Monday, August 25, 2008

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 for the Bacillus collector." (Crack In The Cosmic Egg)


"In the original The Crack In The Cosmic Egg I wrote that Lily were "A totally unknown entity, that existed, made one album, and just as quickly disappeared!" whereas now, thanks to Garden of Delights informative CD booklet we can now tell you much much more!

Lily were never really "Lily" but were always Monsun (that's Monsoon in English) originating in the mid-1960's from a Frankfurt beat band called The Mods (featuring Michael Winzkowski, later of Orange Peel and Epsilon), going through various changes before gelling as Monsun in 1970. Recording a demo tape in Spring 1972, they so impressed Bacillus Records producer Peter Hauke that he promptly signed them up after witnessing them live at the Frankfurt Zoom Club in October. Peter booked them three days at Dierks Studio in January 1973. For some reason the big wigs at Bellaphon decided they wanted to promote them as a "glitter rock" band and with a more international flower-power name, hence they became Lily, all gleefully dolling themselves up for the chintzy cover shot.

The Lily album was distinctly Bacillus Records fare, not unlike label-mates Nine Days Wonder and Message, almost like a hybrid of the two, notable for eccentric lyrics and angular fusion elements all carried by Dieter Dierks superb recording. 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, all in a complex jazzy prog. Generally the songs are woven within the structure, with the instrumental focus being led by excellent fuzz/wah saxophone, a Helmut Hattler type lead-bassist, and dual rhythm/solo guitars.

The CD reissue also contains a whole album's worth of material (from Spring 1974) that amounted to a demo for what would have been a second Bacillus Records album. Excellent as it all is, for some reason Peter Hauke wasn't impressed, preferring to promote his other more "successful" acts. Without a contract, they struggle and continue with ever changing line-up's until splitting for good in 1976." (Crack In The Cosmic Egg)


"Lily is not a name you'd associate with a German, jazz-rock inflected band whose vocalist often sounds a great deal like Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Seeing it, you might think it were the German answer to the UK's Lulu (who most know from her "To Sir With Love" song). And in fact, as the liner notes state at the outset, Lily was not the name the band initially used but rather Monsun. Lily was thrust upon them by Bellaphon records, hoping by giving them a "glitter image [to…] increase their chances of success." This is why on the cover they are wearing make up and women's clothes. Where Lily a glitter band? No, far from.

Lily were Manfred Schlagmüller on drums and percussion, Wilfried Kirchmeier on bass and vocals, Hans-Werner Steinberg (tenor and soprano saxes), and both Manfred-Josef Schmid and Klaus Lehmann on guitars. Schlagmüller and Kirchmeier play synths on "Eyes Look From The Mount Of Flash," which puts snappy percussive effects early on and squelchy effects as the song ends. V.C.U. (We See You) was recorded and released in 1973, recording taking place at Deiter Dirks' studio. The band were given only three days studio time, only two of which were able to be used for recording. Vocals were left for the last day, and were, according to the liner notes, "recorded very quickly." This hurriedness shows in the unpolished nature of the pieces. Individual performances are good, but on some tracks the band seem out of sync. The one element that worked the least for me were the vocals of Wilfried Kirchmeier, at least at the outset, as they improve as the album moves along. In fact, the more he sounds like Anderson, the better they are. But given the time constraints, there was no time really to redo anything. If you can set that aside and listen to the band's playing, you'll find they were really quite good, especially drummer Schlagm¨ller (who is showcased on the best track on the album, the bonus track "The Wanderer." If you love and admire drumming, this is the track to skip to first – in fact, given the bass solo from Kirchmeier and the remaining performances on this instrumental track… you'll also want to skip to here first).

Oddly, the best tracks on this album overall are the bonus tracks, which were presumably recorded at the same time as the initial tracks – nothing is mentioned in the liner notes (strange coming from the usually very thorough Garden Of Delights). These might have seemed too "commercial" in comparison to the other material ("The Wanderer" aside), but stylistically, they seem to fit right in, though to my ears they seem a little more polished. They are mostly instrumental tracks, though they aren't solely instrumental. The bonus tracks include the mostly musing blues-jazz piece "Chemical New York," the highlight being the tenor sax playing of Steinberg. "Adlerbar" has an almost "Whole Lotta Love"/"Cross-Eyed Mary" rhythm to it owing to the fat, throbbing basslines of Kirchmeier and the roughened, ballsy guitar, all with Steinberg blowing tenor sax all over it (sometimes in a harmonica-like fashion) – cool stuff actually. "Catch Me" is a more upbeat, groovy piece with more sax and guitar up front. Kirchmeier sounds a bit like Jim Morrison on this piece.

