An inventive Berlin polit-rock band, who were launched onto the scene in early 1972 with enthusiastic help from Floh De Cologne, to whom Lokomotive Kreuzberg were comparable in many ways. Amazingly creative, even on their debut, Lokomotive Kreuzberg blended hard-rock and blues together with more progressive sounds, with socio-political lyric and elements of satirical theatre. KOLLEGE KLATT was remarkable for its invention, accomplishing a sound that pre-dated Floh De Cologne's TILT!, witty and creative, with original use of synthesizer and theatrics. Their third album FETTE JAHRE was much more tongue-in-cheek, being a parody of various musical styles from doo-wop through to psychedelic and experimental, feeling very much like a German Mothers Of Invention. Latterly the nucleus of Lokomotive Kreuzberg (without Andreas Brauer, who went on to release a couple of solo albums) ended up as being the backing musicians for Nina Hagen, and eventually transmuted into the pop-satire group Spliff.
The history of Lucifer's Friend is complex, confused and not that well documented. We know that they originated with Hamburg pop bands The Giants and German Bonds in the early-60's, who, it seems merged into one band. Around 1969 a consistent nucleus of five musicians established what was to become Lucifer's Friend. However, as all the musicians were earning their crust as studio session musicians, before they settled down and established a style they tried their hand at various different musical styles. The precursor to Lucifer's Friend was Asterix, and various members of the band can also be found on records by the likes of Electric Food, Pink Mice, etc. Lucifer's Friend, once established, were primarily a studio band, as all the musicians also had other careers within the music industry. Unpredictable, they could range from Led Zeppelin onto soul, and contrastingly to highly experimental Krautrock. Some of their finest moments were to be found on the B-side's of singles. Their debut is arguably one of the finest of German early-70's hard-rock albums. However, it's the unlikely titled WHERE THE GROUPIES KILLED THE BLUES which proved to be their finest, with a more complex and progressive rock blending in classical and jazzy elements, comparable to many Italian progressives. Later, English singer John Lawton returned to England and joined Uriah Heep. After this, Lucifer's Friend became just another run-of-the-mill Heavy Metal band, recording at least three more albums.
Peter Hecht (organ), Dieter Horns (bass, vocals), John Lawton (vocals), Joachim Rietenbach (drums, percussion), Peter Hesslein (guitar, vocals)
WHERE THE GROUPIES KILLED THE BLUES (1/72) LP Vertigo 6360 602 (1972)
Rock 'n Roll Singer / Satyr's Dance 7" Vertigo 6147 004 (1973)
I'M JUST A ROCK 'N' ROLL SINGER LP Vertigo 6360 611 (1973)
Our World Is A Rock 'n Roll Band / Alpenrosen 7" Vertigo 6147 005 (1973)
BANQUET (1+6/74) LP Vertigo 6360 618 (1974)
MIND EXPLODING LP Vertigo 6360 633 (1976)
Made In Germany
An obscure early pop rock band from Berlin, whose album contained some progressive elements.
Dieter Asleben (drums, percussion), Hans-Dieter Graber (organ, piano), Joachim Pade (saxes, flute, percussion), Stephan Pade (bass, vocals, percussion), Rita Penker (vocals, percussion), Wolfgang Schulz (guitar, vocals, percussion)
MADE IN GERMANY LP Metronome MLP 15.416 (1971)
A complex progressive with hard-rock tendencies, similar to Jane and Harlis, Madison Dyke had a touch more lyrical fantasy akin to Genesis. Their LP had lengthy tracks with extended instrumentals, and was rather out of character at the time it was released. No history is known, though it has been suggested that Jürgen Baumann could be the Baumann of Baumann/Koek, he later resurfaced in the band Firehorse.
Jürgen Baumann (guitars, piano, Mellotron, synthesizer, vocals), Andreas Nedde (guitars, vocals), Burkhard Rittler (lead vocals, flute, Mellotron, percussion), Robert Krause (bass), Burkhard Engel (drums, percussion)
Walking / Dice-Box 7" private release 1021 (1975)
ZEITMASCHINE (7-8/77) LP Racket RRK 15.001 (1977)
Typical of many DDR bands in the late-70's/early-80's, Magdeburg offered a richly crafted progressive with heavy and symphonic touches and a song style (in German) comparable to the Novalis of the time, though much less technical and with a folky distinctly DDR edge. A most promising debut, though late on the scene, it's a pity they only made the one album.
