Wednesday, October 24, 2012

For All My Fellow Record Addicts And Me- Life Can Be Hell!

I never knew how engrossed I would become with record deals when I first started out. It was merely a hobby I had that I did from time to time and although I was always passionate about it there were about a million other things going on in my life and I also wasn't spending crazy money on records like I am now. When I add up a whole bunch of records now in a deal that will cost me thousands of dollars in total I know that I've gone firmly into addiction.
   Certain things trigger the need for more and with the latest Most-I'll-Ever-Spend-In-My-Life-28 Good/Decent-Records-Have-To-Go-For-Great-Ones (and it turns out to be closer to 100 that are going! Christ!) it was the completely uncalled for behavior of a dealer I spent a ridiculous amount of money with who was crazy  enough to scream at me over the phone after not answering calls or emails repeatedly "Go Fuck Yourself!" "Don't Fucking Call Me!" and worst of them all "I'll Kill You If You Call Here Again!" He really pissed me off as you can imagine and poisoned all the records I got from him leaving me none that I'm keeping. Then a friend who I had a dispute with politically turns out to be the polar opposite of this unnamed maniac and he has much better records and a much better discount policy. For instance he is willing to make huge discounts and do all he can to help me. My good friend, unlike this idiot, suffers serious life-threatening health issues (throat cancer) and I've known him for six years. We've had our ups and downs, but never a fight. The same unsaid record dealer who I will never buy from again also sent me the nastiest most vicious and hate filled email anyone has ever had the nerve to send after the "I'll Kill You If You Call Here Again!" screaming at me over the phone like a 6 year old. He also, as I said, neglected emailing me and then when I went out to his house for the last time tried to con me into spending even more money with him!
   Numbers like the kind that I'm into now, huge big ticket records, these would have been inconceivable for me just a while ago, but now I have a source who pays me incredible money for my records and who is willing, if I send him his records tomorrow, to pay me another ludicrous amount I hope. He can be hard to deal with occasionally, but that is more just convincing him sometimes when he's not quite sure and becomes a bit of a pain. However, after a horrible falling out with him quite some time ago we patched everything up after a month and he is a really good person overall. He has the appearance of a big human Grizzly bear, but a great heart and the disposition of a very kind person most of the time. Sometimes he can be horrible, but the main problem are his coworkers.
    I don't know how I ever went this far and I'm sure no other record addicts know either. You end up going out of your mind, completely going mad for the need of something there were hardly any pressed of, but the music is brilliant. And how many records do you suppose are out there worthy of spending insane money on? Thousands. I have some albums I won't part with and then I have albums where if need be though it would break my heart for a brief period I will part with them. But there are those I won't part with ever. I definitely have my records I won't let anyone have, but funny as it may seem some of my favourite music doesn't go for insane money it just is hard to track down. When I put together my Molotov Cocktail of Eclecticism-Is-Me I didn't know what the fuck I was going to get into. On one hand I have mega rarities and then I have AOR records. I love bands like Alias, Treat, Shy, Alien, Alliance (the 80s group who only managed the one masterpiece reviewed here some time back), Lionheart (the 80s band not the new hardcore metal bullshit band), GTR, Skagarack bands that are hard to find, but really are great and not much money at all. Bar Alias who had a huge hit with "More Than Words Can Say" just a year before rock was killed off by grunge and alternative ugly rubbish and "New Heavy Metal" and GTR who largely thanks to Max Bacon's as-always wonderful vocals most of these bands never went anywhere outside of Europe or England. In fact, Shy never even made it in their native England. It must be Hellish to be a musician sometimes. Now imagine bands from the 60s and 70s whose albums command huge money who never even got paid anything at all for their hard work and brilliance- it must be a really backhanded way of getting a huge compliment. Ages later you're worthy of huge adulation when at the time no one paid any attention to you. Who knows how few copies sold of their albums and how badly they were cheated out of what could have been huge success. In my heart I've gone this far because I really care about getting amazing music, but also because I feel so much sympathy for the bands that never went to the lengths and pillars of success they should have gone to.
      My earliest days of collecting I didn't even know I was collecting. I was a stalwart constant to the 99 cent bin at the Princeton Record Exchange when I was 12/13/14 and my favourite music was always in there, always cheap because I hardly knew or even was daring enough to buy the obscure bands. On occasion I'd get into a really obscure band, but not as many as bands that were still doing pretty good for themselves. I bought bands who would turn obscure, but who were all the talk in hard rock/AOR/metal at the time. For instance some early big great huge amazing bands for me were and always will be UFO who are Godlike, Angel once the prices settled down on their stuff (Remember in the 80s Angel were BIG with collectors), Journey, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple (OK I'm not so keen on them now!), Aerosmith, Saxon, Scorpions, David Bowie (who I did have to spend a little bit more for, but not much), Ronnie James Dio (you're very sadly missed Ronnie) you name it I was into classic rock before it was classic rock! Nowadays all these bands considered "Classic Rock" or "Classic Metal" were in other genres. When I think of how the wording, how the whole collecting world has altered and gone crazy, no wonder we're all a bunch of nutcases now running up and down all around trying to score something that gives us that sound of both the cheap and the expensive of when music was made for one thing- the sake of making music. A band like Grail who I'm willing to spend a huge, insane amount on couldn't and can't be categorized. Sure Rod Stewart produced them, but Rod The Mod knew nothing about how to produce a band who run the gamut from proto psychedelic Metal to sitar moody folk psych to pure pop on one or two tracks. Doomed to failure from the go Grail met with no sales and no interest. I bet they feel happy and very very mournful at the same time that they are a huge collectible. I'm sure they are more mournful over the death of their charismatic lead vocalist/autoharp player Chris Williams.
    A band like UFO made it about as far as a cult band can go. The fact that they are still around, still touring, that Phil Mogg doesn't care if he's going bald and doesn't have his old looks he just cares about that unique down-to-earth great voice of his must be a huge relief when you are pushing 60 and people still love your music. I got huge into the previously mentioned Scorpions, Aerosmith, bands that are and were and will always be legends. One of my favourites was Dokken- still a band who people remember. These were formative influences, but that damned O Band record showed up and the cat was out of the bag (I Love Worship Cats.) I wasn't spending huge money yet, but I heard about all the bands that were fetching a fortune. I got curious.
    Really, my parents are to blame for leaving all those old 1960s Rolling Stone magazines in my sight and I looked at the adds for obscure bands with the first taste of addiction coming in. Also, my mother and father raised me with brilliant taste. They knew a good band from a bad one. There is hardly anything we differ on and usually they'll love my music. They got to be there for the 1960s- all the good and all the bad of it. I was obsessed with Rolling Stone advertisements. Also there were books like Terry Hounsome's New Rock Record, the wonderfully wicked International Encyclopedia Of Hard Rock And Heavy Metal (which included many non-metal bands), Album Cover Art, the Harmony Rock series and it all was going to lead up over the years to me wanting to gain more knowledge than even these books and writers had and to go that one step further. I took one step further into complete madness.
