Saturday, October 3, 2015

Short rant!

Hi guys (and gals)...


Lately two things have been brought to my attention...

1. That we slowly are approaching the 500,000 visits
2. That about 10% of the download links are down

So to celebrate that y'all keep coming here and al the cool stories and remarks you have shared with me, the moment we reach that 500,000 visits we will do two things to say thank you to you people....


1. Take a short break from posting new stuff for a week or two so that we can reupload the dead stuff, in case something was taken down because a complaint, then I will not risk reposting it. But all the rest should be up in a couple of weeks
2. I really hope you will like this one... to at least have something of a celebration, When we reach the 500,000 I will post an album that I have never seen posted anywhere online and that I can count with the fingers of my hands the amount of visitors of this blog that ave ever heard this stuff... and I am sure it will rock your (weirdo) socks off.

Thanks a lot people!


Supersister - 2013 - Long Live Supersister

Supersister 
2013 
Long Live Supersister



CD Version
01. Introduction / Present From Nancy (7:46)
02. Mexico / Metamorphosis / Eight Miles High (9:30)
03. A Girl Named You (10:24)
04. Energy (Out Of Future) / Higher (21:03)
05. Judy Goes On Holiday (9:13)
06. Radio (4:05)
07. Mexico (7:08)

Total Time 69:09

"All tracks are previously unreleased live versions"
Tracks 1 - 3 recorded by VPRO Radio TV at Kasteel Groeneveld, Baarn, February 5, 1971, VPRO TV broadcast May 13, 1971.
Tracks 4 - 7 recorded by VPRO Radio at Midsummer Popfestival, Meerlo, July 15, 1973.

2LP Version

LP1 (40:46)
01. Mexico / Metamorphosis / Eight Miles High (9:31)
02. A Girl Named You (10:23)
03. Energy (Out Of Future) / Higher (20:52)

LP2 (42:23)
01. Mexico (7:10)
02. Judy Goes On Holiday (9:13)
03. Radio (4:03)
04. Introduction / Present From Nancy (7:46)
05. Modest Man (4:13)
06. House In The Country (3:30)
07. Nothing Is Real (3:57)
08. Sweet Suicide (2:31)

Total Time 83:09

Tracks A1, A2 and D1 recorded at Kasteel Groeneveld, Baarn, February 5, 1971, VPRO TV broadcast May 13, 1971.
Tracks B1, C1 to C3 recorded at Midsummer Popfestival, Meerlo, July 15, 1973.
Tracks D2 to D5 recorded at the NDR Germany, October 1971.


- Ron Van Eck / Bass Guitar, Guitar
- Marco Vrolijk / Drums
- Sacha Van Geest / Flute, Saxophone, Vocals, Tambourine
- Robert Jan Stips / Keyboards, Lead Vocals



"All tracks are previously unreleased live versions"
Tracks 1 - 3 recorded by VPRO Radio TV at Kasteel Groeneveld, Baarn, February 5, 1971, VPRO TV broadcast May 13, 1971.
Tracks 4 - 7 recorded by VPRO Radio at Midsummer Popfestival, Meerlo, July 15, 1973.


Supersister - 2001 - Supersisterious

Supersister
2001
Supersisterious
 

101. Present from Nancy (8:01)
102. Memories ar new (9:16)
103. Mexico (7:54)
104. A girl named you (9:59)
105. No tree will grow (7:16)
106. Judy goes on holiday (10:15)

201. Corporation combo boys (0:55)
202. 6 blauwe dwergen (1:03)
203. Energy (out of future) (12:49)
204. Pudding en gisteren (music for ballet) (22:00)
205. She was naked (4:22)
206. Radio (3:57)
207. Wow - the story (3:13)
208. Wow (9:53)


- Robert Jan Stips / keyboards, lead vocals, vibes
- Ron van Eck / (bass) guitar, fuzzbass
- Sacha van Geest / flutes, vocals
- Marco Vrolijk / drums, percussion, vocals
Releases information

Recorded at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 3rd 2000.



Legendary concert in Amsterdam, a reunion after some 27 years! And I was there dead centre, in the front of the first balcony with perfect view! and loved every single moment of it. This double live album is the perfect choice is you want to listen to just one Supersister album
Supersister planned to record a new CD with new songs after this set of concerts, unfortunately their flutist Sacha Van Geest died some months later.

Supersister - 2000 - M.A.N

Supersister 
2000 
M.A.N
 

01. Present from Nancy -live (7:23)
02. Radio - live (2:20)
03. Mexico - live (6:23)
04. Judy goes on holiday - live (9:07)
05. (2x3=) 6 Blauwe dwergen (1:16)
06. Hommage (3:35)
07. Sweet suicide (2:32)
08. Modest man (4:12)
09. Wine melody (2:44)
10. Nothing is real (3:56)
11. Workman's song (3:10)
12. House in the country (3:29)
13. Seven ways to die (3:05)
14. Woods of frustrated men (3:41)
15. Corporating comboboys (0:48)
16. Manke boerenwals (1:08)
17. Psalm (2:13)

- Marco Vrolijk / drums
- Sacha van Geest / flute & vocals
- Ron van Eck / bass guitar
- Robert Jan Stips / keyboards & vocals
- Rob Douw / trumpet, ideas & vocals (lead on track 5)
- Gerhard Smid /guitar & vocals

Tracks 1-5 are live recordings from 1973. Tracks 6-12 were recorded with the NDR Orchestra in Germany on 4/10/71. Tracks 13-17 are early recordings from the 60's and 70's including previously unreleased studio recordings from 1967



Listening to the first four tracks here, which are the live ones, you can get a sense of the energy they put into their set. There are no dates for when the live tracks were recorded, but a note on the Supersister section of R J Stip's site, it mentions 1971. The album opens with a muscular version of "Present From Nancy" from their album of the same name. This is followed by a very nice version of "Radio" from Pudding En Gisteren, which so seamlessly glides into "Mexico" that if you aren't a Supersister expert, you might think its an extended jam on "Radio." Okay, at least I did, until I actually checked the tracking timing and the CD player. The production is very clear here, allowing the fullness of the arrangement to shine through. "Judy Goes On Holiday" is sharp-edged even with the fuzzed organ; in fact, it is that fuzzed organ that gives it that rough, ragged edge. "Hommage" is the second of the previously unreleased tracks, and is a symphonic, classically influenced piece with beautiful keys and flute, somewhat tinny percussion and barely perceptible bass. This track and those that follow were recorded in 1971 with the Tanz-und Unterhaltungsorchester des NDR. "Sweet Suicide" has a playful feel, with stuttering keys, trilling flute, energetic percussion...and then the swell of the orchestra just opens it open. I'm brought to mind of Moody Blues, actually, and UK pop bands of the late 60's - Herman's Hermits is what springs to mind. "Modest Man" as well, though I couldn't help but think of "The Little Drummer Boy" while hearing this, as it slowly develops. It is a rather dark track, and the orchestra swell a third of the way through made me think of the incident music composed for movies made in the 30's and 40's, used to underscore a melancholy moment. "Nothing Is Real" will sound familiar, as it forms one of the middle parts of "Judy Takes A Holiday," though it has more instrumentation and a lighter feel. Instead of deep bass taking the lead, it is the flute and keys. "Workman's Song" returns to the obvious humour of other tracks - imagine if Shirley Temple sang sweetly about committing violent acts...well, Shirley Temple with a bit too much testosterone singing sweetly about committing violent acts. "House In The Country" also takes that happy feel and twists it with dark lyrics. "Seven Ways To Die" is psychedelic...I'd say almost stereotypically psychedelic, but with Supersister one can't be sure if that's part of the point. "Woods Of Frustrated Men" is psychedelic as well, in the way that The Doors' "The End" was...in fact, I think "The End" is a very good comparison here, at least for part of it, as the track moves in so many directions. Strangest here is "Psalm," where you're not quite sure whether they're laughing or crying through a familiar psalm. Actually I think it's both, one of those "we should be sad, but we can't help giggling" kind of things.

Great Supersister stuff that was never released. Don't start here if you don't know them but if you do then this is a great find! Wacky tunes and weird arrangements as well as some nice surprises of new takes of older songs. Totally needed if you love their music as much as i do!