Born out of the jazz scene in Villingen (near Stuttgart, Southwest Germany) from musicians formerly of the bands The Rope Set and Those. Mammut were an obscure underground band, whose sole album was the result of no-holds-barred late night jam sessions at the MPS studios. Dark sounds, with hints of Amon Düül II, heavy blues-rock (in the more freaky Frumpy or Tomorrow's Gift vein), with all sorts of strange, ethnic and gothic touches combined in their music. Although the band themselves quoted Deep Purple's IN ROCK as a major influence, their spirit was purely Krautrock. Their sole album is a legendary rarity, and rightly so. The CD reissue was withdrawn due to legal problems.
An obscure progressive fronted by Marcel Schaar (also of McChurch Soundroom) with help from John O'Brien-Docker (before Brave New World). The only work we've heard by Marcel is their imaginative arrangement of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" on HEAVY CHRISTMAS, which leaves scope for the album to be almost any sort of music! Reputation however doesn't give such a good report on DREAMS CONSUMED.
DREAMS CONSUMED LP BASF 20 21094-4 (1971)
featured on: HEAVY CHRISTMAS
Much travelled as a session musician (in the 60's he played with Creepy John Thomas), and also with the bands Tanned Leather and Cherubin.
Andy Marx (vocals, guitars, percussion, mandolin, vibes), + Jim Wiley (bass, vocals), Peter "Josh" Collins (drums, percussion), George Mayer (guitar, vocals), Dawnie Edwards (vocals), Walter Quintus (violin), Conny Plank (vocals, guitar, percussion)
THE CIRCLE LP Spiegelei 28.517-1U (1973)
Marz was the project of former Jeronimo lead singer Rainer Marz. In contrast to the psych-pop of early Jeronimo, Marz played easy going Neil Young type folky rock, with traditional folk and occasional progressive touches. Only of minor interest.
Rainer Marz (vocals, guitar, Mellotron, percussion, bass, drums, vibes, piano), George Eperjessy (vocals, guitar, bass, violin), + Wolfgang Wuesteney (drums), Jürgen Zöller (drums)
MARZ & EPERJESSY LP Bacillus 6494 009 (1971)
THE DREAM IS OVER LP Bacillus BLPS 19094 (1972)
Maschine Nr. 9
Not a group, but a one-off sound-theatre project headed by Wolf Wondratschek, Bernd Brummbär and Georg Deuter. An unusual concoction of texts, sound effects and music, the title HEADMOVIE is quite apt, it is intriguing and bizarre: not least for some original Deuter music, weird singing by Renate Knaup, and fascinating tape-collage work including borrowed material like Roger Waters' "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals..." and John Lennon's immortal "number 9".
Wolf Wondratschek, Bernd Brummbär, Georg Deuter, + Vlado Kristl, Olimpia Hruska, Rolf Zacher, Waki Zoellner, Hans Noever, Temur Samy, Helmut Qualtinger, Peter Schranner, Thomas Schamoni, George Moorse, Alfred Edel, Hans Jürgen Diedrich, Louis Waldon
HEADMOVIE LP Philips 6305 221 (1974)
Void of information (except that the lyrics are by Marcel Schaar), the cover of McChurch Soundroom's sole album gives virtually nothing away. So any history is impossible! Starting deceptively in folk-rock realms, DELUSION moves around a lot, never sitting comfortably within any genre, and is largely instrumental, bridging psychedelic, hard-rock and fusion, being variably comparable to Gomorrha, Thirsty Moon and other such bands. The closest album I could compare is Gravy Train's superb debut, which similarly featured flute in a variety of rock and fusion styles. A classic!
