Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Pete Gage & Doctor's Order – Live 1998 (CD) - #257

Pete Gage & Doctor's Order – Live 1998 (CD)

 

Now that I had some time to let it sink in, I still can't make heads nor tails out of this. The fact that Doctor's Order did gigs with Pete Gage well before their debut release? The fact that the 1998 live outing was recorded at all? The release on CD more than twenty years later? The selling of this CD is tagged as sensational and I do tend to agree with this statement.

 

When I read about the upcoming release, there was mention of the sound quality not up to par but that it had been brushed up and was in an acceptable state (I'm paraphrasing here). While it's definitely not an audiophile reference recording, it's enjoyable to the hilt and you shall be forgiven, if you intended to test your new equipment with this release. In short, it is far better than what I expected from reading about it. Just let me say, I never use the Bass, Treble or Balance on my stereo, but this time I set the Treble to almost a quarter past. And the sound did enhance considerably (probably an audiophile's nightmare, but there you go).

 

 

The recording has been made by Rane Mäkinen (what you call an audience recording) and Teppo Nättilä seems to have had a tape all the time, that just saw the light of day recently again. So, this is not a bootleg per se, as it's released by Doctor's Order with their full input and permission. And I suppose with Pete Gage's approval as well.

 

The recording was done at a place called Beefy Queen in Helsinki on October 21, 1998. And the line-up was:

 

Pete Gage – Vocals, Hamonica, Piano

Jari Elsilä – Guitar, Backing Vocals

Timo "MadMan" Väätäinen – Drums

Teppo "Teddy Bear" Nättilä – Bass, Backing Vocals

Elsa Kuloniemi (as very special guest) – Slide Guitar 

 


What you get here are nine tracks at just beyond 33 minutes. I can't say wether this was the whole set, parts have been lost or damaged or wether Pete Gage appeared on only the tracks that are now offered to the public. The whole set consists mainly of Dr. Feelgood songs and covers and, of course, Pete Gage is the man in 1998. The songs you've all heard before, suffice to say the singer does what he used to do in his own band. With his quite recognizable voice, he's the anchor here. Interesting fact, most songs are actually from the Wilko Johnson songbook (see picture). Plus  Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over" (just unkaputtbar) and Mickey Jupp's "Down At The Doctors" etc.

 

 

You get a very good idea at what it must have been this evening at the Beefy Queen and you wish you would have been there. But don't cry over spilled milk, there's this substitute available (limited to 100 copies and closing in to zero fast at Blues-Shop) and, yes, it's still not the real thing. But it'll do if you missed it, like I did. The photos that you see on the release were taken by Anita Repo, sleeve design, editing and mastering by Ipi Kaipiainen and the DO logo by Jari Elsilä.

 

Cheers

 

Roland


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Lockdown Docs – Back To Basics (LP) - #256

Lockdown Docs – Back To Basics (LP)

 

A word about the quality of today's LPs: I used to read a lot of forums online and the consent seemed to be that the quality went down the drain since the 60s/70s. I never subscribed to this opinion and to me, people complaining about imaginary shortcomings of vinyl either bought the latest Celine Dion (who jumped onboard the train, because it was/is the hip thing to do). But don't restrict it to Mrs Dion, there's a certain Helene Fischer (German Schlagerkitsch) who's flooding the market with LPs. The point is, there were and are always quality pressings available, but if you buy the big sellers, which amounts to probably 5000+ copies these days, you get what you asked for. Pressings made in the Czech Republic, on a sandy beach with no lights on. Throughout the 90s/00s/10s etc., there were lots of quality pressings on the market, granted, mostly from independent sources. When the world was complaining, I still got my Punk records and not a fault in sight. I bought "Sticky Fingers" (new and sealed) and it looked like it came directly from a recycling landfill. I got the Lockdown Docs "Back To Basics" and every self declared audiophile would shed tears because this is the holy grail with regards to pressings. Dead quiet (except the music, of course), flat as the earth (no warps), perfect outside circle and the middle hole is exactly where it's supposed to be. I've stopped reading those forums and magazines a while back.