Sweet Okay Supersister - 1974 - Spiral Staircase

Sweet Okay Supersister 
1974
Spiral Staircase



01. Retroschizive (Introduction schizo) (2:21)
02. Jelly bean hop (1:36)
03. Dangling dingdongs (6:54)
04. Sylvers song (Groan, stamp, shock, hoot) (3:09)
05. Cookies, teacups, buttercups (4:01)
06. Gi, ga, go (Gollumble jafers) (4:01)
07. It had to be (3:46)
08. Nosy parkers (4:26)
09. We steel so frange (Epilogue) (2:54)

- Robert Jan Stips / keyboards, lead vocals, vibes
- Ron van Eck / bass guitar
- Sacha van Geest / flutes, vocals

Guests :
- Mien van den Heuvel / mandolin
- Hans Alegres / steeldrum
- Inge van Iersel / backing vocals
- Jose van Iersel / backing vocals
- Jan Hollestelle / bass
- Bertus Borgers / sax
- Dick De Jong / bagpipes
- Louis Debij / drums
- Mr. De Wolf / horns



While many assume this is the final SUPERSISTER album it was actually released under the name SWEET OKAY SUPERSISTER and is really a Sacha Van Geest solo album with SUPERSISTER members. So I guess it's close enough to be considered part of their catalogue ? Well on the official SUPERSISTER web-site you won't find this album but personally I don't have a problem with this being listed under SUPERSISTER.

After the lack of success with their previous album "Iskander" Charlie Mariano left, eventually going back to Germany where he would play with Eberhard Weber. It is a shame that "Iskander" didn't do better because it was so good. The band asked Elton Dean to take Charlie's place and Elton accepted only to see the band eventually implode. On the official SUPERSISTER web-site Elton Dean is still listed as a former member. Man i'd loved to have heard an album with him on board in the same style as "Iskander". But again I have to say that Charlie was fantastic on "Iskander". Anyway "Spiral Staircase" sees the band continuing where "Pudding En Gisteren" left off but even more sillier. In fact Frank Zappa and GONG are good examples of what we get here. Hey with Sacha back you know that humour would be back too.

"Retroschizve" opens with the sound of traffic before the piano and more takes over. Spoken words from Sacha after a minute with pleasing music. Some chipmunk vocals join in too. Get used to it (haha). It blends into "Jelly Bean Hop" where it turns fuller right away. Great sound. It settles with spoken words. The tempo keeps changing and we get more chipmunk vocals. "Dangling Dingdongs" is such a good song. Sparse intricate sounds before it picks up with bass 1 1/2 minutes in. Drums join in too. Killer stuff, especially the drumming. Vocal melodies help out. Samples late of horses walking and whistling. Then we hear someone walking away before it ends with chaotic sounds and breaking glass. "Sylver Song ( Graon, Stamp, Shock, Hoot)" opens with whispered words then some silly singing in the GONG style. Music before 2 minutes as it kicks in to a full sound. Chunky bass too. Back to silliness after 2 1/2 minutes to end it.

"Cookies, Teacups, Buttercups" opens with mandolin and water sounds. Bag pipes eventually lead with marching styled drums and vocals. Catchy. "Gi, Ga, Go (Gollumble Jafers)" opens with piano and multi-vocals. An Island vibe comes in and a singer who sounds like Kevin Ayers. Horns replace the vocals but not for long. Chipmunk vocals and laughter end it. Too funny. "It Had To Be" is piano and reserved vocals. Backing vocals and vibes too. "Nosey Parkers" is piano, drums and vocals with silly background vocals. I like the drumming and sound 1 1/2 minutes in with those GONG-like vocal expressions. "We Steel So Frange (Eplogue)" is a catchy mid-paced tune with vocals. We do get an instrumental break later.

A must for fans of GONG and Zappa.

Supersister - 1973 - Iskander

Supersister
1973 
Iskander



01. Introduction (0:42)
02. Dareios the Emperor (4:51)
03. Alexander (7:02)
04. Confrontation of the Armies (2:47)
05. The Battle (7:59)
06. Bagoas (2:54)
07. Roxane (3:21)
08. Babylon (7:57)
09. Looking Back (4:33)

bonus tracks on remastered reissue
10. Wow (Single version) (3:35)
11. Drs. D (B-side) (2:50)
12. Bagoas (Single A-side) (2:44)
13. Memories Are New (B-side) (6:08)

- Robert Jan Stips / keyboards, lead vocals, vibes
- Ron van Eck / (bass) guitar, fuzzbass
- Charlie Mariano / saxophone, flute
- Herman van Boeyen / drums, percussion



Iskander is a special album in Supersister's history, since it's the one not featuring the original flautist and drummer. Stips and Van Eck remained in the fold, summoning a heavily jazzy drummer and a wind player who preferred the sax over the flute. The latter factor influenced the band's sonic development in a crucial manner, since it implies that the wind input can be louder than ever before in a Supersister album, and the keyboard input must necessarily adopt new tricks in order to establish a new form of dialogue with their partners in melody and soloing (the sax and the flute, of course). The brief intro is a real statement of what is going on: an exotic sax solo that properly announces the life of Alexander the Great as a champion in Greece and a hero in Asia. The sung parts are diminished, and so are the displays of musical humor, which makes the sense of musical intelligence become a major asset. What we can still notice clearly is that combination of warm dynamics and extroverted vibe that makes Supersister such a genius in the history of prog-jazz. The aforementioned sax solo gives way to "Dareios the Emperor", a piece elaborated with similarities to Weather Report and the jazzy side of compatriot band Focus (I won't go as far as to say that Focus was an actual influence on Supersister). Mariano does a big deal of Elton Dean chops, which makes for one of a few Soft Machine references for this remodeled Supersister. The title track continues in a similar vein and takes it to a more epic atmosphere: there is also an added touch of grey textures in places, which helps to make the sinister martial drums and organ layers really dark. It is a pity that the ultra- neutoric sax solo should be so short, since it reallly creates an amazing climax while it lasts. Once the electric piano comes to the frontline, the sax stops being intense and becomes quite evocative. The last two minutes are symptoms of pure jazz-prog majesty in a most orchestrated fashion. Despite its explicitly menacing title, 'Confrontation of the Armies' actually happens to be quite playful, as a nod to what the band used to do in their first two albums. 'The Battle' starts with a tympani-driven orgy (reminding us of Carl Palmer's individual highlights in the classic era of ELP), which deceitfully serves as a prologue to an eerie passage of soaring organ layers, soft baritone sax and vibraphone touches. The first main motif arrives like a mixture of Weather Report and Egg (the Canterbury element is a thing that this band can't seem to take off itself): the resulting development states an alternation of languid and furious moods that eventually lead to a bombastic closing section in which the drums and the saxare literally on fire. This one and 'Alexander' have to be the pinnacles of "Iskander". But there's still more. The following two tracks slow down a bit in order to deliver a more gracious mood: 'Bagoas' has a soft colorfulness to it, adorned with exotic percussions and flute; 'Roxane' takes a romantic approach to the bucolic side of jazz, with very tender lines on flute and stylish piano bases. 'Babylon' brings back the Weather report reference, only this time with a stronger focus on jams delivered on various mid-tempo structures (unlike the more epic 'Iskander' and 'The Battle'). The rhythm section is just superb, with a drummer who knows exactly the right place for each ornament and how to establish a whole sound with the bass player. This piece, while not as composed as tracks 2 and 3, can match their incendiary stance in many passages. 'Looking Back' fills the album's last 4 ½ minutes, with moderate Latin-jazz tones (a trick that was also used in previous releases): the connection between bass, flute and electric piano lands on a coda of the intro. That's how this circle is closed, and this is what Supersister decided to become after the original line-up's crisis: "Iskander" is a peculiar opus in Supersister's world, yet still retaining proficiently the same level of musical excellence in the writing and performing areas. It is reasonable to miss the magic of Mr. Van Geest for this one, but it is a fact (at least to me) that this album is not a letdown at all.

Supersister - 1972 - Superstarshine Vol.3

Supersister 
1972
Superstarshine Vol.3

 

01. She was naked (3:43)
02. Missing link (2:57)
03. (I'm) Gonna take easy (2:40)
04. Wow (The intelligent song) (12:58)
05. The groupies of the band (4:28)
06. Spiral staircase (3:04)
07. Fancy nancy (1:46)
08. A girl named you (3:20)
09. No tree will grow (7:38)

- Robert Jan Stips / keyboards, lead vocals, vibes
- Ron van Eck / (bass) guitar, fuzzbass
- Sacha van Geest / flutes, vocals
- Marco Vrolijk / drums, percussion, vocals


This weird and bizarre object is actually a compilation of many single only tracks, live recordings and odd bits. What is really unsettling is that the artwork seems to come out of a real cheapie series where among others, you'd find Cream second live album with similar cover. Actually this compilation presents many fine Supersister moments to make it worthy of being a full album.

