Monday, February 8, 2016

Jacques Thollot - 1978 - Cinq Hops

Jacques Thollot 
Cinq Hops

01. On The Mountain (For Michèle) (4:00)
02. Four Four Five Eight (1:41)
03. Sur 12 Notes, Approximativement (4:19)
04. Turning On My Mind (0:41)
05. Aprelude (7:59)
06. Rush (0:17)
07. Seven (Bring Me So High) (4:40)
08. Promenade Grand Siècle (0:47)
09. Sur 9 Temps (0:48)
10. Gomind (2:58)
11. Cinq Hops (5:34)
12. Une Certaine Lumière Tourangelle (2:29)
13. Trois Ans Devant, Trois Ans Au-Delà, Un An Déjà (1:51)

- Jean-Paul Céléa / bass (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13)
- Michel Grailler / clavinet (4, 5, 7, 11, 13)
- Jacques Thollot / drums, electric piano, bass, percussion, clavinet(1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 to 11, 13)
- François Couturier / electric piano (1 to 5, 8, 10, 12, 13)
- Chris Howard / flute (3, 4, 12)
- François Jeanneau / sporano saxophone (1, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13)
- Elise Ross / vocals (1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11)

Of Thollot's late 70's discography, Cinq hops is probably the best or most estimed and probably his most accessible as well. First of all there is singing (Elise Ross), but second, it's almost as if Thollot was the leader of a group as well, although giving you the names wouldn't get you very far, unless you're deeply involved in the French jazz scene. Third, this is probably the album of his most easily to classify, other than avant-garde: Jazz Rock-Zeuhl with a touch of RIO. The album's title is a play on words of the jazz syncopation with Cinq Hops, and the abstract sleeve artwork.

The first part of the album is made of longer (usually sung) tracks that are separated by shorter (from 17 seconds to 101 seconds) instrumental pieces, sometimes a single instrument, others short bizarre montage (Rush) or orchestrated bits (Rush & Grand siècle). Starting on the classical-inspired On The Mountain (the bald one is my guess), with Elise Ross' singing over an electric piano, the album startles by its succession of weird turns in musical direction with the Four Four Five Eight (time sig) of a keyboard and drum duet and once more with Turning On My Mind (probably the most spell-binding track of the album that has some definitive Zeuhl influences, thollot sounding like Vander on this track. The album's longest track Aprelude is a great 8-minutes upbeat piece of music centred on Céléa's stand-up bass (and even includes a solo) as well as Thollot's drums. Nowhere is more evident the Zeuhl influence in Elise Ross' singing than in Seven, where she's countered first, then enhanced by a soprano sax.

But now well into the flipside, the succession of longer and shorter piece is now interrupted by having two short pieces in a row, the second of which presents the wild drumbeat & percussion duo Sur 9 Temps. Gomind ventures into semi-operatic singing, accompanied with a sax and bass, somehow reminiscent of Debussy. The title track song that resumes best the album's different elements, a bit of a conclusion avant la lettre. Lumière Tourangelle borders Univers Zero and Art Zoyd's realm and the finale does the same on piano.

Although still a bizarre album by normal standard, Cinq Hops is definitely the best entry point in Thollot's discography, and certainly his best work as well, although I have yet to revisit his previous album, not heard in some 20 years and I didn't get it at the time. Here, today, I finally "get" Cinq Hops' rich realm and lack of musical barriers

Jacques Thollot - 1977 - Résurgence

Jacques Thollot

01. Prologue (1:00)
02. Resurgence (3:14)
03. Valse (8:19)
04. Don't Tell Him Where We Are (5:34)
05. Extrait Des Pieces Pour Piano Opus 19 (1:23)
06. Eleven (8:21)
07. Maris (1:51)
08. Si Siggy Sonne (7:54)
09. Epilogue (1:00)

- Beb Guerin / bass
- Jacques Thollot / drums
- Naná Vasconcelos / percussion
- Siegfried Kessler / acoustic and Fender piano, clavinet, flute, percussion
- François Jeanneau / tenor and sporano saxophone, flute
- Frederique Gegenbach / vocals

An absolute gem. Playfull and vibrant prog /zeuhl, borrows from jazz and classical music to good effect. Valse is so cool with its re-occuring piano-crescando, but the whole album is just a joy.

Jacques Thollot - 1975 - Watch Devil Go

Jacques Thollot 
Watch Devil Go

01. Kanephoros
02. Up-Downs
03. Watch Devil Go
04. In Extenso
05. Go Mind
06. Trypyique Pour La Foire Des Ténèbres (Ray Bradburry) -
  a) Et Les Années De Ta Vie Seront Multipliées
  b) Comme Un Fou Lié Pour Le Chatiment Jusqu'A Ce Qu'Une Flêche Lui Perce Le Foie
  c) Comme Un Oiseau Se Précipite Vers La Mer Sans Se Douter Qu'Il Y A Pour Lui De Sa Vie
07. Le Ciel Manque De Généalogie
08. Kamikaze's Nightmare
09. Entre Java Et Lombok
10. Eddy G. Always Present
11. Before In
12. Eleven
13. La Dynastie Des Wittelsbach
14. 1883-1945, Heavens
15. Au Stylo Feutre, Un Paysage
16. Canéphore

- J.-F. Jenny-Clark / bass, vocals
- Jacques Thollot / drums, piano, synthesizer
- François Jeanneau / tenor saxophone, flute, synthesizer

French drummer Jacques Thollot started playing with jazz bands at an early age towards the end of the 1950's, being recognized as a prodigy child. One can find clips of him from 1958 playing the drums at the age of 13 in a night club with a jazz band (Barney Wilen Trio). He would pass his teenage years in this surrounding developing his musical vision which would be much wider and more experimental than what he used to play during that time.
His first release, which is also the most striking one, released on the Futura Records in 1971, is called "Quand Le Son Devient Aigu, Jeter La Giraffe A La Mer"; it is a splendid example of spacey-like, fragile and imaginative compositional style fusing jazz, electronic experiments, psychedelic elements and rock together, culminating in a blissful listening experience and it has earned Thollot the place in the NWW list.
Thollot went on to release 4 more albums, "Watch The Devil Go" (1975), Résurgence (1977), Cinq Hops (1978) and most recently Tenga Niña (1996). Whereas the first album is the one of most interest to those looking for the avant-prog/experimental side of his, the others are more jazz-oriented and include vocals. Of these the most notable and recommended is Cinq Hops with its more structured and direct approach (compared to Quand Le Son.) and contains and female-vocals fronting in a chant-like style with the rest of the band providing an ethereal atmosphere, making this a very pleasant album to listen to with a touch of Magma-like zeuhl elements and style.

Jacques Thollot - 1971 - Quand Le Son Devient Aigu, Jeter La Girafe A La Mer

Jacques Thollot 
Quand Le Son Devient Aigu, Jeter La Girafe A La Mer

01. Cécile   
02. Position Stagnante De Réaction Stationnaire   
03. Enlevez Les Boulons, Le Croiseur Se Désagrège   
04. Mahagony Extraits   
05. Qu'ils Se Fassent Un Village, Ou Bien C'est Nous Qui S'en Allons   
06. Aussi Long Que Large   
07. Quiet Days In Prison   
08. De D.C. Par J.T.   
09. Virginie Ou Le Manque De Tact   
10. N.G.A.,   
11. Aussi Large Que Long  
12. Quand Le Son Devient Aigu, Jeter La Girafe À La Mer   
13. Marche   
14. A Suivre   

Recorded 8/9 March 1971 at Studio Europasonor (Gaîté - Paris).

Drums, Percussion, Piano, Organ, Effects [Electronic] – Jacques Thollot

A true masterpiece ! Jacques, Thollot one of the most gifted french drummer, plays all the instruments on his 1st album. A free jazz record with a progressive approach, this has truely unique sound made up of collages, short, strange pieces. Thollot is simply more than a talented jazz drummer but he proved in 4 albums that he is simply one the most creative composers we had in France this last 40 years !