DELUSION (3-4/6/71) LP Pilz 20 21103-7 (1971)
A late-70's band, McOil were too late on the scene to gain any media interest, being hard-edged rock with a typically German sound, akin to Jane, Harlis, Eloy, etc. Originating in Ochsenhausen in 1976, it was two years before a single was released, and with no chance of a record contract, they self-produced their only album in 1979. Andy Tischmann moved on to Bullfrog after this. He was replaced by one Rudolph Scheich, and a second guitarist Dieter Eisenmann joined the ranks. This line-up recorded a second album in 1981, which remains unreleased. McOil disbanded in 1986, with three members forming the Heavy Metal band Stinger.
Norbert Kuhpfahl (bass), Karl Wild (guitar, vocals), Andy Tischmann (drums, percussion), Doris Tischmann (keyboards, vocals), Walter Utz (keyboards, vocals)
Mask Of Life / A Better Day 7" AVC Production ? (1978)
ALL OUR HOPES (8-9/79) LP private release (1979)
Active on the jazz-fusion scene in the 60's with Mal Waldron and Klaus Doldinger, and in the early-70's with Embryo and Passport, Lothar Meid is best known as a member of Amon Düül II (to whom he's returned on many occasions) and as one of the brains behind the Utopia project. After this, he went on to the hard-rock band Jackboot, and solo recording three albums, all featuring Amon Düül II musicians, but of little merit.
Lothar Meid (bass, vocals), + Karl Allaut (guitar), Thor Baldursson (keyboards, synthesizer), Jörg Evers (guitar), Keef Hartley (drums, percussion)
MENSCH, DIESER KLAUS (1975) LP Philips 6305 283 (1976)
Message are one of those enigmas of Krautrock, in that their origins are not only from Germany originally, but also from Britain. And, it's a strange and complex story! Scotsman Tommy McGuigan and Allan Murdoch (not a Scots, but from the Isle Of Wight) first got together in 1962 in the Scottish rock 'n' roll band The Waysiders. After they split, in 1965, Allan returned to England playing in many bands, eventually ending up in the band MI5 with Taff Freeman. Due to lack of media interest in England, MI5 moved base to Germany in 1967 and eventually became Nektar. Meanwhile German bassist Horst Stachelhaus had formed Message in September 1968 and the two bands became close friends. Allan Murdoch joined Message and invited his old friend Tommy to join too (who seemingly also brought along Billy Tabbert), and thus Message as a 60%-British 40%-German band was formed.
Akin to Nektar in many ways, but fronted by Tom's unique singing and fiery sax playing, Message combined the best of British heavy and progressive styles with Krautrock innovation. Firmly in the definitive Bacillus rock style (with that unique Dieter Dierks sound), their debut showed an innovative progressive band at work, not afraid to take chances. As such, their LP debut THE DAWN ANEW IS COMIN' is excellent, though, it took until the second album for Message to reveal their full potential. Even without a second guitarist and running-in a new drummer, part of the key to FROM BOOKS AND DREAMS success was Dieter Dierks' enthusiasm, phenomenal production and vivid recording. Yes, right through it's an album of astonishing creativity, menacing and intensely powerful, with bizarre surreal dream image lyrics and all sorts of surprising twists in the music. As often is the case with inventive bands, the Message roster was never stable. Again, a change of drummer saw a change of focus, Manfred von Bohr was a much travelled jazz-rocker, and both that factor and that they were now with a major record label saw the Message sound mellow considerably, with the accent on more conventional songs, and so I suppose the eponymous third album was a kind of new-start. With a little more confidence, another peak was reached with more jazzy invention on SYNAPSE. But, as the story goes, disaster struck, as next Message signed up to Brain, but scarcely after their appearance at the first Brain Festival, the group fell apart, and Tom McGuigan hasn't been heard of since!
So, now we have the story of Message #2! It was left to Allan Murdoch to get a new band together: the first try recorded the appalling USING THE HEAD, an incarnation that thankfully disbanded promptly; the second try was an even shorter-lived incarnation with Anne Haigis on vocals as documented on the second Brain Festival album; for the third try a whole new band were drafted in again and managed to make two albums. Marginally interesting, ASTRAL JOURNEYS captured a little of the old magic, but in a new more commercial mellow progressive style, but MILES OF SMILES amounted to little more than boring Anglo-American styled rock.
