Friday, April 6, 2018

Various Artists - Rock Made In Germany '79 (1979)

(Germany 1978-79)
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German rock music (Deutschrock) came into its own only by the late 1960s, but spawned many bands and were often referred to as Krautrock artists. Mostly instrumental, the signature sound of Krautrock mixed rock music and "rock band" instrumentation (guitar, bass, drums) with electronic instrumentation and textures, often with what would now be described as an ambient music sensibility. Bands such as Can, Kraftwerk, & Tangerine Dream come to mind, while heavier bands such as Scorpions, Eloy and Jane also fit the bill.
This compilation of German bands was released by Electrola (a subsidiary of EMI) in 1979 and features some of the bands listed above.  The thing I really like about Electrola releases is that they are German pressings and the quality of their recordings are excellent, similar to Japanese quality.
A couple of relatively unknown bands in amongst some regulars, makes this sampler a mixed bag for Krautrock collectors.
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Triumvirat
Track: I Don't Even Know Your Name
Album: A La Carte
Personnel: JURGEN FRITZ - Keyboards, vocals
BARRY PALMER / DAVID HANSELMANN - Vocals
ED CARTER / WOLFGANG MAUS - Guitar
WERNER KOPAL - Bass
MALANDO GASSAMA - Percussion
MATTHIAS HOLTMANN - Drums

This is probably the best internationally known German symphonic rock band. Triumvirat's music was very keyboard-oriented, earning their reputation as the German equivalent of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Ekseption or P.F.M. It is tempting to think that these bands always attempted to outdo each other with their pompous, vast instrumental exhibitions, often based firmly on classical themes. In addition, Triumvirat's conceptual albums were often based around moments from European history. Organist and leader Jurgen Fritz assembled the original trio in 1970. In 1971 Hans Pape become their bassist and participated in the recording of their first album Mediterranean Tales in the Electrola Studio, Cologne, January 1972. Hans Pape later quit and was replaced by Helmut Kollen. Illusions On A Double Dimple (1974) did so well in the USA that it entered the Billboard charts! It was the combination of accessible symphonic-progressive music coupled with good marketing by EMI that made this possible!
In Germany, however, the band wasn't able to sell its' records so well. In the press, their music was slaughtered by the overcool music journalists, then as now! Spartacus (1975) is considered by many to be Triumvirat's best album. Old Loves Die Hard (1976) saw the addition of the vocalist Barry Palmer and the re-instatement of former bassist Dick Frangenberg. This album sweetened their style, moving them dangerously close to supermarket-muzak.
The band underwent several personal changes (including the loss of vocalist Helmut Köllen, who died of carbon monoxide as he listened to some of his studio songs in the car while the engine was running in his garage). The band ended in 1980 with the release of their final album, Russian Roulette. The featured track "I Don't Even Know Your Name" comes from their sixth studio album 'A La Carte' released in 1978

Lilac Angels
Track: Hard To Be Free
Album: Hard To Be Free
Personnel: JOE STICK - Vocals, guitar, keyboards
BODO STAIGER - Guitar, vocals
PETER WOLLEC - Bass, vocals
NAPPES NAPIERSKY - Drums

Groups like Lilac Angels were quite rare in Germany in the early seventies - they were not too keen on musical experiments, but more interested in making good time rock'n'roll music, inspired by Rolling Stones and rhythm & blues in general. Surprisingly enough, the band was groomed by Klaus Dinger (of Neu and La Dusseldorf), who produced their first album and released it on his own short-lived Dingerland label. The recordings were done in March and April 1973 in Windrose studios, Hamburg, with Konrad Plank engineering. With titles like "Rock'n'Roll Hand" and "Hard Lovin' Man" you know what to expect!   Lilac Angels were rather the traditional rock band, with their conservative glam rock appeal, they were supposed to be more successful.
In Rudi Esch's google book 'Electri_City: The Düsseldorf School of Electronic Music', Bodo Staiger states "The Lilac Angels were like a springboard for me. We were a glam rock band who often played live. I was studying guitar at the time and was in my training. I simply wanted to play. Although the Lilacs were not a great love, at that time they were just right for me. We played pieces written by Joe Stick, he was the singer, songwriter and band leader.
As the Lilacs we released two albums; the first to lauch Klaus' label 'Dingerland' in 1974, and the second one recorded with me in 1977, then released through EMI Electrola in 1978, before we split in 1979."
The featured track "Hard To Be Free" is taken from their second studio LP of the same name, released in 1978.

