Saturday, May 7, 2016

Zippo Zetterlink - 1971 - In The Poor Sun

Zippo Zetterlink
In The Poor Sun

01. At Sunday Night In The Blow Up (20:42)
02. Kaputt (8:15)
03. Ein Gemmenmärchen (3:14)
04. It's Groovy, The Electric Light Machine, Boy (5:56)
05. Electric Light (3:17)

- Wolfgang Orschakowski / guitar, vocals, radio

This album appeared on the scene in 1971 originally self-released by ZIPPO ZETTERLINK and later re-issued by the US label Psycho Path Records. A collection of live recordings at the Blow Up Club in Munich from 1969, a festival in Hamburg and some studio output from 1971. Rough free formed jams by guitarist Wolfgang Orschakowski hailing from the Hamburg underground scene. Although he is supported by drums, bass, percussion and flutes at least the album cover does not tell anything about the line-up.
Improvised psychedelic blues might be a fairly suitable description about what you are listening to when starting with the long track 'At Sunday Night In The Blow Up' recorded live in Munich which covers one vinyl side. Not very inspiring as for my personal taste over the course of time. Kaputt - literally could be translated to 'wasted' - does not sound like this at all. Much more drum dominated nearly soloing all the way through and accompanied by a great accentuated guitar with early Clapton reminiscences plus some flute additions - something special - this is a really excellent track!

On Ein Gemmenmärchen Zippo trys to sing but the result is not more than some sprechgesang with this typical charming accent backed by a simple blues theme. With It's Groovy, The Electric Light Machine, Boy another great track comes up - this time dominated by playful bass plus percussion support. Take Over, Electric Light is proving the album's experimental side when blending samples, radio snippets and a semi-acoustic blues guitar.

It's cool in a sense that they'd chosen a title "In The Poor Sun" for their only one shot ... even though the adjective "poor" looks unsuitable for the brilliant "sun".
Back to the topic, a decent occupation upon A-side of the LP titled "At Sunday Night In The Blow Up" is the 20-minute-long masterpiece in this album. Although they might play such a long trippy jamming session maybe with altered states of mind (not sure if due to musical trip or chemical agents), this long train running is flooded with dry-fruity soundscape along with simple persistent heavy riffs and a bit danceable grooves, that can absorb us completely without boring at all, mysteriously. On the contrary, it can be considered that they had never created another album because such a unrefined but remarkably addictive atmosphere could not have been launched anymore. Sometimes tribal, and sometimes vital, but from beginning to end, deeply eccentric based upon desert guitar sounds ... this obscurity cannot be usually heard here and there. For this stuff (and their play upon it), 20 minutes might not too long I imagine.

On the other hand, the B-side consists of 4 short tracks. The last three are bluesy short breaths without any Neues, but the beginning "Kaputt" is flooded with killer bullets, as if launched to us listeners continuously under the dark, cloudy sky. Crazy flute and reed-whistle (?) dance vibes make us crazier. What a fascinating quake their ritualized percussion is. Let me say this drastic remedy can be another masterpiece of theirs. "Like fractal carrots dangled in front of a hungry Krauthead: it's hard to resist music described so vividly" (according to Michael Neumann's paragraph in his review for Moolah's "Woe Ye Demons Possessed") ... KUDOS! :)

