Wednesday, January 14, 2015

SBB - 1978 - SBB (The Amiga Album)

SBB (The Amiga Album)

01. Tanzbar (3:09)
02. Magische Blaue Stunde (3:07)
03. Hektik (3:08)
04. 2:10 (2:08)
05. Ouzo (4:58)
06. Unterbrochene Erotik (2:54)
07. Kala (3:33)
08. Tumba (3:49)
09. Mutraczka (4:26)
10. Nr. 7 (5:05)
11. I Wonder Why (4:40)

Bonus tracks (CD):
12. Nervoser Nikolaus (5:15)
13. Tom Cat (3:07)
14. Gonitwa (2:33)
15. Beci (3:33)
16. Profesor Moog (3:18)
17. Balon guma (5:38)
18. Maskarada (4:11)
19. Podróż (6:40)
20. Trema (3:19)

- Józef Skrzek / keys, harmonica, vocals
- Antymos Apostolis / guitar
- Jerzy Piotrowski / drums

If you wonder why all the song names are in German, it is because this album was a special release for the East German market on the DDR's state record label Amiga.

The first song, Tanzbar (Dance bar) is a nice and calm funk tune, not very special, but very groovy. this is the whole image of the album, short groovy songs, great for example for getting high or to be listened to while drunk. Not that I would support such a behaviour. The song has some singing, but less lyrics, the voice acts as an instrument here. The song is nice.

Magische Blaue Stunde (the magical blue hours) is probably meant to tell a story. This one is a bit less funky, and more moody, slower and even psychedelic. This song is a straight instrumental as are most of the songs on this album. It's pretty much guitar driven with a nice melody. One of my favourites.

Hektik (hectic) is pretty much what the name of the song indicates. It's really powerful and fast, probably pretty hard to play. There's a bit less of the funk as the keyboards seem to dominate much more than the guitar. The drumming sounds like in frenzy which has always been one of SBBs best sides. There's a catchy melody which is easy for everyone to jam to.

The latter applies to the next song as well. The song is a bit more funky, though somewhat carneval like, happy and groovy. It's basically a jam song, and more guitar driven again. 2:10 is named after how long it lasts, I suppose, though my tags show it's only 2:07...

Ouzo is very similar to the earlier one in the sense, that it's pretty fast and catchy. The main riff is however again with the guitar, and this is a lot more jazz-rock than funk. The drums keep the funk-jazz feeling throughout the album and the songs are built up around it with guitar and the keyboard taking turns in dominating. This one has a funky part too, kind of a battle between the two main instruments.

Unterbrochene Erotik (interrupted erotics)... The songs on this album are really not that different from each other. This one however is refreshing in a way. The song starts like the others before it, but there's also singing. A question arises: why so little singing? The singer's not the best there is, and the song is again funk jamming where the vocals go along the guitar in the same melody. This is not an album where they'd put so much attention to singing. The singing here is just for the vocalist to feel the mood too. Basically the rest is just jamming.

But jamming is what they do well. Of course most of the album is composed, and there's little room for improvisation within the 3-4 minutes each song lasts, which is a shame. The guys play so well it'd be nice to hear if they improvise as well too. Kala, the next track, starts off soft and sounds like there's going to be a calm, ballad kind of a song, but it soon gets started. The bass-organ-guitar patterns make it sound like Wigwam at times on this song and the others too, which is a good thing in my book. There's some really good jazz-rock hooks for the listener. After all, this is not as 'hektik' as most of the songs, the verses are really laid back.

The album is a collection of groovy funk tunes, great for people who find that kind of music good. Composition-wise it's not mind breaking, but a solid jamming session where the guys really show what they do best. Tumba is a very repetitive song with one riff and basically something between scat and singing on the background. The song sounds a lot shorter than what it is, which is a good thing. It might get a bit boring after a while just listening to the same pattern over and over again. This is obviously something that brings the fun back to the serious jam session. The song is very cheerful and I can imagine them having a lot of fun playing the song for the first 5 times. Still, if one has to look for a weakest link on an album, this would be it here, though only composition-wise.

