Thursday, July 21, 2016

Kontrast - 1986 - Volume I

Volume I 

Volume I
01. Suite For The Young Girl (25:24)
02. Trip (11:56)
03. Opus Dope Us (7:58)
04. Let's Fetz (2:37)

Bonus tracks (recorded from 1983-85 and mastered 1986, 2004-7 by Remigius Drechsler)

Volume II
05. Little Solitude (0:40)
06. Hip Me (2:19)
07. Order (8:07)
08. Good Wax Home (7:08)
09. Race To Heaven (10:55)

Ingo Schmid-Neuhaus / alto saxophone (1,3,4,7-9), electric piano (3,4,7-9),maracas, cow bell (8)
Marika Schmid-Falk / vocals (3,8), percussion, vibraphone (3), gan gan (7), cuica (8)
Remigius Drechsler / acoustic bass (1-4,6-9), darbouka (1-4,6,9), guitar (2,6), marimba, vibraphone, recorder (2), percussion (1,2,6,8,9), psaltery, horn (9), whistling, water (with Elise) (5)
Richard Netusil / special guitar (1,4,9), hand drum (1,3,4), log drums (6)
Christian Bäck / soprano saxophone (3,4,9), alto saxophone, vocal (6)
Paul Smyth / words (1,7,9)
Moran / flute (1,4,7,8), vocal (1,8), signal horn (6), cymbals (8)

Volume I is the original Kontrast LP released in 1986.
Volume II is previously unreleased recordings, specially compiled for Cosmic Egg.

Recorded 1983-85 and mastered in 1986

All original covers are hand-made, and thus each one is slightly different. Copies generally come with 2 x A4 photocopied inserts on a variety of white or coloured papers.

According to Remigius Drechsler 500 copies were pressed, of which the first 100 or so sold quickly, and the rest slowly. At Ultima Thule we had the last 50 sellable copies (some due to being stored in a damp location were deemed unsellable and were disposed of).

After the dissolution of Out of Focus around 1979, their guitarist Remigius Drechsler joined Embryo for about a year.He toured with the band in Europe and North Africa and then decided to work on some solo compositions at his own home studio.He regularly invited musicians to jam with, like ex-Out of Focus bandmates Moran Neumuller on flute and Ingo Schmid-Neuhaus on sax/piano and less-known artists like Richard Netusil on guitar/percussion, Marika Schmid-Falk on percussion/vocals, Christian Baeck on sax and Paul Smyth on voices.Two years of recordings ended up to a 1986 vinyl issue under the name of Kontrast, released on what supposed to be Dreshler's own Remi Records.

One of the most surprising (or should I say unexpected, given its birthdate well into the 80's) Krautrock albums ever, Kontrast is well in the tradition of Embryo, Xohl, Annexus Quam or Dzyann and Out of Focus. Although this last name might be a bit of a surprise (sonically different than the previous names I mentioned), Kontrast is tightly linked with OOF since three of its members are involved in this project: guitarist Drechsler (who is the main man behind this project as he recorded and designed the album as well), saxman & keyboardist Schmid-Neuhaus and singer/flutist Moran Neumeier are
And you never thought that you'd hear a 25 minutes track recorded in 83 or 85, right?? Well guess again!! Kontrast's sole historical album is filled by the sidelong Suite For The Young Girl, one long musical expansion including traffic noises, elongated solos (never indulgent, though) feeling ethnic and psych at the same time. You could easily be in Embryo's Rache with this track. The 12-mins track of the opening flipside, called Trip is a Drechsler-only track, where he plays all of the instruments, and grosso modo, we're again in the same ethnic/psych realm of Embryo, filled with acoustic guitars, vibraphones, telephone ringing and squeaky toys. Even stranger is the 8-minutes Opus Dope Us, complete with dissonance from sax and guitars, door slams etc. The short Letz Fetz is as tight a group as it gets.

And not only did Cosmic Egg unearth a rare 80's gems, but the bonus tracks they include make it that they've un-earthed a second 80's gem, called Volume II. It is clearly in the lne of their first album and the ultra-short bruitage Little Solitude followed by the sax-filled Hip Me Order is a spoken text put to music (a bit like the Beat Poets some 30 years before then) and present some great stand-up bass, courtesy of Drechsler himself, while Moran plays flute and Ingo answers on sax: fantastic stuff even though in terms of repeated listens.. Because the fight over the phone bill is funny once or twice, but more??? Good Wax Home is a dissonant improv where the vibraphone links the other instruments together. This is the most difficult track on the album. Then comes the closing 11- mins Race To Heaven returns a bit to the Order track with spoken lyrics but soon heads for faraway lands of mist and mystery with tons of instrumental space that even bouts of bruitage can't stop us from reaching the skies accompanied with distant knell and waves.

As the ultra-small Ultima Thulé team continues its Krautrock support job; their Cosmic Egg label (bith books and Cds) is becoming important for the German movement. Indeed after the essential Never Too Late OOF album released in 99, after the GAM project a few tears after, now comes out out-of- nowhere (it had been announced almost a decade ago, but we weren't expecting it anymore) THE major 80's Krautrock album Kontrast with so much bonus material that it makes it almost a double album. So Cosmic Egg's third release is just as essential OOF 's posthumous Never Too Late album. Run out for this and help boost Ultima Thulé's confidence to unleash new Krautrock wonders like it has done so far.

One of our regulars requested the Out Of Focus reunion album, so I gathered he meant this one... if there is something else out there... please lemme know!

Ubik - 1983 - Surf


01. Kakikouka 3:25
02. If You 3:40
03. End 3:40
04. Sid 3:18
05. Dust 3:45
06. In That Side 5:00
07. Body Electric 3:10
08. In Your Dreams 5:06
09. Paradise 5:00

Drums, Percussion – Marc Pouliquen
Guitar – Xavier Geronimi
Saxophone – Daniel Paboeuf
Violin – Steward Gordon (tracks: A2, B1 to B4)
Vocals, Bass – Philippe Maujard

Crescent Studio - Bath - Angleterre

Ubik was an experimental new wave/coldwave band from France formed in early 80s by Philippe Maujard. The first album Surf was released in 1983 and a few singles after: Quintessential cult band, must be heard to believed!