 

And now we have the Lockdown Docs putting one up. I was quite surprised when I heard of the imminent release of their third offer (the previous two being on CD). Haptically and sonically a treat and the rest is, as they say, history. You don't need to read between the lines to realize I'm impressed. And they even left the sand on the beaches in Finland. "Back To Basics" is the name of the game and the basics in this case are Dr. Feelgood, Doctor's Order and the Pirates (in no particular order). Of the ten tracks, eight are straight out of the Dr. Feelgood songbook (to the layman this spells covers), but more about this later. One is a Doctor's Order track from way back and "Honey Hush" is a Pirates cover.

 

 

The band is going the way they laid out with the two earlier digital tasters, that is to say, no prisoners taken British style R'n'B heading in the right direction. Strange how this differs from country to country. In my neck of the woods, this kind of music wouldn't get you fame and glory and 200 kilometers east of here, you'd be the star of the show. Also, the sound is great, probably digitally processed, but there are very few all AAA releases these days. Most studios are just not equipped anymore to handle real analogue recordings (including analogue cutting for the final product). I know, we've all heard these Dr Feelgood tracks over and over again, but here, they sound fresh and were given a new lease of life. The Lockdown Docs don't pretend to be Dr Feelgood, they're faithful to the originals and even more important, they do not ape the Canvey four's song book. There's a touch of Lockdown Docs signature there. Beautiful execution. Top musicianship and a splendid job. I want to mention Jonatan Nurminen, because the singer gives the vocals a very own colourization and doesn't try to step into Lee Brilleaux's shoes, yet he's in control throughout.

 

 
 
"Honey Hush" is, of course, a Pirates cover and, as with all the tracks on the LP, I wouldn't want to miss it. "So It Is" comes directly from the Doctor's Order debut and is penned by Archie Hämäläinen himself. This is one of the top three tracks from his earlier band and with the mentioning of Lee Brilleaux in the lyrics, it's a fine tribute and still, even with the time passed, an excellent song with a hook that won't let you forget it. Highly recommended release by this newish band from Finland. I got my copy directly from the band (thanks a bunch) and Blues Shop in Finland used to sell some, but it seems to be sold out there (maybe they will restock the record) or try Goofin in Helsinki which is another outlet carrying the item.

 

A word regarding "So It Is": There's an earlier vinyl version (7" single) available that comes with the book "From Roxette To Ramona / Dr. Feelgood And Wilko Johnson On Record". Copies are still available. Contact me if you're interested in the book and the record (dr_feelgood (at) bluewin.ch). I'll send you the details re price, payment etc.

 

Cheers

 

Roland




Monday, April 4, 2022

Skeleton Hellraisers – Brutal Mojo (CD) #255

Skeleton Hellraisers – Brutal Mojo (CD)

 

A bit of a taster. It's a four track-CD "only" and a bit of a mistery to me. First I have no clue what the band is, where they are going and what this band is all about and wether there is a future in them. Sure, the four tracks deliver but leave you wanting for more. The CD clocks in at just a tad over twelve minutes. My first name is Sherlock and thus I pieced this vital information together:

 

Archie Hämäläinen (Doctor's Order and Lockdown Docs): Guitar

Mike Rintasaari (Jolly B Goode): Vocals and drums

Vellu Hyötyläinen (Lockdown Docs): Bass

 

I know that Archie has been playing in quite a few other bands as well, so this is by no means a full CV. With Mike Rintasaari I'm a bit on thin ice, there's a Mikko Rintasaari who played drums in Jolly B Goode. So, there's a connection and I feel, I'm on solid ground. However, I do see a Mikko Rintasaari on guitar throughout the internet. No idea wether this is the same guy or just a match on the name. Vellu Hyötyläinen, I'm pretty sure he has worked the circuit also for a long time, but I didn't make any progress in tracing his steps.That is, because either his name is differently spelled at times, the information doesn't exist or I just have to dig deeper (and learn the Finnish language in the process).

 

 

Still, funny to see how it goes all in circles, everyone knows every other person in the Finnish music scene. Of course, all four bands mentioned are not a million miles musically apart from each other. I'll not put any band up on the table for dissection, suffice to say there are slight variations in style between all of them, probably the least Lockdown Docs vs. Skeleton Hellraisers. But that'd be counting beans.

 

Skeleton Hellraisers tag their brand as "Brutal Rock'n'Roll". Yes, you can do that if you want a unique selling point. To me this is rather truthful and heartfelt Rock'n'Roll with a calming touch, safe in the knowledge that not everything and everyone on this planet has gone bonkers. You can feel at home, safely within your own four walls. Three out of four tracks are original compositions and that usually is a winner for me. A band coming up with something new gets my attention immediately. Nothing wrong with a good cover version but the interesting part is where they show off in  the true sense of the word.

