Monday, October 6, 2014

Mike Harrison - 1975 - Rainbow Rider

Mike Harrison 
Rainbow Rider

01. Maverick Woman Blues
02. You and Me
03. I'll Keep It With Mine
04. Like a Road (Leading Home)
05. We Can Work It Out
06. Okay Lay Lady Lay
07. Easy
08. Somewhere Over the Rainbow
09. Friend

Mike Harrison - vocals,harmonica
Kenneth Buttrey - drums
Morgan Fisher - keyboards
Norbert Putnam - bass
Bob Cohen - guitar
Kirk Lorange - guitar
Mick Jones - guitar
The Memphis Horns - horns
Corona Stage School - vocals

A reunited Spooky Tooth struggled on through two 'reunion' albums; 1973's "Witness" and the forgettable "The Mirror".  Following the band's collapse singer Mike Harrison promptly resumed his solo career with the release of 1975's "Rainbow Rider".  Released in the UK on the Goodear label, Island Records acquired US distribution rights where for some reason the company decided to slap different cover art on the album.

Produced by Chris Kimsey, the set found Harrison recording in Nashville with a mix of American and English studio musicians. Musically the set wasn't a major change from earlier efforts. Harrison's voice remained instantly recognizable with tracks such as "Maverick Woman Blues", "You and Me" and "I'll Keep It with Mine" offering an enjoyable set of R&B flavored rock.  Highlights included a weird cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and his collaboration with longtime buddy/former Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor on "Okay Lay Lady Lay" (the latter redeemed by some nifty voice box guitar work.).

Mike Harrison - 1972 - Smokestack Lightning

Mike Harrison
Smokestack Lightning

01. Tears
02. Paid My Dues
03. What A Price
04. Wanna Be Free
05. Turning Over
06. Smokestack Lightning

Mike Harrison - harmonica, vocals
Pete Carr - guitar
Jimmy Johnson - guitar
Wayne Perkins - slide guitar
Luther Grosvenor - acoustic guitar
Barry Beckett - keyboards
Clayton Ivey - keyboards
David Hood - bass
Roger Hawkins - drums
Harrison Calloway-t-t
Mike Stacey-t-t
Harry Thompson - tenor saxophone
Ronnie Eades - baritone saxophone
Charles Rose - trombone

Having recorded a wonderful solo debut with the local band Junkyard Angel, Mike Harrison's sophomore solo album saw him turning in a completely different direction.   Recorded at Muscle Shoals Studios, 1972's "Smokestack Lightning" was co-produced by Harrison and Island Records president Chris Blackwell.  Surrounding Harrison with an impressive cast of all-star studio players was apparently intended to open him up to a broader American market, but the results were decidedly mixed.. Harrison's voice remained in fine form, though he remained a singer of limited capabilities (an expansive vocal range wasn't one of those strengths). Moreover, on tracks such as "Paid My Dues" Harry Robinson's extensive string arrangements all but drown Harrison's lower register vocals. The other thing missing from this outing was original material.  Only one of the six tracks was a Harrison - 'Turn It Over' co-written with Luther Grosevnor.  Those criticisms aside, backing from Spooky Tooth alumnus Grosvenor (who turned in a couple of tasty guitar solos - check out 'I Wanna Be Free') and the cream of Muscle Shoals studio players (Barry Beckett, Clayton Ivey, Roger Hawkins, etc.) certainly helped salvage material such as 'Tears Behind My Eyes' and 'Turn It Over'. Harrison also proved fairly deft working with the blues - 'What a Price' and the title track (though clocking it at over 12 minutes, it was six minutes too long), were both impressive, sounding like something off one of the early Spooky Tooth LPs.

- 'Tears Behind My Eyes' got the album off to a slow start.  A slow, bluesy ballad, the song was decent enough (with a really nice country-tinged guitar solo), but took forever to kick into gear and then was nearly swallowed by some ill conceived strings.  Harrison also didn't sound entirely comfortable with the song's key.  rating: ** stars
- Covered an upbeat, bouncy keyboard-propelled melody, 'Paid My Dues' was one of the album's more commercial numbers.  Once again the problem with this one was the overwhelming orchestration.  Towards the middle of the track Harrison sounded like he was holding on for deal life.  The song would have been way better with a more stripped down arrangement.   rating: *** stars
- Normally I'm not a big fan of blues numbers, but 'What a Price' was one of those rare exception.  This was a standard blues number, but Harrison turned in a stunning vocal and some killer lead guitar (Grosvernor ?), simply added to the track's enjoyment.  One of the album's creative high points.   rating: **** stars
- A cover of Joe Tex's 'I Wanna Be Free' found Harrison showing a surprising funky side.  You weren't about to forget the Tex original, but this was a darn good cover and stands as my favorite performance.  The song also featured the album's best guitar solo.  Again, I'm not sure if it was Grosvenor, or studio musicians Pete Carr, or Jimmy Johnson.   rating: **** stars
- The album's lone original composition, 'Turn It Over' was an enjoyable blues-rocker.  Sporting a great barrelhouse piano solo and some funky Muscle Shoals horns this one was probably the album's best rocker.   rating: **** stars
- I've always wondered why young, pale, English musicians have always felt the need to record classic slices of American blues ...  especially when most of the results are so disappointing.  Well, you can Harrison to that long list with his extended cover of Howlin' Wolf's 'Smokestack Lightening'.   Giving credit where due, Harrison's version wasn't bad, but stretching it out over twelve minutes probably wasn't necessary.  Harrison also got to showcase a bit of his harmonica skills.  Still, it you want to hear this tune, pull of the original.  Nothing can compete with the Howlin' Wolf version.   rating: *** stars

To my ears the album was decent having a distinctive American-ized sound, but it didn't come close to the debut. Unfortunately, with sales proving non-existent, the following year Harrison and Gary Wright (to that point equally unsuccessful with his solo career) elected to reform Spooky Tooth.

Mike Harrison - 1971 - Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison 
Mike Harrison

01. Mother Nature 
02. Call It A Day 
03. Damian    
04. Pain    
05. Wait Until The Morning
06. Lonely People    
07. Hard Headed Woman
08. Here Comes The Queen  

    Mike Harrison - vocals, piano, harmonica, organ
    Kevin Iverson - drums, percussion, background vocals
    Peter Batey - bass, percussion
    Lan Herbert - guitar, piano, organ, vibes, background vocals
    Frank Kenyon - guitar, background vocals

 Harrison was the band's often overlooked secret weapon.  Gary Wright usually took the Spooky Tooth spotlight, but his strained voice and chalk-on-a-blackboard falsetto was an acquired taste (that frequently didn't do much for my ears).  While Harrison had his own set of vocal limitations, he came off as authentic and handled more than his share of the band's classic tunes.

Following the release of 1970's aptly titled "The Last Puff", Spooky Tooth called it quits with singer Mike Harrison striking out in pursuit of a solo career.  Signed by Chris Blackwell's Island  Records (which had been Spooky Tooth's label), Harrison made his solo debut with the release of 1971's cleverly-titled "Mike Harrison".  Self-produced, the album found Harrison teamed with the band Junkyard Angel, showcasing the talents of bassist Peter Batey, guitarist/keyboard player Ian Herbert, drummer Kevin Iverson, and lead guitarist Frank Kenyon.  Anyone expecting to hear a pseudo-Spooky Tooth album was probably going to be disappointed by the collection.  Mind you, Harrison's voice was enough to ensure there were some comparisons to Spooky Tooth (check out the ballad 'Damian'), but the very fact Harrison kept things low keyed and somewhat un-commercial had a lot to do with making the album such a pleasure to hear.  None of the eight tracks was particularly flashy; the majority firmly in the mid-tempo folk-rock, blues-rock realm, but the performances were all energetic - you got the distinctive impression that Harrison and company were having a blast recording music for themselves.

- Penned by bassist Batey, 'Mother Nature' had an interesting folk-rock feel.  Kicked along by some pretty acoustic guitar and Batey's bass, the song actually sounded a bit like a Traffic tune.   It would have made an interesting direction for Spooky Tooth to pursue.   rating: *** stars
- Showcasing just how good Harrison's voice could be, 'Call It a Day' was a nifty keyboard-powered blues-rocker.  With one of those melodies that crept into your head and wouldn't leave, the other surprises came in the form of a pretty guitar solo (not sure if  Herbert or Kenyon was responsible for it), and the impressive harmony vocals.  Spooky Tooth seldom did as well in the harmony department.  The song ended with what sounded like a Catholic choir performing at a high mass.   rating: **** stars
- 'Damian' was a stark, but very pretty ballad that, thanks to Harrison's voice, had a distinctive Spooky Tooth feel.  Harrison provided some of his prettiest keyboard work on the track.  Not sure why (maybe the subject matter), but the song's always made me think of John Lennon ...   rating: *** stars
- Side one's most conventional and commercial offering, 'Pain' was a likeable rocker with a great start-and-stop melody, some tasty fuzz lead guitar, and one of Harrison's best vocals.  It would have made a nice single.  rating: **** stars
- Initially 'Wait Until the Morning' didn't do a great deal for me.  Initially a keyboard dominated ballad, the song started out as a dirge, but gradually built up speed and energy and by the time it ended had become one of the standout performances.   rating: **** stars
- Perhaps the album's prettiest song, 'Lonely People' had everything going for it - nice melody; wonderful lead guitar, great harmonies ...  One of my favorite performances.   rating: **** stars
- Harrison's cover of Cat Steven's 'Hard Headed Woman' was given a breezy hard rock edge with some great Herbert or Kenyon twin lead guitar.  The shift to slow blues came as a complete surprise, though it gave guest sax player Arthur Blecher a chance to turn in the album's most impressive solo.   Wonderful performance and may have been the album's standout performance.   rating: **** stars
- Penned by Spooky Tooth cohort Luther Grosvenor, 'Here Comes the Queen' was a tasty blues-rocker that gave Harrison a chance to showcase his harmonica playing.  Nice lead guitar on this one ...   rating: *** stars

Easily the best of Harrison's solo album and well worth looking for.  

