V.A. - Umsonst und Draussen - Vlotho '77. 1977 Germany


1. Molle - The Joker 4:30
2. Hammerfest - Jung Siegfried 5:35
3. ES - Today 5:15
4. Checkpoint Charlie - Ausschnitt aus der Geschichte von Herrn Müller 3:55
5. Julius Schittenhelm - Drei Orchideen 3:30
6. Munju - Patscha Menga Underground 8:48
7. Moira - Improvisationen 6:15
8. Funky Bone & The Gang - Higher 7:30
9. Embryo - Getalongwithasong 6:40
10. Real Ax Band - Move Your Ass in Time 5:40
11. Skyline - The Journey 7:49
12. Sadja - Daka Dhin 2:30
13. Einhorn - Einhorn Thema 5:55
14. ES - Fee Forever 1:30
15. Missus Beastly - For Flü 7:28
16. Release Music Orchestra - Sonntag 6:25
17. Ihr - Give Peace a Chance 1:27

1) Gets things off on the wrong foot with an awful cover of the Steve Miller Band classic complete with harmonica leads. Don't know Molle and don't need to. OK, looks like they managed an album called "Kotten". Next...

2) Hammerfest are obviously a core band of the festival, and the April/Schneeball kollektiv. This group has proven hit and miss so far, and I'm ignorant of their actual albums, so what do we get this time? We get the good Hammerfest, where music comes first. Here they show their hand at a more sophisticated progressive blues rock style, with some nice organ and guitar work. Even the vocals are soft focused and not offensive as would normally be the case. Hey, the crowd liked it too!

3) Well, lookee here. I've got a copy of ES' "Wham Bang" album, which is actually not bad at all. ES is made up of members of Tomorrow's Gift and their follow-on group Release Music Orchestra (who are also at this festival). With the funky fusion sounds and female vocals, it appears ES are heavily influenced by Embryo's "Bad Heads and Bad Cats" album as well as The Real Ax Band. 14) is a short thrown in, a harmless female vocal lead piece. Not sure why they felt obligated to toss this in.

4) Checkpoint Charlie are the very definition of politrock. I've had a couple of their albums in the past and they mix complex aggressive punk rock with virulent lyrics. Similar to fellow Germans Oktober. Almost like the Cardiacs but even more angry. Here we pretty much have a spoken word (in German) entry with some nice fusion moves underneath. It would be interesting to hear Checkpoint Charlie with an instrumental album. But that's not what they're about...

5) Features the former Ohr record producer. Even before Dieter Dirks was doing the insane knob twiddling in Berlin, Schittenhelm was phasing bands like Annexus Quam through the hazy fields of madness. As an artist, Schittenhelm is a folk singer - hey, gotta throw a bone to the masters once in awhile and keep them happy.

6) Second year in a row for one of Schneeball's most stalwart bands. As with the '76 concert, Munju covers another track from their debut "High Speed Kindergarten". Here they add an extended percussion sequence as a prequel. Munju were near the top tier of Kraut fusion bands of the era, perhaps slightly behind only Embryo, Missus Beastly and Moira.

7) And speaking of Moira, here's their first appearance on one of these compilations. No points for figuring out this is a loose jam. A quite good one with freaky guitar, flute solos and a driving rhythm. Both of their albums are well worth seeking out. Hopefully one of the great German labels will see fit to reissue them in the near future.

8) Funky Bone & the Gang. I wonder what style of music they'll play? This is their only appearance and not sure if they're related to 1975's The Jack Bone Group. Well they don't sound like they are anyway. Despite the funky disposition, this is pretty tight, with some good sax charts and a little wailing as well. Plenty of guitar soloing thrown in for good measure. Another band I'd like to hear more of.

9) Is the requisite Embryo appearance. They are certainly the "name" band in these festivals and they let absolutely no one down. This is a track that would show up on "Apo Calypso" but in an extended 14 minutes form at that point. Garden of Delights has announced their intention to release Embryo's entire Umsonst concert on CD.

10) Is the title track to Real Ax Band's sole album. They catch a groove early and run with it. If you're unfamiliar with this band, I highly recommend the CD that came out about a decade ago. Definitely recommended to fans of Embryo's "Bad Heads and Bad Cats" and both feature Maria Archer, a superb female vocalist from Ghana.

11) Skyline is back for their second appearance in a row. Again, their live material is far superior to their rather static studio LP. Like the '76 song, this track was also added by GoD on the CD release of "Louise For One Night". I would love hearing these concerts in full, rather than these two snippets.

12) Sadja are an Indian acoustic offshoot of Embryo, and foreshadows their later world fusion efforts that they would pursue more steadfastly in the 1980 and beyond.

13) For me, Einhorn was the big revelation of the 1976 concert. Here, they get a bit more fast and loose with the structure, and there's plenty of unhinged free blow. Though I was a bit unimpressed with this piece, I'd still be most curious if the group has any tapes in storage waiting to be reissued.

15) The other big hitter in the Schneeball lineup along with Embryo, is of course my pet fave group Missus Beastly. This is a track that would show up on their superb "Spaceguerilla",and is a fine representation of their infectious and complex progressive fusion sound.

16) Release Music Orchestra is a relative big name, and this is their first appearance for the free concerts. Only Kraan is missing at this point! Here, they offer a slow and atmospheric jazz piece.

17) is a crowd chant to close the album out.

This set features more released material than prior ones, but overall is still quite good!

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