Saturday, 4 June 2016

TYLL – SEXPHONIE (Mental Experience LP, CD, D/L). CAL ROCK & ROLL- HOMEGROWN (Out Sider LP, CD, D/L). C.K. STRONG – C.K. STRONG (World In Sound LP, CD).

Although you really can’t beat the thrill of digging out an original copy of some long deleted vinyl obscurity in a 2nd hand store or at a record fair, we have now an internet driven reissue culture that allows small specialist labels to thrive and if you are not too fussed about the format, there are some great albums re-emerging and getting the reissue they deserve…….we know that sometimes the quality is not the best (especially when the masters are long lost and the recording is taken from the original vinyl) but the music is out there to be listened to after years of collectors folk tales about the existence of mysterious, supposedly long lost records……….we have had three albums land at our psychedelic basement that a reissue was long overdue.

Originally released in 1975 on the German label Kerston Records, Tyll’s sole LP, Sexphonie, will shortly receive its first ever reissue on the Guerssen Records imprint Mental Experience. A band mired in copyright controversy with the better known cult German 70s band Eulenspygel, formed when ex Eulenspygel guitarist Teflon Fonfara was approached by Kerston Records with the intention of releasing a Krautrock album. Teflon's previous group was not active at that moment, so he assembled a new studio band featuring members and friends of Eulenspygel and apparently their original live set included that bands repertoire, arranged differently, which naturally caused confusion with concert-goers, and after conflicts and legal wrangles with the “real Eulenspygel” the band changed name to "Tyll". The music itself offers a mix of Acid Rock, Hard Psych, Polit-Rock and Progressive/ Folky sounds with some Eastern influences, not unlike early Amon Düül II, Floh De Cologne and, of course, Eulenspygel……. Tyll can be seen as the illegitimate step-sister to Eulenspygel, (let’s say there was some…..err…. rivalry between the two bands, especially as Tyll had poached Eulenspygel drummer Günter Klinger), yet, whereas by 1973 Eulenspygel’s creative powers were seriously on the wane with the band never again reaching the heights of their early albums, Tyll's LP was one of those surprisingly creative gems of the mid 1970s that, to the few that heard it, was a welcome breath of fresh air.
Given that Tyll were an ad-hoc band brought together to make a record and given total freedom to do whatever they wanted……..Sexphonie was  typical of releases on Kerston Records at the time (they were very Teutonic (Tyll sang in German), non-commercial, with a very varied range of styles and lots of invention)……..this record has aged surprisingly well.

Essentially a power trio featuring three vocalists, Tyll’s sound revolves around the inventive virtuoso guitar playing of Teflon Fonfara (who once blew out Camel’s PA system with his tape and delay guitar effects!) which blends seamless fusions of acid rock fury with amiable folksiness. Apart from seven minute Acid Rock squall of ‘Delirium Song/Grammophon’ where Forfara’s soaring guitar playing tears a hole in the sky, Sexphonie if full of a good mixture of songs and instrumentals that are short and sweet like sugar. The Eastern flavoured psychedelic instrumental ‘Asiatische Liebeserklärung’, the gently twisted folk tune ‘Morgenlicht’ and the ambient guitar drift of ‘Kristinas Traum’ are absolutely beautiful, whereas there is also a more Acid Rock/Psych vibe to other tracks with the swirling ‘Paranoia Eines Verliebten’ and  enhanced by Günter Klinger’s subtle percussion work, ‘Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarrre’ are the stand out tracks here. Possibly another record that found itself in the in the wrong place at the wrong when first released… 1975, Kraftwerk, CAN and Neu! were busy mapping the musical future and held in that light Sexphonie would, in some eyes, no doubt seem like a throwback to the more anarcho hippy, organic Krautrock of a few years earlier and in that respect there really is not much surprise this record fell of the radar regardless of quality. Sexphonie is an undeniably amazing find after being hidden away for all this time and now being judged in a less significant timeframe is possibly more relevant now than when it was originally released.

Due for release on 9th June, pre-orders are being taken for the fully remastered vinyl release at the Guessen web shop or from Forced Exposure in the USA, album includes insert with liner notes by Alan Freeman (The Crack In The Cosmic Egg) plus reproduction of the rare original booklet /comic. CD version of Sexphonie also available from Gussen/Forced Exposure with a digital download here

Homegrown cover artAnother record that arrived at the wrong place at the wrong time was Homegrown by Cal Rock & Roll. Self-released in 1982, if Homegrown had been released 12 years earlier it would have caught the wave of mellowed out post Psychedelic Rock and 12 years later the mellowed out post Neo-Psychedelic Alt Rock explosion. Recorded and self-produced by the band in a NYC home studio way before it became the norm, Homegrown was self-released in an edition of 2000 copies, of which most were discarded due to pressing faults and to compound the shitty bad luck it was discovered the album been mastered at a lower speed…….bummer. Soon after, guitarist/vocalist Larry Calabrese met Todd Rundgren at a recording studio and he expressed interest in the band and some of their songs, while legendry label Sugarhill also seemed keen in adding Cal Rock & Roll to their roster but nothing came of it in the end. So Homegrown vanished into obscurity………..that is until some original copies were discovered by psych dealers and collectors in the 90s which led to a couple of glorified bootlegs being released around 10 years, but until now there has not been a legit reissue of this once lost record. Remastered at the correct pitch/speed, Homegrown gets the full reissue treatment from Guersson Records imprint Out Sider and gets a multi-format release complete with an insert with detailed liner notes and rare photos.

