|The musical origins of Machiavel can be traced back to 1974, when two friends started playing together: Marc Ysaye (on drums and vocals) and Roland De Greef (on bass). When they teamed up with keyboard-player Albert Letecheur they called themselves Moby Dick.
Their line-up was complete when Jack Roskam joined to play guitar, while they also decided to change their name in favour of the more original Machiavel.|
|The songs they wrote were mainly influenced by the popular rock bands of that time (Yes, Genesis, Led Zeppelin) as can be heard on the cd-reissues of their first two albums who have extra songs recorded in 1974. Most songs didn’t made it on their first album although the demo recordings “To Be Free” (heavy!), “Don’t Remember”, “When You Turn Green”, “The Birds Are Gone” and “I’m nowhere” already showed some potential. Nevertheless, the songwriting ability of - classical trained - Letecheur, compelling the quartet to move into more and more “symphonic” territory.|
It was Jack Say, a relative of drummer Ysaye who managed to get them a contract with Harvest, a division of EMI-Belgium.
|The album recorded in Say’s Brussels studio emerged in the early months of 1976 and featured several tracks which had already established themselves as live-favourites, especially the ballad “Cheerlesness”. It wasn’t the most memorable debut offering of all time, but it contained fine idea’s, distinctive arrangements and most of all it established the name Machiavel as “the” Belgian sympho-rockers.|
The album sold well, concerts followed and in August 1976, even the prestigious Bilzen festival put them on their bill (among Rick Wakeman & Camel).
|It also became clear that recruiting a real leadsinger would elevate the band to higher standards. So Mario Guccio stepped in while guitarplayer Jack Roskam didn’t seem happy anymore and left, to be replaced by Jean-Paul Devaux.|
|Moving into 1977, this new line-up were soon ensconced in the studio once more and proceeded to lay down their second album called “Jester”.|
|Released with beautiful art-work (by Celle) it wasn’t an instant album but a more complex affair which gave all the musicians (especially Letecheur) ample opportunity to show off their skills. Stand-out numbers including “Wisdom”, “The Jester” and “In The Reign Of Queen Pollution” with an impressive lyric-theme about some post-apocalyptic future civilisation.|
|The lp was well received in Belgium and sold much better than the first.|
|The next long-player, “Mechanical Moonbeams” appeared in 1978 and signified Machiavel’s ability to compose first-class symphonic-rock.|
|Once more the outstanding cover art-work had been done by “Celle” (only in France Vincent Rio made a new design for those moonbeans as the record company thought the original was too erotic…) while tracks such as “The Fifth Season”, “After The Crop” and “Rope Dancer” were all instant classics. “Rope Dancer” was a ballad that was quit different to the other Machiavel material. It didn’t seem to be the bands favourite song, but when it was released as a single it sold remarkably well. In Holland the sleeve from this single showed the title wrong (roper!), result:…all copies had to be returned from the shops in a few days, which makes this record now a very collectable piece of vinyl.
|But also the long-player itself proceeded to sell in hugely impressive quantities. More and more people showed up when Machiavel played live; with a sold out Brussels show (2000-seater Cirque Royal) as one of the most memorable performances of their career yet.
|In 1979 the band returned to the studio to lay down their fourth album. “Urban Games” was a considerably more polished affair, which not only benefited from a rather more generous recording budget but also introduced some other musical influences. The boys introduced some pop-rock sounds to their symphonic music but not always with good results.|
|Some songs were particularly strong (the epic “Still Alive”, a rocking “The Dictators” and the piano ballad “Let Me Live My Life”) while others were open for discussion: “Dancing Heroes” was pure disco and “Over The Hill” had a reggae-feel and sax solo. When this song was released as a single in January 1980 (with the fine rocker “King Of Slogans” on the back), the public didn’t mind their change of style and gave Machiavel their first real hit single.|
|The album itself was also a major success and next up was a concert at the prestigious Vorst Nationaal Hall in Brussels, Belgium’s leading concert hall for foreign acts. Machiavel were the first Belgian rock band to play that hall. 4000 people found their way to see them play a stunning show with both old and new songs along with a rocking version of their new crowd-favourite “Over The Hill”.|
|The band was now really huge in Belgium, so that a 30 minutes documentary on the group was being broadcast on national television (RTBF).|
|During the process of writing songs for the next album Jean-Paul Devaux was asked to leave and was soon replaced by Thierry Plas. It was clear that the band wanted to explore new territory and continue in their more rocking style.
|Some new songs written by keyboard-player Letecheur were rejected by the others, so everyone decided it was best to continue without keyboards.|
|It was June 1980 when this new four-piece went abroad for the first time to record some new songs. In the Dutch “Relight Studios” (Hilvarenbeek) they teamed up with their new producer, famous Wild Romance and Kleptomania guitar player Dany Lademacher.