Zipps - 1999 - Be Stoned Dig Zipps

Be Stoned Dig Zipps

01. Highway Gambler (Single B-Side, 1966) — 2:08
02. Roll The Cotton Down (Single A-Side, 1966) — 2:42
03. Kicks And Chicks (Single B-Side, 1966) — 3:11
04. Hipsterism (Single A-Side, 1966) — 3:07
05. Beat & Poetry Part 1 — 7:06
06. Beat & Poetry Part 2 — 7:40
07. Marie Juana (Single A-Side, 1967) — 3:14
08. The Struggle For Ice-Cold Milk Of Benzi The Bassplayer Or How To Promote Original Dutch Milk (Single B-Side, 1967) — 2:23
09. When You Tell It, Tell It Well..! (Single A-Side, 1969) — 3:09
10. Lotus Love (Demo — Vocal Version) — 2:50
11. Walking On This Road To Mine Town (Previously Unreleased Live Track) — 2:48
12. The Beer Hall Song (Previously Unreleased Live Track) — 4:54
13. Kicks And Chicks (Previously Unreleased Live Track) — 3:35
14. Philippe Salerne & The Zipps — Avec De L’Italie (Single B-Side, 1967) — 2:08
15. Philippe Salerne & The Zipps — Venez Voire Comme On S’Aime (Single A-Side, 1967) — 1:30
16. Lotus Love (Instrumental – Previously Unreleased Demo Version) — 2:54
17. The Struggle For Ice-Cold Milk Of Benzi The Bassplayer Or How To Promote Original Dutch Milk (Previously Unreleased Stereo Version) — 2:21
18. Kicks And Chicks (Previously Unreleased Stereo Version) — 3:10
19. LSD 25 Interview — 6:28

Jan Bek — vocals (1965-1966)
Philip «Byron» Elzerman — vocals, guitar, flute, harmonica
Peter Nuyten — guitar (1965-1967)
Theo Verschoor — bass (1965-67)
John Noce Santoro — drums (1965-1967, 1968-1969)
Wim Klein — drums (1967)
Dick Visschers — guitar (1968-69)
Ruud van Seventer — bass (1968-69)

"Together with Group 1850, the Dordrecht based band the Zipps belong to the best underground
bands Holland could boast in the sixties. By publicly parading the use of halluncinatory drugs
(the popular LSD-25 in particular, which was to be placed on the list of forbidden drugs in Holland as late as 1966),  the Zipps in no time at all mange to catch the public eye. As a result of the marriage of
 psychedelic sound and their renowned 'Zeta-Lightshow' it hardly comes as a surprise that the Zipps are readily known as the Dutch 'Pink Floyd'.
What you will find on this CD is all the Zipps ever recorded: their singles plus a number of particularly special recordings. Recordings which demonstrate to what extent the group was able to play their own particular sound. The sound which really used to really stir up the passions of their audience."

THE ZIPPS "Be Stoned, Dig Zipps"
cd/2?lp - 1999 - Pseudonym ()

Just out: an overview of this unique Dutch sixties band’s major output. Musically, only their “Kicks & chicks”, “Lotus love” and “When you tell it, tell it well” are really outstanding (the latter two are superbly refined instances of 1967-1968 psychedelia, as a matter of fact), but the rest ofthe cd (also including demo, instrumental or stereo versions of the aforementioned titles) is less interesting - except historically... as titles like “Beat & poetry” and “Marie Juana” document the Zipps performing typical beatnik-provo-style pro-drugs and anti-establishment rants over a musically disappointing background. Lovers of the genre, however, will be delighted by the Zipps ultimately typical Dutchman’s English (literal translations, awful pronunciation, etc.) (pv)

The Zoo - 1973 - Zoo Music

The Zoo 
Zoo Music

01. Cold Nigh
02. Summerday
03. Everybody Knows
04. I'm Here
05. Dedicated To You All (Medley)
   a. Dedicated To You All
   b. We Can Work It Out
   c. Norwegian Wood
   d. Day Tripper
   e. Baby You're A Rich Man
   f. Got To Get You Into My Life
   g. Eight Days A Week
06. Zoo Music
07. Feelings

* Robby Pwa: Guitar
* Bert Veldkamp: Bass guitar, vocals
* Eddy Meyer: Keyboards, vocals
* Gerhard Jeltes: Drums

Not to be confused with the French Jazz/Rock outfit called Zoo who released three albums between 1969 and 1972

A little known quartet from Groningen (Netherlands) whose album contained long melodic progressive rock numbers with a medley Beatles covers on the B-side.
The abstract cover art is more impressive than their music.
The bass player (Bert Veldkamp) became later a member of Kayak.
This album is now hard to find and is also a collectors item.

