Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Day After The Sabbath 107: Song of Tears [Austria]

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Herzlich willkommen auf TDATS #107, a collection of music from Austria. I was surprised at how little typical TDATS-ready music was recorded in this country. I was expecting that it's connection with Germany would lead to lots of similar styles and artists to that country's amazing rock history. Surprisingly, although Austria does have a rich tradition of it's own music, the psych, prog and heavy rock that Germany excelled in did not seem take hold there. Going back a lot further, it has of course had an astounding influence in classical music with the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss and Haydn. Maybe Austria's pride in these legends has encouraged a tendency for listeners and artists to stay within the realm of traditional music?

Another factor is of course that small countries near very prolific larger countries will tend to lose their upcoming talent across the border. Having been reading about many bands that did make it on to record, it seems that back then the national pop radio station Hitradio Ö3 had a disproportionately strong control over what bands were publicised and thus in demand, and in turn what bands received recording contracts....maybe the station had an agenda?  Maybe there were many more great bands that we can't possibly remember now, that never even got a chance to be recorded or documented.

01. Novak's Kapelle - Doing That Rhythm Thing (1968)
02. No Bros - Backstage Queen (1982)
       from album 'Ready For The Action'
03. Drahdiwaberl - Kaiserhymne Pink Punk Shirt (1979)
       from album 'Wiener Blutrausch'
04. Lazarus - Awaking of Lazarus Part 2 (1973)
       from album 'Lazarus'
05. Harri Stojka Express - The Jungle (1978)
       from album 'Sweet Vienna'
06. Glashaus - The Waiting Game (1977)
       from album 'Drinking Man'
07. Blowin Free - Song Of Tears (1981)
       from single [1981] and album 'Enemy' [1983]
08. Hide & Seek - Crying Child (1970)
09. Acid - Moonshine Girl (1975)
       from album 'More Acid'
10. Minisex - Valium (1979)
       from albums 'Wiener Blutrausch' [1979] and 'Minisex' [1980]
11. Christian Kolonovits - Wake Up!!! (1976)
       from album 'Life Is Just a Carnival'
12. Gipsy Love - Job In The Docks (1972)
       from album 'Here We Come'
13. U8 - Sherpin' Man (1982)
       from album 'Pegasus 1001'
14. Art Boys Collection - I'm Riding On An Arrow (1972)
       from album 'Stoned Wall'
15. Wolfgang Ambros - UFO (1976)
       from album '19 Class A Numbers'

If my memory serves me correctly, the only Austrian band that has appeared here before is Paternoster, back on volume13. What Austria did have was 'Liedermacher', and 'Deutschrock', and lots of Schlager pop music. Some of the early beat and psych bands that don't appear on here but deserve mention are The Charles Ryders Corporation, and the Albatross single "I Am Dead". One compilation I would recommend to those who want to hear some more is "Beat & Psych in Austria (1966-1972)".

'Wiener Blutrausch' punk sampler LP 1979
'Wiener Blutrausch'
punk sampler LP
Due to these difficulties, I have widened the net and reached up to the early '80s. A happy by-product of this is that I discovered Vienna had a very healthy punk/post-punk/new wave scene starting in the late '70s, and this comp has benefited from some welcome added variety in those styles. Two great comps exist to find out more about that: "Wiener Blutrausch sampler LP 1979" and "Es Chaos is die Botschaft! Es wurschtln es! Austrian Punkscene 78-84". If you are partial to a bit of obscure early '80s metal then you'll also be happy, the widened net has caught three metal bands; No Bros, Blowin Free and U8. There were at least two Austrian heavy metal singles made in 1979, from Angelina (now known as Gallows Pole) and Blind Petition. Alas I have been unable to find them anywhere.

An honourable mention goes to a few more progressive rock bands that didn't make it on here. Eela Craig are one of the best-known. They were undoubtedly a very talented band but their brand of fusion/symphonic prog isn't really TDATS material. Some other lesser-known, shorter-lived bands in a similar vein were Orange Power, Kyrie Eleison, Klockwerk Orange and Isaiah. While they all had some promise, what I could find from them didn't quite make the grade.

