Friday, September 21, 2018

TIME FOR A BREAK!

Dear friends and fellow fans!

After a couple of months of hard work, it's time for a little break. I'm not sure exactly how many albums I've written about, maybe a thousand, I haven't counted to be honest. What a long strange trip it's been so far! And it's not over yet, but with reviews running low after these last few months, and having to attend to my regular work as a music writer, blog posts will not be as frequent as they've been recently. Also, I need to refill the progg collection to be able to continue. I still have a couple of albums not yet reviewed and they will appear here in a not too distant future, but they are few and I have to secure access to several more before going on again. I will also trim down said collection – there are simply too many albums I really don't want to be caught dead with...

Thanks all for reading, providing input, discussing, liking and disliking thus far! More posts will follow, but right now it's time for some progg rest!

And remember: You can always check out The Swedish Progg Blog on Facebook so you won't miss any new posts. Hope to see you there!


SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA – Ur sync (Slask, MC 1988; recorded 1976)

International relevance: ***
Instrumental

The rarest ever Samla Mammas Manna release, a cassette-only edition of 100 copies. Although it should be said it's Samla Mammas Manna as a three-piece before they changed their name to Zamla Mammaz Manna, with Eino Haapala on guitar, Hans Bruniusson on drums and Per Nordin on keyboards. That's right, no Lars Hollmer.

The tape is a one-sided release (side 'B' is blank) with the 25 minute jam ”Den ovala metern” in rehearsal room audio. It's better than the live portion of ”Schlagerns mystik/För äldre nybegynnare”, but only just. The trio builds up a certain tension during the first 5-6 minutes, but then it just drags on forever until dissolving into nothing at around 15 minutes. Rare yes, but no loss. 

KNÄCKEBRÖDERNA – Lyckosparken (MNW, 1976)

International relevance: **
Swedish vocals

I can't decide whether this is supposed to be a parody of or a tribute to Swedish rock singer/songwriter Ulf Lundell with the occasional stylistic dig at Anders F. Rönnblom or not. Not that it matters – it doesn't get any better any which way I look at it. I guess you could say it sounds like an uninspired version of Blå Tåget – as it happens, Mats G. Bengtsson plays keyboards on the album. Some bizarre touches such as 'psychedelic' mouth harp on ”Till monarkomanin” and the sped up vocals on best track ”Janson & von Hanzon”. Unless you consider Lennart Holving's off-key vocals bizarre that is. I think they're just bad like the album itself.

BLUESBLOCKET – Bluesblocket (Tredje Tåget, 1981)

International relevance: **
Swedish vocals

A blues band founded in Lund in 1980 by Mats Zetterberg, previously of progg/punk outfit Fiendens Musik. Bluesbocket's repertoire originally consisted of several John Mayall numbers translated into Swedish by Zetterberg. The band used two different guitar players, Mårten ”Micro” Tegnestam and Jan Gerfast who played on one side each on ”Bluesblocket”. A plethora of musicians has appeared with the band over the years, including Peps Persson.

Bluesblocket's only album hitherto came in 1981 with appealing tracks like ”Sovit så dåligt”, ”Vad är det för ett liv” and ”Du skriver och frågar”, but it's not in the same league as for instance Slim's Blues Band and certainly not Peps Persson.

The projected follow up 1985 album remains unreleased as a whole. A current incarnation of the band also recorded an album originally scheduled for release in 2016 has not yet materialized.

A rare blue vinyl edition of the album also exists.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

MONICA TÖRNELL – Jag är som jag är... (Philips, 1978) / Ingica Mångrind (Philips, 1979)

Jag är som jag är... (Philips, 1978)
International relevance: **
Swedish vocals

After two English language albums, Monica Törnell returned to Swedish with ”Jag är som jag är...”, produced by Björn J:son Lindh and featuring Okay Temiz on percussion on ”Lotus och Casanova”. Some samba, some jazz, some fusion, some folk, some blues, all with the typical session musician sound of the day, clean and perfect and ultimately very dull.

”Progglådan” features a live show from around the time of ”Jag är som jag är...”.


Ingica Mångrind (Philips, 1979)
International relevance: *
Swedish vocals

Törnell's last album of the decade is even worse than ”Jag är som jag är...” with too much production sheen and hopelessly lifeless perfomances. Worst of all is the Swedish Dylan cover of ”Like a Rolling Stone”, and the disastrous take on The Beatles' ”Drive My Car”. 

KEBNEKAJSE – Ljus från Afrika (Silence, 1976) / Elefanten (Silence, 1977)

Ljus från Afrika (Silence, 1976)
International relevance: **
Instrumental, other languages

The later Kebnekajse albums are largely ignored (the Kenny-less dung pile ”Vi drar vidare” should be ignored, with a vengeance). By the time of ”Ljus från Afrika”, they had moved away from the Swedish folk rock that brought them love and attention, and towards Africa as the title of this 1976 album declare, ”light from Africa”. I don't have a problem with that per se, but most of ”Ljus från Afrika” is too close to West African highlife music for me. However, it does have ”Tigerdans/Wind”, a Kenny Håkansson driven spaced-out track firmly rooted in the darker side of afro funk, and heavy rocking closing track ”Brudarnas parti” that is too good to be lost to oblivion. 


Elefanten (Silence, 1977)
International relevance: ***
Instrumental

Kebnekajse's last original album with Kenny Håkansson on guitar (and new drummer Åke Eriksson taking Pelle Ekman's place) is much closer to prog rock than what ”Ljus från Afrika” is. The African influence is kept to a minimum, but unfortunately, it has two horrible Mats Glenngård tracks pointing towards the style of ”Vi drar vidare”, ”Saab Mustang” and ”Grabbarnas afton”, totalling 18 painful minutes. Also, Håkansson must have caught the fusion virus on ”Elefantens strävan mot Nirvana”. Last track ”Halling från Ekshärad”, a traditional tune, is a throwback to Kebnekajse's folk rock years and is, after all, ”Elefanten's” high point.

”Elefanten” is the work of a band who wants to take their music further but without quite knowing where to go. The album does have its moments, but it would be a filthy lie to call it a Kebnekajse classic. It's a billion times better then ”Vi drar vidare” though...

A sleeve variation exist, with the 'J' in the band name being larger on some copies. 


ORIENTAL WIND – Bazaar (Sonet, 1981)

International relevance: ***
Instrumental

This album is a bit different to Okay Temiz's excellent ”Oriental Wind”. Recorded four years later, this is a somewhat more fusion influenced with a greater emphasis on instrumental technique (hint: Janne Schaffer appears). Some parts are veering towards free jazz, and while that's nice and while ”Bazaar” is a pretty good album, it's a bit too flashy for my taste and doesn't grab me as much as ”Oriental Wind”.