    When I used to collect I couldn't spend the huge amounts that steadily went up further and further into craziness, but mail order catalogs were also a huge education for me and believe me they were really a double-edged sword when it came to who you might be dealing with.  The problem has always been that once you get into the ultra rare you get crazy people who have stuff. In hindsight I never would have dealt with any of these crazy people and even not my most recent falling out with another nasty nasty horrible person. The worst mail order dealers would be extortionate, would make threats at you, would really take you for a ride, and would overgrade to a ludicrous degree and not take the records back. I had some particularly bad experiences where threats were made against me and/or I was being pulled around like crazy, having the records sent 4th class mail, getting cheated on the prices of things- really bad experiences I'll never forget and even some recent horrible experiences like the one I've told you about. This all sounds very doom and gloom now and I don't intend for it to. There are wonderful people to deal with who have been my friends and who have also led me down this path to complete craziness, but I don't mind. I'd love to talk to a certain Paul Major again because Paul was such a good friend to me. Paul helped me out a great deal. He praised my art, he praised me. When his friend and our really good friend Michael Piper who was for the most part a really wonderful person died it was really horrendous, I still haven't gotten over it. So sad. Paul is still with us and is married to Michael's sister. My friend with health issues was one of the first big dealers and there are a scant few other really good friends like my Pennsylvanian mate Jerome Tomko who is better to talk to than deal with sometimes, but a really solid mate.
    I wish there were Record Addicts Anonymous or something. I'd be there with the best of them and the worst of them. We'd all relate our stories, tell how we completely got into this crazy syndrome and couldn't stop it. I suffer seriously from Record Madness and much of the time it is no fun. When you're dying to have something and you run into a million obstacles it can really be dreadful. You want something really bad and you don't get it or you do get it and there's a problem or else you get it and it's not as great as you thought it would be. Now I can research things. I can get a rough idea how something might sound. Back in the days of mail order and before the internet you could only buy blind. Thank God that has changed! I'll never forget "hype." Now it isn't hype that drives me to destruction it's usually youtube, the old I've-Wanted-This-So-Long-As-An-Original mess and believe me I tell you no falsehood when I say an original sounds a Helluva lot better than a reissue. A reissue is never going to have the magic of an original. That said, you better spin that reissue a few times before you fork out. I'd fork out for records as awesome as Fantasy's PAINT A PICTURE, Pussy, The Open Mind, but those are over $1500 valued now! I wish I could recover. Not repeat all the mistakes I make and just move on. I didn't ask to be addicted I asked to be a music lover. I guess the two go hand in hand with each other. You get to a certain point and you're addicted, you're fucked, you're damned to a life of record madness. It's a better thing than drugs, but as we all know no addiction is good. I need to somehow break it. To see it more clearly, more of a mind of what's going to happen if you can't stop, but that is so much easier said than done. It's very hard, and it can be Hellish, but at least one thing is true- you almost always do get something really good out of it. The last deal however, still up in the air and not knowing if it will happen but praying that it will, has been such a nightmare and so much pain and loss of masterpieces that I will never do this again. I've said it before and now I have to stick to that strength of learning my hard lesson.
Till my next blog wish me luck and a recovery. I could use it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

There Is No Such Thing As "Krautrock:" Cobraa, Epitaph, Early Kin Ping Meh- And More How The Germans Demolished The Americans

I hate the term "Krautrock" with a passion. What if they called our bands "Yankrock?" There is "Brit Rock" and "Brit Psych" and "Brit Prog" which are nearly as insulting, but nothing for the macho patriotic chest beating Americans. If they called all our bands of the 60s and 70s and on "Yankrock" or something insulting like that I'm sure we wouldn't be too pleased. I certainly wouldn't dig it if The Left Banke got put in the same category as something as horrendously overrated and dire as Wizards From Kansas, but I guess that word "Psych" is our way of a double edged sword, but you'd never find The Left Banke in there with Wizards From Kansas. Do you get my point!?
                 -The Rise And Fall Of Hitler And That Damned Little War-   
 Germany got into a financial crisis thanks to The Treaty Of Versailles and that led to economic depression- severe economic depression. A little Jewish guy who hated Jews and was a lousy failed artist assembled a party of brainwashed, very misguided twisted people and made the Germans a whole lot of promises. He was good at propaganda and speeches and public events he staged. I think you know who rose to power and who I'm talking about: Adolf Hitler. Hitler had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, he just made a lot of promises. When you are as down as Germany was then and somebody feeds you a lot about how you're going to be The Master Race and all that you'll probably be desperate enough to buy it. Then you'll really regret that you even gave the little nothing any kind of attention at all once a war starts. Now, just like any war, but more so than any war World War 2 is very complicated. There are never any clear sides that can be all good and never any sides/nations that can be all bad. What America did during, before, and after the war was to label all Germans bad, demean them, insult them, and England is guilty too of holding a whole lot of things against the German Army and the German people most of which they didn't even do. Also, when Germany started to really rise from literally ashes the Yanks panicked and so did The British.
                    -Germany Is On The Rise And Teutonic Rock Is Born, Then It Thrives-
 Nobody likes to be on the losing side of a coin and while we went into what would be a steady long decline they ended up doing a Hell of a lot better than the rest of much of the Western World. When Germany started producing its own bands most of the guys had grown up right after the end of WW2. Many German bands developed a distinctly "Teutonic" sound and in the case of quite a few of them classical, German Folk, Vaudeville, and British rock influences came into play with the groups also writing songs that had a very European sound- not like the Americans. While there are quite a few German bands who I find so pretentiously cosmic and dithering that I hate them German Rock- Teutonic Rock as I call it just may be my favourite music. I love British bands when they are good and I don't like the word "Brit" used in regard to anything to do with England, but keep in mind the similarity- the Yanks were scared of another invasion. We're such wimps we couldn't even handle Canadian bands having success in this country. England was the most determined to bash down the walls and make some noise here, but what really is the truth is that aside from very British influenced bands and a few lucky accidents which led to some great, brilliant American music when we went dormant as a coma in the early 70s Germany took over and outdid anything we'd ever done practically. I've talked many times with Bill "Pennies" Paquin, a long lasting really good friend, and he says always the same thing "The Germans Outdid The Americans." He's right.
           -America Loses All Musical Semblance While Germany Turns Into The Best-
 There was your occasional masterpiece coming out of the states- usually something as financially low valued/underrated as Wadsworth Mansion which sounded American, but after hearing Wizards From Kansas again my was the point driven home. We pretty much sucked out, man! That record is HORRIBLE. Songs? There are no songs Vocals? You call a lot of inbred Midwestern chest beating macho howling vocals and I say you must be mad as a hatter! Music? If formless jams are your thing that aren't brilliant well thought out jams like Kak or Quicksilver Messenger Service then you're tone deaf like the band I'm describing. I readily admit that a band like The Chocolate Watchband especially on their highly under-appreciated ONE STEP BEYOND really can sing, that Kak made a masterpiece, that there are some great, great bands out of America, but for every 5 great bands you get 25 to 30 that just plain suck. Back in high school I was already into some of the German bands and many, many happy memories come back listening to a band as awesome and killer as Epitaph, but purely by accident, just by chance and patience over the last maybe 8 years or so more and more I've been into Teutonic Rock as I call it in a very huge kind of way. Getting into the early stuff by Kin Ping Meh whose name means "The Plum Of Wisdom" or summat, an album as creatively exciting as their No2 and parts of the first that I heard in passing (but it isn't quite as good- sometimes straying towards pedestrian hard proto Metal rock), getting big into Frame and playing their album continuously, my constant going backs just in the last week to relish the pleasures of the magnificent Midnight Circus, my mind is clearly made up by now.