A couple of words to describe this album: easy-going, laid-back, creative, skillful. It's definately not as serious as some of their albums seem to be. Perhaps they just needed to take a break and go easy one it. Mutraczka is a guitar driven funk-rock song. The guitar that plays the lead is pretty tight and rock. The song is a lot slower and less intense than the rest, it's more a like a song made for the guitarist. Just like the one before, it fades out, there's no ending.

When the one before was for the guitarist and the one before that was for the singer, the next song, Nr. 7 is obviously for the keyboardist. There's hardly any guitar, and the drums just beat in the background. It's a bit dreamy and less rock than the ones before. There's a foggy and dreamy feeling to this one. Apparently each player wants to try out their skills, and so far, none have failed.

the last song, I Wonder Why is of the disco generation. It sounds a bit like Bee Gees on the style aspect. Lot of wah in the guitars and though not as high, still sung through. I could imagine people dancing to this very song at discos in 70s. It's really not that prog, just an easy disco nation tune, perhaps not for radioplay but for retro-nights at the local club.

SBB - 1978 - Follow My Dream

Follow My Dream

Going Away: (24:09)
01. Freedom With Us (8:12)
02. 3rd Reanimation (6:13)
03. Going Away (6:36)
04. (Żywiec) Mountain Melody (3:08)

Follow My Dream: (22:16)
05. Wake Up (5:02)
06. In The Cradle of Your Hands (2:46)
07. Growin' (6:18)
08. Follow My Dream (8:10)

Bonus tracks (CD):
09. Królewskie marzenie (6:41)
10. Wiosenne chimery (15:54)
11. Dla przyjaciół (7:09)

- Józef Skrzek / keyboards, harmonica, vocals
- Antymos Apostolis / guitar
- Jerzy Piotrowski / drums

On the Follow my Dream album of Polish symphonic/space/fusion act SBB the band acquired a new sound. With modern, professional equipment (perhaps influenced by '75 Pink Floyd) the band re-invents itself after a career that already gave rise to three major progressive releases. The production of the album is very good, which I can't always say about their earlier releases.

Follow my Dream was aimed at the western part of Europe, which of course had the biggest market for progressive music. Applying the Manticore-tactic, SBB started singing in English and Józef Skrzek does an acceptable job. The accent is however always disturbing and I myself had no problems at all with the Polish lyrics.

Though equipped with a new sound a fresh new market to be explored I must admit I think the band didn't have too much inspiration for this record. The opening section 'Freedom With Us' (they shouldn't have re-used the title of the powerful epic of New Horyzont) is utterly boring. Luckily '3rd Reanimation' is an exciting fusion jam with great slightly distorted synthesizer sounds and a remarkable bombastic ending section. 'Going Away' has again a boring intro and couplet theme but a compensating instrumental refrain that is highly rewarding. Somehow I always get the feeling of relieve listening to this song. The song evolves into the electronic sound-scape Mountain Melody, which is also very rewarding and well recorded. On side two Wake Up is an atmospheric opener. The English version of the Pamieç masterpiece 'In the Cradle of your Hands' is a strong effort, but I prefer the more mysterious sound of the Pamieç version. Still this is track that shows the best of compositional genius that SBB has to offer, and perhaps even the progressive genre itself. The adventerious section after the opening section is one of my favorite moments of progressive rock. The title track 'Follow my Dream' is a boring fusion track like the opening of side one. Luckily the instrumental ending section is highly rewarding. A good ending for the album.

Conclusion. This album showcases an important phase of SBB that would eventually lead to their later major progressive rock releases. The Follow My Dream album falls short to be mentioned in the list of SBB greatest records, but it does have some really amazing moments like '3rd Reanimation', the instrumental sections of 'Going Away' and the ending section of the title track.

SBB - 1977 - Jerzyk


01. Jerzyk (3:23)
02. Kijek (3:33)
03. Oddech (5:56)
04. Taniec Bulibara (4:29)
05. Garbusek (2:41)
06. Palamakia (6:57)
07. Wołanie o podkład (4:08)
08. Janek (3:52)
09. Władkowa kołysanka (4:53)

Bonus tracks (CD):
10. Debiut Kety (4:01)
11. 11 traktów (4:06)
12. Renia (3:11)
13. Mutraczka (1st version) (4:55)
14. Jak było tak było ale było (6:31)
15. Cierpiarz (3:49)
16. Ouzo (1st version) (4:38)
17. Uścisk w dołku (1st version) (6:51)

