Showing posts with label Lokomotive Kreuzberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lokomotive Kreuzberg. Show all posts

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath - Best of 2015


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password:  tdats

The Day After The Sabbath - Best of 2015 by Rich Aftersabbath on Mixcloud

The blog has now reached the ripe old age of six years! The past year of doing this has been a very enjoyable one - there's been two Dutch band profiles, Panda (119) and Blue Planet (127), a special and interview on the archival label World In Sound (114), a profile on krautrock producer Conny Planck (116), two heavy metal-inspired volumes; US (126) and NWOBHM (121), Scott Blackerby of The Acid Archives and Bad Cat Records (115) and a profile on The Gurvitz Brothers (125). Regional specials have honoured Spain again (123), Serbia (120), Portugal (113), Boston (117) and Iceland (124). Other themes have included Chicano rock (118) and a special on long prog tracks (122).

A year ago I promised I would be doing more interviews; I got an exclusive with the previously mysterious psych figure of Roy Rutanen and his band (link) and an exclusive with Jim Smith of Stonehouse (link). More exclusives came with Jaap van Eik of Panda (link) and Art Bausch of Blue Planet (link) and I spoke to four of the names appearing in Volume 126; Mike Gandia of Squadran, Danney Alkana of Alkana, Darren Welch of Axxe/Impeccable and Rob Griffin of Tyranny / Graven Image.

I hope that people still enjoy reading and listening to TDATS as much as I enjoy making it, here's to the on-coming year of many new ideas which are in the pipeline. As ever, please drop me a line via email or otherwise if you have any suggestions, and join up at the fb group where you can participate even more fully. My special thanks goes to the group admins that have increased greatly in number and efforts this year and been doing a great job there - you know who you are. Keep it PROTO guys :)

For what is now an annual round-up (last year's) of some of the best tracks appearing on the blog in the last year, here is a comp of fifteen tracks, one from each of the fifteen numbered volumes posted in 2015 so far. Enjoy!

TRACKS
01. Beatnicks - Back In Town (1972) - from v113
       single
02. Gold - No Parking (1970) - from v114
       single and W.I.S. retrospective 'San Francisco Origins'
03. Fanny - Place in the Country (1971) - from v115
       from album 'Charity Ball'
04. Lokomotive Kreuzberg - Comeback (1975) - from v116
       from album 'Fette Jahre'
05. Brother Fox and the Tar Baby - Steel Dog Man (1969) - from v117
       from album 'Brother Fox and the Tar Baby'
06. Yaqui - I Need A Woman (1973) - from v118
       from album 'Yaqui'
07. Panda - Medicine Man (1971) - from v119
       single
08. Pop Mašina - Vreme Za Nas (1975) - from v120
       from album 'Na Izvoru Svetlosti'
09. Fuzzy Duck - In Our Time (1971) - from v121
       from album ‘Fuzzy Duck’
10. Fusion Orchestra - Sonata In Z (1973) - from v122
       from album 'Skeleton In Armour'
11. Rockcelona - Queen, Friend And Dread (1979) - from v123
       from album 'La Bruja'
12. Svanfridur - My Dummy (1972) - from v124
       from album 'What's Hidden There?'
13. Gun - Runnin' Wild (1970) - from v125
       single
14. Asia - Law Of The Land (1978) - from v126
       from album 'Asia'
15. Cinderella - The Love That We've Got (1971) - from v127
       single
Beatnicks


Starting the volume is one of its heaviest tracks, from Lisbon's Beatnicks. They made some of Portugal's best and heaviest rock in the '70s, with the "Cristine Goes to Town / Sing It Along / Little School Boy" and "Money / Back in Town" singles. They introduced progressive/electronic influences on later singles (youtube) which were good but very different, by the time of 1982's Aspectos Humanos album they had been through major line-up changes and seem to have become an inoffensive progressive pop band. Oh well, listen to "Back In Town" and it's clear they had the chops to become Portugal's top hard rock act, it's original and brilliant from start to end! Final members Ramiro Martins (bass, guitar), Antonio Emiliano (keyboards) and Tó Leal (vocals, percussion) all appear to have made more music later but nothing of interest here.

