Monday, July 24, 2006

OK here we are -

Between - Dharana (1974)

This original German band is a world music precursor. A blend of Peter Michael Hamel's repetitive keyboards melodies, of Robert Eliscu's oboe, Roberto Detree's classical acoustic guitar and the multi-percussive colorations of Cotch Black.

On their third album, the band turns to a more tranquil, luminous style, quite different from the solemn, obscure, esoteric and incantatory music of the previous “And the waters opened” album.

“Dharana” develops here an aerial and mellow world jazz fusion, softer and less inspired than their previous album.

The longest piece “Dharana” is the most accomplished, with its slow progression. The spiritual inspiration is strong throughout the album, “Dharana” is the sixth of the eight steps of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga and is linked to a stage of self-trance due to inner silence.

Even if “Dharana” can’t reach the previous album’s intensity, the cleaner sound production contributes to a pleasant aerial feeling and with this album, Between keeps on creating a unique musical universe, a perfect fusion of western and eastern music. (oliverstoned


Harmonia - Deluxe (1975)

A wonderful album that manages to sound a little like Cluster (no surprise, with Moebius and Roedelius on hand), Neu! (member Michael Rother is on board), and even Kraftwerk and Can (hey, it's Germany, after all). It's interesting to hear musicians with a predominantly instrumental background throw some vocals into the mix, along with a sense of humor. I'd have to say that the participants were at their respective creative peaks right about this time. Michael Rother's first few solo albums and Moebius and Plank's "Rastakraut Pasta" and "Material" came out about the same time, and all are among my favorite Krautrock releases. Interesting textures, rhythms and melodies abound, and the sound quality is clear and crisp, unlike Harmonia's debut and some of Cluster's albums. (soundsweird progarchives.con)


Hoelderlin - Hoelderlin (1975)

This is truly one of the greatest German prog recordings to ever come from the basement of the legendary producer Connie Plank. Hoelderlin employs a wide range of moods ranging from heavy psychedelic to child-like nursery time melodies. Although this recording never really settles down on one theme, it does work well in it's entirety. Hoelderlin creates deep dark Mellotron filled passages which are surrounded by guitar, bass and drum interplay. Every song is very carefully crafted and there is an almost humorous component to them. Vocals are in English and are very well done with some nice harmonies. The big hitter for me here is the 20 minute epic "Death Watch Beetle" which has some of the most captivating progressive rock moments I have ever heard. Hoelderlin has a very strong underground German feel to it and stands in my mind as one of the pinnacle progressive rock recordings of all time. A real gem!!! (james unger


Kopperfield - Tales Untold (1974)

In many ways, Tales Untold contains a fairly typical mid-'70s amalgam of hard and prog rock, but it would be a mistake to suggest it is a mark against the album's merit or a detriment to its enjoyment. In fact, while typical of many of the genre's conventions during the period -- heavily keyboard dominant, weaving guitar lines, an over-the-top rock holler -- it is also a fairly interesting example of said formula, full of nifty band interplay and mostly fine (or at least fine enough) songwriting. From an instrumental standpoint, there is a lot to appreciate about Kopperfield. They were excellent players, especially drummer Tom Curtis and the dual keyboards of Paul Decker and Keith Robinson, which occasionally investigate creepy Ray Manzarek-like territory. The guitar playing, too, is consistently pretty hot. And there are fits and flashes of true songwriting talent. The Gear Fab reissue nearly doubles the length of the original album. The first 11 tracks of the reissue offer the Tales Untold album in its entirety. It ranges from lean, bluesy rock that recalls Free to the lovely anomaly of the title track, which combines folky acoustic textures and harmony leads with psychedelically inclined and classical keyboard motifs. (Stanton Swihart, All Music Guide)

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Lily - V.C.U. (We See You) (1973)

A totally unknown entity that existed, made one album, and just as quickly disappeared! Lily were in fact not unlike label stablemates Nine Days Wonder and Message, almost like a hybrid of the two. But unlike those multi-national bands Lily were entirely German, and more offbeat in a bizarre Krautrocky sort of way, with oddly composed songs, strangely worded lyrics and such like. An unknown gem. (Crack In The Cosmic Egg)

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Novalis - Brandung (1977)

A real short album, this is great symphonic prog with vocals in German. A little bit like Eloy maybe, with a strong electric guitar and Hammond organ presence. High point is the sixteen minute "Sonnenwende" suite. Heck that's almost half the album!!