Ashes - 1970 - Ashes Featuring Pat Taylor

Ashes Featuring Pat Taylor

01. Gone To Sorrow
02. Sleeping Serenade
03. Homeward Bound
04. Sands Of Love
05. My Life Has Changed
06. Return Home
07. Her Invention
08. Look Around Rock
09. The Now
10. Rainbows
11. Simple Complexities

Al Brackett: Bass
John Merrill: Guitar
Pat Taylor: Vocals
Jim Vorght: Drums

The only album ever from The Ashes -- a group who both pre-dated and post-dated Peanut Butter Conspiracy -- morphing into that famous act after an initial 60s run, then changing back to Ashes form with this group featuring female singer Pat Taylor! Taylor's got a style that's folksy, but a bit fierce too -- a quality that almost gives the group a Jefferson Airplane sound on vocals, but a bit lighter overall and not nearly as trippy. Tunes are relatively straightforward, occasionally a bit rootsy -- late 60s California underground work at its best, although more Northern Cali than southern. Titles include "My Life Has Changed", "Sands Of Love", "Sleeping Serenade", "Gone To Sorrow", "Simple Complexities", "Look Around Rock", and "Her Invention"

The above line-up is that featured on the album. This Los Angeles band's original drummer was, of course, Spencer Dryden, before he joined Jefferson Airplane. The remaining members, aside from Taylor, later teamed up with Bill Wolff, Lance Feat and Sandi Robinson to become The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

The Ashes also have four tracks (both sides of their first two singles) on the 1967 Vault compilation, West Coast Love-In (LP). Every Little Prayer, Is There Anything I Can Do?, Dark On You Now and Roses Gone are all characterised by the distinctive melodies that typified so many mid-sixties English bands like The Fortunes. They feature Sandi Robinson rather than Pat Taylor on vocals. Their album is well worth a spin. A very hippyish sixties album with nice lead vocals. (Fuzz, Acid & Flowers)

The Ashes were a folk-rock group formed in 1965 that included John Merrill (guitar/ vocals), Alan Brackett (bass/ vocals), Barbara Robison (vocals), Spencer Dryden (drums) and Jim Cherniss (guitar/ vocals). Before they were known as the Ashes, the group called themselves the Young Swingers and released two long lost 45s under that name: "Love Her Every Day" b/w "Or Else You'll Cry" (Courtney 746) and "Let's Take Our Love" b/w "The Winds Up High" (Portafino 901) . From the summer of 1965 up until May of 1966, the Ashes served as the house band at a club in Santa Monica called the Waleback. They released their first single under their new moniker in 1966: "Is There Anything I Can Do?" b/w "Every Little Prayer" (Vault 924). The a-side was written by Jackie DeShannon and featured a fine lead vocal from Barbara Robison. This 45, along with its follow-up "Dark on You Now" b/w "Roses Gone" (Vault 936), also appeared on the 1967 compilation WEST COAST LOVE-IN (Vault 7980). Around the time of the first Ashes single, Spencer Dryden left to replace Skip Spence in Jefferson Airplane. Jim Cherniss also exited the group at this time.

With the addition of two new members, the band was transformed into the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, who of course recorded two albums for Columbia in 1967. John Merrill resurrected Ashes in late 1968, around the same time that Alan Brackett was working on the tracks that would ultimately constitute the PBC's FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES album. The new Ashes recorded their debut LP for Vault Records that year; it stands today as a staple of the collector's market, routinely fetching $50 or more on eBay. The album also featured singer Pat Taylor standing in for Barbara Robison (who could not appear on the record due to contractual obligations). The LP's release was delayed until 1970, while two songs from the record-- "Homeward Bound" b/w "Sleeping Serenade" (Vault 975)-- were issued as a 45 in 1971.

Ars Nova - 1969 - Sunshine & Shadows

Ars Nova 
Sunshine & Shadows

01. Sunshine & Shadows — 3:09
02. I Was Once — 3:01
03. Temporary Serenade — 3:05
04. She Promises Everything — 3:22
05. Well, Well, Well — 3:00
06. You Had Better Listen — 4:07
07. Round Once Again — 3:22
08. Walk On The Sand — 6:26
09. Rubbish — 3:34
10. Please Don’t Go Now — 5:54

Wyatt Day — guitar, vocals
Sam Brown — lead guitar
Joe Hunt — drums, percussion
Art Koenig — bass
Jimmy Owens — trumpet
Jon Pierson — bass trombone, vocals
Warren Bernhardt — keyboards

"Sunshine & Shadows" is one of the most unique sounding late 60's efforts put to wax. An early example of "Jazz-Rock" fusion of sorts, this release boasts the talents of Wyatt Day who sings and writes pretty satisfying lyrics, Sam Brown, who provides lead guitar, Jimmy Owens, who plays some very tasty trumpet, and Warren Bernhardt, who adds a nice keyboard timbre. All in all this album has a great deal of variety ranging from "Old-Timey" sounding tunes like "Rubbish" to delicate statements like "She Promises Everything" to powerful rock items like the title track and "Please Don't Go Now." Do yourself a favor and pick this recording up, put it in an auto cd player - turn up the volume and cruise down the highway! The alternative is to invite friends over for a get-together and turn them on to this neglected fusion masterpiece! A must have!

Ars Nova - 1968 - Ars Nova

Ars Nova
Ars Nova

01. Pavan for my lady 2:45
02. General Clover ends a war 2:12
03. And how am I to know 4:45
04. Album in your mind 3:01
05. Zarathustra 3:30
06. Fields of people 2:52
07. Automatic love 4:05
08. I wrapped her in ribbons 2:18
09. Song to the city 2:08
10. March of the mad duke's circus 3:17

Jon Pierson - bass trombone & lead vocal
Wyatt Day - rhythm guitar, piano, organ, vocal
Maury Baker - percussion & organ
Giovanni Papalia - lead guitar
Bill Folwell - trumpet, string bass, vocal
Jonathan Raskin - bass, guitar, vocal

Ars Nova's first release was intermittently intriguing eclectic psychedelic rock with a slight classical influence, as well as some unusual instrumentation in the bass trombone of lead singer Jon Pierson and the trumpet and string bass of Bill Folwell. The songs -- often linked by brief interludes -- are a mixed bag, though, that seem to indicate a confusion over direction, or a bit of a psychedelic throw-in-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. There are haunting tunes with a folk-rock base and a faint Renaissance ballad melodic influence, jaunty narratives with a vaudevillian air that bear the mark of then-recent albums such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and harder-rocking period psychedelic tracks with a bent for unpredictable bittersweet progressions and vocal harmonies. It's unusual, and in some senses attractive. But to be less charitable, there's a sense of listening to a generic psychedelic band that sounds better than many such acts mostly by virtue of benefiting from Elektra's high-class production, here handled by Paul Rothchild of Doors fame. Put another way, the songs themselves aren't as good as their arrangements. "Fields of People," about the best of those songs, might be the most famous one here due to getting covered in an elongated treatment by the Move, who did a better job with it than Ars Nova.

Archimedes Badkar & Afro 70 Band - 1978 - Bado Kidogo

Archimedes Badkar & Afro 70 Band 
Bado Kidogo

01. Kila Mtu (Everybody) (6:09)
02. Kwa Vile Nakupenda (Because I Love You) (5:33)
03. Nimashaka (Doubts) (5:41)
04. Bado Kidogo (Not Yet) (4:07)
05. Leo Harusi (Wedding Day) (3:59)
06. Darafo/ Darkpen (Funeral Music From Ghana) (12:28)

Tommy Adolfsson - trumpet, drums
Jörgen Adolfsson - violin, sax, recorder, mandolin, acoustic guitar
Christer Bjernelind - bass, percussion, mandolin, guitar, piano
Per Tjernberg - keyboards, clarinet, percussion
Pysen Eriksson - vibraphone, percussion (1-3)
Kjell Andersson - percussion, clarinet (1-2)
Peter Rönnberg - guitar (1)
Mats Hellqvist - guitar, bass (1)
Bengt Berger - percussion (2-4)
Peter Ragnarsson - tablas (2-3)
Ingvar Karkoff - keyboards, vocals, guitar (2)
Anita Livstrand - tambura (2)
Kjell Westling - flute, bouzouki (2)
Christer Bothén - sax
Sigge Krantz - guitar, bass
Dick Unga - Congas, vocals
Patrick Balisidya - Electric Guitar, vocals
Sophie Nzuki-Balisidya - Shekere, vocals

 Archimedes badkar's fourth and final record is a co-operation with the Tanzanian band Afro 70. It was released in 1978 on MNW records. I must say it's quite different music from my point of view. When they earlier played world music I felt it wasn't real. I prefer african music from african bands and opposite and this felt constrained. I don't say you can't get inspiration from very corner of the musical world but for my personal taste it's a part of being original to begin in your motherhood. On this record the world music becomes more real because of the collaboration with Afro 70. It works well but still I am not content, perhaps it's just not my cup of tea. In tea I prefer teas like Sir William, Fortmason or Lapsong Souchong.
Well...This album "Bado Kidogo" contains good work from great musicians. Especially the blow instruments dominates. On track is wonderful; I am talking about the title track "Bado Kidogo" with a wonderful melody in both verses and refrain and great solo from the saxophone players. Also "Kila mtu" shows something of the best here with wonderful song and trumpets. "DarafoDarkpen" is perhaps the most obvious jazz tune here. It's long and seems improvised. i would call it a jazz orgy, so sure it will gain fans, it people would hear it. Though, I don't like it. There are nice vibes from Africa in "Kwa vile Nakupenda", "Nimashaka" and "Leo Harusi" and they show different aspects of our big musical world.
I break ranks with most Archimedes Badkar fans when I don't bemoan their dramatic shift to the Fela Kuti sound on their fourth album, because they totally nail it here!  In fact, by a small margin I rate this higher than the first three albums and all their unique Krautrocky goodness. Let the hatemail be

Aquila - 1970 - Aquila


01. Change Your Ways 5:18
02. How Many More Times 6:22
03. While You Were Sleeping 5:25
04. We Can Make It If We Try 4:35
05. The Aquila Suite - First Movement 8:29
   a) Aquila (Introduction)
   b) Flight of the Golden Bird
06. The Aquila Suite - Second Movement 8:52
   a) Cloud Circle
   b) The Hunter
   c) The Kill
07. The Aquila Suite - Third Movement 8:57
   a) Where Do I Belong
   b) Aquila (Conclusion)

- Ralph Denyer / vocals, electric & acoustic guitars
- Phil Childs / Fender bass & piano
- George Lee / flute & Alto, Soprano, Tenor and Baritone saxes
- Martin Woodward / Hammond organ
- James Smith / drums, timpani, various percussion

Welsh band Aquila arose from the ashes of late 1960's band BLONDE ON BLONDE. Founding guitarist Ralph Denyer left that band in 1970 to work on his Aquila project. Blonde on Blonde recruited new vocalist/guitarist David Thomas (an old school friend of Denyer) to replace Denyer, and went on to record their best album "Rebirth".

