Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cleves - s/t. 1971 New Zealand

Cleves - s/t. 1971 Infinity (Australia)

CD reissue: 1998 Vicious Sloth (Australia)

LP reissue: 2015 Real Groovy (w/ Bitch)

From the small agricultural community Clevedon in New Zealand, arrives the Brown siblings (in Sydney, Australia) and their band Cleves (trimmed from their initial moniker of Clevedonaires). Sister Gaye provides the bluesy female vocals, making them a natural fit for the Post psychedelic, proto progressive with female vocals list. Musically, electric guitar and Hammond organ dominate, and most of the music is sublime - with an emphasis on melodic songwriting and strong psychedelic oriented jams. While big name bands are within easy reach (Jefferson Airplane et al...), I personally hear that unique European take on the sound, especially Mad Curry (Belgium) and Goliath (England). Only misstep is the album closer 'Waterfall' which is the only track that resembles their rural background. Not an album for those who like to use the word "dated" in their reviews, but for those who actually immerse themselves into the period in which it was released, there are many rewards to be found.

Originals are very scarce and fairly expensive. Discogs doesn't even have it listed, as they must be presuming it is an archival release. But there's been plenty captured from ebay. The only CD is the now rare Vicious Sloth release (it's since been booted in Eastern Europe, so be careful!), which comes with some nice liner notes, a 45 single, and the near 17 minute Music from Michael EP (1970). The LP reissue has just recently surfaced. Bitch is Cleves Ver 2.0, and who only had a couple of singles to their name. It's a double album, with Bitch receiving a full LP, so guessing most of that album is archival. I haven't heard it at this point. As an aside, the original Cleves artwork does a disservice to Gaye Brown. As you can see in scan #2, and if you look for images on the Google, she's a very pretty lady - with a look similar to Katie Holmes or even Susan Dey in her prime.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Apollo - s/t. 1970 Finland

Apollo - s/t. 1970 Blue Master

CD reissue: 2002 Warner Music

LP reissues: 2012 Mayfair (Germany); 2014 Svart

As many have said, Apollo is indeed a mixed affair. Heavy psych meets tropical percussion meets psych/bubblegum pop meets orchestrated symphonic. Vocals are anywhere from clean and poppy to growly and bluesy (the original death metal vocalist?). Hard to imagine respected avant guardist/jazz musician Edward Vesala playing 4/4 drums on such ordinary rock cuts. Then again his composition contributions (tracks 5 and 9) are by far the most wiggy/out-there (and instrumental only), thus once again proving the diversity of the group. It's almost like hearing a Various Artists recording from 1970, rather than tunes by a single band.

Originals are presented in a fine gatefold cover, and are very rare and expensive. I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of one in a trade with a friend from Finland back in 1994. The music didn't warrant its value (IMO), and I flipped it quickly to a well-heeled Japanese collector for a boatload of LP's. And I mean a boatload. Many of which I still own today. So it was definitely a good trade for both of us I think. First reissue to market was the CD from the current owners of the Blue Master label. In recent years, we've seen two vinyl reissues, each with the gatefold intact. The Svart reissue includes a 45 single in addition. I recently picked up the Mayfair release primarily because it was dirt cheap, and it allowed me to revisit the album some 21 years later. My opinion has only softened a little, and I'm glad I traded the original away when I did.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Gash - A Young Man's Gash. 1972 Germany


Gash - A Young Man's Gash. 1972 Brain

No Reissues

Truly an odd one, and not what you would expect from the Brain label (this early anyway). The album opens with the pedestrian blues/gospel rock number 'Angel and Mother' which offers little to recommend, perhaps recalling Dull Knife when playing in a similar manner. 'Twenty One Days' is a bit better, still in the blues rock camp, but the heavy Hammond organ goes a long way to begin gaining acceptance. 'In the Sea' is actually pretty good, and foreshadows Gash's more than capable progressive tendencies. It's biggest problem is it just simply sits at the end of a not-so-great side of music. But for Side 2, Gash threw out the rule book, and went for the gold medal, just as many of their contemporaries were doing. The 3 part side-long progressive suite is absolutely killer, similar to Nektar in composition, but even more crazed (thinking Message "From Books and Dreams" here). And from there it goes into insane off-the-rails Great Freaky Underground territory, and it's at that point you realize the album is simply great.