      -The Underrated Period With Imports Held In Contempt Is Long Gone- Imports Rule!-
  If you see my collection its nearly all imports. Most of them are from the United Kingdom and Germany, and since my taste is that which selects out only the best of everything in every area I could rest my case here, but I feel like going on. German, Northern European, British, and Canadian bands may be scorned by the American collectors, but they don't know a damned thing about music and are a really stupid lot. I was on about imports before they were collected at huge sums. I always got slapped in the face by over-patriotic narrow minded dealers like a certain ignoramus in Connecticut who always had his head up his ass, but I got to be the one who was right and they stand as people who were seriously wrong. I saw it coming because one thing you've got to remember is you'll see the rare imports less if some of them you'll see at all. It took me bloody ages to get some of the things in my collection. I'm not intending this as a rant against the Americans and our bands, but we just are too ignorant, too as I said narrow minded. If you come from a different culture for me you have something over us right there, but I hate it when I'm in England and people start mocking me as soon as they hear my accent which mind you isn't that strong. I tended always to be jovial about it, but there's only so much I can put up with before all of it becomes irritating.
    Germans, as I've experienced, are oftentimes much more reserved at the start of a conversation than after the conversing is well underway. They still are afraid we'll say or do something horrible to them. That's not right. Your average German even at the height of WW2 wasn't a bad person at all. Your average German come the hard lessons learned from that horrible time in history and during the best period of German rock in the 70s is absolutely brilliant. I like my music to have some cultural significance and since I hear every word of a song the lyrics better not be obnoxious, stupid, or trite and if they are I better be laughing not in horrible shock at how bad they are. No band writes worse lyrics than Iron Maiden or Kansas.
     Kansas were a bunch of cynical and nasty (mainly Steve Walsh) rednecks from the sticks who had no talent except marketing talent and took advantage of the popularity of hard rock and progressive rock and gave us a very watered down version of it with the added problem of histrionic vocals courtesy of Steve Walsh. When Journey got lucky enough to have Steve Perry American rock got going again to a certain extent because here finally was a hugely talented, brilliant, amazing singer who also could write some pretty good lyrics and great songs. However, Germany had done a number on us before we could do one on them which was really just to have more AOR than true metal and Germany having disgusting bands like Helloween. Most Germans know better and a band like them would do best as an export into the States for beer guzzling metal heads who never knew good music. Accept, now them I have mixed feelings about their early stuff. Of course Udo Dirschneider's voice is grating, but it was unique and even fun then. I like stuff like "Fast As A Shark." It makes me smile.
     -How The World Needs Help Not Just Musically And Hard Lessons Need Be Learned-
What happened to music everywhere the further it went on is unfortunately a universal tragedy. Business, image over art, and greed took over and in the 1990s things hit a brick wall. That's when collecting relics, music forms that were no longer seen as "cool" to idiots became key for me and key for the friends I had. We all loved the 1960s and 1970s. I was wearing outlandish clothes to high school which had reached a height of scandalous by the end of my time there what with my frilly Mod yellow shirt, my buckskin jackets, and my overall appearance as a long haired freak/hippy/Mod. I was big into shock value then, but most of the music even though not all of it that I listened to then still sounds fucking great and if it doesn't, if it sounds horrible to me now, I learned something from it. The 90s were a horrible time to be alive. It was really a very hostile, violent, and bloody period in the world and the beginning of the decay which has gotten scarier and scarier as we go on. I don't believe in war so I don't believe in war mongering non-music. I believe in soldiers, but that's different. Now I just need to get away from the present in the political sense. If I surround myself with enough wonderful food and brilliant music then I'm perfectly happy, but I'm not perfectly happy about the present economic dire straits, the prospect of Romney weaseling into the White House, the decline and destruction of England. When I talk to British soldiers on the phone they aren't happy anymore with their country. That must be a really bad feeling. To get back to this whole German thing how can you not have sympathy for a whole generation of boys/men who were told a lot of ideological lies and then went to the front and saw how gruesome it was- that their cause was a horrible one and they just had to survive and pray for peace? Kids as young as 16 went to the frontlines and were slaughtered. 12 million Germans and 12 million Russians died in the siege of Stalingrad including civilians. England and Germany bombed each other to devastating damage. Hitler ran Germany into the ground and into Hell. And all we give them once they rise from all that horrendous adversity and death is to label all their brilliant music "Krautrock" and call them "Krauts." I despise anyone that narrow minded, shallow, callous, selfish, stupid, and poorly educated. "Krautrock" does not exist in my vocabulary. To call a German a "Kraut" is as offensive as to call an African American a word I will not say nor even print here, but which begins with the letter "N" and I think you know what I mean. It's as offensive as when I or any other homosexual gets called "queer' or worse still "faggot." There's a lot of hatred I feel towards American society and insulting other people's culture, their beliefs, their music, and their way of life is disgraceful and goes on here from a very young age. Parents do not raise their kids in a caring, loving, and proper manner as they weren't raised well enough and the vicious cycle repeats. I. though raised very lovingly, was once a very bigoted and clueless person until I learned the hard lesson myself that everyone must learn- we really are all equal to the extent we deserve equal respect, equal opportunities, and equal love. That is essential.

 -And In Closing Europe Is As Open As You Can Be Musically Keep Your Own Mind An Open Mind-
    I bet whoever came up with that term "Krautrock" was some World War 2 undecorated failure who didn't have one wound or one medal to show for his prejudice. Whoever came up with it should be shot! German bands, possibly more than any other country, all differ from each other in sometimes subtle sometimes blatant ways, but all differ very much and lumping a whole music scene of thousands of bands together is seriously stupid and ridiculous. Take, for instance, the differences between a band like Kin Ping Meh and a band like Epitaph where there are obvious similarities and just as obvious huge differences like the unique vocal approach of Kin Ping Meh's original singer Werner Stephan which was very Germanic and that of Epitaph which largely thanks to Cliff Jackson on guitars/vocals brought a lot to his band by incorporating his native England and British rock into a German sound. Cliff Jackson together with drummer Jim McGillvray formed Epitaph with bass player/vocalist Bernd Kolbe and they brought in another German on additional lead guitar Klaus Walz. If it weren't for England/Germany's Epitaph, if it weren't for Sweden's Blond, I don't know where I would have been. I was lost and I found something beautiful in them. As time has gone on I have found many more beautiful things in music, many more engaging exciting things in music, many more learning experiences through music and one of those learning experiences is that while they have to deal with the same bullshit as we do here politically speaking there was a time when across the ocean it was a whole lot better. That time will live on forever. My love of people who keep an open mind will live on forever. ABOLISH PREJUDICE AND HATE! KEEP YOUR MIND A HEALTHY AND OPEN ONE! Learn a lesson like I learned from this entry. I was a dick once too, but unlike some of these other people I got over it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Impossibly Rare And Music Of Horror And Disaster- The Infamous Witchwind Falls In Full Detail For The First Time Ever!

It must be something else to hold the esteem of having made the rarest, most impossible to find, most infamous, most expensive album ever made and that esteem would go to the surviving members of the group Witchwind Falls- a British/Dutch 7 piece of whom now 5 members are still alive to tell about it. Thankfully one of them is the band's creator and would ultimately be their demolisher when he opted for more musically viable territory in the also rarest and most expensive Witching Hour the one and only Pieter Pryce. Now Pieter and I met quite a long time ago, 21 Decembers ago now in fact, and he explained the whole story to me. I had a chance to meet the late Devon Coxley, but on advice of Pieter and the various nefarious stories I heard about him (he apparently was one scary dude who was also an even worse drug casualty than Syd Barrett!) I'm glad I didn't. His life ended in 1995 from a long battle with MS AND drug abuse which is very sad. The other one no longer with us was only a part time member the sax/flute player Erik Burgenheim who died very mysteriously in 1984 apparently in some occult related disaster or more likely from a stupid suicide, an asinine suicide when he was not accepted as a member of the metal band Cloven Hoof. According to Cloven Hoof's original guitarist whose name I can't remember at the time "Witchwind Falls were something to be avoided. It had been done once and it never should have been done that way. I was scared shitless when I heard the album and we were putting our first together when somebody handed me a copy and said to me never to let it go that far. Of course, they were the most lividly Satanic band of them all, but too Satanic even and way too scary. I wouldn't listen to that again for the world!"