In broad strokes, their sound is reminiscent of other jazz-rock-psychedelic bands of the period, certainly evident during the middle section of "Which Is This," which, if it were strictly instrumental, would be excellent – from the guitar solo to the saxes to the drumming. While Lily don't sound like any one band in particular, there were parts that reminded me of early Jethro Tull, as mentioned -- parts of "Which Is This," and "I'm Lying On My Belly (including 'Tango Atonale')" and "Chemical New York" (one of the bonus tracks) all of which suggest Anderson's gravelly vocal delivery on "Aqualung" … somewhat. Comparatively, "I'm Lying…" is more simply arranged piece, where the band seem to be playing more in sync with each other, putting the guitar in the lead -- that is until a solo section, with soprano sax tootling over chiming electric guitars. Other parts that made me think of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Santana ... but it might be truer to say these bands were all influenced by a single source, which was the American blues. "Doctor Martin" is notable for its treatment of Kirchmeier's vocals where echoes ripple out and some good instrumental work that immediate follows.

At least on "Eyes Look…," it's Schmid soloing in your right ear, as his tone is said to be rougher than the clearing tone of Lehmann, who will be in your left ear. It is on the track that I first really hear Kirchmeier on bass, who, as I said, really gets to solo on "The Wanderer."

Lily were a band who given a little more time in the studio, might have produced a real gem of an album … well a glittering gem of an album, rather than a gem in the rough, making them a glitter band of an entirely different sort. As it is, internal problems eventually lead the band's dissolution. Schmid was booted out of the band in December 1973, though it had been he that had "[produced] enormous amounts of musical ideas and strange lyrics [that were then] sorted, corrected, smoothed out and chronologically arranged by Wilfried Krichmeier…" (later "…Steinberg would add his wind instruments […] while [Schlagmüller] provided the drum part. They would spend endless nights working on the tracks, rearranging them, until finally that very special Monsun sound emerged." - this is the genesis of the tracks on this album). After Schmid left, the band had lost their "musical originality." Other than writing songs "with mad German lyrics mirroring his mental problems" (Schmid had trashed the rehearsal room after having been booted from the band) and died under "mysterious circumstances" in the mid-90s, being "found dead in Frankfurt's inner-city wood." The band continued without Schmid, replacing him with guitarist Björn Scherer-Mohr, who leaves in August 1974. Schlagmüller leaves in early 1975, replaced by "Rüdigger "Rüpf" Pfau. By April 1976, the band have added humour to their music to the point where "their music becomes more and more jokey, approaching comedy…" and it is after their show at the Old Bailey in Bayreuth that month that the band dissolves." (Stephanie Sollow

01 - In Those Times (9:08)
02 - Which Is This (4:24)
03 - Pinky Pigs (6:38)
04 - Doctor Martin (4:36)
05 - I'm Lying On My Belly (Including 'Tango Atonale') (5:57)
06 - Eyes Look From The Mount Of Flash (9:43)
07 - Chemical New York (8:15)
08 - Adlerbar (5:46)
09 - Catch Me (8:12)
10 - The Wanderer (16:27)

Wilfried Kirchmeier - Bass, Vocals; Percussion (3, 6)
Manfred Schlagmüller - Drums, Percussion; Synths (6)
Hans-Werner Steinberg - Tenor and Soprano Saxes
Manfred-Josef Schmid – Guitar
Klaus Lehmann – Guitar

Additional musicians:

Dieter Dierks – Mellotron
Armin Bannach - Gong


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OK this is a huge download - the disc runs 79 minutes and there's a pretty nice booklet - better get started, see you next week!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ejwuusl Wessahqqan - Ejwuusl Wessahqqan (1975)
"A German trio who supposedly took their bizarre name from the fanstasy/horror writer Clark Ashton Smith. Some of their music would make the perfect accompaniment to his strange fiction. This was a guitar-less, instrumental trio. Though they do make use of a unique, 7 stringed instrument called a "filouphon" to create an eastern sound. Their rare, privately pressed album featured 4 tracks. The first is classically oriented, with lots of bombastic organ, crashing drums and tolling bass. The great distorted organ sound recalls some of the jams that Deep Purple's Jon Lord coaxed from "the beast" on such live favorites as "Space Truckin'". Track 2 features the filouphon and is a droning, hypnotic piece of dissonant weirdness which might have your neighbors wondering about your sanity. The third piece is the only song under ten minutes and returns to classical structures featuring piano. The final track is the longest space rock drive - with squawking, distorted organ and classical and ethnic motifs that give way to weird pulses and drones. This manages to convey a voyage through space and time, though at 16 min.+ maybe taking too much space and time to convey it. The CD reissue features 2 more tracks by Ejwuusl in a similar style as well as 2 tracks by a later incarnation as the band Koala-Bar. These last 2 are lighter and more symphonic, with updated instrumentation. The first features english vocals. A raw, but inventive instrumental krautrock obscurity. This style can get monotonous in spots. If you can live with that and you like weird krautrock they are worth investigating. -- Tharsis" (New Gibraltar)