Aquila's music, while substantially based in art rock, draws in influences from a diverse range of influences, including jazz and heavy rock. Deyner was the clear leader of the band, writing all the songs on their sole release, a self titled album.

Quite what happened to the band thereafter, and why they split up so quickly is something of a mystery, especially since they were signed to a major label (RCA). Wind instrumentalist George Lee joined ARRIVAL, a mainly vocal collaboration who enjoyed brief singles success before his arrival with the song "Friends". ( notes that this is the same George Lee who was born in Ghana, real name Kwame Narh Kojo Larnyoh, who was a member of Burning Spear and Toots & the Maytals, but I suspect this is inaccurate.)

No photos of the band appear to exist, even the images on the album sleeve are sketches of each band member. The image on this page is taken from the LP sleeve.

The sole "Aquila" album ended up in the bargain bins of the UK, but ironically, is now a sought after rarity.

1970 band Aquila's only release was this self titled album. In that year, founding member of Welsh proto-prog outfit Blonde on Blonde, Ralph Denyer, left that band to go it alone. He brought in four other musicians including George Lee, a dedicated wind instrumentalist and the five piece Aquila was formed.

Denyer is the clear leader, writing all the material on the album. He did however entrust production duties to Patrick Campbell-Lyons who at the time formed 50% of the real Nirvana, i.e. the late 60's early 70's proto-prog outfit, not the grunge band from Seattle.

Whenever I play this album, and even though I bought it over 30 years ago I still do so on regular occasions, right from the start I find myself anticipating the sensational ending section. I am of course doing so again here, and we should return to the beginning.

The album is split into two distinct halves. Side one has four self contained tracks which range from jazz rock to psychedelic proto-prog, while all the while remaining firmly in art rock territory. Side two is taken up entirely by the "Aquila suite", a 26 minute venture in three parts, delving into much deeper territories.

The opening track "Change your ways" has a jazz tinge to a rock basis. The mid-pace of the song seems quickened by the driving beat of the rhythm section. The track is reminiscent of the early work of CHICAGO, with a similar gruff vocal. "How many more times" is a slightly softer Hammond organ based piece with overlain flute and still that strong rhythm section, perhaps reminiscent of MOUNTAIN. The strength of the melody and the passionate vocals, together with a lengthy Rod ARGENT organ style solo make this one of the album's highlights. This track in particular is reminiscent of the music of STEAMHAMMER.

"While you were sleeping" is the closest of the set to Denyer's former band, with a more psychedelic feel. The literal echoing of the vocal line by the sax is quite striking, the song being very similar to TEN YEARS AFTER's "Love Like a man" from their "Cricklewood Green" album released the same year. Side one closes with "We can make it if we try", which combines light pop verses with loose thunderous choruses. The instrumental break is a jazz sax solo backed by Hammond organ. Some nice bass work by Phil Childs here too.

And so to the crux of the album, "The Aquila Suite". The first movement opens with a brief solo flute rendition of the closing theme before the band burst in and we're straight into a Hammond led blues rock rhythm. The feel is slightly JETHRO TULL ("Thick as a brick" era) accentuated not just by the presence of flute and organ, but by the way the former is played. Once again, the rhythm section drive the track along as it twists and turns through various instrumental leads and occasional "Fly high" verses. Midway through, a percussion break (as opposed to drum solo) intervenes, not unlike OSIBISA's contribution to the closing section to URIAH HEEP's "Look at yourself".

The brief first part of the "Second Movement" is entitled "Cloud circle", the music being onomatopoeic as it moves from flute to organ. This is followed by "The hunter", a slower section with more of a blues feel, but lyrically the song is perfunctory serving only to carry the concept forward. "The kill" lifts the pace, as the high pitched organ backed by dramatic percussion simulates the bird of prey's dive for it quarry, the sax leads the ever increasing pace until the deed is done.

The third movement is what we have been anticipating right from the start, and is for me one of the most delightful pieces of music in my collection. There are two distinct sections, "Where do I belong" and "Aquila (conclusion)". "Where do I belong" is an uplifting, emotional ballad with sensitive lyrics which prolong the bird of prey analogy in a personal context. Here the organ is swirling and ever present, while saxes carry the main theme coming to the fore for the almost smooth solo section. During the solo, the Hammond is all the while raising the emotion of the piece until Denyer brings things to a wonderful conclusion. Acoustic guitar backs Denyer's link vocal which ends with a single held note on the organ. The held note swells driven on by rolling drums before bursting in to the magnificent closing section. This organ and multi-tracked sax wall of sound is simply awesome. Think "Hamburger concerto" (Focus), think "I want you" (Beatles), and your approaching the majesty of the conclusion. As endings to an album go, this is the standard by which others should be judged.

In all, an unjustly lost album from 1970. It is perhaps George Lee's contribution which distinguishes "Aquila" from other releases of the time, his multi- instrumental talents giving each track a unique flavour. Ralph Denyer's own contribution though should not be under-played. As sole songwriter and vocalist, as well as lead guitarist, he takes great credit for the way he exploits the talents of his fellow band members. Highly recommend, if you can find it!

The Aquarians - 1969 - Jungle Grass

The Aquarians 
Jungle Grass

01. Bayu-Bayu   
02. Adela   
03. The Aquarians    3
04. What Do You Mean, What Do I Mean?   
05. Excuses, Excuses   
06. Batakum   
07. The Head   
08. Saja   
09. Jungle Grass
10. Mucho Soul   

Joe Pass (Guitar)
Dave MacKay (Vocals)
Francisco Aguabella (Conga drums & Percussion)
Stanley Gilbert (Bass)
Carl Lott (Drums)
Joe Roccisano (flute, alto flute & sax (Alto))
Vladimir Vassilieff (Piano)
The Gemini Twins-(vocal)
Vicky Hamilton (voice on 1, 6 & 7)
Lynn Blessing(on 2 & 10)-(vibes)
Stan Gilbert, Al Mckibbon(on 2 & 10)-(bass)

Recorded at Sunwest Recording Studio and Whitney Recording Studio in Hollywood, January 1969.

Finally got my hands on a copy of this great lp masterminded by Vladimir Vassilieff and featuring Bobby Hutcherson. This one really grows on you and comes highly recommended with our seal of approval.
And by the way who thinks Stereolab sound like they've had a good listen to The Gemini Twins vocals on The Aquarians ?
Part of the strange California zodiac pop funk scene, the Aquarians took astrology rock in several interesting and generally unexplored directions. While primarily the brainchild of composer, arranger, and pianist Vladimir Vassilieff, the Aquarians were actually a supergroup of talented jazz musicians. Featuring Stan Gilbert, a much in-demand bassist at the time, and the incomparable Afro-Cuban percussion of Francisco Aguabella, the Aquarians blended a one love hippie philosophy with smooth, Latin-tinged jazz. Their first, and only, album, Jungle Grass sounds close to related astrology rockers Friends of Distinction (which also featured Stan Gilbert) and the 5th Dimension. While evidencing a nominal interest in astrology, the tracks on Jungle Grass are, at the core, jazz with a heavy Afro-Cuban (evident in the percussion), and possibly a Brazilian Tropicalia (evident in the vocals), influence. On an album packed with talent, there are few solos and no showboating -- the performance of each member is subservient to the groove. On the opener, "Bayu-Bayu," Aguabella lays down several beautiful fills over the sing-song vocal. "Batakum" features nice sax work by Joe Roccisano playing under the sign of Pharoh Sanders. A solid but not explosive album, Jungle Grass is definitely an under appreciated effort and is currently sought after by certain DJs for its little sampled piano flourishes and percussion breaks.

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band - 1969 - Apple Pie

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band 
Apple Pie

01. Orangutang — 7:29
02. I Just Want To Make Love To You — 4:04
03. Brown Eyed Handsome Man — 3:15
04. Grandmother Hooker — 3:02
05. Get Ready — 4:24
06. Super Music Man — 4:16
07. Gypsy — 3:22
08. He Turned You On — 4:18

Bruce Paine — lead vocals
Michael Sorafine — guitar, vocals
Ted Demos — guitar, vocals
Jef Labes — keyboards
Adam Myers — harmonica, vocals
Dick Barnaby — bass, bamboo flute
Jack Bruno — drums
Tom Dowd — producer

New York-by-way-of-Boston group the Apple Pie Motherhood Band were among the earlier psychedelic/heavy rock acts signed by Atlantic Records. Their self-titled late-'60s debut LP (also reissued on CD by Collectors' Choice Music) mixed hard rock jamming and shorter, more pop-folk-rock-influenced songs to, as keyboardist Jef Labes puts it, produce a sound "like the energy of an East Coast version of what was up in San Francisco at that time." Those qualities were also found in their second and final album, Apple Pie, though with a pronounced tilt toward a heavier hard rock/R&B direction. In part that was due to a changeover in personnel that saw one member of the lineup from the first LP leave, and three new musicians join the group.