Zoo was a melodic progressive rockband from the town of Groningen. They were formed in 1970 when the band Spring changed its name. They disbanded in 1974. Bass player Bert Veldkamp joined Kayak, a few others started the new group Kangaroo. During their existence they released four singles: "Be free / All my life" (Injection 134.555) in 1971, "Change my world / Holiday" (Philips 6075 114) in 1972. And "Walkings / Love love" (CNR 141 198) and "Cold night / Naugh moo" (CNR 141 228) in 1974. In 1973 an album was released, 'Zoo' (CNR 541 645).
• The music that Zoo played is melodic rock, with hints of progressive rock. The music is not complex. At best it sounds like Argent, but at it worst they sound like your average seventies band. An example of the first is "Zoo music", an example of the latter is "Everybody knows". Another enjoying track is the Beatle medley. It all sounds very professional, melodic, but also a bit dull. No adventure or any risk in the music, so not a recommendation for a truly progressive album.

• Despite releasing four singles and an album over a several-year period, early Dutch progressive outfit Zoo are pretty obscure, almost certainly due to their inability/unwillingness to fully commit themselves to playing full-blown prog. Their choice, obviously, but history has proven their short-termism unwise. Their first single, 1971's Change My World b/w Holiday, is a late-period psych effort, both sides vaguely comparable to Procol Harum, albeit, er, nowhere near as good, the flip being the superior track. Keys man Eddy Meyer plays an orchestral-ish Mellotron strings/brass mix on the 'A' to passable effect, although he didn't record with one again for another two years.

• Their lone album, 1973's Zoo, is pleasant enough, yet simultaneously highly undemanding, being more of a typical mainstream rock album of the era with progressive overtones than a prog album per se. Better tracks include opener Cold Night and Zoo Music (despite the drum solo), although Everybody Knows' rock'n'roll-lite and inexplicable Beatles medley Dedicated To You All are pretty inessential, frankly. Meyer adds Mellotron to a handful of tracks, with strings on Cold Night, I'm Here and the Baby, You're A Rich Man segment of Dedicated To You All, only to any great effect on the first-named.

• Zoo's final single from late '73 ('74?) was a re-recording of the album's Cold Night, its new, funkier arrangement doing it no favours, although oddly-titled instrumental flip Naugh Moo is almost certainly the best thing the band ever wrote, sounding slightly like Trace before that outfit formerly existed. Meyer adds Mellotron to both sides, with nicely upfront string parts that improve even the otherwise dodgy 'A'. Zoo split in '74, bassist Bert Veldkamp going on to play with Kayak, other members forming the equally-obscure Kangaroo; none of their small catalogue is currently available, although downloads can be found. Are they worth hearing? A handful of tracks (principally Naugh Moo) are worth the effort, but, that track aside, we're not exactly talking 'lost classic' here, musically or Mellotronically.

Happy The Man - 2004 - The Muse Awakens

Happy The Man 
The Muse Awakens

01. Contemporary Insanity (3:24)
02. The Muse Awakes (5:36)
03. Stepping Through Time (6:31)
04. Maui Sunset (5:10)
05. Lunch At The Psychedelicatessen (4:59)
06. Slipstream (4:43)
07. Barking Spiders (4:11)
08. Adrift (4:04)
09. Shadowlites (3:52)
10. Kindred Spirits (5:26)
11. Il Quinto Mare (7:22)

- Frank Wyatt / saxes, keyboards, woodwinds
- Stanley Whitaker / guitars, vocal
- David Rosenthal / keyboards
- Joe Bergamini / drums, percussion
- Rick Kennell / bass

Hapy the Man returns with a beautifully created product. The band put "Happy" to the forefront of the theme, just like their name, mostly up-tempo instrumental jazz-prog with one brilliant vocal track. The production is very crystaline, smooth and breathy. The overall proformance is very tight with a jazzers swing.
Keyboardist David Rosenthal fills in admirably for Kit Watkins, who no longer wants to tour. The keyboard instruments are at the core of Happy the Man, Rosenthal is up to the task, his presence strong on each track. Drummer Joe Bergamini (4Front) plays with restraint in this setting. His playing swells below the current, almost waiting to explode. His fusion chops are kept in control.