The Bands

Novak's Kapelle Hypodermic Needle /  Doing That Rhythm Thing 45 (1968)
Novak's Kapelle
Hypodermic Needle /
Doing That Rhythm Thing 45 (1968)
We open with a super heavy injection of lysergic psych from Novak's Kapelle. They hailed from Vienna, where most of our acts originated. "Doing That Rhythm Thing" is the b-side to the 1968 "Hypodermic Needle" single, which has appeared previously on TDATS vol33. While making this I found this excellent TV appearance on the Austrian show 'Countdown' in 1969. One astute observer commented that 'Hypodermic Needle' is very similar to The Animals' 1966 single "Inside Looking Out" and they are certainly correct. Strangely, Novaks seem to have taken a long break from recording in the '70s, but successfully (in the artistic sense) reinvented themselves as a hard rock band around 1977, releasing live EPs and a first full album called "Naked". These contain some quirky and amusing rockers with a definite punk edge and some rural US sounds, very different to the '60s singles, although still showing the same level of talent. At some point late in their life they were joined by guitarist Harri (Harry) Stojka, who features two more times in this volume, including his first band "Gipsy Love".  There is tantalisingly little info to be found about Novak's Kapelle, there's a bit more info here and I will carry on looking...

No Bros in the '80s
No Bros in the '80s
Innsbruck's No Bros were one of the first Austrian heavy metal bands to make a full length album. Klaus Schubert and Michael Ausserhofer started the band 'Target' in 1974. Nik P. Opperer, Freddy Gigele and Franz Heumader joined up and they became "No Bros". Ö3 Radio presenter Gotthard Rieger was a fan, then became their manager. This was quite bizarre as Ö3 was not known for playing metal, apart from maybe the softest of metal ballads. The success of a live album “Heavy Metal Party” (1982) and it's single "Good Morning, Sir" galvanised them to make the studio LP “Ready for the action” at Dieter Dirks' Colonge studio in the same year. From this, the closing ballad "Be My Friend" was a big hit single that earned them the money and following to tour Europe, playing with bands like Motörhead, Saxon, Girlschool, Uriah Heep and Krokus. Unfortunately internal disagreements and lineup changes caused the band to lose this momentum and they split in 1986, after two more LPs. They have however played various re-unions since, and released some more live material from those events. Thanks to , and the No Bros fan site for this info.

Stefan Weber in 1993
Stefan Weber in 1993
Stefan Weber started Vienna's underground band Drahdiwaberl in 1969. I found the track "Kaiserhymne Pink Punk Shirt" on a great compilation released in 1979 called "Wiener Blutrausch" [Vienna Bloodlust] which includes a few emerging post-punk/new wave bands, on which Drahdiwaberl were no doubt an influence. Stefan Weber himself made this sampler and he adorns the cover with a typically insane image of him licking a knife. Stefan is a supporter of the "Wiener Aktionismus" leftist student movements, and derisive political satire was a major part of Drahdiwaberl's stage show. Stefan has also stated that "It has always been my goal to make Drahdiwaberl the most extreme and obscene band, and I think we did that" (wikipedia).

This would seem justified as his stage shows have allegedly included live sex, even a staged 'gangbang' whilst masked as various politicians, pissing on the audience, cooking a pig on a spit while throwing various parts into the crowd. Amazingly, Falco was the bass player in Drahdiwaberl between 1978 and 1983, I remember well liking "Rock Me Amadeaus" on Top of the Pops! Being a covers band for a long time, Drahdiwaberl began writing their own songs in the late-'70s and started recording albums in the '80s, which continued with titles like "Mc Ronalds Massaker" until the final LP in 2004.