There is an interesting article here (portuguese, english), regarding the many changes the Beatnicks went through, including the brief membership of female singer Lena d'Água, and guitarist Manuel Cardoso, who was later in Tantra (coming later on here). Read Rock em Portugal's full Beatnicks bio here.



Gold

"A CD / LP combination. The CD contains 2 parts S.F. underground history with the first Gold line-up feat. lead singer Richard Coco. Their 45 record “NO PARKING” was already reissued on LP by Rockadelic and issued on the CD compilation “Nuggets from the Golden State”.

Part 1 (only on CD) are the Studio Sessions of Leo Kulka´s Golden State Recorders, 9 heavy guitar cuts (same as Rockadelic LP) with great congas and bizarre Rock´n Roll vocals and the previously unreissued 45-rpm flipside a 4:45 minute sensitive but totally unexpected version of Gershwin's "Summertime" produced by Country Joe McDonald (Country Joe and the Fish)."

"Part 2 of the CD is the vinyl release, a live set at the Fillmore-West Audition, a qualification gig for Bill Grahams club circuit, which was successfully passed - gigs at Winterland, Fillmore-West followed. These 42 minutes reach the highest level of power and a unique kind of heavy acid rock sound (especially the 6 min. killer version of “NO PARKING”) - Ed Scott´s hypnotic rhythm guitar, a mind blowing bass and drums create an outstanding and surrounding flow, Joe Bajza´s soaring solo guitar played in a kind of aggressive Cipollina / Jeff Beck style is brilliantly intense and brings true Sixties S.F. Hell´s Angels party feeling to your home. Detailed 12 page color booklet - 78 minutes of hot music reflect the “golden sprit” of the late60's early 70's in San Francisco....15 years later bands like Metallica, Slayer, Exodus…..continued these powerful Bay Area guitar excesses…"


Fanny

Scott's RYM review here.  "Penned by Barclay, 'Place In the Country' was one of the album's best rockers. Nice showcase for the group's harmony vocals.   rating: **** stars"

"1971's "Charity Ball" found Fanny continuing their partnership with producer Richard Perry. Featuring largely original material (the one exception being a dynamite cover of the Buffalo Springfield's 'Special Care;), this time around the band seemed interested in showcasing their more commercial edge. Material like the title track, 'What's Wrong with Me?' and 'You're the One' seemed to have been crafted with an ear to top-40 airplay.

That wasn't to imply the band couldn't rock as hard as their male competitors. Nickey Barclay's 'Cat Fever', 'Special Care' (which I'd argue crushed The Buffalo Springfield original), and 'Soul Child' were all rockers that were worth hearing. Add to that, Jean Millington had a powerful, soul-infused voice, while June Millington was an overlooked lead guitarist with a penchant for fuzz leads. Interestingly, listening to the album for the first time in years, I guess the biggest surprise came in terms of band contributions. Jean and June Millington were clearly the band's focal points, but  being responsible for over half of the material, keyboardist Nicole Barclay was clearly the band's creative mainstay."


Lokomotive Kreuzberg

Lokomotive Kreuzberg Fette Jahre (1972)
Lokomotive Kreuzberg
Fette Jahre (1972)
Track 4 brings something a little different to the party. Lokomotive Kreuzberg was a Berlin polit-rock band that started in 1972. Not speaking German, it's impossible for me to comment on the lyrics, but the music on their 1975 album "Fette Jahre", engineered by Conny, is captivating. They mix many styles, from symphonic prog, to folk, to funk, to hard rock. At all times it is played with extreme talent, these guys sure had the chops to compare with the best. I have chosen the hardest rocking track on the album, which was recorded at Conny's studio, but you can take your pick from it. Others, such as the title track "Fette Jahre" (youtube), are equally good.

I've not had a chance to check out all of their four albums. I certainly will but they may not be the easiest band to get into for non-German speakers, especially as they use a lot of spoken-word skits to get certain points across on their agenda.