Tam McGuigan (vocals, sax), Horst Stachelhaus (bass), Allan Murdoch (guitars), Gerhard Schaber (percussion, vocals), Billy Tabbert (guitars, spinet, vocals), + Taff Freeman (Mellotron, vocals), Veronica Green (voice)
Smile / Painted Lady 7" Bacillus 6106 002 (1971)
Sunshine Girl / Bubble Gum 7" Bellaphon BI 1158 (1971)
THE DAWN ANEW IS COMIN' LP Bacillus BLPS 19081 (1972)
FROM BOOKS AND DREAMS (3/73) LP Bacillus BLPS 19159 (1973)
MESSAGE LP Nova 6.22213 (1975), Decca SKL-R 5213 (UK, 1975)
SYNAPSE LP Nova 6.22533 (1976)
featured on: BRAIN FESTIVAL ESSEN
USING THE HEAD (7/77) LP Brain 60.078 (1977)
featured on: BRAIN FESTIVAL ESSEN II
ASTRAL JOURNEYS LP Brain 60.165 (1978)
MILES OF SMILES (12/79-1/80) LP Spiegelei INT 145.609 (1980)
Little is known about this huge Berlin 70's group. Messengers were in fact virtually an orchestra, playing a soul-spiced brassy rock with male and female vocals. On their debut they were barely at all recognisable as German, more Anglo-American with that big bold sound akin to CBS acts like Black Widow, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Heaven et al., though even more produced and symphonic. They deliberately attempted an international sound, though the plan obviously didn't work, as Messengers are a virtually unknown band.
Antonia Maas (lead vocals), Joe Körner (trombone, tenor horn, vocals), Peter Förster (soprano/alto/tenor saxes, clarinet, flute), Bernhard Jobski (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo, choir), Thomas "Doc" Neviger (trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion, vocals), Peter Tüllmann (trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion, choir), Nono (keyboards, choir), Michael Gechter (guitar, violin, vocals), Thomas "Keule" Schiedel (bass, piano, 12-string guitar), Olaf "Vicking" Gustafsson (drums, percussion, choir), Stefan Holm Jr. (percussion)
FIRST MESSAGE (9-14/5/75) LP Red Point 89 221 OT (1975)
CHILDREN OF TOMORROW LP Warner Bros. WB 56416 (1977)
A Berlin supergroup who were formed by ex-members of Zarathustra, Mythos and others. The front-man seemed to be Michael Duwe, who started with early Agitation Free and had just left Ash Ra Tempel. Really, Metropolis were the most famous supergroup that hardly anyone has heard of! Their sole album is a little-known classic, akin to Island, but with a bigger rock sound, in the realms of early Van Der Graaf Generator. Thus with two lead vocalists, Metropolis were lyrically complex, as well as being radically inventive with a music that constantly surprises. After disbanding, reforming and changing into Orange Surprise with Michael Günther (of Agitation Free) for a while, and various other projects, all musicians went to other bands, or worked solo. Many are still active today.
Ute Kannenberg (vocals, percussion), Thomas Hildebrand (drums, percussion, choir), Helmut Binzer (guitars, choir), Manfred Opitz (keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitar), Michael Westphal (bass, choir), Michael Duwe (vocals, guitars), + Heinz Loch (flute), Giuseppe Solera (oboe), Hartmut Westphal (string & brass arrangements)
METROPOLIS (12/73) LP Pan 87439 IT (1974)
featured on: SÜß UND SAUER
Amongst the most individual pioneering talents in modern German music, Stephan Micus began to travel the world during the late-60's, when he was sixteen, and gained a fascination for ethnic musics and culture. He studied sitar at the Benares Hindu University, learnt shakuhachi in Japan, and with his music he had a little success in the USA. His first musical recording is apparently with Chinese zither player Liang-Tsai Ping, issued only in Taiwan.
