Resan - s/t. 1973 Sweden

A very unusual album indeed, this Resan is. Formed from the ashes of the hard rocking band Life, Resan start out in a similar terrain to the The Beatles White Album, though sung/spoken in Swedish mind you. Fortunately from here they begin drifting off onto a folky flute number ala Träd, Gräs och Stenar ('Vakuum'). And then the real party starts, with the remainder containing long, energetic, acid guitar driven numbers, some freaky percussion bits, spaced out flute, dreamy cosmic pieces and an overall general sense of the psychedelic. Would've been a perfect fit for the Silence label. I could see where this album wouldn't be well received by many, given its eclectic nature, but I found most of it interesting at least. The apex of the album is the 8+ minute '05:00'.

Personal collection
LP: 2012 Subliminal Sounds

Well here's a first for the UMR: An LP only reissue being featured. We've featured albums with both a CD and LP reissue, where the latter may have been the impetus of the posting, but never one that was only an LP reissue. It's becoming clear that, at least in the short interim, the market is moving towards LPs and away from CDs. I personally do not think this is a permanent state, and have stated such in many forums and here on my blogs. For me personally, it's not so much a problem. I still collect vinyl (originals and reissues), and possess a stereo setup that plays records on a regular basis. I also have enough space to store it all. But a proven "solid state" medium like CDs will no doubt be making a comeback in our future - and I also don't think CDs will have the near-death experience that LPs faced throughout the 1990s. Even now, the majority of reissues are on CD, and in some cases a supplemental LP.

One of the problems in the 1980s and early 1990s with LP reissues, was the shoddy quality of the packaging (and sound). Nowadays, LP reissues are done with great care. And the always-reliable Subliminal Sounds' version of Resan is no exception. I like the roughness of the cover, and both sides of the inner sleeve feature an informative essay from noted guitarist (and fellow collector) Reine Fiske. I'm still calling for a CD reissue on the CDRWL, and perhaps Subliminal Sounds will step up for that as well, but I'm fine with the LP as it stands. I've never owned the original, which some consider to be the rarest major label album from Sweden.

Xhol Caravan - Motherf*ckers Live. 1968-69 Germany (archival)

Xhol Caravan's debut Electrip is generally considered the first true Krautrock album, at least as the term is commonly understood. So one can only imagine the glee that Steve Stapleton must've felt when he was able to put his hands on these tapes from 1968! This is a truly extraordinary historical document, and shows that Xhol Caravan had long since ditched their soul roots as found on Get on High from 1967. The 57 minute 'Freedom Opera' suite is not easy listening, and there are frequent bouts of noise and free jazz to endure, but also plenty of reckless psychedelic abandon as only the Germans knew how to do. Psychotic ramblings, wailing sax, flute, fuzz guitar and organ are the ingredients for this once-in-a-lifetime recording. The WDR Radio session from a year later shows the band is progressing rapidly, incorporating more melody into the proceedings. For the most part, this one stays in the rails, and is like an extended version of the best parts of Electrip. This double CD is essential for fans.

Personal collection
CD: 2001 United Durtro

Xhol - Hau-Ruk. 1971 Germany

Here we find Xhol, as my imagination will have it mind you, in some smoky club in Hamburg, preferably on the Reeperbahn in the St. Pauli District. Organ and electric sax rule the roost here and no one gets to leave the club until they start seeing inanimate objects move. Psychedelic jazz blues is where it's at brudda'. The Garden of Delights CD is the way to go here since it introduces to the 20 minute bonus track 'Suden twi Westen'. This track was recorded in 1974 with Hansi Fisher (of Embryo) on flute and future Missus Beastly bassist Norman Domling. It's quite possibly the best piece Xhol ever did (and that's saying something!) and I didn't realize that Xhol were still active this late in the game. Highly recommended.

Personal collection
CD: 2002 Garden of Delights

My introduction to this album was the Ohr original that I found at a record show in the early 90s. I sold that when the CD came out, a move I wouldn't do today, but it's not the end of the world either. Hau-Ruk is the 3rd studio album recorded by Xhol, but the second to be released. Considering that the CD, in addition to the usual great liner notes and photos that GoD provides, also contains an excellent 20 minute track from 1974 - this will most likely always be the definitive version.

