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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2001
In his first two albums, Dan Fogelberg was finding his feet and developing his style, although on his third he seemed rather to have lost his way. This was rectified in 1977, with 'Nether Lands' being the album in which he really seemed to find his niche artistically. From then on, he moved forward confidently and met with considerable commercial success.
However, this album does not make any concessions in order to be commercial and contains no hit singles - it is an uncompromising artistic effort and merits sustained listening in order to fully appreciate its deep qualities. This was the first Dan Fogelberg album which I heard, and initially I did not particularly enjoy it. However, that soon changed, and it became the much-loved 'soundtrack' for an important time in my life. It remains my favourite Fogelberg album, sounding as good as ever after more than 20 years.
Whilst all the musical styles used here appear in some form or another in Dan's other albums, this one perhaps contains the broadest range of styles, as he experiments with intricate arrangements ranging from dramatically orchestrated ballads (the title track and 'Sketches') to rolling country-rock ('Once upon a time' and 'Lessons learned'), gentle acoustic guitar picking ('Scarecrow's dream'), light jazz ('Give me some time'), and slow, moody rock ('Loose ends'). And throughout, Fogelberg's tasteful guitar and keyboard work, and his soaring vocal harmonies, demonstrate his maturing musical talent.
Whilst not a concept album in the accepted sense, the mood and lyrical content of the album has a consistency throughout, the themes being the search for direction in life, issues of conscience and idealism, and the transitory nature of many relationships. Dan seems to have been going through a particular period of self-examination when this album was written, and there is a sense of strong feeling being put into the songs. This work is thought-provoking rather than entertaining, and is best listened to alone, without distractions.
It would be perhaps unfair to single out a particular track, but in many ways the closing song 'False faces' epitomises Dan Fogelberg at this time, with its powerful orchestration, strong vocal harmonies, intricate guitar work and lyrics expressing the inner struggles of the artist.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2006
Although it peaked at a respectable #13 on Billboard's album charts in June of 1977, this album is still unknown to many that have only listened for Dan's chart hits. Two singles ("Love Gone By" and the promo "Nether Lands") failed to achieve any true commercial success, but that statistic belies the greatness of content. "Nether Lands" contains some of Dan's finest compositions and flows beautifully, stirring many dimensions and genres of musical styles. For those attuned to the pure lyrical and melodic trademark folk style of Dan's, there are generous helpings here. For those with an ear for commercial pop, listen to the aforementioned tunes, as well as "Once Upon A Time" and "False Faces". Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and John David Souther are among the fine talents that lend a hand in crafting the sounds heard on this disc, and the compostitions are introspective and bold. This was a harbinger of great things to follow, and those who did buy this when it was a fresh 12-inch piece of wax knew it. Great from start to finish, and severly overlooked. Even more sad is that the CD is in great need of remastering, as the direct analog transfers are much too "tinny" without the lower registers and midrange represented well. Still a five-star event due to the artistry.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
This album is my favorite - ever! I have worn out so many copies that I can't even tell you how many there were.
Dan goes from Symphonic to Country Twang, to soft Ballad in that harmonious way only he can do. Songs like Once Upon A Time remince to Home Free. Dancing Shoes is a fan favorite ballad. And Nether Lands a full orchestral experience unlike any you've probably ever experienced before.
Dan Fogelberge shines on this album.. it's no wonder so many think he's a musical genius.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2007
I have always maintained that few solo artists have singlehandedly pulled off what Dan Fogelberg accomplished in 1977- a perfect album. And I think what goes to substantiate that more than anything is how Nether Lands failed commercially, slipping through the cracks of the studio floor, into the land of lost album classics. That is to say one stumbles upon a treasure like this buried in their sister's strewn record collection, dusts it off, plays it and is never really quite the same again. Such was exactly the case for me in '82.
I remember being drawn to this L.P. like the preverbial moth to a flame, back in my college days, well after it's initial release. Interestingly enough, it wasn't a particular song that attracted me, but the album itself. On the cover is Mr. Fogelberg himself, face etched in comptemplation, sullen, a bit weathered and with full beard looking well beyond its twenty-six years like long haired Dan had seen it all. The back cover seems to beckon you with its image of sunlight fractured among the trees of some great North woods. The inside sleeve, however, is what did it, with an owl-like stare of the artist against a mural of pastel colors, where printed were what I thought to be the greatest lyrics ever written.
