Well, I'll admit that I've been acquiring and playing a whole lot of records from Europe, America, and some from Canada a lot more than the usual British top faves now as England has been a source of much anger and misery for me the last several months. I still have my REAL FRIENDS- old standbys who never have once let me down, but from what I can see in a microcosm view of Britain is that my friends are pissed off with the way the country is going and the younger generation is producing some pretty scary results when it comes to kids in the Army who are violent, bigoted, and downright horrendously nasty. No harsh generalizations, though. I'm sure that Europe has its issues too, but it's been seeming more and more attractive to me as I go on my quest for where to find the best people and the best music. I now have 4 great friends in Germany whom I love very much and I also like Americans more than I ever think I have.
England is huge- you can't not say that. I would always point to where an American band that some dealer hyped over on me came from when they said it was 100 percent American- not at all they were imitating or else influenced by a band from the UK or Europe and trying to turn it into something American. Don't forget that the only truly indigenous influences back in the 60s all the way light years passed then have either been blues artists, soul, R&B, early rock & roll most of that black too, or for white bands just the mightily marvelous Beach Boys/Four Seasons. American psych can be some of the best music in the world or it can be something that is a passing interest to me- I heard it and dug it ages ago and now it isn't as cool as something from England or Europe. Where there is a huge difference in technique, influence, and execution of a musical idea is between the UK and Europe. Unlike America there has always been a heavy classical and traditional folk/folkloric leaning towards a lot of European music from countries such as Germany and Holland. Many of the top German rarities may have been initially UK influenced, but they took those influences and threw it into their classical/folk traditions and so it comes out completely different sounding. The German bands who lean towards American West Coast influences always throw a whole lot of Germanic vibes into their sound and there you have some of the best music ever made- like Sitting Bull.
-Sitting Bull: An Amazing Band With An Amazingly Rare One Off Album-
Sitting Bull is band of which almost nothing is known about. They recorded one masterful record and a few singles and then were gone. I don't have their meager biography in front of me just their album TRIP AWAY itself and the album gives no information on who is in the band. The only information like that I can give is that they were a quartet of hippy looking guys who wrote, sung, and played all their own material on the classic one off release from 1971. With a name like Sitting Bull and a cover of four relaxed long haired guys in an idyllic setting in a field this would have to be an American band right? Wrong. Sitting Bull came from Germany and although they have heavy influences from England (Led Zeppelin. Cream, and the myriad of great pastoral/folk rock bands) and America (Quicksilver Messenger Service and late 60s acid rock in general) thanks to thickly accented vocals and an accent on heavy Teutonic vibes they have a very German sound that only occasionally strays into country rock zones.
-A Detailed Rave On The Brilliance Of Sitting Bull's TRIP AWAY-
This could be the best German album. It certainly is up there and even on repeated plays it never fails to knock me out completely. There are 10 tracks including the over 10 minute corker "Trip Away" which starts the album and of the 10 tracks not one is a loser. They rock and they can relax. There can be a loud intensity or a quiet intensity. This is amazing music from four very gifted musicians one of whom is a very unique vocalist. The harmonies help out a lot, but the singer's rather dazed/druggy, quavery (a lot of vibrato) vocals that sound like he is stoned out of his mind are way preferable to any American or British stoned yowling (yeah I think Stonewall, Salem Mass, and Douglas Fir from the States completely S.U.C.K and are disgusting!). I would have loved this band in high school and I love them now. That means they transcend a whole long time period and a lot more than that. This is music that ages like wine or some kind of heady brew that gets better with age and not stale with it. It gets better all the time. Some of the songs are really astonishingly atmospheric like "Indian Fate" which is a total killer about how ashamed we should be for what we did to the Native people of our country and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Other songs weave a storyline about the lifestyle of young people in the 60s and 70s sadly through to today who get very drug dependent. "Trip Away" is surprising for a long track in that the lyrics and the structure are more important to this group than any long drawn out soloing or "jams." A message of living life off the land and peacefully rolls out like fields and mountain ranges full of beautiful animals and flowers. The playing is concise, to-the-point, and really explosive when it comes in, but the song is built around more of an easily moving carefree and open structure than a whole bunch of hot air. By the end of the song everything breaks out into wild hard rock, but the forcefulness never becomes sloppy or overindulgent. The vocals wail with a power no Bay Area group ever had- not even Blue Cheer. Listen to this and you'll never need to listen to Jefferson Airplane again.