PSI - Horizonte (1977)

A typically German jazz-rock band, drawing on the Bavarian school of Missus Beastly, Passport, Munju, et al., but also taking a more progressive rock angle with Kraan touches. They only made one album, and nothing is known of their history. Keyboardist Matthias Frey went on to have a solo career.


The Groundhogs - Scratching The Surface (1968)

The Groundhogs' debut album is a long way from the "classic" sound of the better-known Thank Christ for the Bomb/Split/Who Will Save the World? trilogy. Indeed, the mellow classic blues through which the band pursues its nine tracks offer the unsuspecting listener little more than a direct blast from the peak of the British blues boom past. Early Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, and Savoy Brown all haunted precisely the same corridors as Scratching the Surface, with only the occasional burst of fuzzed Tony McPhee guitar to distinguish the sonics from the rest of the pack. That said, Scratching the Surface ranks among the finest albums to emerge out of that entire period, a moody shuffle that includes an epic recounting of the Chicago classic "Still a Fool" and which matches five solid McPhee originals with a pair of blistering contributions from outgoing harmonica whiz Steve Rye. In fact, his "Early in the Morning" and "You Don't Love Me" might well be the album's best numbers, a discrepancy that puts one in mind of another of the blues boom's hottest acts, Jethro Tull, and just how much they changed once a founding member (Mick Abrahams) departed. Again, if you arrive at Scratching the Surface in search of a fresh "Cherry Red" or "Status People," you'll probably be disappointed. But if you want to hear the blues sluicing straight out of the Southern England Delta, there are precious few better introductions. Includes 4 bonus tracks.

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Third World War - Third World War (1971)

This political underground band played at the "Oz Police Ball" benefit for the Oz obscenity trial with Arthur Brown, Viv Stanshall, Pink Fairies, Egg, Roy Harper and Gnidrolog, but this group was different. They were singing about the rebels, the poor and uneducated people: the working class, the semi-skilled labourers, the yobos and the Hell's Angels. They were able to write excellent, sensitive melodies but in general their music and lyrics were ugly and real - like life itself. No punk band seven years later would have angrier lyrics. Although their first album is essentially raw punk, on tracks like Ascension Day, M.I.5's Alive, Working Class Man, Shepherds Bush Cowboy and Preaching Violence, it does contain two purely acoustic tracks:- Teddy Teeth Goes Sailing and Get Out Of Bed You Dirty Red. Stardom Road Part 2 predates the eighties psychobilly bands!


Various Artists - Kraut! Demons! Kraut! German Psychedelic Underground 1968-1974

Probably the most well-known of all Krautrock samplers. Over 70 minutes of obscure psychedelic German rock.

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OK there it is - hope everybody finds something they want! Later.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hi -

Noir - We Had To Let You Have It (1971)

I purchased this CD with donation money, and what a sweet little album this is. The only release from England's first all-black rock band, this is a smooth, low-key, kinda funky, kinda prog record with some brilliant guitar work and some real nice percussion and soulful vocals.The first track, "Rain" reminds me a little of the Chambers Brothers, the rest of the album is smoky and inspirited, sometimes a little gospelly and tribal. Great album, undeservedly obscure. When I ripped it, it wasn't even listed in the Compact Disc Data Base!


Syd Barrett - Magnesium Proverbs

Since Mr. Barrett passed away last week, I thought I would pass along this great bootleg I got from a torrent. Standard bootleg stuff, you know the drill - radio and television broadcasts, acetetes, alternate mixes, and rare live performances. Of the twenty three tracks fifteen are Syd with Pink Floyd. Four tracks are from Syd's only live solo appearance in London, 1970. Four tracks with Syd, David Gilmour and David Shirley.