The standout tracks are Il Quinto Mare, Shadowlites, Barking Spiders (oops, excuse me!) and Lunch at the Psychedelicatessen. Il Quinto Mare is very cinematic in it's approach, multi-segmented melodic prog with wonderful interaction between the soloists. Whitaker's vocal on Shadowlites is lovely. It makes you long for more. His voice is soothing and captures your attention. Barking Spiders starts off with a quirky guitar riff, a honking sax and bizarro synth fills. Totally fun and complex. This would be a live standout in my imagination. Lunch's keyboard ditty will stick in your head all day. Kind of a skippin' down the sidewalk feel.

The reason I'm giving this three stars instead of four is because fans of harder edged prog will find the softer, jazzier parts boring and uninteresting. It's not for everyone. Tunes like Adrift and Maui Sunset are great end of the day, reflective tunes. They unwind you. Some people just can't find that space, so this music would not hit home. If you like melodic understated music, this is a gem.

Let's hope we we don't have to wait another twenty years for the next one.

Happy The Man - 1999 - Death's Crown

Happy The Man 
Death's Crown

01. Death's Crown (38:00)
02. New York Dream's Suite (8:45)
03. Merlin Of The High Places (7:10)

- Dan Owen / vocals, classical guitar, percussion, additional bass on "New York Dreams Suite"
- Frank Wyatt / electric piano, recorder
- Kit Watkins / organ, Moog, string ensemble, clavinet, flute, recorder, sound effects
- Stanley Whitaker / guitar, recorder
- Rick Kennell / bass
- Mike Beck / drums and percuss

It is amazing to see that some twenty years after their latest studio release, there was still the will to release whatever pieces the band had produced in their early days.
"Beginnings" was already such a work of "unreleased" songs and now, almost ten years later, this album saw the light.

After six incredibly poor and useless minutes of noisy and unbearable jamming, the centre piece of this album, the long "Death's Crown Suite", turns into a very attractive track. Vocals which were always scarce in their songs are incredibly melodic and the instrumental parts are much more structured than during the initial part.

Even if improvisation is widely experimented, this is a good epic. A mix of pastoral and jazzy sections, which is going to be their style during their short career. The closing part is somewhat more bombastic and "organized". An interesting piece of work. But difficult to apprehend and complex to get into.

The second song featured is the original version of "New York Dream's Suite". The band had already released a version of this one on their debut album. It was not my fave out of it, but if you are into jazzy material, you might feel alright. But I have more problems to appreciate this one.

The band was also influenced with the early "Genesis" sounds, for my greatest pleasure. The last song of this album fully reflects the atmosphere of the "Trespass" recordings. Tranquil music, nice fluting combined here and there with a more jazz-oriented section. A typical HTM song.

This album is interesting in many aspect. Not a masterpiece but a good piece of work IMO.

Happy The Man - 1997 - Live

Happy The Man 

01. Service With A Smile (4:04)
02. Starborne (4;45)
03. Open Book (6:33)
04. Hidden Moods (4:09)
05. Morning Sun (4:34)
06. I Forgot To Push It (3:37)
07. Ibby It Is (8:38)
08. Nossuri (The Moon, I Sing) (6:24)
08. I Carve The Chariot On The Carousel (5:12)
09. Stealing Pipes (4:35)
10. Knee Bitten Nymphs In Limbo (5:20)
11. Mr. Mirror's Reflection On Dreams (9:23)

- Rick Kennell / bass
- Coco Roussel / drums, percussion
- Stanley Whitaker / guitars
- Kit Watkins / keyboards, flute
- Frank Nakahara-Wyatt / saxophone, keyboards

Recorded in the late seventies, this live album is made of songs exclusively selected from their first two albums (thank god). It almost took twenty years to release these recordings, after a compilation album (1989) and a effort which consisted of unreleased tracks (1990).
Several tracks selected are on the symphonic side of their work and are quite enjoyable. The "Genesis" influence is on the forefront, and therefore, this first part of the album has all my sympathy.

