Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Birth Control - 1982 - Bäng!

Birth Control

01. Nuclear reactor (5:03)
02. Get ready to run (4:06)
03. Take alarm (5:31)
04. Greedy eyes (4:54)
05. The day of doom is coming (8:00)
06. Doom Boom (5:16)
07. The king of an island (6:20)

Bonus tracks on 1997 CD release:
08. Nuclear Reactor (Single Version) (3:43)
09. Get Ready To Run (Single Version) (3:49)
10. Nuclear Reactor (12" Mix) (6:33)

Recorded and mixed May and June 1982 at Dierks-Studios, Cologne.

Bernd Noske / lead vocals, drums, percussion
Bruno Frenzel / lead & slice guitars, lead (3,6) & backing vocals
Stefan Linke / rhythm guitar, vocals
Ulrich Klein / keyboards, backing vocals
Jürgen Goldschmidt / bass, backing vocals

Bäng!  follows the steps of their previous release "Deal Done At Night" and display a more (heavy) rock oriented music. This was actually a good surprise and I can only be pleased that they decided to go on that way with this album. Some might call this lack of originality, but while you have listened to "Titanic" and the "Dracula" stuff, I guess that you would agree.
Songs as "Nuclear Reactor" are just as good as what they have produced in their heydays. And when you listen to "Get Ready To Run", you can notice that they have listened to some new wave/punkish bands some years prior this release. The pace of this song is devastating all the way through these four minutes. Dynamite, my friends.

The winning trio is reached with "Greedy Eyes" which is a bouncing song as well, so dynamic and wiiiiiiiild. What a treat!

Following the same strong beat "Doom Doom" is not as good. A bit too long probably (but this won't be a unique event on this album). The more one listens to this album, the more one has to recognize that prog isn't many. It is also true to say that this wasn't a major characteristic of "Birth Control" (except "Backdoor Capabilities").

Some songs sound a little weak as well. Still rocking, but on the very heavy edge "Take Alarm" has no charm at all and "The Day Of Doom." sounds as a poor man's "Iron Maiden" song (the last two minutes being totally superfluous and repetitive).

The crescendo closing number "The King Of An Island" is my fave song from this album (but I am biased in terms of song structure. I just adore crescendo.). The guitar play is simply wonderful. Somewhat MMEB oriented - Solar Fire period (which is a reference).

There is a CD version with three bonus tracks : the single releases of "Nuclear Reactor" and "Get Ready To Run" as well as a 12" release of again "Nuclear Reactor", should you not have enough of it.

Birth Control - 1980 - Deal Done At Night

Birth Control 
Deal Done At Night

01. Burnt gas (5:37)
02. He's in the right (4:52)
03. Talk to you (4:44)
04. Deal done at night (4:20)
05. Don't call me up (5:27)
06. Absolution (5:25)
07. Another death (6:05)

Bernd Noske / lead vocals, drums, percussion
Bruno Frenzel / guitar, backing vocals
Wolfgang Horn / keyboards, backing vocals
Jürgen Goldschmidt / bass, backing vocals

Gone are the funky roots (and some reggae as well). For the sake of everybody (at least mine, since there seems to be very little interest for this album).
The whole album features pleasant rock music like "Deal Done At Night" which is a catchy rock'n'roll tune (almost revival). But you'll have to face some soul-ish intro unfortunately. Another good song is the heavy "Talk To You". I have appreciated the great and super heavy organ play à la Heep (but here again, I am somewhat biased).

It is good to see that this band came back with a better offering. Of course, you shouldn't expect any outstanding numbers; just a sampling of good hard to heavy rock songs. But, isn't it precisely what we should have expected from this band?

Little prog as you could imagine but "Don't Call Me Up", "Burnt Gas" as well as "He's In The Right" should please any hard-rocker. And even if "Absolution" is more on the pop-rock side, the chorus is fine and the beat sustained.

The closing number has lots to do with Purple (Mark III or IV). Slow-paced heavy rock with powerful vocals. No surprise.

