Esperanto were a European progressive rock outfit of somewhat unusual origin. Belgian violinist Raymond Vincent, pianist and musicologist Bruno Libert, and a pair of Italo-Belgian brothers, bassist Gino Malisan and his brother drummer, Tony Malisan. The core of the band was Belgian but it was on a trip to England that the original Belgian unit found the remaining members that would give Esperanto their unique sound.
After experiencing success in his native Australia with the Twilights and later Axiom, Glenn Shorrock decided to travel to England in a bid for international success. He was struggling and finding little or no success in England. The Belgians got in touch with producer David Mackay who knew of Glenn Shorrock and bada-bing Esperanto had a lead vocalist. After hearing a trio of Cliff Richard's back-up singers, Joy Yates, Janice Slater, and Bridget Dudoit their sound was complete.
Esperanto had a sound that was uniquely theirs. With violinist Raymond Vincent there are hints of American prog-rockers, Kansas but Vincent's violin playing is in more of a classical European vein than that of Kansas.
Shorrock, Yates, Slater, and Dudoit gave a glimpse of what was to come later when Shorrock would join Mississippi with Graeham Goble and Beeb Birtles and morph into Little River Band. Their vocal harmonies are tight and contribute to the uniqueness of Esperanto's sound. Another preview of Little River Band would come in the form of Statue of Liberty which Glenn would re-record with LRB on their debut album. The Esperanto version comes across a bit more bombastic and over the top than the somewhat more stripped down LRB version that would be recorded three years later.
After an extensive tour the band retired to a castle in Wales to record their next album. Shorrock decided to take his leave and return to Australia forcing the band to find a new lead singer, Keith Christmas. They also started working with King Crimson lyricist, Peter Sinefeld as their producer.
But it's their 1973 debut that is particularly interesting given Glenn Shorrock's post-Esperanto career path. The album shows Shorrock in a decidedly different light than his material with Little River Band would later display and gives the listener a greater appreciation of Shorrock's vocal versatility.
The album, besides being an interesting rarity is a well-done and thoroughly enjoyable album. The material is predominantly strong. While perhaps not to the same level as other groups whose places in music history are a bit more assurred (Yes, ELP, King Crimson, etc.) Esperanto is still certainly worthy of a few listens.
Esperanto (The Official Site)
Glenn Shorrock (wikipedia)