 

Mike Rinasaari is the sole singer here and he does a commendable job and his drumming is certainly supporting the whole structure and he does it with aplomb. Trios are, of course, the smallest Big Band possible, but also the most unforgiving as each member is under a magnifying glass and errors exponentiate at lightning speed. I've read interviews with trios where they actually mentioned, that sometimes they would like to play in larger groups, because every now and then you just have to hide.

 


The sound is good and dirty enough to give the tag "Brutal Rock'n'Roll" credibility. Interesting (to me at least), the twelve minutes feel like three minutes at the outset. Vellu Hyötyläinen on bass does an excellent job as well. Especially when I watch a bass player live or on video, sooner or later the question comes up, how can he/she keep time (same goes for the drummer as well, obviously)? I guess it's interplay with drummer and bassist that allows for a few detours during a set. And Archie Hämäläinen at his usual best, driving guitar and fine form. I've heard stories of Archie playing saxophone. Nudge, nudge! Can we expect something along those lines on a future outing?

 

For a copy of this CD, direct your browser to http://www.blues-shop.fi/kauppa/ (translation button at upper right hand side). If you want to send the band a message, check out https://skeletonhellraiser.wixsite.com/skeletonhellraisers?fbclid=IwAR0-n7DTrUIpidNm5czQnepcRqTkF6Yu1SAXfZxbwSxw53IgMF26TkzW0ZM

 

Cheers

 

Roland


Monday, February 21, 2022

Last Avenue - Live At Bar Manhattan February 19, 2022 - #254

 Last Avenue - Live At Bar Manhattan February 19, 2022

 

Before I forget it in the heat of the moment, Last Avenue will play another gig here in the Northwestern part of Switzerland and this will be on March 26, 2022 at the Auld Dubliner in Basel. 


But the band just played the Bar Manhattan last Saturday. Just a word from the sponsors, Bar Manhattan hosts gigs almost weekly (Fridays or Saturdays or both). It's a smallish venue but quite a place to be and get yourself back on track after a week of hardship in your job.



This was now my first time I saw the band in a live setting and it won't be my last. It's quite a difference hearing a band on record or in the flesh and believe me, they haven't disappointed this time either. Last Avenue call themselves "Hippie Rock", but take this as a pointer only. I heard a couple of times that folks called them very diversified and eclectic. But not beyond the point of recognition (my addendum). The band has their signature sound and it's of a good time nature.

 

When listening to the band on media, you could be forgiven to think that they only present original songs and I was actually surprised that a good chunk of what was on offer consisted of cover versions. I can understand that, you have to pull the punters in with what they know already. No complaints there and the folks in the audience loved it (and so did I). The recognition factor of their own material is very high and judging on this alone, the band could easily carry on through their set with nothing but self penned songs.ut there you, sometimes they just played the very first chords of a well known cover and the people started dancing. 

 


The place wasn't packed, but there was a good number of music fans present. The gig was a 2-set event and if I'm not totally mistaken, the first one consisted of more original material than the second one. Maybe it's just for party time later in the evening. I did hear high praise for the singer (that came first) and the band (which came later). The venue aids the listener in watching the band from very close up (in other words, you're one step away from the band) which could be unsettling if they watch your guitar, bass or drum runs and you can't allow for any mistakes. Perfectly mastered by Last Avenue.



I've recently seen flector and the Glorias in this place and while all three bands play a different kind of music, it's all good and excellent Rock and with all three I had a flash of "bloody hell, they know what they are doing". Don't get me wrong, I knew what all three were doing, it was just that the power on stage is something different than on your stereo at home. Or maybe it was just a joy to have such amazing bands on stage and have live music again. The set lasted from around 9 pm to just after 11 pm (with a 15 minute break  - or so) and it was as much an excellent musical journey as well as a worthy night out.


Last Avenue work on a new CD which should be out sometime in the middle of the year (2022). Check their website (link below in the last entry before this one) for news and updates.