The first two tracks are excellent examples of what Supersister can do best, great Canterbury-like fusion, but unfortunately right after it comes a spoof RnR number (excellent made, but ruining the feeling built up so far. With such compilation, it might have been easier to put such out of context odd bits at the end, so they can be easily skipped (vinyl-wise). After a lengthy introduction (and not-so-intelligent no matter what the group says), comes a great no-less-lengthy Wow (live) track owing as much to Zappa than to Caravan or Soft Machine. Weird vocal parts, great instrumental interplay are the main feature of this high-mark of this compilation even if there are uneven passages.

The next (also live) Groupies is again another spoof-goof track, which is impeccably played, borrowing from every kind of popular ditties, but again, this all-out bizarrerie is rather unnerving: Maybe I accept more of this stuff from Zappa than from these crazy Dutchmen, but I have problems coming to grip with this kind of silliness. The following tracks are from their respective album's sessions and are your "typical" - as in "original" (as in "whacko") - SS track.

Supersister - 1972 - Pudding And Gisteren

Supersister 
1972 
Pudding And Gisteren



01. Radio (4:00)
02. Supersisterretsisrepus (0:16)
03. Psychopath (3:58)
04. Judy Goes on Holiday (12:38)
05. Pudding en gisteren (Music for Ballet) (20:59)

Total Time: 41:51

bonus tracks on remastered reissue
06. Dead Dog (Single B-Side) (2:43)
07. Wow (Live Version) (12:59)

- Robert Jan Stips / keyboards, lead vocals, vibes
- Ron van Eck / (bass) guitar, fuzzbass
- Sacha van Geest / flutes, vocals
- Marco Vrolijk / drums, percussion, vocals



 Third album for this incredible dutch band, Pudding En Gisteren" (Music for Ballet) is the right following of their first two. The group matured immensely in the two years since their stunning debut, always expanding their ideas into new directions and kept the level of excellence established by the two previous albums. At the usual ingredients: the humour touch is always really enjoyable, the great ability to conjugate Cantebury, Symphonic and Zappa influence , they add on the side two of this album the ambitious project to write music for a ballett, using a chamber orchestra. This was the last album recorded by the original lineup of the group. Fantastic stuff!

Supersister had already released two excellent albums when their third saw the light of day. And yet again they managed to produce an album filled with the explicit sound of Supersister: excellent musicianship, humourfull lyrics and all of that in a great Canterbury style.

The album opens with Radio (which was a minor hit in the Netherlands). It starts rather normal, but halfway it goes over the top with the mad announces by Van Geest. The short Supersisterretsisrepus reads backwards the same as forwards, and it goes for the music as well. In Psychopath Stips sings that it is not strange to be a psychopath, since we are living in such a strange world. The song has only vocals, bass, flute and various keyboards. Next is Judy Goes On Holiday, which is a track that is built from many subtracks (like Nothing Is Real, which can be found on the cd m.a.n. and is the middle part of Judy Goes On Holiday). It starts with fuzzy organ and flute, then there is a portion of vocals and even electric guitar (played by van Eck). After about 9 minutes the track suddenly shifts to an Beach Boys impression. This section doesn't relate to the first part of the track. Next up is Supersister's most ambitious piece Pudding En Gisteren (Pudding And Yesterday). It was written as music for a ballet performance, so there are no vocals. The piece consists of many different parts well blended together.

For the Canterbury or Supersister fan this album is an absolute must. And if you have the chance, buy the remastered version from Universal Music (2004) because this release sounds much better than the Polydor release

Supersister - 1971 - To the Highest Bidder

Supersister 
1971 
To the Highest Bidder

 

01. A Girl Named You (10:08)
02. No Tree Will Grow (On Too High a Mountain) (7:40)
03. Energy (Out of Future) (14:55)
04. Higher (2:56)

Total Time: 35:39

bonus tracks on remastered reissue
05. A Girl Named You (Single Version) (3:17)
06. Missing Link (B-side) (2:58)
07. No Tree Will Grow (Single Edit) (4:27)
08. The Groupies of the Band (B-side) (4:32)

- Robert Jan Stips / keyboards, lead vocals, vibes
- Ron van Eck / (bass) guitar, fuzzbass
- Sacha van Geest / flutes, vocals
- Marco Vrolijk / drums, percussion, vocals


Following in the same path as their debut album, Supersister achieved their definite masterpiece in the shape of 'To the Highe$t Bidder': in fact, Supersister proves to be one of the most prominent Dutch prog acts of the 70s, equalling to Focus and Finch in prowess, fire and excellence. In many ways, Supersister incarnates the Netherlands' response to Soft Machine, since their music is overtly inspired by Canterbury's jazziest self; they also have clear hints to Zappa's sophisticated absurdity and the distinctive dynamics of avant-garde free jazz (track 3 being the best example). Supersister's approach to humour in the context of jazz-oriented prog is a crucial component of their music, since it allows all four musicians to keep a light-hearted feel in their performancers, while exhibiting their own individual skills and challenging interplay. The flautist's role is certainly special, since van Geest's style has a remarkable tendecy towards the pastoral, yet in a strange way, it works effectively in the middle of the combined jazzy leaning of his other partners. The fact that two tracks are 10+ minute long allows the foursome to explore into their musical ideas and explore its potential variations: 'A Girl Named you' (a Supersister classic) is full of Latin-jazz colours, while 'Energy (Out of Future)' adds some exotic African-like beatings in the middle of the band's exhaustive musical and rhythmic travels. Both tracks portray obvious bombastic aspirations, but at the end of the day, the band manages not to take this impetus too far by keeping a sense of fun. As a result, there is a constant, unhidden touch of fun and freshness displaying all through these pieces; in thsi way, the friendly listener can rest assured that his senses won't get fed up at any point, since the pleasant flavour stays unpolluted. The remaining tracks are apparently more serene, but not less funny: 'No Tree Will Grow (On Too High a Mountain)' ends its reflective portrait with the sound of a crowd cynically laughing, while 'Higher', in contrast to the previous track's tour-de-force, is a bossanova theme, serving basically as a sweet frivolous closure. Together with Focus and Finch, Supersister is part of the Netherlands' Prog Holy Trinity, and they surely deserve to be as acknowledged as the others... at least.

Supersister - 1970 - Present From Nancy

Supersister 
1970
Present From Nancy


Present from Nancy:
01. Introduction (2:57)
02. Present from Nancy (5:14)
Memories are New (Boomchick):
03. Memories are new (3:47)
04. 11/8 (3:16)
05. Dreaming Wheelwhile (2:52)
06. Corporation Combo Boys (1:21)
Metamorphosis:
07. Mexico (4:21)
08. Metamorphosis (3:27)
09. Eight Miles High (0:22)
10. Dona Nobis Pacem (8:35)

bonus tracks on remastered reissue
11. She Was Naked (Single A-side) (3:45)
12. Spiral Staircase (Single B-side) (3:06)
13. Fancy Nancy (Single A-side) (1:48)
14. Gonna Take Easy (Single B-side) (2:43)

- Robert Jan Stips / keyboards, lead vocals, vibes
- Ron van Eck / (bass) guitar, fuzzbass
- Sacha van Geest / flutes, vocals
- Marco Vrolijk / drums, percussion, vocals



Going as far back as 66 in a group called The Bulbs (oh the humour in Tulipland, probably in homage to Zappa's Mothers) then Q-Provocation, this The Hague group became a sextet when mentor Rob Douw joined them on trumpet, inspiration and vocals and started experimenting and exploring underground avenues, which was just fine with the young Dutch hippies. Poets, dancers and body painters shared the stage with the group and a lightshow was put in works a few months after the Swinging London scene had started. This forced the musicians to improvise and their music naturally veered towards early Soft Machine and Barrett's Floyd, particularly through Stip's organ playing. The band took on its final name from their aborted hippie musical called Sweet Okay Supersister, and when two members left (including their Douw mentor) and let the group secure a contract with the Dutch national Phillips label through Polydor, while establishing their own cultural club in The Hague called "Provadia?", performing at the Woodstock Dutch-equivalent festival and recorded two singles prior to the release of their Present From Nancy, a non-existing English Girl. Black forest-y artwork and an un-mistakenly innerfold filled with

Opening with the title-track suite on a demented drumbeat, forcing a bare piano to keep up and later a flute, this upbeat track is an instrumental that gets you to think of a better-sounding Egg and has some of that neat Hatfield features to come. The three-part Memories Are Few starts quickly as well, and then veers to a nightmarish space rock, somewhere between Floys and some insane guitar-driven Hawkwind. Its aptly-titled middle section 11/8 tells you what it's about with a fuzz organ solo, while Wheelwhile has a quiet flute heading the bass and cymbals.

