Titanic

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Norwegian hard rockers of the 1970s who found hits across Europe with "Sultana" and "Macumba."
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Among so many other great landmarks in the history of rock & roll, the late ‘60s witnessed numerous technological advances when it came to recording and performing equipment, and, thanks in no small part to the emergence of Marshall amplifiers, the decade also gave rise to the era of hard rock and heavy metal. Power trios such as Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the deafening Blue Cheer provided the initial thrust, but once the subsequent holy trinity of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath burst onto the scene, the hard rock virus really spread like a plague across the globe -- even into distant, chilly, staid Norway, from whence came the aptly named Titanic.

Founded in Oslo in 1969, Titanic was initially comprised of guitarist Janne Løseth, organist and bassist Kenny Aas, drummer John Lorck, and percussionist Kjell Asperud. But then, in a trend soon to be followed by a number of German heavy rock combos such as Lucifer's Friend, Blackwater Park, and Epitaph, Titanic hired a British-born singer and lyricist -- one Roy Robinson -- in an effort to raise their international prospects. The ploy worked well enough for Titanic to be offered a deal by the French office of Columbia Records, which duly released the band's eponymous debut later that same year, and later booked them to perform at the Cannes Film Festival's gala screening of the Woodstock motion picture. The members of Titanic then decided to switch their base of operations to the south of France, and perhaps it was the change of environment that helped broaden the band's musical horizons, leading to the incremental classical, jazz, and Latin music influences found on the band's 1971 sophomore album, Sea Wolf. In fact, its biggest single, "Sultana," openly referenced Santana and would go on to chart at number five in the U.K., paving the way for later experiments in this style like 1974's Brazilian music-inspired "Macumba" single. However, Titanic had failed to repeat their prior chart success in the interim, despite a strong showing on 1973's critically acclaimed, once again quite eclectic Eagle Rock (featuring new keyboardist Helge Groslie and bassist Arica Siggs), and appeared to be in creative decline by the release of 1975's surprisingly mellow Ballad of a Rock ‘n' Roll Loser -- their final effort for Columbia.

Titanic would nevertheless soldier on amidst occasional lineup changes and diminishing success throughout the rest of the decade, releasing a couple more albums -- 1977's Return of Drakkar and 1979's Eye of the Hurricane -- on independent labels, but ultimately falling into forgetfulness. Except for dedicated heavy rock fans, of course, who still rate the band's first efforts among the finest examples of proto-metal and heavy prog to emerge off the mainstream beaten path.