The mood switches to the jazzy flavours with "I Forgot To Push It". Some sort of useless jam IMHHO. But it is immediately followed by a good track of this live recording "Ibby It Is" from "Crafty Hands". Interms of influences, the jazzy feeling is dominating the second half of this set.

The tracks which have been selected are purely instrumental (which is anyway the majority of their work). This is probably a major factor in the "coldness" of this live set. And it is not the emotionless introduction to some of the numbers that will bring some warmth. Very intimate and confidential.

Music execution is well performed of course, but this is all but normal. What I miss is a bit more passion in the way to interact with the audience. It is as close to nothing. Complex music played by skilled musicians. OK. But at times it isn't enough.

As such, you'd better grab their two corresponding studio albums even if this live set is a good summary of those.

Happy The Man - 1990 - Beginnings

Happy The Man

01. Leave That Kitten Alone, Armone (9:16)
02. Passion's Passing (8:40)
03. Don't Look To The Running Sun (9:52)
04. Gretchen's Garden (11:04)
05. Partly The State (9:20)
06. Broken Waves (5:49)
07. Portrait Of A Waterfall (6:45)

- Mike Beck / drums, percussion
- Cliff Fortney / lead vocals, flute, Rhodes (2-5)
- Rick Kennell / electric bass
- Kit Watkins / multi-keyboards, vocals
- Stanley Whitaker / electric guitar, vocals
- Frank Wyatt / keyboards, alto sax, flute, vocals

The history of this legendary US group started in 1972, when guitarist Stanley Whitaker and bassist Rick Kennell met in Germany and shared the same admiration for British Progressive Rock.Whitaker was back in USA by the next year and Kennell, who remained in German grounds for a while, introduced him two of his former bandmates, drummer Mike Beck and singer/flautist Cliff Fortney.The original keyboardists were David Bach and Frank Wyatt, the first was soon to be replaced by Kit Watkins.So Happy The Man were born and in 1974 Kennell was back to USA as well with the band starting full rehearsals.Material from this early 1974-1975 period was released in 1990 under the title ''Beginnings'' by Cuneiform.
The love of HAPPY THE MAN for early British Prog is apparent in every track and actually Whitaker and Kennell were both great fans of KING CRIMSON, GENESIS and VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR.Noy surprisingy at all these are the main influences dominating the band's early sound with original singer Cliff Fortney sounding a lot like PETER HAMMILL and, to lesser extent, like PETER GABRIEL.The tracks are quite long with plenty of space for nice psychedelic instrumentals, elaborate symphonic arrangements along with a light jazzy breeze.Happy The Man's early sound lacks any kind of full-blown musicianship and the band was focusing on creating dreamy and atmospheric soundscapes, both in vocal and instrumental parts, with nice use of organ, sax and electric piano in the vein of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR along with floating synth parts, delicate flute passages and melodic guitar solos in the vein of GENESIS.But a ton of a talent could not been that easily hidden, so there are also plenty of moments, where the sound becomes trully rich with some cool complex themes, highlighted by a VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR/KING CRIMSON-ian atmosphere with bombastic sax and organ interplays next to demanding keyboard flights and more adventurous guitar hooks.The result was a band with numerous interesting ideas but far from creating their unique personality.

It can get more Classic Prog-styled than this.Of course it is not HAPPY THE MAN's greatest release or, even more, very far from original, but is it a beautiful archival release with a full hour of previously unreleased material of the band's early days and fans of Classic Prog in the vein of the aforementioned legends should track this down.Warmly recommended.