All in all, this is a good album. Since I have been quite harsh (but truly honest) with the band during my last reviews I will upgrade this album to three stars (but it deserves more five out of ten).

Still, a pleasant come back.

Birth Control - 1980 - Count On Dracula

Birth Control 
Count On Dracula

01. Count on Dracula (6:16)
02. The rescue - sometimes in the future (6:37)
03. Sad fan (6:27)
04. Pick on me (6:25)
05. Caterpillar (5:07)
06. Limelight (3:52)
07. Witchhunters (4:05)

Recorded and mixed in October, November and December 1979 at "Studio am Dom" Cologne (The Sound Experience)

Bernd Noske / lead & backing vocals, percussion, Fx
Bruno Frenzel / guitar, backing vocals
Wolfgang Horn / keyboards, backing vocals
Horst Stachelhaus / bass
Manfred von Bohr / drums

I don't know why people dislike this album. Sure maybe it's not their best effort but definitely worth of attention and not bringing shame on band. If all songs were as good as title track I'd give this album probably 5 but without more great ideas band served some good and some average tracks. Anyway this first tune is almost Black Sabbath like but the chorus is very catchy. Repeating that 'count on the count' is very funny play on words. The Rescue is abother hard rock song with good riff and strange keyboard sounds in the background. BTW keyboards don't play main role on the whole release. It's not Hoodoo Man. Sad Fan is lighter than previous two tracks and the rhythm section is a bit reggae - like. Not bad but not a highlight. Pick On Me in rthytm section is almost like 70's disco but fortunatelly it's a bit heavier than Bee Gees. Caterpillar again reggae tempo but this time it's more melodic than Sad Fan. I like this tune. It could be a hit if Birth Control were hits band. Limelight - more keyboards while Witchhunters more hard rockish. Well not bad. Maybe it's not such good as Hoodoo Man but who expected another HM from the band in late 70's? Songs 1,2, 7 are strongest moments on this release to me. The rest aren't bad, some are pretty average like Pick On Me but I think this album is good enough to give it a chance.

Birth Control - 1979 - Live '79

Birth Control 
Live '79

01. Titanic (7:55)
02. Saturday special (5:40)
03. Seems like it's confusion (7:25)
04. Fight for you (10:10)
05. The work is done (6:20)

Bruno Frenzel / guitar, vocals
Wolfgant "Fox" Horn / keyboards, backing vocals
Bernd Noske / lead vocals, f/x, percussion
Horst Stachelhaus / bass
Manfred von Bohr / drums

Man, this album always puts me in a great mood every time I play it! Although comprised of only a few tracks and long running times on most, it's really hardly one of their more progressive releases, rather it's just a damn good collection of superb 70's rock played by terrific musicians and a top- notch charismatic vocalist in the form of Bernd Noske. He has a sensational presence on this album, with a mix of gruff, confident and even romantic vocals. The LP is full of extended instrumental jamming amongst mostly straight-forward arrangements, with plenty of super-thick fuzzy organ, funky grooving guitars, commanding drum-work and aggressive bass playing.
What an opener `Titanic' is! Despite some borderline offensive and downright cheesy lyrics ("I've got a sinking feeling..." is particularly memorable!), it's overloaded with fiery bluesy-rock guitar work from Bruno Frenzel, wavering lead vocals, humming Hammond organ, powerful brooding drumming and even a vocoder/guitar back and forth in the middle for good measure! Best track on the album, and it always makes me smile.

Some will not enjoy the obviously funky/disco inspired bass playing on this album that first pops up on `Saturday Special'. Don't be put off by the fact that the track is a rather upbeat crowd-pleasing number, there's still plenty of spots for killer quick little lead guitar fills, very upbeat synth soloing and rattling percussion.

`Seems Like Confusion' is another stomping funk-rocker, made memorable by Bernd really shredding his vocal chords throughout the piece and the spiralling swirling extended keyboard/synth improv in the middle over the bouncing rhythm.

