Tuesday, March 29, 2005

CD REVIEW: MY SOLID GROUND-SWF SESSIONS + BONUS ALBUM CD (Long Hair, or try Forced Exposure)

One CD that has been getting hefty evening pre-ANDY GRIFFITH/LEAVE IT TO BEAVER spinnage here at BLOG TO COMM central has been the MY SOLID GROUND reissue that came out on the Second Battle label eight years back. A German band of a decidedly non-krautrock variety, My Solid Ground (led by guitarist Bernhard Rendel, who was a mere fourteen when he formed My Solid Ground three smackin' years before their 1971 album was unleashed on an unsuspecting Euroscene thanks to the uberhip Bacillus label) were the kinda band that lesser minds might categorize as being a little, er, confused about their place in the rock & roll panthenon. On one hand they had the early-seventies progchops down pretty pat, with a heavy emphasis on the Pink Floyd of MEDDLE with perhaps a sidestep into early King Crimson and others of that snooty ilk, yet on the other they sounded like your typical and dare-I-say archetypical early seventies metallic punk garageburners! And yes, I have imagined that there were plenty of kidz around in those days who were mixing and matching the influences left and right and some of 'em probably had some pretty hotcha bands as well (well, I remember going to flea markets in the mid-seventies with used bins that sported albums by Yes, the Mothers of Invention, Black Sabbath, the Stooges and Lou Reed which would bear my opinions out), but it's kinda weird (in fact, neat!) hearing an early seventies band go from dense, mellotron-laden prog-thud on one track (like elpee opener "Dirty Yellow Mist") to hard-metal blast on "Flash Part IV," even going as far as to mix both prog headiness and punk doltisms at the same time like is evident on a track such as "The Executioner," and best of all not come off looking like a buncha gazoons for doing so. A group that perhaps only Tim Ellison could understand, and although you could say that maybe the Pink Fairies were doing the exact same thing at pretty much the exact same time on their first album (witness the Floydian "Heavenly Man," not to mention the early take on late-seventies British class snarl "Teenage Rebel"), they never had the audacity to mix and match influences within the same tune! (The My Solid Ground/Pink Fairies comparisons may be inevitable, given all of the cartoony pink pigs w/genitals [!] appearing all over the cover and gatefold.) If I can think of any other groups at the time who may have been tangling with progressive and punk forms entwined and at relatively the same stratum. perhaps Mitch Easter and Peter Holsapple's Rittenhouse Square would fill the bill (tales of how they performed Yes' "Yours is no Disgrace" filled the pages of a Winston-Salem scene history that appeared in KICKS #1 of all places!) although their sole album does not show any particular progressive moves, or overtly punky ones for that matter. Anyway, for a good explanation as to what this really is all about, just press here for somebody else's worthy views.

For those who can't get enough of My Solid Ground (or other early seventies German garage wonders like Ainigma, Siloah and a few more confused souls not sure whether they wanna be ELP or ? and the Mysterians), there's this relatively new (2001) CD you might wanna listen to if your Teutonic tendencies tip towards the crunchier aspects of the form. Taken from a June '71 session for Radio Bremen, these four non-LP instrumental tracks really don't sound that much like anything on the elpee and in fact come off more like the hip/jiver aspects of early-seventies Amerigan pop straddlin' somewhere between the time the garage bands stopped having hits and New York Rock Critics began discovering Talking Heads. I'm talking garage rock void of the Velvets/Detroit magic that spawned bands as distinct as Rocket From the Tombs and Umela Hmota...more or less the hard post-psych crank that for some reason reminds me of Sugar Loaf and the kinda rock groups that used to make the music for R-rated "now" movies. Alice Cooper used to get into this chicanery on their early albums yet it didn't bother me...so did Zappa and even Tim Buckley come to think of it and they came out OK more or less, but if you want to experience similar late-sixties popmodes via Europrog wannabes, then you know enough to get hold of this disque. Nothing repulsive mind you, but these sessions are far from the utter tromp of their lonesome longplayer that had people bidding well into the three digits on many an auction for years on end (at least after this stuff started getting pushed on a trend-hungry listening audience thanks to everyone from the Freeman Brothers to perhaps even Julian Cope himself!). I must say I do find it somewhat enjoyable like I do various early-seventies metallic modes, but it really pales next to then-contemporary hard rock endeavors whether they be from Les Rallizes Denudes or the Hampton Grease Band for that matter.

The remainder of the CD's taken over by an album's worth of tracks recorded by a now-mid-aged Rendel in his home studio during the autumn of '01, and (without batting an eye) I know that you're thinking that this is ONCE AGAIN THE CASE OF SOME POTBELLIED BOZO SUFFERING FROM A CASE OF MID-LIFE CRISIS TRYING TO RE-LIVE PAST GLORIES IN HIS BASEMENT PLAYING ALL THE INSTRUMENTS AND RELEASING THE TRIPE IN ORDER TO CON HIMSELF INTO BELIEVING HE'S STILL "RELEVANT" and you'd be right as usual. Only this mid-aged fanabla did it right for a change, and ironies of ironies it's this part of the CD that comes closer to the My Solid Ground album than the radio sessions! Tasteful, tense and (best of all) totally void of any studio session slime slapped onto an unsuspecting public by some cult figure of dubious origin, Rendel came up with a mild winner this time! Despite the overabundant use of electronics and the usual home-studio gimmickry it still sounds sweet enough to my ears which is saying a lot, and even though I know this CD's gonna get tossed into the low-circulation pile once I get my fill of it in a day or two, I gotta fess up that Rendel sure did a better job at reliving past glories than way too many elderly progrocksnitches both of worth and not. A halfway decent surprise, and you may like the old stuff as well.

1 comment:

Cary Grant said...

chris when you fuggin get down to it, and leave the politics flying in the wind where they belong, yur really one of the top-notch r'n'r culture fiend fan blogger whatsis's out there. this post proves your terminal delinquency, and i salute you for it.