Luther Grosvenor - 1971 - Under Open Skies

Luther Grosvenor 
Under Open Skies

01. Ride On
02. Here Comes The Queen
03. When I Met You
04. Love The Way
05. Waiting
06. Rocket
07. Under Open Skies
08. Heavy Day
09. All The People

    Bass – Trevor Burton (tracks: A3, B3)
    Drums – Mike Giles* (tracks: A2), Mike Kellie (tracks: A1, A3, B1, B2, B3)
    Guitar, Bass, Lead Vocals – Luther Grosvenor
    Piano – John Hawken (tracks: A1, A3, B1)
    Producer – Luther Grosvenor, Tony Platt
    Vocals – Jim Capaldi (tracks: A1), MIck Ralphs (tracks: A1), Paul Bennett (tracks: B3), Trevor Lucas (tracks: B1)

Luther Grosvenor aka Ariel Bender was one of the most inventive guitarists of his generation, one of the clutch of flashy young axe-slingers who emerged at the tail end of the 1960s, and turned everything on its head. Up alongside Brian May, Mick Ronson, and Paul Kossoff, Luther Grosvenor rewrote the guitar players' rule book, simply by remembering that technique isn't everything; you have to have some fun as well. Grosvenor grew up in the English town of Evesham, where he and the young Jim Capaldi formed their first bands together, before traveling down to London together, where their band Deep Feeling attracted the attention of producer Giorgio Gomelsky. It was separately, however, that the pair established their names, Capaldi as a founding member of Traffic, Grosvenor aboard Spooky Tooth, one of the most influential British rock bands of the late '60s/early '70s. Releasing four albums, including the million-selling Spooky Two, the band toured extensively both in the U.S. and Europe, building a loyal fan base which even included the Rolling Stones -- who contacted Grosvenor as a possible replacement for Brian Jones in 1969. He turned them down.Grosvenor quit Spooky Tooth in 1972, and released his first solo album, Under Open Skies, before deciding that the solo life was not for him. A brief spell alongside Gerry Rafferty in Stealers Wheel was followed by an invitation to join the band which was, essentially, the decade's answer to the original Rolling Stones, Mott the Hoople. And this time, there was no hesitation. He even changed his name for the occasion, to Ariel Bender. Ariel Bender was the ultimate rock guitarist. In an age when even the most pedestrian guitarist was tarting up beneath barrels of makeup and finery, Bender went completely over the top, visually and aurally. His name was gifted to him by singer Lynsey de Paul, a friend who shared his vision of the world's most Over the Top guitar player, and it fit like a glove. Except he didn't simply bend ariels. He could break them with a single chord. In the studio, Bender transformed Mott, firing them through one more studio set, 1974's The Hoople, a storming live album, and a clutch of immortal hit singles. But it was on-stage that Bender made the greatest impression, with his mane of hair flying, literally battling Ian Hunter for the center stage spotlight, and peeling off riffs as raucous as they were riotous. Posthumous exhumations from the band's live archive have heightened awareness of Bender's brilliance even further -- the 30th anniversary edition of Live, swollen from one short LP to two stuffed CDs, includes some of his most ferocious playing ever.Grosvenor left Mott in 1974 (to be replaced by Mick Ronson), and immediately formed Widowmaker, a hard rock band that plunged straight into the spotlight when they were invited to open for the Who's latest U.K. tour. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got. Although Widowmaker made what Grosvenor still remembers as "two great albums," by 1979, bored with the bullsh*t, he didn't simply quit the group. He walked out on the music industry altogether. The idol of millions became a legend instead, and would remain one for the next 17 years.

Spooky Tooth - 1974 - The Mirror

Spooky Tooth 
The Mirror

01. Fantasy Satisfier 4:38
02. Two Time Love 3:29
03. Kyle 3:47
04. Woman and Gold 3:41
05. Higher Circles 5:22
06. Hell or High Water 5:10
07. I'm Alive 4:15
08. The Mirror 5:23
09. The Hoofer 3:54

Val Burke Bass, Guitar (Bass), Vocals, Vocals (bckgr)
Bryson Graham Percussion, Drums
Mike Harrison Keyboards, Vocals
Mick Jones Guitar, Percussion, Vocals (bckgr), Producer
Mike Kellie Drums
Eddie Kramer Producer, Engineer
Mike Patto Organ, Percussion, Drums, Keyboards, Piano (Electric), Vocals, Clavinet
Gary Wright Organ, Synthesizer, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals, Vocals (bckgr), Clavinet, Producer

Before we go any further with this shenanigan (I initially wrote the word "charade" there, but decided that this situation is more of a "shenanigan" - please let me know your thoughts), let me thank you for taking the time to read my Spooky Tooth reviews. I know that you can't rip your penis and/or vagina off and throw it across the room without hitting some critic's views on the legendary Spooky Tooth, so I really do appreciate you taking the time to let me express my opinions. Obviously, we've all read books like Stephen Davis's Hammer Of The Tooth (That Is Spooky): The Spooky Tooth Saga and Dave Marsh's Born To Spook (With Their Teeth): The Spooky Tooth Story and yes I'm aware that every eight-year-old knows about that if you play "Evil Woman" backwards, it sounds like he's saying "I Buried Mike Kellie, The Drummer Of Spooky Tooth," and it's no secret that if you start You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw right after the second lion roar, it syncs perfectly with Three Men And A Little Lady, but nevertheless I am of the opinion that there's always something new to say about this collective of geniuses, no matter how trite or banal it may be.

Okay, I'm done with that hilarious bit. Now let me review the fucking album.

The band not only doesn't like this one - they've practically DISOWNED it. And it's easy to see why, when you look at the huge discrepancy between their original blues/gospel/soul/rock image and the funky jiveass hard rock that appears on here. First of all, MIKE HARRISON IS GONE!!!!! The voice of Spooky Tooth - GONE!!! Replaced with? Why, Mike Patto of course! After all, you can't have vocals without a MIKE!!!! HAHAHAHAHAH!!!! AHA AH!! AHHHHAAHAHAEEE!! EHEHEEE!

Secondly, the new bass player is.... a black dude with a huge fuckin afro!!!! And is he funky? Hoo, he's funky! So is the damn drummer, who tears up a blueass kickfight slickity dick shoopidydoo in high-speed disco inferno Mother's Finest style tunes like "Woman And Gold" and "I'm Alive"! Not to mention the dark sleazy metallic groove boogie funk of "Fantasy Satisfier" and "Two Time Love". Dudeass, if Witness was their most introverted album, this was by FAR their most extroverted. They are IN YOUR FACE and makin' you shake your monkeyass! Are you familiar with Gary Wright's solo hit "Love Is Alive"? With those creepy cocaine keyboards tailor-made for `70s nighttime FM driving in a Trans Am? Well, he pulls the same shit on here with "Higher Circles," baby! Honestly, the only similarity between this album and even the one that came DIRECTLY before it is the piano ballad "Kyle". The rest of the LP is just way out in left field for these guys. But it's fun as shit and catchy as shit! Get out your disco shoes and slamdance!

Spooky Tooth - 1973 - Witness

Spooky Tooth

01. Ocean of Power 4:40
02. Wings on My Heart 3:32
03. As Long as the World Keeps Turning 3.40
04. Don't Ever Stray Away 3;14
05. Things Change 4:19
06. All Sewn Up 3:44
07. Dream Me a Mountain 3:41
08. Sunlight of My Mind 4:56
09. Pyramids 4:28

Bryson Graham Drums
Mike Harrison Percussion, Keyboards, Vocals (bckgr)
Brian Humphries Engineer
Mick Jones Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Vocals (bckgr)
Mike Kellie Percussion, Drums
Chris "Tricky" Stewart Bass
Gary Wright Organ,Synthesizer,Piano,Keyboards,vocal,Clavinet

From what I've read, the band members are disappointed with this one, calling it "too poppy" and not in sync with their original vision. Considering that most of the album is about as warm as a cold wind blowing and as energetic and cheery as a tired yawning old man, I have to wonder if their idea of "pop" is simply "that which possesses an actual melody," because these are much stronger songs than you're going to find on any of their other records.

Understated? Oh heck yes. There are maybe two moments of bombastic BLOOZE electric guitar and they quickly fade into the distance. The rest is low-key, minor-key, quietly moving piano- and guitar-driven music. And I'll just say "music" because although these are technically "rock" songs, they DON'T rock. And although they're melodic, they are mostly NOT poppy either. They're just very well written, and become more and more arresting the more you hear to them. On first listen, you'll wonder why there aren't any high points. On tenth listen, you'll realize that they're ALL high points: the somber "Ocean Of Power," the sweet-but-somber "Wings On My Heart," the darky blues rock "Don't Ever Stray Away," the bluesy dark rock "Sunlight Of My Mind," the cool running "Dream Me A Mountain," the somber "Things Change," the REALLY somber "Pyramids," the lightly semi-somber "As Long As The World Keeps Turning" and the ONE really poppy, upbeat, goodtime rock and roll song on an otherwise rainy chilly day LP "All Sewn Up." That's the nature of Witness's brilliance. It doesn't jump up at you and scream "genius." It quietly sits still and waits for you to discover how consistently creative, well performed and musically haunting it is. Or my name's not Lickity Shitsalot!