Lazarus LP (1973)
Lazarus LP (1973)
Neunkirchen's Lazarus was Peter Glatzl (guitar,vocals), Peter Fischer (bass), Alvin Waldner ( guitar), Walter Spacil (drums) and Helmut Sacher (lead vocals). The LP was lost for years, then found and released by the Shadoks label this year. "Awaking of Lazarus Part 2" is a killer slab or nihilistic heavy psych. It looks like my timing was lucky for making an Austrian comp! Here is the Shadoks press release: "Lazarus was founded by Peter Glatzl at the end of 1970 and they have played many gigs in Austria with various lineups until 1976. This amazing albums was recorded in Vienna 1973 in professional studio for Rex Records. Only 15 sample copies where pressed and only 5 copies ended up with the band members. Rex where known for releases of German folk music and Schlager. So they did know what to do with this far-out recording and did not release it. 

Among collectors Lazarus was a big mystery since nobody ever found a copy for the past 25 years. One day Hans Pokora located an original LP and the band as well so we where able to work out a deal. We where amazed but the great music and the professional compositions and recording. The story of Lazarus is been told as a psychedelic opera who emerges as a monster from his grave to spread terror and horror. 

All English vocals, amazing fuzz guitar all over, Zappa style arrangements, great vocals, tons of effects and tight drum sounds. Do not expect a naive Krautrock style, this is pure Underground as good as Open Mind and July with a good dose of psychedelia." There is a great interview with guitarist Peter Glatzl here at Psychedelic Baby webzine.

Harry Stojka Express Sweet Vienna LP (1978)
Harry Stojka Express
Sweet Vienna LP (1978)
Harri Stojka is a Vienese guitarist who was has connection to three of the tracks in this comp. He was a late member of the afore-mentioned Novak's Kapelle, and before that was in Gipsy Love, appearing soon. He also played with Peter Wolf and Karl Ratzer. In 1978 he started making his own LPs with The Harri Stojka Express, and "The Jungle" is taken from the first  of those albums, "Sweet Vienna". At this point Harry was moving away from from his previous rock playing to jazz/fusion and world music, but The Jungle has a heavy, funky riff. He is still active and played at the Vienna Jazzfest this year.

Glashaus "Drinking Man" LP (1977)
Glashaus "Drinking Man" LP (1977)
I know very little about Glashaus. They were Lupo Greil (vocals, guitar), Wolfgang Buettner (vocals, guitar), Hans Proebster (vocals, bass), Harry Stuempfl (vocals, piano, organ, harmonica) and Dieter Stuempfl (drums, percussion). They made one LP in 1977 called "Drinking Man" on the "Music Shop" label. It's a groovy upbeat rock album, sung in English. It's not progressive, but it has some cuts verging on hard rock, and there is some good organ work. The opener "Shine On Medas" is a Status Quo-like boogie number, and there is a southern/boogie feel to most other tracks. "The Waiting Game" and "Vertigo" are my TDATS picks. This album was hard to find and I must thank Lyrkoss at RYM for sending me the LP rip!

Blowin Free - Enemy LP (1983)
Blowin Free - Enemy LP (1983)
Vienna's Blowin Free are another heavy metal reprieve in proceedings. As one of Austria's first metal bands, they had "Song Of Tears" out as a single in 1981, and debut album "Enemy" in 1983. Enemy was definitely one of the heavier of the early Austrometal LPs, it is fairly derivative heavy metal, with punkish simplicity. It has a certain home-made charm and sounds like an attempt at thrash from guys who were not quite fast enough, so it's all kinda chugging mid-paced almost-thrash. The exception is "Song Of Tears" used here, which has a great NWOBHM feel. Vocalist Gary Wheeler is now in another Austrian metal stalwart, Blind Petition. The rest of the band was Robert Klammer (bass), Kurt Kalaschek (drums) and Martin Gellner (guitar). By the time of their third record, "The Knife and the Floosie" (1986), they had sped things up considerably. Unfortunately they went for a cheesy speed metal sound that lacks the character of "Enemy", seemingly prioritising speed over song-writing.