On the flipside, after the weird & short (but good) Corporation Combo Boys, the three-part Metamorphosis is full of sombre riff and breaks in its opening movement, while the second eponymous is reminiscent of Gentle Giant at times and insane binary drums and fuzzed-out organ and ends in a spoof Eight Miles High (a wink and a nod to countrymen Golden Earring who had made this Byrds song their bravado in concert and in the studio a few months before). The closing Dona Nobis Pacem is easily the album's best track, a quiet almost eerie dronal organ, sometimes over-ruled by synth lines or delicate percussions, and in the middle, the track suddenly speeds up in a classical music ritournelle, only to die out in its original drone and a loud crash

The remastered version comes with four bonus tracks, two non-album singles that preceded the PFN album and reflect the group's full lunacy and wide-spectrumed influences: the hypnotic She Was Naked (actually a rework of the album's Dona Nobis Pacem) is a calm Floyd-like track with Van Geest's flute the featured instrument until a sold guitar intervenes, while it's B-side Spiral Staircase is a silly ditty with mostly-spoken narration and silly repetitive binary piano. The other single is a spoof-boogie Fancy Nancy is almost a doo-wop track over Jerry Lee Lewis piano extravaganza, backed a just-as-weird Gonna Take Easy track that zooms towards Zappa; this second single is a little too painstakingly different and actually sound hollow. So with these four tracks added on, PFN now makes a fairly normal release length, but no matter how short, Supersister's debut is definitely worth hearing, despite its sometimes rough edges and over-silly humour, although we're still faraway from Pudding En Gisteren's madness..

Huge debut for Supersister, one the best prog band ever. We can say they have Cantebury influence and this is right, but this album is much more than Cantebury, very fresh, playful and changeful, much more twisted than band like Caravan or Soft Machine. They can be easily compared to the french band Moving Gelatine Plates. The band is leaded by one of the best prog keyboards Robert-Jan Stips, but all the memebers are incredible musicians. Other thing i really enjoy in this album the incredible vocal parts, incredible mature for a band of an average age of 15/16 years old. Concluding it's a really mastership of prog, an album able to interpratate the sophisticated atmosphere of cantebury with a crazy, fresh touch.

Solution - 1980 - It's Only Just Begun

Solution 
1980
It's Only Just Begun


01. On my own (6:35)
02. Captain Willie (5:30)
03. Mirror (8:36)
04. Logic (6:40)
05. It happened in September (6:20)
06. It´s only just begun (4:50)
07. 100 Words (4:00)


- Tom Barlage / flute, saxes, percussion, keyboards
- Willem Ennes / keyboards, backing vocals
- Hans Waterman / drums
- Guus Willemse / bass guitar, lead vocals

Guest:
- Jan Akkerman / guitar on "Logic"



Like if the preceding album "fully interlocking" was not accessible and pop enough, the band here REALLY made a serious attempt to be on the radio broadcast level. You know what, their formula really works for me: tons of pleasant, joyful songs full of lead & backing vocals, saxes, woodwinds instruments, rythmic keyboards. The songs are very very catchy and addictive. The bass and drums are absolutely well played and are not minimalist at all: the ensemble is amazingly well synchronized!! They may sound just slightly like SPYRO GYRA, less jazzy. Finally, this is pop sophisticated rock/fusion/jazz, and yes, "it is only just begun".

Solution - 1977 - Fully Interlocking

Solution 
1977
Fully Interlocking
 


01. Give me some more (5:18)
02. Carrousel (7:05)
03. Sonic sea (7:10)
04. Free inside (6:12)
05. French melodie (4:30)
06. Empty faces (6:25)

- Tom Barlage / flute, saxes, percussion, keyboards
- Willem Ennes / keyboards, backing vocals
- Hans Waterman / drums
- Guus Willemse / bass guitar, lead vocals

Guests:
- Ray Cooper / conga's, percussion
- Stuard Epp / backing vocals



The Dutch fusion band here took a more accessible way to produce easier tracks, still having some lead vocals. The saxes, keyboards, bass and drums are well balanced, and it sounds melodic, joyful, fresh and good. The ensemble is rather catchy, pleasant to listen. I would say it is definitely romantic: the saxophones are greatly responsible of that. The keyboards are varied and often floating, while there are different kinds of pianos. The best track is definitely "Carousel", a beautiful sentimental masterpiece, totally jazzy and progressive, full of Fender Rhodes: you absolutely have to enjoy the intense quintessential bit, where intense sax solo, heavily floating keyboards, punchy bass and expert drums suddenly take the maximum room available, creating an unbelievable extreme dynamic romantic passage. WOW!

Solution - 1975 - Cordon Bleu

Solution 
1975 
Cordon Bleu


01. Chappaqua (10:33)
02. Third Line Part 1 (1:39)
03. Third Line Part 2 (5:45)
04. A Song For You (3:53)
05. Whirligig (9:01)
06. Last Detail Part 1 (2:48)
07. Last Detail Part 2 (2:42)
08. Black Pearl Part 1 (1:14)
09. Black Pearl Part 2 (5:01)

- Tom Barlage / Alto & Soprano saxophone, percussion, backing vocals
- Willem Ennes / keyboards
- Hans Waterman / drums
- Guus Willemse / bass, lead vocals, backing vocals

Guests:
- Michiel Pos / saxophone and guitar
- Frankie Fish / backing vocals



Concentration, taking their time resulting in perfect balanced fusion album.

I've always had something with prog from Holland. Solution is one of the last discoveries for my Dutch prog collection. More then prog however, this is jazz rock. Don't expect hypertechnical solo's and highly developed fusion composition here, but think of it as record with great songwriting and climaxes. This is more then technical an emotional addition for your jazzrock/fusion collection.

In this stage of their career Solution was Tom Barlage on windinstruments, Willem Ennes on keys, Hans Waterman on drums and Guus Willemse on bass and vocals. All musicians have a easy going playing style which sounds very professional. The one trap of this bands it the elevator kind of music some band make, which is of no interest to fans of progressive rock. This record might be the only record of Solution that is very atmospheric without dull moments.

Most of the tracks are instrumental, building up tension from beginning to end. Always playing perfectly by the book, but also without playing notes that are uncalled for. Berlage's wind solo's are clean and perfect, but not too perfect to be boring. In fact, I never heard a jazz-rock record with wind solo's that touched me so much as this one. A lot of people in your personal environment might also like this record, for it is not to hard to listen to.

Conclusion. A very worthwhile record and one of my favourite fusion records. It makes you want to listen to it, though without much noodlings. I'm tempted to give this five stars, but that wouldn't be appropriate for a progressive website. Still this is an excellent addition to any progressive rock music collection.

Solution - 1972 - Divergence

Solution 
1972 
Divergence



01. Second line (8:44)
02. Divergence (5:58)
03. Fever (4:22)
04. Concentration (12:28)
05. Theme (0:38
06. New dimension (6:25)

- Tom Barlage / saxes, flute
- Willem Ennes / keyboards
- Hans Waterman / drums
- Guus Willemse / bass, vocals


Second album from this group, now reduced to a quartet, having lost their percussionist Steve Boston who went un-replaced,, but more importantly they lost singer/bassist VDSande, but they managed to find Guus Willemse for both tasks. This changed the sound quite a bit, although remaining jazz-rock, but a lot more sung, and somehow having a reduced musical spectrum over their debut album. Recorded in 72, released on Harvest this time and again produced by the same Schuursma, the album sports a picture of a strange modern sculpture, most likely unrelated to the title or the album's content, six tracks, with one serving as an intro.

The opening almost 9-mins Second Line starts out as déjà-entendu, both in VdSande's vocal line and delivery (he sounds like Boston's vocalist Boudreau) as well as the song's general sound (the Secret Oyster resemblance is more evident on this second album). The shorter title track reminds me of a cross between Colosseum and Secret Oyster as If Knudsen (SO) had met Heckstall-Smith (Col) and you'd have a hard time believing Focus didn't listen to this album after hearing Fever's flute.

The lengthy Concentration opens the flipside with plenty of interplay between all four members, especially again between Barlage and Ennes , the latter even winking at McCoy Tyner once or twice, just before or after the former played homage to Trane. Theme is more of an intro to New Dimension, probably the most future-AOR and cheesiest track of the album and not the best way to end an album.

Solution will than take a break to fill military duty, but their next album Cordon Bleu is from 76 with a complete line-up overhaul and the music changing to a certain kind brass-rock and gaining more attention. But for this second album, I'd say it' has lost the debut's spark, but is a more even and maybe jazzier affair, but it's definitely still worth investigating.