Spooky Tooth - 1973 - You Brok My Heart, So I Busted Your Jaw

Spooky Tooth 
You  Brok My Heart, So  I Busted Your Jaw

01. Cotton Growing Man 4:39
02. Old as I Was Born 4:40
03. This Time Around 4:08
04. Holy Water 3:27
05. Wildfire 4:04
06. Self Seeking Man 3:47
07. Times Have Changed 3:53
08. Moriah 6:20

Val Burke Guitar (Bass), Vocals, Vocals (bckgr)
Bryson Graham Percussion, Drums, Musician
Mike Harrison Harmonica, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals, Musician
Mick Jones Guitar, Percussion, Vocals, Vocals (bckgr),
Chris Kimsey Engineer, Mixing
Phil McDonald Mixing
Chris Stewart Bass, Guitar (Bass)
Gary Wright Organ, Synthesizer, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals, Vocals (bckgr), Clavinet,

Following a three year break during which time their solo endeavors had proven to be lukewarm successes, in 1973 Mike Harrison and Gary Wright reunited Spooky Tooth.  The revamped line up featured drummer Bryson Graham and guitarist Mick Jones from Wright's Wonderwheel project, along with bassist Chris Stewart (replacing Ian Herbert).  Self-produced,  1973's "You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw" proved surprisingly tight and entertaining, though it fell short of past glories and side two was pretty weak.  Largely penned by Wright (drummer Graham contributing 'This Time Around'), keyboard and guitar propelled material such as the lead off rocker 'Cotton Growing Man', 'This Time Around', and 'Wildfire' showcased the band's now-patented up-tempo blues-rock stylings. While hardly earth shattering, the set wasn't all that different from material being pumped out by the likes of Bad Company.

- Powered by Harrison's gravelly voice and Jones' raspy lead guitar, 'Cotton Growing Man' marked a return to the hard rock sound found on their sophomore album.  The result was a fantastic mid-tempo rocker that would have sounded great on mid-1970s FM radio had A&M bothered to promote it when it was tapped as a single.   Shame the rest of the album wasn't as good.   rating: **** stars
- 'Old As I was Born' has always been a personal favorite in that it boasted one of the band's most commercial songs.  The track retained a distinctive Spooky Tooth sound, but sported some atypical, but exquisite group harmonies that you wouldn't normally associate with the band.  There was also a nice mandolin solo and a great Wright cheesy synthesizer solo.   rating: **** stars
- Drummer Graham's lone contribution to the album, 'This Time Around' was an okay rocker, but lacked anything to distinguish it from the rest of the set.  The highlight came in the form of a nice Jones solo.   rating: *** stars
- The first real disappointment, 'Holy Water' sounded like Harrison was trying to channel an early Elton John/Bernie Taupin ballad.  Momentarily interesting in a Gospel-inspired way, the keyboard-propelled ballad quickly lost its energy.   rating: ** stars
- ' Wildfire' found the band carving out a nice little groove, but the song never really developed beyond that initial funky hook and most listeners probably tired of the song after hearing the lyric 'Wildfire is in my mind' a dozen times..  rating: *** stars- 'Self Seeking Man' showcased some of Wright's most irritating features - namely an over-the-top 'heavy' ballad that forced him to reach for those high notes that brought out the shrill aspects of his voice.   This one sounded a lot like some off of his forthcoming late-1970s solo efforts.    rating: ** stars
- The Wright-Jones ballad 'Times Have Changed' was the song that seems to have attract the most critical attention, but to my ears it was a bland, mildly dischordant mess.    rating: ** stars
- Crap, another ballad ...  Well, at least after two super lame songs 'Moriah' showed a little bit of energy before limping out with some hideous new-age-styled sound effects.  Should have ditched the touchy feely fade out for more Mick Jones guitar.  Nowhere near the album's best song, but at least it ended the set on a mildly upbeat note.   rating: *** stars

For the US market A&M tapped the album for a single in the form of:

- 1973's 'Cotton Growing Man' b/w 'Times Have Changed' (A&M catalog number AM-????)

With minimal support from Island the album hit # 84 on the US charts.

All told it was patchy, but better than many 'comeback' albums.

Spooky Tooth - 1970 - The Last Puff

Spooky Tooth 
The Last Puff

01. I Am the Walrus 6:20
02. The Wrong Time 5:40
03. Something to Say 6:05
04. Nobody There at All 4:00
05. Down River 5:10
06. Son of Your Father 3:32
07. The Last Puff 3:30

Luther Grosvenor Guitar
Mike Harrison Keyboards, Vocals
Mike Kellie Drums
Henry McCullough Guitar
Alan Spenner Bass, Guitar (Bass)
Chris Stainton Organ, Guitar, Piano, Guitar (Bass), Keyboards, Producer

This is another one of the many semi-interesting albums that came out around the time I was moving out of the familial nest into my own apartment so several of the songs from it always take me back to that magical era of innocence and wonder when the world was mine to give. I really didn't know much about Spooky Tooth but my prog-minded friends had played a few choice cuts for me from their earlier records and I liked what I heard. But this LP was getting some prime airplay on the more renegade FM station broadcasting in North Texas and I was intrigued enough to invest my meager funds in this album. I must've played side one hundreds of times. While it's not exactly greatness and not really very proggy, it has a cool aura about it that represents well the climate of bands liberally mixing all kinds of musical genres together, a trend that was prevalent as they traversed the cusp of those two heady decades.

In my research for this review I found out that this offering was pasted together utilizing shredded bits and pieces of what was left of a group that had put out two well-received progressive rock albums and then imploded. Only half of the original six members were still hanging around and I get the impression that vocalist Mike Harrison, guitarist Luther Grosvenor and drummer Mike Kellie were gallantly doing their best to fulfill the group's contract obligations to the label and make the most of a mess. Usually these fractured situations end up producing awful crap that only serves to bring disgrace upon said combo's legacy but "The Last Puff" doesn't belong in that category. It ain't bad at all. Harrison brought in Henry McCulloch, Chris Stainton and Alan Spenner from Joe Cocker's Grease Band to flesh out the sessions and, considering the circumstances, they did a bang up job.

One of the cuts that garnered a spot in heavy rotation on the radio in 1970 was their terrific, dark take on "I Am the Walrus." Beatles music was still somewhat of a sacred cow in those days and few groups outside of the progressive rock scene dared to fool around with anything written by Lennon/McCartney for fear of incurring the wrath of the Gods but the ultra- slow, macabre atmosphere these guys created drew listeners in immediately and without protest. Mike's voice is perfect for the grey mood of this delightful Hammond-laden dirge because he sounds like a man dancing along the jagged edge of insanity throughout. Another big difference is the lack of all the lush orchestration and odd incidental sound effects that colored the original. This is a late-night, no-frills, six-piece rock & roll outfit version that would be right at home being performed in a smoky, dimly-lit cabaret bar at 2am. It has a tough, metallic heaviness to it that is superb and rarely achieved. One of the finest Beatles covers ever in my book.

Original keyboard man Gary Wright had long since moved on to form the short-lived Wonderwheel ensemble but he left behind an excellent tune entitled "The Wrong Time" and it's the highlight of this project. It features a sublime rock guitar riff that's one of my favorites from that era and the all-female chorus packs a strong punch every time it comes around. The rhythm section of drummer Kellie and bassist Spenner maintains an infectious groove that manages to both flow and drive at the same time. Luther's Jimmy Page-ish blues/rock guitar solo and interspersed licks blaze a fiery trail through the number and his gutsy tone is to drool over. Next up is an obscure Joe Cocker ditty called "Something to Say" and although it takes a while for the band to settle into the proper feel, Harrison's soulful rasp carries the load admirably until they do. They eventually find it and hit their stride when the repeating hook line arrives and the swaying, gospel-styled chorale sends it soaring into the wild blue yonder. The musicians then lock firmly into a piano-led, Traffic-like stroll to the fade out that makes me feel like being outside on a sunny spring day.

Speaking of Traffic, side two begins with "Nobody There At All," a song that gives off a palpable Dave Mason folk/rock vibe but, unfortunately, there's nothing that really stands out. It just sorta lopes along for four minutes. David Ackles' "Down River" is an improvement but this somber, sentimental girl-that-got-away tune fails to find its footing until much later on when the group finally shakes off their restraints and plays with emotion- fueled abandon. "Son of Your Father" is a decent rendition of that memorable Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition (culled from the outstanding, underappreciated "Tumbleweed Connection" album) yet the track's a little too loose for my taste and it loses its focus quickly. They perk things up with the final cut, Stainton's "The Last Puff," but it's not much more than a two-chord jam throughout which Chris bounces expertly across the piano keys. The fact that it's the lone instrumental causes me to think it was perhaps a demo that never got Mike's vocal added on to it but, since it possessed such a tight and lively groove, they decided to stick it on anyway as the caboose.

In all honesty, other than the first two songs, this is pretty standard rock & roll fare that probably won't make anyone's top 100 album list but I try to keep in mind that 1970 was a very exciting but confusing year in popular music and groups like Spooky Tooth working on both sides of the Atlantic were trying to figure out how they were going to survive in the new decade and a lot of albums released in that timeframe were hit and miss at best. As for me, even with its flaws, "The Last Puff" brings back some fond memories of my first taste of unfettered freedom and that's enough reason to cherish it as a memento.

Spooky Tooth - 1970 - Ceremony

Spooky Tooth

01. Have Mercy (07:52)
02. Jubilation (08:27)
03. Confession (06:56)
04. Prayer (10:52)
05. Offering (03:22)
06. Hosanna (07:37)

- Pierre Henry / synthesizer, electronics
- Gary Wright / vocals, organ, keyboards
- Luther Grosvenor / guitars
- Mike Harrison / vocals, keyboards
- Mike Kellie / drums and percussion
- Andy Leigh / bass, guitar

Ceremony is perhaps one of the most controversial and puzzling albums ever released in the history of heavy rock music. After two successful albums signaling the arrival of England's Spooky Tooth, one of which being the highly influential Spooky Two, the band decided to do a concept album involving passages and prayers from the Bible, and collaborate on it with French avant-garde composer Pierre Henry. What might have been a very strong mix of Christian-themed heavy rock, prog, and blues from Spooky Tooth (and almost a precursor to Jesus Christ Superstar) turned into quite a mess of a missed opportunity that, despite its strange nature, still contains some very good hard rock music. Esoteric Recordings have recently remastered and reissued this long misunderstood album, so we can now take a closer look at Ceremony-An Electronic Mass.