I remember hearing Kakikouka for the first time in the summer of 1984 on some dutch squatters radio, and absolutely loving it but did not get the name of the band, so next morning I was over at the local record store doing the chorus hoping someone would know what it was, it took almost 15 years before I knew who it was and finally got a copy of it not so long ago... the guitar solo and sound is absolutelly visceral!

Sahara - 1976 - For All The Clowns

For All The Clowns

01. Flying dancer (3:25)
02. The source Part I & Part II (7:12)
03. For all the clowns (11:01)
04. Prélude (1:04)
05. The mountain king Part I & II (13:20)
06. Dream queen (5:05)
07. Fool the fortune (1:19)

- Holger Brandt / drums, percussion
- Henner Hering / keyboards, synthesizers
- Michael Hofmann / Moog, guitar, flute, vocals
- Günther Moll / lead guitar, vocals
- Stefan Wissnet / lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar

Guest musicians:
- Meryl Creser / recitation (5)
- Nick Woodland / acoustic guitar (2)

After the excellent Sunrise, Sahara will again suffer a line-up change, seeing Woodland leave (I suppose he went to Desertland), then drummer Rosekind followed, thus leaving the Subject Esq. survivors to only three (Hoffman, Wissnet, Pittwohn), with Gunther Moll (guitar) and drummer Holger Brandt (ex-Missing Link) to fill in. Little did the rest of the group know that the two newcomers would leave soon after (and despite!) the release of another excellent album. This album was released late 75 on the mother label Ariola, but came with a bizarre humoristic cartoon-esque B&W artwork, that doesn't fit the music at all. Rather important to the group's sound, Hoffman is not playing sax anymore, but he's on synths (including a Moog) and on guitars, while still fluting around, Wwhile pittwohn seems to have become the manager/producer.
After a dispensable average Flying Dancer, the group plunges into a Crimsonian atmosphere, especially in the riff opening and closing of the two-part The Source track, alternating between dark quiet passages and heavier sombre moments. This track segues without much interruption into the title track, which is just as moody as its predecessor.

Opening the flipside is a Herring piano Prélude, an intro to the remainder of the album, with the two-part Mountain King track, opening on up-tempo riff, soon joined by the flute and some Moog playing, but Herring's organ is much kinder to our ears. The middle section features a jazzy Rhodes and some brilliant electric guitar, the track coming to a stop before the Moog comes back to rekindle the flame and throw the group in a light improve and then a verse-chorus song structure, where the heavy guitar and gentle organ dominate. Dream Queen opens on 12-strings guitar arpeggios and flute, much like an early Genesis song ; but the vocals are bringing you back down to earth, because they're not quite as dream or fantasy-like. Even when the song is fully opened, the flute is taking the front stage, but sounding Tull-ian, now. The closing Fool The Fortune outro is another 12-string guitar arpeggio piece

While this album is again excellent, I personally find it not matching the preceding Sunrise album, but then again many will prefer Clowns and its more symphonic second side. In either case, both Sahara albums are very worthy and essential listening. Unfortunately the group did not record more albums once the two newcomers decided to leave this superb group.

Sahara - 1974 - Sunrise


01. Marie Celeste (7:37)
02. Circles (4:42)
03. Rainbow Rider (8:41)
04. Sunrise (27:12)
- Part 1: a) Sunrise / b) The divinity of being / c) Perception (inc. Devil's tune) / d) Paramount confluence
- Part II: a) Aspiration / b) Creativity / c) Realisation

- Henner Hering / keyboards
- Michael Hofmann / woodwinds, Moog, Mellotron, vocals
- Alex Pittwohn / harmonica, tenor saxophone, vocals
- Harry Rosenkind / drums, tuned percussion
- Stefan Wissnet / lead vocals, bass
- Nicholas Woodland / guitars

What a change an album makes! Having suffered the departure of keyboardist Stadler, but added an extra guitarist, Englishman Nick Woodland (from Gift), the group changed its name from the strange and unfitting Subject Esq to the more concise Sahara and whatever adventure this new name promised. But the best thing happening to the band is the arrival of ex-Out Of Focus keyboardist Hennes Herring on many different keyboards. Coming in a superb gatefold with a fiery artwork, the album was released on a small German label Pan (Ariola), but also was distributed on the UK on the Dawn label in early 74. Now a sextet, Sahara develops a varied prog sound, sometimes veering classical, sometimes jazz, and at others, bluesy

Starting wildly on ultra quick guitar riff, Marie Celeste (a boat) quickly drops the horns and brings on the church-like organ in a quieter movement, when a sax blows its soul out and the boat sails many different and turbulent musical weather changes. The weaker Circles, country-folk track that shouldn't have crossed the ocean with those indispensable GI stationed around the country, but it's more folk than country, but it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the otherwise near-perfect album. The following Rainbow Rider is a moody track that delves into jazz, after a piano intro and a fast-paced verse, then giving us an excellent 8-minutes track, if you'll pardon the all-too-predictable repeated choir line at its end-section

If the first side is nowhere near perfection, the flipside with its side-long title track is one of the best multi-movement epic suites ever, certainly one of the most varied: from electronica to classical, but mostly their own typical rock music that has its own sound and cannot be easily pigeonholed to classic UK prog bands. This 27-minutes+ affair (!) is head-twisting, skull-numbing, mind-blowing, will-bending, nerve-wracking, hair-pulling, eye-tearing, ear-piercing, breath-taking, sinus-emptying, throat-clearing, mouth-watering , etc..; and that's just to mention what is does to your upper extremities. And the amazing feat is that the track gets better and better to reacj its apex around the end of these 27-mins+.

