Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Day After The Sabbath 88: Escape From The Storm (Finland)

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Finland is the fifth in my Nordic series after Denmark (Vol72), Sweden (Vol75), Norway (Vol81) and the first one (Vol28) which was a mix. I have now also done Iceland (Vol124). I finished most of the work for this a few months ago, but with the recent and gratefully appreciated help of a few TDATS group members like Aki Stenius, Ville Pirinen and Jani Pitkänen I have been able to fine-tune it to the point of perfection. It's turned out to be another excellent selection of heavy prog with a sprinkling of hard rock, a jazz-funk monster, a sliver of metal and a couple of chill-outs; a fine and varied mix that really shows what breadth of quality music the often over-looked country of Finland offered in the '60s and '70s. I was happy that I was able to use album cuts for the majority of the comp, giving you guys out there plenty of options to dig further if you like any of these bands, on top there's a couple of great singles.


01. Jormas - I Can't Break the Habit (1968)
       from album 'sincerely'
02. Charlies - Living for Myself (I'm a King Dreamer) (1970)
       from album 'buttocks'
03. Apollo - Hideki Tojo 1884-1948 (1970)
       from album 'apollo'
04. Kaamos - Strife (1977)
       from album 'deeds and talks'
05. Alwari Tuohitorvi - Kromikaunotar (1973)
06. Eero Koivistoinen Music Society - Hot C (1973)
       from album 'wahoo!'
07. Kalevala - Escape From the Storm (1972)
       from album 'people no names'
08. Tabula Rasa - Nyt Maalaan Elämää (1975)
       from album 'tabula rasa'
09. Paroni Paakkunainen - Plastic Maailma (1971)
       from album 'plastic maailma'
10. Eero Koivistoinen - Pientä Peliä Urbaanissa Limousinessa (1968)
       from album 'valtakunta'
11. Blues Section - Hey Hey Hey (1967)
       from album 'blues section'
12. Finnforest - Mikä Yö (1975)
       from album 'finnforest'
13. Elonkorjuu - A Little Rocket Song (1972)
       from album 'harvest time'
14. Melvin McRae Band - Law Man (1976)
       from album 'queen of hearts'
15. Tasavallan Presidentti - Obsolete Machine (1969)
       from album 'tasavallan presidentti'
16. Sarcofagus - All Those Lies (1979)

For those interested in the fantastic cover art; it's a famous Finnish painting inspired by the Kalevala, a collection of traditional Finnish poetry and folklore that was compiled by physician-philologist Elias Lönnrot and published in 1849. He traveled the regions in and around Finland over a course of many years, gathering spoken-word poems and mythological stories dating back to the Bronze age. The resulting epic book was an important inspiration to Finland when it was establishing and instilling its national identity during its successful 1917 declaration of Independence from Russia, taking advantage of the unrest caused by Russia's revolution.  The painting itself is called 'The Defense of Sampo (Sammon puolustus)', painted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela in 1896. This is a quote describing the painting: "The scene portrayed is taken from the 43rd song of the epic, where the hero Väinämöinen, seen wielding a sword, has stolen the precious artifact Sampo from the evil witch Louhi, and she, having taken the form of a giant bird, is trying to reclaim it. The battle for the Sampo is also given a deeper connotation as a battle for the soul of Finland."

Love Records logo
One record label to mention is Love Records, which was by far the most important in Finnish prog. Almost half of the artists in this comp had at least one release on Love. Wigwam was on Love, the most prominent of the country's prog acts which was one of the first and only to become acclaimed elsewhere in the world (they were signed to Virgin in the UK). Love was also the home to 'Blues Section', who seeded the development of many other bands in this comp, including another Love signing 'Tasavallan Presidentti' (trans:'President of the Republic').