|When the album “New Lines” was released later that year it was clear that nothing from the old sound has remained. It contained two fabulous killer rock songs (“Fly” and “Turn Off”) while half of the album was really weak pop music. But luckily things turned out great as “Fly” released as single made it to the highest place in the charts! This immense success led to another memorable evening on February 14th when the band played Brussels Vorst Nationaal for the second time. Their hitsingle made it also possible to tour Europe with concerts in Germany, France, Spain and Holland.|
|A second single from “New Lines” came out (“Turn Off”) while “Wind Of Life”, a two years old unreleased song did appear on the “Sprouts” compilation album.|
|EMI decided to send them off to sunny Los Angeles where living legend Derek Lawrence (Deep Purple) would produce the new album.|
|“Break Out” was released in 1981 and, happily, it turned out to be an improvement on their previous offering, even though “Running” was a less inspiring, not to say a weak song. But the likes of “Draw The Line” (great dynamics), “Nobody Knows” (awesome ballad) and the heavy “Lay Down” showed a capable rock-outfit.|
|It’s never easy to follow up a hit-record and the new single “Charlena” failed to spark the public’s imagination at all, and sales were extremely modest. A further seven inch “Nobody Knows” didn’t do much either. It’s fair to say that the album was undoubted a success, but it could not cope with it’s processor in terms of commercial sales.|
In January 1982 the boys were demoing new material (“Song For Poland” and “Swindler” are bonus tracks on the “New Lines”-cd) and still, they took the road once more, also supporting Alice Cooper in France.
|The already dejected musicians did threw in the towel for good when they found out that their equipment was stolen while on tour; the last straw indeed…|
|In 1983 record company EMI took it upon themselves to assemble an album from the famous Brussels gig on February 14th,1981 and release it as “Valentine’s Day”. A truly fine souvenir from the band at it’s height. It’s great to hear the bands different version of “After The Crop” (without Albert this time), two early versions from songs that would end up on “Break Out” (“Hot Distress” and “Get Down”) and a shorted version of “Turn Off” (why?).|
|The same year Degreef and Guccio presented new work under the name “Beige Neige” (“Movement One” lp) and Isaye and Letecheur teamed up what would later become “Twilight”, a synthpop-duo.
They only managed to release two records and on that second one Thierry Plas played guitar. Both projects failed to elicit the same general level of enthusiasm among the nation’s rock fans as did Machiavel, quite logic as they had nothing whatsoever in common with Machiavel’s sound..
Mario Guccio’s name was in 1985 seen as producer on metal band Shyness debut twelve inch
while two years later he made a single (“another man”) with his pop-project “Init”.
|Although that there were rumours the same year that the group had recorded an album with it’s former keyboard player Albert Letecheur, it wasn’t until 1987 when a Machiavel album called “The Cry Of Pleasure” with new keyboarder Paolo Ragatzu hit the shops, we saw these were indeed only rumours…|
|Sadly it turned out to be a weak affair (not in songwriting, as especially “No Way To Heaven” and “Silences Lead” proved), completely marred by an eighties synthesizer sound and a lot of funky influences. The album didn’t do much (despite three singles) and only a handful of gigs were played to promote it before the revived band fell apart once more.|
|In 1991,however, there was an unexpected cd retrospective with the typically title of “The Best Of Machiavel”. Even better was the release (1993) of a box-set containing remasters of the first five albums along with bonus tracks.(Ten years later sold separate by Spalax records)|
|Marc Ysaye had made his way on national radio (now Classic 21) but he also joined the legendary Belgian band Burning Plague who reunited in 1994 but after he played on 2 albums he had to leave the band in 1998 because of lack of time.
|Thierry Plas made a rock album (“Every Germ Is Sacred”) with his band The Responsibles and saw himself play Vorst Nationaal Hall for the second time when they supported Page-Plant (Led Zeppelin) in June 1995.
