Virus - Thoughts. 1971 Germany

Virus - Thoughts. 1971 Pilz

CD reissues: 1991 Bernhard Mikulski; 1997 Second Battle; 2014? Garden of Delights

LP reissues: 1982 Pop Import; 1999 Think Progressive; 2013 Long Hair

Packaging: One of the more sought after of the original Pilz albums. Like all on the label, it was adorned with a fine gatefold cover. Definitely one of the more obscure Pop Import reissues. I never knew it came out via that imprint, even though Pop Import albums were readily available to me at the local Dallas import stores throughout the 1980s. In fact, most of the hard rocking Pilz albums didn't get a Pop Import release - only the folk and cosmic albums did. As such, my first encounter with "Thoughts" was in 1991 with the original CD on Bernhard Mikulski, which is in effect the Pop Import of CD releases. Like all on the label, it's a straight reissue with no extras or anything. Perhaps unbelievably, this is still the CD I have in my collection for the album. There really wasn't any incentive to buy the Second Battle version, as all they did was add a digi-pak cover. However, GoD has announced their intention to reissue it again - and we know that they will do a thorough job. Since they released "Revelation" this year, I think 2014 is a reasonable expectation for "Thoughts". And I'm definitely buying. As for reissue LP's beyond the 1982 press, I did once own the Think Progressive - but it was just a straight reissue but it did faithfully duplicate the gatefold. I sold it eventually. And that gets us to the Long Hair LP, which I just picked up. Once again, it faithfully produces the gatefold and, as a major plus, features a full booklet insert filled with unique liner notes and photos, and includes two bonus tracks - both taken from the 1971 "Heavy Christmas" Pilz concept album. And Virus had two of the best cuts from that album, though they total less than 5 minutes together. Nice to have them though. On the downside, the cover image is too dark, and isn't a perfect representation of the original. An odd oversight I think, but it isn't the first time they've done this. And I will discuss that in my next post too. So I own the '91 CD and the '13 LP. At some point, I'd like to have an original LP too. It's a great album worthy of multiple copies.

Notes: For their second album, Virus changed radically, in both band members and music direction. Gone are the psychedelic workouts found on “Revelation” and instead the group focused on a more direct hard rock approach. They also switched to the Pilz label, and were representative of the label’s heavy rock groups, similar to McChurch Soundroom and Dies Irae. However, it can be argued that Virus were far superior to both in terms of instrumental dexterity and a stronger compositional base. In fact “Thoughts” stacks up with the best of the German heavyweights like Bellaphon’s Orange Peel or United Artist’s Twenty Sixty Six and Then. Hammond organ and guitar are the solo instruments of choice, and most of the tracks rock relentlessly hard. The vocals take a bit getting used to, as they are fairly rough and gravelly, but fits the music appropriately. There is a striking similarity to all the songs, that if not paying close attention, can begin to run together. What separates Virus from others, is a strong melodic sense, and a contrasting light touch concerning the rhythms. The organ is sometimes played with an almost jazzy like beat. Tracks like ‘Mankind, Where Do You Go To?’ and ‘My Strand-Eyed Girl’ are good examples of this song style. Rest assured, each track is chock full of blazing guitar and organ solos, while the rhythms section goes berserk trying to match the intensity. In this way, they resemble their peers in the UK like Warhorse or Atomic Rooster. Even a little Canterbury quirkiness can be spotted i.e. Egg. A great album and a must for the collector of early 70s heavy German rock.

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