Definitely one of the best "trad-prog" (this means more or less symphonic, but there is so much more to it than that) album out of Germany along with the first Grobschnitt album, Herring's OOF heritage did bring the extra touch that the band needed to become excellent instead of merely good.

Subject Esq - 1972 - Subject Esq

Subject Esq
Subject Esq

01. Alone (5:22)
02. Giantania (6:42)
03. What Is Love (5:39)
04. 5:13 (4:31)
05. Mammon (12:40)
06. Durance Is Waiting (8:25)

Bonus tracks:
07. Giantania (Live in München 1971) (19:14)
08. Untitled (Live in München 1971) (10:28)

- Michael Hofmann / flute, alto-saxophone, vocals
- Peter Stadler / keyboards
- Stephan Wissnet / bass, vocals
- Alex Pittwohn / mouth-harp, 12-string-guitar, vocals
- Harry Rosenkind / drums

Guest musician:
- Paul Vincent / guitars

This Munich-based group took roots in the 60's as The Subjects playing beat music, but its evolution Subject Esq. is definitely a 70's-sounding quintet, dishing an organ-driven proto-prog similar to what was done in the UK in the early 70's. Subject Esq. would be at home on the neon, Dawn or Vertigo labels. It was released in early 72 on the Epic label and was coming with a gatefold sleeve where the inner-fold is way more interesting than the outer-fold, presenting a bland red to yellow degrading naïve logo and band portrait. Lead singer Hoffman also handles the wind instruments, except for the harmonica, played by guitarist Pittwohn. Stadler's keyboards are all over the album, mainly in the form of an organ

If the first track Alone is more "straight rock" than prog, it presents a strong riff, while the following Giantania seems headed in the same "riff-y" direction but halfway though, it has some solid organ work and a superb quiet passage with some beautiful flute and bass, before the riff comes back. A rather weaker What Is Love also features an interesting middle section, but I find the sax-led riff rather cliché and the lyrics un-inspired. The inaptly-titled 5:13 (it's only 4:29 long ;o))) is another fast-paced track with double tracking (flute and sax together in the riff), but soon digress into another interesting slower flute-dominated middle section and slowly building back via the excellent organ into a Graaf-esque riff before fading out.

The flipside presents two longer tracks including the Mammon centrepiece, clocking well over the 12 minutes. If the other side featured tracks that were clumsily proggy, mostly by fitting in good middle sections, this track really shows that the group could indeed be more ambitious and even include harmonica in a prog song. This track is probably best described as a mini-epic, filled with many different instrumental passages and constantly-evolving rhythms. A cross between Colosseum and VdGG , if you ask me. The closing Durance Is Waiting has a West-Coast intro, mainly due to the vocal harmonies, but soon plunges into a demented up-tempo prog with plenty of instrumental interplay, before almost dying of a fade-out and just barely clinging onto life with a delicate background vocals and bass and slowly reconstructing the music, but with the finale ending with the help of a violin, courtesy of guest Manuala Gunther.

The Cd reissue (on the great Ohrwaschl label) comes with two lengthy live tracks as bonus, including a much expanded Giantania (now 19-mins long) and an Untitled track (most likely not its real title). While the sound of these live tracks is hardly perfect, it's nothing scandalous either. The tracks add to the album's enjoyment (IMHO, because that might not be a general opinion), as they unveil a different (live) facet of the group: raw, less-focused, more psychey and improvising/jamming. While Subject Esq.'s sole album is generally a bit over-rated by the majority (IMHO), I find it interesting and enjoyable at homeopathic doses, but hardly essential, especially compared to the group's future albums under the Sahara name.

Ralf Nowy - 1973 - Lucifer’s Dream

Ralf Nowy 
Lucifer’s Dream

01. Breadhead (4:58)
02. Lucifer's Dream (5:03)
03. Something's Happened On The Chicken Farm (2:59)
04. Hear Me Calling (4:59)
05. Soul Tango (3:52)
06. Ashes To Ashes (3:37)
07. Shiwa's Dance (8:48)
08. Tschad (3:55)

- Gary Unwin / bass
- Lothar Meid / bass
- Sylvester Levay / piano
- Don Anderson / piano, vocals
- Paul Vincent Gunia / guitar
- Andy Marx / guitar
- Keith Forsey / drums
- Bernie Prock / percussion
- Ralf Nowy / flutes, alto saxophone, oboe
- Al Gromer / sitar
- Liz van Neyenhoff / sitar
- Sankar Chatterjel / tablas
- Joy Fleming / vocals
- Rainer Pietsch / vocals
- Vilko Zanki / vocals

Back in the early 70s the German scene was like a bad porn-flick where everybody was doing it together on different albums, occasions and in a whirlwind of musical directions. What this ultimately lead to was a deeper understanding of what made the different expressions cook and flow - sear and levitate. It's why a guy like Klaus Schulze was just as amazing in a psychedelic drum freak out as he was behind huge refrigerator-like instruments turning knobs - or maybe acting as head honcho behind a Japanese psych band at the other end of the planet. In many ways this is what characterised a lot of the well-respected musicians back then - and to some extent that's what was essential inside many artistic movements at the time. Movie making echoed this thing - where you'd find people doing photography one day and then having to be in charge of the lighting the next. People needed to keep their fingers on the pulse and know their way around their respective craftsmanship in order to deliver something corresponding to whatever intangible feel, essence or zeitgeist was on the menu. I think this frolicking around in strange bushes and corners of the different musics made the people playing it so much more versatile and open minded. Sure, this was happening back in the 60s, when rock n' roll suddenly began to steal the jazz players away from their home turf, but when Krautrock really started to unfold its wings - an emphasis on experimentalism saw the light of day that challenged the players to go outside of their comfort zones - adapt or indeed metamorphose.

