V.A. - Umsonst und Draussen - Porta Westvlothica 1978. 1978 Germany


1. Munju - I Feel So Blue Without You
2. Out of Focus - Sommer '58
3. Real Ax Band - Never Never Again
4. Good Food - Take It
5. Embryo - Wir sind alle politische Gefangene
6. Aera - Herr Siebert & die sieben Siebe
7. Mathea Wlömsk - Bahama Mama
8. High Crack - Anina
9. Porta Westfalica Allstars - Airto
10. Das Dritte Ohr - Don't Use Your Spray
11. Hammerfest - Wilde Zeit
12. Molle - Bildertraum
13. Checkpoint Charlie - Smogalarm
14. Porta Westfalica Allstars - Keine Macht für Niemand
15. Spacebox - Tape Talk
16. Julius Schittenhelm - Er dreht sich hinein ins Hirn
17. Airbreak - Crossover
18. Missus Beastly - Porta Erotica
19. Brühwarm - Tango
20. Brühwarm - Fummelrock

1) No better way to open than with some electric sax in the Xhol Caravan, "Hot Rats" era Zappa sort of way. Excellent opener. This track came from Munju's "Moon You" album.

2) Out of Focus make their first festival appearance. One of the legendary bands from the early Krautrock era of 1970-1974. Out of Focus proved to have quite a bit of archival material as they have not only one, but two full CDs of studio music plus one live concert. But none of it extends as far as 1978, where the band was about to become Kontrast. And here they prove to be the veterans they are, with a superb piece, complete with a beautiful melody driven by the flute. I want to hear more of Out of Focus from this era!

3) is an unreleased track by the Embryo offshoot group Real Ax Band. This one is a slow burn, with a deep funk groove and wah wah guitar solos. The Barry White vocal attempt was.... not a good idea. Where's Ms. Archer? Vocals aside, I'd love to hear more of this session.

4) Don't know who Good Food is, but this is a really swell primarily instrumental Latin inspired fusion piece driven by some great rhythm work and Rhodes piano leads the solo and melody lines. At 7 minutes, this is also the longest piece on the entire 2 LP set. Definitely a band I'd like to know more about.

5) Schneeball/April heroes Embryo weigh in with a deep funk piece, also a bit of a slow burn similar to the Real Ax Band, with almost scat like vocals. A different sound from Embryo, but one I found highly appealing. Amazing guitar solo from Bunka. Maybe I'd be interested in Garden of Delights releasing this concert first - rather the '77 one!

6) Well, it was about time Aera showed up! Another "name" band, and by 1978, a group who already had a couple of albums under their belt. Oddly, they only featured a primarily percussion piece (excepting a few ensemble seconds at the end). Hardly representative of the band, who are fine progenitors of jazz fusion.

7) Mathea Wlömsk is another new name for me. I suppose it should be no surprise they are yet another fusion band. The driving bass and phased guitar solos recall the excellent obscure group Mosaik. I definitely want to hear more from this band!

8) Yet again, we hear a new group - High Crack. They are a bit more in the typical funky fusion genre that was all the rage in Germany at this time. A bit more generic than their festival peers - at least on this one piece. I'd still like to hear what else they have to offer.

10) Das Dritte Ohr have a few albums, of which I know nothing about. Here they provide an old time got-the-blues-real-bad-oh-yea-I-do complete with amplified harmonica. It's awful... next!

11) Hammerfest, as mentioned before, are one of the sponsors of the festival - so they of course get their space. They're a bit eclectic, and here they offer yet another got-the-blues-real-bad track - though at a faster pace than Das Dritte Ohr. OK, so they're a mover and shaker of the scene, what are you going to do? Next...

12) And here we have Molle, who started the 1977 album off inauspiciously. Contrary to that piece, the music here is quite good, dominated by a nice flute line and an excellent guitar solo. There's quite a bit of German vocals, which I suspect is politically motivated, but not sure.

13) And now for Germany's most prolific polit-rocker Checkpoint Charlie. Apparently an hilarious song about ecological destruction. And what says funny like left wing political Germans? OK, no fair, I'm not German (well, I am actually - but 3rd generation American...), so let's move on... next!

9) & 14) The Porta All-Stars is obviously a collective gathered for the concert. On the first track they present a sort of acoustic blues, with some nice flute, acoustic guitar and wordless voice. No Power for Nobody is what the second title translates to. IIRC, Ton Steine Scherben also had an album by that name. Yea, baby, ANARCHY RULES! Apparently we're in the midst of the hardcore polit-rock section of the LP. Next!

15) Uli Trepte's Spacebox is a big fave with my more avant minded music friends. For me, they leave a lot be desired. 'Tape Talk' is a track from their self-titled 1979 album. Pretty much mindless drivel as far as I'm concerned. OK, NEXT!!!

16) Producer and folk busker Schittenhelm pushed through another irrelevant track. NEXT!!

17) OK, back on solid ground with Airbreak, a funky fusion band with wah wah rhythm guitar driving the sax & guitar leads. A typical tropical and sunny sound dominates here. Probably not a group that would be overly special on LP, though I'd be interested in hearing more anyway. Not that much different than the High Crack group earlier in the album.

18) UMR's favorite Missus Beastly contributes an unreleased track, that if we were to go by name only would appear to be background music for a, ahem, "blue" film. In reality it's pretty much in the genre of all of MB's work, with a solid groove and great instrumentals provided by electric piano, guitar and flute. Definitely one of the highlight of the entire set.

19) The less said about Brühwarm the better.

Despite a great opening, the festival has clearly taken a turn for the political, at least on vinyl. My least favorite set of the 1975-1978 festivals.

Unfortunately this was the end of the classic era of the Umsonst and Draussen festivals on vinyl. The festival itself continues on to this day. There was one more album released in 1983, but it's a huge drop off in quality. Not only musically, at least for fans of the classic Kraut fusion sound like myself, but primarily the sound quality is awful. Which seems inexcusable, given the date - but alas it is what it is.

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