The strutting and punchy `Fight For You' is a real highlight! Cock-sure and crooning sultry vocals from Bernd, who's gunning for the ladies attention with lines like `I can't live without your kisses, your spirit and your soul' - commence swoon, girls! Some great dirty bluesy electric guitar as well, but it's bass player Horst that really steals the piece and makes it his own, just dominating the entire track. Especially listen to his grumbling bass soloing in the middle!

The hard R&B of `The Work Is Done' from Birth Control's terrific `Operation' album has been given a slight disco tweak here, although it's still quite heavy with wailing guitar soloing and shimmering organ. Admittedly this shorter version lacks the pleading lyric and somber atmosphere of the original, but still shows what a great tune it is anyway.

OK, so perhaps the album is a little dated by the endless funky bass playing (as terrific as it is), but there's no denying the talent still on display with the band. On `Live '79' you have a first-rate rock band playing in a more approachable melodic rock style while still incorporating progressive rock sophistication throughout. Well worth three and a half stars to my ears.

Why not dig out a copy for your next long drive on a nice summer day, I guarantee you'll have a great time!

Birth Control - 1978 - Titanic

Birth Control 

01. The last survivor (4:30)
02. Miss Davina (4:33)
03. Seems like it's confusion (5:13)
04. How can I live? (6:52)
05. Titanic (5:16)
06. Love light (4:41)
07. Don't turn back (5:21)
08. Saturday special (5:28)

Recorded and mixed May, June and July 1978 at "Studio am Dom" Cologne

Bernd Noske / lead & backing vocals, percussion
Bruno Frenzel / guitars
Zeus B. Held / keyboards
Horst Stachelhaus / bass, acoustic bass (7)
Manfred von Bohr / drums

Heinz Trewer / synth programming (3)

Birth Control are a German rock band that mix Hammond organ driven hard rock, with R&B, jazz and even psychedelic flavours. Fronted by the charismatic Bernd Noske, the band has always performed with great energy with a sound that constantly evolved. After a run of three albums which began with 1973's `Rebirth' that saw them embrace progressive rock, the band soon began to change their sound again, more than likely to do with the changing music tastes of the time. Funk and blues elements that had begun to emerge on their previous album `Increase' completely takes over on 1978's `Titanic', and it will likely test the patience of the more casual fans of the band. But if you just think they're a great rock band overall, chances are you'll find something on `Titanic' to enjoy.
Make peace with it right away - pretty much most of the tracks are powered by funky grooves and up-tempo energy, all crafted to very accessible verse-chorus arrangements. Catchy opener `The Last Survivor' actually has nothing to do with the `Titanic' of the album title, instead it's a cool groover with a biting lyric about a past love delivered with a raging vocal from Bernd. Right from the start, Horst Stachelhaus' bass pulses along the background nice and thick, and he instantly lifts the entire album. `Miss Davina' is a slinking chill-out that could almost be a tougher Roxy Music number, listen out for the droning chorus and cute synth trills. Slab thick bass and a howling vocal tear through `Seems Like Confusion', then Bernd is in loved-up form on the ballad `How Can I Live?'. It's the longest track on the album, confidently and sweetly sung, and a real showcase for Bruno Frenzel with his lovely heartfelt bluesy guitar soloing throughout.

The title track opens the second side, and it's a bit of a Birth Control classic, a brooding rocker with a catchy chorus, Hammond organ ripples and constant slow-burn bluesy wailing guitar fills. Be sure to check out the even better live version that appears on Birth Control's album `Live '79'! `Love Light' is a bass heavy sultry grooving dance-floor grinder, with a lusty vocal and dancing Hammond run in the finale, but the chorus is wretched and a bit too cute! `Don't Turn Back' is another classy romantic power ballad with powerful bluesy guitar runs and a warm swooning vocal especially strong in the stirring chorus, before the band close on the relentless chunky bass, lively drumming and fiery scorching electric guitar rager `Saturday Special'.