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Bwana - Bwana (1972)

Fantastic Latin funk/psych rare groove special from 1972; as Latin mavens Dusty Groove say, it's 'an insanely wonderful bit of Latin funk! The groove is super heavy, and falls somewhere in between NuYorican soul and Chicano Power rock -- with a sound that's pretty close to Black Sugar, but a little bit more psychedelic, due to the heavy guitars and keyboards in the grooves. Hard congas take the lead on most of the tracks -- especially the cut 'Chapumbambe,' which starts with a nice breakbeat.' Astral-planar Latin jams, with blazing guitar and organ laid down over hot funk/psych grooves; leads off with the eight-minute runaway train 'Tema de Bwana'; what's next, you wonder? Why it's the intricate twin-guitar progressive call and response jam of 'La Patada'; the rest gets better from there, with songs that shift and flow until they hit an acid freakout point -- check out the end of 'Chapumbambe' or the second half of the thirteen-plus minute soul/psych style rave up 'Lolita' that closes the album."


Da Capo - Da Capo (1971)

Da Capo were a part of the South German progressive scene. Taking their name from the second Love album, they were heavily influenced by the laid back American west coast sound of bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Grateful Dead. Their privately recorded album, Da Capo, included excellent tracks like "Find My Way Home", "Young Man" and "Free" - melodic and tuneful songs that were in no way inferior to those of the American bands mentioned earlier. The long instrumental track "A Day In the Rest of My Life" was a nice twin guitar jam, reflecting their live sound. It is sad that the band never recorded in a studio again, disbanding about a year later. Da Capo's legacy is as one of the best German early seventies private pressings. (Cosmic Dreams At Play)


Fields - Fields (1971)

A hugely underrated progressive classic from 1971, which was a spin-off from the excellent Charisma band Rare Bird. Graham Field, the keyboard player in Rare Bird, left them to create this project with some session musicians of the era. It's an excellent melodic-prog album with a great vocalist in Alan Barry and very solid drumming by Andy McCullough, (Greenslade, Manfred Mann's Chapter Three and King Crimson). 'A Friend Of Mine' is perhaps the only track here that sounds like Rare Bird, with its pseudo- classical keyboard work and complex organ runs, but Alan Barry's vocals are very unlike Steve Gould's, and is much less aggressive and operatic, being more melodic. Barry's vocals shape this whole album, and he has a very accessible, pleasant voice. 'While The Sun Still Shines' is a great prog-pop song, with a hummable melody and lovely backing vocals, plus a great lead vocal. 'Not So Good' is my favourite track on the album, with one of my favourite vocal performances ever- it sends shivers up my spine every time- combining with a gorgeous chord progression and a solid rhythm section. Masterful. 'Three Minstrels' is a prog-folk experiment, with a Steeleye Span-esque flavour, and even a Richard Thompson-esque guitar flourish by Alan Barry. Very enjoyable. 'Slow Susan' is a very nice, if perhaps basic, organ based instrumental that's another highlight of this excellent album. 'Over And Over Again' is a melodic song with more good vocals by Barry and neat organ work by Field. 'Feeling Free' is another favourite track on the album, with great work from all concerned, particularly Barry's great falsetto vocalising. 'Fair Haired Lady' is an utterly charming, wistful folk song, with lovely orchestration and delightful vocals. 'A Place To Lay My Head' is more like Spooky Tooth in style, with some heavy organ chords. 'The Eagle' is a stunning instrumental, showing Graham Field had invention to spare. It's another pseudo classical track, with subtle use of mellotron, and is a perfect climax to a hugely enjoyable album. (James Jeffery-progarchives.con))


Lucifer's Friend - Where The Groupies Killed The Blues (1972)

Lucifer's Friend was a band that, with their early albums, changed musical styles with each release. Their first album, Lucifer's Friend, is one of the best German hard rock albums of the 70's. This is their second release, and we find them in experimental mode, assaulting us with what seems to be a mix of proto-metal and hard progressive rock. Most of the material is composed by John O'Brien Docker, who will be recognized by the more adventurous downloaders as the main guy from Brave New World's 'Impressions On Reading Aldous Huxley' that I posted some months back. Vocalist is John Lawton, who went on to later join Uriah Heep. This is complex, adventurous progressive rock, unlike their first album or any of their subsequent releases, probably their finest moment.


