Niemen - Strange is This World. 1972 Poland

Not sure when SBB became the backing band for Niemen. It may have been here or the two Volume (aka Marionetki) albums (see comments from reader Bas as he clears all of this up for us). Niemen obviously was quite prolific during this period. Recently we spoke of Ode to Venus, and that album definitely seems like the SBB 0 (zero) album. Here, Niemen's vocals dominates more of the proceedings along with Helmut Nadolski's "double bass" which sounds like a cello gone mad, and (going off memory here) was also a big part of Niemen Vol. 1. Niemen's voice here goes beyond the blues, to an almost gospel like croon. It's no doubt going to solicit polarizing opinions, though I definitely appreciate the passion brought forth here. As others have said, and I tend to agree, I would have preferred his native Polish rather than English. Still, SBB gets plenty of time to unleash their rock fury, and Apostolis gets in a few mean fuzz licks here and there. Organ is another dominant instrument presented. This album is a bit more unhinged and experimental than Ode to Venus, so I'd start there - though Strange is this World is well worth investigating on its own merits.

Personal collection
CD: 2003 CityStudio Media Production / Green Tree (Germany)


  1. Hi Tom,

    In the liner notes to the Od Początku II box Niemen says he formed his Niemen supergroup (i.e. himself + SBB) in the fall of 1971. He later goes on to say that according to some SBB was formed in 1971 and immediately went avant-garde, but he dismisses this as nonsense. If he hadn't got them out of Silesia, they'd still be a local blues band... He also mentions some disagreement about who actually composed the music (SBB apparently claiming too much credit), although I'm not 100% sure he refers to Marionetki. Still, it looks to me like Marionetki is the one where SBB became Niemen's backing band.

    BTW, interesting what he's done with the English versions. There are almost exact copies (Song for the Deceased / Piosenka dla zmarłej), slight adaptations (Mourner's Rhapsody / Bema pamięci żałobny rapsod) and completely new music (Strange Is This World / Dziwny jest ten świat, originally a late 60's protest song (and smash hit in Poland) turned into a Marionetki style piece).

    Cheers, Bas

    1. Hi Bas,

      I was hoping you would chime in here. This is all great information - and clears up some questions.


      - Tom

  2. Well, according to the internet I've got it wrong... Here's what the Polish wikipedia entry on Niemen has to say:
    "In the fall of 1971 Niemen met avant-garde double bassist Helmut Nadolski. With him and the musicians of the group SBB he formed Grupa Niemen, which was active from December 1971 to August 1973. Trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski performed and recorded with them. In January 1972 the disc Strange Is This World was recorded in Munich, in August 1972 the two, partly improvised, discs Niemen Vol.1 and Niemen Vol.2 in [Poland], and in August 1973 the album Ode to Venus, also in Munich."

    No sources are cited for this paragraph, so I don't know how reliable it is. Elsewhere I've read an interview with Niemen for a Polish rock magazine (Teraz Rock) from 1997 that also mentions Strange Is This World as the first SBB/Niemen album (says the interviewer, not Niemen).

    Cheers, Bas

  3. I would not be so certain that the CMP label was legit. I have serious doubts...

  4. Hi Ken,

    I validated their legitimacy with Walter at Garden of Delights first. This was about 7 years ago. It was in response to their Bellaphon releases, mainly Orange Peel.

    Also worth noting is that the Sony name is all over this, with copyright's, etc... There's websites, telephone numbers and the GEMA stamp. It does look legit. I know that Green Tree has some dubious releases, so I think the joint venture didn't help matters for CMP.

    For now I'm considering them legit until I see proof to the contrary.

    Thanks for the note!

    - Tom


Hadal Sherpa - s/t. 2017 Finland

Every once in awhile I'll receive a recommendation on a new album to try. But it's very rare for me to receive 3 strong recs from ...