Cheers


Roland


P.S.: And when I went home by public transport, from Basel to the suburbs, some guy (I had no idea who he was, but it was worth a thumbs up) was playing "Higher And Higher" on his smartphone for the benefit of everyone in the tram. This really made my day. 😇


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Last Avenue (Band) - Number 253

Last Avenue (Band)

 

I admit, until recently I had never heard of Last Avenue despite the fact that they apparently exist since 1998, originally as Mild'n and from 2006 on as Last Avenue. And I'm no stranger to Swiss Rock music, although I don't claim to have heard of every band in Heidiland. I'd guess, the ones I haven't heard of have either a very low profile, play only cover songs or make a ruckus in a genre I can't stand. Considering that the band has released five albums and a couple of singles, it's quite an achievement to remain below the surface.

 


But truth be told, it's probably not their fault. I've learned a major lesson regarding the Swiss music scene, it's very fragmented. Whatever is en vogue in the french part of the country is lost somewhere along the Röstigraben and vice versa. Same goes for the italian corner (Ticino), except in this case, the dividing line are the Alps. The problem is actually so bad, that a lot is lost between the Basel and the Zurich area. Bands that have cult status in the Northwestern part of the land of cheese and chocolate don't get a foot on the ground east of their natural habitat. And I'm not even starting on areas East of East St. Zurich or the scene around Bern or others. Case in point, Blues and Bluesrock bands don't have it easy around Basel, while around Zurich they seem to thrive. There are genres which are much more at home here that you won't find in abundance in other parts of the country.

 

Last Avenue call their music Hippie Rock and Classic Rock. There is something to be said for short and concise descriptions, but a lot is lost in translation and there is so much more. Not that Hippie Rock is a misnomer, personally, I think it's a bit vague, although I can see where it leads to. Classic Rock, although not a genre per se, is much more to the point (even though this is not the end of the rainbow). The associations made with regards to their music cover quite a range, but I must leave it to the listener to draw his/her own conclusions, suffice to say, I still hear traces (and sometimes a bit more than that) of Led Zeppelin. Maybe the band is out to crucify me now, but this was my first impression when I listened to "House Of Trash". Mind you, not throughout the CD, but it stood out several times.

 


House Of Trash (2006)

Definitely, the band is anchored in an updated 70s setting. The songwriting (all originals, btw) is outstanding and the execution of the songs is beautifully done. I've said it before, every band going to the lengths of doing their own songs gets a bonus point from me, wether I like what they're doing or not. The full CD is very organic and floats from track to track as it must be. In preparation for this post I've listened to the album many times and I don't yet see the day coming, where I'm getting bored with it. Probably never.

 

I don't want to single out any of the tracks, because they are all of high quality. Just let me mention some of the twelve highlights. "House Of Trash" sets the pace for what is to come. An opener that gets your attention immediately. It's a bit like the band has packed all their trademark antics into the one song. "Ten Years Today" is more of this 70s vibe. A mix of times long passed with a 21st century sprinkling. "Giving It Up" is a rocker but still founded in the music tradition. One thing that must be said about the music, even though the guitars scream sometimes, the drummer is present and the singer gives his all, they never drift into Heavy Metal, it's always solid Hard Rock (when the track calls for it). This is a prime example of their more "in your face" songs. "So Never" is a ballad, but I hasten to add, not one of those sleepy things that I usually turn off. "Just For You" is maybe a lost Led Zeppelin song. Grand! For this track alone you should buy the CD. "Speedway Lover" is another track that flows so seamlessly on the harder side of the genre and the guitar is just beautifully done. Even the breaks to a slower pace make sense. "Treetop" is the longest track on this CD (8:04) and a very interesting piece.

 

A commercial break and a word about the band. The current  line-up is as follows:

 

Martin Gaisser: Vocals, Guitars

Christian Schönbächler: Guitars, Vocals

Jérémie Bochet: Bass, Vocals

Simon Plüss: Drums

 

Swiss bands amaze me sometimes by their professionalism (yeah, I know, prejudice), even though they are not fulltime musicians (see for example flector) and Last Avenue are right in this square. The guitars are more than a notch beyond very good. The rhythm section (bass and drums) knows their drill as well and I have to highly recommend the guy(s) on vocal duty. In other words, this is a nice package with not a dud in sight.

 

I tried to find some other CDs on the market, but failed to do so (I might try again), but Last Avenue's management was so nice and sent me their "Greatest Hits" CD, their latest release (thanks Sibylle!), just to get me an idea about the progression the band made. One thing I don't get, why is the CD not in chonological order? Five Mild'n and eleven Last Avenue tracks culled from various albums.

