Saturday, October 3, 2015

Satin Whale - 1974 - Desert Places

Satin Whale 
1974 
Desert Places

 



01. Desert Places (6:48)
02. Seasons Of Life (6:41)
03. Remember (9:38)
04. I Often Wondered (7:15)
05. Perception (12:56)

- Thomas Brück / bass, vocals
- Gerald Dellmann / keyboards
- Dieter Roesberg / guitars, saxophone, flute, vocals
- Horst Schöffgen / drums



The German band 'Satin Whale' was founded around 1971 in the region of Cologne by Thomas Brück (bass, vocals), Gerard Dellmann (keyboards), Dieter Roesberg (guitar, sax ,flute, vocals) and Horst Schöffgen (drums). Their first record 'Desert Places' was released in 1974 on the green 'Brain' label, musically a typical example of German Seventies rock not unlike their stablemates 'Grobschnitt' and 'Jane' for the harder edge, with guitar and organ jams.

During a rock contest in 1974 ('Rocksound 74') 'Satin Whale' was elected the most popular German band. For the second release 'Lost Mankind' 1975 new drummer Wolfgang Hieronymi joined and the band changed to the 'Teldec' label, continuing musically in the same direction as their first record, with 'Jethro Tull' inspired flute-work. The band then went on tour as a support act for 'Barclay James Harvest'. This had a direct influence on their music and their third record 'As A Keepsake' was inspired by BJH, less rock and more symphonic influenced pop.

Their consequent tour served for the double live 'Whalecome', which showed the good musicianship of the band, giving room to extended improvisations, especially on the 17-minute long 'Hava Nagila. In the same year 'Satin Whale' released 'A Whale of Time', a good record especially the title track, an instrumental with a great string arrangement. In 1979 the band composed the soundtrack for the German movie 'Die Faust In Der Tasche' by director Max Willutzki. As the film was a popular and with their popularity rising the band released the same year 'On Tour'. In 1980 'Satin Whale' released 'Don't Stop The Show',their last and commercial record, together with Ex Triumvirat singer Barry Palmer and the band split up in 1981.

Satin Whale was one of those bands that never managed to transcend the 1970s, and because their sound was less original than their more adventurous Krautrock cousins they merit barely a footnote in Prog Rock history.

Which is a shame, because not every German band needed to be as seditious as CAN (to cite the obvious example: both groups hailed from the same vicinity of Cologne). To their credit, Satin Whale would later riff all over the Hebrew folk song "Hava Nagila" on their 1978 live album "Whalecome", which I suppose might be considered almost a daring act in a country notorious for its anti-Semitism, especially when juxtaposed against the old minstrel tune "Camptown Races" (dooh-dah, dooh-da, so forth).

But that would be years later. The band's debut album in 1974 was a hard-hitting, heavy rock effort driven by the blazing guitar of Dieter Roesberg and the Hammond organ grunge of Gerald Dellman, with some breathy flute for added variety. Comparisons to early JETHRO TULL wouldn't be out of order, but any similarity is most likely coincidental.

On its own merits the album is surprisingly vital, perhaps too light on memorable melodies but full of muscular jamming, with the best moments reserved for when the singer takes a back seat and the music is pushed to center stage, as in the 13-minute album closer "Perception". The English language titles and lyrics don't lend it any distinction, however, and the band certainly doesn't sound very German, perhaps the key to their enormous success in their native country at the time. But that anonymity of style works against them in the long run: they might be just about anyone (except maybe Tull).

1 comment:


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