager you are looking for freedom and looking for your own interpretation of life. Progrock and associated lifestyle may very well be such an anchor. Every weekend I went to a concert, if one of the previously mentioned bands was appearing at a venue near me. Secretly, and illegally, you bought some weed – coffee shops didn’t exist back then – and with hair onto your shoulders you enjoyed the music together with a bunch of friends. Afterwards you would endlessly discuss the performance and soloing.
It is strange that only now I am writing about a Dutch album cover. Perhaps undervaluation as is generally the case for Dutch progrock music (with the exception of Focus). The Alquin cover certainly belongs in the hall of fame of record sleeves. The surrealistic image of a man in a chair on the platform. What is he waiting for? Is he actually waiting? Or do I just fill in the blanks, because this is my instant association with Haarlem station. Station-train-departures, something like that. But instead of railroad tracks you see water. That puts you on the wrong foot. And when waiting, you usually don’t sit in a chair, relaxed. In short, there is nothing truly realistic about the cover. Artist George Noordanus was given a free hand by Alquin’s band members. As he should. His idea for the design of “Nobody can wait forever” came from the first line of the final song on this album, Revolutions Eve. Nobody can wait forever. Every once in a while you get the feeling that you have to escape your comfort zone, want to be free again, let your hair down. Is the person in the chair musing about that? Anyone can have his own interpretation; that’s the beauty of surreal images.
Alquin broke up but some of its members are still performing. A few weeks ago there was a live stream of the Lone project of singer Michel van Dijk and guitarist Ferdinand Bakker at De Boerderij. Now all we want to do is experience this in a live setting, preferably soon. I can hardly wait.
By Gerrit-Jan Vrielink
Translation Alex Driessen
Thanks to Ferdinand Bakker for providing the information about the cover.