Mentors of the cliché "agit-rock", Ton Steine Scherben took their roots from American 60's punk like the Velvet Underground and The Stooges, added a touch of heavy blues and a strong dose of German angst. Presenting their raw aggressive rock frequently at free festivals in the late-60's, none of the German labels would touch them. WARUM GEHT ES MIR SO DRECKIG? was privately issued and contains some of the most anguished, lyrically venomous, raw rock to come out of Germany. Toning down their act a little, KEINE MACHT FÜR NIEMAND put them on a more accessible footing, less intense it also included a few excellent more experimental tracks showing that they could do much more than insult or aurally assault people, they could produce high quality rock too. Their finest moment, as far as we are concerned, was WENN DIE NACHT AM TIEFSTEN, which saw them develop on an even more progressive level, with diversions to Zappa-esque humour, and several experimental moments: most especially the long suite encompassing side 4.
Alongside these activities Ton Steine Scherben have constantly worked as support or backing band to a number of radical theatre and political cabaret acts (including Brühwarm, Kollektiv Rote Rübe and Hofmann's Comic Teater). The recorded results of these collaborations are generally quite odd, and not easy listening for non-German ears.
Ralph Möbius (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ralph Steitz (guitar), Wolfgang Seidel (drums), Kai Sichtermann (bass)
WARUM GEHT ES MIR SO DRECKIG? LP Volksmund TSS 1 (1971)
KEINE MACHT FÜR NIEMAND 2LP Volksmund TSS 2 (1972) «corrugated box, with booklet»
WENN DIE NACHT AM TIEFSTEN (5/74-4/75) 2LP Volksmund TSS 3/L 49 (1975) «poster cover, with inserts»
IV 2LP Volksmund DVP 001 (1981)
SCHERBEN LP Volksmund DVP 999 (1983)
IN BERLIN 1984 (6/84) LP Volksmund DVP 013 (1984)
A talented and revolutionary bassist, Uli grew up through free-jazz in the 60's, working with the likes of the Irene Schweizer Trio, Wolfgang Dauner, and then founding the most innovative of acid-rock/underground power trios: Guru Guru. Feeling left out and dissatisfied with the direction Guru Guru were moving in, he decided to leave and form his own band. Moving away from Berlin, he formed his own band along with Embryo stalwarts and other top musicians. Sessions for a release on Brain were recorded (surfacing as one side of an album in the late-80's) and he also worked with the Release Gruppe. Uli then went on to work live with Neu! and Faust (with whom he toured Britain), and for six months or so as support to the likes of Daevid Allen and Lol Coxhill. Developing an array of gadgets he called the "Spacebox", this eventually led to the formation of a band with this name and two albums. Since then little has been heard from Uli. He did record PHENOTYPE, an album of bass guitar works, for United Dairies in the late-80's, but this only surfaced as a cassette. He since also spent some time in New York, where he discovered American blues, which changed his attitude about music. Sessions from 1989 and 1990 resulted in the album JAZZ MODALITIES, which is an odd relaxed jazzy twist on the Spacebox type sound, though largely instrumental, proving Uli still has what it takes to be original! More recently, Uli is again in Berlin and has plans for a new album.
INBETWEEN (7/74) LP United Dairies UD 024 (UK, 1986) Note: 1/2 of this album is HOT ON SPOT by Guru Guru
Highly acclaimed winners at the Nachwuchs Pop '78 music festival, the Bremen band Tri Atma managed to secure a contract with RCA and gain international marketing. A remarkable feat really, as Tri Atma played a most unusual fusion of jazz and ethnic musics, very much towards the likes of what Between and Embryo were doing at the same time (who were shunned by the major labels) but with even stronger Eastern roots. Their debut TRI ATMA presented a mainly acoustic brand of ethnic fusion, very percussive and full of vitality, whereas MIGHTY LOTUS brought in a lot of electric instruments and more variety, and the use of authentic-sounding Asian-Indian vocals adds yet another dimension. INSTEAD OF DRUGS is their most accomplished work, with the addition of multi-keyboards/synthesizers and a lot of rock awareness, a new vitality is felt as well as a greater dimension in the arrangements. After this they lost any cohesive style. Gyan Nishabda on SEHNSUCHT UND EINKLANG is actually Klaus Netzle and his light synthetic style was at odds with Tri Atma music, and subsequent albums offered a techno ethnic dance music. Since Tri Atma's demise, the various musicians have been quite prolific. Whilst Asim has gone back to his ethnic roots, others have moved on. Jens Fischer has since done some interesting solo work, and especially worth checking out is his AUMAKAÚ. He is also featured on fellow Tri Atma cohort Achim Gieseler's unusual ethnic electronic excursion L'AIR, LA TERRE from 1990.