On returning to Germany, after even more globe trekking collecting all sorts of obscure instruments, Stephan managed to gain a contract with Virgin Records, for a release on their budget weird music series Caroline, issuing the remarkable yet oddly titled ARCHAIC CONCERTS. A blend of composed and improvised musics, all totally acoustic, with flutes, zither, acoustic guitar, obscure percussives, etc., a new unique music had been created that was in the spirit of Popol Vuh's HOSIANNA MANTRA but devoid of the rock or song structures, as the title suggests: archaic, but as though Stephan had bought us some magical lost music from prehistoric times. In luck, it seems that ECM wanted to expand their horizons, yet putting his albums on the subsidiary label Japo, I doubt they realised how successful he would become, as after two albums of superbly deep and meditative music, he left ECM, and his fourth solo, the melodic and almost new-age Deuter-like BEHIND ELEVEN DESERTS came from the obscure Wind label. A return to ECM saw the earlier previously unreleased and magical KOAN, which developed themes from ARCHAIC CONCERTS, but in a more condensed form. This was followed by a couple of more lightweight, and slightly jazzy albums. The major triumph that caught both public and critical attention was the otherworldly mystical OCEAN, a richly expressive music spurred on by strange chanting, Egyptian and oriental flutes, dense drifts and patterns of sound. Since that extraordinary album, Stephan has gone out of his way to surprise with new combinations of unlikely instruments, including arrays of tuned flower pots, stones that sing, and a wide range of traditional instruments with strange names. All are surprising for their innovation, emotion and intensity, (particularly the sinister edge to DARKNESS AND LIGHT) and all the more surprising in that everything Stephan Micus has recorded is totally acoustic!
KROHN + MICUS LP German Blues & Underground 1558018 (1972) Credited to: Krohn + Micus
An obscure folky progressive from the early-70's. It would seem as though the idea behind Midnight Circus, being as duo with the aid of session musicians, was to emulate the cosmic folk of Witthüser+Westrupp, but with an internationally appealing English vocal bias. A success indeed, but also a touch rockier and strongly influenced by Dieter Dierks' involvement in the sessions. The atmospheric tracks featuring Mellotron also recall The Moody Blues and early King Crimson. Christian Bollmann has since become an accomplished ethno-musicologist, moving into the more ethereal realms of the new-age. 1993's EVOLUTION by Christian Bollmann and Michael Reaming is well worth investigation.
Christian Bollmann (vocals, guitars, trumpet, recorders), Torsten Schmidt (vocals, guitars), + Thomas Engel (drums), Veit Madaus (keyboards), Dave Crocket (bass), Rainer Marz (guitar), Jan van Roosendahl (guitar), Peter Hauke (drums, percussion)
Coloured Is Gay / Get It 7" Bacillus 6106 003 (1971)
An obscure late-70's self-produced progressive, and notably amateurish, though with that quaintly new-wave type edge typical of many German bands from the era. They aspired for greater things, but when compared to similar bands of the era: Madison Dyke, Second Movement, Neuschwanstein, et al., they paled as nothing remarkable, but pleasant.
An unusual band from Munich, blending progressive rock and jazz fusion in a similar way to Pell Mell's blending of rock and classical, in fact there is much in common between these two bands, especially in the song style, though the album NEVERGREEN! is very varied, exploring a different genre with almost every track. Missing Link historically are pretty obscure, although Dieter Miekautsch did later join Missus Beastly and then go on to Embryo.
Günther Latuschik (tenor/soprano/alto saxes), Markus Sing (guitars), Gabriel Dominik Mueller (vocals), Dieter Miekautsch (organ, piano, Mellotron), Dave Schratzenstaller (bass), Holger Brandt (drums, percussion)
Friday On My Mind / Kids Hunting 7" United Artists 35568 (1972)
NEVERGREEN! (10/72) LP United Artists UAS 29431 (1972)
Formed circa 1968 in Herford (central Germany), the history of Missus Beastly is confused in the extreme! Apparently the reason for such confusion is three-fold: because of their manager, constant line-up changes, and that being born in the psychedelic era they were obviously all pretty spaced! The original band were amongst the most underground and psychedelic of German bands, though less so than CPM label mates Checkpoint Charlie. Like a darker more experimental Out Of Focus, with the accent on psychedelic blues and jazz, their 1969 debut was amazing for its variety and invention. Whilst in the doldrums for a while, as numerous people passed through the Missus Beastly ranks, including Roman Bunka who went on to Embryo, it took until 1974 for the band to get together properly and record a new album. In the meantime, however, not only had their original manager Henry Fromm bootlegged their debut, he'd formed another Missus Beastly (see below for more on this) and had released other albums. The original Missus Beastly, in the meantime, had changed considerably, becoming an instrumental jazz-rock group typical of the Munich mid-70's scene, more jamming and livelier than Passport, more groove-oriented than Embryo. But, talking of Embryo, Missus Beastly's history here becomes totally entwined with them, and the birth of a number of other Schneeball label bands (i.e. Jürgen Benz went to Munju), with later albums being very close to the Embryo sound.