Hide & Seek
Crying Child / I Can Fly 45 (1970)
One of the few heavy psych tracks here is up next, thanks to Hide & Seek from Graz. They made four 45s between 1969 and 1971. It's a real fuzz feast, and although a happy upbeat ditty, packs in some serious psychedelic head-swimming. Quote: "Styria's capital Graz had a great Underground Beat scene back in the late 1960s but unfortunately most of the coolest bands never managed to produce a single - typically Austrian... However, the most influential formation of that small scene HIDE & SEEK actually released four (!!) 45-records between 1969 and 1971 of which the third's A-side, the relaxed psych-rocker 'Crying Child' even managed to hit the Ö3-pop-charts. Both tracks of that fine single are featuring nice psychedelic songwriting, fuzz guitars, haunted organs, drug-related lyrics and a healthy load of anarchy. Beware: Your kids might wanna kick some acid after listening to 'I can fly' (also compiled on 'Prae-Kraut Pandaemonium Vol 16'). Enough said: A great and really tough to find Garage-Punk-record."

Acid were a Vienna band that I must admit were not that great. They do seem to have been notable as one on the only vaguely psych/prog-ish Austrian bands that managed to get on major labels and hang around long enough to make a few albums. I scoured them all and was happy to find that I liked at least one track, "Moonshine Girl". It manages to take their commercial, fluffy sheen and make something unique by adding some decent atmospheric keyboard interludes, then welding it all to solid riffs and funky drumming. Founder Herbert Novacek went on to form the band Stress which had one album in 1981, that I have been unable to find thus-far. Original Acid guitarist Peter Koller went on to Wolfgang Ambros's band, appearing later on this comp.

As one of the post-punk/new wave (aka the "Neue Deutsche Welle") entrants in this volume, Vienna's Minisex bring a polished but driving track, "Valium", also to be found along with Drahdiwaberl on 1979's "Wiener Blutrausch" sampler. The Neue Deutsche Welle spawned the likes of Nena (99 Red Balloons) and Falco (Rock Me Amadeus).

Christian Kolonovits
Life Is Just a Carnival LP (1976)
Vienna's Christian Kolonovits is a composer and producer who has been associated with many pop and rock acts. He also made a solo record in 1976, from which I have taken "Wake Up!!!". "Life Is Just a Carnival" is a rock-opera/concept album on which all the tracks meld together, it reminds me a little of the lighter-hearted parts of The Wall (if they could possibly be described as such) as it seems to be about one mans' struggle with life and society, and one of the parts begins with some background TV show dialogue. I wonder if Roger Waters was listening before The Wall? "It's all up to you" even sounds a bit like "Nobody Home". There's some quite heavy up-front guitar in there, and according to the credits, the main guitarist was Johan Daansen, of the Krautrock-lite Epsilon (see Vol22). Christian also worked with Wolfgang Ambros, coming up at the end.

Gipsy Love George Doggette             Karl Ratzer
Gipsy Love
George Doggette             Karl Ratzer
We move on to another act involving Harri Stojka. The "Gipsy Love" band seems to have been the starting point for many other careers, including those of Karl Ratzer, Peter Wolf, and Richard Schönherz. Karl Ratzer (guitar) and Harri Stojka (bass with Gipsy Love) are cousins, both of Roma ancestry, which may explain the bands' name. Keyboardist/pianist Peter Wolf is notable, as he went to the US after Gipsy Love, played in jazz bands, became a big band teacher, and played with Frank Zappa for years on the road and 11 albums. He became a successful producer and arranger, writing music for movies Top Gun, Pretty Woman, and arranging for acts including Jefferson Starship, The Who and Kenny Loggins. Gipsy Love made a southern US style soulful rock with piano,  brass and some orchestration. They had a big sound that was contributed to by George Doggette's charismatic vocals, sung in English. They are described in most places as hard rock but I don't agree. It's something closer a Chicago or B.S.&T. with less horns, and less glitz, and added Frank Zappa band attitude.  "Job In The Docks" is strange, gritty, grimy, and it certainly sounds like they enjoyed playing it. One can only wonder what this guy was doing in 'The Docks' and why his woman gave him a 'Chewing Gum' every morning. George Doggette's vocals make the song as much as anything else, they are so damn sleazy!

