V.A. - Umsonst und Draussen - Vlotho 76. 1976 Germany

The second in the series, and also only a single disc.

1. Munju - Talk to Me 5:37
2. Embryo - The Bad Times are Gone 5:56
3. Einhorn - Wer hat Angst vor Adalbert Wenstein 5:20
4. Hammerfest - Cross 5:29
5. Missus Beastly - Slow One 6:38
6. Real Ax Band - Nylon Receycled 6:16
7. Skyline - Tashiro 5:26
8. Sparifankal - I mechd di gean amoi nackad seng

1) Munju opens the album with their fiery brand of jazz rock, with some great guitar soloing. Reminded me of their "Moon You" album, though this is one of their songs from "High Speed Kindergarten". This was the only previously released track found on this compilation.

2) Embryo followed with a funky piece in the "Bad Heads and Bad Cats" vein, BUT Roman Bunka really lets loose on the guitar here recalling the "We Keep On" era (similar to the 1975 concert). Fantastic! I'd love to hear the full concert here. Embryo were one of only 2 bands to have vocals on this album.

3) Wow this was a welcome surprise! Einhorn's is probably the best track of the entire album and follows Embryo nicely. The composition here is heavily influenced by early Soft Machine, with a nice sax solo followed by the best guitar solo of the album. I'd love to hear more from this band!

4) Hammerfest. Similar to the 1975 concert, they provide an instrumental to finish out Side 1. Starts and ends with an excellent organ/guitar symphonic prog section. In the middle we get some of the worst harmonica/blues one can imagine. I can see this band will be completely hit and miss.

5) Side 2 starts with Missus Beastly who are operating in funky fusion territory similar to "Dr Aftershave and the Mixed Pickles". This is probably the weakest era of the 70's version of the band (1978's "Space Guerillas" was a return to their classic 1974/75 jazz rock style). Still there is some amazing Rhodes piano work here. I miss the dual winds players found on the '74 album though.

6) Real Ax Band followed with a spirited instrumental funk fusion piece. I always liked their one album and feel this is what Aera on "Turkis" for example is not. Some smoking acid guitar can be found here.

7) Skyline provides another fusion track with a funky edge. Again, the guitar playing is sublime and this one had a deep groove, for some slow headbanging. This is much better than the rather generic "Louise For One Night" album (1976) that Garden of Delights reissued a few years back. Fortunately they added this track as a bonus.

8) Sparifankal is the odd group out and closes the album. Basically this is German hillbilly music sung in the ancient Bayern language. Hideous, but not my scene either, and fits perfectly with the concert outlook and vision.

Another very good set overall!

Personal collection
LP: 1976 Musikerinitiative Ostwestfalen-Lippe

V.A. - Vlotho Winterberg '75. 1975 Germany

The first of many LP releases of the free Umsonst und Draußen concerts in Germany. This one was boiled down to a single disc.

1 Hammerfest - Lokomotive
2 Missus Beastly - Vloflutho
3 Jack Bone Group - Himalaya Erdbeernuss
4 Embryo - Sidetrack
5 Atzen Wehmeyer - Arbeiterjugendblues
6 Hammerfest - That's What I Say
7 Buttergasse - Sonny
8 Johannislust Orchester - In the Beginning

1) & 6) are from Hammerfest, a good times rock n roll band with a politrock slant. 1) is uncharacteristic and is primarily instrumental with driving rhythm guitar, and a little harmonica. A good opener to the album. 6) is old fashioned 50's style rock and is quite tedious.

2) is the fantastic Missus Beastly, a band I fawn over endlessly, especially from this era. This track was issued as a bonus track on their 1974 masterpiece self-titled album (from Garden of Delights) - an album that is indispensable for any Kraut fusion fan. Anyway, as you can surmise from the title, this is a free form flute driven jazz rock jam. Awesome.

3) is the only recorded output I'm aware of from the Jack Bone Group. And with a name like that, I'm expecting blues rock. And that's pretty much what we get. But it's a swell example of the style, an instrumental upbeat variation with guitar (with nice fuzz tone leads), piano, bells, bass and drums. I would most definitely be interested in hearing more material from this group, if it exists.