- Józef Skrzek / vocals, keyboards
- Apostolis Antymos / guitar
- Jerzy Piotrowski / drums

In 1977 and early 1978 SBB experimented with material with a leaning towards pop and funk-jazz. 'Jerzyk' and 'Amiga album' aren't considered to be classics of the band. But, 1978 showed yet another new course for SBB with the recording of 'Follow My Dream', a record with the goal to hit the Western European market. On this album SBB reinvented itself with a new, modern symphonic/progressive sound (reminding me a bit of the mid-seventies PINK FLOYD sound). Also, some of the lyrics were sung in English. The new arsenal of top-notch synthesizers and other equipment gave the band the sound it needed to make recordings that would stand the test of time. This move gave the band the opportunity to tour in many new countries and they were even allowed to tour behind the Iron Curtain, which was a big thing at the time.

SBB - 1977 - Wolanie o brzek szkla (Slovenian Girls)

Wolanie o brzek szkla (Slovenian Girls)

01. Wołanie o brzęk szkła (19:10)
02. Odejście (19:47)

Bonus tracks (CD):
03. Bitwy na obrazach (3:48)
04. Uścisk w dołku (3:38)
05. Muzykowanie latem (16:50)
06. Fikołek (14:53)

"Slovenian Girls" version track list:

A1 Julia 18:50
B1 Anna 19:30

- Józef Skrzek / vocals, keyboards, harmonica
- Apostolis Antymos / guitars
- Jerzy Piotrowski / drums, percussion

They really could do a movie about this band because their lives and careers were so interesting. They were constantly dealing with the communist government on one hand and the young people who were so thirsty for freedom and Rock music on the other hand. This album was recorded in Czechoslovakia where they were very popular, playing at times to a few hundred thousand young people. It just amazes me that they had the freedom to play in these European countries both communist and non-communist although they were also hassled and humiliated at border crossings because of this envied freedom they had. We get two side long tracks both over 19 minutes in length. I was surprised at all the synths and how spacey this is at times. I much prefer when they play with aggression because they play at a level that blows my mind.

 Everyone interested in roots of Eastern European progressive rock must to listen this band! It wasn't easy to play (and record) such kind of music in dark times, when half of Europe was under the rule of Soviet Russia controlled regimes.

S.B.B. in 70-s was quite a unique band. Mixing bluesy roots, psychedelic atmosphere and excellent rock musicianship with some dreamy, melodic and atmospheric Slavic traditions, they played music which was just as fresh air in dusty desert of culture of Socialistic realism.

I believe they were biggest name in the field of progressive rock all around Eastern Europe (there were just few more all around). Only Yugoslavia with their very democratic form of the same epidemic was a fruitful place for domestic rock culture.

This album was recorded in Czechoslovakia in April 1977 and released in the same country. It's interesting, that many S.B.B. albums were released outside of Poland ( in Czechoslovakia or Germany mostly). Sound quality is only average, sound is a bit flat, more on the standard from 60-s.

There are just two long compositions on this album (19+ minutes long each). And it is a great compositions! Trio consisting of keyboardist, guitarist and drummer, plays rich, full- bodied music. All musicians are very competent, and musicianship is very inspired. You can feel that magic in air!

The music itself is complex, but very melodic and atmospheric mix of symphonic roc, jazz rock and psychedelic sound. Listening to both these compositions, you will enjoy every second of music played.

One of the best band's works, the original LP was re-released on CD with 4 bonus tracks (two of them were recorded during the same session in Prague and released as single before, and other two were recorded in 1976 and never released before).

SBB - 1977 - Ze slowem biegne do ciebie

Ze slowem biegne do ciebie

01. Ze slowem biegne do ciebie (19:14)
02. Przed premiera (19:29)

Bonus track (CD):
03. Odejscie:
Tesknota / Wyzwolenie / Odejscie / Rozlam / Pojednanie (29:07)

- Józef Skrzek / bass, piano, moog, vocals
- Jerzy Piotrowski / percussion
- Antymos Apostolis / guitar

These two side long compositions were written in view of there being a whole orchestra. Both tracks were quite complex and it would be a difficult assignment to say the least for a rock band to try to play them. Well a funny thing happened as they went into the studio to record this album. The man who was financing the endeavour pulled out at the last minute leaving the band to either give up on these two tracks or try to play them on their own the best they could.They obviously chose the latter. In the liner notes the band talks about this time period in their history. "... we were developing our instrumentation and sound, after buying new equipment in Vienna and signing a deal with American distributer Norlin". It should be noted that they were the only Eastern European band to buy their equipment from the "For Music" company in Vienna. Other notables who bought their instruments from there were Rick Wakeman and Tony Banks.