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band had already gone through a couple of personnel changes by the time their first album was finished. Original lead singer Anne Tanzey, who sang lead on their first 45, departed before the LP, and replacement Marilyn Lundquist only lasted a little while, the guys in the band ultimately handling the album's lead vocals themselves. Before Apple Pie, rhythm guitarist Joe Castagno left, as he "basically wasn't very well suited to the road," lead guitarist Ted Demos explains. "He didn't like it a bit. He just decided that he wasn't cut out for that kind of lifestyle at all." Fortifying the lineup would be new singer Bruce Paine, along with guitarist Michael Sorafine and harmonica player Adam Myers. Producing was Tom Dowd, engineer on countless Atlantic Records sessions dating back to its origins as an R&B/blues label, and recently starting to assume more duties in the production chair.

"I came in when they had heard about me playing  in the basket houses in Greenwich Village, and they were looking for a singer," says Paine today. "They came down to the Cafe Wha? one night and saw me, and we met later. They basically said, 'Hey, you want to sing rock and roll?' I had been playing folk music up to that point, and it sounded like a good idea to me. I had just finished going round and round with RCA Records. Initially I had signed with RCA for a solo album, and the producer I was working with went independent. They wouldn't let me use him as an independent; they were giving me some old guy that was orchestrating stuff. So I was like, 'Okay, I want out of here.' They came at the right time with the right offer, and it was an instant love affair. Michael was pretty much doing the same thing I was doing, playing music around the Village. We had a whole crew of people that just hung out, and the band was kind of like, 'Come on along, why don't you join the band for a while? We're going on tour.' Michael had some really strong songs he had been writing, and they just said, 'Hey look, c'mon in. Let's make it two lead singers up front, and we like your material.'"

Adds Bruce, "Now Adam was a trip. We met Adam in Chicago when we were playing a place called Rush. Ted grabbed me one night after the show and says, 'Hey man, you gotta come meet this guy. There's this harp player I met the other night in a dryer.' I said, 'What do you mean, in a dryer?' He said, 'Yeah, he was tumble-drying himself and playing the harp.' And I said, 'Okay, I gotta check this out.' So there's some old railroad tracks back up behind Rush Street [where] we went looking for him. For some reason, Ted knew where to find him. And I heard this wailing harp coming down the tracks, just couldn't believe how good it was. So there's Adam. Adam I think took too much acid. He was out there from day one, from the moment I met him. We'd slap him on the back, 'play Adam,' slap him on the back, 'stop Adam,' and that was his participation. He did one tour with us and hung out in Vermont while we put together the second album, and of course he's all over it."

Though Jef Labes had written more of the band's original material than anyone else on the first album, he penned just one track on Apple Pie, "Super Music Man." Sorafine wrote two songs, "Orangutang" and "Grandmother Hooker," and co-wrote another, "He Turned You On," with a friend from outside the band, Don Henny. Other than Demos's "Gypsy," the rest of the record was devoted to R&B covers, including Willie Dixon's classic "I Just Want to Make Love to You" (originally popularized by Muddy Waters), Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," and the Temptations' "Get Ready." As Labes observes, "By the time we added vocal power with our new personnel, they brought with them lots of tunes, especially Michael, who years later and at the time, was a well-liked collaborator of mine. Consequently my contribution was much less on the second album, which was a strange series of sessions, and undoubtedly a misuse of the talents of Tom Dowd, the legend."

"He was tearing his hair out," says Paine about Dowd. "We were a bunch of acid freaks loaded to the gills trying to lay down tracks, and Tom was in the booth trying to make sense of it. I think at the same time, he was producing Aretha [Franklin] and Cream, and of course Cream was their own bundle of fun and games too. So by the time he got to us at nighttime, he was pretty stressed. It was amazing that the album got done. We were even more amazed that it got released. And when they released it, I think Tom left the mixing to one of his assistants, 'cause the mix wasn't anything close to what we had hoped or thought it would be."

"I wasn't really happy with the mix," concurs Demos. "But there were some things on it that reflected what I wanted to do at the time. I liked 'Gypsy' a lot, even though it never came together the way I wanted it to, for one reason or another. I brought in the violin player, who I'd been introduced to by this crazy friend of mine, who was a player from the New York Philharmonic. That was my sort of rude awakening that classical musicians don't necessarily improvise all that well. The results were kind of sketchy, but I liked that tune a lot; I was pretty happy with that."

Remarks Paine, "I liked 'Get Ready' a lot. The one thing I'm totally displeased about is we recorded 'Hello Stranger,' the old Barbara Lewis number [a #3 hit in 1963]. I heard it once on the radio. Never got a copy of it, never heard it since. They've lost it in the archives, and it was probably one of the best vocals I did in those days. I never got to hear the damn thing past one short clip on the radio."

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band, however, would not be together for long after Apple Pie came out, in part because of problems surrounding its release. "By the time this album was ready for release, [manager Marvin] Lagunoff had gone to war with us for moving to Vermont, settling on a farm, and booking our own dates at local colleges," says Labes. "Therefore, under his direction, the company held back shipment of the second Apple Pie album." In addition, Jef reveals, "Meanwhile, Ahmed Ertegun at Atlantic had the idea to do an album with a trio of amazing rock guitarists.  He chose for this project Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, and Ted Demos. Unfortunately for Ted, this idea got lost along the way."

Paine thinks the band must have broken up by the summer of 1969, considering his memory of the following incident: "I was walking down Bleecker Street [in Greenwich Village], and I saw a Volkswagen van with California plates on it. I walked up to the guy and asked him when he was heading to California. He said, 'Well, I'm going to San Francisco in an hour.' And I said, 'Wait a minute, I gotta go back to my hotel. Can I ride with you?' I think by June, I was in the San Francisco production of Hair."

Demos and Paine are still playing music together today, and even living in the same neighborhood, Paine working on a book titled Rock'n'roll Chronicles, aka Almost Conscious. Drummer Jack Bruno has toured and recorded extensively with Tina Turner and Joe Cocker, and Labes went on to play on several albums by Van Morrison in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as some of Bonnie Raitt's 1970s LPs. As for the Apple Pie Motherhood Band's legacy, Labes summarizes it this way: "We did in many ways embody the spirit and feeling of the movement for change of that period of drug enhancement, sexual freedom, and the politics of peace." 

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band - 1968 - The Apple Pie Motherhood Band

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band 
The Apple Pie Motherhood Band

01. Born Under A Bad Sign — 7:05
02. I’d Like To Know — 2:15
03. Ice — 2:31
04. Yesterday’s New Song — 3:14
05. Barnaby’s Madness — 2:45
06. The Ultimate/Contact — 7:13
07. The Way It Feels — 2:27
08. Bread And Jam — 3:14
09. Apple Pie — 2:55
10. Variations On A Fingernail — 3:15

Ted Demos — lead guitar
Joe Castagno — rhythm guitar
Richard Barnaby — bass
Jeff Labes — organ, piano
Jackie Bruno — drums
Felix Pappalardi — producer

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band were a Boston-based aggregate combining a formative heavy blues base with equally earthy elements of psychedelia. With Atlantic Records staff producer Felix Pappalardi behind the console, the results were a reflection of the ever-changing pop/rock soundscape.

Although the band' s lineup would remain in a constant state of flux, the ensemble credited here includes Dick Barnaby (bass), Jack Bruno (drums), Joe Castagno (guitar), Ted Demos (guitar), and Jeff Labes (organ/piano). Although Anne Tanzey, their original "chick" (a la Janis Joplin) singer had already split by the time they were recording this -- their self-titled debut album -- Marilyn Lundquist (vocal) was temporarily filling the vocalist's void.

Her dulcet tones grace several songs -- particularly notable is the Baroque-flavored update of David Blue's "I'd Like to Know" and the trippy "Ice," which Lundquist co-wrote alongside Demos. The thoroughly explored reading of Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" is an obvious homage to British supergroup trio Cream who had previously reworked it into a blues-fused jam. Listeners can even catch Barnaby's note-for-note recitation of Jack Bruce's foreboding bassline during the waning moments of the fade. Labes' "Yesterday's New Song" is a minor-chord masterwork.

The gentle and understated melody perfectly supports some of the Apple Pie Motherhood Band's best vocal harmonies -- recalling the Association or Spanky & Our Gang at their affective best. Barnaby contributes the catchy and concise "Barnaby's Madness," and while the psych-meets-punk vibe is an earmark of the unit's Bosstown Sound roots, to a certain degree, the best of the band can be heard on the seven-plus minute slice of psych medley that links the group-penned instrumental "The Ultimate" to a blue-eyed soulful interpretation of Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon's "Contact."

The number was a return to the Apple Pie Motherhood Band's prototype C.C. & the Chasers -- whose single "Put the Clock Back on the Wall" b/w "Two & Twenty" were both from the Bonner/Gordon songbook. Labes' quirky "The Way It Feels" may well have been inspired by Sopwith Camel's vintage sounding "Hello, Hello," while his upbeat "Apple Pie" is layered in sweet, harmony-laden sunshine pop.

Labes likewise penned the closer "Variations on a Fingernail" that propels forward with tricky rhythmic syncopation reminiscent of early Mothers of Invention melodies such as "Mother People" and "Oh No." The Apple Pie Motherhood Band would continue with a revolving door personnel for another year and release their swan song Apple Pie (1970) shortly before breaking up at the dawn of the following decade.