Can
Track: Sunday Jam
Album: Self-titled
Personnel: ROSCO GEE - Bass, Vocals
MICHAEL KAROLI - Guitar, Vocals
JAKI LIEBEZEIT - Drums
IRMIN SCHMIDT - Keyboards
REEBOP KWAKU BAAH - Percussion, Vocals

German experimental rock band formed in Cologne circa 1968, initially as Inner Space and becoming "The Can" when fronted by black American singer Malcolm Mooney. Can are well-known as one of the key pioneers of Krautrock, particularly during the era when fronted by Japanese singer Kenji "Damo" Suzuki who "turned their sound towards a crazy mixture of improvisation, noise, mantra and funk rhythms". They were constantly at the forefront of the scene during their 10+ year history, composed music for a number of esteemed feature films, and their pop satire single "I Want More" became an international hit, while their 1971 hit album "Tago Mago" still sells strong today and is considred to be their finest hour.
Their featured track "Sunday Jam" was taken from their self-titled release from 1979 (not 1978 as stated on the album cover) and was Can's last release before splitting and taking a seven year hiatus.
This release is seriously underated in my opinion. While the band's last few albums saw them drift into a pit of mediocrity, 'Can' is a return to form, in a way. No, this couldn't pass for a
Damoera album at all, but it's a lot tighter sounding than anything since 'Soon Over Babaluma'. "All Gates Open", "A Spectacle" and "Sunday Jam" are probably the best songs Can made post-Babaluma. While some have called it another disco sellout album, it's a hell of a lot better than the incredibly mediocre 'Out of Reach' and 'Saw Delight'. Even the often-slagged-on "Can Can" is pretty enjoyable in sort of a novel way. While this is not anywhere near their earlier albums, it really doesn't deserve to be overlooked.

Wintergarden
Track: Blame It On These Endless Nights
Album: Selftitled
Personnel: BERND UNGER - Guitar, backing vocals, claves, maracas, autoharp, tambourine.
WALTER SEYFFER - Lead vocals, cabasa, backing vocals, tambourine, triangle.

As Nine Days Wonder disbanded in 1979, Seyffer and Unger kept together as Wintergarden. They had enough of being independent and forced themselves to get a major deal. Electrola signed a contract. The deal made it possible to record an album without any financial restrictions. Some very famous German musicians were featured on their first album Wintergarden: Chuck Trevor [Thomas Tscheschner] from Karthago and Kin Ping Meh on bass, Ian Cussick sang backing vocals and Dieter Arendt on drums [both Lake]. Christian Schimanski played the pedal steel guitar.
This debut album sold 50.000 copies. Not enough for Electrola but enough to let them record a second one (The Land of Milk & Honey). As success failed the record company wanted to decide over the next album. Seyffer and Unger quit the contract.
In the end their publisher wanted a third album. The duo pressed some demo recordings on vinyl and committed it to the publisher.

Scorpions
Track: Always Somewhere
Album: Lovedrive
Personnel: ULRICH ROTH - Guitar
KLAUS MEINE - Vocals
RUDOLF SCHENKER - Guitar
LOTHAR HEIMBERG - Bass
WOLFGANG DZIONY - Drums

This well known heavy rock band is listed here mainly due to the significance of their first album Lonesome Crow (1972), released on the green Brain label. From the album's catalogue number, you will see that this was the first album on the Brain 1,000 series! Their debut was way better than those albums that brought Scorpions international fame - much more experimental and 'progressive' in sound!  Their ace guitarist Michael Schenker left soon after this album for international adventures with the heavy metal group U.F.O. (their first albums were also great!). He'd met this group when Scorpions supported U.F.O.'s German-tour. This left Scorpions under the command of Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker, who re-launched the band with Fly To The Rainbow on RCA in 1974. Their new guitarist Ulrich Roth provided some interesting moments on their albums up to 1978. Scorpions gradually established themselves as the leading heavy metal band in Germany as their creative energy decreased and horrible heavy ballads (their trade mark) became their trademark.