 


Greatest Hits (2020)

Depends on what you're looking for in an album, an overview of decades of creative output or a condensed version of a moment in time, this is how you perceive the offerings on a CD. I find "Greatest Hits/Best Ofs" compilations, or the like, always difficult. It's almost like a band erases part of their past and who's to say what songs the listener wants to hear from their back catalogue. Having said that, I can see how the band has changed from Mild'n to Last Avenue (based on these two CDs only). There are traces of Last Avenue in the Mild'n songs. But five tracks is more of an educated guess than solid fact.

 

Listening to the Last Avenue tracks that are not on "House Of Trash" there is only one conclusion to be drawn from it, try and buy the other CDs (note to myself). "When You Are Smiling" is one of these Mild'n tracks and I get it where the Beatles comparison comes from. I'm not a Beatles fan at all, but this is beautiful. If you're a Beatles aficionado (and even if you're not) buy the "Greatest Hits" CD. "Rock'n'Roll, I'm Coming Home" is a Last Avenue song and one that makes me itchy about getting the full CD. This is a song (amongst many others from Last Avenue) why you should seek out the band. While I would put Mild'n in a progression in fact before Last Avenue, make no mistake, the band, back then, knew how to strut their stuff. So, I might have to go the Mild'n route as well. Honestly, worse things have happened to me.

 

I just missed a Last Avenue gig (together with flector) last weekend but I will be at one of their live events as soon as I can make room in my calendar. If you want to keep updated, visit the band's website at

 

www.lastavenue.ch

 

or if you want to book them, please contact their management at

 

Sibylle 'Miami' Tanner

Etzelstrasse 38

8805 Richterswil

Switzerland

E-Mail: management@lastavenue.ch

 

Cheers

 

Roland

 

P.S.: Forgot one important statement above. A lot of singers in Swiss bands struggle with the English language and sound like Toni Vescoli on a good day, with their Swiss dialect shining more than through. Not so Last Avenue. I commend the guys on vocal duties for this as well. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Glorias - Live At Bar Manhattan Rheinfelden/Switzerland on November 6, 2021 - Number 252

 The Glorias - Live At Bar Manhattan Rheinfelden/Switzerland on November 6, 2021

 

After almost two years of being sidelined due to the pandemic, the Glorias finally made it onto the stage again. The big question was, how did they get through lockdowns and everything in between. Of course, the band rehearsed their repertoire in the interim on a regular basis, so I wasn't afraid that they might sink the performance. In fact, I was probably more confident in their abilities than certain members, who shall remain unnamed here, of the band.Well, it was back at the Bar Manhattan again where quite recently flector played their set (see one of the last posts below). 

 




The event wasn't just about the first live gig since February 2020, but also to showcase the songs of their last album (available on CD and LP). The Bar Manhattan is a rather small venue, but even then, it wasn't packed. But there was a good number of folks present and sometimes they made a ruckus for two, which about counts for a full audience. My only gripe is with the merchandising, as the band's back catalogue and the new albums didn't sell in the numbers that I expected. I truly hope that punters might find their way to the Atlantis Record shop in Kaiseraugst, where they can still stock up on more than 30 years of the Glorias history.





There were two sets that evening, the first one going to their new songs that can be found on "Timeless Zone" and the second one a sort of retrospective with a few covers thrown in. From the very first chords it was clear to me, that this was going to be a great gig. Sound was good, the intensity of the volume was just what a good Rock gig needed (even the DB meter on the wall agreed with me) and the band was in full flight from the word go. To me, it sounded real, it was real and it was smoking!

 




Of course, I've listened to their new album back and forth and there's always Alice in Wonderland, as to how a band can transfer their studio material to the stage. Perfect! The live setting was what this band needed and one could feel it. Free at last and they played not tense (as the unnamed member of the band hinted at) but in full flow. Don't ask me wether they played note perfect, I can't say, to me it was top all the way up. And if one or the other missed a beat or hit the wrong note once in a while (which I believe didn't happen), it didn't matter either. Just the fact that their music reached an audience which had a good night out was the icing on the cake.

