Sunday, October 25, 2015

Kaleidoskop - 1974 - Kaleidoskop



01. Look and Smile
02. Being Twice, Can You Decide?
03. Those Stagge's Nights
04. Compos. Intern
05. Long Way
06. Einstand
07. Stranger Blue
08. Remember Those Lines

Peter Barkhold (tenor saxophone, vocals)
Günther Blendermann (bass)
Ulrich Framke (alto saxophone, clarinet)
Wolfgang Schmeer (soprano saxophone, flute)
Dietmar Schmidt (drums, percussion)
Wolfgang Schmidt (organ, electric piano, steel guitar)

A band with their roots in Bremen/Hannover, going back to the 1960's. It was reputedly "extraordinary soul jazz rock album with great grooves and charming careless playing" according to one source - which turned out to be not too far off the mark. Kaleidoskop played a richly textured jazz-prog that was actually quite dated for 1974, with lots of winds, and 90% instrumental, with hints of Nucleus, Xhol and Zappa/Mothers styles, but less experimental and a touch cheesy in some of the jazz breaks. The song in "Stranger Blue" takes the sound Emergency territory.

After a change in style, and a shake-up in line-up, 7 years later they resurfaced as Kaleidoskop

At the crossroad of jazz and rock, with emphasis on the latter. Sax, flute and organ lead the solo parade (there are no less than 3 full time winds players). Some inventive compositions, and the progressive rock element comes out in the unison playing, which at times is complex. Occasionally I hear same period Missus Beastly, though Kaleidoskop are definitely more jazz oriented. Side 2 features a lengthy suite, utilizing Eastern scales, that is quite interesting.

Joerg Siegert & Chorus Of XII - 1972 - Brain Sound (An Attempt to Record Coincidence)

Joerg Siegert & Chorus Of XII 
Brain Sound (An Attempt to Record Coincidence)

01. [u:ou-hu??uo]   
02. [?iu:-adi-dia]   
03. [u:tik-tuk-?u]   
04. [o:-i?e-u:ha:]   
05. [uou-u:hu:io:]   
06. [d?a-d?-ab?]   
07. [io:ije:-dob?]   
08. [u:-u:-?e-?:t?]   
09. [a:hoa-t?-so]   
10. [i:i-?a-u:?ej:]

Recorded live in Newport Beach, California
Originally released on LP as private pressing in 1972.
Producer, Arranged By, Engineer, Artwork By [Cover Art] – Joerg Siegert

Seriously demented stuff, suitably subtitled "An attempt to record coincidence". About as experimental as it could get in the early 1970s, and not entirely listenable, although definitely interesting if only from the "how far could that kind of experimentation reach ?!" perspective. Layers of vocals, whirlpools of reverb - this is the album that either affects you in its special crazy spiritual way, or just leaves you in disgust. Every listen is different.

Pictured in all its tantalizing, eye-popping glory in Hans Pokora's 1001 Record Collector Dreams, this hellishly rare Austrian avant garde LP from 1972 is nothing short of astonishing. There are no instruments, but rather varying configurations of solo, duo and ensemble vocal improvisations, presumably informed by the aforementioned (and nearly impenetrable) code (or “charts”). Although this might be seen as part of an interesting continuum, this unique and prescient music will stun even the most astute followers of outsider art. Describe it, you say? Sweet Jesus! “Shape note singing for acidheads,” perhaps? From an avant-classical perspective, one might mention late 60's Penderecki as a possible reference point (along with Ligeti, or perhaps even Nono). In improvised music, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble’s larger workshop groups similarly feature masses of vocal sounds; comparisons with Alan Watts’ This Is It are as plausible as they are inevitable. Ultimately, though, nothing will quite prepare you for this LP. In fact, when an original copy landed at Nero’s Neptune headquarters, one notorious "outsider" label chief/collector extraordinaire's peni-meter became so perilously engorged that he nearly burst with envy, casting ridiculous offers of rare wax and unmentionable “favors” our way whilst begging to let him take over. In other words, we strongly recommend purchasing this limited reissue while you can and securing appropriate spiritual condiments for the trip. After all, you CAN be anyone this time around.