First off, after Spooky Tooth and the Henry decided to go ahead with this collaboration, it was agreed that the band would record the songs first, and then send the finished mixes to Henry in France for him to overdub his 'electronic embellishments' over it. Mistake number one folks. As it was, the six songs that Spooky Tooth recorded (Gary Wright-keyboardsvocals, Mike Harrison-vocals, Luther Grosvenor-guitar, Andy Leigh-bass, Mike Rellie-drums), were quite good on their own, as you can plainly hear on this wonderful remastered version from Esoteric. This was 1969, so you can probably picture the style here-dark, foreboding music, with a heavy emphasis on massive guitar riffs, blistering lead guitar, rampaging Hammond organ, and the dual lead vocal attack of Wright and Harrison. Opening track "Have Mercy" is practically an extension of "Evil Woman" from the Spooky Two album, filled with wild lead guitar work from Grosvenor, Wright's Hammond, and thick, crunchy riffs. Lo and behold, what's up with these strange 'blips, bleeps, and oddball "hoo whack"! noises? Well, that's Henry adding his bizarre sound effects and electronics throughout different parts of the song. Not a good idea, as this is a kick ass hard rocker that needed no embellishments. Even more annoying is the dark and heavy number "Jubilation", which is absolutely ruined by Henry's use of recorded dog barks and an eternal loop that goes something like "boop bo bo boop bo boo boop" over, and over, and over again throughout the tune, leaving the crushing arrangements and vocals the band have laid down buried in the background. "Confession" kicks off with Henry's irritating hammer banging and buzzing electronic static leading in a haunting, almost Deep Purple/Iron Butterfly styled rocker from the band, but again, it's almost impossible to discern Harrison and Wright's vocals here thanks to the wall of avant-garde noises that Henry masks the mix with. Thankfully, most of the atmospheric & chilling epic "Prayer" is left untouched (other than some occasional 'wooshing' and 'bird chirps'), but the almost Black Sabbath styled stomp of "Offering" is completely washed out with layers of electronic buzzing and zips. Grosvenor turns in an extended and quite savage guitar solo on the closer "Hosanna", but again, the Hammond and supporting rhythms from the rest of the band are practically buried by Henry's overly loud electronic static.

The real shame of it all is that, if you take away all of Pierre Henry's nonsense here, you have what is essentially a kick ass album from Spooky Tooth. Some might be a bit turned off by the use of all the passages and prayers from the Bible, and certainly Henry's contributions are absolutely worthless, but Ceremony in the end rocks and rocks hard. When the album was finally released to the public, it pretty much confused everyone, even the band, who split up for a few years after its release. Esoteric's remaster gives the whole recording a crisp, bright sound, and there's a nice booklet that gives plenty of background on the band and the events leading up to and after the recording of the album. It's a shame there's no way to 'remove' Henry's parts here, so the world can hear exactly what a strong album Ceremony could have been.

Spooky Tooth - 1969 - Spooky Two

Spooky Tooth 
Spooky Two

01. Waitin' For The Wind 3:32
02. Feelin' Bad 3:18
03. I've Got Enough Heartaches 3:27
04. Evil Woman 9:02
05. Lost In My Dream 5:03
06. That Was Only Yesterday 3:53
07. Better By You, Better Than Me 3:40
08. Hangman Hang My Shell On A Tree 5:40

- Luther Grosvenor / guitar
- Mike Harrison / keyboards, vocals
- Mike Kellie / drums
- Greg Ridley / bass, guitar
- Gary Wright / keyboards, vocals

Maybe this is their most known and popular album. For years this album was their only available album with all their other albums being out of print in the U.S and U.K. in the LP and CD formats. And I think that it has some very progressive arrangements, and most of the lyrics are "dark" in meaning and difficult to understand. Most of the songs were composed by Gary Wright, which, apart from being a musician, he has a Psychology degree. So, maybe he wanted the lyrics to have some "intelectual meaning" which is not very apparent for some of the listeners.

"Waiting for the Wind" (composed by Luther Grosvenor, Mike Harrison and Gary Wright) starts with a drums rhythm, and maybe it is one of the more "conventional" rock songs in sound in this album (and also one of the best).

"Feelin´Bad" (by Mike Kellie and Gary Wright) is a "dark" song but good anyway.

"I've Got Enough Heartaches " (also by Kellie and Wright) has female backing vocals and also a piano part which Steve Winwood played, as he says in his official website. It is also a good song with some psychedelic influences.

"Evil Woman" (composed by someone called Weiss) is a heavy song with a very good lead guitar and some influences from Blues music. A very intense song.

The next songs were originally on the Side Two of the L.P. and all were composed by Wright alone:

"Lost in my Dream": wiith also some psychedelic influences and strange lyrics which seem to narrate a nightmare instead of a peaceful dream. It has very good drums and dramatic vocals, and also very good backing vocals. It is a dramatic song in content and in playing.

"That was Only Yesterday": maybe the best song in this album and maybe one of their more popular songs, it was recorded again by the band (without Wright) in 1999 for their album called "Cross Purposes" (an album which I have not listened yet). This original version has some harmonica playing.

"Better by You, Better Than Me " is another dramatic song, played with a lot of energy and also with very good drums by Kellie. This song was recorded years later by the band Judas Priest (but I have not listened to their version yet),

The album is finished with the song called "Hangman Hang my Shell on a Tree", which has strange lyrics but it is played with a lot of energy, and it also has some wind instruments played in the background.

Wright and Harrison were the lead singers in this band, but it is difficult to me to known which songs are sung by each of them. After this 1969 album was recorded Greg Ridley left the band to form Humble Pie with Steve Marriott, Jerry Shirley and Peter Frampton. He died some years ago.The most recent line-up of this band (in this century) has Harrison, Wright and Kellie plus some backing musicians.

I first listened to this album in the English L.P. version which had a gatefold cover, in 1973. In late 1980 I bought the U.S, version which didn´t have a gatefold cover. The original U.K. front cover was printed in at least six different colour tonalities, one of which is shown in this page.

To see scans of the original U.K. L.P. front cover printed in several colour tonalties, visit

Spooky Tooth - 1968 - It's All About

Spooky Tooth 
It's All About

01. Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking) 4:30
02. Love Really Changed Me 3:34
03. Here I Lived So Well 5:07
04. Too Much of Nothing 3:57
05. Sunshine Help Me 3:04
06. It's All About a Roundabout 2:44
07. Tobacco Road 5:15
08. It Hurts You So 3:05
09. Forget It I Got It 3:26
10. Bubbles 2:53

- Luther Grosvenor / guitar
- Mike Harrison / harpsichord, keyboards, vocals
- Mike Kellie / drums
- Greg Ridley / bass, guitar
- Gary Wright / organ, keyboards, vocals

The band formed in 1967 from an offshoot of three other bands, The Ramrods,Art and the VIP's. In fact Art released one album called Supernatural Fairy Tales before Gary Wright joined the band where subsequent releases were under the Spooky Tooth name. The band were unique at the same where their sound comprised of both organ and piano which lent an important flavour to early progressive instrumentation with also a strong Blues feel. Other artists like Hannsson/Hakansson and The Band were of similar sounds but with different musical directions.

The line up of Spooky Tooth varied over the years but the main members were Mike Harrison on keyboards and vocals, the late Greg Ridley - Bass guitar/vocals, Gary Wright - Organ/vocals, Mike Kellie - Drums and Luke Grosvenor -guitar/vocals.
This first album by Spooky Tooth shows the band in a more Pop Rock and Psychedelic style, with all members of the band playing very well their instruments, and with very good lead and backing vocals by Mike Harrison and Gary Wright. Sometimes these vocals sound a bir "dramatic" in some songs, and they also use the harpsichord in some songs, an instrument which I think it was not very often used in bands of the sixties. Sometimes the music becomes heavier, but I can say that most songs are a bit more Pop Rock than in the next album titled "Spooky Two", which in my opinion is heavier and more "dark" and in general much better than this first album. Their first album really sounds a bit dated in sound, and the recording and mixing are good but showing the passing of time. I can say the same about the cover design. "Spooky Two" is a much better album than this and for this reason is more remembered and considered as their best album, I think. For collectors and fans only.

Art - 1967 - Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales

01. I Think I'm Going Weird
02. What's That Sound
03. African Thing
04. Room With A View
05. Flying Anchors
06. Supernatural Fairy Tale
07. Love Is Real
08. Come On Up
09. Brothers, Dads And Mothers
10. Talkin' To Myself
11. Alive Not Dead
12. Rome Take Away Three

Luther Grosvenor (guitar)
Mike Harrison (vocals)
Mike Kellie (drums)
Greg Ridley (bass)

The cover art and the title is what got my attention. Art was an early version of Spooky Tooth, although I have to admit that I know pretty much next to nothing about that relatively renown band. Thus, I'm coming at this one with no particular expectations.

Supernatural Fairy Tales is what we might refer to as a slightly above average acid rock album. The title track could pretty much end up as a dictionary definition of that sub genre. The band is pretty tight and blends just the right amount of weirdness into their production. They didn't quite have that flash of inspiration that blows you away, but this is the perfect band for your late 60's film bar scene.

For the most part, Art does best when they're rocking their balls off. The louder the track, the more immediate they are. Fortunately, this album has plenty of full-tilt psych rockers, often adorned with harpsichord, or backward cymbals, or some other tired and true but totally groovy production trick. "I Think I'm Going Weird," "Come On Up," "Brothers, Dads, And Mothers," and "Alive Not Dead" all win a few points using this criterea. That said, my favorite moment on this album veer somewhere else with the wild wall of percussion that we're presented with on "African Thing." They don't fare quite as well on their Buffalo Springfield cover.