"One of those obscure lost privately produced relics from the early-1970's, and not surprisingly so with such an odd name! Ejwuusl Wessahqqan (a character from a sci-fi novel apparently) existed on the Munich scene for several years before they plucked up the courage to release an album. By the mid-1970's however, there was little chance of a major label record contract, so they decided to produce the record themselves, which was a mixed blessing in that they could do whatever music they liked, but it also meant that the recording quality wasn't up to professional standards. The band make a point of the fact that they were friends of Amon Düül II, though really the Ejwuusl Wessahqqan sound relates much closer to Egg (or even more so Arzachel) and Xhol, with their blending of trippy psychedelic space-rock, fusion and classical musics. Elsewhere influences from Embryo can be felt, and because of the raw edge to some of it, there are also hints of industrial music akin to German Oak or early Kraftwerk." (Crack In The Cosmic Egg)

Track List:
1 - Die geborstenen Kuppeln von Yethlyreom 10:37
2 - Die orangefarbene Wüste südwestlich von Ignarh 10:44
3 - Thuloneas Körper 02:59
4 - Hobbl-di-wobbl 16:35
5 - Passaceety (live 1976) 05:54
6 - AFN (live 1976) 11:14
7 - The crystal (1980) 04:20
8 - La mer (1980) 05:31

Michael Winzker - Organ, Piano
Jürgen Wollenburg - Percussion
René Filous - Bass, Filouphone


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Monday, August 04, 2008

Toad - Toad (1971)
"First Toad album, originally issued by Swiss label Halleluja in the 1971. Ex-members of Brainticket investigating the realms of skull crushing heavy rock! Certified savage guitar from Vic Vergeat! Swiss hard rock band formed by members of the original Brainticket, Toad's history is obscure and largely undocumented. Their debut is said to be in the realms of Dies Irae, being heavy, bluesy and experimental. However, despite getting a British release, we've never managed to locate a copy. Their second album, "Tomorrow Blue" was surprisingly straight hard-rock, akin to Sperrmüll, with Hendrix, Status Quo and R&B influences. Their original lead singer Benjamin Jäger went on to Island."(Alexgitlin)

"Why does anyone bother with the current crop of "stoner rock" when there's so much better stuff made back in the original stoner age (the '70s) now being reissued?? If you're into the Man's Ruin roster, and prone to buying albums by the latest Swedish Kyuss clone, yet don't have, say, Lucifer's Friend, Flower Travellin' Band, Leafhound, Captain Beyond, or Buffalo reissues in your collection, it's time to get with the program! Not that that's easy, since much of the good old shit is definitely obscure and unheralded. For instance, we hadn't ever heard of this Swiss band Toad until a kindly customer sold back a bootleg cd with an intriguing cover a couple years ago. Now, here's a legit reissue of the same album thanks to the freaks at Second Battle.

This self-titled disc is the first and best of Toad's three LPs, serving up hard-rockin' stoner psych in the best blues-based tradition of early Blue Cheer and Led Zep. The first track "Cotton Wood Hill" will offer a clue about the lineage of this band, as Toad's rhythm section played on the classic LP of that same title by acid-fried Krautrockers Brainticket! Toad boasts an excellent vocalist put to good use on the more melodic parts of their sometimes quite long songs, but a large part of the LP is occupied by heavy (HEAVY) jamming instrumental excursions featuring the killer guitar of one Vic Vergeat. This is genuine heaviness, circa 1971." (Aquarius Records)

1 - Cotton Wood Hill - 8.36
2 - A Life That Ain't Worth Living - 3.29
3 - Tank - 3.28
4 - They Say I'm Mad - 6.47
5 - Life Goes On - 11.58
6 - Pig's Walk - 7.27
7 - The One I Mean - 2.35
8 - Stay (Bonus)

Vic Vergeat - Guitars
Cosimo Lampis - Drums
Werner Fröhlich - Bass
Benny Jäger - Vocals


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