As the Triumvirat remasters keep rolling in, it becomes apparent how much the band changed over the years. Starting out as a bombastic, keyboard-led prog machine (or an ELP clone as many have labeled them) with such classic albums as Spartacus and Illusions on a Double Dimple, the band slowly went the commercial avenue, and the culmination of that style became A La Carte. While certainly no Spartacus, this CD does contain some good moments, however it sounds like a completely different band. With its mix of Toto or Ambrosia sounding California pop/prog and ELO harmonies, combined with the Keith Emerson inspired keyboards of Jurgen Fritz, A La Carte is pretty good commercial pop at times, average prog rarely, and bland for most of the ride.
Tracks like "Waterfall" , "Ok, I'm Late Again" and the catchy "Jo Ann Walker" are decent numbers, with the strong pop vocals of David Hanselmann leading the way, with Fritz in a support role on multiple keyboards. In fact, these tracks might have made some airplay in 1978 had the record company known what to do with them. "For You" is a sappy ballad, "I Don't Even Know Your Name" a light rocker with lots of horns and featuring all sorts of guest musicians. Too bad the extra manpower doesn't save this tune from mediocrity. The track that most closely resembles art-rock is "A Bavarian in New York", a hard driving song with meaty bass lines, and symphonic synths, organ, and piano from Fritz. Hanselmann really lets loose on this one with some wailing vocals, and I was left wondering what ever happened to this fine singer after this album. The funky, jazz-inflected instrumental "Original Soundtrack From the Movie O.C.S.I.D." is a great piece, but is followed by the generic "Darlin' " and the equally bland "Good Bye." Both tunes are like a poor man's Supertramp meets Stevie Wonder, and an obvious stab at the Billboard charts, which sadly never came.
A La Carte should be approached carefully, as it is not representative of all the previous Triumvirat recordings. While a halfway decent stab at light, commercial rock with flashy keyboards, a prog album it isn't.