Galija - 1979 - Galija



01. Avanturista 4:25
02. Letnja pesma 4:37
03. Pesma za dobro jutro 3:12
04. Posrednik 7:30
05. Madionicar 4:42
06. Gospi 4:49
07. Decimen 4:48

Bass Guitar – Predrag Brankovic
Drums – Boban Pavlovic
Electric Guitar – Goran Ljubisavljevic
Keyboards – Ljubodrag Vukadinovic
Vocals [Second, Guest] – Predrag Milosavljevic
Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica – Nenad Milosavljevic

Nenad Milosavljevic was a 1970s hippie-influenced singer/songwriter who also composed music for theater plays. In 1977, together with a group of backing musicians, formed GALIJA (Eng. "Galley") in his native town Nis (pronounced: "ni:sh", former Yugoslavia, presently Serbia and Montenegro), named after the coffee bar where they used to hang around. They were notorious for the frequent line-up change, so besides N. Milosavljevic more or less standard band members were: Predrag Milosavljevic (Nenad's brother) who wrote most of the lyrics in the early phase and sang backing vocals, drummer Boban Pavlovic and bass player Zoran Radosavljevic. In the later phase, Radoman Kanjevac contributed with concepts and lyrics, Bratislav Zlatkovic with keyboards and flute playing along with composing, while Nenad also frequently engaged guest musicians, particularly keyboard and guitar players. In the early 1980s GALIJA was among the most popular bands in ex-Yugoslavia. It can be attributed to the sophisticated (although sometimes not too original) and "theatrical" prog rock songs, while their concerts showcased a somewhat "Baroque" and pirate look/galley outfit, along with Nenad imitating the stage movements of Ian Anderson of JETHRO TULL (only instead of flute Nenad occasionally played harmonica). They used to spend summers on the Adriatic Coast, with the town of Makarska (presently Croatia) being a sort of GALIJA fans pilgrimage site with free open-air gigs. From the mid-1980s onward, the band shifted musical direction towards more polished (and less "rocking") art pop-rock with occasional fusion of the Balkan folk themes and frequent use of celebrated South Slav poetry for the song lyrics. The band gained bad reputation when at one time in mid-1990s they collaborated with the autocratic Serbian regime, playing in support of the Establishment ideology. During their career GALIJA remained loyal to the state-owned music label PGP. They are still active in the new millenium and occasionally release albums of the more "mainstream" sound.

First three albums - "Grupa Galija" (often referred to as "Prva plovidba" although such title is missing from the cover!), "Druga plovidba" and "Ipak verujem u sebe" - are generally considered to be the best, given their symphonic prog sound, with characteristic interplay between acoustic and electric passages, atmospheric keyboards, strong and expressive vocals of Milosavljevic brothers and themes filled with romanticism and fairy tale-like lyrics. Obvious influences to the GALIJA music were CAMEL, GENESIS and JETHRO TULL on the prog side, but also THE ROLLING STONES on their rock side (blues-sounding harmonica!). These albums, although not so strong as some other ex-Yugoslavian bands of the era, are recommended listen for prog lovers. The first two albums are released under the name "GRUPA GALIJA", while from the third on they dropped "Grupa" from the name.

Uranus - 1975 - Aamun Hauta

Aamun Hauta

01. Kun tulin stadiin
02. T lt ikuisuuteen
03. Svengikone
04. Hellyys rajaton
05. Fantastinen nainen
06. Aamun hauta
07. Malta en lopettaa
08. New Production
09. Pluto

Bass – Pertti Hurmalainen
Drums – Jari Unha
Flute, Saxophone, Harmonica – Lucjan "Luzzi" Czaplicki
Guitar, Vocals – Eero Raivio
Trumpet – Eero Lyttinen
Vocals, Piano – Edward "Eetu" Stytz

Uranus cut their album Aamun hauta in 1975 for the BASF label, the same label that gave us Kummitus, and Lucjan Czaplicki flute, sax, harmonica who guested on Kummitus Kahdet kasvot LP was a member of Uranus.
The other musicians were Eero Lyttinen on trumpet, Eero Raivio on guitar and vocals, Jari Unha on drums, Pertti Hurmalainen on bass and Edward Stytz on vocals and piano.
The music surprised me by being pretty good for Finnish 1970 s standards funk rock. Cover material includes Stevie Wonder s Living in the City , Otis Redding s Sittin on the Dock of the Bay and a personal favourite of mine, Kokomo s I Can Understand It , which Uranus treat respectably well despite Polish ? -born Stytz s lead vocals, which sound very slightly sped up on all the songs he sings. His pronounciation of the Finnish language isn t great, as an accent is clearly audible, but it s serviceable.
The inner sleeve is half-filled with quite insane ramblings about not very much in particular,
except for frequent remarks like URANUS shines... URANUS was the harmony... and the One and Only was URANUS... and URANUS shone... because in the beginning there was URANUS. And the World lives the age of URANUS. At last, said the Admiral
Definitely a worthy record to add to your collection, and one that should be re-discovered by this
digital age.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