Lucifer's Dream is a testimony to all of this, not because I consider it to be representative of Krautrock in any way, shape or form, because I don't, - no, because it features a giant smorgasbord of talented musicians coming from all over the scene - all of them attuned into a merged sonic effort revolving around one saxophonist named Ralf Nowy. Both bassist Lothar Meid and sitarist Al Gromer came from Amon Düül ll prior to this stint - whereas Sylvester Levay, here providing some dreamy piano, had played opposite Eddie Maron in the Krautfusion band Dzyan. In short: a lot of these people had played around in all kinds of constellations touching on jazz, folk, British invasion rock and something altogether different. On here the waters coalesced into one beautiful almost symphonic album.

Ralf Nowy actually started out as a bit of a free jazz dabbler - playing flute and sax in various jazz groups all through the 60s. He was even awarded with a prize for best soloist at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1963. What then struck this listener as something rather bizarre, is how he proceeded with his career later on. Nowy is today widely known in Germany for his jingle skills and pop music know how - and what to do with any piece of music in order to make it easier to digest for the masses. Somewhere in between these two extremes Lucifer's Dream came into fruition, and knowing whereto this man's path would turn, it suddenly makes perfect sense to this listener how he managed to make something as audacious and experimental as this sound so fluid and easy going. A tremendous feat.

What this album reminds me the most of is actually Camel's The Snowgoose. Yup - believe it or not. The way the slick and understated funky fusion of this album reaches up for the skies and resembles symphonic music much like you'd hear on Camel's now (in)famous record, is damn near uncanny. It's not even fusion, for that it is far too smooth and serene. Packed full of melody and huge musical whiffs of fresh air and swaying textures, this sonic vessel floats through your living room like an elegant woman swooping around in a big Toulouse Lautrec costume. Sometimes the feel of this thing almost approaches femininity. There's a lightness about it, that you forget where its roots started. This is indeed highly experimental musicians working together to give to you something beautiful and luscious. The focus is firmly held on the sprawling melodies with occasional warm saxophone interventions colouring the music red and sensuous. You wouldn't believe that dear old Ralf came from a world of zany off-beat jazz adventures, when you hear Lucifer's Dream. It is much too elegant and well orchestrated for that to ring true.

The one thing pointing towards Krautrock, as I know it, is the Indian work out that suddenly appears with the track Shiva's Dance. Shiva is of course the Hindu god of destruction and in tune with the album's increasingly cathartic development, this track now takes the listener into a musical world that takes on the mad meeting of Indiana Jones and the temple of doom, where evil liquids turn good men into slaves of darkness, and all of these twirling images of blood and flames explode in a fiery musical meeting of sitars, tablas and assorted percussions sounding like they're played by horses' hooves.

Otherwise this album is the German equivalent of the smooth and serene beauty of The Snowgoose - captivating its audience with warm high soaring melodies and a riveting fusion twist that lies somewhere on the outskirts of the recording keeping the beat wonderfully funky and fluid all at the same time.

Noir - 1971 - We Had To Let You Have It

We Had To Let You Have It

01. Rain 9:25
02. Hard Labour 5:23
03. Beggar Man 5:05
04. In Memory Of Lady X 6:55
05. How Long 6:29
06. The System 6:17
07. Indian Rope Man 3:32
08. Ju Ju Man 3:57

Bass, Vocals – Roy Williams
Drums, Percussion – Barry Ford
Guitar, Vocals – Gordon Hunt
Lead Vocals – Barry Ford(tracks: A1, A2, B1, B3), Tony Cole (2) (tracks: A3, A4, B2, B4)

Includes an insert.
Held before a light source, the vinyl is transparent dark red.

I would have given six stars to the album if I only could. An album of pure gold and still almost total mystery - after so many years. In 1970 a band named "Noir" ("Black" in French) had spent ages recording this undisputable miracle for "Dawn" (that was the label of Mungo Jerry also). How did they get there, and where from, I don't know. They were: Barry Ford - lead vocals on half of the songs, drums & percussion; Tony Cole - lead vocals on other half, organ, piano and keyboards in general; Roy Williams - bass and vocals and Gordon Hunt - guitar and vocals. The band split before completing the album, and vanished from the studio - all attempts to disover their whereabouts failed. Barry Ford re-surfaced later with "Clancy" which recorded two albums for Warner, and had some following on London pub-scene, and after that performed with another obscurity, "Merger".
Anyway, music is difficult to identify, and this is ungrateful and absolutely unnecessary: several slow ballads which remind (somehow) Ken Hensley - like eponimous fatalistic lament of "Rain" with heart-breaking singing; philosophical sermon "In Memory Of Lady X"; tribal battle hymn of "Beggar Man" and spirituals-inspired "How Long"; solid prog of "The System". Add polyphonic vocal harmonies, virtuosos guitar and cool jazzy piano - total abandon and delight!
The music was too good to be left on a shelf, and the album was released by "Dawn" in 1971, to be re-issued on CD by "Arcangelo" in Japan.
One of the best albums of the 70s

Finch - 1999 - The Making Of... Galleons Of Passion / Stage '76 - Live

The Making Of... Galleons Of Passion / Stage '76 - Live

101. Reconciling (8:33)
102. Dreamer (4:44)
103. Remembering The Future (4:59)
104. With Love As The Motive (9:00)
a) Impulse
b) Reaching
c) Sinful Delight?
105. Night Walker (2:59)
106. Unspoken Is The Word (7:48)
107. Phases (5:31)
108. As One (4:06)

201. Scars On The Ego (9:32)
202. Paradoxical Moods (11:39)
203. Necronomicon (17:48)
204. A Passion Condensed (20:06)
205. Pisces (12:00)

- Hans Bosboom / drums, percussion
- Joop van Nimwegen / guitars, Cabasa
- Peter Vink / bass guitars, Cowbell
- Ad Wammes / keyboards, flute

Finch was a very appreciated progrock outside Holland, especially in the USA and Japan. I 've seen them once in the famous 'pot-drenched' club 'Het Paard' in The Hague, they blew the audience away but there was never a live-recording from Finch. Fortunately Pseudonym Records managed to lay their hands on master tapes from the period with Ad Wammes as their keyboard player. This material is now released on this double-cd.
CD- 1 (with drummer Hans Bosboom) contains 8 demo-versions for the LP "Galleons Of Passion". Five of them eventually found their way on that LP. The recording quality is excellent and the numbers closely resemble the original. Yet there are various delicate distinctions as regards to tempo, intensity of the solos and sound-coloring (the keyboards in particular) making this release a must for the true Finch adepts. In addition to this the three remaining, previously unreleased tracks "Dreamer" (opulent as velvet with translucent guitar work and loosely woven strings), "Nightwalker" (playful with varied keyboard play) and "Phases" (exquisite build-up with a splendiferous interlacing of guitar and keyboard) are certainly no hand-me downs.

