The Best Prog Bands You’ve Never Heard Of (Part Two): Yezda Urfa

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The second obscure band I’d like to talk about has a name to match their quirkiness: Yezda Urfa. With a name like that, you know these guys have to be unique.  The name has a rather simple origin, however: flipping through a dictionary, the band came across the names of two small villages, Yazd, Iran and Urfa, Turkey.  (Yazd was changed to Yezda in order to aid in pronunciation.)

The band itself consisted of five members: Rick Rodenbaugh (vocals), Mark Tippins (guitars), Marc Miller (bass), Phil Kimbrough (keyboards and flute), and Brad Christoff (drums and percussion). The Chicago area band released two albums, one in 1975 (Boris) and one in 1989 (Sacred Baboon).

Yezda Urfa are America’s response to England’s Gentle Giant: they are not copycats, but they are equally eccentric and talented.  Like Gentle Giant, the members of Yezda Urfa played their respective instruments with the utmost skill and precision. Sudden tempo changes, diverse and complex time signatures, and a variety of instruments are featured on both Boris and Sacred Baboon.  Although Rick Rodenbaugh’s vocals are not the strongest aspect of Yezda Urfa (which also applies to Derek Shulman of Gentle Giant), the musical talent of the band cannot be understated. Give them a listen, and I think you will enjoy their quirky sound. The names of the songs alone should grab your attention: Give ’em Some Rawhide Chewies, To-Ta in the Moya, Three Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands, etc.  Their bizarre, idiosyncratic style will not appeal to everyone, but overall Yezda Urfa is one of the more creative bands I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Give them a shot. Who knows, you may end up wanting some rawhide chewies.

Here’s Boris