Sunday, August 7, 2011


I haven't yet mentioned any bands from Europe on my blog that I can think of. In fact I'm nearly sure I haven't. Well, funny thing is I listen to just as many bands from Germany and Northern Europe in general as anywhere else and I more than acquired the taste for German Rock with many favourites and a real admiration for the music that country turned out in the 70s. It all would go way downhill and become intolerable come the metal era, but even there are a few bright spots of melodic hard rock.
But let's get to the point. I DO NOT use the term "Krautrock" I find it appalling and disgusting. What if I were to use the term "Yankrock" for all Amerikan bands??? See My point.
On to the music.
Brain is probably Germany's most collectable label for it's early to mid releases on the "Green Brain Label." Distributed by the already impressive Metronome Brain like British labels Vertigo, Deram, and Regal Zonophone was meant as an outlet for progressive exciting new talent.
Aside from Gash and the rather odd signing of the overblown Dutch progsters Light Brain was a pretty consistent label.
The ultra rare and collectible one-off releases by the Lower Rhine band Sperrmull and the Bonn based Electric Sandwich are two of the most impressive, adventurous, and revolutionary albums ever made from any band anywhere. They, like it seems all German 70s bands, have been thrown into the category of which I will not use the despicable name.
Sperrmull like Electric Sandwich are a quartet playing a distinctly Teutonic brand of psychedelic heaviness that bears also certain resemblances to British groups of that same early era. They were a talented band who built their unique and often humourous songs around a joyful, spirited mix of heavy keyboards and bashing fuzz toned guitars. I would say of the two bands here Sperrmull are more of a rock 'n roll band at heart than the very psychedelic Electric Sandwich who borrow more from the Amerikan Westcoast and blues-rock of bands like Cream.
Opening track here "Me And My Girlfriend" is  based around a rollicking Mandolin riff and good upbeat jaunty vocals. The lyrics seem to deal with his girlfriend going from serving an inedible meal to a great one:
"Oh How Wonderful She Cooks The Meal/It Tastes So Bad But We Didn't Feel/But For Me And My Girlfriend..."
"Oh The Wine And Beer Is Fine/Better Is Her Meal But I Don't Mind/But For Me And My Girlfriend..."
Wery Vunny (Sorry!)
This track makes you want to dance. It has a liberating air that just makes you feel good and forget about your hangups.
The rest of the album is quite different. I don't like Pink Floyd. I in fact don't find hardly any of their music enjoyable, exciting, or of any interest at all. Sometimes the track "No Freak Out" is compared to Floyd. I have to disagree. Whilst Pink F. (draw your own conclusion) is all depression and bitching and moaning "No Freak Out" is again a joyful though very bent psychedelic heavy metal rock track with druggy echoed vocals, spacey floating organ, inventive rhythms, and some exhilarating wild ass guitar solos. I do admit that there are two Floyd albums I can dig- Their first Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and the excellent Meddle. This track if like any Floyd song is like something updated from Piper At The Gates Of Dawn perhaps "Astronome Domine".
It makes me think of what the Pink Floyd may have sounded like had they not taken themselves too seriously, but I don't hear much of them in this song or this album.
Sperrmull are a rock band- a hard rock band with psychedelic and progressive sensibilities. I would much more think of Australia's Masters Apprentices or Sheffield England's Shape Of The Rain only changed into a German brew of that same guitar based wizardry when describing Sperrmull.
For an album produced  by the band under the pseudonym "Chazadu" this is a pretty remarkable recording. Every track is a winner so onto the end of Side One. "Rising Up" is a marching song. It is driven by jumping pumping rhythms, a happy sounding vocal, and more brilliant studio effects and soaring guitar and organ battles. For Germany's best look no further than this. I wish Eloy could have churned out something this exciting rather than show us flashes of brilliance on their first 3 albums and then a steady slide towards mediocrity. The liveliness of the performances and compositions here is more exciting than almost anything to come out of Amerika in the 70s. There is a distinct, strong German vibe that is both exotic and exciting.
Side Two is 3 more straightforward hard rockin' tracks with the 9 minute "Right Now" combining all sides of Sperrmull's music brilliantly. The psychedelic edge is not lost, but here it is more raucous rock and roll. "Right Now" doesn't drag once. Like the also amazing Lonesome Crow by the seminal German rockers The Scorpions this album was made for love of music and personal discovery- not money or fame or showing off. However, both closing tracks "Land Of The Rocking Sun" and "Pat Casey" would have made excellent singles and have an appeal to them that crosses and cuts through any country's borders. This album has me feeling good when I hear it. I would go right out and say it's one of the most impressive albums in my collection and the best on Brain along with....
Electric Sandwich.
This one's a little harder to describe. Electric Sandwich were, together with the above Sperrmull, one of Brain's earliest signings. Their music is rather dark and bluesy with definite influences from both Cream and more surprisingly The Doors. There is no Manzarek alike organ riffing yet the gloomy, stalking, creepy vibe of Jim Morrison and CO. comes through nearly every track except the opening instrumental brain blaster "China." "China" is a really amazing jam. The effects help create an inviting sound that has any guitar freak or psychedelic rock fan glued to every second of the track.
The rest of the album beginning with "Devil's Dream" is much more built around Eric Clapton influenced guitars, both heavy and laidback at the same time rhythmic structures, and a sound that is both spooky and comforting which in and of itself is very unusual. I've always wondered what Jim Morrison would have sounded like had he survived and continued with music. Somehow the vocals on this album may answer that question for me, save for the fact that the vocal range is much better here and that Electric Sandwich are for all intents and purposes immersed in a kind of Teutonic rebelliousness. Every track is very strong on here with much brilliant playing, some interesting passages for Saxophone and bluesy harmonica, and lots of atmospherics. I am reminded of the British band Titus Groan at times or also British band Raw Material, but with the bluesy psychedelic sound of guitar and ever changing rhythms prevailing Cream is the best point of reference. Electric Sandwich are a band you have to let come to you. Unlike Sperrmull you can't dance to this. It's more sit down and take a trip without the perils or stupidity of dropping acid. I would say that if to make an album's worth of strong material and a very dark and impenetrable sound was the aim of these guys they more than succeeded. This album is together with Sperrmull and Curly Curve the best of the very collectable Green Brain recordings. You may just have to lay back and let this one come and warm itself to you more than the Sperrmull record, but I love the sounds here and aside from "Archie's Blues" the lyrics are of a surprisingly high standard. Electric Sandwich is one of the most expensive German albums especially for one that used to be overlooked. If you can find this it will blow your mind. And that's a fact. You won't find a better psychedelic heavy record from anywhere else in Europe that also leans towards the California sound of the 60s and the Cream inspired blues.
Both these albums dispel the fact that Germany is a questionable country for music. Think of what they went through to get here! I leave you to think about how much love and dedication to making great music and excitement happen that went into the music Germany gave us. I also suggest you remember who landed The Beatles with their first taste of success... Enough Said.