4) like Missus Beastly, I can't get enough of Embryo, especially from 1970 til about 1984 or so. And to think they're still going strong with their world music vision, never having once sold out. If you're an artist true to your ideals, Embryo is the gold standard. Bear that in mind before starting out - almost EVERYONE sells out at least once, but not Embryo. This track is clearly in their jazz funk stage that they launched with the brilliant "Bad Heads and Bad Cats" album. No missing Roman Bunka's impassioned vocals - I love his style. Not to mention his incredible phased fuzz guitar solo that has to be heard to be believed. I don't think this track has been issued anywhere else - hard to know without heavy research, as they have so much recorded output. Garden of Delights plans on releasing at least one full Umsonst concert of Embryo ('77), maybe they'll also do this one. I hope so.

5) Well, no surprises here based on the title. Even I could translate it and I know less than 10 German words. Yea, it's pretty awful, but hey that was the SCENE, MAN. At least it's finished in 3 minutes.

7) Buttergasse is a new name for me. Ooh, I like this! Hard driving vocal rock with some absolutely shredding violin and a couple of rhythm changes. Rare I like a German vocalist, but this guy is good. Great guitar solo half way in. Dueling with the violin at points. I bet Buttergasse had a copy of High Tide's "Sea Shanties" in their closet. I would love to hear more material from this band during this era.

8) Johannislust Orchester is another new name to me. Looks like they're related with Einhorn and Skyline, two of the best artists on the following Vlotho '76 album. Well, they have the right influences. Fellow festival groups Embryo and Missus Beastly - and also some Latin percussion via Santana. Excellent sax driven melody, and kudos to the bass who keeps driving the rhythm in a choppy manner - keeping everyone bouncing on the dance floor (or field I'm sure). Another band I'd love to hear more from.

Good set!

V.A. - Proton 1. 1974 Germany

On the vaunted Kerston label (Gaa, Tyll, Epidermis), Proton 1 features five bands over a 2 LP set, of which Sun and Zyma recorded albums many years later. Zyma managed two albums actually.

1. Zyma - Law Like Love 7:02
2. Zyma - Tango Enough 6:02
3. Andorra - I've Been Waiting 7:10
4. Andorra - Mr. Congresman 2:47
5. Andorra - On My Way 4:29
6. Penicillin - Das Kleine Zahnrad 2:51
7. Penicillin - Die Fledermaus 4:39
8. Penicillin - Für Elise 6:07
9. Nexus - Always Fluffy 3:08
10. Nexus - Plexus 4:41
11. Nexus - Ignis 7:55
12. Sun - Leisure 10:44
13. Sun - To Celia 8:35

1) & 2) are from Zyma and are both excellent. At this stage they have a female and male vocalist, and the music is hard hitting bluesy post Jefferson Airplane rock, similar to Joy Unlimited and Frumpy. Much rawer than their later, more refined Canterbury efforts. One can only hope there is a full canister of tape here for a future reissue. I'd love to hear a whole album of Zyma at this stage of their career.

3)-5) are from the band named for the obscure tiny country between Spain and France. Musically speaking, sadly no ethnic elements are present. 3) is a decent straightforward acid rocker with nice guitar work. 4) is a short CSN/Byrds like rural folk rock number. 5) is the highlight of Andorra's set, and features a nice groove with some excellent guitar soloing and shaker percussion. This track recalls Missing Link, Nosferatu and early Epitaph. Andorra show enough potential, that if an archival release presented itself, I'd be most interested.

6)-8) features Penicillin, the odd group out in this bunch. They're basically a German language, commercially oriented, bluesy rock band. 8) is an instrumental classical rip similar to Ekseption, Trace or Amos Key. Other than some decent Hammond organ work, overall there's not a lot to grab hold on here. Weakest band on the set, no doubt.