   Well, the truth is of course more complicated than that. While the Satanic element is there in a big way BLAK MAJICK RITUAL by Witchwind Falls is more something to make for a perfect anti drug commercial. Stemming from the fallout of the 60s flower power era into doom ladened early 70s (the album is from 1970) depression Pieter Pryce (real name Pieter Schonzhorf-Pryce and of Swedish/English descent now that's strange!) had taken that trip you always pray that you'll never take if you do acid. It was the worst trip ever- landing him with serious mental health symptoms and a spell in primal therapy which is what led to the album. He had been doing every drug conceivable and mixing them into cocktails- never a wise decision. He told me that the trip which led to BLAK MAJICK RITUAL wasn't just acid- it was acid, mescaline, cocaine, speed, and gin mixed with melted hash! Not something to joke about he was feeling bad enough when he turned on the TV and saw a news broadcast about the Vietnam War which sent him straight into the gates of Hell. He was found screaming naked running down the street after smashing a window and cutting himself in the process and then he collapsed. He spent the night recovering under heavy surveillance with doctors not sure whether they could save his life or not. He was given a choice- to commit himself to an institution or to go into primal therapy and he wisely chose the latter. I've been in the mental asylum 3 times myself and will never go back. It does all harm and no good and when I'm issued with a warning or threat about it I make sure it won't happen again.
    Back to Witchwind Falls. Pryce went into primal therapy and then formed the band to exorcise his terrifying visions of the horrors of war, references to all kinds of death including a modern crucifixion, Satanic sacrifices, and the perilous netherworld that drugs can send one into. The band comprised Pryce as the lead vocalist and he also played a few flute and guitar parts as he told me, guitarist Clive Rossey-MacManus, bass player Dicken MacManus (of no relation), keyboard player Holt "Evan Anders" Vanderhavel, electronics/baritone sax/mellotron/Moog/and treated voice demon Devon Coxley, and drummer Jan Gollix the strange Dutch/English/Swedish group went into the studio with Pryce's concept and recorded the terrifying album. Bust ups between Pieter and Devon started right away. The two had different ideas about their occult beliefs and really couldn't get along on anything at all. However, when the two of them both clicked on an Anti War message and an album which is held today as "Darker Than Dark More Deathly Than Doom" there was no stopping them. A double album and a heavy, heavy, dark, frightening concept at that Evan Anders was Pryce's soul mate and together with him wrote some numbers that are actually fine slices of freakbeat echoes into late pop psych. However, with the majority of tracks on the album so horrific I found myself pulling the needle on them or else listening to them in utter disbelief BLAK MAJICK RITUAL serves as a real truth about the darkest, most horrible conditions that the human soul can go into. The band couldn't find a deal for it unless their mammoth Side 3 opus "The Battle Of Eagle Mountain/Death On Eagle Mountain/Will One Man Survive?/Crucified Soldier's Lifeblood" was cut entirely out and when released in probably the scariest cover ever designed Pryce freaked again. He couldn't listen to his own vision and he couldn't live with what Coxley had turned it into. He found the pressing plant for their own World's End label where they were making the already tiny run of copies and demolished most of them before even test pressing stage. This left only an unbelievably tiny 75 copies in existence. Now, with an album that rare I don't think I need to tell you the price it goes for. Let's just say that even when 40 more copies were found the price has not gone below 5,000 pounds or 7,000 Euros and the last time one surfaced it was shortly after I'd met Pieter Pryce 20 years ago.
     So you're probably going to ask if there's any chance for a reissue, if you should hear the album, if it should be reissued, and if it ever will be reissued. The answer to all questions is NO. Let me first tell you what this fucker looks like: The front is black with a horrifying image of a shriveled, melting, lifeless yet screaming face covered in cuts, wrinkles, and blood in a black shroud and the back is another shriveled image like a diseased tiny baby thrown into a cauldron and melting into the cauldron with an evil, scary message. The inner gatefold depicts a church on fire with the flames covering the side that is the picture and not the liner notes with the band in black cloaks and inverted crosses sitting around in a circle with skulls in front of them. Sound like Black Sabbath gone mad? Well, it's ten times worse and even scarier. Pryce is adamant that this won't ever be repressed. I don't blame him, but if you do hear the album ever you'll know that the sick cover of Devon Coxley's design and Pryce's songs are two very different things. Basically this is an Anti War album. The songs are also not surprisingly anti drug and anti suicide. It's coming from a good heart when Pieter Pryce writes with Evan Anders and some of the playing is downright brilliant. There are some fuzz guitar driven underground proto Metal tracks that will have you drooling over them and even at the time once the band had become Witching Hour they were so good that Black Sabbath called Witching Hour not only an improvement, but Ozzy and Tony Iommi said they were one of the best bands in the world. If you're going to go on a wild goose chase and try to hunt down a ludicrously expensive album that will leave you completely in the hole financially and physically I'd go for both Witching Hour records which incidentally may not be any easier to track down, but are at least $1,000 and not even 1,000 pounds. I'd never pay that kind of money for anything and certainly the third side of Witchwind Falls is enough to damn it to Hell (no pun intended), but the good stuff on the record it's a shame can't be salvaged. For God knows (I actually am a pagan not believing in your typical God) what reason Tenth Planet gave the idea of a compilation LP a thumbs down and I wish they hadn't. The good tracks are mostly on Side Two while if you're a heavy progressive fan Side 4 will be your pick. The problem is, you'll never hear it. Every label that this has been offered to have given the thumbs down to it. It's a form of censorship that's really stupid, but I'm really clever. THIS ALBUM AND THIS BAND HAVE ONE THING REALLY GOING AGAINST THEM. They don't exist.
   That's right. The whole thing was just leg pulling. I was having a run at you. A little bit of Pre Halloween spice up your Satanic Cup and then spill it on you. If you'll ask why I spent so much time on it Witchwind Falls and Witching Hour came to me in a life-changing dream in December 1991 that recurred several times in 1992. So there is a reason for my blog. I've always wondered just what could be out there and once I got into rare albums I'm sure I ain't the only one who'd like to personally discover and meet the man or woman behind the rarest album ever made. Happy Day of The Dead and Walpurgis Nacht To You Meine Freunds! My mates! So I took you on a little trip. Hope the ride gave you a few thrilling ideas yourselves.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back To A Better Life And Remembering The Best Of Days Hoping They'll Come Again

I went completely wrong, totally round the bend. After an all night hysterical and completely pointless screaming fit directed at my Mum and Dad how was I supposed to think they'd feel. It's behind me now. I've moved on. Maybe I was just paranoid or crazy or something bad overtook me which seems to be the case way too often. Music brings me a lot of pleasure, but I was going after something that would have brought me a lot of pain and misery. Thankfully, it all worked out brilliant in the end with my contact in NJ just down the road, but after 10 more records to finish off the year bar Xmas come tomorrow I'm just in listening not buying mode- I'm through with buying, selling, trading. It's become monotonous, downright tiresome. On to better things.