La Clave - 1973 - La Clave

La Clave
La Clave

01. Sally Go Round The Roses - 3:07
02. Angels Of Mercy - 3:15
03. Move Your Hand - 3:03
04. Latin Slide - 4:03
05. Who You Fooling - 3:30
06. The Ghetto - 4:41
07. Road Runner - 3:22
08. Soul Sauce - 2:36
09. Baila Mi Guaguancò - 3:17
10. Cocoa Leaf - 1:39

Benny Velarde - leader, composer, timbales
Tito Garcia - vocals
Johnny Nelson - vocals
Gabriel Rondon - guitar
Lalo Schifrin - keyboards
Willie Colón - bass
Martin Fierro - tenor saxophone
Jerry Gilmor - baritone saxophone
Joe Ellin - trumpet
Luiz Miranda - congas
Pat O 'Hara - trombone
Al Zulaica - piano
John D'Andrea - arranger
Tony Bruno - producer

The only studio album band from San Francisco, headed by Benny Velarde. Released in 1973 on «Verve Records». A mixture of Latin music and funk-rock. The album was attended by invited session musicians, among whom was the Argentine jazz pianist and composer Lalo Schifrin.

An incredible album of Latin funk -- the only-ever record from this west coast combo headed by the legendary Benny Velarde! Benny's a name that you might recognize from earlier, straighter Latin dates for Fantasy -- or for countless studio work during the 70s -- but here, he's really got a talent for a funky 70s groove -- and manages to hit a unique space that's somewhere between conventional funk, west coast Latin, and some of the hippest blacksploitation grooves of the time! The album also features some under-credited work from Lalo Schifrin -- who was tied to the project somehow (Velarde claims that the record was killed by MGM upon release because of a feud with Lalo) -- but never really fully credited in the notes. There's a definite link here with some of Schifrin's funkier soundtrack of the period -- a great blend of jazzier elements and headier 70s funk -- all served up with a tightness that has made the record one of our favorite funky treasures for years!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Arte Vivo - 1980 - Radio Progreso Studio Sessions (Unreleased)

Arte Vivo
Studio Sessions

01. Sobre Un Tema De Jazz
02. Catedral
03. Himno
04. Andamiaje

05. Estudio Sencillo
06. Transmutacion
07. Tema Final De "Los Pasos De La Guerra"
08. Tiento

Enrique Gonzalez: Drums
Juan Antonio Leyva: Bass
Alfredo Gomez: Keyboards
Mario Daly: Guitars

As promised here it is, transferred from a cassette 35 years old, this was Cuba's premiere Rock in Opposition band, without them even knowing I think, These guys were boldly going were no one had gone before in a country were in 1980 owning a Beatles record would get you expelled from school and having long hair would grant you a royal beating from the cops. Which was what we call now, the good times because 15 years earlier that would have made you end in one of Castro's concentration camps, but that is another story.
Arte Vivo as I said were boldly going to wherever music would take them, and that quest got them utterly ostracized... I remember very few people back then dug their stuff, to weird for the rock crowd, to classically influenced for the jazz-boppers, to electric for the classical world, and way to impossible to make fit in a box for the official ministry of culture policy. Somehow they managed to record these tracks at a local radio station, I do not remember the exact circumstances, but I have a friend that visits the blog that I know remembers and will add some info.
Live these guys were amazing, Remember going to see them live as quite a young kid and being absolutely blown away, their drummer was a friend of my neighbors back then and that's how I got to discover them. (I still have the signed program of the show). At some point there were talks about a US label and promoter being interested in taking them stateside, but we are talking cold war years, so that never materialized.
Later own the band added two female singers and started moving towards a more Nueva Trova but still rocky sound, gaining some fame locally and there is still an incarnation of the band playing in Miami under the lead of their founding member and master percussionist Enrique Gonzalez. But for me that original line up was the one that did it, no words can describe the feeling of utter freedom that going to their shows meant for kids growing up during te dark days of the 80's in Cuba. Funny enough those shows have become the stuff of legend back home in the rock community, a bit of a Velvet Underground syndrome... Everybody that saw them back in the day had their lives changed, but if everybody that claims that they actually attended those shows had actually attended them, they would have been rich by
All golden memories from a grumpy old rocker aside... If you are into Henry Cow and you regularly add some Recommended Records releases to your collection, this might be a band you might start to enjoy as much as I do because these guys really deserve to be better known among you freaks...

Hopefully someone will like it so much that they will get in touch with the band for an official release of this music. If so, I can put you in touch with them...

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

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


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


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" 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 
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


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

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

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

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

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)
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

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

- 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

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

- 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

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

- 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


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


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

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



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

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 
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 

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
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