Irmin's Way - Opus; Destroy (1975)

A recent discovery, Irmin's Way were an obscure mid-70's Anglo-German band who recorded an LP in 1976, that remained unreleased and lost until 1995. Taking their name from the Saxon god that slayed a dragon, their conceptual opus was steeped in mythology too. In the classic tradition of Krautrock bands of the era, Irmin's Way notably drew on the cosmic side of Pink Floyd, close to Belgium's Dragon, or towards Gäa's psychedelic space-tripping. A touch amateurish, and not that well produced, it is nonetheless a classic of the genre. (Crack In The Cosmic Egg)


OK that's it then. See you next Monday! As Always, comments appreciated.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Birth Control - Hoodoo Man (1973)

German band Birth Control seems to have had it's ups and downs, and this, their third album, is probably one of their ups. Some people surely will disagree though. This is hard prog with a jazzy touch, and their sense of humor shines through at times. A lot of the music reminds me a little of pre-heavy metal Deep Purple. This has their big song "Gamma Ray" which is considered a classic in Germany. Five bonus tracks, including the single version of said song in two parts. Not really what you would call Krautrock, but there's some good experimental jazzy prog here.

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Ainigma - Diluvium (1973)

Ainigma's sound is "no compromise" heavy progressive rock, with fuzzy guitars and a very distinct organ sound. This uncomplicated instrumentation is often associated with the sixties American garage punk, in fact Ainigma sound very much like a psychedelic punk rock band from the late sixties and could very well be included on compilations like "Acid Dreams" or "Beyond The Calico Wall". Their album was recorded from April to May 1973 at PFS studio in four days. All lyrics were in English and actually very dramatic! The album contains four songs plus bonus track "Thunderstorm", with the title track clocking in at almost 18 minutes. This extensive and dark seance dealt with the deluge, brought on by the greed and evil of humankind, and represented the trio at their best. The band were from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in the southern part of Germany. Remarkably enough, considering their artistic maturity, they were only between 15 and 17 years old at the time of recording. (Cosmic Dreams At Play)


Grobschnitt - Solar Music Live (1978)

A progressive rock milestone. "Solar Music" evokes such a perfect harmony between strong lyrics and heavy repertoires of long drum solos. Strongly recommended for those prog rock fans who are intrepid and restless when it comes to discover new horizons within the 70's lost worlds of prog. A must have! It isn't only the live version of their previous works, it is a whole different experience beyond that. The power and passion of this miraculous exercise made music, is simply incomparable to anything regarding not only the prog scene of the 70's, but the nowadays prog, turning this 9 pieces set, into the greatest live recording of Progressive Rock. You won't believe the magnetism, the interaction and the charisma this German band's got prepared for your, it is useless to resist the charm, you will get sucked in the world of Grobschnitt. The remastered CD edition contains previously unreleased material. (

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Incredible Hog - Volume I (1973)
Incredible Hog was a British trio that released only one album; this is a great example of hook-laden heavy riffing, complete with intelligent lyrics and a pounding rhythm section, not to mention some brilliant lead guitar. If you like English bands from this era like T2 or Leaf Hound or Led Zeppelin you will want this.