Brother Fox and the Tar Baby

Brother Fox & The Tar Baby
Track 5, "Steel Dog Man", starts as it means to go on with a stomping hard rock riff and tight playing, punctuated by glorious psych breaks, backed-up by earthy vocals that cut straight to the bone. Brother Fox and the Tar Baby featured the talents of former Profits guitarist Richie Bartlett, bassist Tom Belliveau, guitarist Dave Christiansen, drummer Bill Garr, singer Steve High and keyboardist Joe Santangelo. Dave Christiansen, Joseph Santangelo, Tom Belliveau and Richard Bartlett were previously in Front Page Review, also appearing in this volume. Belliveau  was also in Pugsley Munion (see vol59), and Bartlett was later in '80s new-wavers The Fools. They were signed by the small Oracle label, which released 1969's Bruce Patch-produced self-titled album. Christiansen was credited as writing all eleven tracks.

Brother Fox & The Tar Baby LP
This has a commercial edge and is a polished product, but it's done right and there's more than enough heaviness here too, over half the album is hard cuts with quite a unique take on combining late-'60s heavy psych with the chunky riffs and hammond organ of the freshly-emerging hard rock sounds of the times. This is what the first Boomerang album should have been like! (see Vol9)


The countrified feel, and high production quality with orchestration, shows that this was a serious stab at a successful album. The mellow tracks and ballads are all good, so make for a nicely diverse listen. The song-writing is consistently good, and the excellent vocals deserve a mention, sounding somewhat like Robert Plant in the heavier tracks. Highly recommended!

Panda - Stranger Medicine Man

Decca 6100013
Stranger begins deceptively, with a heavy Sabbathian tri-tone metal riff, but quickly morphs into a Slade-elic glam stomper with a sing-along chorus and more flashes of flute, great fun.  B-side Medicine Man is built around a similarly heavy, lumpen riff to "Swingin' About", this time with no flute and forays into blues, it's another of their best heavy tracks.


Pop Mašina

I consider there to be a 'big three' of heavy Serbain bands from the former half of the '70s, YU Grupa and Smak have already appeared so now it's time for the last of that trio, Pop Mašina (Pop Machine). They were formed in Belgrade in 1972 by Robert Nemeček (bass, vocals - formerly of Dogovor Iz 1804 and Džentlmeni. The other formative members on their two studio albums were Mihajlo Popović (drums) and Zoran Božinović (guitar - formerly in Džentlmeni).


Na Izvoru Svetlosti LP 1975
Their 1973 debut LP "Kiselina" (Acid), had contributions from members of S Vremena Na Vreme, Grupa SOS and acoustic band Dag. Although excelling in their heavy rock tracks like "Svemirska Prièa," the band played an equal amount of acoustic pop and folk-infused songs in a similar approach to Led Zep's album 'III'. The second and final studio album "Na Izvoru Svetlosti" (At the Spring of Light) followed suit, having a little more emphasis on the hard rock, with a great opener which is the track I have used in this comp, "Vreme za Nas". Track 2 gives you a good idea of their stage show with a live-recorded blues workout. Over-all this album is more consistent and you can hear the improved arrangements and more confident playing.


Fuzzy Duck

Fuzzy Duck s/t 1971
Fuzzy Duck s/t 1971
A belated appearance from a record that that I surely should have used by now, as it's really good. This is the eponymous Fuzzy Duck LP, one of the older entries here, recorded in 1971. They play jazzy prog rock, with excellent musicianship, driving hammond organ and plenty of rocking riffs. Bassist Mick Hawksworth had previously been in Andromeda (Vol51) with John Du Cann, another similarly cool band. He was also in other TDATS bands, Killing Floor (see Vol7) and Toe Fat (Vol2). Drummer Paul Francis had been in The End, and briefly in this volume's opening band, Tucky Buzzard. The Duck enjoyed some radio play, including "A Big Word From D" and "Double Fine Woman", which were both favoured by BBC stations.

Fuzzy Duck in the studio
Fuzzy Duck in the studio
In the Esoteric Recordings CD re-issue Paul Francis stated that one of the major things that broke the band up was internal friction with guitarist and founder Graham White, which he regrets in retrospect. They managed to turf him out and replace him with Garth Watt-Roy (Steamhammer, The Greatest Show On Earth) who was a great guitarist, but it didn't go down well with the record company. After the Duck had quacked it, Graham White joined Capability Brown (Vol54), Paul teamed up with Chris Speading and Steve Harley, playing on a couple of Cockney Rebel LPs and Mick Hawksworth worked with Alvin Lee among others.


