Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Utopia - Utopia (1972 germany, amazing art prog krautrock, 2017 remaster)

Recorded at the same time (July 1972) at the same studio (Bavaria Studios, Munich) as Amon Düül II`s well known and of their best efforts 'Wolf City', Utopia was a common project by Amon Düül II producer and musician Olaf Kübler (saxophone, moog) and Düül bass player Lothar Meid. Using the synergy of the parallel sessions with the Wolf City recordings, Olaf Kübler appreciated Düüls singer Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz as singer of 2 of the album tracks and Düül heads Weinzierl and Karrer on guitar and violin. There is also a different version of Deutsch-Nepal on the album. As Olaf Kübler reminds Deutsch-Nepal was originally planned to record only for the Utopia album. 

Musically Utopia has a lot in common with the Düül records 'Wolf City' and 'Viva la Trance' and slightly early Passport and Embryo influences. It's a very worthy and satisfying record with a hypnotic charisma. Originally released in December 1973. Remastered from original master tape and with a true and honest making of story. A masterpiece. 

The first track 'What You Gonna Do' is a straight-ahead rocker with Renate Knaup singing with her nice and distinctive noise. 'Wolf-Man Jack Show' is a weird song, with Jimmy Jackson at the mysterious 'Choir Organ' (giving off a stranger sound than Mellotron choirs), which he actually utilised on many tracks to good effect. The bass riff here is almost snatched straight from THE BEATLES “ Come Together” played German style. One of the albums highlights. 'Alice' is a sweet love song. The tune itself is care-free and up-lifting and has Lothar playing Mellotron flutes. It reminded of Kevin Ayers. 

“Las Vegas' is a hippy-sounding jam with congas, jazzy sax playing and a nose-flute.'Deutsch-Nepal' is a remake of the song of the same name of 'Wolf City'. It's heavy sound and strange vocal from guest Rolf Zacher makes it an excellent example of Krautrock. 'Utopia No. 1' is another hippy jam but features those searing organs from Jimmy Jackson and Falk Rogner too, Olaf Kübler toying around with a Moog Synth and bizarre echoed vocals from Meid. Very lovely stuff. 'Nasi Goreng' is a Hammond-heavy instrumental with strong melodies and light oriental moments. It reminds a lot to Viva la Trance 'Im Krater blühen die Bäume'. 'Jazz-Kiste': probably the master-piece composition of the album starring Passport's Christian Schulze on electric-piano and Embryo's Edgar Hofmann playing amazing 'wah-wah' soprano sax almost troughout.
1. What You Gonna Do? - 6:39
2. The Wolf-Man Jack Show - 5:04
3. Alice - 3:09
4. Las Vegas - 4:16
5. Deutsch Nepal - 3:03
6. Utopia No. 1 - 3:59
7. Nasi Goreng - 5:35
8. Jazz-Kiste - 5:33
All compositions by  Olaf Kübler, Lothar Meid

*Olaf Kübler - Saxophon
*Lothar Meid - Bass, Vocals
*Joe Nay - Guitar
*Kristian Schultze - Keyboards
*Jimmy Jackson - Organ
*Chris Karrer - Guitar
*John Weinzierl - Guitar
*Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz - Vocals

Garland Jeffreys - Ghost Writer (1977 us, magnificent roots, reggae, folk, Velvetish rock)

Ghost Writer wasn't Garland Jeffreys' first album, but it was the first one where his signature lyrical voice made itself properly heard on vinyl, and where he seemed to fully embrace the stylistic eclecticism that would become one of the hallmarks of his work. On Ghost Writer, Jeffreys spins ten vivid tales of life on the New York streets, ranging from the cool literary philosophizing of the title cut to the teenage rage of "Wild in the Streets," encompassing the slinky reggae of "I May Not Be Your Kind," the sinewy Latin grooves of "Spanish Town," the cocky rock & roll of "Rough & Ready," the graceful sweet soul of "New York Skyline," and the edgy, urgent menace of "Lift Me Up." 

What holds it all together is Jeffreys' songwriting, keenly intelligent without seeming academic and reveling in the power of the word; here Jeffreys makes much of his multicultural background, which seems a natural reflection of the city that provides a backdrop for the stories, and Ghost Writer's musical shape shifting makes these songs sound like they're leaping from borough to borough without losing the "you talkin' to me?" big city swagger that informs them all. And Jeffreys can sing about the dilemma of race in an international city, political unrest in another land, unrequited love, the movies that give life to his dreams, and the books that nourish his soul while sounding wise, fully engaged, and like the coolest guy on the block all at once, with a voice that's sweet, sharp, and commanding. 

Ghost Writer is an album that covers a lot of ground in ten songs, but it never gets lost on its whirlwind ride around the city, and if it became a cult item rather than a mainstream success, anyone who gives this a fair hearing is likely to conclude it's the work of an artist of the first order, and Jeffreys' second masterpiece, Escape Artist, would attract the larger American audience he deserved. 
by Mark Deming 
1. Rough and Ready - 2:57
2. I May Not Be Your Kind - 3:46
3. New York Skyline - 3:29
4. Cool Down Boy - 4:04
5. Ghost Writer - 5:39
6. Lift Me Up - 3:28
7. Why-O - 3:38
8. Wild In The Streets - 2:59
9. 35 Millimeter Dreams - 3:12
10.Spanish Town - 7:43
Music and Lyrics by Garland Jeffreys 

*Garland Jeffreys - Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
*Anthony Jackson - Bass
*John Boudreaux, Rick Marotta, Steve Gadd - Drums
*Alan Freedman, Sugarbear - Guitar
*Hugh McCracken - Guitar, Harmonica
*David Spinozza - Guitar, Keyboards
*Don Grolnick, Dr. John, Leon Pendarvis - Keyboards
*Rubens Bassini - Percussion
*Al Cohn, David Sanborn, Michael Brecker - Saxophone
*Phil Messina - Trombone
*Burt Collins, Danny Cahn, Randy Brecker - Trumpet
*Arnold McCuller, David Lasley, David Peel, James Taylor, Lynn Pitney - Backing Vocals