Janus - Gravedigger (1972)
The British group Janus was one of the best around! What a huge disaster that they only gave us one album first time around (the reformation some years ago was just a drag). "Gravedigger" revealed Janus' duplicitive nature: side one had the excellent heavy progressive classic "Red Sun" and a couple of other songs coming close to the distinctive British nature of "Parachute" period Pretty Things. Side two featured the 20-minute title track, full of dark images with acoustic guitars and strings accompanying the sparse lyrics, which seem to be about a guy who slowly drinks himself to death. The hook line was, "The Gravedigger's arm is waiting for you!" A fantastic album! (


If - If (1970)
If was a jazz-rock band from the United Kingdom. Not jazz fusion, but maybe like a more progressive Chicago, having horn players, a couple keyboard dudes, etc. Despite extensive touring in the U.S. they never really caught on, and were more popular in Europe than England. This is highly improvisational, laid-back jazzy rock that probably won't appeal to fans of hard prog, but prog fans with a taste for jazz could do worse than downloading this.



Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Fourth of July!!

Budgie - Squawk (1972)

Having acquired a small cult following with its first album, Budgie offered a second dose of abrasive, forceful heavy metal that, like its predecessor, drew on influences ranging from Cream to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Budgie was a band that loved contrasts -- the folk-ish qualities of "Make Me Happy" and the Beatlesque "Rolling Home Again" make hard-driving classics like "Hot as a Docker's Armpit," "Drugstore Woman," and "Rocking Man" seem all the more intense. For all its strengths, Squawk didn't turn Budgie into the well-known outfit it should have been. Budgie's followers were a devoted bunch, but unfortunately, there weren't nearly enough of them. ( Alex Henderson, All Music Guide)


The Sons Of Champlin - The Sons (1969)

One of the more obscure groups of the late 60's San Francisco ballroom scene, their sound is based on the Hammond B-3 organ and a prominent horn section, making their sound distinctly different from their Bay Area cohorts. They were a "Musician's Band", meaning that their releases were well received by other musicians, but really didn't connect with too many music buyers. The shorter songs are sometimes introspective and low-key, and the longer songs have the complex structures and time signature changes that one associates with progressive rock. This is their second album and probably does suffer a bit from 'sophomore slump', as all the songs were written for the album, as opposed to their first release, where they had been playing the material for a long time live. Regardless, they knew where the groove was and had no trouble getting there.


Electric Sandwich - Electric Sandwich (1972)

No historical information is known about Electric Sandwich, though they are reputedly ex-Vinegar. Typical of many Krautrock bands of the era, they drew on a wide range of influences: jazz, blues, psychedelia, etc., and moulded their own fusion with that typically cosmic yet powerful edge. Their sole album is oddly balanced, opening with the lengthy Xhol/Kollektiv-like instrumental "China" with excellent electric sax, and thereafter establishing a more unique brand of song fronted by a gruff vocalist, in a blues and jazz accented progressive blend. Really, every track on the album is different, though a recognisable Electric Sandwich style does ride throughout.


Epidermis - Genius Of Original Force (1977)

The songs on this release from German band Epidermis have multipart vocals, and occasional instrumental counterpoint, so they’re often compared to Gentle Giant. But their music is a lot darker and less refined than typical Gentle Giant, and I can imagine lots of people who like Gentle Giant not liking Epidermis at all, and some people who don’t like Gentle Giant liking Epidermis.

The lyrics are about the creation of the universe by God. Though the band is German and the lyrics are all in English, they’re actually only rarely bad, and accents are barely noticeable. I really like them since they’re so unique, both in topic and style. Instrumentally, the band has a lot of interplay, but not a lot of variation in their sounds or style. The keyboardist sticks almost exclusively to clavinet, the guitarist and bassist both have their own sounds they stick to as well. There are several passages with vibes or acoustic guitar though, all of which are played pretty well. Typically the compositions are centered around riffs played on the guitars and/or keyboards, few of which are very complex, but each bandmember frequently plays their own lines, and it all seems carefully thought-out in advance even if it’s not always professionally–executed.