Fusion Orchestra

Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton In Armour line-up, clockwise from left, Dave Bell, Stan Land, Dave Cowell, Colin Dawson and Jill Saward
Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton In Armour
line-up. Clockwise from left, Dave Bell,
Stan Land, Dave Cowell, Colin Dawson
and Jill Saward
Fusion Orchestra might be of interest to Babe Ruth fans, or those of Room. Frequently-heavy prog with a great front woman in Jill Saward, who also played flute, keyboard and more. The sole album 'Skeleton In Armour' is good progressive rock, drawing in many influences from Canterbury scene to hard rock, thankfully the band has a great attack and this LP keeps up momentum throughout, as you can hear in tracks like the one appearing here, and "Have I Left The Gas On?".

On the album, she is joined by the three founding members Dave Bell (drums), Stan Land (2nd guitar) and Colin Dawson (lead guitar). Dave Cowell played bass. Later in the bands' life Colin Dawson quit, so Alan Murphy took over, he later played in English pop bands Level 42 and coincidentally, Go West, who cropped up in the last volume via Hustler drummer Tony Beard. Although the band had a good live reputation, with fans frequently enjoying Jill Saward's titillating stage antics at the Marquee in London, they did not achieve commercial success on EMI and didn't get the green light for a second album. Jill had the most successful career afterwards, in the pop group Shakatak, and surprisingly none of the other players were in notable bands later. Colin Dawson started Fusion Orchestra 2 in 2008, in which he is the only original FO member.


Rockcelona

Continuing into heavier territory, "Queen, Friend And Dread" from Barcelona's Rockcelona hits you hard.The LP it's taken from is like this all the way through, it never lets up. This unique and timeless collision between punk, heavy metal and garage rock recorded in 1979 is a real gem for anyone out there who looks for the ultimate in unrelenting fuzz. The group was founded in 1977 by Alfredo Valcárcel, and recorded only one album called "La Bruja" (The Witch).



Svanfrídur

Svanfrídur
Svanfrídur
Courtesy of Shadoks music (link) :- The Icelandic prog-rock band Svanfrídur released only one album, recorded six months after they played their first gig. This short-lived band rapidly rose to fame, receiving rave reviews for live performances, but in fact their music was way ahead of its time. They were unable to seal a recording contract so they formed their own label - Swan Records. When the album 'What’s Hidden There?' was released in autumn 1972 it got mixed reviews and sold only a few hundred copies, leaving the band with a great album but sadly not the income they had been hoping for. Recorded at London’s Majestic Studios the album was cut and pressed in England. Perhaps one of the best heavy prog / underground albums from Scandinavia with amazing guitar and all-English vocals. Would have been a famous and successful album on Decca UK.


Asia

Asia 1978
Not to be confused with the British "Asia", South Dakota's Asia made two LPs of heavy progressive rock and hard rock. They have an epic, regal quality to many of the songs, somewhat reminiscent of the kind of atmosphere conjured up by Led Zep's No Quarter or Kashmir for instance. They evolved from White Wing with members Michael English on vocals and multi-instrumentalist Mike Coates. Asia achieved some success playing the club circuit in the more urban areas of the upper Midwest. Their self-titled debut was recorded in two sessions at ASI studios in Minneapolis in 1978 and was privately released the same year.


Cinderella

Following is a snippet of the interiews I conducted with Art Bausch of Blue Planet and Betty Raadgever of Cinderella.

Cinderella in 1971
Me: Have you heard of the band Cinderella, that made a single in 1971?

Art: Yes, I did studio work with them on their first single, together with Aad and Peter. That was while Blue Planet was still going. I’ve been seen it on Youtube.

Me: Did you guys write the single or were you just brought it to the session?

Art: The main girl, Betty Raadgever wrote it. Their producer, Gerrit Jan Leenders, I did other work for him too. That’s how that started. My memory is good, especially of that period. Everything was so intense and every day was a party.

We take a brief diversion here to read some responses that Cinderella's Betty Raadgever kindly gave for this article.

Betty Raadgever
Me: Hi Betty, did Cinderella make any more music other than the single?

Betty: Cinderella did make more songs, but they are not recorded on a album, unfortunately. And of course I wrote a lot of songs after Cinderella for my other bands: Eyeliner and The Betty Ray Experience.

