Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cannabis India - 1973 - SWF- Session 1973

Cannabis India 
SWF- Session 1973

01. Hand of the King (7:26)
02. Lapis (11:54)
03. Revolver (4:18)
04. Beethoven's 9th (10:52)

- as Universe:
05. Mirror (3:37)
06. The Hunt (5:18)

- Oliver Petry / organ
- Rudiger Braune / drums
- Dirk Fleck / bass

- Oliver Petry / organ, Moog, vocals
- Detlev Krause / guitar
- Bernd Frielingsdorf / drums
- Detlev Dalitz / bass

As a child in Germany, Oliver PETRY began playing piano at a very young age, switching later to organ after hearing contemporary greats as Keith EMERSON. By about 1970, PETRY, drummer Rüdiger BRAUNE and bassist Dirk FLECK had formed cover band The FUTURES but by 1971, had transformed into CANNABIS INDIA, a faux-classical power trio based near Düsseldorf and part of the famous Wuppertal scene (known as a center of 'Krautrock' with acts as Holderlin garnering national attention).

CANNABIS INDIA featured all-original compositions from PETRY and after good word of mouth began spreading about their live shows, the trio secured billing with artists as EARTH AND FIRE, BEGGARS OPERA, and EILIFF. Their appearances at Berlin's IFA and the first Wuppstock Festival in 1973 were highlights. The band's long-forgotten recordings - done in May '73 at the Sudwestfunk and finally released in 2009 as 'SWF Session 1973' on Long Hair Records - are our only taste of this unit in the studio and present a raw but dynamic early form of heavy, organ-based symphonic rock in the vein of ELP's 'Tarkus' period and smaller bands as Canada's ExCUBUS [then Incubus].

Guitarist Martin KOHMSTEDT [of SOLOMON JACKDAW] joined the band but left in '74, after which CI split-up. Shortly after, Oliver PETRY founded UNIVERSE with ex-SOLOMON JACKDAW members and before this group's breakup, they recorded several cuts at the Studio Neugebauer [included as bonus cuts on SWF Session]. Later, bandmates reunited to work on the FRITZ MüLLER BAND helping to record the album 'Kommt'. Oliver PETRY became lead vocalist for EMPIRE along with Dirk FLECK on bass and released an LP in 1981. PETRY now works as a graphics & sound designer for websites and plans a future music project called The Unbrothers.

Firmly recommended to any fans of vintage organ Prog at its most immediate and sincere, CANNABIS INDIA's 'SWF Session 1973' is a must for lovers of pure old fashioned symphonic rock.

Playing like a lost basement recording of ELP circa 1971, this high-energy power trio pumped out shameless ersatz classical rock and recorded one brief set in 1973 at Germany's Sudwestfunk radio facilities, preserved and finally released in 2009 on Long Hair. Cannabis India was loosely part of Dusseldorf's Wuppertal scene and was led by child piano prodigy (and Keith Emerson devotee) Oliver Petry, backed by the fierce performance of drummer Rudiger Braune and noted bassist Dirk Fleck.

The band had a brief career but developed a reputation locally as a strong live act, and that immediacy comes pouring through on SWF Session 1973, an all-instrumental sample of four cuts including a version of Beethoven's 9th. We're battered open by Petry's machine gun riffing for 'Hand of the King': mean, dynamic, and very cool, Rudiger Braune Keith Mooning his way through it all and the masterful intonation of Dirk Fleck's Fender bass. Many good changes in this 7+ minute chunk of fugue flash, followed by doubly-long 'Lapis' where the Tarkus quotes are most present. Though frankly, CI was probably doing the sort of pure instrumental organ rock that many ELP fans quietly wished their favorite band would indulge more in. No deep lyrics, gonzo improvisations or lovelorn ballads here, just three hungry players with a taste for this new sound in popular music. 'Revolver' is a Gothic dungeon in the great North German school tradition, and the massive 'Beethoven's 9th' is a very fine interpretation.

Cannabis India will remind of any number of other bands during their time and yet don't really play like anyone else. There is an urgency to these cuts that trumps most of their bigger peers and we're fortunate this old relic has survived and been uncovered. Recommended to lovers of the golden age. Two good tracks from Petry's later group Universe are included.

1 comment: