Parzival - Legend + Barock. 1971, 1973 Germany

Parzival - Legend. 1971 Telefunken
Parzival - Barock. 1973 Telefunken

OK, finally starting to settle into my personal collection project, which I had set out for this summer, but have already managed to get way behind. I'll be choosing albums randomly, so there will be no rhyme or reason to what I'm doing (has there ever been?). As well, I'll be color coding which ones I own in green (and formerly owned in red). I'll update past entries with the same nomenclature as time allows.

CD reissue for Legend: 1998 EastWest/Telefunken
CD reissue for Barock: 1998 EastWest/Telefunken

LP reissue for both: 1975 Nova (2 LP set)
LP reissue for Legend: 2011 Sireena

Packaging: My introduction to these fine albums came via the 2 LP Nova set, that I purchased over 20 years ago. For those looking to enter the "originals" market, this will be the most economically feasible option with LPs usually coming in between $25 and $50. This was for all intents and purposes the only version to be imported into the States. I sold my copy in 1998/99 when the two CD versions first appeared on the shelves. These are both excellent reproductions with unique photos, liner notes (in German), great sound from the master tapes, and a few short bonus tracks (more of historical interest than musical). These CDs today are pretty rare in their own right, and as such watch out for bootlegs that are currently proliferating the market. As far as originals go, the LP of Legend is stored in a magnificent gatefold cover. It's something I had on my personal want list for years, and I finally paid good money for a copy from a trustworthy Austrian dealer about 3 years ago. These weren't imported to the US, but if in the market for one, be sure to hang out in the German online auction houses, where you can expect to pay anywhere from about $125 to well over $200. While not an uncommon record in Europe, demand is high. Same story with Barock, though it's only a single sleeve and copies sell routinely for between $75 and $125. If originals aren't important to you, then most assuredly the Sireena LP reissue of Legend will more than suffice, and are still available for a regular price. I haven't possessed one myself, but Sireena does a great job with all their reissues.

Notes: Legend is unique amongst German folk rock albums, in that it's more in line with the English progressive folk rock movement. As such, these albums have long been held in high esteem from worldwide collectors who prefer the UK progressive style and lyrics in English. Only on occasion do Parzival play it straight, and long stretches of instrumental fancy are on display. With flute, violin, acoustic guitar, cello, viola, driving electric bass and drums, and piano, the instrumental palette is rich and the music is at times complex. The one anomaly is Groove Inside, which for me is the highlight of their canon. Imagine an instrumental kosmische Comus caught in a deep groove trance for 16 minutes. It's an amazing piece, and if the album in total was entirely like this, no doubt Parzival could have found themselves on the Ohr label.

For years, I'd thought of Barock as a much more inferior and straightforward folk rock album than its predecessor. On a careful listen, it's obvious that this album too possesses many delightfully odd moments, and some truly excellent progressions. In particular tracks like Black Train, Scarlet Horses, Thought, and Paradise all feature more than enough twists and turns to keep a progressive rock fan happy. The shorter tracks act more as incidental interludes.

On a personal note, of the two band leaders, a one Lothar Siems, is most assuredly a distant cousin of mine. See, my mother's maiden name is Siems, and the family history was for hundreds of years in and around the Bremerhaven area of far northern Germany. Given that Parzival are from Bremen, only a short way south confirms that. Besides, he actually looks like some of my cousins... :-)

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