Art might have not had the pure talent to put out a total winner, but they had the drive to catch your attention. This is the rare UK garage punk album that has the meddle to compete with the Chocolate Watchband or the Electric Prunes. It's not what the British did best, but this psychedelic early heavy metal mesh is among the best that the British managed at the time.

Rahmann - 1978 - Rahmann


01. Atlanta (5:26)
02. Nadiamina (6:23)
03. Ab (8:00)
04. Danse sacrée (6:35)
05. Leila (9:38)
06. Marche funèbre (5:00)

Bonus tracks on cd release:

07. Marche funèbre (5:04)
08. Danse sacrée (10:13)
09. Nadiamina (7:08)
10. Atlanta (4:51)

- Mahamad Hadi / synth-guitar, electric guitar, fretless guitar, oud, bouzouki, snitra
- Amar Mecharaf / drums, percussion
- Michel Rutigliano / acoustic piano, grand piano, ARP Odyssey
- Gérard Prevost / acoustic bass, fretless bass
- Louis-César Ewande / percussion
- Nadia Yamina Hadi / vocal
- Didier Lockwood/ violin
- Sylvain Marc / fretless bass
- Richard Gérard Kurdjian Guem / ney, tablas, darbouka
- Liza Deluxe / vocals
- Joël Loviconi / electric piano
- Ali Shaigan / violin

 RAHMANN could be described as an Algerian version of MAGMA, without vocals, mixed with a some MAHAHVISHNU influences. The rhythm section in this band is absolutely powerful. If you can imagine layers of percussion instruments playing around some powerful drumming (almost like the Middle-Eastern version of the percussion work on a Fela Kuti album) you will have some idea of their concept of rhythm. Add to that, complex guitar riffing (sometimes on Fretless guitar), aggressive Zeuhl-bass, dissonant keyboards, and you have the ingredients for some powerful music. The CD contains 6 tracks from the original album, as well as a few bonus live recordings of the same tracks. This is a must for fans of AREA's Middle-Eastern/Greek influenced compositions.
 RAHMANN is the project of Mahamad Hadi who's parents (African / Asian) moved from Algeria when Mahamad was a baby. Some cool stories in the liner notes about him getting into music and the bands he was involved with early on. One of his band members at the time, bassist Jean-Pierre was exposed to a lot of music along with Mahamad because Jean-Pierre's parents lent out their basement to local bands to practice quite often, so the two young men sat in on many rehearsals. What's surreal is that while Mahamad was helping out at a MAGMA concert in 1972, he met Vander and the band and convinced them to come over and practice in his friends basement. Blasquiz and Vander checked it out and agreed to bring the band over ! Another time Francis and Didier Lockwood who were between bands at the time stayed with Mahamad for a while and even played a gig with them and their band ! By the way Didier guests on this album. Another story in here I hadn't heard before was about MAGMA touring the UK in 1974 and hiring a young American female singer to sing backup on their tour. Her name was Chrissie Hynde (then unknown of course). She only stayed a short time then quit (haha). After RAHMANN broke up Mahamad started a new one with Benoit Wideman on keyboards but the tour they were practicing for was cancelled so the band broke up.

RAHMANN play a Jazz / Zeuhl brand of music with a strong ethnic flavour. Mahamad plays Bouzouki, Oud and Snitra, while a guest plays tablas bringing that ethnic flavour out. I should mention too that Gerard Prevost (ZAO) plays bass here. Nice. The music here is absolutely fantastic ! It's exotic and dark at times with lots of keyboards and percussion. Prevost is prominant on bass and the drummer is incredible. My favourite track is "Leila". The way it turns dark and experimental before a minute is killer. It kicks back in after 2 1/2 minutes. Love the drumming after 4 1/2 minutes and the guitar that follows. A very Zeuhlish track. The piano is great too. Intense stuff.

The whole recording is amazing though. This was a huge discovery for me.

Khan Jamal - 1974 - Give The Vibes Some

Khan Jamal 
Give The Vibes Some

01. Pure Energy
02. Clint
03. 35.007 Feet Up
04. Give The Vibes Some

Hassan Rashid (Christian Vander), drums
Khan Jamal, vibraphone, marimba
Clint Jackson III, trumpet

Recorded on March 28, 1974 at Studio Palm, Paris.

Splendid last release of Jef Gilson on his own mythic label, Palm. US vibraphone genius Khan Jamal gives the evidence of his talent, with four long tracks full of spirituality.
Vibraphonist Khan Jamal solo (B2) and in duets with Hassan Rashid (pseudonym of Christian Vander) on drums (A1 + B1) and Clint Jackson III on trumpet (A2) with some tendencies in free jazz or experimental regions. The pieces with "Hassan Rashid" are on a more powerful level and the drumming is in a similar style than parts of his solos in the same year with "Magma". Khan Jamal's duet with Clint Jackson III and his solo performance on marimba has a more intimate character.
Khan Jamal is one of the unsung heroes of the vibraphone, developing his own unique personality on the instrument apart from the blues drenched soul of Milt Jackson and the hard-bop pyrotechnics of Bubby Hutcherson. This obscure album was released on the French Palm label, and feature Jamal in some really interesting duet and solo settings. Starting off with “Pure Energy" with track lives up to its name as Jamal and drummer Hassan Rashid build a rippling and rolling improvisation that develops into a very exciting dialogue. Ringing vibes and rolling drums develop an unstoppable momentum, and the percussion duet is fascinating to hear. “Clint" swaps things up as Jamal switches to marimba and Clint Jackson III sits in on trumpet. The music that produce is very free and open, probing the minimalist setting in a quiet fashion. “35,007 Feet Up" is the centerpiece of the LP and just an awesome performance with Jamal back on vibes and Rashied returning to the drum seat. After vibes open with an Asian sounding motif, shimmering vibes and then strong supple drumming move together for a collaborative free improvisation. The music is exciting and courageous, fast and strong and loaded with nimble and dexterous playing. Spinning out into an awesome epic, the music is hypnotic and memorable. “Give The Vibes Some" ends the album with a very impressive solo vibraphone recital. Opening with a shimmering metallic feel evoking sunrise Jamal develops an optimistic and very pleasing sound. It is the sound of crystalline haunting beauty and mystery and is the perfect summation for this excellent album that deserves much wider recognition.

Jean-Pierre Alarcen - 1979 - Tableau No1

Jean-Pierre Alarcen
Tableau No1

01. First Movement (15:42)
02. Second Movement (5:29)
03. Third Movement (20:34)

- Jean-Pierre Alarcen / guitar, keyboards
- Gérard Choen / bass guitar
- Jean-Lou Besson / drums, percussion
- Daniel Goyone / keyboards
- Philippe Leroux / drum/ percussion
- Claude Arini / keyboards & orchestral direction
- Jean-Paul Asselini/ keyboards

 The "Tableau No 1" album could've been subtitled "Concerto For a Group And Orchestra". All the three Movements that are featured on it represent nothing else but the works of Classical Academic Music. The arrangements develop constantly and there is no place for repeats. The First and Third Movements, both of which are as long as any LP's typical sidelong pieces, consist of varied structures. The alternation of the fast, powerful and hard-edged, slow, soft and quiet arrangements is typical for both of them. The arrangements of Second Movement are almost entirely slow. It contains only one powerful episode, which lasts about 50 seconds. The guitar solos are very tasteful and diverse throughout the album. However, those of them that are featured in the fast arrangements are just incredibly virtuosi. The slow arrangements consist for the most part of interplay between the 'crying' solos of guitar and 'sad' passages of string orchestra, while the fast ones feature the performance of the band as a whole. Of course, the latter are especially impressive. In fact, they represent a hard-edged Classic Symphonic Art-Rock raised to the power of Classical Academic Music. The contrasting interplay between solos and riffs of electric guitar, solos of bass guitar, organ, and electric piano, and passages of acoustic piano, Church organ, and string ensemble, frequent and unexpected changes of tempo and mood, atonalities, complex time signatures, etc. All of this is typical for both the longest compositions on the album. With the exception of orchestral cymbals, the drums are active only in the mid-tempo and fast arrangements. It also must be said that for the most part, all three of the Movements of Tableau No 1 have a dramatic feel to them, which is especially evident in the slow and mid-tempo arrangements. All the fast arrangements are penetrated with atmospheres of intensity and anxiety. Frankly, I find this music very appropriate for the planet Earth.

Jean-Pierre Alarcen - 1978 - Jean-Pierre Alarcen

Jean-Pierre Alarcen 
Jean-Pierre Alarcen

01. Sambala (6:36)
02. Salut Besson (3:58)
03. Mon Amour (3:42)
04. Nationale 20 (7:14)
05. Soir (5:13)
06. Vieux Garcon (4:28)

- Jean-Pierre Alarcen / guitar, keyboards
- Gérard Choen / drums, percussions
- Jean-Lou Besson / drums, percussions
- Francis Lockwood / keyboards
- Jean-Paul Asseline / keyboards
- Serge Millerat /percussions
- Claude Arini / keyboards, orchestral direction
- Michel Zacha / choirs
- Alain Rivet / choirs

Guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen was recognised as a talented session musician in the 60's. The first LP he contributed to was 1966's "Les Guitares du Dimanche". Around that time, he worked with well-known French artists such as the pop-singer Jacques Dutronc and also with LE SYSTEME CRAPOUTCHIK. Following the advice of a small label's artistic director, drummer Michel Jullien, keyboardist Henri Garella, and bassist Christian Clairefond contacted Alarcen. They, as EDEN ROSE, went on to release a bluesy progressive rock influenced LP called "On the Way to Eden" in 1970. Unfortunately, problems arose and the band soon disbanded. Fortunately, they soon reformed under a new name, SANDROSE, in 1971, where they made a larger impression on progressive rock. The single (well 'double-single' "Old Dom is dead" and "Vision" was successful. They were joined by vocalist Rose Podwojny for their self-titled 1972 studio album, but it would be the last. Although SANDROSE only released one studio album, it is acclaimed by many as a very significant album of French "symphonic" progressive rock.