So we jump in with Jormas, a pop band that included members from 'The Islanders' and 'The Finnish Beatmakers'. They were at one time Finland's most popular band, members included Pepe Willberg and Raul Wikström who worked together often, including in the post-Jormas act 'Pepe & Paradise'. Their second album, 1968's 'Sincerely!' included track 1 here, a cover of London band The Ferris Wheels' track 'I Can't Break The Habit'.

Charlies were from Lahti, the capital of the Päijänne Tavastia region in southern Finland. The members were Wellu Lehtine (vocals, harmonica, Moroccan clay drums, cowbell), Eero Ravi (guitar), Pitkä Lehtine (bass, tambourine), Kusti Ahlgren (drums, Moroccan clay drums, kettles) and Igor Sidorow (flute, saxophone, piano). There are a couple of re-issues available, of two albums, and 'Living for Myself (I'm a King Dreamer)' is from their second and final album called 'Buttocks' (1970). It's a great one, with plenty of heavy guitar, nicely done flute and funky drumming.

Apollo LP (1970)
The next track introduces the band Apollo, and a drummer that was in three of the bands on this comp, Edward Vesala. He was a well respected avant-garde jazz composer and band-leader also playing in Blues Section and Tasavallan Presidentti coming up later. Singer Harri Saksala was also the singer on Kalevala's first album 'People No Names' which is coming up later. The remaining two members, Eero Lupari (guitar, vocals) and Heimo Holopainen (bass, vocals) were both in 60s beat-niks Topmost and here's a sample. There were also some contributions from "Paroni" Paakkunainen who appears later here. The song I used here for track 3 seems to be named after the Japanese general who was in charge of the attack on Pearl Harbour, though I am unable to explain this further, so if there's any one out there who can translate the lyrics and help me out, drop me a line. I have found a great review of their single album from 1970 on the excellent Mutant Sounds blog so here it is: "One of the very first Finnish prog bands, Apollo was in fact the launching pad for the world renowned fusion drummer Edward Vesala, whose gorgeous work I've previously posted both under his own name and as a member of Toto Blanke's Electric Circus. Dag Erik Asbjornsen described this extraordinary acid rock/proto prog crew in Scented Garden's Of The Mind as sounding "like they're fronted by a singing moose", a description too perfect to try to top, though it only applies to the half of the album where they're in post-Cream acid pummel mode, but oh...when they are, it's sublime. If any of you out there have been hepped to Kalevala, you'd almost swear this was the same band when they're functioning off this tip; Apollo's iteration sounding as though it's being filtered though the same heavy fogbank of dope smoke that also resulted in expressions of this form like May Blitz or Peru's Tarkus. Yes. That heavy. Stomping stoned caveman shit that is just too gobsmackingly ridiculous and wonderful for words. It's also contrasted about 50/50 here with swoon-worthy orchestrated proggy prog that's very McDonald and Giles/early Crimson in tone. The tension between these poles makes for a truly epic listen."

Kaamos were from Turku, a city on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. The members that recorded their sole album in 1977 called 'Deeds and Talks' were Jarkko "Jakke" Leivo (bass), Ilpo Murtojärvi (guitar, backing vocals), Kyösti Laihi (Keyboards) and Johnny Gustafsson (Lead Vocals, all percussion). It was released on a label called 'M&T', which was run by the famous Schlager/folk duo and brothers Matti and Teppo Ruohonen. 'Schlager music' is the term used to describe popular and often sentimental music styles in Scandinavia, Central and Northern Europe, and the Balkans.

Here is a great summation of the band and album from Prog Archives: "This Finnish quartet were formed in 1973 and released one album that mixes folk, Medieval and classical music with bits of blues and funk. Thanks to Kyösti Laihi, the original keyboard player who kindly provided some information about his band (see the review section of their album), we learn that Kaamos comprised some seasoned musicians who learned their skills playing the likes of Yes, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Zappa and Todd Rundgren among others. More importantly, they wrote their own material which resulted in a little gem called "Deeds and Talks" released in 1977, now a collectable item. Although the band doesn't exist any more, all members are still musically active in one way or another.

