Showing posts with label Elfenbein. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elfenbein. Show all posts

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Day After The Sabbath 82: Neurotic Reaction (Germany)

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Firstly, happy forthcoming new year to you all! Volume 82 is the third German collection I have made, after the krautrock special Vol19 and the Deutsch special Vol33. It has a bit of everything, 60's psych, hard rock/blues, krautrock and even some metallic gallop at the end. There is such a depth of quality music from this period in Germany's history you could spend a life-time looking for it all!

01. Apocalypse - Life Is Your Profession (1969)
       from album 'apocalypse'
02. Subject ESQ. - Alone (1972)
       from album 'subject esq.'
03. The Uncertain Midnight - Leaving The World (1969)
04. GÄA - Gäa (1974)
       from album 'auf der bahn zum uranus'
05. Brother T. & Family - Oh Love (1970)
       from album 'drillin' of the rock'
06. Frob - Spheres (1976)
       from album 'frob'
07. The Petards - Flame Missing Light (1971)
       from album 'pet arts'
08. Die Anderen - Neurotic Reaction (1968)
       from album 'kannibal komix'
09. Nine Days Wonder - Frustration (1974)
       from album 'only the dancers'
10. Elfenbein - Lost Son (1977)
       from album 'made in rock'
11. Elegy - No Direction (1969)
12. Schloss - Neighbourhood (1975)
       from album 'Weltschmerz'
13. Désirée - Woman (1976)
       from album 'make it with a smile'

Robots For Ronnie | ProgNotFrog
Kraut! Demons! Kraut!

Apocalypse, from Kiel, started life as 'Die Anderen' (trans: The Others) in 1966 (who appear here later). After becoming 'Apocalypse' in 1968, they recorded one album before splitting. One name connected to the band that most Germans will know is singer Jürgen Drews. He is now the self-appointed "King of Mallorca", a favourite holiday island of Germans, where he is a frequent entertainer. He was also in the 'Les Humphries Singers', a popular group started by an Englishman in Germany that had many singers, including John Lawton of later Uriah Heep and Lucifer's Friend fame, who will be mentioned later here. Apparently the Apocalypse album is an early production job of Giorgio Moroder, which does not surprise after hearing the quality and atmosphere of it. Thanks to 'albgardis' and his amusing review at RYM for this information. 'Life Is Your Profession' has an epic, rousing intro and ends up in some great progressive psych.

Subject ESQ.
Munich's Subject ESQ. made one album in 1972. It's a complete smörgåsbord of heavy, jazz, and Canterbury-scene flavoured prog and 'Alone' is the go-for-broke track into which they crammed as much as they could, it's totally addictive and totally great! What you get is a Deep Purple-hammond riff, in between a bunch of insane flute, harmonica, saxophone, acoustic and wood-wind segues, topped off with lyrics about a 'little bee'....Only in Germany. If you want to hear more, they morphed into 'Sahara' with some personnel changes and made two albums.

Track 3 is a thick slice of deeply lysergic psych from a mystery band apparently called 'The Uncertain Midnight'. It first appeared in the great obscure Krautrock series of comps called 'Kraut! Demons! Kraut!' and all that's known is it's an acetate that was made in Ludwigsburg, 1969.

GÄA, from Saarland, named after the Greek goddess of earth, were made up of Werner Frey (guitar, lead vocals), Helmut Heisel (bass), Günter Lackes (organ, piano, vocals), Stefan Dörr (drums, vocals), Werner Jungmann (congas, vocals) and Peter "Bello" Bell (bass, flute, vocals). They shared a couple of members with Blackbird who appeared on Vol70. They only made one album, 1974's 'Auf der Bahn zum Uranus' (trans: On the train to Uranus) and it's a shame that's all there is as it's one of the best-kept secrets in krautrock. As you can tell from the track I used here 'GÄA', they perfected long, emotive, spacey jams with ethereal guitar and flute. A one of a kind album.

'Brother T. & Family' are one of many of Hamburg's Lucifer's Friend (Vol2) related bands that popped up, along with Asterix (Vol5), Electric Food (Vol13) and Pink Mice (not heard yet). Apparently BT&F were the original LF lineup minus John Lawton, and Peter Hesslein on guitar/vox. Completing them was Dieter Horns (bass, vocals), Peter Hecht (keyboards) and Joachin Reitenbach (drums). Brother T. was the bluesiest of the bunch, it would seem that these guys' multiple bands would put them into the 'exploitation' bracket, they seem to have been attempting almost every brand of rock there was around that time and Lucifer's Friend was the one that won through with the most notoriety.

Track 6 takes us somewhere a little different, with Frob, from Rheda-Wiedenbrück. They are regarded as a very good jazz-fusion act which is not the kind of stuff I usually delve into but this track 'Spheres' caught me from their sole album. They take a break from the rest of the album and relax the frantic pace, exploring the outer-reaches with a spacey trip.

