Thursday, March 28, 2019

Neon Rose - 1975 - Reload

Neon Rose

01. Dead Eyes 3:50
02. Night Birds 2:40
03. Too Long. 4:45
04. The Race For Knowledge 4:35
05. A Man's Not A Man 4:00
06. A Smell Of Death 5:10
07. Reload 6:35
08. Dust And Rust 4:000
09. Tears Of Pain 4:15

Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals – Benno Mengarelli
Chimes – Gunnar Hallin (tracks: A2, B2)
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Thomas Wiklund
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Gunnar Hallin, Piero Mengarelli
Lead Vocals – Roger Holegård
Mellotron – Roger Holegård (tracks: A2, B2)

Neon Rose from Stockholm is said to have been among the first Swedish hardwear bands that sang in English. Neither were they on any shit company whatsoever but at Vertigo, the same company that gave out great things like Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep to name just a few. Three plates made the band release during the years 1974 and 1975, of which the first two were not particularly remarkable. The third album Reload on the other hand, where all the pieces had fallen into place and was very remarkable - but by then the members were apparently so furious that there were no more disc releases.

As a Thin Lizzy fan, you wonder if Phil Lynott & Co, who at that time was also on Vertigo, was inspired by a bit of Neon Rose when they did the Jailbreak album from 1976, that is, the year after Reload . Listen from 0:53 in Night Birds and then compare with Warriors around 3:15. Completely conspiratorically far-fetched, it is probably not.

There is a video recorded for Dead Eyes , automatically a good choice as the whole album is fully cast. But there are still three other tracks that stand out extraordinarily: The Race for Knowledge, A Smell of Death and the album's title track (with the wonderful base song after introt). All three songs are exemplarily arranged with their alternating hard and soft parties. Listen and enjoy the beginning of the Swedish hard rock!

Yep, I'm pretty sure this is their best as well. It's definitely the best written and most consistent album of the three. Even the tracks here that take some time to get going... actually go somewhere interesting. A4's second half has a guitar solo that smacks of late 70s Rush, complete with an oddly syncopated, aggressive bass n' drum pattern behind it. B1's another track that starts kicking ass/briefly becomes what might as well be a totally different track with its guitar solo, and it's also got a recurring riff that sounds eerily similar to the opening music in the original Doom. 

A1, A3 and A5 are all great mid-70s dumb fun 'n riffs hard rock. A2's at *almost* the same proto-metal speeding train tempo as Queen's Stone Cold Crazy and Sweet's Set Me Free. And those last two tracks are fantastic, with at least one mighty riff each. B2's really the only dud, though it does feature an unaccompanied electric bass solo in its first third, which is a bit unusual. But the rest is SOLID. Dual lead guitar, cowbells, and big ol' burly riffs.

Well worth hearing.

Neon Rose - 1974 - Two

Neon Rose 

01. I´m A Entertainer 5:45
02. False Star 3:11
03. Thoughts 4:15
04. My Lady 7:58
05. Waiting For The Train 4:30
06. Bloody Wellfare 9:45
07. Is There An Eden 4:52

Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Mellotron, Backing Vocals, Mixed By – Benno Mengarelli
Drums, Percussion – Stanley Larsson
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals – Gunnar Hallin, Piero Mengarelli
Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Mellotron, Percussion, Mixed By – Roger Holegård

This is a good, solid, heavy metal style hard rock album; of that there should be little argument. However, I found their sound too substantially biased in the commercial direction. Fans of underground progressive hard rock might not find what they are looking for here. The album is rather typical of its time, though it could be debated it was a couple of years early, as this type of record didn't really proliferate until the later 70's. The guitar playing is stellar, though the material used to showcase it isn't always as outstanding. Indeed, I found a few of these tracks particularly undistinguished, even though I enjoy this type of rock. But then again, it certainly has its standouts, of which the epic "Bloody Wellfare" is probably my pick. It was recorded in Sept, 1974 in Stockholm, and the original issue came with a lyric sleeve.