Even though it is inconsistent, and starts off rather badly, I'm bumping this up a point. One killer side deserves at a minimum to be called "Excellent".  


I wonder if they have some other tracks like Side 2 sitting in a vault somewhere that are similar? What a fantastic archival release that would be!


As you can see, Gash is housed in an extraordinary gatefold cover. There are no legit reissues on CD or LP.  This album is a charter member of my original CD Reissue Wish List going way back to the early 90s. As stated above, I hope there's archival material, as it could be quite special! We'll update this post as soon as a reissue arrives.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gunter Schickert - Somnabul. 1980-1994 Germany


Günter Schickert - Somnabul. 1995 Musique Intemporelle. Archival recordings from 1980 to 1994

Obscure and uneven archival recordings from Gunter Schickert circa 1980 to 1994. On the plus side, it's worth the price of admission just to hear 'Arabische Nächte', which is Schickert at his absolute best, with fast paced sound on sound guitar, and molten psychedelic soloing layered on top. And the Middle Eastern theme gives off a big whiff of early Agitation Free (and would you believe Michael Gunther himself was involved on this project?). Also of note are the 'Dig It' segues which propel the album forward in an exciting way. Other notables are the extended version of 'In der Zeit 1' from Uberfallig, the haunting Voice of Eye styled studio manipulation of 'Sirenen', and the muddled psychedelic title track. On the down side is the brooding electronik 'Töchter der Neere' which isn't Schickert's forte at all. Also 'Monkeys' sounds like a GAM reject, whereas 'Now' is pretty dull to be honest.

Manuel Gottsching is credited with remastering. If only Achim Reichel could have been involved, then we would have had all the pioneering German sound-on-sound electric guitarists in the same room!


This is a very rare CD that was issued by Bernd Kistenmacher's Musique Intemporelle label, and was part of the "Rainbow Collection" that also featured an archival Agitation Free album. One of the series' trademarks was the addition of a "multimedia" track at the beginning of the disc (this is what they mean by CD ROM on the cover - it is a factory pressed CD), which comes across as loud static if you don't remember to start with track 2. There are no liner notes to speak of, so the origin of these songs is hard to determine.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Wolfgang Dauner Group - Rischka's Soul. 1970 Germany




The Wolfgang Dauner Group - Rischka's Soul. 1970 CTR / Dietrich Privat-Production

LP reissues: 1972 Brain/Metronome; 1974 Brain (as This is Wolfgang Dauner); 1981 Brain; 2015 Long Hair

CD reissue: 2015 Long Hair

Recorded November 28, 1969, Wolfgang Dauner's Rischka's Soul (aka Dietrich's Soul) comes more from the restless jazz school, than the subversive underground that was just beginning to brew in Germany at this time. Dauner was no doubt a major influence, and perhaps even an inspiration, to those looking to expand the music norms of the day. Krautrock, as we know it today, had its founding during this era, but it didn't come from the mainstream, of which Dauner was a part of. The album was mostly known from its posthumous release on Brain, though it wasn't a contemporary recording. Still, without a doubt, Dauner was a pioneer in mixing psychedelic rock and jazz seamlessly. Much of this album sounds like the ultimate backdrop to a "happenin' club scene" to a 1970 art film, with the participants suitably stoned out of their bloomin' minds and squinting wildly while the Klieg lights were beaming off their freshly scrubbed cheeks. Whether the youngsters were dancing or meditating, Rischkas Soul was providing the soundtrack to their soul searching odyssey of utopian dreams. One of the better time-and-place albums of the day, and a must pick up for fans of 1969 era jazz rock. Just don't expect cutting edge Krautrock here.