CD-2 contains over 70 minutes of fascinating live-performances from December 1976 (with Beer Klaasse still behind the drums). You will hear Finch at their best playing four numbers from the albums "Glory Of The Inner Force" and "Beyond Expression" recreating the unique live-atmosphere and performed with a passion that is guaranteed to give you goose bums. Throughout the tracks you will notice the various improvisations. On the track "A Passion Condensed" in particular guitarist Joop's loops wind and twist around each other reaching a crescendo of pure white noise. Furthermore it's interesting to notice how new keyboard player Ad Wammes manages to give the old Finch repertoire his own unique twist. With the help of his newly purchased Mini-moog synthesizer he artfully whips off many spectacular sounding solo. In addition CD-2 contains the previously unreleased track ''Necronomicon". This composition has a playing time of over 15 minutes and is a typically 'Seventies' composition with extended soli on guitar, synthesizer and bass, GREAT!

Finch - 1977 - Galleons of Passion

Galleons of Passion

01. Unspoken Is The Word (7:52)
02. Remembering The Future (4:22)
03. As One (4:44)
04. With Love As The Motive (9:15)
05. Reconciling (8:29)

- Hans Bosboom / drums, percussion
- Joop van Nimwegen / guitars, Cabasa
- Peter Vink / bass guitars, Cowbell
- Ad Wammes / keyboards, flute

Another great album by Finch, who luckily didn't hang around long enough (ie. into the '80s) to record a bad album. 'Galleons Of Passion' is often considered the weaker of their 3 albums, and while it's definitely got its softer, less spastic moments, it's still a wonderful listen in its own right. And still totally 100% Finch.
Every now and then this album works its way into the dippy grocery-store Muzak that Camel and Focus would also occasionally get caught up in, but not often. More of the intent seems to be on creating comfortable spaces, which is in direct contrast to their previous albums. This helps make the intense moments that much more powerful. This is heard on the cosmic "Remembering The Future", and all over Side 2, which is comprised of two long tracks: "With Love As the Motive" and "Reconciling". Guitarist Joop Van Nimwegen sounds even more McLaughlin-ish when blazing over serene layers like the final moments of "Unspoken Is The Word", and it's this sort of dynamic dichotomy that makes 'Galleons Of Passion' work so well. You just have to be a lot more patient in the listening to get the rewards that their first two albums slammed at you with a more direct intensity. A warm, welcoming excursion, this offers the widest array of dynamics of any Finch album (much credit for the vastness goes to keyboardist Ad Wammes). It's not their best album (I still can't decide between the first two), but it remains killer stuff, recommended to fans of Camel and Focus, as well as the more fusion-oriented Colosseum II and National Health.

Finch - 1976 - Beyond Expression

Beyond Expression

01. A Passion Condensed (20:05)
02. Scars On The Ego (8:51)
03. Beyond The Bizarre (14:24)

- Cleem Determeijer / keyboards
- Beer Klaasse / drums
- Joop Van Nimwegen / guitars
- Peter Vink / bass

Finch's second album certainly picked up where its predecessor had left things at, but it might just be that that they overeached themselves too. Indeed the group attacked their second album with the idea to go one further than previously, so they only did three tracks for Beyond Expression. Musically the album is tad rockier and a tad less jazzy, so you'll see more Yes-excess rather than Mahavishnu With an unchanged line-up and a cosmic "inner tripes" artwork, the group amounts the typical prog excesses they had just managed to avoid in their previous album. Don't get me wrong, unless you're playing these two albums back to back, this shouldn't be noticeable.

So, just three tracks (that's one better than the previous four) and the 20-minutes Passion Condensed (I'd hate to see the size of their passion extended ;o)p))))), the group is definitely keeping Yes in their vision, but in a pompous/bombastic way, ELP is almost in their line of fire, without sounding at all like them. Pure prog galore and yummy yumyum for the fans of such excesses.

The flipside is again more of the same, and Scars On The Ego (interesting title) it's now clear that Focus and Mahavishnu are not the focus of attention (unintended pun, but unavoidable too) of the quartet. This track starts slowly and tends to remain mid-tempo, even if Joop's guitar raises the sonic level to 11 in its second half. Van Nimwegen's influences are clearly Jan Akkerman, John McLaughlin and Steve Howe, his style is harder and sometimes this album has got me thinking of Colosseum II's debut album (without vocals), so I guess saying Gary Moore is also a possibility. The closing Beyond The Bizarre is the album highlight with plenty of drama and tempo changes

While the album sold still at respectable levels, its clear that BE was simply too close to GOIF, yet not as good either, but this is only noticeable if you compare the two actively. Still definitely worth throwing an ear on it, but remind yourself to pick it back up: it's messy for others and who knows?.. you might still need it again sometime soon. .