This was obviously a low-budget album, but it’s also an extremely distinctive one - the kind of thing that is easy to find fault with but also very endearing in a lot of ways. I really like it. (dnieper111,


Haboob - Haboob (1971)

This German release is a mixture of jazz-rock, soul, blues, psychedelia, really difficult to pin down. Plus it's not really a German band, the players are Americans or maybe Brits living in Munich. Star of the show is American keyboardist Jimmy Jackson, better known for his appearances on the classic early Amon Düül II albums, and albums by Embryo and Klaus Doldinger's Passport. Jackson plays something called a "Choir Organ", which seems to have been a one of a kind instrument that only he played. Best cut, for me, is the first track "Israfil" a nine minute long affair which probably wouldn't have seemed too out of place one one of the first three Amon Düül II albums. Weirdness prevails throughout the rest of the album, there's bluesy psychedelia, keyboard freak-outs, percussion extravaganzas and an unusual version of "Soldier Boy" by the Shirelles! (Vinyl Rip)


Jethro Tull - Stockholm 1969: The Master Reel

Not much to say about Jethro Tull is there. If you don't know who they were you probably shouldn't be walking around! This bootleg is an excellent quality soundboard recording of a brilliant performance at the Konserthuset in Stockholm in January 1969.

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Kollektiv - Kollektiv (1973)

The story of Kollektiv is quite complex. Originally a school band playing pop songs in the mid-60's as a trio called The Generals with the twin brothers Jogi and Waldemar Karpenkiel, and Jürgen Havix. During the late-60's the three went their separate ways playing in diverse rock, blues and psychedelic bands. In 1967 Jogi joined The Phantoms, which also featured later Kraftwerk member Ralf Hutter. This band went through several changes of name: Rambo Zambo Bluesband, Bluesology and, after Jogi had left to rejoin The Generals, became Organisation. Also in Bluesology was the talented jazz saxophonist Klaus Dapper who left the band along with Jogi. With Dapper at the helm, The Generals changed style completely and changed name to Kollektiv. It's hardly surprising then that Kollektiv's debut album bore much resemblance to the music of Organisation and early Kraftwerk, a spacious fusion featuring electrified flute and sax, too esoteric and complexly crafted to be called jazz-rock. In fact, along with the likes of Xhol, instrumental Thirsty Moon, Ibliss, et al., Kollektiv exhibited a style that was uniquely German, the jazzier end of Krautrock, full of invention and exceptional musicianship. Like many bands of the era, though they existed for several years on and off, with members moving into other bands like Guru Guru, Katamaran, etc., Kollektiv disappeared into obscurity. (The Crack In The Cosmic Egg)


King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969)

What to say about this one. A prog rock masterpiece, one of the great albums. Hard to believe it was released 37 years ago!! Wow!


Toad - Live At St. Joseph, Basel 1972

Toad was a Swiss hard rock outfit, composed of former members of Brainticket and Hawkwind that released three or four albums in their lifetime. This well-recorded live show features some songs from their first two albums, most notably 'Tomorrow Blue' and 'Thoughts', plus a smoking version of 'Red House' and three others. This is a veritable gold mine of early seventies rock riffs and burning guitar solos courtesy of guitar maestro Vic Vearget. Heavy, bluesy and rockin'.


Minotaurus - Fly Away (1978)

Minotaurus were an obscure 70’s band from Germany, who recorded 2 albums with only one ever being released "Fly Away". Inspired by the story of the Mintaurus living in King Minos' Labyrinth on Crete this 6 piece band deliver an album full of organ roaring progressive rock. This album although essentially a symphonic mindmelt does also blend in psych and space dimensions into their sound. Their overall sound is quite rich with a good chunk of mellotron and deep bass lines. Vocals (Peter Scheu) are sung in English and fit the music quite well. Instrumentally this band were amazing with inspiring and pompous keyboard leads, mellotron atmospheres , great guitar , bass and drum interplay. Overall sound carries allusions to Novalis, Marillion and Eloy. (James Unger


OK there you have it. See you next week. Careful with those fireworks Americans!