`Titanic' is a very well performed and catchy undemanding mix of rock and funk, with a handful of killer tracks and a few other worthwhile moments, with nothing actually terrible. First listen will be a bit of a shock, but give it more than one chance and take the time to listen closer, as you'll at least discover plenty of great playing from a talented band. Those only interested in their more progressive-related releases should stay well away, but anyone who likes the different styles of the band should look into it. Just make sure to check out their albums like `Operation', `Hoodoo Man', `Plastic People' and `Backdoor Possibilities' first!

Birth Control - 1977 - Increase

Birth Control 

01. Skate-board Sue (3:55)
02. Domino's hammock (4:52)
03. Fight for you (4:35)
04. Until the night (6:25)
05. Get up! (4:35)
06. We all thought we knew you (7:50)
07. Seems my bike's riding me (8:00)

Recorded in July and August, 1977 at Lerchenhof, Pohlhausen, Cologne, Germany with Delta-Studios

Bernd Noske / lead vocals, percussion, drums (4,7), vibes (4,6)
Bruno Frenzel / electric & acoustic guitars, harmony vocals
Zeus B. Held / HammondC3, Fender electric piano, Hohner D6 clavinet, Mini-Moog, Polymoog, String synth, grand piano, alto sax, harmony vocals
Horst Stachelhaus / bass
Manfred von Bohr / drums, percussion (4), congas (5)

Upon hearing Increase, i was amazed at how unique it is. There are common influences associated with progressive rock here (and some that are not common). In the melting pot of influences, there is everything from a hard rock feel, to jazz-rock and blues-rock, and even funk in a few places, and it is the way in which they mesh them together that makes for a very uncommon and impressive record.
Increase is not as hard rocking as previous Birth Control records, but the band's instrumental prowess is still fully evident, and is something that makes the album cohesive, and qualify as a winner. (though Increase tends to be overlooked in the general, grand scheme of things)

What really drew me to this record was the song "We All Thought We Knew You", which is the lyrical highlight, and pretty impressive, instrumentally, as well with an interesting vibraphone solo in the middle of things. It was written as a tribute and memorial to the late Helmut Koellen, former guitarist and vocalist for Triumvirat who had died suddenly just a few months before this song was recorded. A sad and painful thing to deal with, but is dealt with sensitively, and with understanding. Luckily, on youtube is a live concert performance of We All Thought We Knew You from 1977 in Germany with Zeus B. Held and the band.

No, Increase is not exactly like their other ones, but definitely is worth hunting for and listening to-i guess i could sum it up as unique, spirited,and wonderful! 

Birth Control - 1976 - Backdoor Possibilities

Birth Control
Backdoor Possibilities

01. One first of April: (7:41) :
- i) Prologue 2:32
- ii) Physical and mental short circuit 3:58
- iii) Subterranean escape 1:11
02. Beedeepees: (8:34) :
- i) Film of life 5:37
- ii) Childhood flash-back 0:52
- iii) Legal labyrinth 2:05
03. Futile prayer (5:55)
04. La Cigüena de Zaragoza: (8:17) :
- i) The farrockaway ropedancer 4:28
- ii) Le moineau de Paris 2:24
- iii) Cha cha d'amour 1:25
05. Behind grey walls (6:53)
06. No time to die (6:10)

Recorded and mixed at Conny's Studio, Neunkirchen. Some overdubs recorded at Studio Nedeljev, Cologne. Produced in july and august 1976.

Bruno Frenzel / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
Zeus B. Held / Hammond & Yamaha organs, Fender & Hohner electric pianos, Moog & Arp synths, grand piano, alto sax, tubular bells, vocals
Peter Föller / bass, vocals
Bernd Noske / drums, percussion, lead vocals

Michael / percussion (4)