Finch - 1975 - Glory of the Inner Force

Glory of the Inner Force

01. Register magister (9:22)
02. Parodoxical moods (10:43)
03. Pisces (9:29)
04. A bridge to Alice (13:13)
05. Colossus Part I (3:28)
06. Colossus Part II (3:36)

- Jan Van Nimwegen / guitars
- Cleem Determejer / keyboards
- Beer Klaasse / drums
- Peter Vink / bass

This quartet takes its roots in the Q65 group and released three albums in the middle of the 70's, all three in the typical "Dutch school". It's clear that these guys heard Focus and Solution or even Cargo, even if they were completely instrumental and generally harder-rocking than the afore-mentioned. Nevertheless their symphonic jazz-rock was at best enthralling (with exciting and virtuoso interplay) and at worst very cheesy, especially in the more symphonic bits. Founding member bassist Peter Vink (claiming his name's Emglish translation is Finch) and drummer Klaase provide the strongest of support for guitarist virtuoso Joop vanNimwegen and Paul Vink on keys. Upon the recording of their debut album in 75, Glory Of Inner Force, Determeyer replaced Vink on keyboards. Graced with a superb esoteric artwork and a title to go along with it, Finch's music was clearly influenced by Mahavishnu Orchestra (even the title could fit a MO album), Focus and Yes.
Just three tracks on the debut album, starting very strongly with the bombastic Register Magister, where all four members go on to show the musical skills while remaining at the service of the music. The following Paradoxical Moods, where a haunting mellotron gives much depth to Joop's guitar antics and an awesome organ solo, courtesy of Determeyer. They really thrive on fast, odd time signature jams as well as slow moody sections and jump happily from one to the other without forcing it

On the flipside, Pisces is another fine majestic piece (no pun intended), bur marred by the borrowing of a theme, reprised by the bass midway through the track until the end of it.The album closes on the brilliant Bridge To Alice, where the Yes influences seep out and impose itself as the album's highlight, even though it's not helped by being placed last in the track order. Indeed the formula of wall-to-wall solo plastering is exciting at first, but by the end of the album's one must admit that the cup is filled and one more solo would be the drop that overflowed the bucket. This is where the beauty of the vinyl (choose you side first) or the shuffle button become evident.

The Cd reissue comes with two bonus tracks, the two sides of a non-album single from the same year. Both Colossus I and II are short tracks that are somewhat similar to the album's music, although it's plainly audible it's not the same sessions. One wonders why such a risk and expense were taken on (relatively) average instrumental tracks, as the ideas are good, but you don't have to be Nostradamus to see that they were not original enough to create an impact, especially for non-sung music. But both tracks fit well enough the album to enhance the album's content. If you must have only one Finch album (it sold relatively well, back then), make sure it's this one, as this one is as close to perfection as they ever got.

Bridget St. John - 2010 - BBC Radio 1968-1976

Bridget St. John 
BBC Radio 1968-1976

01. I Don't Know If I Can Take It
02. Some Kind Of Beautiful
03. Jumblequeen
04. Fly High
05. Sparrowpit
06. Want To Be With You
07. Curious And Woolly
08. Head And Heart
09. Long Long Time
10. Come Up And See Me Sometime
11. Catch A Falling Star
12. Love Lie Easy
13. The River
14. Song To Keep You Company
15. Night In The City
16. Lazarus
17. Curl Your Toes
18. Thank You For...
19. Sparrowpit
20. Nancy Alice
21. Plain And Pearl
22. Make Me Whole
23. She Used To Play Harmonium
24. Crazy, Have You Eton
25. Peel 'sleeping Anecdote'
26. Bumper To Bumper
27. Leaves Of Lime
28. City Crazy
29. The Pebble And The Man
30. Back To Stay
31. Song For The Laird Of Connaught Hall - Part 2
32. Jolie Madame
33. The Spider And The Fly
34. The Oyster And The Flying Fish
35. To B Without A Hitch
36. Ask Me No Questions
37. Many Happy Returns
38. Hello Again (of Course)
39. Rochefort
40. Lizard Long Tongue Boy
41. The Present Song/Pig & Peel

Guitar, Vocals – Bridget St. John

CD1 1-9 Radio 1 In Concert 1st August 1974; CD1 10-12 Top Gear Session 6th January 1976 CD1 13-16 John Peel Presents Top Gear 1969; CD1 17 Peter Sarstedt Session 1969; CD1 18 Bob Harris Session 22nd March 1972; CD2 1-8 Radio 1 In Concert 3rd May 1975; CD2 9-16 Radio 1 In Concert 31st January 1971; CD2 17-22 Night Ride Session 21st August 1968; CD2 23 Top Gear Session 12th August 1974

Fans of singer, songwriter, and Brit-folk chanteuse Bridget St. John will no doubt be delighted by this double-disc, 41-cut selection of her BBC recordings with John Peel and other DJs from the late '60s through the mid-'70s. Peel was hosting Top Gear at this time, and took over the network’s Night Ride program from producer John Muir in 1968. St. John appeared on Night Ride first and that initial off-air rehearsal performance is here, near the end of disc two at her insistence, though its audio quality is not as high as most on this handsome package. The songs she chose for this performance are quite telling: “To Be Without a Hitch,” “Ask Me No Questions,” "Rochefort,” and “Lizard Long Tongue Boy,” to mention a few. This set is not arranged chronologically, which may piss off a few hardcore collectors and bibliophiles, but that’s what remote controls and multi-disc changers are for. It is arranged aesthetically -- the material on disc one is nearly flawlessly reproduced, while disc two has some rougher live spots (that do not take away from the performances). The package, with copious liner notes and an interview with St. John, has been wonderfully compiled and sequenced by Hux with the full cooperation of the artist and was beautifully remastered by Ron Geesin, who appears as a sideman on many of these sessions, as do Mike Oldfield, Bernie Marsden, and David Bedford.
St. John was one of the first artists signed to Peel's Dandelion Records imprint, and some of the tunes she recorded on her five albums were previewed either in these BBC sessions for Night Ride, Top Gear, or the terrific Radio 1 in Concert series.St. John’s performances of her own songs are complemented richly by covers of Buffy Sainte-Marie's “Lazarus,” Joni Mitchell's “Night in the City,” and John Martyn's “The River.” Kevin Ayers duets with St. John on three tunes from a Radio 1 in Concert performance in 1971: “Jolie Madame,” “The Spider and the Fly,” and the co-written “Oyster and the Flying Fish.” A collection like this is pretty much for fans only; part of that is the appeal of her voice, which is limited in range in the same way Nick Drake's was. But there was a reason she was a favorite of Peel’s: she was a talented -- if shy songwriter -- who delivered her material with an unintended aura of mystery, ambiguity, and authority that is uncharacteristic for the era, though it has been oft-imitated since. There are other good compilations available for novices culled from her five albums, but for those dedicated fans, this is the holy grail.