 




Once again, I realized there's a world of difference between media such as CD/LP and live on stage. Precise playing (which you get on media as well) with the physical pressure from sound (which you don't get on your stereo - no matter how high end) and of not being the only one in the venue/room enjoying the proceedings. I need to point out, on my stereo at home, I can only listen medium volume, otherwise my neigbours would be on my back. And headphones are not really for me (even though I own a very good one, I never use it anymore). The songs were more intense and in your face and I especially watched Bernie and Marco on guitar. They both looked and sounded like they've never done anything else. Well, both of them are founding members of the Glorias, so, there it goes.


Morten on bass is also a longtime member and the mc for the band (or something like this). Morten actually played in a Dr. Feelgood covers only band a few years back and they did a good job too. I still have their CDs. The new drummer (whose name has just eluded me now - he's not on "Timeless Zone") must have had his first live gig with the band. Great drumming too. I've overheard people talking about him and they were impressed by the way he did what he did. For all the wrong reasons, as they seemed to put him in the hardrock, heavy metal corner. No, he's a very good Rock drummer and that's what he showed that evening. Maybe in another life he did some Heavy Metal, but not this evening. And if folks were impressed with, what they called his heavy drumming, I think they got it wrong. The stool wasn't taken by the Animal from the Muppet Show.

 




And then it was time for the second set. A look back at more than 30 Years of the Glorias with a good number of cover versions thrown in. All done in the Glorias' style. The second half time went as fast as the first one and now the punters really got going. Sometime in between I realized Marco is playing the same guitar model as Sue Foley and they are Pinky one, Pinky two and Pinky three. I believe Marco was actually on stage with at least two different guitars that night. His Pinky did seem to get the most playing time.  Afterwards, the members of the Glorias were very satisfied with their performance and quite rightly so. Next one up is on November 27, 2021 at the Nelson Pub in Muttenz. See you there!


Cheers


Roland

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Dr. Feelgood - Down By The Jetty (Stereo) - No. 251

Dr. Feelgood - Down By The Jetty (Stereo)

Just pulled my 2006 release of "Down By The Jetty" out, to listen to the Stereo version of this album. As every Dr. Feelgood aficionado knows, the tracks were recorded in Stereo and on Wilko Johnson's insistence were folded to Mono. For the last 45 years I've known my "Down By The Jetty" to be this gritty piece of Rock/Rock'n'Roll/R'n'B (British style) and my opinion about one of the masterpieces in the history of Rock is not going to change, Not a fraction. I can only debate wether this or "Malpractice" is at the top. Both are stellar albums.


When I heard about the 2006 release of both the Mono and the Stereo version on CD, I was pretty much excited and bought it immediately on release. Besides the tracks of the original albums and the remixes of the new Stereo release, you get a number of additional tracks. At the time I was quite pleased with the results. And filed the CDs away. I have listened to the "Collectors Edition" maybe three or four times in the intervening years and there wasn't any reason to complain. I say "wasn't" which might point out that there's a problem come 2021. 

 


My go to release is and will be an unremixed and unremastered (except the master of the first release, of course) vinyl copy (there's enough of them in my collection to have a choice). Listening to the Stereo version in ages, it hit me like the proverbial brickwall just to realise how bad the mix is. I mean, it's extremely bad. Worse than bad. In 2006 I thought it was a pretty neat piece of work. Now I do realise that the mixing/mastering engineer had no clue as to what Dr. Feelgood represented and it was in fact only a rush job to him. 


I'm only speaking about the second CD here. Dr. Feelgood were always a rough sounding band, even when they were trying to come across mellow and well behaved. What you get here is a great album mixed to within an inch of its life. Soulless, boring, dancing hall style, brightened up to glitter and diamonds and just dead in the water. I don't know wether this sounds like anything on the original Stereo tapes, but I don't think so. And I have sneakin' suspicion that there's more to it than "just" a remix, I believe that there's been a lot added no end. 

 


Maybe it's just my form of the day, but this comes across as a waste of time. Don't get me wrong, this is Dr. Feelgood after all and complaining on a high level but the original band and the hardcore fans haven't deserved this. Of course, never having heard the original tapes, I might be under the wrong impression what they are and what the condition is. This thin sounding piece of mediocre dance music in a Saturday night disco down he road doesn't do justice at all to one of the best bands the world has ever seen. My one question now, how can I've been so wrong all these years? I believe the joy of getting a Stereo version hid the shortcomings of the release even though it was (or should have been) quite easy to hear.