Asim Saha (tablas, nal, dholok, percussion), Herbert Koschmieder (flute, sax, xylophone, tamboura), Jens Fischer (guitars), Manfred Flathe (sitar, surbahar, guitars)
featured on: POP NACHWUCHS-FESTIVAL '78
TRI ATMA LP RCA PL 28347 (1979)
MIGHTY LOTUS (7/80) LP RCA PL 28402 (1980)
INSTEAD OF DRUGS LP RCA PL 70678 (1981)
SEHNSUCHT UND EINKLANG LP Erdenklang 6.25315 (1982)
Arguably the German ELP, with a Greg Lake clone vocalist, and in Peter K. Seiler an aspiring Keith Emerson soundalike keyboardist, Tritonus made a highly derivative classical rock on their debut LP. BETWEEN THE UNIVERSES showed much more imagination featuring a lengthy cosmic synth-sequencer track "Mars Detection" (hinting at Seiler's later work with Michael Bundt) and also a grand conceptual side-long symphonic rock suite. Also, for a touch more originality, Kin Ping Meh vocalist Geff Harrison is featured on one track. Tritonus existed until 1979 when they split due to apathy from record companies. Peter K. Seiler now works solo and records for the IC label.
Peter K. Seiler (organs, Moog, pianos, Mellotron, celeste), Ronald J.D. Brand (bass, vocals, guitars, percussion), Charlie Jöst (drums, percussion),
Kite / The Way Of Spending Time 7" RBM 7002 (1973)
TRITONUS LP BASF 17 22384-1 (1975)
BETWEEN THE UNIVERSES (3-7/76) LP BASF 20 22946-7 (1976)
The Trojan Horse Race / Timewinds Of Life 7" Acanta AC 13078 (1976)
Originally a classical rock trio, Triumvirat were most obviously inspired by The Nice and ELP, but it has to be said that although some aspects of the Triumvirat sound bordered on plagiarism they did also have their own sound. With a penchant for elaborate concepts, featuring lengthy complex suites, and a song style that was totally unlike ELP, especially so on the LP's featuring Helmut Koellen as lead vocalist, the early albums are amongst the finest examples of highly produced German rock. Latterly, with the return of original bassist Dirk Frangenberg and a constantly changing line-up (becoming a quartet) the albums after OLD LOVES DIE HARD (which was dedicated to Helmut Koellen who had recently died) saw the start of a steady decline to lightweight pop music. More recently Jürgen Fritz has been active as a soloist, doing classical adaptations on synthesizers, and ambitious operas.
Hans Pape (bass, vocals), Hans Bathelt (drums, percussion), Hans-Jürgen Fritz (organ, pianos, synthesizer, percussion, vocals)
Be Home For Tea / Broken Mirror 7" Harvest 1C 006-29 976 (1972)
An obscure mid-70's band, playing a soft symphonic progressive typical of the era, often compared to bands like Novalis and Epidaurus.
Elmar Wegmann (guitar, flute, vocals), Klaus Pannewig (drums, bells, vocals), Wilhelm Weischer (bass), Peter Savelsberg (organ, Mellotron, electric piano)
POINT OF ERUPTION LP Förderturm T-5476 (1976)
Twenty Sixty Six & Then
When Twenty Sixty Six & Then started, they were veritably a supergroup who didn't yet know it! Their lead singer Geff Harrison had decided to stay in Germany after leaving an early incarnation of Beggar's Opera (he also worked with I Drive), he and guitarist Gagey Mrozeck went on to Kin Ping Meh, Konstantin Bommarius went to Abacus and then Karthago, Veit Marvos went to Emergency, Dieter Bauer joined Aera, and Steve Robinson later joined forces with Michael Bundt and others. During their brief year or so existence, Twenty Sixty Six & Then made one of the most touted of heavy psychedelic Krautrock albums, REFLECTIONS ON THE FUTURE took Krautrock stylisms and hard-rock, added some Zappa touches, riffing aggression of the heavy Bacillus-label bands, and even some off-the-wall electronics. The REFLECTIONS ON THE PAST release features other studio sessions featuring longer or radically different versions of tracks from the album, along with other unreleased works. REFLECTIONS! compiles the best of their oeuvre onto one disc.