Me: I spoke to Art Bausch. I asked him about your Cinderella single and he confirmed that he, Peter and Aad Kreeft played on it. Did Blue Planet play on both sides?

Betty: Blue Planet played on both sides of the single, but I wrote the lyrics and music. Aad was a good friend of mine and we knew the other guys from Leiden/Oegstgeest, where we all came from. A very good band, Blue Planet!

Me: Did the other guys in Cinderella play or sing on it too (Renee, Bernardien, Nico)?

Betty; The singers on the record are Betty, Bernardien and Renee in the chorus. I am singing the lead, and the b-side, "The Love That We've Go", Bernardien sings. The guys from BP played all the music.

Me: Did Cinderella break up for any reason or did it change into a different band?

Betty: After four years I choose to switch bands and became lead singer of a hard rock band called "For Shame". Cinderella was over... After the hard rock period I had four other female groups: Trevira 2000EyelinerNasty Girls and The Betty Ray Experience. The other Cinderella members stopped playing in bands.

Me: Thanks Betty!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 116: Prince of Darkness [Conny Plank tribute]

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unzip password:  tdats



The Day After The Sabbath 116: Prince of Darkness by Rich Aftersabbath on Mixcloud

This volume is inspired by work of the producer, engineer and studio owner, Konrad "Conny" Plank. Known as a hugely influential figure in Krautrock, and instrumental in the careers of bands like Kraftwerk, Can and Neu!, his name is not synonymous with the obscure heavy fuzz / heavy rock / early metal sounds that TDATS usually covers. However, during his legendary career he worked on hundreds of records, and along the way his skills have enhanced a large number of obscure heavy albums.

Born in the town of Hütschenhausen on 3 May 1940, his father was a church organ player. In 1963 he began working in the Köln studio of Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR, West German Broadcasting). Then he became assistant producer and sound engineer at Köln's Rhenus Studio, where he oversaw recordings by a diverse range of artists, including Duke Ellington and Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was around this time that he worked on the two earliest records in this comp, those of Creepy John Thomas and Nosferatu.

Scorpions - Lonesome Crow (1972) Brain 1001
Scorpions
Lonesome Crow (1972)
Brain 1001
Another important album to mention is the first Scorpions album, which Conny produced in 1972. This was aeons before their '80s commercial peak and at this point they were a mean and heavy progressive band (youtube). It was the Brain label's first ever release, a label started by two guys that defected from Ohr, another influential experimental label with names like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. Brain was home to a few of the bands in this comp, as well as some of Conny's most important charges, like Cluster and Neu! It was also responsible for bringing works of great foreign bands into Germany, like Norway's Ruphus (see Vol81).

Conny used devices and equipment of his own design, and modified mixing consoles. He taught himself how to achieve the effects that would later be done easily after the invention of polyphonic samplers, using the faders on his desk in conjunction with complex arrangements of tape loops. Brian Eno worked with him many times and considered him an “inventor” as much as anything else. Michael Rother, who worked with Plank as a solo artist and with Kraftwerk, Neu! and Harmonia said: “He had this immense talent to intuitively grasp our intentions and to create fantastic soundscapes, despite the limitations of recording technology at the time.”

In 1974 Conny designed and built "Conny's Studio", located on a farm in a former pigsty, 35 km south of Köln. Two more albums that appear in this comp were made there, those of Bullfrog and Lokomotive Kreuzberg. At this studio other TDATS-appearing bands Birth Control and Harlis also made albums.

The bio on his site closes with: "Conny Plank died of cancer on 18 December 1987. He did not live to see the day when music producers would be celebrated as if they were superstars. The “hippie, the big bear who delved into his creative manias with unbelievable energy and passion” (Michael Rother) would be a superstar himself today."

So, this comp is an hour of some of the heaviest bands that Conny produced or engineered, or both. Eight of the twelve bands here are brand new to the blog, and all these albums are definitely worth checking out!