Beyond all that is the glorious music which should leave you speechless.(If you're a baby boomer and it doesn't, you're dead.) The majestic title piece, an ode to freewill, is as compelling a song you're ever likely to hear. The lyrics are impeccable and the complex arrangement, courtesy of a full orchestra, is refreshing. Fogelberg gives his vocal cords a workout here and succeeds.
His numerous references to nature on Nether lands tell much about the man and his love of the outdoors, his prose akin to that of Thoreau or John Muir. The haunting 'Dancing Shoes', sorrowful 'A Scarecrow's Dream' and reflective 'Sketches' emphizise this greatly, the latter a beautiful piano piece that finds the writer late in a Summer thinking about an ex-girlfriend and reflecting on his youth at one point on a frigid winter's day. All of the songs captivate, even the somber ones, ending with 'False Faces'. Here the artist is caught up in life's modern day fast lane searching for answers as in the beginning. Oh what a restless spirit is he.
So after all these years and all of those playings I finally retired the album {two of them}, the cassette and even a CD, declaring Dan a genious in the process. Nothing he did before or since then has come close to this steller achievement. This is a record for the ages folks, something you can listen to while looking back at childhood and not being afraid of an imperfect sky. The recording evokes a sense of longing, a feeling that we'd like to return to those days when we were growing up, when playing in the fields or the woods after school was our greatest priorty and the timeless dance of the seasons across the celestial sphere actually meant something.
Dan Fogelberg takes you there where you simply exist,like a scarecrow, in the backyard of the Nether Lands.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2000
Funny, though this album did not contain any radio hits, many people were introduced to Dan's music via this album. Do not let the title of the album fool you, it is about Colorado!!
The album is an excellent piece of work throughout, as all Dan's 1970's albums are. Full orchestration on "Netherlands" and several other tracks. Some of the tracks are so powerful they are down right creepy, see "Sketches." He tosses in some french on the fan favorite "dancing shoes", while "Scarecrow's dream", is why this fan thinks of Dan as the greatest songwriter to come along in some time.......enjoy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2002
As is so often the case, an artist achieves his greates triumph early in his career. I don't know if they run out of inspiration, or simply succumb to the pressure to produce "hits," but so many decline shortly after hitting the big time. This is certainly the case here. This album, relatively early in Fogelberg's career, clearly displays the pinnacle of his artistic achievement ("Twin Sons of Different Mothers" offering the only possible argument to the contrary).
"Pop Artist" may be an oxymoron, but if anybody was able to achieve artistic success within the confines of "pop" music, surely it is Dan Fogelberg. There were no radio hits here, although "Once Upon a Time" and "Love Gone By" easily could have been, and probably would have been, had they been released after Dan had already made a popular name for himself. Like his more well-known "Part of the Plan" and "Heart Hotels," they display a catchy pop sensibility without degenerating into schlock or a here today-gone tomorrow faddishness.
What really makes this album special, though, are the other tunes, which stretch so far beyond the basic pop format, that we get some real insight into the artistic vision Fogelberg was capable of. The title cut and "Loose Ends," each a 5 1/2 minute mini-epic reflection, show an unusual depth for such a young artist. Other cuts include lush orchestration, but the perfectly balanced strings only add to the emotional impact. The final cut, "False Faces," finishes with a deep sense of melancholy, but is powerfully delivered and has major impact.
In short, this album is musically interesting, artistically successful, eminently listenable, and strong from start to finish. The one Dan Fogelberg Album that can be given a full 5 stars without reservation.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2005
I have not thought of this CD in years! I don't know where mine went to, but I know I have to get one soon. Once when we had had a very heavy ice storm we awoke to the sun glistening off of the sparkling layer of ice on everything and the sky radiating a brilliant blue. I had to go to the store and decided to pop in this tape. I promise you, you have not lived until you listen to this when it's snowing or when icicles are sparkling in the sunlight and a frigid wintry wind is whipping. This CD invokes scenes of winter in your mind like nothing else I've ever heard. (Even more so than Vivaldi's Concerto no. 4 "Winter" from the four seasons) If you close your eyes during the swelling of the orchestration, the strings, the twinkling of the piano keys and Dan's wonderful falsetto on the title track and you instantly see a beautiful winter wonderland in your mind's eye. I used to play this entire album when it snowed around Christmas time.