Although by today’s standards it’s not the best recording in the world, for a self-recorded album using what was available/affordable at the time the sound quality is remarkable.  This is a perfectly recorded and played effort, featuring well-crafted songs. Theres lot of loud distorted guitar, Hammond, analogue synths and some Jim Morrison influence on the vocals, especially on the lysergic swirl of ‘Couragous Cat’. Despite the 1982 release date, this  album feels completely out of synch with the times and is more like vintage 70s stoner music (the band had quite a following with the local biker fraternity) and musically Homegrown is mostly tame hard rock but with some interesting Prog/Psych flourishes which make this record worth a listen. Amongst some basic heavy rock and perfunctory Biker Bar crowd pleasers (‘Rock & Ride’, ‘Party Party’ and the cringe worthy flag waver ‘What’s Going On’), which Larry Calabrese really did not have enough of a Rock n Roll voice to carry off, there are some great mellow late 60s/early 70s influenced Psych/Folk moments. ‘State Of Mind’ evokes a comfortably stoned Country/Folk vibe circa 69 and there is a wonderful West Coast feel on the gentle instrumental ‘Today’ (which is later reprised as a fantastic vocal version sung as duo by Calabrese and Denise Chillemi). The less “Rocky” tunes suited Calabrese’s voice much better and this is evident on the aforementioned trippy Prog/Psych wig out ‘Coragous Cat’. The most Psychedelic track here is no doubt the spoken word/tape effect ‘Young & Angry’ which sounds like it has fallen down a time hole that leads straight to 1967…………it is totally understandable why this record fell off the face of the Earth in 1982 (the year that the Paisley Underground was in full swing, on the East Coast the Lyres from Boston, and The Fuzztones, The Chesterfield Kings and The Vipers from New York had come screaming outta the garage and the Neo-Psych revival hit the UK head on where bands like Echo & the Bunnymen, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees plunged into full-on modern psychedelia), but also why there was so much interest when it resurfaced nearly 20 years later. Homegrown is by no means a classic, but there is enough here that fans of early 70s Psych tinged American Rock will really dig……. File next to other Psych misfits such like T Kail, D.R. Hooker, Marcus and Michaelangelo.

This album is also due for release on 9th June, with pre-orders being taken for the vinyl release at the Guessen web shop or from Forced Exposure in the USA. Homegrown will also be available on CD from Gussen/Forced Exposure with a digital download here

Recently delivered to our psychedelic basement was a package of cool releases from the German label World In Sound, who as well as putting out fantastic new Psych and Prog albums they also have a reissue wing that have released some great, long deleted records. Included in this bag of goodies was the reissue of the self-titled C.K. Strong long player that was originally released on the Epic label in 1969. A heavy Psychedelic Blues band featuring the powerful vocals of Lynn Carey, C.K. Strong were tipped to be one of Epic’s breakout acts of 69 with their brew of Big Brother/Janis Joplin style tunes…….the original sleeve notes claimed “Hearing is believing, but even then, you'll come away shaking your head in disbelief...everything original, everything ebullient and everything "strong" in modern-day record production. Miss Carey is worth the price of admission, even if she didn't sing. A radiating, well-endowed blonde, her pyromagnetic caroling scans three octaves. To these ears she's at least the equal of Janis Joplin”.

C.K. Strong’s only ever release is typical of the times when Psychedelic Rock was on the cusp of evolving into something much heavier. A model/actress/singer/whatever, Lynn Carey had appeared in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., provided the lead vocals for the Carrie Nations songs from Russ Meyer’s wonderfully twisted Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for Dolly Read to mine to and post C.K. Strong fronted the heavier Mama Lion, like many of the female Rock singers of the time was influenced by Janis and her storming vocal performance raised this record way above the releases from similar bands of the era. The opening track, the excellent ‘Stormbird’, sounds like Jefferson Airplane circa 1967, however the rest of the album is made up of some very cool Blues Rock with the slow burning ‘Mean Hearted Man’ and the ambitious ‘Trilogy’ being the stand out tracks. Overall this is a record that is crammed with vibrant songwriting, exemplary playing plus there’s plenty of variety…….it’s another record that has aged really well and is well worth tracking down. You can check out this album and all the other great reissues from World In Sound's Relics From The Past series here.

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