Prior to Lovedrive's recording, from which the featured track "Always Somewhere" is taken, the Scorpions' lineup had a major change when their lead guitarist, Uli Jon Roth, quit the group (not to mention, the rock genre was rapidly changing). With this in mind, the band not only highlighted the album with the licks and riffs of three guitarists (Rudolf Schenker, Michael Schenker, Matthias Jabs), but they also dramatically changed their style to sound more like that of Van Halen. This change is quite welcome; not only are the performances more unpredictable, but the lyrics and melodies are better written. In fact, some of the Scorpions' best songs, such as "Loving You Sunday Morning," "Holiday," and of course "Always Somewhere" are found here, making it one of their finest releases.

Eberhard Schoener
Track: Octogon
Album: Video Magic
Personnel: EBERHARD SCHOENER - Keyboards
STING - Bass Guitar, Vocals
ANDY SUMMER - Guitar
EVERT FRATERMAN - Drums, Percussion
OLAF KUBLER - Sax

Eberhard Schoener has been a very influential character on the German rock scene, not due to his recorded output, but as an inspirational source and general advisor for up and coming musicians. He was born the 13 May 1938 in Stuttgart. Between 1952 and 1958 he studied violin and conducting in Detmold. In 1962 he founded the Munich Youth Symphony Orchestra, which he conducted for eight years. From 1966 he become the artistic manager and premier conductor of the Munich Kammeroper. He was the man who brought the first moog synthesizer to Germany in 1968. He experimented a lot with this instrument at the Bavaria studio in Munich and encouraged Florian Fricke to buy one. Schoener's synthesizer experiments were documented on his first three solo albums, two of which were moog adaptations of classical music in the style of Walter Carlos. The third one comprised similar adaptations of American folk and country music!  His work with the Munich Kammeroper in collaboration with Procol Harum (Germany-tour 1972) and Jon Lord (presenting the "Gemini Suite" live) was more significant. Jon Lord was and is a long-term friend of Schooner. Meditation (1974) was his first electronic work in its own right, inspired by an extended trip to Asia. It was another one of Schoener's many attempts to merge different musical traditions. With Tony Ashton (vocals, piano, organ), David Coverdale (vocals), Ray Fenwick (guitar), Glenn Hughes (bass, vocals, guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards), Pete York (drums) and two opera singers he led the ambitious classical and rock fusion project Windows. With the exception of Bali-Agung, an uncommon merging of Balinese traditional music and rock with Pete York and Sigi Schwab (guitar), all the Harvest albums were further classical and rock concept albums with contributions from famed musicians like Andy Summers (guitar). Steward Copeland (drums). Sting (bass) and Olaf Kubler (sax).


The featured track "Octogon" is taken from Schoener's collaborative album with The Police, entitled 'Video Magic'. Although Schoener's atmospheric washes of keyboards are to be duly noted, the undeniable focus of interest here is the constant presence of guest backing band the Police. For Police fanatics, this album is a real find: not so good as a "lost" Police album, perhaps, but better than the Brimstone and Treacle soundtrack. Summers' guitar takes on a rockier sound than usual, and Copeland's drumming work is as tight and propulsive as ever. Sting's bass and vocals here are often low in the mix, with his voice echoing and mantra-like in repetition. This is used to wonderful effect in the pulsing "Why Don't You Answer" and the soaring opening track, "Trans-Am." Even a bit of rapid-fire urban narrative is indulged in "San Francisco Waitress." This all isn't as much of an aberration as new wave Police fans might think: the band had hidden prog-rock roots, as Summers was an early Soft Machine alum and Copeland a veteran of Curved Air. This album, and Schoener's influence, caught the Police at a turning point in their development from a guitar band in Zenyatta Mondatta to a moodier studio band with a broader sonic palette in Ghost in the Machine.

Kraan
Track: Ausflug
Album: Flyday
Personnel: PETER WOLBRANDT - Guitars, vocals, strings, percussion
INGO BISCHOF - Keyboards
HELMUT HATTLER - Bass, percussion, backing vocals
UDO DAHMEN - Drums

The name Kraan was short, concise and meant absolutely nothing. Still the band was to become one of the most important and stylistically characteristic German jazz-rock bands of the seventies. Kraan was formed in Ulm (south of Stuttgart) in 1970. All members had their backgrounds in free jazz bands. Johannes "Alto" Pappert on his side had a passion for soul, but came to Kraan directly from a rock band. Their debut album was recorded in May 1972 and later released on Spiegelei in a colourful fold-out sleeve. It contained their basic live repertoire at the time (and also favourites for years to come) like: "Kraan Arabia" (a cunning jazz trip into Eastern music) "Sarah's Ritt Durch den Schwarzwald" and "Head" (an 18 minute long improvisation). A remarkable album, it was recorded in just three days at Studio 70, Munich. Instrumentally it was well-balanced between Pappert, Wolbrandt and the outstanding bass-work of Hattler, then just 20 years old but already a master of his instrument.