DR. AFTERSHAVE AND THE MIXED PICKLES (1/76) LP April 00001 (1976)
featured on: UMSONST UND DRAUSSEN VLOTHO 1976 featured on: UMSONST UND DRAUSSEN VLOTHO 1977
SPACE GUERILLA (4/78) LP Schneeball 0011 (1978)
featured on: UMSONST UND DRAUSSEN PORTA WESTVLOTHICA 1978
There's a lot of confusion as to who the second Missus Beastly were. Could they have been formed by an ex-member of the original band, or were they hijacked bootlegged recordings from a certain Mr. Fromm? Whatever the story, the music on these later albums released by Henry C. Fromm on Electric Bird is intriguing, containing a mixture of gutter blues, psychedelic rock and fusion, interesting but very different to the music by the real Missus Beastly. They should be judged in their own right as the darker side of 70's German underground, loose and creative, and totally uncommercial. They also released an amusing single called "F@#k You Free" (culled from VOLKSMUSIK), an anti-statement that was sure to get them banned on any radio station!
Henry Fromm (drums, saxes, flute, vocals), Pedro Schemm (vocals, guitar, harp), Herm Erbel (percussion), Tony Schaeffer (guitars), G. Taylor (bass, organ, vocals), + Heidy Wachter (electric piano)
VOLKSMUSIK (1971-72) LP Electric Bird ECB-XC-321-90001S (1972)
IN GÄRTEN DES SCHWEIGENS LP Electric Bird ECB-XC-321-90002S (1973)
Moebius & Plank
The first such project of Moebius & Plank was the group Liliental, which obviously found them hitting it off with lots of new ideas. Their early albums as a duo were revelations of innovation, bringing unlikely combinations of industrial rock, cosmic and even dub music (on RASTAKRAUT PASTA) together in a hybrid of genres. A reborn spirit of Krautrock that played recklessly with offbeat forms, recalling Cluster, Can, and Harmonia. Not all of the Moebius & Plank projects have been so successful, unfortunately, as working with Mani Neumeier on ZERO SET strangely took the music too close to techno for comfort, as does the more recently issued EN ROUTE (an originally abandoned project) which is also similarly plagued.
ZERO SET (1982) LP Sky 085 (1983) Credited to: Moebius-Plank-Neumeier
Almost a supergroup, Moira were a melting pot of musicians from Munich, the best-known musician being Embryo's Edgar Hofmann. With a touch more jazz-rock energy, Moira were a side-step from Embryo, sans the Burchard touch, fronted by some lively guitar.
Butze Fischer (drums, percussion), Jürgen Kanwischer (guitar), Rainer Frank (bass, flute), Burkhard Plenge (keyboards), Jofrey Ramos (percussion), + Edgar Hofmann (soprano sax, flute)
CRAZY COUNTDOWN (1977) LP Schneeball 2014 (1978)
featured on: UMSONST UND DRAUSSEN VLOTHO 1977
Though not German, Anthony was at this time a member of the German international group Slapp Happy, and he later joined Faust. A few Faust members feature on the Tony Conrad and La Mont Young inspired PIECES FROM THE CLOUDLAND BALLROOM, a strange systemic and atonal semi-classical offering recorded at Wümme. Similarly odd is his SECRETS OF THE BLUE BAG.
Anthony Moore, Werner Diermaier, Gunther Wüsthoff, + Glyn Davenport (vocals), Geeske Hof-Helmers (vocals), Ulf Kenklies (vocals)
PIECES FROM THE CLOUDLAND BALLROOM (10/71) LP Polydor 2310 162 (1971)
SECRETS OF THE BLUE BAG (2/72) LP Polydor 2310 179 (1972)