"Ze Slowem Biegne Do Ciebie" opens with some experimental sounds before we get this beat that starts to build. Those unusual sounds continue though. Great sound here.The guitar starts to make some noise as it gets pretty intense. It kicks in before 3 minutes as the guitar solos over top. A wall of sound before it calms right down after 4 1/2 minutes. Resrved vocals arrive 6 minutes in and we get this uplifting full sound before 7 minutes.This sounds so good. Pounding drums after 11 minutes as vocals continue. Prominant bass and drums before 15 minutes as synths make some noise. A pastoral calm after 17 minutes and reserved vocals return before 18 minutes. Simply a fantastic composition.

"Przed Premiera" opens with different sounds building as the piano tinkles away. Drums come pounding in.This drummer is just amazing ! He puts on a show here but it's not a solo. I like the rhythm 3 1/2 minutes in. It settles right down before 7 minutes with some good guitar to follow.The bass is excellent as well. It becomes kind of spacey or dreamy after 11 minutes.The drums start to muscle in until they're quite powerful 12 1/2 minutes in.The drummer is blowing me away again after 14 1/2 minutes. Just an incredible soundscape here to the end.

I still can't get over how talented these three guys are. No doubt one of the best trios to ever play music. This album and the debut are must haves in my opinion.

SBB - 1975 - Pamiec


01. W kołysce dłoni twych (In The Cradle Of Your Hands (To My Father)) (Ojcu) (9:09)
02. Z których krwi krew moja (From Whose Blood, My Blood) (10:14)
03. Pamięć w kamień wrasta (Memory Grows Into Stone) (19:50)

Bonus tracks (CD):
04. Poranek nadziei (4:30)
05. Barwy drzewa (2:01)
06. Osiem rąk (4:40)
07. Waldie (9:13)
08. Niedokończona progresja (6:24)
09. Reko-reko (4:31)
10. Serenada Gia Sena (4:54)

- Jozef Skrzek / bass guitar, Fender piano, Hammond organ, synthesisers, vocals
- Antymos Apostolis / guitar
- Jerzy Piotrowski / percussion

SBB are architects of an irresistable cosmic prog sound, as long as you pick up the key albums from the '70s. 'Pamiec' is one of their best.

Even though SBB's music isn't extremely complicated or difficult doesn't make them any less captivating to even the most demanding ears. The dramatic qualities and the patience they exercise in building their songs are wonderful elements of their style. 'Pamiec' consists of three lengthy songs, each a fine representation of the band's style: jazzy, cosmic, synth-dominant, dramatic, it's all here, with occasional flurries of kinetic storms from drummer Jerzy Piotrowski and generally unpredictable dynamics. Mainman and bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Jozef Skrzek is cleary the guiding light, though he gives the other members plenty of room to move around. His vocals are full of conviction, sometimes fragile, sometimes triumphant, usually carrying a kind of lamenting/melancholy tone.

Some moments are crushingly beautiful ("From Whose Blood My Blood") and some are frightening in their dynamic range (the side-long "Memory Grows Into Stone"). The sounds are all an analog-loving synth-enthusiast could ask for, but it's so much more than just a showcase for Skrzek, as his compositions shine brightly throughout this eventful album, and the band chemistry reaches peak points all over the place. The instrumental balance is another highlight, guitar given plenty of presence amidst the other sounds, nothing ever battling for the spotlight, all of it working toward the strength of the song.