Apple - 1969 - An Apple A Day

An Apple A Day


01. Let’s Take A Trip Down The Rhine – 2:59
02. Doctor Rock – 3:08
03. The Otherside – 3:18
04. Mr. Jones – 2:51
05. The Mayville Line – 2:55
06. Queen Of The Hearts Blues – 2:30
07. Rock Me Baby – 3:30
08. Buffalo Billycan – 3:05
09. Photograph – 4:11
10. Psycho Daisies – 2:24
11. Sporting Life – 5:52
12. Pretty Girl Love You – 2:43
13. Let’s Take A Trip Down The Rhine (Bonus Single Mix) – 3:05
14. Buffalo Billycan (Bonus Single Mix) – 3:08
15. Doctor Rock (Bonus Single Mix) – 3:12
16. The Otherside (Bonus Single Mix) – 3:20

* Dennis Regan / vocals
* Robbo Ingram / guitar
* Jeff Harrod / bass
* Charlie Barber / piano
* Dave Brassington / drums

Apple is a rather typical British psychedelic-pop group of the late ’60s. Their sound is characterized by a blend of spiky guitar and piano, as well as accomplished harmonies. They were one of the few groups from the period that managed to release an album, it was the singles that this group produced that gained them their reputation and paved the way for their sole album.

“An Apple A Day”, is a fine mixture of piano based psych pop / psychedelic and heavier R&B / garage songs. Their first two 45s are included and these four tracks are among its finer moments. “The Otherside” truly bends the ear with with its wonderful sad melody and captivating piano-guitar arrangement. Another highlight is “Buffalo Billy Can” with its similar inventive guitar and piano figures.

The album was a commercial failure, and the band ceased to exist shortly after its release. However, during the subsequent years several of its tracks were dubbed classics of British psychedelic rock by critics, making “An Apple A Day” a famous album among the British psychedelic rarities.

Apoteosi - 1975 - Apoteosi


01. Embrion (2:35)
02. Prima Realta / Frammentaria Rivolta (14:40)
03. Il Grande Disumano / Oratorio (Chorale) / Attesa (8:36)
04. Dimensione Da Sogno (3:48)
05. Apoteosi (5:50)

- Marcello Surace / drums
- Federico Idà / bass, flute
- Franco Vinci / guitar, vocals
- Silvana Idà / vocals
- Massimo Idà / keyboards, synthesizer
- Coro Alessandroni / choir (in Oratorio)

APOTEOSI is a prime example of the countless Italian bands of the 1970s that disappeared after the release of one hit-and-run album. They seem to have been very much a family thing, with the Idà clan firmly at the band's core; their line-up consisted of Massimo Idà (keyboards, synthesizer), Silvana Idà (vocals), Frederico Idà (bass, flute), Franco Vinci (guitar, vocals), and Marcello Surace (drums). Apotheosis is the act of raising someone to godlike status, and APOTEOSI'S music comes across as the musical equivalent of this idea. Their self-titled album from 1975 contains lofty musical ideals and is a conceptual work inspired by their homeland of Calabria in Southern Italy. APOTEOSI formed while the members were all very young; Massimo was only fourteen at the time, while guitarist Franco Vinci had formed his first band THE GREEN AGE at the age of just seventeen. In spite of having played together for a considerable period, the band had no live activity of note. Their main influences included UK giants ELP, Yes and Genesis, and the Italian big three of PFM, Banco and Le Orme.

In addition to the three Idà siblings, their father Salvatore also played a pivotal role behind the scenes. He produced the album for his own small label, Said Records, and even composed one of the tracks. Despite the band members' tender years, they were technically accomplished musicians and their compositions have strong classical overtones. The album features the delicate female vocals of Silvana Idà, who also sang on some folk singles released on her father's label, although the disc is noteworthy for the lengthy instrumental passages spearheaded by brother Massimo's keyboards, which include Hammond B3 organ, Eminent string ensemble and Arp Pro-Soloist synthesizer. This album is definitely one for fans of melodic, keyboard-driven music, with 14-year old Massimo's expressive piano-playing being the cornerstone of the album.

Massimo Idà's classical studies were apparently interspersed with his work as engineer, studio musician and arranger in his father's studio. Since the break-up of APOTEOSI, Massimo has worked as a session musician and music producer for television; Silvana Idà left the music industry to start a family (her son currently plays in a rock band); Frederico Idà died in 1992; guitarist Franco Vinci continued to play and is active in the blues field; drummer Marcello Surace works as a studio musician. The original album is something of a rarity, having had a very limited distribution, and vinyl copies are highly sought after as a result. The album was reissued on CD by Mellow Records in 1993.

Italian prog lovers like me , would be agree with my position of consider this album as a beautiful piece of symphonic rock. From Italy, one more of the uncountable bands that gave light in the 70`s and died at the same moment, exactly in 1975, (how many beautiful albums can you count of this year?, sum this one), it`s kind of strange that a band with an extraordinary talent and musical compositions, create one album and then despite it`s quality (i dont really know the reasons here in Apoteosi) prefer to die and not make a new effort.

Apoteosi features female vocals, beatiful female vocals i mean, and a complex and great keyboard sound, to people who loves italian symphonic , and dont know this album, please give a chance to it, it`s excellent and it`s a clear example of the beauty sound of symphonic prog, with the always particular sound of Italia.

Only 5 songs we will find here, the first one is something like an introduction, an instrumental short song, but pretty nice to open the album. Then probably the most beautiful of them all," Prima Realta / Frammentaria Rivolta" whose lenght is almost 15 minutes, showing us the quality of the members of the band, from the vocalist trhough the bass to the synths. Also using the always beautiful sound of flute, but what i love the most are the keyboards, a complex and creative symphonic atmospher created by them, the song has some tempo changes which are always healthy and enjoyable in a prog song, also i think the guitar work is fantastic.

The third song is also great, since the beginning with that organ sound, and the progression reminding me a bit of PFM ( i know, the other reviewers have already said that, but it`s the true it happens also with me), but actually so many bands were influenced by PFM, talking about Italian bands, this third song changes a bit in reference of the vocals, here you will find male vocals, which are not outstanding at all, but pretty good and sooo italian, great as well.

"Dimensione da Sogno", if i have to point my less favorite song or a "weaker", it would be this, it`s better than the first, but the first was an introduction, so is understandable, and attention, this song is alos great, but not as greater as the other ones, again with the beautiful female vocals and the piano with a softer sound, maybe a bit of Rennaissance?, a classical composition tending to be a song to sing, but again, this is also a good song.

The last song has the same name of the band- album, and its excellent, almost 6 minutes of pure progressive sound, excellent bass playing and great atmospheric background. The sound is actually repetitive, but excellent and this shows us the other side of the band, leaving a bit the symphonic side, and entwring to the psychedelic side, simply great!

Apollo - 1970 - Apollo


01. Symboli (2:42)
02. Lohduton Uni (5:05)
03. Hyvä Ihminen (4:34)
04. Ajatuksia (5:04)
05. Trimalcion (3:18)
06. Hideki Tojo 1884-1948 (2:38)
07. Laulu Ystävälle Varjojen Maassa (3:46)
08. Valolta Suojattu Sydän (2:35)
09. Labyrintti (6:19)
10. Pakoon Maailmaa (2:58)

- Harri Saksala / vocals, accordion, harmonica
- Eero Lupari / guitar, voice
- Heimo Holopainen / bass, voice
- Edward Vesala / drums, gong, tabla, bongo, vibraphone, flute, voice

Apollo was formed in 1969 by three ex-Topmost members (Harri Saksala, Eero Lupari, Heimo Holopainen) and one Edward Vesala. Topmost was a very popular group in Finland in the late 60's, so when Apollo was formed, they were considered somewhat of a "supergroup". LED ZEPPELIN had just released their debut, and they were apparently a huge influence for the band, which is a bit strange as those influences are not that clear when listening to their only, self-titled album. The debut was released in 1970, when progressive rock (in Finland at least) was still in its babyshoes, and that does show. It's very much a mixed bag, blending (possibly too) many ideas together, but it's nevertheless a quite charming album. The album consists of a few rough rock tracks ("Red" era KING CRIMSON meets LED ZEPPELIN), and a couple of interesting "ballads" in the vein of PROCOL HARUM. The most progressive ones are definitely Edward Vesala's experimentations in Labyrintti and Trimalcion, which don't seem to have any clear structure, blending together different percussions, flutes and what not.

The album was reasonably succesful in Finland, but soon after releasing the album, Apollo was already gone. Edward Vesala went on to become one of the most respected Finnish jazz musicians, and Harri Saksala later appeared as the lead vocalist on KALEVALA's excellent debut album "People No Names". I do recommend the album for those who are interested in the early days of prog (assuming you can find it..), but it's not the missing masterpiece you've been searching your whole life.

This obscure Finnish band features three distinct songwriters, which explains the fragmentation of the material on this self-titled effort. It starts with "Symboli", which is primarily stoner-rock, and on a secondary level a bit progressive. On the other hand "Lohduton Uni" is primarily progressive (the symphonic kind), and on a secondary level vaguely psychedelic. "Hyvä Ihminen" is almost easy-listening (it could feature in a Carpenters album), without saying that it's bad. "Ajatuksia" returns to stoner-rock, in other words to acid-hard-rock, and is overall a bit doomy, as if a distant Northern cousin to Black Sabbath. "Trimalcion" steers course in a dramatic manner: it begins as an ethnic ritualistic sketch (flute, drums and ambiance), but proceeds with an exuberant tropicalia/ tribal samba, and then reverts to the opening ethnic ritual, to finally end as some sort of jazzy stoner-rock. Apollo are on to something here.