                             -A Big Surprise Even Ireland Can Produce Great Bands-
I firmly take the English/British side on everything. Well, to put it more correctly I don't like the Irish too much and will always side with the British Army against them in Northern Ireland. However, do I believe that England should have gone in there to "fix" what wasn't its own problem? No. Once the soldiers were there there wasn't too much they could do about it. It was another stupid war, but my Anglo, Scottish, and even the Irish part of my nationality have led to a lot of stupidity from people. If I use a word that an English, Scotch, or Irishman would use here most people think I'm mad or just don't know what I'm on about. Before the Troubles and during them I am surprised to find that Ireland produced a whole lot more great music than just the remarkable Van Morrison, his first band Them, and Thin Lizzy. While I am British side to the core even advocating the retaliation against the rock-throwing and armed mob of Catholics on the infamous Bloody Sunday in 1972 I think it's utter bullshit that Irish bands were given the backhanded side of everything in England. For instance, Granny's Intentions who started back in the mid 1960s were probably thrown out the window when their album was recorded and released in 1970 after much hard work the previous year on the material within. I keep coming back to this record and the songs, performances, and the production are amazing. Easily if there is a Rural Westcoast Irish Open Mind to match the Rural Westcoast English Open Mind of Shape Of The Rain it's this. Incidentally, I will have back Shape Of The Rain and the best copy I'll ever have tomorrow. There is the 1960s vibe still there quite a bit, but Granny's Intentions' HONEST INJUN is a very eclectic album throwing hard rock, psych, bluesy progressive moves, country rock, and British Tull-like folkrock into the mix. Keep in mind the Troubles started in 1969 and by 1970 it wasn't good if you were an Irish person or a British soldier. I think you see my point. Obviously, Granny's Intentions were not just looked at as a rock and roll band which is how it should have been. They were from Limerick. That made them Irish and that made their name a dirty word. Stupidity reigns supreme again. It's hard enough to earn a living playing music if you are from the English Mainland, but Scottish, Welsh, and Irish bands in particular had a miserable time getting anywhere. I had a copy of the HONEST INJUN masterpiece 10 years ago and gave it the short in the end because God knows what. Now I'd say it's absolutely obligatory to have a copy and for another rarity equally obligatory to hear the amazing sound on a mint Mono copy. Another band, a band that have been a favourite for 20 years that were so good that Jimi Hendrix himself produced and endorsed them is Eire Apparent- a funny play on words. I would surmise from the names of the band that they were mainly Protestants, but if memory serves me correctly they came from Van Morrison territory in Belfast. Their album is produced stunningly by Hendrix and his influence shows through in one of the most perfect psych records ever made. There are reflective numbers and heavy ones with heavy making up most of the album, but melodic, tuneful, well-crafted heavy psych. Ernie Graham had one of the most unique voices in rock and was quite a writer too. Jimi took the band under his wing. He nurtured them in the studio and made sure they'd sound really good. They came close to making it, but ultimately their being Irish meant they were doomed. How idiotic can you get!? I know of quite a few bands from Wales and Scotland too who had to work for years to make it if they did make it. For instance, before they were headlining themselves and scoring 2 huge hits with "Magic" off FROM THE ALBUM OF THE SAME NAME and "January" off SECOND FLIGHT Scottish power pop maestros Pilot were struggling musicians who went into the studio pissed to Hell after being forced to open for the squeaky clean despicable Bay City Rollers. In America there isn't that sort of problem where if you come from a certain state or geographical area you will get nowhere but ignored with a few exceptions. In the 1960s it helped to be from California, but the diversity of musicians led many bands to come out of just about anywhere and get signed. England has been unfair and unkind to quite a few bands especially from Ireland. If you're good you're good no matter where you're from and it doesn't matter. That's coming from somebody who has pretty much no love at all and no sympathy at all for Ireland especially during the Troubles, but let me be more specific. I mean the IRA, the IRA supporters, and Northern Ireland.
    -Back In My Halcyon Days Of Yore I Found Myself Now I Need To Find Me Again-
I've really gone wrong. Seriously, I've fucked my life into the ground and that needs to end. I was formerly somebody who was patient, giving, kind, strong-willed, resourceful, admirable, and handsome. I seem to finally have acknowledged to myself that it is time to go back to the real me and back to my roots. My best days were in High School and in my mid 20s. I weighed a whole lot less and also my ego took up a lot less room. When I think of my teenaged days I feel pretty good and pretty sad at the same time. There were a lot of good friends and a lot of bad enemies as always, but I was very much somebody who was solid all round. I was getting really good at the guitar and my record buying was under control more, but I certainly was gaining a lot of precious information about good 60s/70s music- still my favourite eras. Now of course I'm much more open minded and will listen to anything that's great music. I've been out of the closet for many years and am proud of that huge part of me which was shrouded in high school. I'm really sharp about good music and what is good and what is shite music, but I've gone too far into the obsessive starkly ominous side of my personality where I feel like I'm a failure half the time so I inflict my sorrow on other people. And I have a whole lot of enemies after me. Things were pretty shit till right now having a wake up call today after flying off the handle, but I have come to the true conclusion that much of that is my own damned problem and I can stop the vicious cycle from repeating. I'm going off the bad stuff and onto the good things. Getting a lot of peace and rest and making up with my family. I had found myself as a Mod/Hippy/Soldier nexus in high school with dashing good looks, long hair, and a very extravagant manner. I identify very much with soldiers even more now that I know a whole lot of them and have spent time with lots of them, but I have for too long thought that I couldn't be that person and be more mature, I couldn't be that person without the long hair and brilliant looks. That is wrong. A complete misnomer. I CAN BE GREAT AGAIN AND I WILL BE GREAT AGAIN. My best years after high school came after a horrible fat pig period in my early 20s when I got to be 25-28. That was the best 3 years I'd had since high school bar frightening age 27 when after our beloved first cat died I nearly was dead and required emergency surgery. When I look back on 28 in particular I can see how I adapted new ways into what is the integral part of me and how I can't just because I've been suffering in my 30s inflict that suffering on people who care about me. I'm going back to where I should be. I lived in the past a whole lot less in my mid 20s. I had a fresh take on life and I'd have to say living in the past has been my biggest error that has led to all the record overindulgences and insanity. Something may make you feel good in the abstract, but you have to think. My mother is right- I've been my own worst enemy and now I need to be my own best friend. I've gone way too far in the wrong direction. Now is the time to turn it all around.
   Music is a huge help to me. Having a much more eclectic and optimistic take on the records I collect has been key to feeling good and getting into the best music there is. I'm open to  a lot of things I wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole back in high school days, but I'm still a Mod/Hippy/Somewhat still soldier hybrid/nexus. I'm less soldier now that I know more about what goes into that and what gets taken away. My heart breaks for those kids/men who are getting screwed over in Afghan and terrified. I wouldn't want to be one anymore. I still would like to have and will have that same fighting spirit and determination, but I know now that I can't be a true warrior type because that isn't me and I don't need to fight anything except injustices and stupidities in the world. Lately I find myself happiest listening to music late at night or relaxing during the day, but there's even more to life than that- a whole lot more. I'm gonna get to that whole-lot-more-to-life right now. Good evening and best regards to the good people and fuck the idiotic ones. I'm on my way to better times ahead. Goodbye to the fat pig.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dark And Menacing Sounds With A Little Ray Of Shine From Fuchsia And Gravestone- ''The Music Is Your Only Friend Until The End"

My life has been in an absolute shambles since I got back broken hearted and empty from Montreal.
To quote Jim Morrison twice from the same song ("The End"):
        "He Took A Mask From The Ancient Gallery And He Walked On Down The Hall"
         "The Music Is Your Special Friend. Dance On Fire As It Intends. The Music Is Your Only     
          Friend Until The End- Until The End."