It does somtimes work the other way around as well. "Mad Man Blues" on the French label Lolita was my first copy and I could never get to grips with the release. It sounded too much like Heavy Metal und unbalanced with a really bad sound. That is, until I bought further versions from other labels and suddenly the sun went up. This is by no means the fault of the band, but just shoddy work on the part of the label. In conclusion, I'm still somehow grateful that EMI released the "Down By The Jetty" double Collectors Edition CD, because Grand was probably never really able to manage their releases properly.


Cheers


Roland

 

flector - Live At Bar Manhattan, Rheinfelden/Switzerland on September 3, 2021 - No. 250

 flector - Live At Bar Manhattan, Rheinfelden/Switzerland on September 3, 2021

This was my very first gig after the Covid-19 epidemic reared its ugly head at the beginning of 2020. Not that one or the other concert didn't happen, but with all the restrictions in place, it somewhat takes the fun away. At the moment they have been loosened a bit, so grab your chance to get a shot of your favourite music live. flector have been sidelined as well due to Covid-19 and the lack of gigging opportunities, but thankfully, they're back on track. With a new line-up to boot.


The Bar Manhattan in Rheinfelden/Switzerland is a small venue with quite a run of concerts. The upcoming events show one gig at least per week. I knew the place, but have to admit, I've never been there and this will surely change in future. Enough of the trivia, this is about flector and their stunning performance at the aforementioned place. Just so that all cards are on the table, I know Carlo Gartenmann since about 15+ years ago when he did a splendid job on the "From Roxette To Rosanne" book, so my opinion about flector is clearly somewhat tainted. But I swear, it's the truth and nothing but the truth.


The band calls their music spheric Hardrock (in a nutshell). Make of it what you want, but it might lead you into a false direction, although I have to admit, I struggle with the term "spheric", because with it, I associate a band noodling their way through a set with no end in sight (I have a Jazzrock phobia dating back to the 70s, where bands pretended to play Fusion and all you could hear was outfits not knowing what they were doing - and this comes from a Free Jazz, Noise, Industrial and Avantgarde fan). "Spheric" might be there, but what you really get is a tight playing band (see further down below).


flector play original songs only and I'm not exaggerating when I say, the quality of their songwriting is up there with the best. It's their very own music, although sometimes a bit of Pink Floyd shines through and I even heard the name Kansas mentioned in conversation. However, make no mistakes, flector are not a cover band (obviously) and they don't ape the Classic Rock years. The songs have a very high recognition value and more than enough power to blowdry your hair in front of the stage. The sound was very good, although as per Carlo, it was really their rehearsal backline in use at this time. Very clear, no clipping, well below the threshold were any tinnitus would be acting up and yet loud enough to keep anyone from falling asleep.


Last seen, a drummer!


One word I heard often was "perfection" and the phrase "they really know what they are doing" and I won't disagree with those statements. Back to the sound itself: I've heard good bands playing through shitty backlines and, of course, awful bands making themselves heard through equally bad equipment (or set-up or just because the guy at the soundboard lost his hearing completely by decades of "mixing" some band with the credo of "the louder the better and noone will have an idea anyway"). 

 


I will say, the band was rocking as in R-O-C-K with more than a share of Prog and I mean this in a positive way (I use the term Prog even though it's one of the most over- and misused descriptions of a genre in music). A gig with flector speaks more to the rocker in you than the intellectual nerd, but the music is quite a long way off the MOR route. 


The current line-up

Adi Baba- Keyboards/Synthesizers

Jean Blume - Bass/Backing Vocals

Rolf Wiking - Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals

Matt Mc Allan - Drums/Backing Vocals

Carlo Gartenmann - Guitar/Harp/Vocals

 

The only drawback of this gig, the number of punters was well below what I expected. flector would have earned a larger audience but the real troopers that they are, they played like it was packed. I'm not sure, but I do believe at the most, we're talking about 40 people in attendance. Might have to do with flector hailing from Winterthur (Eastern Switzerland) and they have not made their name in the Basel area. Hopefully this will change in future and we'll see more of the band.



Head over to the band's website at www.flector.space to keep up to date with what's going on in the flector camp (plus you can listen to some of their songs). I did ask Carlo about a full CD coming up and as usual, it's a financial problem, especially when you want to deliver quality over quantity. The band certainly has enough songs to fill a CD without thinking twice about it. I do hope they will go the crowdfunding route to help get this up and running. 

 







Cheers


Roland