By "Hideki Tojo 1884-1948" it's obvious that their specialty is stoner-rock, while the singer sounds like a crazy pastor sermonizing to decadents. However, "Laulu Ystävälle" also shows they have a knack for the dense symphonic atmosphere. After such intrigue, the jolly "Valolta Suojattu Sydän" sounds totally minor. Thankfully another highlight comes with "Labyrintti", whereas an ambient-improvisation intro is followed by a jazz-influenced jam-based theme, only for more furious soloing to follow. Nice stuff. The closing "Pakoon Maailmaa" is more soft-rock, albeit elegant. The icing on the cake on what is a decent and eclectic album are superb performances on drums and keyboards, courtesy of Edward Vesala and Harri Saksala respectively.

Die Anderen - 1968 - Kannibal Komix

Die Anderen 
Kannibal Komix

01.Little Little
02.Neurotic Reaction
03.Sing A Song
04.Mind My Own Business
05.Little Queen
06.Man In The Moon
08.White House
09.Sunday Morning
10.Choo Choo Train
12.Cosy Rosy

13.Bonus Track Sardegna
14.Bonus Track Forever And A Day
15.Bonus Track Somebody Loves You
16.Bonus Track In The Morning

Gerd Müller (vocals, guitar)
Enrico Lombardi (vocals, guitar)
Bernd Scheffler (vocals, percussion, drums)
Jürgen Drews (vocals, guitar)

The roots of the band Die Anderen (The Others or The Differents), later to be known as Apocalypse, lie in a talent show, the so-called "Beat-Band-Ball", that took place in Kiel's Ostseehalle in 1966. This was where Jürgen Drews (lead guitar, vocals) met the members of the winning band Chimes of Freedom Bernd Scheffler (drums, vocals), Enrico Lombardi (bass, vocals) und Gerd Müller (guitar, vocals).

In his excellent book "STARPALAST und Skinny Minny" a documentary of the 60s and 70s Beat Music scene in the Kiel area author Klaus Härtel writes of the formation of this internationally famous band from northern Germany.

Jürgen Drews was born 02.04.1948 in Schleswig. When he was 14 he became a banjo player in a jazz band called Snirpels and discovered beat music through the cover band Monkeys. After the "Beat-Band-Ball" Drews successfully asked to join Chimes of Freedom as their lead guitarist. After a while their manager decided to change the band's sound and name. A German band should have a German name - this was not typical of the times. The name Die Anderen was chosen and contact with record company Ariola's in-house producer Giorgio Moroder followed. Moroder produced 2 albums and some singles for them. The band was notable for having four excellent harmonious vocalists, a keenness to play, originality coupled with a total commitment to making money. But they still had a long way to go and there were problems with differing attitudes about the essence and purpose of their music.

However, Die Anderen got the opportunity to play on "Show Chance 67", a ZDF national television show in the section "singing groups with instrumental backing". This raised the band's profile within their record company after which the company were prepared to fulfil all the band's wishes and gave them a blank cheque. Germany's top producers and arrangers were at their disposal together with the best available session musicians and the best studio - Pye Record Studio in London. It was in the Pye studio in July 1968 they started recording four singles, three of which were written by Müller and Lombardi.

With pride the four heroes returned home to Kiel from London, Drew reminisces today, and soon realised that it would be difficult to have a career if they remained as they were - different. They were heralded by creative but broke young filmmakers. They sang in a ZDF produced TV film "Zwischen Beat und Bach" (Between Beat and Bach) and in another ZDF programme they were the choir in the Wagner Opera "Meistersinger".

Their album "Kannibal Komix", released in 1968 on Ariola, was a milestone. The US film producer George Moorse, who was living in Munich at the time, got hold of a copy of the LP. Using the album as a soundtrack he produced the ghost film "Das Haus in Weiß" (The House in White). The film was as chaotic as the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" and as such reflected the times.

The real kick to their career came in Hamburg's Star Club. A group of American managers travelled to Hamburg hoping to sign a German group. They had the choice of Hamburg band Wonderland with ex-Rattle Achim Reichel and a hitherto unknown musician and ex-US Army sergeant organist Les Humphries or "Die Anderen". The boys got their first US record deal. Collosus Records released the band's debut American record under the name "Apocalypse". The second album, a year later was also released in America.

Apocalypse - 1969 - Apocalypse



01. Life Is Your Profession
02. Let It Die
03. Patricia
04. Milkman
05. Try To Please Me
06. Pictures Of My Woman
07. Linda Jones
08. Blowing In Blow
09. Track Reflections Of A Summer (Bonus)

Gerd Müller (vocals, guitar)
Enrico Lombardi (vocals, guitar)
Bernd Scheffler (vocals, percussion, drums)
Jürgen Drews (vocals, guitars)

1969 album recorded by band also known as Die Anderen which is once again is full of excellent harmony laden psychedelic pop with lush production from Giorgio Moroder (the brains behind Donna Summer's "I Feel Love") .The band had started to experiment more on this their second album as the opening 6 minute track "Life is Your Profession" showed.The whole album is obviously influenced by the more stoned end of the Beatles. Detailed booklet rounds of this interesting German outfit.

The roots of the German band Apocalypse, formerly known - in Germany - as Die Anderen (The Others or The Differents), lie in a talent show, the so-called "Beat-Band-Ball", that took place in Kiel's Ostseehalle in 1966. This was where Jürgen Drews (lead guitar, vocals) met the members of the winning band Chimes of Freedom Bernd Scheffler (drums, vocals), Enrico Lombardi (bass, vocals) und Gerd Müller (guitar, vocals).

In his excellent book "STARPALAST und Skinny Minny" a documentary of the 60s and 70s Beat Music scene in the Kiel area author Klaus Härtel writes of the formation of this internationally famous band from northern Germany.

Jürgen Drews was born 02.04.1948 in Schleswig. When he was 14 he became a banjo player in a jazz band called Snirpels and discovered beat music through the cover band Monkeys. After the "Beat-Band-Ball" Drews successfully asked to join Chimes of Freedom as their lead guitarist. After a while their manager decided to change the band's sound and name. A German band should have a German name - this was not typical of the times. The name Die Anderen was chosen and contact with record company Ariola's in-house producer Giorgio Moroder followed. Moroder produced 2 albums and some singles for them. The band was notable for having four excellent harmonious vocalists, a keenness to play, originality coupled with a total commitment to making money. But they still had a long way to go and there were problems with differing attitudes about the essence and purpose of their music.

However, Die Anderen got the opportunity to play on "Show Chance 67", a ZDF national television show in the section "singing groups with instrumental backing". This raised the band's profile within their record company after which the company were prepared to fulfil all the band's wishes and gave them a blank cheque. Germany's top producers and arrangers were at their disposal together with the best available session musicians and the best studio - Pye Record Studio in London. It was in the Pye studio in July 1968 they started recording four singles, three of which were written by Müller and Lombardi.

With pride the four heroes returned home to Kiel from London, Drew reminisces today, and soon realised that it would be difficult to have a career if they remained as they were - different. They were heralded by creative but broke young filmmakers. They sang in a ZDF produced TV film "Zwischen Beat und Bach" (Between Beat and Bach) and in another ZDF programme they were the choir in the Wagner Opera "Meistersinger".
Their album "Kannibal Komix", released in 1968 on Ariola, was a milestone. The US film producer George Moorse, who was living in Munich at the time, got hold of a copy of the LP. Using the album as a soundtrack he produced the ghost film "Das Haus in Weiß" (The House in White). The film was as chaotic as the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" and as such reflected the times.
The real kick to their career came in Hamburg's Star Club. A group of American managers travelled to Hamburg hoping to sign a German group. They had the choice of Hamburg band Wonderland with ex-Rattle Achim Reichel and a hitherto unknown musician and ex-US Army sergeant organist Les Humphries or "Die Anderen". The boys got their first US record deal. Colossus Records released the band's debut American record, 1968, under the name "Apocalypse" (LHC 23). This second album, a year later was also released in America.
The band's US career was over before it could really begin. Colossus Records went bust, things were also not going according to plan. The two albums and five singles were released internationally and while there is no doubt the music was artistically valuable and excellently produced nobody wanted to buy it. On 28.12.1969 the band split after a final gig in their hometown Kiel. Jürgen Drews went to Rome and became a movie actor. He also recorded his first solo single before joining the Les Humphries Singers with whom he enjoyed success for 5 years. Following this he started his solo career with which he is still well received by the media.

