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The combination of blues-rock with psychedelic rock formed much of the original basis for heavy metal.One of the most influential bands in forging the merger of genres was the British power trio Cream, who derived a massive, heavy sound from unison riffing between guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, as well as Ginger Baker's double bass drumming. Their first two LPs, Fresh Cream (1966) and Disraeli Gears (1967), are regarded as essential prototypes for the future style. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut album, Are You Experienced (1967), was also highly influential. Hendrix's virtuosic technique would be emulated by many metal guitarists and the album's most successful single, "Purple Haze," is identified by some as the first heavy metal hit. Vanilla Fudge, whose first album also came out in 1967, have been called "one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal."


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KING CRIMSON In The Wake Of Poseidon

Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal
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"In The Wake Of Poseidon" is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act King Crimson. The album was released through Island Records (UK) and Atlantic Records (US) in May 1970. It´s the successor to "In the Court of the Crimson King" from October 1969. There have been quite a few lineup changes since the predecessor as Ian McDonald (keyboards, reeds and woodwinds) and Michael Giles (drums, percussion, backing vocals) both left King Crimson following the band´s first US tour in late 1969 and Greg Lake (vocals, bass) was also on his way out the door to form his own band Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Lake agreed to record vocals for the album though, and he performs vocals on all tracks but "Cadence And Cascade" (where the vocals are performed by Gordon Haskell, who would subsequently replace Lake as the band´s lead singer/bassist). Michael Giles was recruited as a session drummer, and brother Peter Giles, who was part of the earliest King Crimson lineup recorded the bass parts. Also as a session musician. "In The Wake Of Poseidon" also features guest/session appearences by Mel Collins (saxophones, flute) and Keith Tippett (piano).

McDonald leaving was the main catalyst for Giles and Lake also jumping ship, as McDonald was the main composer of the material featured on "In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)" and there were doubts in which direction guitarist Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield would take the music. As it turned out the material on "In The Wake Of Poseidon" are in many ways very similar in style to the material on "In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)". The heavy and saxophone driven "Pictures Of A City" sounds like a sibling composition to "21st Century Schizoid Man" and the title track has a similar melancholic and epic atmosphere and a similar structure to "Epitaph" from the debut album. "Cadence And Cascade" is this album´s "I Talk to the Wind". So there is no arguing Fripp and Sinfield played it safe as far as sound and style goes. Fortunately they also challenged themselves and produced two tracks which are quite different from the material found on the debut album in the jazz rock influenced "Cat Food" and the slow building multi-layered 11:38 minutes long ambient/atmospheric instrumental "The Devil's Triangle", which is like listening to a gloomy, simplistic, and ominous sounding "Bolero". It´s a bit too long for its own good, and slightly uneventful and tedious too, but at least the band tried something new and different here.

"In The Wake Of Poseidon" is a well produced affair and the production provides the music with the right conditions to shine. Considering the relatively short time between the debut and this album, and the fact that the band´s main composer left (although he is credited as co-writer on "Cat Food" and "The Devil's Triangle") along with half the lineup who recorded the debut album, "In The Wake Of Poseidon" actually came out pretty great. It´s a ultimately a strong release, featuring high quality material, and stellar musical performances, and if you can look past the fact that many of the tracks on the album sound like they are made from blueprints of tracks from the debut album, there is a lot to enjoy here for a fan of progressive rock. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

KING CRIMSON In The Court Of The Crimson King

Album · 1969 · Proto-Metal
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"In the Court of the Crimson King" is the debut full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act King Crimson. The album was released through Island Records (UK) and Atlantic Records (US) in October 1969. King Crimson officially formed in November 1968, but the history of the band began in August 1967 when brothers Michael Giles (drums) and Peter Giles (bass) recruited guitarist Robert Fripp and formed the band Giles, Giles and Fripp. Although the trio were clearly skilled composers and gifted musicians, they only managed to release a couple of singles and the 1968 "The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp" album, before disbanding as a consequence of a lack of commercial success. Maybe disbanding isn´t the correct word to use though as Giles, Giles and Fripp more or less just sequed into being King Crimson with the departure of Peter Giles and the addition of Ian McDonald (keyboards, reeds and woodwinds), Greg Lake (vocals, bass) and Peter Sinfield (lyrics, illumination).

"In the Court of the Crimson King" is quite the adventurous and progressive musical journey and it´s obvious that especially the addition of Ian McDonald and his contributions on the mellotron and the flute had a major impact on the band´s sound. Lake doesn´t have the most distinct sounding voice, but his delivery is pleasant and suits the music perfectly (helped along by the incredibly beautiful melody lines and abstract psychadelic lyrics, which sometimes also feature more direct political/social references). The musical influences are many and ranges from heavy blues rock, jazz, to classical music. As mentioned above the album is a journey, and as a listening experience it´s best appreciated in full. From the ultra heavy opening track "21st Century Schizoid Man", which not only features a proto-doom metal riff of crushingly heavy proportions, but also a pretty complex saxophone driven jazz rock middle section and a couple of avant gardish moments. Not that it´s a contest but "21st Century Schizoid Man" is arguably heavier and also pre-dates the proto-doom metal riffs on Black Sabbath´s February 1970 debut album.