Lots to talk about here regarding the release itself, and it's certainly a confused state. The most known press, and the cover most associated with the album, is the original Brain release similar to the second photo. It features a striking day-glo yellow gatefold cover, and this is the version I've owned for many years. I had no idea until somewhat recently that the Brain press was actually a reissue of an earlier recording. The CTR (Creative Team Rischka) release is still unknown and pretty much extinct. These photos all came from Discogs, where apparently one copy was sold. There's been none for sale on ebay, or at least that has been captured. But even this press is confused, as the label and cover do not match. As you can see, the title was originally to be called Dietrich's Soul. But I guess Rischka won the contract and also apparently got the naming rights too! The 1974 release was part of Metronome's "This is" series, and were really just represses of earlier albums (or comps in some cases), and released on the 2001 Brain imprint. These presses are all inferior to the originals (and the covers are dull). The '81 press (black label) is a single sleeve, but uses the desirable yellow cover. And now the Long Hair release finally replicates the Brain "original" in its full glory - and is the first modern reissue. Since I already have that on LP, I went forward with the CD. It does feature very good sound, but is taken from vinyl (they did a great job though). The liner notes are excellent, but frustrating, as is often the case with Long Hair. They don't provide much detail at all regarding the release itself, and this is a story that needs to be told! What we do get is the story of Wolfgang Dauner and some of the participants from that era of his band. I did learn, however, what the story behind the "Sounds" label on the front cover means (it's also on Guru Guru's 4th). It was a "seal of approval" from the magazine of the same name. Interesting. Oh, one other thing about the CD - they inexplicably reversed the sides of the recording so that it starts with Side 2. Why they did this we'll never know. Perhaps the goal here was to ensure the release remains in a confused state.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Roberto Colombo - Botte da Orbi. 1977 Italy

Roberto Colombo - Botte da Orbi. 1977 Ultima Spiaggia

CD reissue: 1999 Mju:zik

For those that constantly bellyache that most progressive rock is poorly composed, and is really a bunch of amateurs piecing disparate sections of music together, then may I suggest Roberto Colombo's sophomore release? This is a seriously dense work, and is clearly charted and most certainly required a music stand for the participants. Frank Zappa at his most complex must be in the conversation, though one can hear some of the Italian RIO/Jazz/Avant prog bands of the day, for example Picchio dal Pozzo, Orchestra Njervudarov, Agora, and Tullio De Piscopo - the latter even guests on the album. No jamming or grooves here, and the melodies are too brief, but powerful. Awesome production as well. Much of the avant prog genre is too high brow for me, but Botte da Orbi is thoroughly enjoyable, though lacking any notable peaks.

Originals are scarce, but not expensive. The CD is stored in a small wallet like cover. I believe the CD label is related to the parent Ultima Spiaggia, and is the only album I've found on the label.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Walrus - s/t. 1970 England

Walrus - s/t. 1970 Deram. Also released in Germany

CD reissues: 1995 Si-Wan (Korea); 2008 Esoteric; 2008 Deram (Japan mini-LP)

Release details: Single sleeve cover, and one of the more obscure Deram albums, though not one of the most expensive or sought after. The first CD to market was from Si-Wan. Unusual in that Si-Wan generally licensed their product from the parent companies in Japan, and yet I could find no evidence of a Japanese LP. It's possible one was released, and it's just not been captured, or it's also possible they licensed it but never actually released it (would likely have come out in the mid 1970s). The Japanese mini-LP comes from Deram, and that indicates the same license we're talking about here. I believe it's a separate mastering from the Esoteric copy that came out the same year. In any case, the Esoteric version is great, with excellent liner notes, great sound, and one non-album bonus track taken from a single in the same era. Some of the online discographies append a 1971 date to the album, but it's clearly copyrighted as 1970, and according to Esoteric, it was released in December of that year.

Notes: Yet another UK horn rock band from 1970. I always expect Walrus (the album) to be a bit better each listen, especially after taking in the barnburner opener, and yet it falls a bit short of heightened expectation.  Mostly it's the straightforward songwriting, and the band at times comes across as a bunch of rock-n-rollers with a horn section in tow. Still, there's plenty of good progressions, and 'Coloured Rain' demonstrated that Walrus could have gone the jazz rock route as well, to much success. Though they blew it here too with a late drum solo, demonstrating their lack of awareness. Not in the same league as Brainchild, Heaven, or Greatest Show on Earth, but certainly passable and conditionally recommended, especially to die-hard genre fans (of which I'm one).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wapassou - Ludwig. 1979 France

Wapassou - Ludwig. 1979 Crypto

Other Wapassou featured albums on the UMR

CD reissues: 1994 Musea; 2009 Belle Antique (Japan mini)

LP reissue: 198? Omega Studios

Release details: Single sleeve cover and, like the other Crypto albums, originals are relatively easy to find in Europe. None of the online discographies will cop to it, but Ludwig was also issued by Omega Studios in the mid 1980s. And that was my introduction to the album. I sold it as soon as the CD came out, and recently picked up the original at a very attractive price. The basic cover doesn't warrant the cost of the Japanese mini IMO.