TRACKS
01. Night Sun - Got a Bone Of My Own (1972)
       from album 'Mournin'
02. Virus - Old Time Movie (1971)
       from album 'Thoughts'
03. Creepy John Thomas - Lay It On Me (1969)
       from album 'Creepy John Thomas'
04. Sixty-Nine - Red Guitar (1974)
       from album 'Live!'
05. Eloy - Dillus Roady (1971)
       from album 'Eloy'
06. Lokomotive Kreuzberg - Comeback (1975)
       from album 'Fette Jahre'
07. Gomorrha - Dance On A Volcano (1972)
       from album 'I Turned To See Whose Voice It Was'
08. Bullfrog - Live (1977)
       from album 'High In Spirits'
09. Time - Shady Lady (1975)
       from album 'Time'
10. Lava - Tears Are Goin' Home (1973)
       from album 'Tears Are Goin' Home'
11. Nosferatu - Highway (1970)
       from album 'Nosferatu'
12. Lucifer's Friend - Prince Of Darkness (1972)
       from album '....Where The Groupies Killed The Blues'


references
Future Days - Krautrock and the building of modern Germany
Germanrock.de | John Thomas | Conny Plank
Prog Archives | Discogs | Rate Your Music
It's Psychedelic Baby! | Allmusic

Night Sun - Mournin' (1972)
Germany was responsible for many of the best and most original heavy albums in the early '70s, and Night Sun stands out as a contender for the heaviest of them all. Conny Plank is credited as engineer on their album, "Mournin'", which was recorded at Windrose Studios in Hamburg. Windrose Studios was the origin of many great albums, from the likes of Birth Control, Excalibur (Vol33), Second Life (Vol33) and Blackwater Park (Vol3).

The UK was the number-one influence on German rock and prog at the time and many classic English bands came to mind when I first heard this LP, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and King Crimson being three of the most obvious. This may be a bold claim, but it’s justifiable to say that Night Sun could have become as renowned as any of them, if they had continued and expanded on the promise shown by Mournin'. Night Sun's roots lie in Mannheim jazz-rock bands “Swinging Sounds" and “Take Five”, and they evolved from BS&T-style horn rock into a jazz-inflected heavy metal band.

"Got A Bone Of My Own" starts with three terrifying minutes of tension-building, gothic atmospherics. The payoff comes with a gargantuan riff that Iommi would surely be proud of, and a palpable sense of nastiness that was rare elsewhere, save for Sabbath’s best work and a handful of the best heavy proggers.

The band dissolved very soon after the LP was released, with little promotion or appreciation. A great loss to the early days of heavy metal indeed!

Virus - Thoughts LP (1971)
Virus shared three members with Hamburg's Weed (see Vol9) at various times; Bernd Hohmann (flute, vocals), Reinhold Spiegelfeld (bass) and Werner Monka (guitar), although I think these guys had left by the time of Virus's Conny-engineered second and final album "Thoughts". Recorded at Star Studio in Hamburg, it was a more direct, hard-rocking album than the psychedelic debut and should be tracked down if you like hammond-assisted riffs. There is an interview with Virus member Werner Vogt at ItsPsychedelicBaby here.


"Creepy John Thomas" LP (1969)
The Sydney-born guitarist John Thomas seems to have had an interesting career. It began properly in Melbourne, having some hits with The Flies. He went to Germany in 1967 with his German girlfriend Doris Honigmann for some time where he made the album "Come With Me" under the name Rust (link) with British musicians in 1969. Then he moved to London and got an album deal with RCA, who commissioned two albums to be recorded back in Germany with Conny Plank producing. For those he became "Creepy John Thomas", his reasoning: "The name came from a Spider John Korner song called Creepy John on the blues album Blues, Rags & Hollers and it seemed a good idea at the time as I wanted to project a less clean cut non-commercial image."

John Thomas
in recent times
"The British blues boom was happening - Artists like Capt.Beefheart, Doctor John, The Night Tripper, Screamin' Lord Sutch, Howling Wolf etc., all had groovy names which at the time, held fascination for a young wannabe like me.” Then he spent a year in San Fransisco before returning to London and joined the Edgar Broughton Band, credited on the albums Bandages & "Live Hits Harder!". Moving back to Germany, he made two albums as "Johnny & the Drivers" in Berlin, only to move back to London again in the '80s to become a producer and a continuing solo artist. In 1977 John took friends Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart to Conny's studio to record some music for an album which wasn't ultimately released. Conny was reportedly very impressed with Annie's vocal abilities and this lead to them making their first album as The Tourists (1977) and their first as Eurythmics (1981) with him at his studio.