Xhol - Motherf*ckers GMBH & Co KG. 1972 Germany

One year after Electrip, the band changed their name to simply Xhol to avoid confusion with the more famous British band. Their followup, Motherf*ckers GMBH & Co. KG, demonstrates the band's total defiance towards anything resembling standard convention. The album was shelved and not released until 1972 (by the legendary underground Ohr label), hence the "2 Years Old" written across the cover. Immediately the listener will note that Xhol had clearly moved away from their fusion roots to a more challenging avant-garde electronic approach. The highlight for me is the haunting 16 1/2 minute combined compositions of 'Orgel Solo' & 'Side 1 First Day', which could've just as easily been on Tangerine Dream's groundbreaking Electronic Meditation album. In fact, much of this album has the feel of the true Krautrock underground, one that successfully mixes avant-garde electronic structures with the psychedelic rock sounds and energy of the era. The primary instruments here are flute and organ, with plenty of hand percussion thrown in. Overall, it's a psychedelic feast! The odd tune out is the 13 minute insane version of 'Love Potion 25', not exactly what one would call a cover tune of the old classic!

Personal collection
LP: 1972 Ohr
CD: 1996 Spalax (France)

Unlike the other two studio Xhol (Caravan) albums, Motherf*ckers GMBH & Co KG has only been nominally served by the CD market. Spalax, while certainly a fine and legitimate label, did little to enhance their reissues beyond a straight copy of the music. Zyx is even more basic, not even replicating Spalax's digi-pak.  I do hope that Garden of Delights, who have managed to release just about everything the band did including hours of archival tapes, will eventually reissue this one on CD as well.

Xhol Caravan - Electrip. 1969 Germany

Before Tangerine Dream, before Embryo, before Kraftwerk, before even the Ohr label, Xhol Caravan released what may be the first album to rightly own the name Krautrock. The band started as a straightforward soul group, Soul Caravan, and bastardized the name for the new direction the group was heading. Early innovators of the creative German sound, and borrowing heavily from that country's love of jazz, Xhol Caravan would always be a historical footnote. Sadly the band disbanded before it could be granted legendary status.

In 1969, on the little known Hansa label, Electrip was released to an unsuspecting public. Sporting wild artwork of a psychedelic nude woman, the buyer had to know this was going to be a special affair. And indeed it is. Starting with a toilet flush, the album blasts away with 'Electric Fun Fair'. Featuring primarily electric sax, electric flute, and organ as the solo instruments, the music is a mixture of free jazz, psychedelic, Zappaesque humor, and progressive jazz rock. 'Pop Games' and 'All Green' continue along this path with the same optimistic melodies and insouciant demeanor. Perfect music for driving the MG convertible around the Autobahn, hardtop down, blond babe with heavy mascara and white go-go boots actually admiring your hip music selection. The latter track would be the prototype for similar groups such as Missus Beastly, joyful yet experimental jazz rock. Side 2 is a slightly different breed of cat. On the 17 minute 'Raise Up High', the instrumental sections are very similar to the previous side, but here they added some wild English vocals to the mix giving the song a rough hard rock feel to it. As well, this track displays a more experimental and improvisational angle with some free blow moments. Overall, a classic in the field of Krautrock fusion and the catalyst of an entire movement.

Personal collection
LP: 1997 Tripkick
CD: 2000 Garden of Delights

The original LP cover is striking in its use of color. Unfortunately it's also a very rare and expensive album that I've never been in position to own. As such, the LP reissue on Tripkick became a must own item for me and it's usually featured on display in my media room. This was actually the first legitimate reissue of the album. The Garden of Delights CD is the de facto aural reissue and features their usual great liner notes, unseen photos, and a rare 45 single when they were previously known as Soul Caravan.

Kayak - s/t. 1974 Netherlands

The second album expands both sides of Kayak's sound. There's more of a distinct demarcation between their commercial pop aspirations and their arty progressive side. The poppier songs are tighter with stronger melodies, whereas the progressive compositions stretch the instrumental sections with plenty of complex bits. Arguably this is the better album, though I'm partial to See See the Sun as it has a better flow and a couple of knockout tracks.

Personal collection
LP: 1974 EMI
CD: 2012 Esoteric (UK)

Probably the most obscure of the early Kayak releases, as to the best of my knowledge, it was never released in the USA. I do like the cover, which is Hipgnosis-like, though I don't think they did this one. As for the CD's we have the reverse case of See See the Sun - whereas on that album Pseudonym had two bonus tracks verse Esoteric's one, this time it's Esoteric 2 to Pseudonym 1.

Joe O'Donnell - Gaodhal's Vision. 1977 Ireland

Joe O'Donnell's debut is a much unheralded album, but it's quite good. All instrumental fusion driven by O'Donnell's e...