There are those who feel this is not only BIRTH CONTROL's proggiest album but also their crowning achievment. Then there are those (loerboy) like myself who feel this is an excellent 4 star album but not as good as "Plastic People".This took a while to grow on me. It's certainly more Symphonic than anything they had done up to this point. I was reminded of GENESIS a couple of times and GENTLE GIANT several times. More prominant keyboards on display here than in their past as well.
"One First Of April" sounds kind of strange to open then it kicks in with drums pounding. Vocals follow. I'm reminded of GENESIS briefly 2 1/2 minutes in. The guitar and keyboards trade off 4 minutes in. It settles after 5 minutes. Vocals and drums are back 6 minutes in. Nice. Guitar follows as he proceeds to rip it up. Great opening track. "Beedeepees" I guess stands for the album's title. BDPS. Atmosphere to open then keys and reserved vocals take over. Bass and what sounds like mellotron before 2 minutes. Then it kicks in with the vocals, guitar and drums standing out.. Some Howe-like guitar 5 1/2 minutes in then it settles. Some cool GG-like vocal arrangements before 7 minutes. Kicks back in with a good percussion / guitar soundscape.

"Fugitive Prayer" is an interesting song that is as you might suspect rather melancholic. Intricate guitar and mellotron ? to open before reserved vocals arrive. The vocals become passionate after 2 minutes. The organ before 3 minutes has some attitiude. "La Ciguena De Zaragoza" is kind of jazzy to open. It's building and the drums sound amazing before a minute. Check out the guitar a minute later. It settles before 5 minutes to a spacey enviroment. Guitar then drums come in and build. Sax after 7 minutes. "Behind Grey Walls" opens with some nice piano melodies before vocals come in after a minute. It kicks in with power after 1 1/2 minutes. Great sound here. I like the organ and drum work too. Incredible. Guitar 3 1/2 minutes in. It settles with organ and tasteful guitar 5 minutes in before it kicks back in one more time. The final track "No Time To Die" is my least favourite. It opens with organ before the drums and guitar kick in. It settles with synths before 1 1/2 minutes as vocals join in.The sound does get fuller here.

Birth Control - 1975 - Plastic People

Birth Control 
Plastic People

01. Plastic people (10:54)
02. Tiny flashlights (7:33)
03. My mind (6:49)
04. Rockin' rollin' roller (5:43)
05. Trial trip (6:43)
06. This song is just for you (7:28)

Recorded at Dierks Studio, Cologne in May 1975
Mixed and given final touch at Air-Studio London in June 1975

Bruno Frenzel / guitars, string arrangements (3), backing vocals
Zeus B. Held / keyboards, tenor sax (2,4), trumpet (2), string & brass arrangements (6), vocals
Peter Föller / bass, vibes (3), lead vocals (1,2,4-6)
Bernd Noske / drums, percussion, Fx, lead vocals (2,3,5)

Christoph Noppeney / viola (3,6)
Jochen von Grumbkow / cello (3,6)
Friedmann Leinert / flute (6)
Robby / saxophone (6)
Otto / trombone (6)
Harry / trumpet (6)
Ulla / chorus vocals (6)
Hanne / chorus vocals (6)
Brigitte / chorus vocals (6)
Robert Camis De Fonseca / Fx (1)

If you are looking for classic mid 70s heavy prog with excellent musicianship and compelling albeit somewhat disjointed compositions, you should definitely lend an ear to the "Plastic People" of BIRTH CONTROL. If you are also a fan of German symphonic prog of that period, then drop what you are doing now! Much in the vein of GROBSCHNITT, NEKTAR, JANE, and a host of also rans, this effort grows in esteem with each listen.
The title cut sets the tone with its harmonic chorus, expressive organ, and colorful other instrumentation like flute, a fluid 10 minutes that flows by without obstruction. "Rockin' Rollin' Roller might be even better with its jazzy electric piano and disco like beat and cymbals, not to mention more grinding organ work and guitars. The main event here is "Trial Trip", the first part hard rocking and ominous, seguing to a wondrous guitar solo rivaling the most accomplished of prog players. The album closer "Song is Just for You" adds violin and later flute and sax atop the bluesy base. If "My Mind" and "Tiny Flashlight" are a bit weaker, they still hold captivating moments of contrast to keep most here happy. The vocals in general are functional but nothing more or less. They suit the musical concept to a T.