Solution - 1971 - Solution

Solution 
1971 
Solution
 


01. Koan (7:50)
02. Preview (0:51)
03. Phases (12:19)
04. Trane Steps (10:19)
05. Circus Circumstances (7:03)


- Tom Barlage / saxophone, flute
- Willem Ennes / keyboards
- Hans Waterman / drums
- Peter van der Sande / bass, vocals
- Steve Boston / percussion


Founder members Tom Barlage (saxophone) and Willem Ennes (piano) had played together in the Dutch band The Keys. The band played a crossover of jazzrock and soul. The band changed its name to Soulution and in 1969 drummer Hans Waterman (Ex-Cuby & The Blizzards) joined the band. One half of the musicians wanted to play songs the other half wanted to improvise in a jazz fashion. Soon the band split and Barlage, Ennes & Waterman formed Solution.

The band signed to the small Catfish label and was joined by Peter van der Sande on bass. The quartet recorded their first self titled record in 1971. The influence on this record, a brillant example of early jazzrock, ranged from Frank Zappa and Soft Machine to John Coltrane and contained an adaption of a classical composition by French composer Jaques Ibert.

For their second record 'Divergence' (1972) the band signed to EMI's progressive subsidiary Harvest and Guus Willemse replaced Van der Sande on bass. Willemse brought not only a rockier side with his semi acoustic Höffner bass, but became also singer of the band. 'Divergence' is as good as the first record with a punchier side and amore pronounced soul influence.

Due to the military duty of Barlage and Ennes the band had to stop. At the same time the musical climate had changed from experimental to a more polished fusion and Solution tried to jump on the train. Their third record 'Cordon Bleu' (1975) was produced by Gus Dudgeon fom Elton John fame. Still a good record, it was nevertheless moving more into a soul jazz direction with smooth ballads. The fourth record, 'Fully Interlocking' (1977), again produced by Gus Dudgeon, now for CBS, followed the same direction, alternating soul and jazzrock still with interesting instrumental passages.

In the meantime Disco had arrived and Solution changed to a fullblown funk-soul outfit, and recorded 'Its Only Just Begun' (1980), their most succesful record, still with solid songwriting, but no traces of Prog left. Their last studio record 'Runaway' (1982), was co produced by Jim Capaldi (Traffic), who co-wrote also some of the tracks and the band was joined by guitarist Harry Hardholt. Apart from the awful cover the band drowned even deeper in uninspired soul-funk. In 1983 the band made a farewell tour, that was released as a record 'Solution Live' (1983).

An oddly shaped Dutch quintet from The Hague, Solution played an enchanting variant of mainly instrumental jazz-rock mixed with symphonic prog, not unlike Supersister, Focus, Earth & Fire, Finch and others?. I wouldn't speak of a Dutch school, but it wouldn't be so strange either, although Solution seem to lack some of the humour of Focus and Supersister. Lead by Tom Barlage on sax and flute and keyboardist Willem Ennes, Solution managed to release a few albums during the 70's, but mainly the early ones are of interest to progheads. With urban canal sleeve artwork, this album dates from 71 and was produced by John Schuursma and contained just four tracks. It was released on a small local label Catfish

The opening instrumental Koan is abased on a repetitive riff played on keyboards and sax, but it lies on solid layers of synths. The tempo changes rather often, lead by VanDe Sande's bass ruling over a strong drummer and a percussionist, and resting a while on a mid-tempo while Barlage's sax and flute take it away. After the all too obvious Preview as an intro to the 12-mins Phases, a slow developing spacey Floyd crescendo with a faraway flute until bassist Vande Sade sings (a bit in an early Peter Gabriel mode) a few lines before the track takes on a slightly menacing turn veering VdGG and Secret Oyster.

The flipside opens the descending riff of Trane Steps and first install a VdGG mood before Barlage does pay tribute to Coltrane, but he's showing that he's fully integrated this influence. Definitely my fave of the album,, especially before the almost brutal awakening of the French composer Ibert burlesque adaptation of Circus Circumstances, where for the first minutes the assault is a real drawback until the track gets into place and the tracks ends superbly. Again the sax and electric piano are reminiscent of Secret Oyster's Karsten Vogel and Ken Knudsen.

While certainly not perfect and essential as other jazz-rock fusion of the time (the movement was in full swing that year), Solution's debut album had the guts to mix in some more "symphonic" prog to its music and in itself it's definitely worth setting an ear on it.

Shylock - 1978 - Ile de Fievre

Shylock
1978
Ile de Fievre

 

01. Ile de fièvre (12:59)
02. Le sang des capucines (5:37)
03. Choral (1:52)
04. Himogène (5:15)
05. Lierre d'aujourd'hui (2:19)
06. Laocksetal (10:27)
07. Le dernier (9:12)

- André Fisichella / drums and percussion
- Frédéric l'Épée / guitars
- Didier Lustig / Elka Rhapsody 610, Hammond B3, mini-moog, mellotron, Yahama electric grand piano, Hohner clavinet D6
- Serge Summa / bass



'Ile de Fievre' is Shylock's second effort, definitely their top achievement, and also one of the most important prog inputs to come out of France. Now as a quartet (they've got a specific bass player in), Shylock manages to recycle its crimsonian inheritance by adopting a stronger approach to their symphonic sound: you can also notice some clear influences from 76-77 Genesis and Rain Dances-era Camel, as well as some discrete leaning toward avantgarde ambiences a-la RIO. In comparison to their debut album, the musicianship is tighter and more confident - guitar and keyboard solos and interplays are refined, Fisichella's drumming is tight and his employment of various percussive devices is inventive, new bassist Serge Summa's work is solid. The compositions are also brilliant when it comes to the album's highlights. The opening title track displays a colourful combination and ensamblage of diverse musical ideas, intertwined and ultimately reprised with tremendous skill and immaculate fluency. This moster track comprises the signals of the band's main influences with a particular dynamics that reveals Shylock's own prog style. An absolute individual gem, that can only be equalled afterwards by 'Laocksetal', the most aggresive number in the album: starting with a series of guitar-driven riffs, momentarily intersected by a rough martial section, it ends with a disturbing, almost nightmarish synth "festival" exhibited upon layers of mellotron and a cacophonic sequenece of guitar, bass and wood blocks. In the middle of these two highlights, the remaining tracks may not seem so impressive at first listen, but they have grown on me as to make me consider thsi album as a coherent catalogue (opposite to many reviewers). Indeed, they're quite good pieces: the mysteirous beauty of the mellotron solo 'Choral' and the Weather report-esque vibe of 'Himogène' are really well accomplished - the latter includes some occasional dissonanace a-la GG. The final bonus track is a nice jazz-oriented piece, with a firm melodic motif that gets constantly reinstated without getting boring: in some ways it reminds me of "Rain Dances"-era Camel. Taken from a demo recording, this bonus should not have been placed at the end of the CD, since it cuts down the sinister climax achieved by 'Laocksetal'. By the way, the preceding track sets an ethereal disturbing preparation for the explosion of 'Laocksetal': 'Lierre d'ajour d'hui' displays a 2-minute landscape of mystery, like a breeze of impending doom appearing from the deep end of a forest in the evening. 'Le Sang des Capucines' is a jazz-rock oriented jam that portrays a deceving appearance of incompleteness, but beyond the surface you can appreciate a dynamic elaboration of the basic motif in a well-sustained crescendo that only stirs things up in a very sybtle fashion. It is as if the band had left room for "unfinished" development in order to work more profoundly in their own performing finesse. Overall balance: 'Ile de Fievre' is a must in any good prog collection, since it's a classic masterpiece of the genre during the late 70s.

Shylock - 1976 - Gialorgues

Shylock 
1976 
Gialorgues

 

01. Le Quatrième (13:05)
02. Le Sixième (3:50)
03. Le Cinquième (18:54)
04. Pendule (3:02)
05. Sous une arche de pierre (6:26)
06. Prélude a l'éclipse (2:11)
07. La robe et le chat (1:48)
08. Pour le bal des pauvres (1:45)

- André Fisichella / drums and percussion
- Frédéric l'Épée / guitars, bass
- Didier Lustig / keyboards


Around the same time that Carpe Diem was happening in Nice-Grenoble area , Shylock was also emerging from the same corner of France. While their paths most likely crossed and their sound was fairly similar (both managing to sound a bit like Genesis, but Shylock was more Crimson-like), Shylock was an all-instrumental group and did not have a wind player (as Carpe Diem did), which over the course of their two albums will not be a flaw since they were rhythmically much superior, but probably would've made them much bigger. As good instrumentalists Shylock were, there always seems to lack a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that allowed them to reach the excellent category, even if with their second album, they will come fairly close. But let's first concentrate on this one.

