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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Various Artists

Kraut! Die innovativen Jahre des Krautrock 1968-1979

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new set that's part of a new series. It gathers up krautrock songs. This first set is a double disc set that's very strong. In addition to lesser known acts, this includes Lucifer's Friend, Eloy, Nektar and Ramses. The packaging on this is nice, which is why it's featured in one of bonus features videos. It has a large book included with it. Mind you, that book is in German, but it makes for an impressive release.

Bonus video footage of this release is available at the Music Street Journal Youtube channel here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54SSH6tu8so

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
             
Lucifer's Friend - Ride The Sky

Here's what I said about this track the first time I reviewed it. "This song makes me think of both Led Zeppelin’s  “Whole Lotta Love” and “Immigrant Song” in a lot of ways. Of course, this song predates that second one and is from about the same time as the first, so draw your own conclusions. All that said, this is more space rock meets prog oriented. It’s a killer rocking number. The instrumental sections are powerhouse jazz meets prog and hard rock trips."

Atlantis - Rock'n Roll Preacher
More of a straight-ahead rock and roller, this is a fun tune. It pretty mainstream, perhaps a bit like the earlier rocking Rod Stewart stuff, but also quite effective.
Michael Rother - Flammende Herzen
This instrumental has some hints of things like surf-rock, but delivered with more of a proto-prog edge to it. It's another strong piece of music.
Tomorrow's Gift - Ants
There is a bit of a psychedelic prog edge to this. The flute begs comparisons to Jethro Tull, but the female vocals wipe those away. This is quite an effective proto-prog piece.
Ikarus - Mesentery
With a short, odd opening movement, this works out from there to some powerful psychedelia with plenty of symphonic vibes. This is really proto-prog at its core. It's also quite potent. They take it into some seriously spacey zones further down the road, really creating some trippy sounds that call to mind things like Captain Beyond and Hawkwind when they do.
Cravinkel - Keep On Running
Percussion starts this cut. The tune works from there to a cool rocker that's a bit more on the mainstream side. It's not bad, but not really a standout.
Silberbart - Chub Chub Cherry
This rocker has a real late 60s early 70s vibe. I love the bass work on this thing. The whole tune really rocks. It has some weird psychedelic bits in the mix. The powerhouse instrumental break is so cool. Some of the guitar soloing makes me think of Frank Zappa just a bit.
Novalis - Wer Schmetterlinge lachen hört
The lyrics on this one are in German. The music features some killer keyboard sounds. There are some definite classical leanings on this number. It's an interesting proto-prog number that works well whether you can understand the lyrics or not. This piece is an epic that stretches over nine-minutes. It shifts mid-track, first to a dramatic bit with non-lyrical female vocals. Then it powers out to some killer prog jamming from there. More of a straight-ahead hard rocking jam ensues after a time. There is a return of vocals near the end. Then the cut has a dramatic close. 
Ougenweide - Ouwe
Neo-classical sound merges with folk music, proto-prog and more. The chorale vocals feature German lyrics.
Ramses - La Leyla
A full-prog rock jam, I love both the keyboard work and the guitar on this powerhouse number. It has an extensive instrumental movement at the beginning. It drops to a keyboard dominated mellower sound for the entrance of the vocals. There is a gentle, mellow angle to that part of the song. It powers upward to more of a Deep Purple meets Vanilla Fudge kind of section. That has plenty of prog built into it, though. The mellower vocal movement returns later in the number. .
Jane - Redskin
Killer psychedelic sounds are at the heart of this number. It has a bit of a mainstream blues-rock jam at its core, but it's elevated by the proto-prog kind of jamming and instrumentation. This is a classy number with an extensive instrumental movement at the start. When the vocals do come in, I'm reminded of hippie musical theater perhaps like "Hair" or "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Frumpy - How The Gipsy Was Born
More of a standard rocking groove, this is cool stuff. There is a real soulful edge to it. I dig the keyboard sound on this thing. There are some particularly powerful jams later in the piece.
Disc 2

                  

AR & Machines - Schönes Babylon (Beautiful Babylon)

The opening section of this is very trippy. The cut grows out from there into some classy, echoey jamming. This makes me think of the electronic music of the 70s and also Mike Oldfield quite a bit.

Nektar - Desolation Valley
Powering in like crazy, this works into some mellower, almost jazzy jamming. The vocals come in over the top. This is trademark Nektar, really. The number moves into trippy, spacey zones before exploding back into the powerhouse jam we had a the beginning of the track. The number keeps working through various shifts, changes and themes. It's a real powerhouse prog rock number. I love how different themes work through and then return later in the course of the song.
Eloy - The Light From Deep Darkness
Starting with a bit mellower stuff not that far removed in sound from Nektar, after that works through the cut shifts out to fast paced and powered up jam that is so cool. The number continues to evolve, though. It works through that new movement, and then we're deposited into a killer jam that features some cool organ work. It eventually gives way to a return to the earlier powered up movement to work onward. Don't get comfortable, though, as the track keeps getting reinvented. A bit of a closing type movement gives way to a much mellower jam to take things forward. The tune continues to explore the space eventually building into more of a space rock inspired jam in the process. It comes in mellower and drives upward from there. Parts of it even call to mind Hawkwind a bit. They take that through a number of changes and really power it into some smoking hot jamming as it continues driving onward. There is an abrupt false ending before one final crescendo actually ends it.
Galaxy - Supermarket
A bit more of a straight-ahead rocker, this still has some cool proggy elements at play. I dig the tasty almost surf guitar based overlayers. The whole tune has a bit of a Hawkwind element at play. There are some punky edges to it, too.
Gash - A Young Man's Gash (Part 2)
The first couple minutes of this is based around a driving, powered up kind of droning jam. That gives way to an echoey spoken voice with other effects added to it. There is a real dream-like quality to it. Then keyboards begin to rise up from there. They don't really take over, though. Instead this works through as sort of a psychedelic freak out with weird sound effects, bits of keyboards and voices dancing around one another.
Thirsty Moon - Big City
City sound-effects start this cut rather appropriately. Eventually it works out to some cool jamming grooves with plenty of jazz and space in the mix.  There is definitely a jam band party kind of vibe to this thing.
Percewood's Onagram - Braindrops Won't Kill The Fire
Percussion starts this. As the guitar joins it brings a bit of a blues rock meets Grateful Dead kind of vibe with it. Jam band sounds merge with psychedelia and more on this energetic and entertaining introduction. That gives way to a percussion break. More classy jamming emerges from there. This has a real freeform kind of structure shifting through various parts. This has some of the strangest sounds of the whole set. Yet, it works out to a pretty mainstream jam later for the actual "song" part of it.
Missus Beastly - Uncle Sam
A cool psychedelic jam is at the heart of this thing. I love the guitar fills on the piece, but the whole vibe just has such a great groove to it. This dissolves out into some serious craziness from there. This gets particularly noisy and freaky later.
Abacus - Capuccino
This is a fast-paced and decidedly fun jam that has plenty of psychedelia and proto-prog at its heart. This thing works through some great changes in a killer jam that works well.
Parzival- Souls Married To The Wind
There is a real folk music vibe here. I like the vocal harmonies on the piece. It still has some psychedelia and prog in the mix. There are some chorale-styled vocals later along the road, and this has a real 60s vibe overall.
 
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