Kayak were a Dutch art-pop band that released eight albums on EMI and Vertigo between 1973 and 1981.

Members: Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards, piano, organ, accordion, vocals), Johan Slager (guitar, vocals, 1972-81), Max Werner (vocals, percussion, 1972-81, 1999-2001), Pim Koopman (drums, percussion, vocals, 1972-76, 1999-2009), Cees van Leeuwen (bass, 1972-74), Bert Veldkamp (bass, vocals, 1974-76, 1999-2004), Rob Winter (bass, vocals, 1974-76, 1999-2004), Charles Schouten (drums, 1976-78), Theo de Jong (bass, 1976-78), Peter Scherpenzeel (bass, 1976-78), Edward Reekers (vocals, keyboards, flute, 1978-81, 2004-14), Irene Linders (vocals, 1978-81), Katherine Lapthorn (vocals, 1978-81)

Kayak formed in 1972 when Hilversum conservatory students Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards) and Pim Koopman (drums) met singer/percussionist Max Werner. Scherpenzeel and Koopman hailed from the Nederbeat act High Tide Formation, which issued the single “Fluffy” (b/w “White Walls”) on Omega in 1970. Guitarist Johan Slager first linked with the pair after the release of that single. The original Kayak lineup was rounded by bassist Cees van Leeuwen.

1973–1975: The EMI Years

Kayak signed to EMI and released their first album, See See the Sun, in 1973. Side one features four tracks, including three medium-length numbers: “Reason For It All,” “Mouldy Wood,” and “Lovely Luna.” The shorter cut, “Lyrics,” was issued as a single, backed with the non-album “Try to Write a Book.” The second side features five numbers: “Hope for a Life,” “Forever Is a Lonely Thought,” “See See the Sun,” “Mammoth,” and “Ballet of the Cripple.” The last two cuts were also paired as a single.

Scherpenzeel composed the opening two numbers and co-wrote six additional tracks. Koopman contributed “Lovely Luna” and co-wrote five other songs. Leeuwen penned the lyrics to two numbers (“Ballet of the Cripple” and the title-track). Werner plays Mellotron on select passages. See See the Sun was produced by Frank Jansen and Gerrit-Jan Leenders and engineered by Pierre Geoffrey Chateau.

Kayak released their second, self-titled album in 1974. The nine-song collections features three Scherpenzeel solo compositions: “Alibi,” “Mountain Too Rough,” and “Woe and Alas.” Koopman contributed “Mireille” and, with Leeuwen, co-wrote three songs: “Wintertime,” “They Get to Know Me,” and “Trust In the Machine.” Scherpenzeel colaborated with the pair on the closing track, “His Master’s Noise.” “Serenades” is a Scherpenzeel/Koopman co-write. Additional instruments heard on this album include marimba (Koopman) and accordion (Scherpenzeel). String and brass arrangements are credited to Willem Jongbloed.

Kayak is alternately known as Alibi (after the opening track) and Kayak II. The album was co-produced between Leenders and the band. Sessions took place on both sides of the pond with engineering by Chateau (Intertone Studios, Heemstede) and future Be-Bop Deluxe/XTC producer John Leckie (Abbey Road Studios). Leeuwen left the band after this release. His place was taken by ex-Zoo bassist Bert Veldkamp.

Kayak’s third album, Royal Bed Bouncer, appeared in 1975. Scherpenzeel wrote most of the songs this time, including all of side one: “Royal Bed Bouncer,” “Life of Gold,” “(You’re So) Bizarre,” “Bury the World,” and “Chance for a Lifetime.” He also wrote four songs on side two: “If This Is Your Welcome,” “Moments of Joy,” “Said No Word,” and “My Heart Never Changed.” Koopman contributed the short, wordless ballad “Patricia Anglaia.” Chateau co-engineered the album with Jan van Vrijaldenhoven, who went on to work with the pop-vocal group Pussycat.

Royal Bed Bouncer was issued with two different covers. On European and Japanese pressings, it shows an oryx running across a brown desert. In North America, where the album was released on Janus, the cover shows a photo of a Gold State Coach enframed in magenta.

1976–1977: The Last Encore and Starlight Dancer

Kayak switched to Vertigo for their fourth album, The Last Encore, released in 1976. It features six numbers per side with credits evenly split between Scherpenzeel and Koopman. The former contributed “Back to the Front,” “Nothingness,” “Relics From a Distant Age,” “Love Me Tonight / Get On Board,” “Raid Your Own House,” and the title-track. The first of those features a rare co-writing credit by Slager. Koopman wrote “Love of a Victim,” “Land on the Water,” “Do You Care,” “Still My Heart Cries for You,” “Evocation,” and the 50-second postlude “Well Done.” This would be his last album with the band.

The Last Encore was recorded and self-produced at Morgan Studios, Brussels, between May and July 1976. Veldkamp plays saxophone and zither on select passages. Ton’s brother, Peter Scherpenzeel, plays recorder on “Relics From a Distant Age.” 



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