Saturday, June 20, 2015


Things don't always turn out the way they're supposed. The long hiatus is completely unintentional. So many things have happened, and so little time was left for keeping up with this blog. I know that several people are anxiously waiting for new posts -- and so do I! Perhaps I shouldn't make any promises because the last time I did -- over a year ago -- I proved unable to keep them... but this blog is a survivor, and when you least expect it, it will come to life again in front of your eyes. So please, bear with me a little while still!

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Dear readers and progg people!

I'm sorry for the long delay in posting new reviews here. The hiatus has been entirely unintentional -- several things conspired against keeping the blog going as I wanted to, including a rather exhausting move. Now, with spring coming full force, even here in Sweden, with energy being on the rise, I'm on my way back again. I have my next post figured out since months ago, and thanks to a helpful member of the band in question, I hope to offer an interesting look at an excellent and rather overlooked album.

I also intend to add links for listening to albums I wasn't able to find links for originally. Kind and helpful readers have offered me several links to album streams, and I'm very keen to complete the reviews with these links. Needless to say, I'm very happy to see that several of you people who read this blog post comments. This will make the blog better!

Looking forward to see you all again!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CLAES AF GEIJERSTAM – Out of My Hair (Sonet, 1970)

International relevance: ***
English vocals

Likely the most surprising inclusion in any forum dedicated to progg music, as Claes af Geijerstam generally speaking is as far away from all things progg as you can possibly imagine. In the 60's, af Geijerstam scored a line of hits as a core member of beat/pop/garage band Ola & The Janglers. Those who listened to Swedish radio in the 70's remembers him the best as the host of the extremely popular radio show Rakt över disc where he each week played the latest disco and pop singles, DJ-ing his way through the selections with a voice at manic speed, a style he had developed as a DJ as early as in the late 60's. Groundbreaking for sure, but completely unlistenable to anyone who couldn't stand his motor driven mouth or didn't share his taste in music. His commercial flair again came into the fore when he was a jury member during the earliest seasons of the Swedish Idol contest. All in all, his hit sensibilities have always overshadowed any possible progg approach. And yes, ”Out of My Hair” – his solo debut following soon after the breakup of Ola & The Janglers – is on the commercial side of things, too, but only a quick glance at the line-up reveals obvious progg connections.

Guitarist Björn Linder can be heard on albums by Sam Ellison, Ola Magnell, Marsfolket and Blues Annika to mention but a few. Björn Skifs is an allround entertainer who has had a remarkably lengthy career in his own right, but his involvement with Marsfolket, Slim Borgudd and hammond queen Merit Hemmingson is his most interesting collaboration from a progg angle. Göran Lagerberg needs no introduction to the progg aficionado, having played with everything and everyone from Bo Hansson to Egba, from Kebnekajse to Baltik. Jan Bandel's been on Atlantic Bay's, Folk & Rackare's, Handgjort's, John Holm's and Hawkey Franzén's pay rolls, amongst others. Janne Schaffer is of course the well seasoned studio musician on numerous high profile albums, and has released plenty of solo albums. Mike Watson is similarly versatile and can be heard on the feminist various artists compilation ”Sånger om kvinnor” as well as on a couple of Björn J:son Lindh albums. Tommy Körberg is hailed for his vocal abilities (as in Solar Plexus and the comeback album by Made In Sweden), but handles the guitar on ”Out of My Hair”. So despite the overtly accessible nature of the album, it still has quite a few progg credentials.

Truth is it's a really nice album, with slight touches of David Bowie on the verge of glam rock, or Paul McCartney in his early Wings days, although neither Bowie or Wings had exploded yet in 1970. af Geijerstam is an adroit enough singer to deliver the tuneful and sometimes surprisingly jammy songs (as in the excellent extended ”St. Georgie's Road”). Those who deny any progg with a higher level of skillfulness than Träd, Gräs Och Stenar, Gudibrallan or Telefon Paisa/Sogmusobil will probably cringe at the album's ”slickness”, but you know, we all have our problems... ”Out of My Hair” isn't one of mine; I play it every once in a while and finds it to be a pleasant, loveable and sometimes even brilliant melodic album with post-psychedelic strains and proto-glam moves. 

The album had a French release with a different sleeve.

(Sorry, I could find no Youtube links for the album!)

WHITE – I denna samling (Polydor, 1979)

International relevance: ***
Swedish and English vocals

Sweden has always been a nation of hard rock fans and musicians. From the early days of Cream inspired power trios, through appreciated acts like Neon Rose and even Christian band Jerusalem, up to the current triumphs of Opeth, hard rock and metal in all shapes and colours have been vastly popular here. Bands like November and Life are heralded among collectors, but the heavy genre also had a widespread undergrowth, with acts such as Slite Cement, White and the NWOBHM inspired Rhapsody.

Among those, White were one of the most original outfits. Frequently crossing the border between progressive rock and hard rock, they played a rather unique kind of music as documented on ”I denna samling”. Major label Polydor recognized their talent, signed them, but obviously failed to grant them a less amateurish producer to make the album sound good enough. The sound is a bit murky and stiff, and I assume that a better represention of their songs would have given them a greater impact. Perhaps that's the reason why I can't quite get into ”I denna samling”. It's obviously a good album with imaginative songwriting, but this kind of music needs a more powerful sound to really make sense and leave a proper impression.

White hailed from Malmö and started out already in the late 60's. An apocryphical tidbit of information is that successful singer Dan Hylander were member of a band called White 1970-1972. Could it possibly be the same band that put out ”I denna samling” almost a decade later? In any case, White disbanded in 1981, and one of the members went on to play with curious rock singer Kal P. Dal. Drummer Göran Olsson can now be found in spacerock band Drahk Von Trip who released a couple of albums in the 00's.

Some trivia: ”I denna samling” was recorded in three different versions, one with Swedish lyrics, one with English lyrics, and the third with Danish (?!) lyrics. Only the Swedish version saw the light of day. