Omega — “Utazás A Szürke Folyón”/”Journey on the Grey River”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — May 20, 2023


832) Omega — “Utazás A Szürke Folyón”/”Journey on the Grey River”

“Down the grey wild river there’s a road waiting for me. I must go and leave the one who gives me a home.” (courtesy of Google translate)

Haunting prog from Hungary’s greatest rock band (see #195, 644, 766). The song is off the band’s third album — 70’s Éjszakai Országút (On the Highway at Night) and both the album and song are “full of energetic heavy prog rock with acid spices – guitar riffs, stomping rhythm section and nice Hammond organ backing. . . . [The album] is [a] highly recommended early heavy prog album from the turn of the decade, and surely one of the best non-English East-European albums of this era.” (Seyo,

Majnik László says (courtesy of Google translate) that “[i]n 1970, apart from Omega, no one played such progressive rock in Hungary, in my opinion the sound of the album was completely new and actually daring.” ( Vibrationbaby calls the album “a very interesting combination of some very trippy psychedelia as well as some romantic ballads which seem to draw from their Hungarian folk roots and not unlike songs that were being produced by contemporary western bands in the late sixties.” (

Iván Herskovits opines (courtesy of Google translate) that:

Ten or fifteen years ago, you could read a lot of comments saying that [the album] was cuckoo eggs and such nonsense. By now, you’re reading things like Journey on the Gray River is hypnotic. . . . Night Highway is a dark, claustrophobic record, which is strained by the contrast between the individual members and the awareness that they are not suitable for each other – especially in terms of musical manual skills. . . . From a band that is torn apart by dissatisfaction coupled with a willingness to do something, usually records are born that the makers consider bad and don’t like. It is precisely because of the negative energy that such an album will be not necessarily moody and dark, but usually tense from the first moment to the last. The members of the band – especially Presser . . . still said half a decade after the [band’s] split that Night Highway was not as good as the previous one, 10,000 steps. I didn’t even understand then: how can they not hear how great this record is?! Of course, all this is understandable from the band’s point of view, because there are no hits like the one before on the Night Highway. And so, as is now well known, the band was unable to offer [Gábor] Presser [keyboards, vocals] a musical challenge.

ÉLŐ OMEGA tells us that:

The [album’s] title itself is a symbol. A wanderer walking or driving by car on the highway at night often sees a world different from the daytime reality, his imagination expands and the possibility of imagination multiplies. Gábor Presser, the author of most Omega numbers, said at the press conference held at the release of the album: “Most of the good ideas and melody sketches come to mind when after the concert, we are tired on the way home by bus and we stare at the night with closed eyes.”

About Omega, Yuri German informs us:

The most successful Hungarian rock band in history, Omega was formed in 1962 in Budapest by a group of friends. The lineup changed several times during Omega’s early years and there was no consistent music style to speak of. As with many other rock groups of the early ’60s, the band’s repertory largely consisted of songs by popular British bands of the period. Only in 1967, when they were joined by Gábor Presser (keyboards, vocals), did they began recording their own songs and issuing a few singles. Presser’s mixture of rock with elements of jazz and folk proved to be a winning formula. In 1968, John Martin, the manager of the Spencer Davis Group, invited them for a tour in Great Britain, where they recorded the album Omega: Red Star from Hungary for the Decca label. Later that year, they issued their first Hungarian LP . . . . The band sealed their success with two subsequent LPs, 10,000 Lépés . . . and Éjszakai Országút . . . .

Vibrationbaby proclaims:

If Omega had been singing in English and didn’t have to contend with political restrictions which were in effect back in the sixties in communist ruled Eastern Europe they would have definitely made a mark on the western charts way before 1973 when they began recording in English on [a] West German label . . . . Although they had briefly played various gigs in England including the Marqee Club and released a partial album in 1968 on the Decca label it wasn’t until 1969/70 that they really started making their mark with the albums 10,000 Lepes (10,000 Steps) and Edszakai orzogut . . . which both went gold in their native land.

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