Notes: In many ways, this is Wapassou's most artistically accomplished work. The classically influenced 34 minute title track is dense and complex, with Wapassou demonstrating their musical maturity over the course of both sides of the LP. And yet, I found myself missing the haunting atmospheres, and mysterious sounds of the previous 3 albums. Perhaps had they broken this composition into smaller tracks, where they could be dissected individually, it may have worked more smoothly as a whole. As it stands though, the sprawling piece can be impenetrable at times. For fans of the classic Wapassou sound, there is no doubt it is an essential purchase, but it does seem to be a bit too formal I'm afraid.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

WLUD - Carrycroch + Second. 1978-1979 France



WLUD - Carrycroch'. 1978 Omega Studio
WLUD - Second. 1979 Music'al

CD reissue for Carrycroch': 1995 Musea
CD reissue for Second: 1997 Musea

LP reissue for Carrycroch': 198? Omega Studio
LP reissue for Second: 198? Omega Studio

Release details: Carrycroch' is a single sleeve whereas Second is housed in a gatefold. These two were still "in print" when I first purchased them in the late 1980s. And now I know why, as I didn't realize there were second presses of each until researching this entry. The 3rd photo is the label design for these reissues, and was likely pressed in the 1985/86 time frame along with others from Omega Studio like Neo and Wapassou. I replaced both as soon as the CDs came out. And since I now realize I had reissues in the first place, that validates my decision (for me). I wouldn't mind having real originals at some point.  Like many French albums, they are more obscure than expensive. The CD's are outstanding of course, with great sound and a full biography for each album. Second features 5 bonus tracks, including 2 different 45 singles. You can still find the CD new at some retailers.

Notes for Carrycroch': Apparently the band's moniker of WLUD was inspired by the French jazz rock ensemble CCPP, and thus they too went forward with their last names. A classic lost in translation scenario, as it comes across as either Thud, Wad, or WTFuh - to my English ears anyway. Had they been christened with a name like Église fou avec Perles, perhaps the band would be more highly sought after today. Who knows, but the music here more than makes up for the shortsighted naming convention. Instrumental progressive rock with an emphasis on melody is the name of the game here. Those looking for conservatory styled compositions will need to look elsewhere, but if enjoyable put-a-smile-on-your-face instrumentals are your bag, then welcome Carrycroch' to your home (oh my, yet another problematic title - one pictures Roseanne Barr at a San Diego Padres game...). No matter, because once the platter (silver or black - choose your weapon) hits the turntable/laser all will be forgotten. If only such music was the norm in 1978. Obvious candidates of Camel and Yes get thrown around, but one could just as easily toss out Carpe Diem, Neo, and Terpendre just to show off to the only person who might know what you're talking about.

Notes for Second: Wad/Thud continue on with their second album, creatively titled... yea. And we pretty much hear the same style as the debut - 6 creative instrumental melodic progressive tracks that are pleasant, though not earthshaking. This is Instrumental Prog Rock 101, and you get an easy "A" just for showing up to class. Not everything has to be Master's class hard to be good. Sit back, enjoy your favorite beverage, and immerse yourself into the music of WLUD.

