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Third album from this German combo that was entering a more difficult phase, plagued with personnel problem and they had to wait almost three years since the release of their second album. I am not sure about this but the group might have disbanded during this time. By now (79), the Ihre Kinder and Embryo roots were long gone, and guitarist Muck Groh had departed (although he guests on one track), leaving wheelchair-bound saxman Kreuzeder a bit alone at the driving wheel. As he was the only remaining member from the previous two albums, understandably the group sounded quite different, especially that the JR/F scene had gone from jazz rock to jazz-fusion. Still released on the legendary Erlkonig label, this album (sporting a cartoon-like artwork) sounded very different, starting with vocals and yet another shift away from progressive rock towards jazz-fusion.

As said above, the guest musos included old Aera Muck Groh, Missing Link’s Limberg and they would be joined for touring and the future next live album by ex-Embryo Roman Bunka. But Aera was now a very percussive group with two full time percussion players and most other contributing some more at a given time, thus giving often a Latino feel to the album, a bit like Pazssport did at the time, although not quite that extensive. The vinyl’s first side starts very mildly with two run-of-the-mill fusion tracks that are effortlessly forgotten as soon as you hear their three-piece suite Dracula. Driven by a descending keyboard line, the group plays their heart out with Kreuzeder soloing away. The closing tidbit is also best forgotten.

The flipside doesn’t really start much different, with the average opener You Need Some Speed and the closing Siebert (both above the 6-min mark, and enjoyable if not too picky), the highlight is again the longer (title in this case) track. Indeed Turkis has a slight eastern feeling and a great electric piano that does give it the edge over the rest of the album. Isn’t it sad to realize that the two best tracks are indeed the most progressive rock ones? It is safe to say that this album is saved by Gieseleer’s keyboards, even if the rest of the group are all ewxcellent musicians (Kreuzeder in particular), but the inspiration was not leadig the group towards adventure, but rather commercial safety.

As mentioned above a live album was up next and then the group will endure further line-up shuffles, record ever-increasing commercial jazz-fusion albums (Akataki is still worthy) on another legendary label, Spiegelei. As for the present album, it is an honest JR/F album of the time (but 79 was not the best of times for that style of music) , but we are a far cry from their firqst two albums, which are much better and should be investigated in priority.

Hugues Chantraine
PROG REVIEWER
Progressive Rock Music Ultimate Discography

Featured Album

Raymond Gomez – Volume

When listening to Volume, it soon becomes evident that Ray Gomez gets more soul, more feel, and more tone, than any other guitar player on the planet. Add in impeccable placed notes with “Albert King-like” timing, the album represents guitar playing that is hard to beat. Something else that needs to be said, Ray “rocks”. He is very keen on the groove within a song. Besides blistering leads, Ray keeps funk and rock groove rhythm in his playing. One could listen to Blues for Mez or West Side Boogie and say, “Well, there’s killer blues being played, funk being played, and a steady rockin’ groove. In essence, Ray Gomez is nothing short of a powerhouse. He gets more out of a guitar than is almost humanly possible, yet he does not overplay. Ray has the uncanny ability to play exactly what is needed for a song, yet with innovation, feel, and soaring power. U.S.A. is actually my favorite song on the record. It also establishes another front — that Ray is a damn good song writer and composer. Volume is a hidden gem that needs to be rediscovered. It’s still relevant and fresh today as it was when first released. Charles Wilson
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