|In July 1996 Stellla singer Jean Luc Fonck asked the boys to make a special surprise appearance when he played the Francofolies Open Air Festival in Spa. They agreed but had to find a keyboardplayer (did they asked Albert?!?...) and a guitarplayer as Thierry Plas was on tour with Vaya Con Dios (as he worked mainly as session musician in the nineties). Soon they found a replacement for the keyboard-spot: Hervé Borbé from symphonic band Now brought along guitar player Vincent Fis for one gig.|
|So on July 20th the lads played “Rope Dancer” and “Fly” in front of a stunning audience. It was clear that the people still knew their old heroes. As a result of this show, they were offered to play a reunion tour and even EMI decided to release another compilation cd. It was called “Anthology” (with once more artwork by Celle) and sold in large amounts while most concerts on the tour were sold out.|
|In the prestigious (sold out in advance) Ancienne Belgique in Brussels they won over the hearts of the people with a perfect set list, that contained songs from all their albums. Highlight was an appearance from Toots Thielemans who played harmonica on “Rope Dancer”.|
|Moving into 1997 the band spend the year playing a lot of concerts and the following year they confirmed that a new album was on it’s way. The boys had managed to swing a new deal with Arcade CNR Music and the first fruit of this affiliation came in January 1999 when “Virtual Sun” was released.|
|This new material did prove to be even stronger and more coherent than their original vinyl releases; an undeniably impressive mixture of (heavy)rock and slower ballad themes. It also was, as a whole, an extremely proficient demonstration of semi-progressive rock with mostly a huge “zeppelin-feel”. Highlights were “Running In The Desert Again”, “Something” and “The Rumour” but more important is that it didn’t contain weak songs.|
|Once again they managed to sell out the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels and this time the show could also be seen live on the internet. It was a (more than two hours) hot performance with no less than nine songs from “Virtual Sun” in the set.|
A double live album from Brussels was announced to be released later that year (EMI) but surprisingly it was the Brussels 1996 show that was released as “Machiavel live”.
|It was great to hear the good-sounding versions of the old songs, and some fine (heavy) new arrangements as well.|
|Also Dani Klein (Vaya Con Dios) worked with Marc Ysaye and Thierry Plas that period for her new project Purple Prose (cd released on BMG) but it didn’t turn out “rocking” as some may expected.|
In 2000 a lot of shows and festivals followed (as opening for Bon Jovi in Oostende in front of 20000 people) as well as another new (low budget) compilation album entitled “Original Hits”.
Much more interesting was the collaboration on a glam-rock tribute album with “Faith Healer”, an Alex Harvey Band-classic. This compilation album was released under the name “Glittering 2000” by P.I.A.S. records.
|Not that much happened the following year. EMI released (another) double compilation cd “Anthology” but this time it also contained Machiavel’s new single called “Heaven’s Rules” and even an as yet unreleased Twilight (Letecheur & Ysaye) tune from 1984.|
|In 2002 the band hook up once again to start writing a new album and by the end of the year, a new song, the slow Beatles-like “Wild As The Wind” appeared already as a single.|
|Early in 2003 the new effort “Welcome To Paradise” saw the light of day. It turned out to be a good album but a bit less thrilling as it’s predecessor. It’s less coherent and more split-up in either ballads (a beautiful “So Long” dedicated to Pierre Rapsat or rockers (“You’re The Woman” , “Take All The Moments”).
|The most remarkable inclusions were the colossal “Dreams And Fascination” and the atmospheric “Killing Life”.|
The boys concentrated the following months on the upcoming promotion (concerts) of the album. The setlist of this tour was quite surprising: all twelve songs from the new album were played in favour of only three oldies and an oldie-medley. Brave indeed, but why ignoring the beautiful “Virtual Sun”?
|Another shoddily-packaged retrospective “The Essential” was released; in fact nothing more than the “Original Hits” cd with another name and cover. Anybody said cash-in?|
The early months of 2004 brought good and bad news: the band was already recording a new album while a few weeks later was announced that former keyboardplayer Albert Letecheur had passed away on Mai 5th after a long disease.
|Finally in februari 2005 the new album; simply titled “2005”, was released preceded by a single “Chronic Love”; probably the most catchy Machiavel song ever! This new album continued where its predecessor had stopped, they are nowadays evolved into a modern sounding rock band who don’t care about categories. Sound-wise, it was certainly their most ambitious recording yet, and like “Welcome to Paradise” it had quite a few ballads (the jazzy “Your Shoulder” !) on it. Highlight of the album was the impressive “Washing Their Hands” (“as Zeppelin would sound like in this millennium”), the heavy guitar from “Ronny Runs” and the up-tempo “She’s A snake”. Thanks to the organ, this one sounds like the stuff Purple did recently.|
|While the heavy side of Machiavel is probably gone on record, it surely isn’t on stage as could be seen on the “2005” tour like on March 11 at Brussels Ancienne Belgique. Eight new songs found their way to a well chosen setlist. Thanks to the radio “Chronic Love” was already well known but it was “Ronny Runs” who gathered most of the applause of those new ones. “Fly” was played early in the set while the medley (“No Way To Heaven / Over The Hill / Lay Down / Turn Off”) is already a crowd favourite thanks to Thierry’s long guitar solo. Striking was the return of “Down on Your knees” and the oldie “Cheerlesness”. As usual the band got a lot of shows to promote this album and one of those was an appearance on the classic rock festival “Schwung” on Mai 21st. For this one-hour setlist they chose a summary of the more “heavy” songs, and when they returned on stage for an encore, it was clear they had even won the hearts of this “hardrock” audience.|