Germany’s MIG (“Made In Germany”) Music has a supreme treat lined up for fans of 70s prog and Krautrock: a veritable feast of reissue releases, made available once again for public consumptions.
The label’s first batch of discs run the gamut from guitar-led hard rock and spacey electronica to extravagant psychedelia and tribal, percussive madness.
The most curious and sought after releases of the bunch are probably the works of Eberhard Schoener, a German composer and keyboardist who, in 1978, collaborated for a then-little known American band called The Police for a massive, multimedia stage production, complete with grandiose arrangements and back up ballet dancers.
Having brought guitarist Andy Summers, drummer Stewart Copeland and bassist/vocalist Sting over to Germany for recording sessions, the end result was the Flashback album, a completely-for lack of a better word-AWESOME album which utilizes to the fullest all of The Police’s collective talents to create one bizarre, ‘out there’ progressive release.
Fans of The Police might be shocked to hear how high Schoener pushes Sting to sing here, particularly on the Floyd-ian trippiness of “Only the Wind” and the should-have-been-single “Why Don’t You Answer?” while the opening bars of “Trans-Am” and “Flashback” bring immediately to the forefront Copeland’s immense drumming prowess and incomparable cymbal work. Summer also shines here in bold, progressive form, letting loose with experimental guitar theatrics the likes of which one would NEVER hear on a proper Police record.
Schoener crafted a wonderous piece of music here with Flashback, while lending his own impressive talents to the vintage sounding “Powerslide” while getting the best possible performance from Mssrs. Copeland, Summers and Sting. It’s truly a shame that The Police’s manager, Miles Copeland, decided to shove this fertile period of activity for the band so far in the corner of the band’s career, for Flashback is simply a MUST-HEAR release for fans of both The Police and neo-New Wave progressive rock.
Elsewhere, Epitaph’s Outside the Law debut is yet another hidden German gem of dual guitar hard rock which stands easily alongside its American contemporaries The Allman Brothers, while possessing that inimitable Teutonic aggressiveness characterized by early Scorpions LPs. Every track here is drenched here is soulful, dynamic melody and inventive, involved guitar work, peppered with lengthy and jammed instrumental passages.
While not as expansive as their more prog-focused brethren in Birth Control or Eloy, Epitaph had their niche locked down when it came to straight forward, yet complex arrangements, centering their focus upon frantic, sizzling guitar work and the soaring voice of guitarist Cliff Jackson. The end result is a lost classic of 70s German rock music, the likes of which doesn’t seem to be around with much comparable honesty or ingenuity these days. That being said, consider Outside the Law to be a relic worth hunting down at all costs.
Finally, MIG has also decided to grace listeners with an apparently endless amount of Grobschnnitt material, as well, reissuing three of the German prog/rock band’ exhaustive retrospective releases, Die Grobschnnitt Story. Containing interviews, rare cuts and live material-the likes of which include Grobschnnitt’s trademark inclusion of German comedy sketches (!!!) into their sets-packed into three separate, double disc sets at over seventy minutes a disc, the sheer VOLUME of material to sift through here can prove daunting…yet the treasured results are imminently worth the hunt.
Of the three sets, Die Grobschnnitt Story O is the most heartily recommended, for it contains most of the studio versions of songs which Grobschnnitt would become best known, including the epic “Die Sinfonie,” “Das Reiselied” and “Suntrip.” All of these songs feature extensive and abundant lead guitar work which weave their magic in and out of the band’s intricate progressive arrangements, resulting in nothing less than pure sonic bliss and sensory overload.
Aggressive and forceful one moment, and pensively sublime the next, the studio versions of these Grobschnnitt classics should prove mind-blowing to behold for a first time listener, likely contributing to a lifelong obsession for anything prog, rock and Kraut. Kudos to MIG for once again making these shimmering, must own gems available to discerning collectors.
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