Neon Rose - 1974 - A Dream Of Glory And Pride

Neon Rose 
A Dream Of Glory And Pride

01. Sensation 3:58
02. A Picture Of Me 7:29
03. Love Rock 4:45
04. Primo 6:37
05. Let's Go And Get That Boy 5:40
06. Julia's Dream 6:24
07. A Dream Of Glory And Pride 9:52
Bonus Tracks
08. C'Mon Everybody (Single B-Side) 4:58
09. War Song (Unreleased Studio Track) 5:41
10. Julia's Dream (Live) 6:24
11. Love Rock (Live) 4:57

Bass, Vocals – Benno Mengarelli
Drums – Stanley Larsson
Guitar – Gunnar Hallin (tracks: 10, 11), Piero Mengarelli
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Roger Holegård

Track 1-9 recorded at Decibel Studios, Stockholm in December 1973
Track 10-11 record live at Ragna Rock, Holmenkollen, Norway, June 16, 1974

Neon Rose was an hard rock band from Sweden formed in 1969 by bandmembers Roger, Piero and Benno under the name Spider; when Stanley Larsson joined the group in 1973 they took the name Neon Rose. Signing with Vertigo Records, their debut album was released in 1974, and was quickly followed with a sophomore effort early in 1975. Following the recording of this album, Stanley Larsson left the group and was replaced by Thomas Wiklund, formerly of Uppåt Väggarna. The group's final album, Reload, was released in 1975 and the group split, with Roger going on to join Wasa Express. 
Piero attempted to reform the group with all new members in 1977, but this incarnation disbanded after recording a few demos. In 1981, the group reformed with Piero and Benno and several new members. They recorded one single for Rosa Honung Records which was never issued.

In 1969 Roger, Piero and Benno formed the band SPIDER. In 1973 drummer Kenta "Krull" was replaced by Stanley Larsson and Neon Rose was born. Their first gig was to open for Dr.Hook.
Neon Rose is concidered to be one of Sweden´s best hard rock bands of all time. The first single was only released in 500 copies and is very sought after item that gains a high price.
On their first album "A dream of glory and pride" released in 1974, Gunnar Hallin was not a member of the band, but a guitar roadie!
After the second album "Two" (1975) Stanley had quit to join the blues outfit Nature. His replacement was Thomas Wiklund who in 1971 recorded a single with the band Uppåt Väggarna. Now Roger left the band too, but was persuaded to return. Their third and last album was named "Reload" recorded and released in 1975.After that album Roger quit and joined Wasa Express. He later formed the band Truck in where Thomas also was found.
In 1977 Piero made another attempt to get the band rolling with himself as the only original member left. They recorded some demos, but never took off. They reform in 1981, now with Piero, Benno, Joaquin Calafell (drums) Erik Svensson (keyboards) and Conny Bloom (guitar and vocals). They recorded a single for Rosa Honung Records, but it was never released.
Today Neon Rose is in the limelight again. 15 new songs is recorded featuring the Reload line-up and a compilation album is also planned.

Jerusalem - 1981 - Krigsman


01. Ständig Förändring 5:48
02. Krigsman 6:17
03. Du Är 4:14
04. It's Mad 5:36
05. Moderne Man 4:26
06. Sodom 12:10
07. Domedagsprofeter 4:36
08. Farväl 6:08

Bass – Peter Carlsson
Drums – Klas Anderhell
Keyboards – Dan Tibell
Vocals, Guitar – Ulf Christiansson

Jerusalem - 1980 - Jerusalem - Volym 2

Jerusalem - Volym 2

01. Pass På 5:35
02. Bara Rock 'N' Roll 4:19
03. Kärlekssång 3:38
04. Getsemane 3:45
05. Jag Behöver Dej 4:41
06. Introduktion 8:04
07. Dialog 4:30
08. Ajöss Med Dej Värld 5:30
09. Jag Vill Ge Dej En Blomma 4:15

Bass – Anders Mossberg
Drums – Klas Anderhell
Keyboards – Dan Tibell
Vocals, Guitar – Ulf Christiansson