Aphélandra - 1976 - Aphélandra


01. Airs (17:58)
02. Belladonne (4:52)
03. Pat (5:25)
04. Aphélandra (3:34)
05. Corinthe (2:50)

- Philippe Grancher / piano, organ, electric piano, mellotron, clavinet, synthesizer
- Pierre Videcoq / vocals, flute, tenor sax
- Gérard Perret / electric guitar
- Philippe Herbin / bass
- Dominique Iroz / drums, percussion
- Clément Duventru / drums

- Didier Lockwood / violin
- Cyrille Verdeaux / piano, synthesizer

Moments of great beauty in an album that sounds half-finished.
The story of Aphelandra is an unfortunate one and yet a familiar one. A budding musician is allowed to make an album at the tender age of 20 and you can hear the wide-eyed enthusiasm all over this music. The musician was the French keyboardist Phillippe Grancher and he had the benefit of being friends with Clearlight's Cyrille Verdeaux who appears on this album as a special guest. Also making a guest appearance was Zao's Didier Lockwood. So Grancher records the album in the Spring of 1976 but decides that the offers made by the record companies are too low, and thus shelves the project rather than put it out. There it would sit, gathering dust, for a generation. In the years since Grancher abandoned progressive rock for blues music and with the exception of drummer Iroz, the rest of Aphelandra apparently left the prog scene as well. Grancher is said to be one of the first French musicians to employ the synthesizer and he has left us a keyboard heavy '70s prog rarity that has the exuberance of a "kid in a candy store." Mellow Records released the album on CD in 2001. The material was written by Grancher with the band members working out their own parts. The name Aphelandra was chosen by drummer Iroz who has stated that the members of the group were not exactly thrilled to have played on an album only to see it shelved, but are now very excited it finally made it to the public.

"Airs" begins with the sound of blowing winds panning nicely across the stereo. The first part features a bit of everything including acoustic guitar, piano, vocals, good bass, and fair drumming. Atop of this is the fancy violin work of Didier Lockwood. In the next part you will hear solo piano for a bit before some wonderful flute enters and the two provide a warm and inviting extended section. This is the best part of the song though so don't get your hopes up! Suddenly things get a bit darker with a tempestuous riff leading to a vocal section, accompanied by synth. A laid back jazzy interlude follows. At 13 ½ minutes the solo piano returns and the band comes back around 15 minutes with a stock beat but some nice synth colors complimenting the piano. A bit of Mellotron here in the stretch before the unremarkable fade-out ending. It's a long track that never quite achieves its promise. "Belladonne" has a feisty intro leading to a jazzy section with sax and piano, leading to an electric guitar solo. Nice percussion work. Out of a rather jerky rhythm comes a wild violin lead as the track gets even wilder, approaching King Crimson mid-70s territory. "Pat" begins with a spacey, eerie lead guitar part played over another picked guitar for about a minute until it is overtaken by a big organ wash. An extended organ section goes for a while until it changes to some playful synth. The final minute or so is given to some dissonant sax and guitar noodling. "Pat" is fun although a bit compositionally challenged, it's just a bunch of different noodles pasted together with little holding them together. The title track begins with some very pleasant organ. The band comes in about 50 seconds later and the piece shifts to an embarrassing funky romp. At this point why not? Everything else has been thrown at the wall to see what sticks! Then comes another melodic section that takes the song back from the silliness before again fading out with little accomplished. "Corinthe" features a cool echoed vocal effect over organ, quite mysterious and goth sounding. This last short piece was actually the best moment with a nice build-up that should have been further developed.

The Aphelandra album is an interesting spin for French symphonic fans but it is hardly a masterpiece. While there are some moments of beautiful performance it's a real hodge-podge of little ideas stapled together without much compositional cohesion. In my opinion this work is not even close to the quality of the better material from Ange, Arachnoid, Ripaille, or Atoll to name but a few from the French scene. Without question there is potential here, there are some very nice moments where I enjoy individual performances and sections but there is not enough consistency to the work. It may be something for keyboard and French scene fans to check out but not until you've acquired all of the acclaimed French albums. I can be quite a fan of pretentious music but it depends on how well the material supports it- good ideas that are underdeveloped or haphazard do not guarantee a great album and Aphelandra is an example of such a case. Had Grancher remained on the scene and put together a lasting band developing his ideas, strengthening the better ones and discarding the weaker stuff, he could have made a better album I'm sure. I love his enthusiasm and great cover art, but some of the music feels like it could have used another hour in the oven.

Aorta - 1970 - Aorta 2

Aorta 2

01. Willie Jean
02. Little Bonnie
03. Blythe Spirit
04. Beg For His Forgiveness
05. Egypt
06. His Faith in Man
07. Devil, Maggot & Son
08. Sandcastles
09. Pickin' Blues
10. Fallin' Behind

*Michael Been - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Tom Donlinger - Drums, Bongos, Marimba, Congas, Percussion
*Jim Donlinger - Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Jim Nyeholt - Piano, Organ
Guest Musicians
*Howard Levy - Congas
*Michael Ayre - Congas
*Kenneth Elliot - Cowbell
*George Edwards - Vocals (on track 1)

During the mid-'60s, the members of Aorta -- originally hailing from Rockford, IL -- had previously been in a group called the Exceptions. Early members of this group included Kal David (later of Illinois Speed Press and H.P. Lovecraft), Marty Grebb (the Buckinghams), and Peter Cetera (Chicago). The Exceptions were a soulful, if unremarkable, Top 40s cover group who were nevertheless acclaimed for their "exceptional" musicianship.

They were one of the more popular acts on the greater Chicago local scene, and released a handful of singles on numerous Midwest labels -- Tollie, Cameo, Quill -- and for L.A.-based Capitol. For the last of these releases, the band dropped the "s" from their name and began calling themselves the Exception (a compilation for the Collectables label, The Quill Records Story, collects two of their singles).

They also recorded an EP called "A Rock & Roll Mass for the Flair label; it featured six different rock songs with words taken from various religious prayers. As each member of the group -- with the exception of bassist Peter Cetera -- already had an eye toward expanding their original material to include a more "psychedelic" sound, they soon reconfigured themselves as Aorta, and, in late 1968, recorded a single for Atlantic.

Eventually, producer Bill Traut (American Breed) approached them on behalf of Dunwich Productions, Inc., and -- with Bobby Jones taking over on bass after Cetera's departure -- they accepted his offer to record their debut album for Columbia in 1969. They recorded two albums under the name Aorta. The first of these, the self-titled Aorta, is today highly acclaimed as a lite-psych album of some minor renown, and though it managed to chart on Billboard's album charts, it failed to do what was expected.

A revised version of the group -- still led by Jim Donlinger and now featuring Michael Been on bass/guitar/vocals -- recorded the drastically different second album, Aorta 2, for the Happy Tiger label. Jim Donlinger -- who along with his brother and Jim Nyeholt (during a brief period between the two albums), had all played in the Rotary Connection -- later left Aorta to join Lovecraft (formerly H.P. Lovecraft, who were signed to Reprise at the time), while Billy Herman would eventually move on to join New Colony Six.

Michael Been later played with Moby Grape members Jerry Millerand Bob Mosley in Fine Wine, and ultimately achieved his biggest success with the Call. Been is also the father of Robert Turner of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The original Aorta later re-formed (joining another great Chicago-area group, the Cryan' Shames) to do promo spots for the U.S. Armed Forces on a very rare promotional LP.

Aorta - 1969 - Aorta


01. Main Vein I
02. Heart Attack
03. What's in My Mind's Eye
04. Magic Bed
05. Main Vein II
06. Sleep Tight
07. Catalyptic
08. Main Vein III
09. Sprinkle Road to Cork Street
10. Ode to Missy Mxyzosptlk
11. Strange
12. A Thousand Thoughts
13. Thoughts and Feelings / Main Vein IV

Bass – Jim Nyeholt
Drums – Billy Herman
Guitar, Vocals – Bobby Jones
Keyboards, Vocals – Jim Donlinger

Originally known as The Exception, singer/guitarist Jim Donlinger, drummer Billy Herman, bassist Billy Jones and keyboard player Jim Nyeholt started out as a top-40 cover band. By the mid-1960s the quartet was adding original material to their repertoire, eventually catching the attention of producer Bill Traut and Atlantic Records. A 1969 single "Strange" b/w "Shape of Things To Come" (Atlantic 45-2445) failed to sell, but caught the attention of Columbia Records, which promptly signed the band. 

Produced by Traut and Donlinger, 1969's "Aorta" showcased one of the better slices of late-1960s major label psychedelia. Almost a concept piece, the individual numbers were strung together by a series of segues ("Main Vein" sections I through IV). Featuring largely original material (three of the four members contributing songs), the collection offered up a nice mélange of poppier numbers (The Buckinghams-styled "Magic Bed" and "Sleep Tight") and harder edged, more experimental efforts (the psych-flavored "What's in My Mind's Eye" and "Catalyptic"). Columbia also chose to included a rerecorded version of "Strange" which b/w "Ode to Missy Mxyzosptik" was subsequently released as a single (Columbia catalog number 4-44870).    Sure, it wasn't a major creative statement or something that would drastically change your life, but full of nice fuzz guitar, interesting melodies, and weird studio effects, it made for a solid player; every track worth hearing. 

A monster classic of 60s psych! Yes!

This jewel has some of the most creative studio production of the day, creating an album that flows from the beginning to end and has all kinds of glorious details popping in and out.

This album really has the whole package, from the sophisticated production blending killer organ and guitar sounds, horns, strings, etc to distinctive, great vocals and outstanding songwriting. There are no weak tracks here, and each one has some melodies or hooks or stinging, powerful instrumental ideas that suck me in. There are also at least two or three bona fide elite classic songs here, really memorable, catchy slices of genius that belong on any comprehensive "best of 60s psych" comp.

In the flow of the album, there are a number of fascinating departures from conventional pop song format, notably the opening track and its unforgettable "main vein" chorus.