The entire CD is magical and wondrous. Dan's voice is only surpassed by his own voice when he harmonizes in duet. His collaborations with Tim Weisberg on "Twin son's of different mothers" and "No resemblance whatsoever" just doesn't come close to this CD for me. Only Fogelberg can back up Fogelberg and make such magic. I've not found another CD of his that I adore more than this one. All of the others pale in comparison even his more commercial songs. There is not one bad track on here Promises made, Dancing Shoes, the Nether lands (my favorite) are radiatingly orchestrated while Scarecrow dreams is a quiet bit of heaven and harmony to go to sleep by. The sound is soft, lilting, soothing and exciting all at once if that is possible. The CD reminds me of the adrenaline rush, then the soothing sense of wonderment you get with the first snow of the season. (Especially when you're a young child). What a journey. If he was trying to send me to another place besides the Netherlands when he made this masterpiece, then somehow I got on the wrong plane because that's all I can see when I listen to it!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2000
This is was my first Fogelberg album. This is the one that also made me purchase and follow the rest of his albums. I am always impressed at the diversity and emotional power with which Fogelberg writes/performs. He easily moves from soft ballads to driving rock and roll with a little country and classical mixed in between. There is never a dull moment with Fogelberg. He is an awesome talent. One of the things I like most about Fogelberg is he tries new things all the time. Good examples of this are his "bluegrass" album, High Country Snows; also Twin Sons of Different Mothers with flutist Tim Weisberg; and more recently his excellent Christmas Album. Fogelberg is always a treat to listen to, no matter what type of music you want to hear.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
In 1977, my girlfriend and I went to a Dan Fogelberg concert in Louisville, Ky. All I had heard of Dan was from his two previous albums and I really really liked "Souveniers". Well, time came for Dan to begin his show and he walked out and sat at the biggest, longest piano I had ever seen. He then proceeded to play the introduction to "Netherlands". You could have heard a pin drop in the whole auditorium. When he finished that song, I'm talking THUNDEROUS applause!! I know that Dan was not all about the applause, it was his art, but that had to feel GREAT!

On to the album, like many who have previously posted here, I have owned several vinyl copies, a couple of cassette copies, a CD, and now I probably will purchase this Japanese import. To say that I love this album is an understatement. Like so many artists who have passed away too soon, it can be sad and depressing to listen to Dan's sweet voice, but I can't help it.

Now, we here in Louisville are days away from the running of the Kentucky Derby, and this will be the first year we've heard "Run For The Roses" and are aware that Dan is not with us, but in a much better place. I remember him coming to Louisville to premier "Run For The Roses" just before it was released. He played a small, intimate set at a place in Louisville called the "Red Barn", which is just off of the University of Louisville campus. He played this song, and guess what? Once again, you could have heard a pin drop!! And afterwards? THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE!!!

Rest in peace, dear Dan. We miss your sweet voice. We miss your talent, your art. But as long as CD's like "Netherlands" are available to each generation that comes along, your music, your art, will never perish. God bless you, and thanks for sharing your music with the world.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2000
Nether Lands is an enchanting and imaginative look at love, longing and fulfillment. Fogelberg's lyrical examination of these themes is "nether" or "beneath the surface." Anticipation and fear are exposed in `Once Upon A Time' and `Promises Made,' where "Lessons Learned' and `Give Me Some Time' express the futility of superficial love. And the search for inner peace is the subject of `Loose Ends' and the final `False Faces.' These themes run through Nether Lands from beginning to end giving the CD a story like quality complete with an introduction (cuts 1 to 5), a climax (cuts 6 to 8) and resolution (cuts 9 to 11). Nether Lands reads like a voyage of questioning and discovery, and is best appreciated in a single setting.
The music is generally soft rock, and includes country (Once Upon A Time), folk (Lessons Learned), pop (Give Me Some Time) and rock (Love Gone By). The most touching pieces are orchestrated dreamlike compositions (Dancing Shoes, Scarecrows Dream, Sketches). Following the storyline, the music is probing and inquisitive, dramatic and relieving. Here, Fogelberg has expanded the soft rock California sound of the late seventies by including an intelligent and poignant theme. Melodic, luscious and discerning.
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