Supersister - Pudding En Gisteren/Superstarshine

Year of Release: 1990
Label: Polydor
Catalog Number: 843-230-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 70:47:00

Supersister. Sounds like a name for a 70s disco band, right? Or at the very least a band of long blond-haired guys a la Player, Pablo Cruise ... etc. Well, they were a 70s band, alright. And they had long hair (if the cover of Superstarshine is any indication) but ... disco this isn't.

But then again, they aren't quite the purveyors of staid seriousness like Yes were and are, either. The best way I could describe them, Supersister, would be to say they are the Monty Python of progressive rock (or at least bordering on it).

I mean, "Judy Goes On Holiday" begins innocently enough with fuzzed organ (Robert-Jan Stips), energetic but controlled percussion (Marco Vrolijk), and gritty bass (Ron van Eck), moves to a pastoral section of gentle flute (Sacha van Geest) and understated percussion - actually, it all becomes very understated. Until the keys return at more than 5 minutes in, you might think the track has ended. But this section of the track is quite beautiful; guitar enters, plucking out a few notes here and there.* Of course, a few moments later it's 50s doo-wop, or at least, doo wop-esque. It's one part Frankie Valli and one part ... Bowser from Sha-Na-Na, say. In other words, a contrast between falsetto and baritone voices.

There's more kookiness on "The Groupies Of The Band" which includes refrains sung to the Beach Boys' "In My Room" and some holiday-time traditional I can't quite name. "Fancy Nancy" is where Supersister do Elvis ... think "Don't Be Cruel." "Gonna Take Easy" made me think of the quirkier of the Camel tunes, by way of Richard Sinclair and Caravan.

According to the New Sonic Architecture site [which is now defunct], the tracks from Superstarshine are from a "Dutch compilation of live material (a twelve minute version of the annoying yet ultra-fun 'Wow'), singles, edits, alternate versions, etc." So ... perhaps that explains some of it. "Wow" is a jam session that begins with flute, switches to keys, keys and percussion ... with full stops in between. You'll hear hints of other pieces of music, but I don't get the feeling that it was intentional. It just seems to roll along, following a path that seems more improvised than composed. At the six and half minute mark it breaks into what I can only describe as, well, Monty Python-like.

Oh, but there is "traditional prog" here as well, of course. The "Pudding en Gisteren Music For Ballet" has a very nice flute led section about halfway through. Percussion and keys of various sorts keep it moving. At about 11 minutes in, it becomes a playful, ELP-like piece, but soon, and suddenly, switching to a gentle, subtle flute lead piece (again, but a different arrangement). "She Was Naked" wouldn't seem strange along side Iron Butterfly, say, or the Guess Who. The most "straight" track is "Missing Link," which is mostly flute lead, but there is also strong percussion, and growly bass.

None of this would work, of course, if they weren't talented musicians. Then it would come off as crass; instead, the humour quotient is fully intact. What a fun, very skilled, band. Stips has quite a nice voice, slightly accented which adds character to the otherwise "British" sound he has. I quite like this witty type of music - the dichotomy between light, airy, and friendly arrangements - piano, keys, minimal percussion - and dark, cynical, and humourous (and yet "spot on") lyrics. If you like both progressive rock and humour then Supersister is a band to check out.

Two tracks were left off from the original LP release of Superstarshine, and the booklet is quite lacking in any kind of details. The essential info is there, of course - who the band are/were, the songs with timings and credits, though tracks 8 and 12 should be swapped (the track listing below reflects the actual sequence rather than the printed sequence).

* There's a myth about Supersister using no guitars, but unless the liner notes are wrong, which is possible, guitar was used on "Judy..."

Official band website linked below - info also at

Pudding...: Radio (4:00) / Supersisterretsisrepus (0:16) / Psychopath (3:58) / Judy Goes On Holiday (12:38) / Pudding En Gisteren Music For Ballet (20:59) / Superstarshine: She Was Naked (3:43) / Missing Link (2:57) / Fancy Nancy (2:40) / Wow (live recording) (12:58) / The Groupies Of The Band (4:28) / Spiral Staircase (3:04) / Gonna Take Easy (1:46)

R.J. Stips - keyboards, vocals, vibes, mouth organ
R. Van Eck - bass, guitar, mouth organ
M. Vrolijk - drums, congas, percussion, vocals
S. Van Geest - flute, tenor sax; voice (1)

Present From Nancy (1970)
Spiral Staircase (1970)
To The Highest Bidder (1971)
Supersister (1971?)
Pudding En Gisteren (1972)
Superstarshine Volume III (1973)
Iskander (1973)
Startrack Volume 1 (1973)
Sweet Okay (1974)
Iskander/Spiral Staircase (1990)
Pudding En Gisteren/Superstarshine (1990)
Present From Nancy/To The Highest Bidder (1990)
M.A.N. (Memories Are New) (2000)
Supersisterious (2001)
Univeral Masters Collection (2002)

Sweet Ok Supersister (2006) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: August 27th 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1382
Language: english


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