With the release of Volume Two (1980), Jerusalem matured and took significant strides forward as musicians.  The recording depth of this second album sounds as if it was recorded in a high dollar studio with each instrument and vocal perfectly placed in the mix for maximum clarity and sonic depth. From the beginning track “Wake Up,” Jerusalem sound like a real rock band, and Volume 2 becomes a momentous stepping stone for believers who like their music played at full volume! This is full-throttle Jerusalem with tracks like the epic sounding “Gethsemane,” and the 8-minute track “Introduction” showing the band’s progressive edges.  Jam packed with hit song after hit song, the album sounds like it could be a Greatest Hits album! Volume Two is worthy of the elite spot it holds in the hearts of late 70’s/early 80’s hard rock fans!  Jerusalem - Volume Two never got a proper CD reissue in English until now.  With several compilations having songs from the album, this 2018 Retroactive Records reissue is the first time the album has been made available on CD in English featuring all the original songs!  This Rob Colwell (Bombworks Sound) Legends Remastered version adds warmth, depth, and sonic clarity to perfection. Retroactive Records has packaged this gem in a jewel case with a 12-page insert featuring band pics and lyrics. Great pains were made to make sure this classic was given the full reissue treatment, knowing Jerusalem fans have waited decades for a proper CD reissue!  Well, here you have it! For fans of Deep Purple, Boston, Bad Company, Resurrection Band, Daniel Band, Barnabas, and Nazareth!

Jerusalem - 1978 - Jerusalem - Volym 1

Jerusalem - Volym 1

01. Tänk Om Jesus Har Rätt 3:34
02. Noa 3:30
03. Kanske 4:22
04. Pappa Vem Har Gjort 3:50
05. Mr Ego 3:22
06. Kom Till Mej 3:40
07. Om Du Lyssnar 4:08
08. Dagarna Går 4:54
09. Jesus Är Det Underbaraste 2:23
10. Hög Tid 5:26
11. Fångsång 2:48
12. Neutral 2:42

Bass, Vocals – Bertil Sörensson
Drums – Danne Gansmoe
Keyboards – Dan Tibell
Vocals, Guitar – Ulf Christiansson

It all began in 1975 with a fifteen year old transit bus, bought from a surplus stock at the Swedish Telecom. It was a miracle that they even got out of Gothenburg. The water leaked out of the bus very quickly. Sometimes on tours they had to stop in the middle of nowhere and the guys had to wade in swamps to get water for the bus. But that didn’t keep the enthusiasm away. Every second weekend they took all the equipment and went on tour. The mission was to tell young people about God. In clubs, discos, schools.

They had to face a heavy resistance doing this.

Playing hard rock and being a Christian was very controversial at the time. Hard rock was connected to drugs, aggression and Satanism. Furthermore the music was ear-splitting. Being the first Christian hard rock band in Europe, Jerusalem had to endure a lot of criticism. They weren’t welcome at all to some churches. Smoke-bombs, long hair and luxury equipment was more than some people could accept, even if Jerusalem radically proclaimed Jesus. Hard rock was considered devilish.

Jerusalem addressed the youth. Hard rock was a way of bringing faith in Jesus to them in their own language. The lyrics described their relation to God in an ordinary, but radical way. Ulf Christiansson wrote as much as he could, and at almost every concert he had a new song to present. Heavy music delivered a heavy message and between the songs Ulf preached. In that way the concerts were more than just concerts, they turned into revival meetings. Side by side, hard rockers and confirmands were rocking. But also old people who were touched by God in a new way.

“One night, an old lady came to us after a concert and wanted to beg our forgiveness. She said that she had turned terribly mad when we started playing. She wanted to grab her purse and leave. But then she saw Jesus walking from the stage down towards her. He sat down in front of her, turned around and said: Those are my guys. Tears were streaming down her eyes when she told us.”

As time went by, prejudice seemed to disappear. The band was conductive to that by not giving up. After three years of touring record companies began calling. “I had told God and the guys that we won’t knock on anyone’s door, but wait for a record company to call”. The Christian record company Prim did, but they didn’t believe in too much success. They were wrong. The record “Jerusalem” became an instant hit among the audience. In just a few months the record sold 30 000 copies and kept on. Jerusalem reached far outside the church walls, drawing both believers and non-believers.

Jerusalem continued growing as a band. They toured both in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia. And Ulf Christiansson continued writing songs. Ulf’s lyrics was captivating, demanding and brought many people into a real relationship with Jesus. The next album was released already in 1980 and was named “Volume 2?. This record, which was made both as an English and Swedish version, opened the doors to the surrounding world. All of a sudden their working schedule was filled with tours in Germany, France, England, Belgium and Scandinavia. They decided to leave their jobs and go fulltime. From the Christian Greenbelt festival in England, where Jerusalem participated during the summer, Americans brought the record to USA and Glen Kaiser, leader of one of the largest rock bands there. He gave the record to Pat Boone, who owned the record company Lamb and Lion. They released the records in the USA.