Jim suffered a heavy hatred of his parents. He didn't have many friends. He was a star, yet as always is the case with a star he was a tortured, mournful spirit. Eventually, he died long before his time and before he could live out his dream of turning from rock Demigod into revered Poet. I can identify with Jim Morrison, Freddy Mercury, Jimi Hendrix, and a lot of living musicians and writers and artists who have to suffer to fulfill their dreams, but I seem to be truly plagued by a deep, impenetrable, and unforgiving self-hatred and hatred of those I live with except my two wonderful cats. Sometimes hate passes for a long time, but then it comes back again and my blood becomes oil when lit with fire. It is then that music saves me. I put something mournful, something mystic, something warm, something that is omnipotent on and the music does just what Jim sang of- It becomes my only friend. I think back to high school, to when I had really strong friendships and life had an upside for every miserable thing it threw at me. They weren't easy times, but I was a lot better off. Now if only I got out in the world more I'm better than ever. I know I am. Yet my self-laceration stems from my home life, my paranoid state of mind, and my complete and total distrust for the two people I have to live with. I am at my best late at night listening to music and these two I keep coming back to possibly because of the dark and haunting nature of the music within and possibly just because this is really great stuff- it kicks arse, but it's filled with real power and sensitivity.
Both these bands are ultra rarities. You probably will have trouble finding them, but you'll differ from me because you won't be murdered and then forgiven for getting them only to be destroyed again. Something around here is doing me in. Something Is Rotten In The State Of Laurel Circle Princeton and it ain't me, babe to quote another favourite of mine- the one and only Bob Dylan.
    Fuchsia apparently took most of their inspiration from Mervyn Peake's novels and classical music and to make Tony Durant (Vocals/guitars) truly unique this Exeter University student formed a band with a 3 piece all female string section who also contribute some haunting voicings to these 7 powerful songs. One of the most notoriously rare and one of the first British records to gain a huge cult following before that has become almost redundant with high prices and raves, most of them however deservedly, Fuchsia are the kind of band who will exist for but once in the entire time of the world. That's how special this record is.
     Combining mysterious beauty with hard charging horrors and Gothic illuminations this is right up there with Asgard for dark, soaring, otherworldly, and society/establishment hating heavy progressive rock with psychedelic pop leanings too. That is perhaps the most unique aspect. Combining a kind of Peter Gabriel/David Bowie assault with a heavy similarity to Kaleidoscope UK's brilliant Peter Daltrey and if there'd been a silver lining to Syd Barrett there are both the menacing overtones and some whimsical toytown popsike to fall in love with here.
   I don't like to just give credit to the leader of a group, so Tony Durant is a brilliant visionary, but he also surrounded himself with first rate musicians to create a unique, hard hitting, melodic, unusual, brilliant sound. The rest of the band comprised Michael Day (Bass guitar) Michael Gregory (Drums, percussion) Janet Rogers (violin/backing vocals) Madeline Bland (Cello/harmonium/piano/backing vocals) and Vanessa Hall-Smith (violin/backing vocals). The unusual 3 part female harmonies are used sparingly, but the strings are an integral part of Fuchsia's sound and the comparisons to Electric Light Orchestra are definitely very apt. However, this is Electric Light Orchestra's two brilliant songs on a patchy first album "10538 Overture" and "Look At Me Now" crossed with the later more mature sound that would grace albums like ELDORADO and A NEW WORLD RECORD. I love Jeff Lynne. However, Jeff Lynne was hugely influenced by The Beatles while Tony Durant seems to have a bit of an obsession with Syd Barrett and Gothic literature. He also has a heavy military/soldier obsession often portraying himself in his songs as a hardy and robust warrior. This endears him to me all the more, but the songs have plenty of variety.
   The first track "Gone With The Mouse" is a hard, powerful, ominous, and violent epic with really dark lyrics that make Gabriel's "The Knife" look like nothing and some really amazing guitar riffs. The playing of the entire group is incredibly good and very tight without being uptight. They really go for the jugular on this one and I imagine both Victorian grandeur and Gothic childhood nightmares when I hear this. "A Tiny Book" is spacier, perhaps a bit lighter in tread than its predecessor, but in no way is it less powerful. The strings are amazing and again Durant is very appealing both as a vocalist, lyric writer, songwriter, guitarist, and visionary. This track is one of two that runs for over 8 minutes and you never hear any self-indulgence or obnoxious pretensions which plagued a lot of progressive rock. Thankfully here we have soaring strings instead of screaming saxophones or a bad imitation of Keith Emerson's organ and keyboard thrashing which was so common at the time. For a band where Emerson inspired the keyboard player, but he managed to make something of it there are the ones who are subtle about their Nice/ELP fanaticism who work whilst many bands in the early to mid 70s had keyboard players who treated their instruments like a spoiled rich kid's new gimmicky yo yo. There are hardly any keyboards at all on Fuchsia's record and who needs them when you have a full string section.
    It would be impossible to pick out one highlight or a "best composition" here, but two songs that I feel the most strongly about are on Side Two. "The Nothing Song" spills over with venomous angry disdain for society, conformity, convention, and the established way of life that most people lead. Tony Durant sounds like an angry Syd Barrett here or perhaps a less mechanical Peter Gabriel. He also throws in some nice wry vocals when singing lines like "On Saturdays I Wear My Sunday Best/On Sundays I Stay In Bed Till Two Or Three." If you love Barrett, King Crimson, if you want the classiest of the classy progressive then look no further. "Me And My Kite" is so close to Syd and Kaleidoscope that they'd kick themselves for not writing such a fun, whimsical, cheerful little song if they heard it. Its together with "Shoes And Ships" the brightest moment on the album- a very much cheerier song than the rest. All 7 tracks pack a lot of punch and you need to hear this album, but expect to pay a huge amount of money for one. Fuchsia also came out in a very fragile, thin, textured cover that is prone to wear so finding a mint cover on one is actually completely impossible. However, my copy is really, really good, and I got it for a good price so I'm very happy. You need to find this record. It is essential to any collection of great music.
      German band Gravestone are a complete new one to me. I'd heard much about their famous first album DOOMSDAY and their later change into a more conventional (but actually not half bad at all) Heavy Metal band later on after releasing WAR, but WAR is such a brilliant album, such a perfect masterpiece that I feel like I can take on the world and fight to the death every time I hear it. I bought it on a whim after being blown away by a track or two on Youtube, but don't buy into the "Progressive" tag usually addressed to their first two tiny only 1,000 pressed records. This band sound like they recorded the album a full 9 or ten years before 1980 and are such a raw hard psych sound as you will think you are listening to an album straight out of 1970 including, yes including, flashbacks to the late 60s UK sound and brutal hard heavy fuzztoned guitars. Germany is quite the country for music. It has been that way since the classical greats, but mention any number of German rockers to me Epitaph, Lucifer's Friend (when they were good), Frame, Curly Curve, Scorpions, my mouth waters! The Germans much of the time create a unique sound- heavy, raw, violent, dark, tortured, yet there is a sense of true comradeship in the playing of the entire band. Gravestone and this brilliant little record called WAR are no exception.
   The lyrics to the title track which begins the album are of very broken English and appear a bit narrow minded blaming the war on the soldiers, but it could be some kind of guilt for WW2 again which is so often the case. Why feel bad about it when you weren't born in time to fight in that awful war for that useless cause!? I have always believed that Germany gets way too much bashing over the war and if you were a German soldier there is no reason why you should have felt bad about yourself just bad about your situation. It was a war that had to be lost, but as always without the horrible loss of life. Many young men's dreams have been destroyed by war since the dawn of history. That's what I wish the lyrics said, but I may be hoping for too much on a lyrically crude album. In fact everything is so raw here and a few of the guys look like they are 16 or 15 even so you can't make rash statements about their lyrics. There is a wonderful instrumental and the mainly instrumental and very exciting and beautiful song that follows "War" "Waiting For Peace" which features some really good lyrics. You can obviously discern that English is not this band's first language, but that doesn't matter.