Following SANDROSE, Jean-Pierre Alarcen worked with many respected French musicians and composers such as Bernard Lubat, and Michel Zacha with NOVA (a bossa nova latin style jazz group). He also worked on a French recording of the musical HAIR.

In 1978 Alarcen released his first "solo" album. He worked again with Michel Zacha. Didier Lockwood's brother Francis was part of the line-up, as was Jean-Paul Asseline who had been with Magma, and others. It is a predominantly jazz-rock album with Zeuhlish elements (ZAO-like in "Nationale" and a touch of Magma in "Salut Besson"), funk, blues, ambient, Latin American musical stylings in "Sambala" most ovbiviously (Santana is an influence and Alarcen worked with Zacha again. there's also Chick Corea stylings). In "Mon amour, mon amour" and "Vieux garcon", western art styled music (i.e. so-called "classical" style music) comes to the fore. The classical-styled pieces are a precursor of things to come.

In 1979, he released his next album, "Tableau No. 1". This work in three movements has more ambient (somewhat The ENIDish) and symphy qualities, but also has jazz and Zeuhlish elements. It's more in the romantic "classical" (to mix my eras in a poor turn of phrase) with melodic rock styled camp than before, but with dramatic contrast. Soft ambient music turns into jazzy guitar driven rock. Allan Holdsworth springs to mind as a possible influence on his guitar work here, as well as McLaughlin. The third movement in particular has exciting funky bass guitar-driven work. It ends with music that rather reminds me of Toto's "Dune" soundtrack.

Alarcen went back to session musician work (working well well-known artists), and it wouldn't be until 1998 that he would release his next album -- "Tableau No. 1's" follow-up "Tableau Non. 2" (or as I like to call it, Tableau 2: The Revenge of the Tableau." With this release he went more into the academic "symph" music side. It is aptly named, because he paints quite a picture on his musical canvas. It is in turns dark and brooding, or ethereal and ephemeral. Like with his other forays into more formal academic music, keyboards take the place of a symphony, and here the guitar takes on classical music overtones.

An amazing guitarist/composer from France,JEAN PIERRE ALARCEN started his journey in the world of music,recording an album with ''Les guitares du dimanche'' in 1968,before forming ''Eden Rose'' and playing on their only album ''On the way to Eden'' from 1969,one of the earliest psych/prog albums coming from France.His next stop would be the excellent ''Sandrose'' (formed out of the ashes of his previous band) in 1971,with whom he released a self-titled LP the next year,considered by many as one of French progressive rock's milestones. ''Sandrose'' would soon disband and ALARCEN finds himselfs collaborating with many French musicians,before finally returning back with a personal album in 1978 on Esgarcot Label.

The talent of ALARCEN is evident in this album,which is actually a prog rock release with a clear jazzy/fusion tendency, paused in moments by classical parts.The opener ''Sambaba'' is a nice intoduction with fine guitar work,dominating percussions and beautiful electric piano,while the follower ''Salut besson'' continues exactly in the same vein.''Mon amour'' is a great and pure classical arrangement,almost entirely based on strings with an ethereal and romantic atmosphere.''Nationale 20'' comes next and this one is a relaxed piece of jazzy prog with fine keys and electric piano,creating an obscure atmosphere and depressive feeling.In ''Soir'' the mood dosen't change at all,this is a slow track with bluesy guitars and even some moog synth solos.ALARCEN decides to close his album with another classical arrangement entitled ''Vieux Garcon'',again based on a grandiose string orchestra but with a darker and more depressive sound.The diversity,varied influences and flexibility of JEAN-PIERRE ALARCEN's music acknowledge are all taped on this album,which shows why he was a significant part of the rise of French progressive rock.The tradition of his intricate musical ideas goes on with his eponymous debut,which is a highly recommended one.Approach at any cost!

Sandrose - 1972 - Sandrose


01. Vision (5:22)
02. Never Good At Sayin´ Good-Bye (3:05)
03. Underground Session (Chorea) (11:05)
04. Old Dom Is Dead (4:38)
05. To Take Him Away (7:02)
06. Summer Is Yonder (4:46)
07. Metakara (3:22)
08. Fraulein Kommen Sie Schlaffen Mit Mir (0:32)

- Rose Podwojny / vocals
- Jean-Pierre Alarcen / guitar
- Christian Clairefond / bass
- Henri Garella / organ, mellotron
- Michel Jullien / drums, percussion

 A French band formed around guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen with some members of Eden Rose and others, Sandrose released one sole self-titled album in 1972, and it's well worth the rediscovery by vintage prog fans. This symphonic prog band were somewhat comparable to Earth and Fire, mostly due to a striking female singer out front and plentiful use of emotional Mellotron in just about every track of their album. Singing in English, charmingly accented vocalist Rose Podwojny is a powerhouse performer, the perfect balance of gutsy and feminine charms, although her sometimes exhausting delivery won't be to everyone's tastes (Gudny Aspaas from Norwegian band Ruphus is instantly comparable). Recorded in only a week, `Sandrose' is delicate one minute, overwhelming with power the next, and while it's certainly no classic, it's still exquisitely performed by a talented group of musicians and distinctive vocalist.

Opener `Vision' quickly builds in urgency, a pounding relentless drum-beat beside Rose's vocals that border on losing control, reverberating heavy echoing electric guitar strains racing along the background. `Old Dom Is Dead' sees Rose adopt a more gospel influenced vocal, reaching ear-splitting levels of spiritual rapture over sublime lifting clouds of Mellotron that never cease. The main repeated theme of `To Take Him Away' melds romantic Camel-styled lead guitar and accompanying Mellotron with a catchy repeated chorus, plus a powerful instrumental outro where the 'Tron comes closest to resembling a sweeping orchestra. `Summer is Yonder' is a downbeat psych/folk ballad, but some pained and slightly pitchy higher vocals from Rose almost derail it.

Two lengthy instrumentals are sure to be favourites of prog listeners. After a majestic gliding Mellotron fanfare opening for `Underground Session' (which will also be repeated throughout the piece at regular intervals), a bombastic wordless male band member chorus booms before ragged extended electric guitar soloing, rippling Hammond organ, crashing gongs and pulsating bass reach maddening moments of tension and drama. A thick dirge-like slab of Mellotron with King Crimson-like intensity smashes all in its path in the final minutes as well. Later on, the up-tempo `Metakara' is an infectious and tightly constrained jazz/fusion workout, with dancing electric piano and bubbling Hammond, Jean- Pierre moving through lightly jazzy guitar licks to some ripping scorching faster runs. The album concludes on a baffling psychedelic snippet that sounds like nothing else on the album and is really quite out of place!

But special mention must to `Never Good at Sayin' Goodbye', a restrained and heart- wrenching ballad. Acoustic guitars gently float with Rose's wounded whisper, and then when the chorus hits, the piece roars to life with a rising vocal and Mellotron crescendo. "I'll look back on the love we knew...I'll remember when you're far away that I love you...". Rose completely nails the right level of heartbreak and dignity on this track, and it's impossible not to be moved by this powerful display, a real showcase for her.

Easier to find again due to a recent Mini LP CD reissue from Musea, Sandrose and their album are not an essential purchase for prog listeners, with endless other albums, both French and otherwise, worth tracking down beforehand. But long-time prog collectors looking for some other worthwhile titles to add to their library can be easily assured they'll receive a quality album if they were to take a chance on this. It's a sumptuous work that deserves some more attention, and fans of rare female singers in vintage prog bands and Mellotron fiends who can't get enough of the instrument should probably make a note to look into this one right away!

Eden Rose - 1970 - On The Way to Eden

Eden Rose 
On The Way to Eden

01. On The Way To Eden (5:09)
02. Faster And Faster (3:05)
03. Sad Dream (4:09)
04. Obsession (4:24)
05. Feeling In The Living (4:19)
06. Travelling (3:26)
07. Walking In The Sea (5:29)
08. Rainyet Number (4:34)
Bonus Tracks
09. Under The Sun (2:30)
10. Travelling (Single Version) (2:50)

- Henri Garella / keyboards
- Christian Clairefond / bass
- Michel Jullien / drums
- Jean-Pierre Alarcen / guitars

Henri Garella (keyboards) and Christian Clairefond (bass) went through various studio works as steppingstones to their musical career - e.g. Les Gardians, supporting the tour of Claude Francois in 1965. Only playing a role in supporting famous artists could not satisfy them and with this ambition Henri, Christian, and Michel Jullien (drums) whom they happened to meet in Marseilles, formed a jazz-rock outfit Les Golden, the roots of EDEN ROSE.

An artistic director of a small label named Katema introduced them to Jean-Pierre Alarcen (guitars), already renowned as a talented session guitarist in France, and at that point EDEN ROSE could give a first cry. At first Jean-Pierre played as a guest musician for recording their first single 'Travelling/Under The Sun' (1970) but could formally be a member of EDEN ROSE after releasing it.

Their first full album 'On The Way To Eden' (1970), recorded as a studio live one, is based upon the jazz-psych rock with full of keyboard and organ solo, played by Henri, the frontman. Anyway, surprisingly Jean-Pierre could master all songs for a few days, and with the terrific talent he led SANDROSE, the succeeding outfit of EDEN ROSE, to an unequivocal French Symphonic Prog Band.

Sadly their relationship with the producer could not go well on the recording and the problem make them break up a while later. They played a key role in forming SANDROSE in 1971 and the rosy story should be continued ...

 'On the Road to Eden' is a pretty decent debut (and only release) from the pre-Sandrose group known as Eden Rose. The main thing missing in this version of the band is singer Rose Podwojny (aka Laurens), who would join up with the quartet after Eden Rose's demise to form what would become Sandrose (a lot of Rose's in this band's story). And indeed, all the tracks here are instrumentals, so it appears the presence of Podwojny/ Laurens may have been the missing ingredient considering that lineup achieved far greater notoriety than this one.