Bonus tracks on the Musea CD add (French) vocals and demonstrate the band was up to no good at the end of their career, desperately trying to find a larger audience. And it didn't work obviously. Besides who wants to hear a band called Thud?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pulsar - Pollen. 1975 France

Pulsar - Pollen. 1975 Kingdom. Also 1976 Decca (UK)

Other Pulsar reviews on the UMR

CD reissues: 1990 Musea/Baillemont; 1996 Belle Antique (Japan); 2012 Belle Antique (Japan mini-LP)

LP reissues: 1978 CBS; 1979 London (Japan)

Release details: Single sleeve cover and a relatively common record, especially in Europe. I started with the Kingdom LP in the 1980's, and have picked up the others along the way. Musea's release is all one would need from a CD perspective, and comes with their usual great biography. Best I can tell, the CD is still repressed on occasion to meet demand.

Notes: Generally regarded as the weaker of the classic three 1970's Pulsar albums, debut Pollen is still an album very much worth absorbing. The album suffers from a muddy production and a certain immaturity towards songwriting. In its favor, however, is an exorbitant amount of atmosphere. I would classify Pollen as "heavy cloud music" (a new genre is born!), in which there's a pervasive melancholy that requires an intense introspection. Ironically the music is inspirational rather than depressing, and provides a perverse motivation. The track that best represents this motif is 'Apaisement' with the drawn out flute, acoustic guitar, organ, fuzz chords, thudding drums, string synthesizer, and the mumbling vocals in French. A rainy day in Lyon indeed. A wonderfully sad album.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Greatest Show on Earth - Horizons. 1970 England


The Greatest Show on Earth - Horizons. 1970 Harvest. Released in many countries

UMR review of The Going's Easy

CD reissues: 1994 Repertoire (Germany); 1997 See For Miles (w/ The Going's Easy); 2001 EMI (Japan mini-LP); 2006 Repertoire (Germany); 2012 Esoteric

Release details: Really cool gatefold cover. I love eye covers anyway, and so this is one I need to get eventually. UK originals are a bit pricey, but compared to others of its era, it's relatively affordable. Other country pressings will be less, including the always nice German ones. As for CDs, both the Repertoire and Esoteric versions are readily available, and likely to be on sale. The Esoteric CD is of the usual high quality and features great sound, and full liner notes, but no bonus tracks. As is often the case, I would avoid the See For Miles reissue, as it truncates the long 'Horizon' track (though it could have used a bit of trimming in the first place, but still...). Given the neat cover, I wouldn't mind owning the Japanese mini in addition. Surprisingly there are no LP reissues.

Notes: The Greatest Show on Earth are another fine entry from the UK brass rock genre of the early 1970s. On Horizons, GSoE provide us with 7 tracks in the four+ minute range, and one extended lengthy title suite. The music is heavily inspired by Blood, Sweat and Tears, but unfortunately the songwriting isn't particularly sharp. However, the extended song lengths allow GSoE to demonstrate their skill at instrumental breaks, and it's here the band excels. In particular the catchy grooves of 'Angelina' and 'Real Cool World' are inspiring, as is the bluesy 'Sunflower Morning' and the creative hard psych of 'I Fought for Love'. Addressing the elephant in the room, the long track has many great moments, but suffers a bit from immature jamming, especially prevalent with the front loaded near 3 minute drum solo and some monotonous percussion and bass rambling later on. Still there's more than enough time for some outstanding breaks and thus the track still grades out high. A very fine album, and only 8 months later the band would release their second and last album - which demonstrated more development within their sound.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Agusa - Två. 2015 Sweden

Agusa - Två. 2015 Kommun 2

CD issue: 2015 Laser's Edge (USA)

Agusa quickly follows their highly regarded debut Högtid, with the old school moniker of "2", in Swedish of course. If you were hoping for some modern development, you've come to the wrong place. Agusa's mindset defiantly remains in 1971, and that's exactly what their audience wants to hear. In addition to Hammond organ, psychedelic electric guitar, and a pulsating rhythm section, Agusa have added the always welcome ingredient of flute. Well, that just about covers the landscape of 45 years ago. As with "Högtid", Swedish folkloric melodies are the centerpiece, particularly on the first side long track (ah, it warms the cockles of my heart to say "side long track") 'Gånglåt från Vintergatan'. It's Kenny Håkansson fronting Flasket Brinner with a dollop of International Harvester on the side. Even better is the darker and less familiar 'Kung Bores dans' - yet another side long opus. Agusa's music is organic and free flowing. There are no jaw dropping breaks or flights of fancy. I never tire of music such as this. This is the kind of album where you lay down, close your eyes, and let the music take you to new and unknown places. Soothing, comfortable, and entirely psychedelic.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jade Warrior - Released. 1971 England