Their symphonic rock is always good but rarely brilliant, mainly due to a certain derivative guitar (just like in Carpe Diem, Steve Hackett's sound is shamelessly copied), but the drumming is maybe the one of their better feature, as it is often inventive (Jamie Muir's percussions comes to mind) and bringing a bit of luster in an otherwise fairly conventional symphonic prog. The album is made of three tracks, two of them lengthy epics, named after the order in which they composed them. I cannot rally accept this laziness of even finding another name for those tracks other than their working titles. Clearly, their fifth ones is the most effective and interesting due not least to a great percussive intro and the influences are shifting from Genesis to Crimson, sometimes a bit shamelessly. It is worthy of note that Shylock will be the first of a few French bands to inspire themselves of the Wetton-era Crimson, such Xaal and Nebelnest will in their respective decades. But this fifth composition (La Cinquième) is easily this album's highlight.

This album was first released as a private pressing (and under difficult conditions) before getting a CBS release the next year. Musea has released this album quite a while ago in Cd format with 5 bonus tracks which do not interfere with the album, but bring nothing new or more to the original album. Certainly not essential (and not anymore than Carpe Diem's works), but nevertheless worthy of the symphonic prog amateurs and having both their albums (especially Ile De Fièvre) in their shelves.

Shuttah - 1971 - The Image Maker

Shuttah 
1971 
The Image Maker
 


101. Image Maker (3:06)
102. Bull Run (5:15)
103. Cry My Little Darling (2:27)
104. Lady Smith (4:21)
105. Village Green (0:54)
106. The Crimp (7:27)
107. Christmas 1914 (2:15)
108. The Fens (5:51)

201. Guernica (2:36)
202. World War II (6:51)
203. Concrete (1:14)
204. Imjin (5:04)
205. She's a Bad Girl (3:01)
206. The Wizard (5:34)
207. Tell Me Why (2:23)
208. Conclusion (5:09)




This album represents one of the great mysteries in the Prog world: who were these guys and how did they make such a carefully arranged and well-produced recording without anyone recalling much about them? It is possible we may never know. What we do know about this English group of organ, drums, guitar, bass, horns and voice is that they created an underground concept record when that notion was still new, or at least warm, and it's overflowing with big, adventurous ideas, story development, atmosphere and a sophistication missing from much psych rock at a time when the form was near exhaustion. Their one and only album, 'The Image Maker Vol. 1 & 2', has an acid-blues foundation but shakes things up all the way through with surprising classical fugues, sound effects, theatrical fun and quality musicianship. Their sound reminds of early U.S. protomorphs Touch but shows greater skill, vision and direction. Even those involved at the time couldn't remember who this band was; "Shadoks Music spoke to Geoff Oliver, the former owner of IBC recording studios, but he could not remember any of the recordings made by Shuttah in his studio-- there were just too many engineers busy at the same time, during those golden days of the London underground, where studios were recording music which became big hits". Lucky for us those Prog trainspotters at Shadoks did the footwork and give us a great little moment in the psychedellic/progressive interface, preserving the rarest of the rare during that glorious but all too brief time.

A horsedrawn carriage delivers the groovy opener, a conjoining of hard blues rhythms, classical organ, trumpet and banjo, followed by the tribal 'Bull Run' with more brass and a stone-heavy organ/fuzz guitar vamp. This is really tremendous lost prog, grinding with walls of power and weird horns, sensitive guitar easing in and out of sadness... one great cut after another brimming with the spirit of the 1960s but showing clear signs of the rock progressive. The main theme involves the English war experience in the 20th century but we're never hit over the head with harsh messages, rather the symbolism is expressed as an undercurrent and avoids getting in the way of the fine music. 'The Crimp' is straight up musical theater with irreverent Jesus Christ Superstar imagery and rebel youth Hair-isms, 'Christmas 1914' is sardonic holiday bliss, dark humor and a Kinks-like delivery, and the first disc ends with 'The Fens', fond memories of Eastern England with hot organ and an uplifting arrangement. A sparkling first half of a brilliant piece of work. Disc Two is just as solid, starting on a pseudo-classical guitar solo rudely interrupted by the sounds of the Blitz, the war themes coming out more for 'Guernica' and the get-up-and-dance beats of 'World War ll', a sober but humorous reflection of war torn Britain. In 1971, just a handful of bands had attempted something this comprehensive in scope and it boggles the mind that the players involved are unknown. 'Imjin' careens with deep drones and lava lamps. A radio's dial is slowly turned years before Pink Floyd did it for 'She's a Bad Girl', and 'The Wizard' and 'Conclusion' are flat out Prog Rock in all its glory with a heavy Hammond, driving bass & drums, and classical dirges everywhere.

Widely panned as trite and too ambitious for its own good, 'The Image Maker' is dynamite stuff, and a must for anyone serious about early prog development. Some of the blues elements may turn you off but stick with this treasure and it will pay off in a big, big way.

...and then, Am I the only one that finds this story too good to be true... any more info out there?

Satin Whale - 1979 - Die Faust in der Tasche

Satin Whale 
1979
Die Faust in der Tasche

 

01. Die Kündigung
02. Matze Holt Verstärkung
03. Das Hausboot
04. Archie´s Flucht
05. Motorradfahrt
06. Blutspende
07. Der Sieg
08. Double Up Your Hands
09. Wolle´s Verzweiflung
10. Kampf In Der Lackierei
11. Traum Und Wirlichkeit

- Dieter Roesberg / guitar, wind
- Gerald Dellman / keyboards
- Thomas Bruck / bass, vocals
- Wolfgang Hieronymi / drums, percussion



The band's airy-fairy Prog moniker may not have aged well, but their final studio effort is still surprisingly vital, more so than what little I can recall of their earlier output. It shouldn't be surprising to learn that the group once toured in support of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, another second division symphonic outfit neglected not altogether unfairly by posterity. From what I remember, SATIN WHALE was usually content to swim in similar lukewarm waters.

But at least they quit while at the top of their game. This is a strong album, and more aggressive than you might expect from the quartet of neatly groomed German boys pictured on the back cover. It might have been a sign of the times (1978 found a lot of otherwise even-tempered Proggers flexing their underdeveloped muscles in the wake of The Sex Pistols). Or maybe it was just the scenario of the film they were scoring: a post-"Rebel Without A Cause" tale of teenage alienation and urban motorcycle delinquents (judging from the sleeve art).

Like other movie soundtracks it's a sometimes fragmentary variation of one or two themes, with an orphan guitar riff here and an incidental keyboard melody there, plus a bit of hyperventilating flute reminiscent of IAN ANDERSON (or at least THIJS VAN LEER). The curtain raiser, "Die Kündigung" (rough translation: "The Dismissal"; I'm guessing the hero loses his job in the early scenes and falls in with the wrong crowd), sets the mood with a driving 4/4 beat and lots of macho guitar/synthesizer interplay. And the closing number, "Traum und Wirklichkeit" ("Dream and Reality"), offers a funky space-rock workout over a throbbing bass line and a healthy dose of crunchy "Superfly" rhythm guitar work.

In between are a handful of brief, driving instrumentals, with (thankfully) only one attempt at a legitimate song: "Double Up Your Hands", a trite, up-tempo ballad (sung in awkward English) about following your dreams "...on the road to nowhere". Most of the remaining tracks clock in at less than two minutes long, and the whole thing wraps up well short of a half hour. The miserly running time no doubt helps to preserve the dynamic, full-throttle production job, but may also explain why the album hasn't yet re- appeared on compact disc (it would hardly be a bargain at today's extortionate CD prices).

On the other hand, there isn't a moment of wasted space here. And each cut at least presents something close to an actual beginning and end, even when rushing by in a breathless 45 seconds.

This is an album that (likewise) must have come and gone in an all-too brief but incandescent flash. It may not be the sort of lost treasure valued by diehard record collectors, but I'm grateful just to be able to dust it off for an occasional spin on my (so far) trusty old analogue turntable. Sometimes the music itself is its own reward.

Satin Whale - 1978 - A Whale Of A Time

Satin Whale 
1978 -
A Whale Of A Time 

 

01. A Whale Of A Time
02. Racing Driver
03. Mindnight Skycrapers
04. Your Love
05. Desert Village
06. Spring
07. One More Night
08. More Than A Voice
09. Little Tune
10. I Can Believe

- Dieter Roesberg / guitar, wind
- Gerald Dellman / keyboards
- Thomas Bruck / bass, vocals
- Wolfgang Hieronymi / drums, percussion



Another cool proggy krautrock recording with solid guitar, Hammond and flute. I would recommend all their recordings but that's me, you may not agree. If you like a band and their sound then you like that band and their sound and you can't always explain why.

This band and their music moves me.