The whole vibe of the album is really unusual, not something that fits in with any of the standard reference styles for the era. One minor reference point, however, is early Chicago and the bright, hard-rocking horn-pop sound. The blues-rock element is masked with Aorta though. Something of this general flavor is in parts of Food's classic Forever is a Dream too, and I'd bet most fans of Food would dig Aorta and vice versa, just on an abstract sensibility, not on any especially strong similarities.

Probably the primary feeling of the music comes from the organ. Stripping away the brilliant compositional and production maneuvers, This is slightly heavy, trippy, psychedelic organ prog-psych-pop with an exaggerated, dramatic vocal style atypical of psych bands. (Not to the extremes of Arcadium or Vanilla Fudge though!)

The prog element deserves special mention. This was 1969. I'd argue this was one of the earliest prog albums in history. It really has a lot of the prototypical features of prog despite the psych context.

A singular gem whose peaks don't approach the highest of the era, but which earns a privileged place in my 60s rock collection for its consistent excellence and evocative, unforgettable creativity.

Anubis - 1983 - Anubis


01. Diamantina    3:33   
02. Métronomie    2:58   
03. Regarde En Bas    2:50   
04. Génération Électrique    2:35   
05. Jouez La Préhistoire Du Futur    5:23   
06. Échec Et Mat    3:55   
07. Palais Sans Porte    6:09   
08. Enfants De Quatre-Vingt-Dix    3:15   
09. Anubis (Moyen Age Puissance Quatre)    5:35   

- Christian Gravit (bass, vocals, synthesizer)
- William Roudil (drums, percussion, vocals)
- Marc Lailler (guitar, vocals)
- Pierre Videcoq (vocals, flute)

ANUBIS comes within this new trend in French rock influenced at the same time by the "old" French school represented by ANGE, ATOLL, MONA LISA and by current French rock and songs. The group offers a music based on carefully selected vocal harmonies, the singer's high voice and the energetic straightforward themes during which the guitarist plays some very good, original and elaborate solos.

Anna Själv Tredje - 1977 - Tussilago Fanfara

Anna Själv Tredje
Tussilago Fanfara

01. Mossen (7:20)
02. Inkomster Utanffr Tiden (11:28)
03. Den Barbariska (14:13)
04. Tusen er & Sju (8:32) (Audition QU)

Ingemar Ljungström/Keyboards, synthesizers
Mikael Bojen/Keyboards, Synthesizers, electric guitar

Recorded 15 jan. and 11 april 77
The 1980s reissue is similar to the original. Cover is more standard card with a slight sheen. Labels are printed on white paper (originals are a rough off-white poor quality paper). There are two represses which can usually be identified by "Kult Vax" stickers on the cover: 1. round sticker with wording "Svinbilliga KULT VAX" (date unknown), 2. smaller square sticker (late 1980s).

Continuing with my Swedish ramblings - this time I thought I'd review one of my most beloved mellow Krautrock infested electronic jewels. It sounds pretty close to what Cluster was on about in the mid 70s, but then again I've never really heard another album quite like this. Jacques Cousteau would have loved this one, and I'm not entirely sure, but I seem to remember seeing a Portuguese man of war jacking off to this very album not long ago on the Discovery Channel.

I've heard a lot of Berlin School experiments the past 10 years, and what strikes me the most is the familiarity these releases share - often in terms of sameness. Not that I'm complaining, because I rather like the approach, but sometimes you find yourself confronted with what seems like an old friend - only to be surprised and pushed to redefine what you'd thought about this type of music in the first place. This album did that to me. Yes it's an obvious prog electronic case that on some level reminds me of both Schulze, Cluster and Tangerine Dream, but there is something here that I absolutely adore - something that grabs me by the throat each and every time.

Tussilago Fanfara is an album that moves forward with the speed of a tired and immobile season. It takes its time - it is slow like a montage of overweight snails slithering their way across a football field. Through copious amounts of pulsating synths that sound like beating hearts - everything about this album feels alive and vibrant. It's like watching life on a cellular level. Imagine these worming cells zipping about in alternating patterns - think of these as different parts of the music - all of them moving about in a colourful gel - slowly secreting sounds that speak about the very essence of nature itself - and then maybe you're on the right track. Sounds like something which was tailor made for yours truly come to think of it...

There is no getting around it - I simply love this album! I often talk about the fluid nature of electronic music, and this one is no different. It sounds like it was recorded under the sea - or in fat greasy olive oil. It's drifting, oozing, watery, slithering, sliding, wobbly and gelatinous like a musical liquid pouring out of your speakers. All of it held together by this magical and wondrous glue.

One of my favourite things about it, is the fabulous way it inter webs the guitar into these electronic dreamings. And this is one of those traits that separates Tussilago Fanfara from other outings inside this genre - no matter how insignificant this may sound to you. It really adds something unintelligible and beautiful to these tracks. A sloshing guitar making the pieces flow more naturally and feminine - like those deep water creatures that look like internal body parts existing only in a pulse - boom boom boom. Like I said, it's this gelatinous fluid texture that bleeds into everything here. I mean even the guitar comes off as some kind of jellyfish instrument - complementing the full picture in a way that makes me drift away like the month of may during an inspiring and glacier blue coma.

I adore everything about this album - even the overexcited guitar sequence that joins in during the end of the first track - transforming it slightly and bending it out of shape, - or perhaps the never ending meandering synth vocalisations calling out eternally in these round hazy emanations on Inkomster Utanför Tiden, that end up in some beautiful guitar yearnings, that sound like a beaten down David Gilmour crying out in his dreams.

Dreams. Yeah, I've had my share of them whilst listening to this album. They pop up almost immediately when the music starts. Like drifting into that special indefinable place where you're not entirely sure, whether you're awake or setting sails on the mighty oceans of sleep. This one will take you on a boat ride to the ends of the earth, and personally I often feel like I'm journeying deep inside of myself - penetrating the inner works of my psyche listening to these mellow bewildering tracks. It's very easy and comfortable to get lost herein, and I try as hard as I can not to find my way whenever I put this album on - and pray that I'll find a way into the magic that is this record. Oh yeah - we're setting sails again matey!

This overlooked duo is sometimes dismissed as a Tangerine Dream or a Ash Ra Tempel rip off, and maybe that's the reason why it isn't as heralded as it should be. True they have a sound reminiscent of some of kraut rock's more cosmische acts, but to write them off simply as epigones is unfair. There's something decidedly Swedish to them, a strong sense of a mystical fir forest blended in with the outer space soundscapes. Or if you like, they are constantly travelling the border between a wonderful dream and a haunting nightmare.

Their three dimensional sound is highly evocative, and halfway through ”Inte utanför tiden” a distant fuzz guitar kicks in, hinting at emotions provoked by the majestic Älgarnas Trädgård. ”Tussilago Fanfara” is a 40 minute floating journey through the inner and outer space.

Anna Själv Tredje, who took their name from Leonardo da Vinci's painting ”The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne”, managed to release this one album only, but they did several sessions for Swedish radio show Tonkraft. One track from such a session was included in the compilation series ”Tonkraft”, on the ”1977-78” volume to be precise. ”Snöfall och daggyra” is only available on this various artists compilation, and their full Tonkraft recordings serve as additional albums since they consisted of entirely exclusive material. It's well worth tracking down those rare recordings if you like ”Tussilago Fanfara”.

Band members Mikael Bojén och Ingemar Ljungström founded Anna Själv Tredje already in 1971. It's unclear though when they eventually split up. This is how parts of the story goes: When Ljungström met Dan Söderquist from the aforementioned Älgarnas Trädgård, they formed trio Cosmic Overdose in 1978, together with Ragnarök's Kjell Karlgren. Cosmic Overdose released two albums (plus a few singles and a cassette-only album) of excellent electronic post punk. Ljungström took the stage name Karl Gasleben (sometimes Terminalkapten Gasleben) and Karlgren performed as Regnmakarn. In 1981 Cosmic Overdose became Twice A Man after Karlgren/Regnmakarn left the group. It seems possible though that Anna Själv Tredje and Cosmic Overdose had overlapping careers for a while, as one Per-Axel Stenström claims he played with Anna Själv Tredje for a while the early 80's, i.e. after Cosmic Overdose already was in full swing. So it's possibly that Anna Själv Tredje gradually folded as Cosmic Overdose were catching speed.

At one time in the early 90's, Bojén played morning and evening shows in Slottskogen (the Central Park of Gothenburg, the stomping ground of both Anna Själv Tredje and Cosmic Overdose). According to one attendant, the performances sounded a lot like Klaus Schulze.

The stunning cover art to ”Tussilago Fanfara” was designed by the prolific Tom Benson, a noted photographer whose exceptional and suggestive photographic montages has been exhibited several times in art galleries in Sweden. Benson also took the picture of Nynningen for their ”För full hals” album, and he was a close friend of Freddie Wadling, one of Sweden's most remarkable vocalists ever. Benson unfortunately died in 2008. The cover of ”Tussilago Fanfara” fits Anna Själv Tredje's music perfectly.

”Tussilago Fanfara” is one of those albums that still demands a CD reissue. The lack thereof shows just how poorly the progg legacy is treated by the original labels and reissue labels alike. So much fabulous music is still forced to inhabit the sphere of obscurity, and it's a huge shame that this album is still part of it.