Jade Warrior - Released. 1971 Vertigo. Also released in Germany, Venezuela, and the USA

CD reissues: 1988 Line (Germany); 2000 Background; 2005 Repertoire (Germany); 2005 Air Mail (Japan mini-LP); 2014 Repertoire (Germany)

Release details: Originals are stored in a very cool 6 part multi-fold out cover and is extremely sought after. Despite Jade Warrior being a relative household name, UK originals on Vertigo can often times soar over $1,000. The second scan is the much more common and inexpensive US release, that comes in a standard gatefold, and is instantly recognizable for the different cover (which is actually 1/3 of the poster) and the "Mercury stripes" in the upper right hand corner. This version was my introduction to the album many years ago. The German press is a single sleeve with a 6 part poster included. It appears the Venezuela press is a straight single sleeve. Surprisingly, no one has (legally) reissued the LP. If they did, they most certainly need to replicate the original. As for CD's, the always basic Line was first to market before giving way to the Background and Repertoire labels. The CD is in print and easy to find. I picked up the Japanese mini, which of course replicates the original in every way, and I believe uses a similar master to the Repertoire release. The sound is fantastic on this reissue. Mine comes in a mini-LP box set with the first 3 Vertigo Jade Warriors. A treasured set for certain. Oh, starting with the Background press, all feature one bonus track that is basically a duplicate of one of the album's songs, and is not necessary.

Notes: Jade Warrior's sophomore release continues their unique blend of psychedelic hard rock and world fusion. Of the former style, highlights include the eye opening 'Three Horned Dragon', 'Eyes on You', and 'Minnamoto's Dream'. The latter is one of the album's peak moments and probably is the track that most represents the debut album. The best track for my tastes is the stunningly beautiful jazz / world / rock piece 'Water Curtain Cave' which sounds as if lifted straight from Nucleus' Elastic Rock sessions. 'Yellow Eyes' closes the album in a similar mellow fashion. The 15 minute 'Barazinbar' seamless mixes all these styles into one wonderful psychedelic jam and is clearly the album's centerpiece. Only misstep is the dull rock-n-roll 'Reason to Believe' and is completely out of place here. Otherwise a very fine album, and comes highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dragon - Universal Radio. 1974 New Zealand

Dragon - Universal Radio. 1974 Vertigo. Also released in Australia

CD reissue: 2009 Aztec (Australia)

Release details: Single sleeve cover and quite rare as an original. The only (legit) reissue to date comes from the always wonderful Aztec. It's housed in a fine triple fold-out digi-pak with an extensive history, photos, and 3 bonus tracks (though two are from a solo effort by band leader Marc Hunter and is a debatable addition). The release was taken from vinyl indicating the masters are lost (or in poor condition), but still sounds excellent. There are many boots out there, so watch out on that front. The Vertigo original only has the "spaceship" label, so don't hold out for the non-existent swirl variety. Funny enough, Aztec used a mock-up swirl design for the CD itself.

Notes: Dragon's debut came at the twilight of the early Hammond organ fueled progressive rock of the early 1970s with the more sophisticated AOR styled album that was about to dominate the FM landscape in the mid 70s. Universal Radio is definitely more the former, and also possesses a strong Latin fusion/rock component as well as a bit of space rock. Guideposts include fellow countrymen Ragnarok and Living Force, along with bands such as Kestrel (England) and Fruupp (Northern Ireland). Only 3 short years from their debut, Dragon were to become pop stars in neighboring Australia, and you can hear hints of that future sound on the track 'Going Slow' (though with progressive oriented breaks still in place). The album peaks on the splendid multi-layered epic 'Patina'. Bonus track 'Black Magic Woman' demonstrates a lingering Santana influence that was to be shed on their next opus Scented Gardens For the Blind, which is arguably an even better album. As it stands though, hard to imagine fans of early 1970s progressive rock not enjoying Universal Radio. There are a lot of ideas packed into this recording, so the relistenability factor charts high. Strongly recommended.