Mandalaband was the symphonic-rock project of English composer/arranger David Rohl. The project yielded a self-titled album on Chrysalis in 1975. The musicians on that recording became Sad Café. The Mandalaband nameplate was resurrected for the 1978 rock-opera The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies, which features Justin Hayward on one track.

Members: David Rohl (keyboards), David Durant (vocals), Ashley Mulford (guitar), John Stimpson (bass, guitar), Tony Cresswell (drums, timpani, tubular bells), Vic Emerson (keyboards, piano)

Mandalaband was assembled in 1974 by keyboardist and composer David Rohl (b. Sept. 10, 1950) after he became a sound engineer at Strawberry Studios in Stockport. The project was completed with a five-piece rock band and the London Chorale.

In 1975, the album Mandalaband was released on Chrysalis. Side one consists of the four-part “Om Mani Padme Hum” suite. The second half features four medium-length epics, including “Determination” and “Roof of the World.” The album was produced by John Alcock (John Entwistle, Thin Lizzy, Bandit) and engineered by Tim Friese-Greene (Peter Straker, City Boy, Huang Chung) with mixing by Rohl and Bill Price. Lyrically, the album deals with the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

In 1976, the backing musicians — guitarist Ashley Mulford, bassist John Stimpson, drummer Tony Cresswell, and keyboardist Vic Emerson — formed Sad Café with singer Paul Young. Also that year, the musicians (minus Emerson) backed folksters Therapy on the rerecording of their album Almanac (originally released in 1971). Sad Café released their first album, Fanx Ta-ra, in 1977 on RCA Victor.

In 1978, Rohl completed the second Mandalaband album, The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies, a concept work inspired by Tolkien. Each track features revolving casts of musicians and singers, including members of Sad Café and fellow Manchester/Strawberry bands 10cc and Barclay James Harvest. Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward sings the track “Dawn of a New Day.” Wishbone-kin Kim Turner (Andy Fraser Band, Alternative TV) plays percussion on most tracks.

Prophecies was set to be the first in a trilogy but no further Mandalaband projects materialized. Rohl produced late-’70s albums for BJH and Steeleye Span before leaving music to focus on his first love, Egyptology.



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