The Petards
Schrecksbach's The Petards are a recent find for me and one of those acts that i'm surprised I have not already frequently encountered in various places, as they had a few solid releases and some really great tunes. They started in the late sixties as a fairly typical freak beat/psych band but by the third album had tightened up into a frequently hard-rocking act with the psych edge remaining, they also kept a certain progressive pop side to them, all this resulted in albums that can't really be pigeon-holed easily. What ever you like, you'll find plenty worth hearing, especially on the two later albums, 'Hitshock' (1969) and 'Pet Arts' (1971). One thing I have noted, listening to them all, is the main singer's improving ability to sing with an English accent, which is almost perfect by the time they recorded 'Flame Missing Light' included here. On this long, expressive and tumultuously doomy track from the 'Pet Arts' LP they really seem to have started developing their own sound. It's a shame that they stopped after this, though they did reappear in 1981 with an album called 'Burning Rainbows' which I have not heard yet.

'Die Anderen' were mentioned here earlier, as the band that became Apocalypse. This track is taken from 1968's 'Kannibal Komix' album. Included here as a bit of fun, they were a strange mix of orchestrated pop with silly vocals and a touch of heavy psych, mostly evident on this comp's title track, 'Neurotic Reaction'. The album was issued in the US with the band name incorrectly printed as the album title. Later, the album was chosen by the US filmmaker George Moorse as soundtrack for his film “The House In White”.

Nine Days Wonder

Mannheim's 'Nine Days Wonder' have a few connections to bands I have already used. It is actually the latter name of Maternal Joy, who's excellent, tooth-rattlingly groovy b-side 'Fat' was used on the extra-heavy Vol70. They also included saxofonist/keyboardist Freddie Münster, who played on one of my all-time fave records, Night Sun's 'Mournin' (1972), an album of such mind-blowing heaviosity that, if you have not heard it yet, I recommend you stop reading this blog right now and go listen. They started in 1966, but by the time of their later albums, N.D.W. were leaving the sixties/early seventies far behind with their own unique sound. By then they had adopted elements of Bowie and Roxy Music's glam, and a certain amount of jarring, almost proto-punk attitude. Equally, they could drift off into space with tracks like Moment. No individual track from 1975's 'Only The Dancers' can really define them, from which I have taken 'Frustration', so I recommend listening to the whole thing. There is a great Nine Days Wonder interview here.

There is not a lot to say about Elfenbein from Bad Homburg, Hesse. The members are listed as Jack B. Menzel (vocals, bass), Michael Dertscheny (guitar, vocals) and Clemens Müller (drums, percussion) and they made one album in 1977 with a hard rock/metallic sound, as was emerging more and more in the latter part of the 70's. They wrote 9 solid straight-ahead rockers for 'Made In Rock' which I think will be of interest to those of you who are into the emerging NWOBHM-influenced sound.

Elegy's track is the second & final song here that was brought to light by the 'Kraut! Demons! Kraut!' series. It's an awesome track with an instantly memorable riff and great flute. Here is what the liner notes have to say: "Elegy left England in order to find fame and fortune on the continent. They toured extensively around Switzerland, Bavaria and Austria, where they recorded this single for the Atom label in 1969. After this amazing mixture of Brit Prog and KRAUT  the band vanished without trace. Another great UK group that never recorded at home." This story reminds a little of Universe who I used back on Vol40.

And so nearing the end, we have Schloss. I have been unable to find a lot of info on this one-album band. One interesting thing is that they featured a drummer previously of My Solid Ground, who show up on Vol3, Vol16 and Vol42 - as you can see I like them rather a lot. These guys sound nothing like M.S.G. however, they are Germany's answer to Status Quo. So, what you get is no-nonsense, heads-down mid-paced blusey hard rock, with a hint of southern rock here and there. An interesting example of a style that was not common over there at the time. The band comprised Klaus Luley (guitar, vocals), Roger Käschner (bass) and Willi Waid (drums). The name of the album 'Weltschmerz' translates to 'world-weariness', but there seems to be some confusion about what the intended album name actually is,  I have also read that the album was self-titled as 'Schloss', let me know if you can clarify this! According to RobotsForRonnie, "...the band's self-titled debut was released in the US but went virtually unnoticed. The band fizzled by the next year, with Luley later reappearing in Tokyo, Craaft and Douglas. The post-split activities of Kaeschner and Waid are unknown."

Désirée - Make It With A Smile back
Make It With A Smile back
We finish up on another band veering into metal, like Elfenbein. Hanover's Désirée played a remarkably ahead of it's time chugging brand of early metal, much more in line with the UK's NWOBHM bands like Judas Priest or Thin Lizzy than much else I have heard from Germany at the time. The singing, although in English, is an unfortunate weak point as it's quite high pitched and indistinct, and this is not helped by the basic production. But persevere and you will find some truly excellent galloping metal and guitar interplay. "Woman" demonstrates this perfectly, the more I listen, the more I can overcome any short-falls.

Désirée - Make It With A Smile front
Make It With A Smile front
They really remind me of an enigmatic Luxembourg band called Cold Feet that I have used a couple of times before, back on Vol22 and Vol67.  The similarity does not stop at the sound, but also reaches to the album art which also shows a scantily-clad 'lady of the night' type character in black and white. Not an unusual theme for a band in the seventies I know, but still eerily similar taking into account the year, country's proximity and sound. I have recently spoken to the drummer of Désirée, there isn't. Apparently most of the original Désirée lineup are back together now in a new band called 'New Fancy'.

Thanks for listening! Rich

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