SBB - 1975 - Nowy horyzont

Nowy horyzont

01. Na Pierwszy Ogien (Curtain Raiser) 3:15
02. Blysk (A Flash) 2:45
03. Nowy Horyzont (The New Horizon) 7:47
04. Ballada O Pieciu Glodnych (A Ball 3:55
05. Wolnosc Z Nami (Freedom With Us) 20:00

Bonus tracks (CD):

06. Xeni (6:39)
07. Penia (15:59)
08. Dyskoteka (6:55)
09. Na Pierwszy Ogieñ (6:49)

- Jozef Skrzek / bass, piano, moog, vocals
- Antymos Apostolis / guitar
- Jerzy Piotrowski / percussion

At this early point of its career SBB started touring in West Germany with great success, followed by live shows in their homecountry as well as in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and even Sweden.The next step was to release their first studio album, which was finally recorded between September 74 and January 75' in Polish Radio and at the studios of Polskie Nagrania, both located in Warsaw.The album was entitled ''Nowy horyzont''.

You can forget about the total and endless improvisations of the debut, as SBB come up with a well-structured and quite personal sound in ''Nowy horyzont'', although a loose feeling is still evident in the arrangements.The first side contains four short- to mid-length tracks, where the group shows an ability to blend the groovy Heavy Rock with a keyboard-based Psychedelic Prog and the instrumental compositions are characterized by an intense power.The pounding bass lines of Skrzek meet his spacey keyboard solos and he is accompanied by the mature guitar playing of Anthimos and the solid drumming of Piotrowski.The strong doses of dynamic grooves and organ solos guarantee a very energetic style overall.The sole black hole seems to be ''Ballada O Pieciu Glodnych'', actually a narration of Skrzek with psych-sounding percussions and harmonica in the background.

The second side sums up the presented style of SBB in one composition, the 20-min. ''Wolnosc z nami''.Opening with Skrzek's emphatic piano, it continues with the vocal exercises of the same person before turning into the familiar style of SBB.The careful guitar of Anthimos is mixed with Skrzek's nice piano/bass/keyboard work in some minutes of more melodic delivery.The second part of the track shows why SBB were also an Avant-Garde act.Piano, synth- and vocal effects deliver an outlandish soundscape, before the trio returns with its heavy force of bass, guitars and drums in full display.The closer is a beautiful melancholic performance by Skrzek on piano.

With ''Nowy horyzont'' SBB open a new chapter in Polish Rock.Very flexible and dramatic style with both atmospheric and dynamic passages, not always succesful or flawless but definitely very attractive.Recommended.

SBB - 1974 - SBB


01. I Need You Baby (4:39) (not specified on LP cover!)
02. Odlot (incl. Odlecieæ z wami) (14:39)
03. Wizje (incl. Erotyk) (18:50)

Bonus tracks (CD):
04. Zosta³o we mnie (5:44)
05. Wicher w polu dmie [Obraz po bitwie (13:54)
06. Figo-Fago (13:09)
07. Toczy siê ko³o historii (8:35)

- Apostolis Antymos / electric guitar
- Jerzy Piotrowski / drums
- Józef Skrzek / bass, piano, Moog, vocals

SBB is one of the most important Polish bands of the seventies. This band, rightfully listed in the eclectic progressive genre, mainly plays a hybrid of symphonic prog, space/atmospheric prog and fusion.

The band originated from the early seventies, with their initial name being SILESIAN BLUES BAND. The band was formed by composer, keyboardist, bass-player and extravert vocalist Józef SKRZEK. Young, but skill-full guitar-player Antymos APOSTOLIS added his great solo's and drummer extraordinaire Jerzy PIOTROWSKi freely experimented with his recognizable fast fills and break-up rhythms.

In the end of '71, after a year full of gigs, the band started a fruitful cooperation with one of Polish most important musicians and song-writers: Czes³aw NIEMEN. For a year and a half the band NIEMEN toured in Poland, as well as in Europe. During this period SBB & NIEMEN recorded three critically acclaimed progressive records; "Marionetki" (1972), "Strange is This World" (1972) and "Ode to Venus" (1973). Czes³aw NIEMEN has his own page on the progarchives.

After this period SBB regrouped itself and changed its name in SZUKAJ - BURZ - BUDUJ (Search - Break - Build up). In 1974 their first album 'SBB' was recorded live. Though the album lacked cohesiveness (both piano ballads and very dirty experimental rock improvisation), it was a big hit in Poland and soon it ran out of stock. The record was sold on the black market for twice the price.