Satin Whale - 1978 - Whalecome

Satin Whale 
1978 
Whalecome
 


01. No Time to Lose (5:26)
02. Song For Thesy (4:10)
03. Maree (4:53)
04. Desert Places (8:24)
05. Reverie (2:22)
06. Holidays (5:58)
07. A Bit Foolish - A Bit Wise (6:05)
08. Crossing The Line (9:56)
09. Reminiscent River (4:10)
10. Goin´ Back To Cologne (3:30)
11. Hava Nagila (17:40)
12. Perception (18:38)
13. Sweet Little Sixteen (5:40)

- Thomas Bruck / bass, vocals
- Gerald Dellman / organ, piano, keyboards
- Wolfgang Hieronymi / percussion, drums
- Dieter Roesberg / guitar, wind, guitar (12 string), slide guitar




 This was taken from a show in Cologne, Germany in November of 1977. It opens with an orchestral sample on "No Time To Lose" as the crowd cheers. The gentle guitar and vocals that take over 1 1/2 minutes in turn fuller quickly. "Song For Thesy" features flute and chunky bass with drums to start. Vocals after a minute along with guitar. Organ joins in later. "Maree" is an instrumental and one of my favs. The drums, guitar and organ lead as we get some energy. Strings before 2 minutes then an organ solo before 3 minutes. A proggy instrumental. "Desert Places" opens with flute and drums as organ and bass join in too. The guitar comes in and eventually leads. Vocals 3 1/2 minutes in as it settles. This doesn't last for long though.

"Reveree" is a short piece with strings and a classical vibe. "Holidays (By The Seaside)" opens with the crowd cheering and clapping along. They like this one. Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes then we get an instrumental break 3 minutes in but it's brief. "A Bit Foolish-A Bit Wise" has a great sounding intro with prominant guitar. Vocals 2 minutes in. Flute before 3 1/2 minutes and strings too. Nice guitar solo a minute later. "Crossing The Line" ends dics one with organ to start as the guitar and drums join in. Vocals after 2 minutes.

Disc two starts with "Reminiscent River" where the piano and vocals are contrastsed with the heavier sections. This really sounds like a Neo-Prog tune. "Goin' Back To Cologne" also reminds me of Neo but just the synth work. "Hava Nagila" is one of two straight epic tracks. This one picks up 2 minutes in with the drums, guitar and organ standing out. Ripping guitar after 3 1/2 minutes. Frampton-like guitar 5 minutes in. It does settle with piano and drums before 7 minutes. Then we get a prolonged drums solo from 8 1/2 minutes to before 14 minutes. I liked it actually, he was impressive. "Perception" is another long one approaching 19 minutes. What I like about this one is the way they just seem to play and jam and you can tell they're having fun. "Sweet Little Sixteen" is a Chuck Berry cover and I must admit this makes me smile. A lot of joy in this old track.

Satin Whale - 1977 - As A Keepsake

Satin Whale
1977 
As A Keepsake




01. Holidays (5:39)
02.Reminiscent River (4:12)
03. Devilish Roundabout (5:43 )
04. Bit Foolish - Bit Wise ( 5:58 )
05. Shady Way (4:14)
06. Goin' Back to Cologne (3:54 )
07. Kew Gardens (4:26 )
08. Maree (4:38)
09. No Time to Lose (4:26)

- Thomas Bruck / bass, vocals
- Gerald Dellman / organ, piano, keyboards
- Wolfgang Hieronymi / percussion, drums
- Dieter Roesberg / guitar, wind, guitar (12 string), slide guitar


Everything else they ever done seems to get compared to Desert Places, and I didn't feel the need to do that. As a Krautrock album, As a Keepsake crashes and burns. As a "crossover prog" album, this rather good, and if you like crossover prog, this comes recommended. It might not have the extended jams of Desert Places, but it had nice songs and nice arrangements. I don't think they sold out, the production and the music is a bit too sophisticated. They go a bit in the Barclay James Harvest route here, which I guess was intentional, as they had toured with them. I even prefer this over the BJH album from the same time (Gone to Earth). This album has several songs I really enjoy including "Holidays", "Devilish Roundabout", "Going Back to Cologne" and "Maree". "Devilish Roundabout" features some nice acoustic guitar passages, plus I really love that vibraphone solo. While I enjoy Desert Places as much as the next proghead, I was surprised to find this enjoyable

Satin Whale - 1975 - Lost Mankind

Satin Whale 
1975
Lost Mankind 




01. Six O'Clock (3:47)
02. Lost Mankind (5:40)
03. Reverie (1:37)
04. Go Ahead (11:18)
05. Trace Of Sadness (5:26)
06. Midnight Stone (2:43)
07. Song For 'Thesy' (4:50)
08. Beyond The Horizon (7:10)

- Thomas Brück / bass, vocals
- Gerald Dellmann / keyboards
- Dieter Roesberg / guitar, saxophone, flute, vocals
- Wolfgang Hieronymi / drums



 When SATIN WHALE recorded their second output they have found more to an own discrete style on the one hand but unfortunately they've lost some the power from their debut as well. Thus with good reasons after that one and their Live record "Whalecome" they vanished in the haze more or less. The album starts a bit tame with the first three tracks but with the 11 minute + long "Go Ahead" comes certainly the best and most versatile track on here with great sax and flute play. "Trace Of Sadness" is a powerful organ driven rocker, "Song for Thesy" is very much dominated by flute, reminding a bit to FOCUS and has some nice drum and marimba sections between the vocal parts. Flute plays as well an important role in the final track "Beyond The Horizon" besides the good ol' hammond. Thus overall far more than 50 % of this album can be considered as very good 70s Art Rock.

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).

Bread Love and Dreams - 1971 - Amaryllis

Bread Love and Dreams 
1971 
Amaryllis

 



01. Amaryllis:
 Part 1 - Out Of The Darkness Into The Light
 Part 2 - Zoroaster's Prophecy
 Part 3 - Light
02. Time's The Tief
03. My Stair-Cupboard At 3 A.M.
04. Brother John
05. Circle Of The Night

David McNiven / guitars, keyboards and vocals
Angie Rew / vocals , flute

guests
Terry Cox / Drums
Allan Trajan / Keyboards
Danny Thompson / Bass
 


Bread Love & Dreams recorded their most memorable album ‘Amaryllis’ for Decca at the same time they put together ‘Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha’, and with the same lineup that included Danny Thompson and Terry Cox of the Pentangle, but without the lovely voice of Carolyn Davis who had left after the group’s debut release. The late Allan Trajan also appears on keyboards, bur frankly his contributions pale in comparison to the depth and breadth Thompson and Cox bring to the band; were it not for Angela Rew’s vocal harmonies (limited in range but rich in tone), this could pass for a cheap knockoff of the Incredible String Band or even a folksier version of the Pentangle itself.

Clearly the highlight of the record is the sidelong title track, the three parts of the tale separated not only by lyrics but style as well. The opening “Out of the Darkness into the Light” will please fans of acoustic, heavily instrumental folk, while the middle “Zoroaster's Prophecy” covers a variety of tones and styles including a few the music could have done without (Jew’s harp, an awkward percussive section that fades out abruptly). The closing stanza “Light” puts forth the best of the duo McNiven and Rew – delicate harmonizing vocals, gentle acoustic guitar fingering and naïve acid folk lyrics. The length and ambition of this opus deserve acknowledgement, but I for one would have been just as happy had “Zoroaster's Prophecy” been separated or left out altogether.

The back side of the record features four unrelated singles, each just as unsophisticated, clear and undiluted as anything on the band’s debut album. Rew and McNiven dominate on all these, and Trajan comes out of his shell a bit, especially on the sad and bucolic song of love and loss “Time’s the Thief”.

“My Stair-Cupboard at 3 A.M.” could just as easily been released in 1973 or even 1974, an almost West Coast pop folk tune with an easy gait and only about as deep as roots in the desert. I wonder if the group was looking for radio play with this one.

Rew offers up the almost completely acoustic “Brother John” on which McNiven takes up the backing vocal role, and the album closes with McNiven’s “Circle of Night” that threatens to break out in a vocal round at any moment (but never actually does).

I don’t really know the whole story of this band, but I know they didn’t last much past this record’s recording; in fact, I’m not even sure they still existed by the time it released in mid 1971. But at least they left a legacy of decent, if not essential acid folk. One of the b-league folk groups of the early seventies, Bread Love & Dreams nevertheless is a band worth hearing if you have any interest in this genre. Three stars solid, but definitely not four. Recommended, especially if you can find the Sunbeam CD reissue at a decent price.