The music is surprisingly similar though; fusion-tinted and mildly psych-inspired, upbeat tunes with plenty of wailing and fuzzed guitar and Hammond organ aplenty throughout. If you're a fan of that free-flowing, piped late sixties Hammond sound you'll definitely get a kick out of this thing. Virtually every track is awash with Hammond bleating, interrupted or augmented only on tastefully few occasions by Jean-Pierre Alarcen and his blistering electric axe.

This is sometimes referred to as a psych album but it really isn't; indeed, the guitars are all a blend of modern jazz sounds and simple fuzz (but not too much), and the Hammond sounds both improvisational and rooted in contemporary blues riffs. There are a few exceptions, most notably "Walking in the Sea" which is both the longest and most indolent tune on the record with both electric reverbed riffs and acoustic strumming, as well as a lighter, more laidback keyboard arrangement than on any other song. The closing is rather subdued as well, but otherwise these songs are all exercised in keyboard foray and guitar soloing. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but honestly the sound is as dated as the album's copyright statement (1970), and maybe even a little older than that as most of these musicians had been playing together for several years and this album marked the culmination of their experience to-date.

If you're a big fan of Summer of Love-era psych then shy away from this one as that's not what it's about. But as a 'lost gem' Musea does a fairly good job of dusting it off and putting on a good face. There are also a couple other CD reissues including one from Japan that has supposedly been independently remastered, but I haven't heard them myself and given the prices I've seen on the web it's a safe bet I won't any time sooner either. The Musea version is more reasonably priced and much more accessible for most of us.

I'm going to say three stars mostly because the music isn't that much different than the Sandrose album except for the lack of lyrics, and I liked that one well enough. You may tire just a bit of the endless organ passages, but certainly not as much as I have of some of the endless two- and three-disc prog tomes put out by the group's contemporaries in the years that would follow this release. Mildly recommended for fans of light psych and Hammond organ freaks..

A.R. & Machines - 1975 - Erholung

A.R. & Machines

01. Gute Reise
02. Atmosphäre
03. Alles Inklusive
04. Erholung

- Achim Reichel / guitar, vocals
- Jochen Petersen / sax
- Olaf Casalich / percussion
- Peter Franken / drums, percussion

Atmospheric *space-jazz* nirvana with a fragile late evening, apocalyptic sundown vibe to it - nothing quite like it, really.

A.R. & Machines - 1974 - Autovision

A.R. & Machines

01. Eisenpferde
02. Tanz Der Vögel In Den Winden
03. Drei In Eins
04. Turbulenzen
05. Jay Guru Dev
06. Kopf In Den Wolken - Beine Auf Der Erde

- Achim Reichel / guitar, vocals
- Claus-Robert Kruse / organ
- Jochen Petersen / saxophone
- Olaf Casalich / percussion
- Peter Franken / drums, percussion

This is perhaps one of the best examples of meandering music, in the truest sense of the word, that actually works. Snuffling around like blind moles hunting for some tasty earthworms - these tracks seem completely blindfolded and act accordingly.

That´s one way of looking at things, and if your tastes lie in the more complex and shifting parts of music, you´re probably not going to like this very much. The first two songs are what I´d call Krautrock n´ Roll meets Canterbury. The jazzy wind instruments and the Khan like feel of the rest of the band put together with some creepy background atmospherics - generate a slightly psychedelic and again meandering excursion into Canterbury that promises nothing - flips you the bird and just wanders away into a rocking implosion. In a way - the whole philosophy of these two tracks is like back when the beatniks jumped freight trains because they wanted to be transported somewhere, without anything looking remotely like a direction or a final destination, - just freeway dreamings cooked up by these intoxicated jazz enthusiasts who could talk for days on end about how sunshine hits the street and why all things need fire to live. They do overstay their welcome though, but there are sometimes where I think they work the way the authors intended them to do.

Drei in Einz closes the door to the Canterburian dimension with a meandering, slow, melancholic vibe, that sounds like it could have come from one of Kevin Ayers early nonsense albums, or on the other hand maybe it´s a forerunner to the Floyd track Round and Around. Yep I know what you´re thinking, but it´s a lot better and much more delicate - ending with some sprinkling chimes that sound like they, along with the track, is being poured into sand. Psssht and it´s gone.

Hi ho silver and the train to India sets off with Turbulenze, that surprisingly is a very meandering track, that finally opens this record up fully to the Krautrock sound it´s been threatening with. What probably is a hysterical mouse tap-dancing on a small hand drum, is followed up with some bewildering guitar patterns, that waffles around - suddenly changing pace and tone - and the track transforms into something like a psychedelic raga with some eerie electronics in the background - sounding like brightly colored wall-paper would if it could speak.

Perhaps the most meandering of all these tracks is Jay Guru Dev, and what´s really puzzling, is that it just might be my favorite off Autovision. A slowly developing guitar is the essence here. It strums its pointless melody, accompanied by an organ that conjures up the same sort of foggy soundscapes you can hear on Led Zeppelin´s No quarter. There´s almost a serene Popol Vuh feel to this one as well, and I think it´s rather meditative and beautiful - like walking through snow on warm naked feet.

Bringing it all back home - ending the album is a good ol´ mouth harmonica playing a nice little sailor outro, making this album seem all the more impenetrable and fragmentary. It´s a giggle though and it only lasts 30 seconds...

Autovision finds Achim Reichel and his machines a tad disorientated like they just stepped off a spine shattering merry go round, but there is something here - something that speaks to me - something that is simple like pouring water over your sister´s sandcastle, watching how the water just eats up every contour and leaves the once decorated tiny piece of beach like nature intended it in the first place. It´s a self-imploding album this one, and meandering like a waterfall dumping water from high altitudes in the same thundering way it´s always done. But just like the simpleness of such a natural wonder like the waterfall, these individual tunes also emanate a certain natural vibe, and I kind of like it in all of its nonsense.

A.R. & Machines - 1973 - A.R. IV

A.R. & Machines

01. Cave Explorers And Birdmen (5:25)
02. The Man In Kidleather (10:43)
03. Thin Is The Skin Of Ecstasy (5:47)
04. Every Raindrop Longs For The Sea (23:00)

- Achim Reichel / guitar, vocals
- Helmuth Franke / guitar
- Hans Hartmann / bass
- Claus-Robert Kruse / electric piano
- Jochen Petersen / sax, flute
- Hans Boche / drums
- Olaf Casalich / percussion
- Matti Klatt / percussion
- Frank Wulf / recorders, sitar
- Churchill Jolobe / drums
- Carsten Bohn / percussion
- Frank Dostal / lyrics

The civilisation makes everyone of us to a link in any chain which has its defined task, which has to function. Ponderous laws, regulations, commandments, prohibitions and instructions are controlling our life. Behaviours and thoughts were adopted like a ready-made meal out of the refrigerator. Creativity is not worth it? To improve life you need even power and goodness, first of all conciousness and fantasy. This is music for people with fantasy. It asks and answers, tells stories of yesterday, today and tomorrow. It paints pictures and holds your hand. Always in the way you hear it. Put on your headphones and close your eyes. Listen to the music and listen to yourself. And now you're already playing with us.

Achim Reichel's message on the LP backside is typical for the restless, rebellious times with a special atmosphere of departure in the late 60s and early 70s. Completely everything was challenged and put to the test. So this reflects the background for the development of krautrock with fascinating bands and albums as the result.

Being successful with THE RATTLES and later managing the famous STAR-CLUB in Hamburg, he also wanted to do something completely different. Unmistakeably influenced by upcoming electronic bands like TANGERINE DREAM for example he transmitted to a pioneer of this genre with his meditative improvisations. So five albums were produced under the moniker A.R. & MACHINES within the years from 1971 to 1974 but also efforts for other groundbreaking projects for example YATHA SIDHRA and the album 'A Meditation Mass'.

Now this vinyl from 1973 was recorded at Windrose Dumont Time studios by the wellknown engineer Conny Plank. Compared to the forerunner 'AR3' Reichel offers long jams again with his staff which consists of eleven musicians and Frank Dostal who is responsible for the lyrics. The band uses a wide range of instruments and the album manages a special melange of spaced out and jazzy elements - eclectic despite of the repetitive sequences.

The title Vita hits the nail right on the head with a joy of playing. The song radiates a happy flavour supported by an irresistible twin guitar, bass and percussion work. It looks like the instruments are hunting each others during 22 minutes of fantastic spacy jazz rock. This is provided with some ethnic additions per soprano sax, flute and sitar and the electric piano is swirling all around. This is sometimes sounding near to EMBRYO's work. The second jam Aqua is a lot more meditative and psychedelic first with sparkling piano and water, birds twittering and other animal voices. The song hurrries up in the second half to reach the 'aqua' respectively the ocean for being adrift on the sea of life ....

This album is definetely a masterpiece and belongs to the classics of krautrock. And just do what Achim Reichel advises - use your headphones!

A.R. & Machines - 1972 - AR3

A.R. & Machines

01. Warum Peter Nur Noch Ferien Macht
02. Tarzans Abenteuer Im Sommerschlußverkauf
03. 10 Jahre Lebenslänglich
04. Die Tochter Der Frostriesen
05. Die Eigentümer Der Welt
06. Heute Ist Es Wärmer Als Draußen
07. Auf Deutsch Heißt Das Gewissenbisse
08. Wie Ich Mir So Ich Dir
09. Alles Geht Nach Goa

This is A.R. & MACHINES third album and like the last one there are a lot of guests helping Achim Reichel out. I count 10 actually including Okko Bekker a Dutchman who was born and lived in Germany at the time. He plays sitar, tablas and other ethnic instruments. Certainly compared to the debut this is much less dynamic and innovative. It's like Achim decided to turn from those psychedelic and experimental sounds to more of an even keel with a prominant ethnic vibe. POPOL VUH came to mind at times. I'm going to use the English song titles for this review.