In 1975 SBB recorded its first studio album in the radio studios of Polish Radio 3. 'Nowy Horyzont' was a full-blown innovative and progressive recording that would set the course for the rest of their career. The political involvement in the lyrics of their studio-debut makes it a historical achievement, though it's recording doesn't stand the test of time very well. The band had some clear fusion influences (MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA is said to been a big influence), some spacey influences from bands like PINK FLOYD and some symphonic influences. The atmosphere of SBB's albums would however be a bit more abstract then those of their English colleagues. The drums of SBB stand out as very energetic and important for the band's intelligent atmospheres.

Late in 1975 SBB returned to the studio, resulting in their first swan-song ' Pamieç'. Three long songs, with full-blown and mature symphonic arrangements, vocal theatrics and long spacey/atmospheric passages. In 1977 SBB continued their eclectic prog style with 'Ze S³owem Biegnê Do Ciebie', with only two long epics on it. Both albums are considered to be great eclectic prog albums.

In 1977 and early 1978 SBB experimented with material with a leaning towards pop and funk-jazz. 'Jerzyk' and 'Amiga album' aren't considered to be classics of the band. But, 1978 showed yet another new course for SBB with the recording of 'Follow My Dream', a record with the goal to hit the Western European market. On this album SBB reinvented itself with a new, modern symphonic/progressive sound (reminding me a bit of the mid-seventies PINK FLOYD sound). Also, some of the lyrics were sung in English. The new arsenal of top-notch synthesizers and other equipment gave the band the sound it needed to make recordings that would stand the test of time. This move gave the band the opportunity to tour in many new countries and they were even allowed to tour behind the Iron Curtain, which was a big thing at the time.

The band would fully benefit from their new sound during the recording of 'Wo³anie O Brzêk Szk³a aka Slovenian Girls' in late 1978. Again, an album with only two long compositions, but this time with an emphasis on electronic equipment. To this day this album is mentioned as an SBB favorite by fans because of its well-balanced, great sounding progression. In 1979 SBB went to the studio to record 'Welcome', an album that was plagued by some mediocre compositions. Nevertheless, the opening-track 'Walking On A Stormy Bay' became a stage-favourite.

In 1979 a new band-member Slawomir PIWOWAR was added to release some pressure from the band that had some of most intensive touring schemes possible. He would play bass, second guitar and some key-instruments as well. A final come-back to the studio resulted in their last album 'Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem' in 1980. This album is their most symphonic record and perhaps their most conventional progressive record. Therefore it is accessible for fans of the English brand of symphonic prog. This album is also often mentioned as a fans favourite. After the following tour the band called it a day.

After some short comebacks in 1991, 1993 and 1998 the band had its final resurrection in the new millennium with a steady line-up consisting of Józef SKRZEK, Antymos APOSTOLIS and new drummer Paul WERTICO (of PAT MATHENY GROUP fame). Now SBB found itself ready to go back in the studio and since then five new studio albums were recorded in the vein of their seventies formula; 'Nastroje' (2002), 'New Century' (2005), 'The Rock' (2007), 'Iron Curtain'(2009) and finally 'Blue Trance'(2010). From 2004 on SBB also was able to record DVD's of live shows and several live albums have been released since their comebacks in nineties.

For fans of the progressive genre 'Pamieç', 'Ze Slowem Biegne do Ciebie', 'Follow my Dream', 'Slovenian Girls' and 'Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem' are highly recommend.

The first ever release of SBB and it's a Live album!

Already experienced musicians stretching out in a fashion that prior to this LP was unheard of in Eastern Europe. Indeed, rather uncommon anywhere else. Largely due to this work, SBB have actually established a new genre and influenced numerous other bands that sprung up like mushrooms as a consequence.

Soaring guitar and keyboard duels dominate the performance, somewhat reminiscent of Santana/McLaughlin duel on "Flame-Sky", Brand X "Malaga Virgen", or even "One Word" by Mahavishnu. The difference is that SBB extends these improvisations much further. If you are into that sort of delivery - as I certainly am - you'll find these pieces indispensable.

The odd lyrical track on vocals and piano wouldn't be missed, but considering the length of the performance, one is still left with ample material to pay attention to.

Some of the bonus tracks on the CD release are also part of this concert, representing matching material - in places perhaps even superior - that didn't fit onto the original LP.

Highly recommended!