Bridget St. John - 1974 - Jumblequeen

Bridget St. John 

01. Sparrowpit - 3:05
02. Song For The Waterden Widow - 2:41
03. I Don't Know If I Can Take It - 3:59
04. Some Kind Of Beautiful - 3:13
05. Last Goodnight - 5:00
06. Curious & Woolly - 3:07
07. Want To Be With You - 3:29
08. Jumblequeen - 3:19
09. Sweet Painted Lady - 3:36
10. Long Long Time - 3:42
11. Curious & Woolly (1977) - 4:21
12. Come Up And See Me Sometime (1979) - 3:08
13. Easy-come Easy-go (1979) - 3:09
14. Moody - 2:50

- Bridget S.John - lead vocals, acoustic 6- & 12-string guitars
- Chick Churchill - clavinet (01), piano (02,03,05,07,09,10), organ (04), moog (08,09), string arrangements (02,07,10)
- Dave Winter - bass (01,03-06,08-10)
- Mike Giles - drums (01,03-06,08-10)
- Stefan Grossman - bottleneck guitar (01,04,06), acoustic wahwah (06), acoustic guitar (09)
- Gavyn Wright, Godfrey salmon - violin (02)
- Don McVay - viola (02,07)
- Michael Hurvitz - cello (02,07,10)
- Bernie Marsden - lead electric guitar (04)
- Beverley Martyn - harmony vocals (06)
- Bernie Shanahan - keyboards & vocals (11)
- Richard Grando - saxophone (11)
- Tony Margolis - bass (11)
- Jim Mullen - guitar (12,13)
- Rick Pascual - bass (12,13)
- Jon Cobert - keyboards (12,13)
- Daniel Elfassy - drums (12,13)

- Leo Lyons - producer (01-10)

With all the songs fitting together seamlessly,this album makes a distinct impact. Supported from the beginning by well known DJ John Peel,St. John's albums were critical favorites. And while they never sold in large quantities,she had a reputation as one of Britain's finest singer/songwriters. This album is a reflection of St. John's life,which was in turmoil at this point,and that's what lifts this album above her others. It's still amazing that an artist of her caliber is still unknown. She deserves to be heard by everyone who likes well written,arranged,and masterfully sung songs. While "Jumblequeen" is considered St. John's finest work-all her albums from this era contain a number of equally fine songs,beautifully arranged. She deserves better. Listen and find out for yourself.

Bridget St. John - 1972 - Thank You For

Bridget St. John 
Thank You For

01. Nice
02. Thank You For...
03. Lazarus
04. Good Baby Goodbye
05. Love Minus Zero, No Limit
06. Silver Coin
07. Happy Day
08. Fly High
09. To Leave Your Cover
10. Every Day
11. A Song Is As Long As It Wants To Go On

Bonus Tracks
12. Nice -Live Version-
13. Silver Coin -Live Version-
14. Fly High -Live Version-
15. Lazarus -Live Version-
16. The River -Live Version-
17. Thank You For... -Live Version-
18. Ask Me No Questions -Live Version-
19. If You've Got Money -Live Version-

Tracks 12 to 19 are recorded live in Montreux, Switzerland on April 28, 1972.

Gordon Huntley Guitar (Steel), Pedal Steel
Rick Kemp Bass, Bass (Electric), Drums
John Martyn Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
Dave Mattacks Drums
Pip Pyle Drums
Tim Renwick Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Andy Roberts Guitar
Richard Sanders Guitar
Rick Sanders Guitar (Acoustic), Primary Artist
Bridget St. John Arranger, Guitar, Guitar (12 String), Keyboards, Primary Artist, Producer, Vocals
Bruce Thomas Bass, Bass (Electric)
Ian Whiteman Keyboards, Piano
John Wilson Drums

Bridget St. John has a small legion of fans willing to do battle for their hero, but to most she sounds like a pleasant, secondary British folk-rock artist of the early 1970s. Those impressions won't be changed by this, her third album, mixing low-key originals with covers of songs by Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly, as well as one of her most popular tracks, an interpretation of the traditional folk tune "Lazarus." Simply put, St. John doesn't come within bow-and-arrow range of Sandy Denny or Maddy Prior. She favors a low, slightly husky delivery that sometimes brings to mind what Marianne Faithfull might have sounded like in the late '70s had Faithfull's voice lowered naturally, instead of being ravaged. Reserve can be effective, but it sounds like St. John would need to be roasted over an open flame before her temperature rose. [The album was reissued on CD in 1995, with the addition of eight bonus tracks from a live performance in 1972.]