 As time went by and Jerusalem joined forces they released the record “Warrior”. “Third time lucky!” the newspapers wrote. “Warrior” became a sales success in Sweden, Europe, USA and Canada. As a result of this music videos were recorded of the songs “Constantly Changing” and “It’s Mad”. Both songs made it the following year to American MTV.

The nights in narrow tour buses were gone. In the fall of 1981, Jerusalem took the plane to USA and went on tour. It became a success. European, radical Jerusalem, with their heavy hard rock took USA by storm. At this time the band consisted of Ulf Christiansson on guitar and vocals, Dan Tibell keyboards, Peter Carlsohn, (replacing Anders Mossberg on bass) and finally Michael Ulvsgard on drums (replacing Klas Anderhell).

The thought of reaching even higher was thrilling. The success made way for commercial thoughts. But the world of Christian music had changed, sales numbers became more important than preaching the Gospel. With the fourth album: “Can’t stop us now”, a new era started. Not only the music changed and became more melodic, but the lyrics didn’t speak as radically about God as before. The album, recorded in Ireland, lead to another tour in USA including Canada and Puerto Rico.

The success was enormous. During the following years, Jerusalem mostly toured abroad, with their huge equipment that weighed five tons. That was more than any other Swedish hard rock band could show at the time. Between 1983 and 1985 Jerusalem made several very successful tours in USA, which finally resulted in a live album: “In His Majesty’s Service”, recorded in Shreveport and Dallas. Showing Jerusalem’s radical presence on stage with Ulf shouting a heart piercing “Wake up Mr. Christian”!

Eventually it all became too much. Jerusalem pulled the emergency brake. The glamorous life had become too much. Family life was suffering. The band was tired and in some way the commitment they once had was gone. In the fall of 1985, Jerusalem took a break from touring. A new journey began, where the music had to stand back. Jesus was once again put first. And focus on the mission started to grow back, to find the “first love”.

Then as a reaction to the growing Satanism in Europe of the 80's they made the record “Dancing on the head of the Serpent” in 1987. Reidar Paulsen played the keyboards. On the sleeve there was an army boot, trampling on a demon. This shocked the Swedish Christianity. The record stores sold the record under the counter. But the record made #1 on the American radio charts with a following Dove Award nominee. After this the band was quiet for a while. Ulf did some solo albums instead. But the vision and the dream was still alive. In 1992, the band moved back to Gothenburg and recorded the “Prophet” album. It became the album to get the most favorable reviews following a European tour.

After this Jerusalem has made several albums. 1997 they came out with Volume 3 and the year after that Volume 4, both as a longing to capture all the songs Ulf wrote during the vinyl days. “It was impossible to record all songs we wrote during that time, a vinyl record could only hold 22 minutes on each side and we had far more songs than that, that’s why we did Volume 3 and 4?.
rensvenskaThe following year Jerusalem did a tour in Scandinavia including the Baltic States called “På ren svenska” (In pure Swedish) where they did most of the songs in Swedish. During the tour they also made a live recording in Sweden and Norway, “Jerusalem Live, på ren svenska”. The record captivated in a great way the bands presence and radical voice. In 2001 Ulf decided to move to America and record his solo album: “Entertainers & Soldiers”. He stayed in Florida for 3 years with his family. During this time Jerusalem only did some festivals in Europe and in Sweden. In 2006 Jerusalem did a very successful anniversary tour in Sweden called “Tretti” (Thirty) where they played 3 sold out halls in Sweden. The tour was done in 2 sets on stage. One from the earlier years and one from the latter years. A video was made from the tour including the history of 30 years of the impact and groundbreaking pioneer work of Jerusalem.

2009 Jerusalem decided to go into the studio as a 3-piece setup with Ulf, Michael Ulvsgard and Peter Carlsohn. They made the album “She” as a reaction to the growing lukewarm condition of the church in the west. With “She” Jerusalem instantly made #1 on Scandinavia’s Ginza (Scandinavian internet sale list). In a review by Sweden Rock Magazine (Scandinavia’s largest rock magazine) Ulf was granted the title as having one of the best rock voices in the Rock´n´Roll world.