The two following albums, Wintrup (1973) and Andy Nogger (1974), were similar in style. They sold quite well, even gaining a release in the States. In those days, Kraan toured Germany a lot and were renowned for their great performances full of improvisations. The excitement of a Kraan concert was caught perfectly on Live (1975) - one of the best German live albums of all time! Improved versions of many of their old songs were included with extended solos. The live album was recorded at Quartier Latin in Berlin in September 1974.


In 1975 Kraan made two tours in the United Kingdom and also appeared at the Danish Roskilde festival in July, now adding a fifth member: Ingo Bischof. He had previously been a member of Karthago. Let It Out (1975) proved to be a disappointment (for the band as well) and Bischof left at the end of the year. After one German tour and a third UK tour Pappert also left in August 1976 to go solo.

The featured track "Ausflug" is taken from their 1978 album comeback album called 'Flyday', a noteworthy effort after two previously lackluster releases. The band goes for a more straightforward  progressive rock/jazz fusion blend than ever before, and guitarist Peter Wolbrandt in particular sounds like he is enjoying every minute of it. Bischof's keyboards are played with taste and  restraint, unlike some other releases on which he seems to be intent on cramming as many notes as possible into a measure regardless of whether they belong here. The experimental textures and  abrupt time signature changes that characterized their early work are gone, and with them some of the excitement, but there are compensations. While it doesn't rank with the very best of their previous work, 'Flyday' is a very respectable effort that shows that there was still plenty of life in a very talented group.

Eloy
Track: Pilot To Paradise
Album: Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes
Personnel:  FRANK BORNEMANN - Acoustic, effect & electric guitars, lead vocals
DETLEV SCHMIDTCHEN - Grand pianos, Fender Rhodes, Hammond M3, Mini-Moog & ARP synths, Solina & Hohner String ensembles, RMI keyboard computer, backing vocals
KLAUS-PETER MATZIOL - Alembic bass, Moog Taurus pedals, backing vocals
JURGEN ROSENTHAL - Drums, percussion, flute

A bona-fide space rock classic. 'Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes' finds these German greats at their most expansive, with extended instrumental sections, fantastical lyrics, and their trademark sleek yet far-out, synth- and organ-fueled sound.

"Pilot To Paradise" is taken from Eloy's seventh studio album  'Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes' which was released in 1979 and it's sometimes called as the last classic Eloy album. When people talk about the best albums of this prog German band, this album usually gets mentioned. And it's not hard to understand why because what we have here is a really cool mix of symphonic prog and space rock.

By 1979 the interest in progressive rock had almost vanished due to the rise of the punk and disco movements of the late 70's. But there were still some pretty damn solid prog albums released in that time too and Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes is one of those. This album brings Pink Floyd to my mind and I would recommend that you listen to it with headphones, to get the full experience.
Sadly, shortly after the album was released, what was probably the best Eloy line-up collapsed with  drummer Jurgen Rosenthal and keyboardist Detlev Schimdtchen leaving to form Ego on the Rocks.
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This post consists of FLACs ripped from my newly acquired vinyl, once again sourced from a Bazaar in Geelong, in amongst a multitude of 'dim a dozen' titles.  The message here folks is that it always pays to look for the diamond in the rough.  Full album artwork and label scans included, along with all of the covers displayed above.  Hope you enjoy your trip back through time to when Krautrock was at it's pinnacle (or at least it was in Australia)
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Track Listing
01 Triumvirat - I Don't Even Know Your Name 4:25
02 Lilac Angels - Hard To Be Free 4:19
03 Can - Sunday Jam 4:10
04 Wintergarden - Blame It On These Endless Nights 3:50
05 Scorpions - Always Somewhere 4:54
06 Eberhard Schoener - Octogon 6:53
07 Kraan - Ausflug 7:13
08 Eloy - Pilot To Paradise 7:01
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1 comment:

  1. In regards of the Eberhard Schoener track I have to say that the Police did not only record with him , but also went on tour with him. They where part of Eberhard's touring band.I saw them in the Neue Welt in berlin.In the middle of his show he introduced a brand new band,for the first time touring outside the Uk., "The Police". What a show

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