Originally recorded in 1997, this remarkable record has lain apparently unheeded and unloved until now, and has made it’s way into the public domain largely thanks to label Shaded Moon associate David Van Hartingsveldt, who came to the band through vocalist Bart Schwertmann, who also happens to tickle the tonsils for Dutch prog titans Kayak.

Young Schwertmann formed Galaxy some thirty years ago, but although the band attained notoriety on a local level, wider success somehow eluded them. I say somehow, because, listening with fresh ears to Runaway Men in 2022, it’s hard to see how the band could have failed to make a go of things. Tracks like Look Into My Eyes come to the listener like perfectly-formed little prog rock symphonies, touting levels of sophistication both sonically and in terms of technique that make it absolutely gobsmacking to think they are the work of wet-behind-the-ears youngsters.

Schwertmann possesses an easy-on-the-appeal vocally; although the band frequently bring to mind names like Marillion and maybe It Bites (guitarist Niels Lingbeek solos like an incendiary mix of Steve Hackett and Francis Dunnery), the singer’s classy transatlantic tone gives some of the material an almost AOR-sheen; In Her Head, especially, packs the sort of melodic punch of Saga in their prime, and it’s this delightfully beguiling mix of prog and pomp that gives the album much of it’s (not inconsiderable) appeal. At it’s best, on standout track Lady of Fire, this is material of rare class and poise, certainly on a par with anything in the field that actually made waves in 1997; in 2022 it’s going to sound wonderful to prog fans hungry for new but undeniably ‘classic sounds’. One can only imagine the little involuntary whimpers of pleasure they’ll be emitting on first hearing of the Kansasesque instrumental Gallery Play

The muscular, riff-heavy Talk To Me isn’t far behind in terms of impact, but in the final washup it becomes apparent that Runaway Men as a whole album isn’t really about highlights or standouts; when you operate at this level of excellence every track is worth spending time with, without exception, and if swirling synths (Ard Offers can sure hold his own against Lingbeek’s axes) battling with glittering guitar play get your blood pumping as much as they do mine then you’re going to want to get involved in this album as soon as possible.

Runaway Men is out now.