9)-11) moves us into the jazz rock realm with Nexus. The addition of flute and sax to the palette makes for a more interesting ride. 9) has vocals and is the catchiest of their three tracks. 10) is the highlight of the entire Proton set and is an absolutely wonderful instrumental jazz rock piece. 11) is more atmospheric with electric piano, electric guitar (featuring an excellent wah wah solo), sax and flute. Nexus are a very mature band at this point, and another group that I hope has more in storage for a future archival issue.

12) & 13) are for Sun and somewhat maintains the jazz flavor set forth by Nexus. 12) is the longest track on Proton 1, and has a few different movements between jazz, bluesy rock, moody folk and progressive sections. Vocals and Hammond organ are fairly dominant here. A thoughtful piece. 13) breaks out the violin. Flute and acoustic guitar accompany along with harmony vocals, before breaking into heavier movements. Sun are definitely the most progressive minded of the bands present on this set, though not as mature or professional as Nexus or Zyma. Much different than their rather breezy fusion album from 1980. Another archival set that one hopes is sitting idly by waiting for a reissue label to release.

Overall, definitely a set well worth seeking out.

At one time I owned the original LP. I should have held onto it, but was looking for more things back in the 90s and needed the capital.

V.A. - Concert '71. 1971 Germany

1. Waniyetula - Light My Fire 7:37
2. Waniyetula - Lindis Farne 8:38
3. Stoke - BMW 4:55
4. Homunculus - Rainbow 3:17
5. Abraham - Turban 17:13
6. Nice Noise - Abraxas 5:48

As for titles, it's as simple as they come. Yes folks, this is Concert '71. In today's search engine world, it's a researcher's nightmare, but I'm sure in 1971 Germany it made perfect sense. That's what it is, right?

1) and 2) were reissued on Waniyetula's A Dream Within a Dream CD from Garden of Delights. 1) is the familiar Doors' tune, of course, and the jazzy flute mid-section adds a new twist. 2) is a loose instrumental jam, with a cosmic space rock edge. The overall recording is a tad better than bootleg quality, so many of the effects are lost I'm afraid.

Apparently Waniyetula were the big draw for the time, and they did manage two albums in their lifetime, one under the name of Galaxy ("Nature's Clear Well"). I won't pretend I know anything about the other groups here, but here are my thoughts on the music presented:

3) Is a raw rocker no doubt pissing about the elite classes roaming around in their German luxury automobiles. Vocals are bad, but the guitar melody and solo is pretty good. Crowd seemed to like it anyway.

4) Contains a heavy guitar riff and a very old organ that must have been left behind at some US army base. Homunculus' vocalist is even worse than Stoke's. Straight rock song, with an OK guitar solo break. The recording quality is really horrid to be honest.

5) At a length of 17 minutes, I have to admit Abraham is the band I was most looking forward to hearing. And it didn't let me down. What a sloppy mess of a psych jam. I think there's a sax in the background, but he's completely drowned out by the effects laden guitar. Some wordless male vocals make an appearance that are barely audible. OK, winds guy switched to flute and the higher tone allows us to hear it a bit better. Wow, the recording seems to be getting worse. All we hear is rhythm guitar while the sax is wailing somewhere back there, but we really can't hear what he's up to. Heck with that says Mr. Guitarist as he begins to do his own psychedelic wailing. Doing a hell of a job at it too. Song (loosely speaking) goes on too long of course but they miraculously didn't have one drum solo. I hope this is one of those bands sitting on some cool studio material that Long Hair or Garden of Delights will surprise us with one day. Abraham have demonstrated plenty of potential here.

6) Must have asked Homunculus to leave their organ on the stage. Oh dear, Nice Noise is covering Santana, medley-style, with this 1960s soap opera organ and light jazz tone guitar. You'll need lots of bratwursts and beer to survive this one I'm afraid. Crowd gives polite applause while by now laughing themselves to death.

If you see this album for sale, no doubt being hawked at very high prices, just leave it. There's nothing here.

Skywhale - The World at Mind's End. 1977 England

Skywhale's sole album is one of the rare non-Canterbury UK fusion albums that sound more in line with what was happening over the Chan...