At first this album of heavy acid rock and stoned folk rock may take some more time for other people than it did for me, but I soon found myself loving the more laidback stuff nearly as much as the heavy psychedelic tracks. "Every Time " "Too Many Stops," "For Me For You," and "Hopeless Love" together with "Indian Fate" and a few others have a spooky harmony-led psychedelic folk rock vibe that isn't too far from that of the later post Jeff Lynne Idle Race or other great UK bands, but there's still enough Germanic roughness here to not make for one of those "If Only English Had Been Their First Language" albums where the roughness becomes crude. There aren't too many of those for me as I love thick accented vocals, but there certainly are a few (Virus do nothing for me except make me wish they'd sung all their music in German if their English was that bad and their lyrics that pretentious). Some people who don't like German rock and may want to give this a try will be too narrow minded to appreciate Sitting Bull, but as always if you have an open mind and love really inventive music from anywhere this album is essential.
-Sitting Bull Is A Significant Rarity And An Album Matched By Almost None-
I can't tell you exactly how small a pressing by German CBS TRIP AWAY was, but it must have been hardly any copies at all over 500 as this is one of the rarest and also can be one of the priciest German records. A legend even before a lot of other records were legendary it is one tough album to track down. Never around and almost never offered that can only mean two things: CBS should be ashamed of themselves for their total lack of promotion for Sitting Bull and this album may take you ages to find especially below $500 and it would be worth every penny of that. Sitting Bull may have come out with their countercultural vibes a few years after that was no longer fashionable in America or England, but it was more than fashionable still in Germany- in fact just beginning there. They hadn't had Altamont (Horrible) or Kent State (even worse) to destroy their dream of a better life for people to live and in truth were only just starting. In the 1960s Germany had missed out for the most part on psychedelic music and their beat bands had lasted way longer than it was reasonable for them to do so. However, in 1969 right when it was ending for us the first rumblings were being made. By 1971 when this perfect gem of an album came out Germany was producing more great music than almost any other country in The World! Unlike before when the top draws had always been British bands who couldn't make it in England the homegrown German scene spread all across the country and thousands of kids were living the Utopian beautiful 1960s dream we had long since lost out on. Whereas the Scandinavian countries and The Netherlands had been overflowing with great music in the 1960s and continued it on into the 70s with a mix of brilliance and boredom Germany took off and Sitting Bull sound like a band who already are coming from some other place out there where you dream of finding it. I don't think any other record is this perfect, this beautiful. It comes across as a real work of handcrafted love and that's how music should be. The lyrics are excellent throughout even when I can't make out quite a few of them. I dream of music like this, but when I actually hear it that is what has made over 20 years of collecting and loving older music forms pay off- get this album and you'll be tripping too- and not with any of the dangers or stupidity of drug use. TRIP AWAY should blow you away and I wish Sitting Bull if they all are
still with us could come back and make some more of the great music they
made on their only album which is a perfect miesterwork. This is what
psychedelic rock is meant to sound like when its also going toward a
more rural/laidback vibe of natural beauty and stateliness. One amazing
album it truly is and I would be really happy to see a quality reissue
for the collectors who either can't afford or can't locate the original
and be as lucky as I am to own it as one of the best records in my collection. This record must be heard and must be heard by all- you won't find anything more brilliant out there that may take you as long as this one may take you to find. "Trip Away And See."