Bridget St. John - 1971 - Songs For The Gentle Man

Bridget St. John 
Songs For The Gentle Man

01. A Day A Way 3:14
02. City-Crazy 2:42
03. Early Morning Song 1:50
04. Back To Stay 4:42
05. Seagull-Sunday 3:05
06. If You'd Been There 4:05
07. Song For The Laird Of Connaught Hall - Part 2 1:26
08. Making Losing Better 3:50
09. The Lady And The Gentle Man 3:06
10. Downderry Daze 3:18
11. The Pebble And The Man 3:30
12. It Seems Very Strange 0:40

Edward Beckett Flute
William Bennett Flute, Flute (Alto)
Robert Bourdon Flute (Alto)
Colin Busby Trombone
Angela East Cello
Elizabeth Edwards Violin
Brian Etheridge Bass (Vocal)
Ron Geesin Arranger, Guitar, Keyboards, Producer
Peter Hall Tenor (Vocal)
Kate Jacobs Violin
Derek James Trombone
Geoffrey Mitchell Counter Tenor (Vocal)
Tony Parsons Trombone
John Pritchard Trombone
Richard Sanders Guitar
Rick Sanders Guitar
Derek Simpson Cello
Bridget St. John Arranger, Composer, Guitar, Harmonium, Keyboards, Primary Artist, Vocals
Alan Stivell Horn
John Thompson, Jr. Viola
Charles Tunnell Cello

On her second album, Bridget St. John expanded her arrangements from the acoustic guitar of her previous effort considerably, with the aid of producer Ron Geesin. While these took the risks of sometimes bathing the songs in too much fruitiness, in general the added cellos, flutes, bassoons, violins, horns, and backup voices did much to add welcome spice to a sound that had gotten a little numbingly similar over the course of her debut. The songs, too, were a little more playful and melodically interesting, though they retained the reserved, even-tempered pastoralism of her prior work. She still sounds like a challenge to raise either a smile or a frown out of most of the time, like a hermit determined to stay out of the city at all costs. It's pleasant if not penetrating rainy-day folk/Baroque, breaking out of that mood with "Seagull-Sunday" (which certainly sounds influenced by Joni Mitchell) and Donovan's "The Pebble and the Man" (with some almost comically eccentric, operatic male backup vocals). She never sounded more like Nico than she did on the too-short 42-second closer, "It Seems Very Strange," with its doom-struck harmonium. [This and her first album, Ask Me No Questions, were combined onto one CD by See for Miles in 1994, and it was also re-issued by itself on Cherry Red in 2005.]

Bridget St. John - 1969 - Ask Me No Questions

Bridget St. John 
Ask Me No Questions

01. To B Without A Hitch
02. Autumn Lullaby
03. Curl Your Toes
04. Like Never Before
05. The Curious Crystals Of Unusual Purity
06. Barefeet And Hot Pavements
07. I Like To Be With You In The Sun
08. Lizard-Long-Tongue Boy
09. Hello Again (Of Course)
10. Many Happy Returns
11. Broken Faith
12. Ask Me No Questions
13. The Road Was Lonely

Bongos: Dominic (tracks: 6, 7)
Guitar: John Martyn (tracks: 3, 12)
Guitar: Ric Sanders (tracks: 8, 10)

For several years in the late '60s and early '70s, Bridget St. John was one of the leading lights of the British folk scene, a gifted vocalist and guitarist who also wrote intelligent, impressionistic songs that impressed many of her contemporaries and made a fan of legendary BBC disc jockey John Peel, who once described her as "the best lady singer/songwriter in the country." She was born Bridget Hobbs in South London on October 4, 1946, and grew up in a musical household where her mother and sisters were all accomplished pianists. St. John took piano lessons at her mother's behest, but she didn't get along with her teacher and quit when she was 11. After studying the viola for a while, St. John bought a guitar with 20 pounds her grandmother gave her shortly before she finished high school. While attending Sheffield University, she learned to play her guitar and fell in with the budding British folk music community, making friends with guitarist and songwriter John Martyn. St. John soon began appearing at leading folk venues in the U.K., where she crossed paths with Nick Drake, Paul Simon, and David Bowie, among others.

As her reputation grew, she met John Peel, who was immediately impressed with her talent. St. John made her first appearance on BBC Radio in 1968, and when Peel launched his Dandelion Records label, she was one of the first acts signed. St. John recorded three albums for Dandelion -- 1969's Ask Me No Questions, 1971's Songs for a Gentle Man, and 1972's Thank You For … -- and while they received strong reviews, sales were middling, and St. John was forced to look for a new label when Dandelion went under in late 1972. She recorded a fourth album for Chrysalis Records, 1974's Jumblequeen, and provided backing vocals on albums by Mike Oldfield, Kevin Ayers, and Michael Chapman. But St. John's career took a dramatic left turn when she traveled to the United States in 1976 and opted to stay, making a new home in New York's Greenwich Village. While she played occasional club shows during her first few years in New York, she soon retired as a performer, and was rarely heard from in the '80s. St. John began to re-emerge in the '90s, appearing with the Strawbs at a New York performance in 1993, performing a handful of U.K. club gigs, releasing a collection of rare and unreleased recordings (Take the 5ifth) in 1995, and appearing at a Nick Drake tribute show in 1999. Since then, St. John has performed occasionally in the United States, Britain, and Japan, though on a leisurely schedule. In 2010, Cherry Red Records released a single-disc compilation, A Pocketful of Starlight: The Best of Bridget St. John, that included some newly recorded songs alongside her best-known recordings, and the same label in 2015 issued The Dandelion Albums & BBC Recordings Collection, which featured all three albums St. John recorded for Dandelion (with bonus tracks) and highlights from her BBC radio sessions.

Bridget St. John's first album was a wholly acoustic, almost wholly solo folk affair, though different from many British folk albums of the time in that it was comprised entirely of self-composed material. St. John sang low-key, reflective, slightly sad songs that were unsurpassed, really, in their extraordinary level of containment. That's not say they were brilliant, or even as good as those of another British singer/songwriter of the time known for reserved meditations, Nick Drake. There was, however, the sense of an unflappable woman whose temperature would remain unchanged by nothing short of an equatorial sun. Her deep voice makes her sound at times rather like a Nico who can sing more in tune, without Nico's gothic or more bizarre streaks. Perhaps there's a tinge of Françoise Hardy without the pop sensibility, too, if you're looking for another comparison. It's music for wandering through meadows on overcast days, though a sameness to the presentation (the slide guitar on "Many Happy Returns" makes for a welcome dash of urgency) and a lack of excellent melodies can make it easy for one's mind to wander. [This and her second album, Songs for the Gentle Man, were combined onto one CD by See for Miles in 1994, and that reissue might be much easier to find than the original LP.]