"Deeds and Talks" is a refined piece of prog with prominent guitar (in fact, great guitar work) and keyboards. Some tracks will remind the listener of Jethro Tull without the flute, whereas some have an almost funky, Stevie Wonder flavour but still manage to have a prog feel; others are rather bluesy while others, still, are purely symphonic. An unlikely mixture of styles quite successfully put together."

Alwari Tuohitorvi were from a town called Ähtäri in the Southern Ostrobothnia region. They started out as a progressive rock band, they morphed into a more commercial sound later on, and various spin-off bands like The Mathews and Kummitus appeared. At the time the song I have used here 'Kromikaunotar' (b-side, 1973) was recorded, the lineup was Jukka Rautiainen (vocals, guitar), Seppo Alajoki (guitar), Raimo Pikanen (drums) and Mika Sundqvist (bass). It's got a great jarring, proggy, almost post-punk riff. It's been hard to find much substantial information on the band so let me know if you can help out.

Eero Koivistoinen is a jazz saxophone player from Helsinki. After studying jazz in Boston, US, he was a member of seminal Finnish band Blues Section (coming up) between 67 and 68. Track 6 here is from his funk/jazz supergroup 'Eero Koivistoinen Music Society' which recorded a classic album called 'Wahoo!' in 1973. Also appearing on this record were many other members of Blues Section. It's a really highly-rated jazz funk album that is wicked fun from start to end and I think even non jazz-nuts like me will like it a lot!

Nearing the middle of the comp and we arrive at a Helsinki band that is named after the afore-mentioned epic book, a name which they ended up almost by accident, when a concert organiser objected to their then-topical original name Vietnam and they needed a quick replacement. Kalevala's first record 'People No Names' was an unusual album to come from the country at the time, deffinitely one of the more advanced, and most progressive Finnish albums of the early 70s. It's full of tight, complex and heavy playing as you can hear on this comp's namesake 'Escape From the Storm', which at times builds up tension like cool 70s movie chase music. As previously mentioned, their singer Harri Saksala also sung on the Apollo album, but he does't use such a theatrical/exaggerated method here, which maybe something to do with the fact he sings in English this time. The next album that came along 'Boogie Jungle', is a little of a backward step into predictable rock but there's a couple of decent tracks there like 'Rockin' Fish'. Here's the bio from Prog Archives: "Kalevala was formed in 1969 by Juha Salonen (bass), Remu Aaltonen (drums/vocals) and Albert Järvinen (guitar). Their first name was Vienam, but they had to change it in order to get concerts. This first line-up played straightforward rock’n’roll, and they were a popular live act in Finland. There was no studio recordings from this line-up, but the Finnish broadcasting company recorded their performance from 1970 “Ruisrock” festival. After this the line-up changed. Remu founded Hurriganes (see Vol79), which Albert also joined later. 

Now Kalevala’s musical direction was changed to more progressive direction. The new musicians on their second line-up were Markku Luukkanen on drums, Matti Kurkinen on Guitar and Harri Saksala doing singing. They recorded one album, “People No Names” (1972) which was released by Finnlevy. They had some guest musicians helping on doing it: pianist Olli Ahvenlahti, Raimo Wallen playing flute and on acoustic guitar Ile Kallio, who was playing on Hurriganes during that time. The result was quite unique.

The band was very unstable, as they had again changes in their line-up. Now they had Zape “Limousine” Leppänen on vocals, who has worked with many respected Finnish artists. The band recorded an album “Boogie Jungle” (1975), which is again more basic rock music. They had Jim Pembroke doing their lyrics plus backing vocals, and Jukka Gustavson playing keyboards on one track. Shortly after this band faced a sudden catastrophy, as Matti Kurkinen got in to a fatal car accident. Their name was defined as Kalevala Orchestra for their next album ”Abraham’s Blue Refrain” (1977). After this they toured Europe with Ange, but they faced financial problems, and the musicians disbanded Kalevala went to different directions.