I have taken the track "Lay It On Me" from the first Creepy John Thomas album. On that record was drummer Helmut Pohl, who also played on albums from Gomorrha, appearing later in this comp. An interesting fact is that Paul Rodgers of Free fame sang harmony vocals on the track "Ride A Rainbow" (link).

Sixty-Nine - Live! (1974)
With track four we have a heavy drums-organ duo from Bad Kreuznach called Sixty-Nine. Conny was engineer on their live album, much of which was recorded at a cultural events center called Fabrik, in Hamburg.

Sixty-Nine was founded in 1969 by keyboardist Armin Stöwe & drummer Roland Schupp. They became popular as a live act and were often invited to open for big acts, like West, Bruce & Laing, UFO, Birth Control, Amon Düül II, Jud's Gallery and Agitation Free. They recorded one studio album in 1973 called "Circle of the Crayfish", then after the live album they disbanded. Stöwe founded a trio called Air. He also started the "General Electronic Plastic Studio" where he developed innovative and successful electronic music devices like computerised sequencers, synthesizers and speaker systems. Sadly, he committed suicide in 2005.

Eloy - s/t (1971)
On to another band that has appeared in TDATS before, Eloy (Vol19). Well-known as a progressive rock and space rock band, their first album, which was engineered by Conny, has very little of those things. It is a meat and potatoes hard rock album with the familiar guitar/hammond sounds of Deep Purple. It was recorded at Star studios in Hamburg, where many classic albums were made including the debuts of Ash Ra Tempel, Neu! and Scorpions. The only continuous member of Eloy is founder and guitarist Frank Bornemann, who steered the band in a more progressive direction like that of Genesis, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd on subsequent albums. There is an interview with Frank at ItsPsychedelicBaby here. Some names that have been in Eloy and other notable bands are Jürgen Rosenthal (Scorpions), Fritz Randow (Saxon, Epitaph), Jim McGillivray (Epitaph), Manfred Wieczorke (Jane) and Steve Mann (Andy Scott's Sweet).

Lokomotive Kreuzberg Fette Jahre (1972)
Lokomotive Kreuzberg
Fette Jahre (1972)
Track 6 brings something a little different to the party. Lokomotive Kreuzberg was a Berlin polit-rock band that started in 1972. Not speaking German, it's impossible for me to comment on the lyrics, but the music on their 1975 album "Fette Jahre", engineered by Conny, is captivating. They mix many styles, from symphonic prog, to folk, to funk, to hard rock. At all times it is played with extreme talent, these guys sure had the chops to compare with the best. I have chosen the hardest rocking track on the album, which was recorded at Conny's studio, but you can take your pick from it. Others, such as the title track "Fette Jahre" (youtube), are equally good.

I've not had a chance to check out all of their four albums. I certainly will but they may not be the easiest band to get into for non-German speakers, especially as they use a lot of spoken-word skits to get certain points across on their agenda.

After the band dissolved, Herwig Mitteregger (drums), Bernhard Potschka (guitar) and Manfred Praeker (bass) played in the Nina Hagen Band before making a new band called Spliff in 1980.

Gomorrha I Turned To See Whose Voice It Was (1972)
Gomorrha
I Turned To See Whose Voice It Was
(1972)
Conny Plank produced all of Gomorrha's albums, which amounted to three. The first could be described as a Beatles-inspired beat album, and was one of his very first production jobs in 1969. In 1970 Conny and the band re-recorded it from scratch, this time singing in English and playing from a much improved and advanced progressive rock angle. The title track "Trauma" is regarded as their first high-point, and afterwards they were picked up by the formative krautrock label Brain, which Conny had become connected with by this time. The third and final album "I Turned To See Whose Voice It Was" is regarded as their masterpiece, described by some as a cross between Black Sabbath and Procol Harum. From that I have used the track "Dance On A Volcano". Unfortunately, all the band except guitarist Albrecht Claudi (link) apparently left the music business after the demise of Gomorrha.