For our third and final classic metal album, here's the best of the lot, from Nussdorf's U8. Allegedly, the bands' name was the idea of guitarist Manfred Seifriedsberger after he came back from a holiday in Italy, where he had found a jukebox which had his favourite song stored under U8. Their first single release was in 1981, and they made two full-lengths before splitting in 1988. Here's an interview with Günter Maier, who later went on to form Big Heat. Forgetting hard rock for the moment, in terms of metal, No Bros was almost there with their first album. It was however still rooted in '70s hard rock and the constant hammond organ and '80s synth sounds held it back too, whereas U8's debut LP 'Pegasus 1001' has more modern-sounding arrangements and production. The songs are also slightly better. "Sherpin' Man" is slow compared to the rest of the album, but I dig it's grinding doomy riff. It's not really fair to compare Pegasus 1001 to Blowin Free's debut, as I think they were aiming for different things, U8 is way more power metal than Blowin Free's attempt at evil thrash.

Art Boys Collection
Art Boys Collection
On to the final stretch now, we have Art Boys Collection from Andorf. Although maybe a few years behind their US/UK peers, they are still a rare example of good, sometimes-heavy psych from Austria. Their 1972 LP "Stoned Wall" (re-issued by Garden Of Delights in 2010) was a mixed bag, but the heavy cuts like "I'm Riding On An Arrow" are very good indeed. Like a lot of albums during the psych-to-hard-rock/prog transition, there is an awkward mix of experimental heaviness and staid ideas going back to the beat days or jangly pop of the Byrds etc. There are some comments from founding member Gerhard Egger here at Austro-rock-lexikon.

Here's what RDTEN1 at RYM pieced together about the band: "Singer/guitarist Gerhard Egger and drummer Hans Joachim Holz met at a college jam session in Linz, Austria.  The two discovered a common affinity for rock and roll, deciding to form a band.  Recruiting Holtz's brother Walter on keyboards, along with bassist  Johann Aigner, and guitarist Gerhard Bauer, they started playing dances and clubs as The Boys, followed by a change in name to The Art Boys Collection. With the third single providing the band with a massive Austrian hit, Lesborne rushed the band into the recording studio to record a supporting album. In spite of flaws, 1972's "Stoned Wall" is a collection that I've long found fascinating. 

With Egger responsible for ten of the twelve songs (Hans Joachim Holz penning the other two), the album wasn't particularly original, but served as a showcase demonstrating the influence American and English rock had throughout the rest of Europe, and in particular on these guys. With all of the material performed in English (accents were seldom a problem on this set), the album found The Art Boys working their way through an extensive catalog of past and then popular rock styles.  Unfortunately they never released the material they recorded for a planned follow-up."

Wolfgang Ambros
This set ends with a curve ball from Wolfgang Ambros from Wolfsgraben. "UFO" has a punk vibe, but he was a prolific and apparently influential singer song-writer who covered many themes and styles. He has released three cover albums (including songs by Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Hans Moser) along with original pop, rock, blues and folk records. He's famously known for setting the then-new trend in the 1970s known now as Austropop. During his career he has collaborated with countless respected Austrian musicians, including some names in this comp like Christian Kolonovits. At the relatively tender age of 62, he is still actively recording and performing. According to his bio on wikipedia, "His most famous songs are "Schifoan", "Es lebe der Zentralfriedhof" and "Zwickt's mi". "Schifoan" is like an anthem for the Austrian ski tourism and industry. Many Austrian skiers—but also many others—know the lyrics of this song."

Danke für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit, und gute Nacht!

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much - greetings from Austria