"Why Peter Is Only On Holiday" opens with this rhythm that builds before settling down 1 1/2 minutes in as sounds come and go. No melody really when it calms down. Echo guitar starts to lead and bass helps out 3 1/2 minutes in. Percussion a minute later. I like this. It's building again after 5 1/2 minutes. "Tarzan's Adventures In The Summer Sale" opens with guitar and drums. Sax is prominant after 1 1/2 minutes. Lots of percussion too. Intense sound 2 1/2 minutes in. This is great ! "10 Years Life Imprisonment" is pastoral to open before it kicks in after a minute. Lots of percussion and echo guitar. Vocals after 2 minutes followed by some excellent guitar 3 minutes in and later before 5 1/2 minutes. Some prominant bass here too. It builds to an intense sound 6 minutes in then settles late and blends into "The Frost-Giant's Daughter". Drums, vocals and guitar join in.

"The Owners Of The World" really does seem out of place. It's quite commercial sounding with vocals being the focus. "Today It Is Warmer Than Outside" features some organ and echo guitar. It kicks in after a minute. Nice. It blends into "In German We Call It Conscience-Bites".Vocals around a minute. This is catchy stuff. "(I...Me Like I ...You)" is a short but cool tune. We get some organ, sax, electric guitar and even a rattle after 1 1/2 minutes. "Everybody Goes To Goa" opens with spacey winds as vocal expressions and a beat come in. A change as sitar eventually becomes prominant 2 1/2 minutes in. The sounds get louder as tablas help out. This is very ethnic sounding.

A.R. & Machines - 1972 - Echo

A.R. & Machines

01. Einladung (Invitation) (20:32)
02. Das Echo Der Gegenwart (The Echo Of The Presence) (10:08)
03. Das Echo Der Zeit (The Echo Of Time) (13:05)
04. Das Echo Der Zukunft (The Echo Of The Future) (18:13)
05. Das Echo Der Vergangenheit (The Echo Of The Past) (19:38)

- Achim Reichel / guitar, vocals
- Arthur Carstens / jews harp
- Dicky Tarrach / drums
- Hans Lampe / percussion
- Helmuth Franke / guitar
- Jochen Petersen / saxophone
- Kalle Trapp / percussion
- Klaus Schulze / vocals
- Lemmy Lembrecht / drums, percussion
- Matti Klatt / vocals
- Norbert Jacobsen / clarinet
- Peter Becker / sirenes
- Rolf Köhler / percussion
- Peter Hecht / orchestral arrangements
- Frank Dostal / lyrics

Discipline, structure, and focus. If that's what you adore about progressive rock, run like hell from A. R. & Machines. If, however, you prize prog's ability to wash over you with waves of weirdness until your astral form winds up light years away from your physical body -- perhaps having forgotten that said body ever existed, you know man, in the really real sense -- then Echo may be the lost classic that you've been waiting for.

This is especially true if your soul happens to respond to the unique conjunction of cosmic forces that resulted in a seemingly infinite universe of obscure vinyl treasures between roughly 1966 and 1977. Germany didn't have a monopoly on spacey pagan psychedelia by any means, but there's enough of a concentration of unrestrained genius in that extended circle to assure that most of us are still rediscovering the many facets of Krautrock at this late date -- and, it must be said, the same probably goes for many of those who made the music to begin with.

I don't know that Achim Reichel (let alone Herr Schultze) ever takes a spare hour and a half to revisit Echo. He may (like the vast majority of my esteemed prog contemporaries and probably the world at large) only think of Echo to dismiss the album as an incoherent and self-indulgent soup of delay effects and cryptobabble. Fair enough, but I've tasted a lot of bad soup, and even more bland soup, and this is neither of those recipes.

For one thing, the music is genuinely but non-specifically evocative -- one of the essential keys to the gate of transcendence, so to speak. It'll put you on the road without really suggesting a direction, but this is no spineless New Age ambient wallpaper; Echo will assert itself on a regular basis to give your mind something unexpected to work with.

The minimalist, minor-key repetitions have the same moody trance-inducing quality of Cluster and Eno, but with an acid rock foundation rather than an ambient synth framework. Einladung (Invitation) is all about guitars and drums.. and water, and drawn-out flange sweeps. If I say the word 'cave', am I forcing my authority on the chaotic freedom of your mind's drift, man?

It's sometimes hauntingly beautiful, too, and surprisingly powerful.

And it gets funky like only Krautrock can, taking all of the acid dance freakout fun of Velvet Underground meets swinging London meets Haight-Ashbury and turning it into a cosmic party cruise attended by Teutonic stewardesses. And then Carlos Castaneda appears, with pre-electric Marc Bolan as his spirit guide, and everything disappears into the forest primeval. And you're STILL only on the second song, Das Echo Der Gegenwart (The Echo Of The Present). Lucky for us, the present was 1972, which was a far more timeless present than our current future, which so much more quickly slips into the past.

If you haven't given up by the point that Das Echo Der Zeit (The Echo Of Time) arrives, you're in for a Throbbing Gristle of a treat. Never has there been such difficulty telling novelty from consistency. Baby voices and more layered, echoed guitars. Native chanting and drumming. Comus enters a chrysalis and emerges as Aphrodite's Child. All of the seats were occupied (by layers of echoing sound).

To be fair, the musicians are pretty tight for all of their looseness, and the sections and transitions possess a lot more dynamic discipline and distinctiveness that it seems. This stands out from a slew of psychedelic-era concept albums that amount to little more than throwing sounds at the wall to see if anything sticks. Speaking of which... I hate to make enemies, but I'd rather hear the 43 minutes of Das Echo Der Zukunft (The Echo Of The Future) once a week for the rest of my life than EVER hear Tubular Bells again.

Das Echo Der Vergangenheit (Echo of the Past) is probably my least favorite, due to the disjointed a cappella / spoken section -- but it may be your MOST favorite, especially if you have a fondness for RIO and / or experimental composers of the Charles Dodge variety. It's certainly not out of character with the rest of the album, at any rate. And the symphonic conclusion threatens to take us out on a surprisingly Alpine soundtrack note, until the shimmering and ringing drones of pure ambient bliss soothe our eternal night of lucid discovery gently back into the sunlit sleep of waking.

Rare, beautiful, weird, and utterly immersive in a very unique way.

A.R. & Machines - 1971 - Die Grune Reise

A.R. & Machines
Die Grune Reise

01. Globus (Globe) (2:56)
02. In The Same Boat (2:06)
03. Schönes Babylon (Beautiful Babylon) (5:01)
04. I'll Be Your Singer, You'll Be My Song (Ich Bin Dein Sänger, Du Bist Mein Lied) (2:25)
05. Body (1:57)
06. A Book's Blues (1:39)
07. Als Hätt Ich Das Alles Schon Mal Gesehen (As If I Had Seen All This Before) (5:31)
08. Cosmic Vibrations (4:41)
09. Come On, People (2:53)
10. Wahrheit Und Wahrscheinlichkeit (Truth And Probability) (11:40)

Total time: 40:49

01. Die Grüne Reise - Der Film (42:00)
02. Making Of (10:00)

- Achim Reichel / guitar, vocals
- Frank Dostal / lyrics
- Dicky Tarrach / drums
- Hans Lampe / percussion (2)

A.R. & MACHINES is the solo project of one Achim Reichel. The A.R. are of course his initials while the MACHINES are those elctronics and tape recorders he used to create this psychedelic sound.This album was released in 1971 and the press at that time roasted him for it. Achim you see had been this teen idol who was very well known in Germany. He was the founder and guitarist of the most popular Beat band in that country called THE RATTLERS. He grew tired though of strumming his guitar to this simple 4/4 beat and was looking for something more challenging. It would be like one of the Jonas brothers deciding to make this experimental, Psychedelic Prog album. No matter how good it was you know he would be ridiculed for this non-commercial nonsense. Right ? Well all these magazines that trashed Achim's debut album would later apologize as it was soon accepted that this was a tripped out masterpiece. He became known for the guitar echo which he came upon by complete accident. "I was just trying something out with my guitar, when out of the blue the Akai X-3300 began to repeat endless cascades of guitar echoes. My guitar suddenly sounded like ten". He found his new direction. I've known about this band for years but until recently have been unable to find any of his recording. I have the EROC remastered version from 2007. The title of this album means "The Green Journey". Julian Cope would call this record "...the final result of a kind of higher awareness..." Brian Eno said this was his main source for inspiration for his "Another Green World" album. And how about that album cover !

I'm going to use the English song titles. "Globe" opens with strange sounds then this catchy beat takes over.The song continues to change. Lots of electronics 2 1/2 minutes in. Great sound. "In The Same Boat" opens with this guitar riff as drums then vocals join in.It turns very psychedelic a minute in then that riff and beat returns. "Beautiful Babylon" sounds so cool to start out. Drums before a minute. It's all about the electronics before 3 minutes. It's laid back late. "I'll Be Your Singer-You'll Be My Song" is a short tune with vocals, strummed guitar and percussion. Psychedelic stuff. "Body" features percussion along with vocal and other sounds.

"A Book's Blues" is bluesy with a beat, vocals and guitar. "As If I Had Seen All This Before" has a very freaky intro with cool vocal expressions that are manipulated. Electronics and a beat take over as guitar and drums join in. Great sound. It's crazy psychedelic 3 1/2 minutes in. The beat returns then it's far out again. "Cosmic Vibration" sounds so good the way the guitar echoes. What a trip this song is. "Come On People" is led by vocals and drums. Vocal melodies and clapping join in. "Truth And Probability" is the perfect drug track. It made me laugh and wonder and I wasn't even high. The sounds echo and check out the vocal expressions that are manipulated. Just hilarious at times. Insanity !

A Krautrock classic !