Bread Love and Dreams - 1970 - The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon And The Hunchback From Gigha

Bread Love and Dreams
1970
The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon And The Hunchback From Gigha




01. Hymn for Sylvia (5:43)
02. Masquerade (4:52)
03. Sucking on a Cigarette (3:30)
04. Ho Who Knows All (4:50)
05. The Lobster Quadrille (2:42)
06. Butterfly Land (5:06)
07. Purple Haze Helancholy (3:48)
08. Sing Me a Song (2:12)
09. The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha (6:56)


David McNiven / guitars, keyboards and vocals
Angie Rew / vocals , flute

guests
Terry Cox / Drums
Allan Trajan / Keyboards
Danny Thompson / Bass




Bread Love & Dreams recorded ‘The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha’ at the same time as their final record ‘Amaryllis’ in 1970, originally planning to release them as a double album. Like ‘Amaryllis’, ‘Strange Tale..’ has the outward appearance of being a concept album, but isn’t. Also, with the exception of former bandmate Carolyn Davis' appearance on “Purple Haze Melancholy” here, both albums feature the same lineup of remaining members Angela Rew and David McNiven, along with the Pentangle mates Terry Cox and Danny Thompson, and finally the late Allan Trajan on keyboards.

Beyond those similarities there are some distinct differences between the albums, beginning with that Carolyn Davis tune “Purple Hazy Melancholy”, a haunting and appropriately named, mellow-yet-tense folk hymn with lazily strummed acoustic guitar, imperceptible bass and a keyboard-driven orchestral-like arrangement. Coming in the middle of the album, this one makes for an abrupt and somber mood shift sandwiched between the more fluid “Butterflyland” and “Sing Me a Song”, both with harmonized vocals from Rew and McNiven along with a playful tempo and stilting organ bleats courtesy the understated Trajan. The album also opens with an almost beat-folk sounding tune in “Hymn for Sylvia”, and closes with the traveling-bard title track, so in that respect there is more variety than on either of their other two studio releases.

One thing about this album, and with acid folk music like it from the same period, is that the sense of wandering, travel and discovery is thick in both the lyrics and the innocent openness of the music itself. In the modern world of high fuel prices, recession and regional strife the idea of traveling via thumb and backpack around the world to meet fellow travelers and see what’s around the bend to discover is something that seems a world away. For folk artists like these guys it was a way of life, and the easy gait and generally positive attitude in their music reflect a simpler and more visceral life experience than what many of us experience today. After a stressful and unrewarding week this is just the sort of record that fits with a fading sunset, a gentle breeze and the warmth of the latter strands of summer.

Timing is everything I suppose; I first heard this album about a year ago during the winter and it had a completely different effect on me. It seemed dated, trite and a little bland. Time and temperament seem to have changed that – today this feels like the perfect soundtrack to the approaching evening.

Bread Love & Dreams were never much of a memorable band, and their albums would be totally unavailable were they not reissued on CD several years ago. And despite my current benevolent mood, this album doesn’t deserve to be hailed a masterpiece by any means. But the guitar playing has an easy gait, Rew and McNiven have voices that blend comfortably, and Allan Trajan has a way with keyboards that fits folk music quite well (when he decides to join in, at least). An easy three stars for ‘Strange Tale…’, and landing somewhere between the band’s debut and the more well-known ‘Amaryllis’, which by coincidence is exactly the order in which it was released. Enjoy it if you come across it.

Bread Love and Dreams - 1969 - Bread, Love and Dreams

Bread Love and Dreams 
1969
Bread, Love and Dreams



01. Switch Out The Sun
02. Virgin Kiss
03. The Least Said
04. Falling Over Backards
05. Lady Of The Night
06. Main Street
07. Artificial Light
08. Until She Needs You
09. Mirrors
10. Poet's Song
11. The Yellow-Bellied Redback
12. 95 Octane Gravy

David McNiven / guitars, keyboards and vocals
Angie Rew / vocals , flute
Carolyn Davis / guitar, voices




Another acid-folk act coming from Scotland, this time Edinburgh, BREAD LOVE AND DREAM was a trio lead by Glaswegian David McNiven, joining in with a two-women act: Carolyn Davis on guitar and Angie Rew on flute and lead vocals. They toured around Scotland for a while and started a loyal local following, but they sounded much influenced by another Scot act THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, which was not surprising since they ruled acid folk and it was not the first band inspired by ISB: indeed the Irish Dr STRANGELY STRANGE sounds much like BL&D.

Spotted by Decca staff Ray Horricks at the Edinburgh Festival in 68, they were brought down to London by him to record their first album and it was released in early 69. This self-titled album contained some acid folk with some string arrangements, but the market being flooded by such albums, it sold poorly, enticing guitarist Carolyn Davis to quit.

Decca wanted to cut the band from its roster, but Horricks held good and the group was grudgingly allowed a second chance. Aware of this BL&D first went on the road (sharing stages with MAGNA CARTA and TYRANOSAURUS REX) and wrote new material for their upcoming album. It was during this time that BL&D developed a working project with the Traverse Theatre Group in Edinburgh. Their director Max Stafford wanted McNiven to adapt one of his pieces Mother Earth to the stage actors. It eventually became Amaryllis, given a twist of name. This piece was then performed in Edinburgh, then London, than on a European tour (Scandinavia, Benelux, France & Spain) to apparently great acclaim.

Although reassured of their recent successes, but still not well with Decca, BL&D recorded over 5 days in the summer of 70 two albums' worth of material with a bunch of added guests (including THE PENTANGLE's bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Terry Cox); they even considered releasing a double album (ala ISB's Wee Tam & The Big Huge), but Decca decided against it. Strange Tales Of Captain Shannon was therefore released fall of 70 to critical acclaim, and it contained the lengthy title track that was again in the ISB mould. As their second album failed to sell, Decca quickly released (botched-up marketing and too few copies pressed) in early 71, Amaryllis, which is arguably their best works, but it fail to sell, or even match the sales of the preceding two albums. Although both albums came out with superb sleeves, it was not enough for the public to invest in a second version of ISB. Decca dropped the band after an Edinburgh's Royal Court Theatre's presentation and wrote the whole thing down as a tax write-off.

McNiven and Rew first married, then kept courageously on for a year or two before finally quitting. They would resurface in a Scot band in the mid-70's Mama Flier. McNiven has been writing music for Granada TV in the past two decades and Rew is toying away in theatres


Yet another Scot group that made a dent on the folk-rock scene and their music was inventive enough to be labelled progressive folk as well.

 The first Bread Love & Dreams album, much like the band’s brief career, is a study in glimpses of unfulfilled promise and underappreciated talent. It would be followed up with the more eclectic and ambitious duo of records ‘Amaryllis’ and ‘The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha’. The former explored the ‘acid’ side of acid folk more fully then the debut; and the latter employed a broader array of guest musicians including Carolyn Davis, who departed the band after the first album. Both albums (originally intended to be a double-disc release) would be the more memorable contributions the group gave to progressive folk music, with their self-titled debut relegated to back shelves for years before being quietly reissued on the dubious Hugo-Montes Productions label in 2001.

But in some ways this opening exhibits charms that draw belated fans like me to acid folk, more so than their more well-known works. This one is rather sparse despite having both Angie Rew and Carolyn Davis to accompany multi-instrumentalist David McNiven on the abundant vocals that fill every track. The latter two albums featured only Rew and McNiven for the most part, with more emphasis on varied instrumental arrangements and psych-leaning lyrics as opposed to rich vocal harmonies. The band also doesn’t seem to be taking themselves all that seriously on this record, with songs like the hangover anthem “Switch out the Sun” and the somewhat silly “The Yellow-Bellied Redback” showing a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor on the band’s part.

At times the trio doesn’t stray far from what most would consider traditional folk, particularly in the middle of the album with the laconic “Lady of the Night”, the almost too-staid “Falling Over Backwards” and the slightly self-indulgent ballad “Poet's Song”. But elsewhere there are little flashes of creativity. “Main Street” layers backing vocals from both ladies with harmonica and an upbeat tempo for what is probably the liveliest song on the album. McNiven lapses into ballad-like vocals and acoustic guitar- strumming on “Mirrors”, but here again the vocal harmonies are quite beautiful and the string arrangements and other keyboard flourishes make for a charming vignette.

This isn’t a very memorable album, but it is certainly good enough to merit a proper reissue on some prog-friendly label at some point. Bread Love and Dreams were clearly heavily influenced by the Incredible String Band, and although they began their brief career in a similar vein, the duo of McNiven and Rew would never reach the level of creativity or establish the following that kept ISB going for so long. Too bad. Three stars (but just barely) for this record, with a mild recommendation for serious prog and acid folk fans if you can find it. The Hugo-Montes CD is the only reissue I’m aware of, and doesn’t include any bonus material or anything else to enhance interest, but like I said – hopefully someone, someday will give this a proper re-release with handling appropriate to its place in prog folk history.