Some members of the band rejoined in studio 1995, but they couldn’t get a record deal. These new tracks are available on “Anthology” (2004), which has some live recordings and before unreleased material on it."

Tabula Rasa
Half-way now and we find a pleasant but powerful folky instrumental from Tabula Rasa. They were from Kangasala and made two albums between 75-6 after forming in 1971. The lineup for the first album was Tapio Suominen (bass), Asko Pakkanen (drums), Jarmo Sormunen (flute), Heikki Silvennoinen (guitar) and Jukka Leppilampi (vocals). There's some really great stuff on the s/t 1975 LP that this track is taken from and I plan to use more of it on a heavy folk comp I'm doing. Jarmo Sormunen left the band and became a priest, while Heikki Silvennoinen continued a career in blues rock, as well as becoming a comedy actor who's notable work included a TV sketch series called Kummeli which was acted almost entirely by musicians. Heikki is the guy who has trouble staying seated in this clip.

Paroni Paakkunainen
Seppo Paakkunainen is a saxophonist/flautist who was involved in many Fininsh bands. I have used a track from an album which he lead, and was released under a nickname of his, Paroni Paakkunainen. It includes the talents of names I'v already mentioned; the singer Harri Saksala from Apollo/Kalevala and Edward Vesala from Apollo. 'Plastic Maailma' (Trans: 'Plastic World') is a swinging song with some cool flute.

Now we return to Eero Koivistoinen, this time his first record, which was a varied affair, that was influenced heavily by The Beatles. It includes the killer fuzz of 'Pientä Peliä Urbaanissa Limousinessa', which makes for a long garage rocker with manic guitar (courtesy of Blues Section's Hasse Walli) and tonnes of crazy attitude as the the song breaks down into chaos towards the end.

Blues Section
Speaking of Blues Section, here they are for track 11! 'Hey Hey Hey' arrives literally with a roar of heavy machinery that fades into the distortion of some more Hasse Walli guitar freak-out. Like the track before, this one swings and grooves along with the aid of Eero Koivistoinen's sax, and ends in an equally heavy and destructive morass of fuzz which could be described as the sound of a spitfire with guns blazing flying head-on into an on-coming double decker bus.

After the tumult of Blues Section's implosion, we can enjoy the cleansing crystalline sounds and new beginnings of 'Mikä Yö', some beautiful instrumental progressive rock from Finnforest. They originated in Kuopio, a city and a municipality located in the region of Northern Savonia, and when they recorded their first (of three) albums in 1975, their lineup was the trio of Pekka Tegelman (guitar), Jussi Tegelman (drums) and Jukka Rissanen (keyboards).

Elonkorjuu - Harvest Time (1972)
Back for a pummelling now; Elonkorjuu were from the city of Pori on the west coast of Finland. I used them once before on Vol22, as they made one of Finland's earliest heavy proggers, 1972's 'Harvest Time'. Here's another track from that album; 'A Little Rocket Song'. The band recorded again in 1978 with a different lineup and a move into a more sedate style. It would seem that guitarist Jukka Syrenius had the most involved post-Elonkorjuu career, and the 'Jukka Syrenius Band' has recorded four albums since the 80s. Here's a clip of him playing at the Pori jazz festival last year, and here's a clip of Elonkorjuu playing (with Jukka) at the same festival in 2011.