Opening the album with such a noisy, heavy, and incredibly busy track, the mellow nature, soaring beautiful melody lines and soft folky flute playing on "I Talk to the Wind" do come as a bit of a surprise to the listener, but the effect of light and dark and heavy and mellow are contrasts often used on "In the Court of the Crimson King". "Epitaph" follows and it´s an epic track featuring massive and effectful use of the mellotron. I feel like Lake is telling me a dark and gloomy fairytale about the end of the world, and I´m moved by the words and how they are performed. There´s a little glimmer of hope, but ultimately the narrator (Lake) isn´t holding on to any illusions.

The next track is "Moonchild". The 12:11 minutes long track is divided into two parts. The first part only last around 2:30 minutes and it´s a beautiful and gloomy folky opening to the full track. The almost 10 minutes of remaning playing time of "Moonchild" are not quite as interesting to my ears. In fact it more or less just sounds like the band improvise and play little noodly bits of notes. It´s uneventful, quite tedious, and a little pointless, not to mention that it seriously disrupts the flow of the album. Thankfully the album closes with the the effectful and epic "The Court of the Crimson King". The mellotron is again used to great effect and the there is a great ominous atmosphere surrounding the track, which suits the mood of the rest of the album.

It can not be argued how important and monumental the release of "In the Court of the Crimson King" was for the progressive rock movement. It´s one of the seminal releases of the genre and of course mandatory listening for those interested in late 60s/early 70s progressive rock. It features everything you could wish for on a progressive rock album. Heavy riffs, acoustic guitar parts, jazz rock influences, epic mellotron driven moments, organic folky parts with flute, majestic and beautuful vocal melodies, and a healthy dose of musical experimentation. The latter unfortunately is a bit too much on "Moonchild" and the improvised section of that track does drag my rating down a bit. Had that part of the album featured something equal in quality to the rest of the material on the album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" would have been a sure 5 star (100%) rating from me, but as it is, a 4 star (80%) rating it is.

NECRONOMICON Tips Zum Selbstmord

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While some early Krautrock bands were aiming for tripper’s paradise and seeking the ultimate escapism to a distant destination far removed from the trials and tribulations of 20th century Earth, others opted to embrace the tortuous pain and expel the rage through a heavy rock form of progressive rock that cast the vitriol out as pure acceptance of the doom and gloom that was plaguing the fast-paced society of the 1960s that had just ceded into the 1970s. NECRONOMICON which took its name form the H.P. Lovecraft novel was the epitome of taking the tripped out kosmische world of Krautrock into a heavier garage rock, even proto-punk style fueled by despair and dismay.

This band emerged from the city of Aachen perched next to both the Dutch and Belgian borders and was formed in 1970 by Walter Sturm (guitar, vocals), Norbert Breuer (guitar, vocals), Gerd Libber (bass), Harald Bernhard (drums) and Fistus Dickmann (organ, synthesizer, vocals). Although the band stuck it out to 1981 albeit with a rotating lineup, NECRONOMICON only managed to release one sole album titled TIPS ZUM SELBSTMORD which lugubriously translates as “Tips For Suicide.” Laced with heavy downer guitar riffing, stone cold vocal angst and eerie droning frosted over exquisite bass grooves, punk fueled guitar heft and bluesy solos, NECRONOMICON took the newfound nihilism of bands like Black Sabbath and added the more appropriate Krautish accoutrements with folky interludes and heavy psych organ runs.

With lyrics exclusively in German, it may be impossible to tell for non-speakers but this band was all about getting real with lyrics that ranged from ecological degradation to nuclear disasters. The album title is a dead giveaway that rather than drifting off into la-la land that this band was more interested in looking the atrocities of the world dead on and releasing the pent up rage in bouts of guitar-fueled heft with all kinds of extra touches including Bach inspired organ majesty, unpredictable tempo and mood changes and a sense of melancholy more common in modern day metal genre such as funeral doom or depressive black metal. In addition to the rich array of instrumental sounds, the band displayed a clever mix of angsty hard rock vocals mixed with eerie and spooky wordless vocals that evoked the haunting of the death and destruction which symbolized the global destruction that was becoming all too familiar.