Two songs are sung in German and they fit perfectly in with the songs sung in English.
    A 5 piece band keyboards are not a constant, but do appear occasionally to add even more depth to a very guitar oriented group. Lead guitarist Rudi Dorner is an amazing musician and his thick, hard hitting, fuzzed out tone and scathing leads dominate nearly every track on the album whilst bass guitarist Dietmar Orlitta does a valiant job on vocals and even throws in a few harmonica passages. I sometimes can hear early heavy prog like Denmark's Ache or Germany's LONESOME CROW era Scorpions, but this album is much rawer, much more flavoured with a distinct basement/bunker/garage vibe that it ends up as a unique sound. The beginnings of heavy metal can be heard in the angry and crazed "It's Over" where Orlitta's bass threatens to blow out the speakers if his enraged vocals don't do it first, but Gravestone were 5 guys lost in a different era, a different world. The sound is as I said 1970-1971 with remnants of 1968 and that is alone astonishing. I have no idea where in Germany this band is from, but I know from listening that they definitely grew up on all the right influences and managed to miraculously by virtue of their complete unawareness of what was going on at the time sound Wunderbar unique! I think back to the happiest days of my life when I listen to this album. I picture all the joy, all the struggle, yet all the victory I had when music wasn't my only friend and before hatred spoiled my home life. Right now in the present state I am resigned to the sad conclusion that love is out of my life. Especially at home. I have my music. That's all I need. A long break from records and all the bullshit that goes along with trying to collect them in a Puritanical household is more what I need. A nice long respite and TO HELL WITH ALL WHO DON'T BELIEVE IN ME AND DON'T LOVE OR CARE ABOUT ME! I've had enough of your shit and you can forget about being forgiven at this point because you won't be. That is for my enemies. People I know who are sworn enemies and the government and all the cheating, lying, and backstabbing that goes on every day. Have you ever stopped just once to ponder on the fact that while you are feeling stronger by hating somebody and being selfish that EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY SOMEONE DIES IN A WAR OR FROM STARVATION? I'm a human rights advocate. And animal rights very much. What the world needs is a lot less selfishness and a lot more giving and a lot less taking. I know that I am only satisfied by music, that hatred and death roam in my domain way too often and I wish they'd piss off. Can I get on with rebuilding and loving my life instead of hating it now? I sure hope so. As for now music is the only salvation and to Hell with everything else. I've ended where Jim Morrison started. I hope this feeling of betrayal and staleness will end soon. Wish me luck and wish me well. I wish you a lot of music and a lot of joy that I one day hope I too will find. Gravestone are the best. To end on a positive note this album is just awesome, brilliant. You may never see an original, but you just might run into one and if you do don't pass it up for the world.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

To Finish Off With Records Frame Give Me A New Frame Of Mind And A New Way Of Life

Sorry for my absence from these pages for quite some time. In the interim every record, and all were really special, bar 3 great ones from Europe and the summer flew out to firstly get a few choice records from my mate Jamie Holmes @ Double Decker in Allentown PA and then when the trade went sour (NEVER BUY AN ORIGINAL OF FRUMPY'S FRUMPY 2 UNLESS YOU REALLY WANT TO SUFFER WITH A PISS POOR GIMMICK COVER) they went to him to buy 16 masterpiece records from the best record dealer Bernie Shapiro. Bernie is a kind, patient person and our deal was only completed 3 days after it began and completed at his house when I skipped on a beat up copy of High Tide's 2nd for Krokodil's in my mind definitive, absolutely superb stunning last record the double album blow out SWEAT AND SWIM. I ended up spending nearly $3,000 with Bernie, but if there is somebody you want that kind of money to go to it's somebody like Bernie who has choice top of the line records and who is a good hearted, funny, interesting, and above all very special person the likes of which the world has too few of and the record world practically none of.
       Everything I got from Bernie, all 16 records are masterpieces but I find myself starting a long period of entries about UK/European/US/Canadian bands with Frame. Frame from Marburg Germany were together with Limerick Ireland's fantastic psychedelic country/folk/prog rockers Granny's Intentions the band that kicked things off with Bernie for me and I'd had my sights on getting back this masterful record since the summer. Truth be told the 16 from Bernie surpass about all of the ones from Europe and made my toil and misery in the netherworld of record deal Hellishness at least a very pleasant outcome. I'd had Frame 4 years ago in much lesser condition with a banged up cover from an asshole dealer in California from Greece/Italy who puts all his prices in Euros even though he is in Northern California! Then the worst record dealer in the world got it from me in a bad trade as all were with him and refused to let me have it back. I was hopping mad ever since swearing I'd get another copy someday that would be better than the one I gave up and somehow secretly really make him suffer, but enough of that. There's not any point in going off on a tear about how criminally minded and behaviorally nasty most record dealers are.
     Frame came out with FRAME OF MIND in 1972 and their brilliant guitarist Andy Kirnberger had guested on Pell Mell's debut Marburg- named for the city both bands came from. Joining the guitar player was a future member of Pell Mell Cherry Hochdorffer on keyboards, Peter Lotz on bass/vocals (Andy Kirnbirger I believe also contributes to the 3 part harmonies), Wolfgang Claus on drums, and lead vocalist extraordinaire Dieter Becker. One of the rarest German records and also about the most essential you can get for a country that has produced more essential records than just about any other place in Europe Frame's FRAME OF MIND is as warm as a soldier and as comfortable as sitting in the sun on a beautiful day in Autumn watching the leaves turn colour. Yes, I associate soldiers with warmth and resilience and hard hitting no nonsense truth and could easily say the same of the best bands this era produced- Frame, Fantasy from England, Cressida's 1st record, and some choice others who make this kind of progressive melodic heavy psychedelic rock the most intriguing music of the 70s. Later on they'd start to come from stranger places like the lone long player by Arizona's very gifted Autumn People, but Germany, England, and Canada's best had some sort of monopoly on this kind of sound. Frame may just be the best there ever was and amazingly a one off- they never entered the studio again after the legendary FRAME OF MIND. A lot of bands made one offs, but this is one of the most astonishing. Whereas Cressida would have been better only making their first album, Fantasy's even better 2nd was unissued until the early 90s, The Parlour Band became the very different The O Band, and a lot of other bands just splintering off into nothingness Frame may have had the most promising sound, the most perfect first and only album of them all. Wind are a band I could probably say were an exception- a band who made two albums, 3 if you count Corporal Gander's Fire Dog Brigade, which are brilliant and I really wish I still had, but Frame are even better. For starters the songs are better, sharper focused than Wind's, the guitar of Kirnberger is very much like that of Michael Schenker back when the guy was a guitar God, and Dieter Becker has no problem at all with the English lyrics which he probably wrote.
    In fact, Frame sound somewhat Anglo German. Their influences are at times obviously bands like Yes, Procol Harum, Black Sabbath but much more melodic and less menacing, and The Moody Blues, but they interject their wistful progressive heavy mellow psych (yeah it sounds contradictory, but hear the album for yourself and you'll know what I mean) with Teutonic classical overtones, some choice lyric writing about hot summer days and cold months of Winter, and the vocals are lightly accented unlike the heavy accent of many other great German bands.