Veit Marvos (organ, pianos, Mellotron, percussion, vocals), Steve Robinson (organ, electric piano, vibes, synthesizer, Mellotron, vocals), Geff Harrison (vocals), Gagey Mrozeck (guitars, vocals), Dieter Bauer (bass), Konstantin Bommarius (drums), + Dieter Dierks, Pete Bender, Rainer Marz
REFLECTIONS ON THE FUTURE (1972) LP United Artists UAS 29314 (1972)
REFLECTIONS ON THE PAST (5/71-3/72) 11/2LP Second Battle SBT 001 (1991)
Heavy/melodic prog band, typical of the era, comparable to Harlis or Bullfrog (both on the Sky label), with a mixture of hard-rock, progressive and Hendrix edges. Although they recorded an LP in 1975 it wasn't released until 2000.
Volkar Kramarz (guitar, vocals), Ulrich Hülder (keyboards), Jürgen Bieler (bass, vocals), Roland Glässer (drums)
Country Waltz / Last Night In Verona #1 7" New Blood NLA 1176 (1976)
As A Kid / Kiss Me And Say Goodbye 7" New Blood NPA 3177 (1977)
Tyburn Tall originated from a 60's beat band called The Screamers, eventually changing style when becoming influenced by the likes of The Nice, Colosseum, and other bands that they toured with, like Frumpy and Renaissance, they drew in a wide variety of complex classical and hard-rock influences into their music. Their only album was privately released in an edition of only 200 copies and was thus virtually unknown until the CD reissue, which also contains live recordings of two Colosseum numbers.
Stefan Kowa (bass, vocals), Hanns Dechant (drums, percussion), Klaus Fresenius (vocals), Werner Gallo (guitar), Reinhard Magin (organ, piano, vocals)
TYBURN TALL (1972) LP Lutz Kern 0001-2 (1972)
An unusual mid-70's progressive with folky and psychedelic touches, instrumentally close to Floh De Cologne and Eulenspygel, yet surprisingly instrumental for having three vocalists! Typical of releases on Kerston they were very Teutonic with a very cosmic style and lots of invention. An obscurity that definitely deserves a CD reissue!
Michael Scherf (vocals), Ulrike Schempp (vocals), Susanne Schempp (vocals), Det Fonfara (guitar), Achim Bosch (bass), Günter Klinger (drums)
Suzie Steno / Rachenzucke 7" Big Six (1974)
SEXPHONIE (1-12/4/75) LP Kerston 65025 (1975)
It seems that even in 1973 Amon Düül II still wanted to do double albums! But, instead of making WOLF CITY into a double, somehow this side-line project came in to being, fronted by three musicians who had earlier worked together in Passport (on their debut LP). Although since reissued as an Amon Düül II album, Utopia was in fact a different much jazzier and bluesier offering, focusing on Jimmy Jackson and Olaf Kübler's jazz origins, and more on Lothar Meid's songs. The results (featuring in common slightly different versions of "Deutsch Nepal") were yin and yang of each other, if you know what I mean!
Lothar Meid (bass, vocals, Mellotron), Jimmy Jackson (pianos, organs, marimba), Olaf Kübler (saxes, flute, Moog, gong), + Keith Forsey (drums), Andy Marx (guitars), Renate Knaup (vocals), Ralph Basten (vocals), Daniel Fichelscher (drums, congas), John Weinzierl (guitars), Joe Quick (guitar), Norman Tolbert (congas), Rolf Zacher (voice), George Green (drums), Falk-U. Rogner (organ), Siegfried Schwab (guitar), Peter Kramper (Moog), Joe Nay (drums), George Brown (drums), Edgar Hofmann (soprano sax), Chris Karrer (violin, soprano sax), Christian Schultze (electric piano)
UTOPIA LP United Artists UAS 29483 (1973), United Artists UAG 29483 (UK)
The Vampires' Sound Incorporation
An obscure 60's psychedelic exploitation band, notable for featuring Siggi Schwab, aptly playing a music is of that eccentric Wolfgang Dauner OIMELS style, yet so much more chic and clichéd. As Schwab went on to work with Dauner, no doubt this is where much the eccentric psychedelia came from! A recent CD issue, a film soundtrack called THE SEXODELIC DANCE PARTY, also features The Vampires' Sound Incorporation recordings, along with other cheesy jazz and psychedelic pop.