This confrontational stylistic approach makes TIPS ZUM SELBSTMORD one of the most unique albums to emerge in the entire Krautrock scene and with an original pressing of only 500 copies has also become one of the most sought after gems in the collector’s underground. Luckily the album has been reissued on numerous occasion with the most obtainable on the 2004 edition from Garden of Delights which features a whopping four unreleased bonus tracks that nearly double the album running time. The dynamics of the album are perfectly paced as punk fueled garage rock gives way to lush pastoral folk and keyboard dueling yields to sizzling guitar solos and forward thinking 80s style keyboard electronica. Add to that nice flowing songs that give way to frenzied time signature freak outs. The lead vocalist often sounds like the German version of David Bowie just to give a comparison.

While the album cover art may seem a little hokey and primitive, the music contained within is anything but. This is some seriously well-thought out Krautrock that nurtures hook laden melodies and then dresses it all up with punk-fueled angst and depressive organ-drenched despair. The compositions are quite sophisticated with intricate changes that never feel forced and how the band managed to squeeze in all the stylistic shifts is a testament to the band’s creative genius. This is an excellent little obscurity and should be on top of Krautrock lists far and wide but like many underground gems, still remains unknown to the masses. I love everything about this album however there are moments when the vocals are a bit goofy especially when dude suddenly breaks into falsetto (think King Diamond) and reaching the high notes. Luckily this is rare and the strengths of the album far outnumber any minor gripes. TIPS ZUM SELBSTMORD is just shy of making a perfect masterpiece.


Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
MY SOLID GROUND was the brainchild of a young 14-year old guitarist Bernhard Rendel who had a brief moment in the limelight with his band’s one and only album released in 1971 although his success was limited to his native Germany. Originating from Rüsselsheim near Frankfurt am Main, Rendel was blessed to have parents who nurtured his talent and even allowed him to practice his craft at home. HIs parents were so supportive in his efforts of joining in on the burgeoning Krautrock party that they even assisted in organizing the events for their underage son.

Formed in 1968, MY SOLID GROUND was pretty much the solo work of Rendel who provided guitars and vocals and the band went through meany lineup changes before the team of bassist Karl-Heinrich Dörfler, drummer Andreas Würsching and Ingo Werner on organ and piano would record the band’s sole eponymously titled album which was released in the autumn of 1971. Although popular in Germany for a short time due to the band appearing on live radio broadcasts as well as winning second place in an amateur competition hosted by Sudwestfunk (SWF) Radio, MY SOLID GROUND has remained one of the more obscure Krautrock bands over the decades at least until the modern era when such bands have found a revived popularity thanks to the wide ranging influence of the internet.

The MY SOLID GROUND album is for all intents and purposes two completely different albums with the first lengthy 13 minute track “Dirty Yellow Mist” providing one of the coolest tripped out psychedelic rock tracks of the whole Krautrock era and the rest of the album featuring shorter guitar driven hard rock songs that sound more out of the English or American scenes than what was going on in Germany’s psychedelic scene but nevertheless they are performed so well and capture the essence of the heavy rock verging on proto-metal of the early 70s that despite the recipe for disaster somehow works quite well as the band still incorporated tidbits of psychedelia within the standard rock compositions such as on the heavy psych “The Executioner” which adds plenty of tripped out Krautiness to the mix.

One of the most misleading aspects of this album is the ridiculous album cover which features a cast of cartoon pigs holding up the band on its boldly scripted moniker but despite the rather uninspiring cover art, the music contained within is anything but. More than anything Rendel had a keen ear for tight rhythmic drives, catchy melodic ear worms and a sense of production values that allowed the individual instruments to play well together. While the opening sprawler is right out of the “Saucerful Of Secrets” playbook, the second track “Flash Part IV” jumps into something more akin to Sir Lord Baltimore while “Handful Of Grass” is more of a folk tune with mid-tempo acoustic guitars and piano runs but for the most part MY SOLID GROUND delivered a run of solid guitar heavy rockers.

While the band was supposed to continue on, Rendel had a difficult time keeping members and they dropped out one by one until he returned with a new lineup after moving to Frankfurt and lasted until 1974 but never managed to release a second album. Rendel scrapped the whole rock star dream and went the academic route where he became a music lecturer at Mainz University as well as a producer and composer. With a renewed interest in all things prog in the 21st century, this MY SOLID GROUND album found a second coming with a remastered reissue emerging in 2001 on the Alcinious label which featured the original album as well as an album’s worth of extra material that Rendel had produced over the years and in the process almost doubling the album’s length. Despite the silly cover art and the stylistic consistency, this one surprised me that i liked it so much.

The strength of this one is clearly the strong melodic hooks that work whether the band is in full-on psychedelic mode or rocking the house with heavy guitar laden heft. The album may be inconsistent in stylistic approach but more than makes up for it in strong material. Don’t let the stupid looking album cover detour you from exploring MY SOLID GROUND because it’s much more than the ground that’s solid here. While the remastered bonus tracks are mostly different mixes and alternate vocal tracks, the original full length version of “Flash” at 25 minutes is a highlight and well worth the time. It mixes the space groove of “Dirty Yellow Mist” with jazzy drumming, classical piano rolls and a faster tempo and in a way summarizes all the disparate styles on board. One straight outa the underground and into timeless classic mode. Perhaps not the absolute highlight of the Krautrock scene of the 70s but one of the better melodic rock ones.


Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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Wow! I did a search for this band twice on this site and got nothing. I created a page for them, wrote a bio, and then found there was a page already somewhere. Searched again and it came up right away. Go figure!

So, anyway, here we have a band from Japan lead by their guitarist with aspirations for playing loud, heavy music in the vein of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and then got told by their record label to add some ballads and a cover song in hopes of broadening their potential audience. The result? The band split up!

Let's see. What do we have here then. The first track, "Grease It Out" certainly shows the band's desire to play loud and heavy. While Black Sabbath influence is likely there, the riffs sound closer to their compatriots Flower Travelin' Band although vocalist Juni Lush (credited as Joko Lush in my CD copy) has more of a hard rock voice. It's a pretty killer track for some straight forward hard/heavy rock of 1971.

"Love That Binds Me" is a mid-tempo, blues-based, bummed out dude song that includes piano. It is very clearly a song heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Lovin' You", most obviously in the lyric "Yes, I'm working everyday from early in the morning, babe / Til late at night everyday / It's such a drag, baby". On its own, I'd say the song would be pretty good, but the derivative lyrics just shout "copy cat!" and I'm afraid it loses points for that.

Thankfully, the next track is "Love Is You", another heavy rock track with some cool riffs and mood. One thing is for sure, guitarist Tsutomu Ogawa is pretty good at coming up with heavy rock riffs!

Alright, "Reminiscence" is next and it begins like a classic Vanilla Fudge song with organ and hard guitars, then shifts into a slower gear with acoustic guitar and electric lead. This is out first real slow and sentimental track. I'd say it could have worked out alright except that Lush's vocals are not very lush. He sounds like quieting down makes it harder for him to hit the notes right. For that, there are a few flinching moments.

And now the cover of "I Shall Be Released", which is missing the final "d" in the official track listing. This is country western folk ballad and a pretty good effort for a Japanese band. However, it sounds off and totally unnecessary for the album. Sure, lots of bands had to have that one track that showed their "other side" back in the day, but as this is a cover I think there are other bands who could have done a better job and this band could likely have written a better song for them to play and record.

"Gonna Take You" sets us back on course with another heavy rocker, and that's three pretty cool heavies out of the first six tracks. The lyrics however once again show the band borrowing from their overseas influences and they sound like they just cut and pasted lyrics from a Led Zeppelin song (which the mighty Zep actually took from someone else). "I'm gonna bring it on home to you / I got my ticket, I got that load / Gone up, go higher, all aboard / Take my seat a-right way back / Watch this train goin' down the track". It seems that even though the band is capable of creating some pretty good rockin' music, there's a problem with lyric writing and sometimes I think with the vocal delivery. Fortunately, the lead guitar parts get a fair bit of emphasis and run time in the songs.

And so we reach the 12:12 epic ballad, "Song for My lady (Now I Found)" with acoustic guitar, flute, strings, the works! It reminds me a little like a cross between Deep Purple's "April" from their self-titled third album and The Moody Blues. And here is where I feel like the lyrics are similar to early Scorpions' lyrics. Alright, you are writing a ballad in a second language and trying to make it meaningful and also flow with the rhythm of the music. But something is just missing for English ears. Perhaps it worked for Japanese audiences of the early seventies. I don't know. Again, the music is actually pretty good. I'm alright with the progressive nature of this longer track and in fact it has more musically advanced than much of what we heard up to here. My main beef is the efforts of Juni Lush to try to imitate western singers instead of developing his own style more. Here he sounds like a fan of Rod Evans.

To wrap it up, this is a band that probably could have made a much better second album but they were discouraged early on and left us with this one slab of vinyl. There are some good heavy tracks and some half decent other music. Just for my money, more work was needed on the lyrics.

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BLIND FAITH London Hyde Park 1969

Movie · 2006 · Proto-Metal
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Blind Faith -London Hyde Park 1969 dvd. An excellent concert.Quite simple concert.A beautiful day and a hundred thousand people in London´s central Hyde Park listens Blind Faith in their first big gig.Absolutely wonderful.For me the historic value of this concert.Rating 4,0 stars for me.Concert will be held 07/06/1969.Performers lineup eric clapton lead guitar,steve winwood phenomenal vocal and keyboards, rick grech on bass and of course phenomenal ginger baker on drums.This is an example of the unique combination of two large groups of Cream and Traffic rights in the Great introducetd in London´s Hyde Park.Really very interesting concert series watch it again on dvd.I highly recommend.

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