Bullfrog - High In Spirits (1977)
Bullfrog - High In Spirits (1977)
Conny was involved with two of the three records that Bavaria's Bullfrog made. He recorded, engineered and produced the first self-titled one at his own studio, and engineered/mixed the second, "High in Spirits" (1977). Bullfrog are often compared with the accessible sound of the far more prolific Jane, who Conny worked with on the Brain label. Bullfrog's bio at Prog Archives (link) says that the step-up of High in Spirits earned them a sizeable following both in Germany and in the US. It also gathered quite a huge fan base in Portugal where the album managed to relegate both ABBA and Pink Floyd to second and third place on the local charts. There's a detailed account of the band here in German.

Time - selftitled (1975)
On to track nine, and we come across one of the most obscure entries here, a UK act called Time. Formed by Tristan Margretts (bass, vocals) and Gary Margretts (guitar, keys, vocals), Time was a development of Spontaneous Combustion (link). Joining were guitar/vocalist Alex Johnson (later to hard rockers Nightwing) and drummer Jode Leigh (later to England). They released a single, self-titled album in 1975. There's a couple of mysteries about this record. Firstly, I have seen various online mentions of vocalist Mike Udell, but his name is not listed on the LP cover. The cover states "Produced by Conny Plank at The House Of Sounds for BUK records UK", as yet I have been unable to find out anything about this supposed studio, including where it is. Seeing as bands usually traveled to Conny, I presume it was recorded somewhere in Germany. The album itself is a great find. It is mostly heavy, angular prog, like a much leaner Yes or Gentle Giant.

Lava  Tears Are Goin' Home (1973)
Lava
Tears Are Goin' Home (1973)
Next up is another one-album obscurity, Berlin's Lava. Their 1973 album "Tears Are Goin' Home" was produced and engineered by Plank at Windrose Studios, Hamburg and released by Brain. Conny also plays lead guitar on the track "Would Be Better You Run" (youtube). The album is quite a mellow, melancholic and improvisational affair. The reason it appears here is because of the great opener, "Tears Are Goin' Home", which crashes in like ├┤awkVVind blasting off at full power. Very little seems to be documented about them, they are described as a commune band, that split in 1974 after the suicide of keys player Thomas Karrenbach.


Nosferatu
Nosferatu hailed from Frankfurt. One self-titled album was released in 1970, recorded at Rhenus studio in Köln and Conny engineered it. In their early days they were fronted by guitarist & vocalist Michael Winzkowski (who went on to Orange Peel and Epsilon) and wind player Christian Felke who guested later with Epsilon. Felke also played on the Christian Kolonovits LP "Life Is Just A Carnival" I used on the Austrian Vol107. The album is a strong set of groovy heavy prog. While filled with cool hammond from Reinhard "Tammy" Grohé and ominous guitar from Michael Meixner, there's a wide range of other instrumentation. The whole album works as a continuous piece on a grand scale, it's very impressive. For such an apparently young, short-lived band they sound like they had been playing together a lot longer.

Lucifer's Friend
....Where The Groupies Killed The Blues (1972)
Closing the volume is one of the more familiar names no doubt, Lucifer's Friend. Conny produced their second album, "....Where The Groupies Killed The Blues" at Windrose Studio and Star Studio. By this time the band were already on the slide away from the heaviness of the debut into more commercial prog territories, but this one catches them at an interesting point where they mixed both and ended up making a unique-sounding album.

"Lucifer's Friend" was just one alias that a core of studio musicians was recording under, and there were many! A quick glance finds The Air Mail, The German Bonds, Asterix, Lucifer's Friend, Brother T. And Family, The Children Of Quechua, Electric Food, The Fantastic Pikes, The Pink Mice and Bokaj Retsiem all centering around four names; Dieter Horns (bass), Peter Hecht (keyboards), Peter Hesslein (guitar) and Joachim Rietenbach (drums). In fact, an entertaining sport that any obscure rock addict with an internet connection could enjoy on a rainy day is "Hunt the Lucifer's Friend spin-off". These guys were seemingly involved in a curious mix of bill-paying studio jobs, exploitation records and real bands, they clearly didn't like to keep all their eggs in one basket. What ever the situation, they sure must have been busy individuals around the turn of the decade! The English singer John Lawton was present in two of the heaviest of these acts, Lucifer's Friend and Asterix, and I'm sure most of you know that he was later in Uriah Heep.

Thanks for reading, Rich

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