Melvin McRae Band - Queen Of Hearts LP (1976)
From the beginning of researching this comp I was intending on using the opening track 'Palaa' from Yellow's album 'Keltakuume'. Recently I discovered that the next album they made, under the differing name of 'Melvin MacRae Band', was an all-round better effort, so here is 'Law Man' from the 'Queen of Hearts' album instead. It's seems to be a very rare album and there is little information available on the net. It's a typically later-70s sounding hard rock record with a lot of boogie blues going on which is not that inspired. All is not lost....there are at least three good'n heavy songs which are quite fast and aggressive, of which 'Law Man' is my pick. Here are the credits from the album: Melvin McRae (guitar, vox), Rauni Osterman (drums) and Hannu Takala (bass) (which is the same as the final Yellow lineup, minus Helge Koskela). Engineer: Tom Vuori. Recorded at Finnlevy Studios, Helsinki, Finland 1975. According to the Finnish Wikipedia, Yellow emerged from a 60s band called 'Only Five', though by the looks of it none of those original members were still around in the McRae band.

Tasavallan Presidentti
Nearing the end now, and a track from veteran band Tasavallan Presidentti. One of Finland's most famous prog rock bands. Founded in spring 1969 by guitarist Jukka Tolonen and drummer Vesa Aaltonen. Other members of the band came from Blues Section that had recently split up: bassist Måns Groundstroem and singer Frank Robson. Tasavallan Presidentti released their debut s/t album in 1969 with the complete lineup being: Måns Groundstroem (Bass Guitar, Organ), Vesa Aaltonen (drums), Jukka Tolonen (Guitar, Piano), Junnu Aaltonen (flute, sax) and Frank Robson (vox, piano). They toured in Sweden and England in the early 1970s and released three more albums before splitting up in 1974. 'Obsolete Machine' shows it's Blues Section heritage nicely with the same irresistible swing.

So #88 comes to an end with a slice of NWOBHM-style heavy metal, heralding the new sounds of the next decade... Helsinki's Sarcofagus just about got a 70s release with their first single, the galloping 'Go to Hell / All Those Lies' (1979), with the lineup of Juha Kiminki (bass), Ari-Pekka Roitto (drums), Kimmo Kuusniemi (guitar) and Hannu Léiden (vocals). Two albums came in 1980 and then a third was made after the band changed name to the 'Kimmo Kuusniemi Band'. They have re-formed since and you can see more of them at their site here.

Thanks for listening and see you on the next one! Rich

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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks man, I hope it showed you some new stuff!

  2. Yeah!!! the seventies are the best!!!

  3. Rich I Love this site Man keep them coming!!!

  4. Man! I've been visiting blogs for years, but this one is simply incredible!!! How on Earth didn't I find it earlier?! Rich, your compilations are the only music I've been listening to for days! I've been wondering, is it me or numbers 34 and 84 are really not there?

    1. Hi, thanks for the comments. 34 does not exist at the moment, it will come back one day....I cannot se any problem with 84 though? It his here:

    2. Hi Kippo, 34 is back! :

  5. Thanks Rich. Somehow, it just wasn't there... :)
    I'm gonna use the fb group to post some excellent stuff from ex-Yugoslavia (present Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro) which I'm sure you will like. There's plenty stuff to make a compilation no xx. :)

    1. Hi Kippo, 34 is back! :

  6. Excellent compilation. All these albums have in lossless format. May be it will lookl a bit incorrect but in my opinion few interesting grops a missed:
    1 Ferris Ferris 1971
    2. Kingston Wall (all albums)
    3. The Mutants (my fovorite freaks, all aalbums)
    4. Jukka Tolonen first LP 71
    BTW - many thanks for this compilation

    1. Thanks you very much for the advice. I have checked out those bands already, but not yet 'Kingston Wall' or 'The Mutants', so I will look them up!

  7. Nice! That cover has been my desktop forever! Being a fin and all hah. Thanks for all this!

  8. Hi Rich this is one of the best compilation you've done so far!BTW do you know where can I download that Eero Koivistoinen Music Society awesome LP? There are some links available but all dead...Wojtek

  9. Billion thanks to You for this wonderful site! And in the same time I blame You, because from this on I will be sending all my free time checking all this great compilations:-)

  10. Have really enjoyed this series of compilations - essential brain food
    keep your freak flying