   I never call a German band "Krautrock" I find that term incredibly offensive and by this time who cares about WW2 and what happened except to learn from it with sympathy for all involved! Germany was a country pulled into a quagmire by a typically power mad politician and believe me I bet a lot of the German soldiers were throwing out their rationed sauerkraut and asking for some real food! By the time the war ended Germany had been seriously wounded and they would take several years to rebuild. My honest opinion is not an opinion but a fact. Had Germany had better distribution bands like Frame would have done a lot of damage, good damage, here with tours, raves from anyone and everyone who heard them, and this whole "Krautrock" nonsense probably began because of fear of a "German Invasion." Sweden was going through a weird period when two just above average looking girls and their two just above average looking partners/songwriters pummeled American and international radio with intelligent, inventive songs in perfect English- Abba. Abba came after Frame. They had their beginnings long before, but other bands too followed such as Dutch progressive masters Kayak. Kayak would eventually try to crack the US market and fail miserably which must have been horrible for them, but Frame- as good as Abba and dare I say a lot more fun than my beloved Kayak didn't even come close.
   Frame may have gone downhill into oblivion with a second release or they may have become at least a big concert draw in Germany, but just like the whole most of German bands in the early to late 70s their album was their one album before they broke up. It's amazing how many bands were active in Germany, but I'll find myself having a hard time to think of a country that produced just as much quality with their numerous offerings. Sure, there were a few real losers like the dreadful Gash and Cornucopia and the whole cosmic electronic nonsense thing, but Frame are of the best kind of German band there is- progressive, psychedelic, but Solid Good Rock. Their songs are full of deceptive changes, flowing melodies, virtuoso musicianship, and really stunning vocals. The opening title track is a beautiful song of pastoral grace with some fine Iommi influenced solos thrown into to spice up the soft flowing sounds with harder rock and gorgeous vocal harmonies. The lyrics speak of the beauty of nature- a recurring theme throughout the album. "Hot Summer Day/Lazing By The River" very lovely. Dieter Becker sings in a deep strong voice somewhat reminiscent of Spring's Pat Moran but even better and I would easily place Frame above even the wonderful Spring for progressive magic. There isn't much mellotron, just a detuned one at the end of the album, but Cherry Hochdorffer's brilliant swirly soaring heavy organ is so powerful that Frame don't need one. There's a lot of variation between the acoustic and the electric and also on the second track "Crusical Scene" it becomes obvious this is going to be fun instead of depressing listening. "Crusical Scene" features more great harmonies, powerful guitar and organ battles, and some playful lyrics. There also are the complex changes in mood and structure that are a theme throughout the record, but probably the pick of the album for many listeners would go to the epic over 11 minute long "All I Really Want Explain." I don't know quite how to put into words how powerful this track is, but it packs the kind of punch in its 11 minute and longer duration that was started like how most things were started- by The Beatles. When The Beatles recorded ABBEY ROAD they were splintering on a personal level, but the tightness of that brilliant side long suite on Side Two left many breathless, wondering just how they came up with something so majestic. Then there were bands like Procol Harum pushing the boundaries of rock and blowing things to fragmentations. There was the better side of Pink Floyd and there was the progressive brilliance of Yes and just to a slightly lesser degree Genesis. Frame came along and their idea was to put all of the above AND THEIR OWN THING TOGETHER. WOW! "All I Really Want Explain" will have you knocked out. Becker is really strong here with his mournful distant to very in your face vocals, the melodies are beautiful, and there are easily 4 or 5 songs thrown together into an amazing epic. The rhythm section are brilliant and Kirnberger plays some wonderful guitars especially in the faster passages of the song where the classical influences really come out to play. You'll probably, if like me, know just how truly lame most American psych is when you try to place it even anywhere close to this. We get too macho. There's none of that here. I love a lot of American bands, but with notable exceptions of which there are many, mainly the necessity of The Wizards From Kansas and Saint Steven in your collection, we were never this good and even The Wizards get out magically magical done in by something as powerful as "All I Really Want Explain." There's similarities in the wide open approach to the guitar playing, though. Remember that America had some great guitar players including the to a lot of people best Jimi Hendrix. Jimi, though he has been dead for a very long time now, will live longer than most living guitarists. He was someone who could interject soul and sympathy into even the most scorching solos and Andy Kirnberger has a lot of Jimi's magic and Ritchie Blackmore's too. I haven't mentioned Deep Purple as an influence. Their simplistic power rock may mean something to headbanger wannanbes, but Uriah Heep and fellow Germans Lucifer's Friend come to mind much more with their way better songs and vocals. There is the long slow part of "All I Really Want Explain"where Becker is sounding soulfully sad and like he is longing for some peace of mind and then the song goes into blissful dreamy harmonies before exploding into Teutonic fury. A real showstopper for progressive/heavy psych.
      Side Two begins with the heaviest track on the album called "If." The lyrics describe a series of "What Ifs'" that are both very positive and on the other hand would have dire consequences. You don't know where it's gonna go. The text is clever enough to have you marveling at it and Becker's strong vocal delivery has some real menace too. There's more powerful charging guitar and organ with brilliant drums and bass also. "If" bears some resemblances to the earlier mentioned Wind, Jethro Tull (without the flute, though), and Black Sabbath although I prefer Frame's heavy hard rock to the more stern and gloom/doom of what would scare most to death in Sabbath. They border on that kind of menacing, majestically loud doom rock, but they never fall prey to the pitfalls that Sabbath avoided and a million other bands fell into. Kirnberger's riffs may recall the great and let's hope he gets better Tony Iommi, but the solos are much more like that of early Michael Schenker. There was a time when Schenker was the best guitar player in the world and don't you forget that. UFO saved my life many times when I couldn't see the point of fighting it out anymore and so did The Scorpions. If you love UFO or Scorpions then Frame will open up a whole new world of great music for you if you can afford the ultra rare ultra expensive original that is! "Winter" follows "If'" and is a completely different kind of song- a beautiful reflective ballad with mainly acoustic guitars, organ, and soaring yet very mournful harmonies. There's an ominously intoned section from Dieter Becker, but mostly very beautiful vocals and melodies. Frame made about the best German record there is and the two short closing tracks are also really great and not throwaways either. "Penny For An Old Guy" is a very complicated song that goes through quite a few changes in just a little over 3 minutes and is full of strange whimsical psychedelic lyrics. "Children's Freedom" is just a beautiful song. "Truebsal" is  a short out of tune mellotron effect and by the end of the album you'll want to hear it again soon.  
    This album features not just stellar, amazing music within, but a great cover that is some of the best art on an album cover if I do say so myself.  Unfortunately, Frame's FRAME OF MIND record is one of Germany's rarest and most highly desired collector's items changing sums for huge amounts of money. The reissue is way inferior, but it's also out of print and runs the gamut between $30 and $40 just for a reissue! Poor distribution and just as poor sales have made this one a real rarity, but it's one of the best records ever made. It's as important for you to get this for your collection as it is to get your hands on a copy of ODDESEY AND ORACLE, but it will be way harder to obtain than the excellent double set TIME OF THE ZOMBIES which includes not just all of ODDESEY, but another whole record that features a lot of great material. What I'm pushing at here was me just reflecting on how this whole melancholic rock thing started with bands like The Left Banke, The Zombies, the wistful and haunting ballads of The Beatles and then The Beatles got heavier with it, Procol Harum came out, and the whole "Progressive" thing just exploded after the whole "Psychedelic Groovy Man" thing exploded. Ah, I remember the days of long hair and outlandish clothes that I used to shock and terrify people with, but now my firm belief in love is just as strong. Frame hold on to a bit of that loving, warm, let's give before we receive vibe of the 60s and I love this album very much. You need to hear it too, and treasure the brilliant sound that Frame came up with on FRAME OF MIND. It's a good one to be into.