While they are not stylistically all that different from JANE, their similarity to that contemporary formation derives mostly from both groups' tendencies to explore the music in fashion at the time, meaning that their prog years were limited to the period beginning some time after the peak of prog and ending after punk had sunk its fangs into the neck of the dinosaur. Whatever their motives or faults, there can be no regrets that "Plastic People" were carried to term.

Birth Control - 1974 - Rebirth

Birth Control 

01. She's got nothing on you (5:04)
02. Mister Hero (6:42)
03. Grandjeanville (1:03)
04. No shade is real (4:41)
05. M.P.C. (1:56)
06. Together alone tonight (10:28)
07. Back from hell (8:08)

Bruno Frenzel / lead guitar, alto sax (2), vocals
Dirk Steffens / lead guitar, 12-string guitar (3), vocals
Zeus B. Held / organ, electric piano, Mellotron, trumpet & trombone (2), flute (5)
Peter Föller / bass, triangle (6), lead vocals
Bernd Noske / drums, Moog drums (7), percussion, lead vocals

Recorded and mixed at Dierks Studios, Stommeln, Nov. 73.

Progressive rock diehards will have you believe that (the appropriately-titled) Rebirth was a major stylistic misstep for Birth Control, as it eschews the band's established "heavy prog"/heavy psych sound in favor of more straightforward hard rock.  Although the record is a clear step down from more proggish efforts like Operation and Plastic People, I have a hard time denouncing any record with this many nice moments.  In particular, I think that this record has more highlights than it's quirky heavy psych predecessor Hoodoo Man, and those standouts draw me back to Rebirth as much as any entry in the Birth Control discography (apart from maybe Operation).  What the album lacks in originality it makes up for with a memorable collection of grooves, which owe as much to jam-centric rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd as they do to heavy psych.  The tracks that really stand out are still the ones where these healthy grooves are supplemented by "non-standard" touches, as on the horn laden "Mister Hero" or the acoustic-driven builder "Together Alone Tonight".  Two of my favorite tracks from the entire Birth Control discography.  There are still enough confusing moments on Rebirth to prevent anything higher than a 3.0 star rating.  Foremost among these is the extraordinarily tedious drum solo on "Back from Hell", which destroys what could've been a third standout track.  I'm also less than enamored with the two instrumental interludes ("Grandjeanville", "M. P.C.")- rather directionless pieces that may have been included merely as outlets for the band's proggish ambitions.

A fun record whose highlights make it a worthwhile listen for fans of 70's hard rock and heavy psych.  I still suggest that prog-inclined listeners begin their investigation of Birth Control with more ambitious efforts like Operation, Plastic People, and Backdoor Possibilities.

Birth Control - 1974 - Live

Birth Control 

01. The work is done (16:50)
02. Back from hell (15:35)
03. Gamma ray (20:33)
04. She's got nothing on you (5:35)
05. Long tall Sally (10:50)

Peter Föller / bass, vocals, percussion
Bruno Frenzel / guitar, vocals, percussion
Zeus B. Held / keyboards, percussion, backing vocals, Alto sax (1), harmonica (5)
Bernd Noske / drums, percussion, vocals

Recorded live June 74 with Dieter Dierks Recordomobile at: Icestadium Freiburg, Cityhall Attendorn, Cityhall Dorsten.
Remixed at Dierks Studios, Stommeln, August 74.

Featuring five extended versions of pieces taken from the albums 'Operation' and 'Hoodoo Man', this excellent live offering from the taboo-baiting German prog-rock outfit Birth Control finds the group in impressively muscular mode. Stretching such nuggets as 'The Work Is Done' and 'Gamma Ray' into epic new forms, this double-sided 1974 release - the group's first live album - showcases Birth Control very much near the apex of the impressive early powers. Of course, like many other 1970s rock groups, their later material starts to edge closer towards the realms of lightweights pop, yet for a brief while Birth Control truly were a formidable beast, blending jagged riffs, pounding percussion assaults and a series of deliberately controversial subject matters(abortion, murder, deviant sexuality) into their own powerful brew of rocked-up progressive proto-metal. Hard, edgy, tough and very impressive, this is a fine live album indeed.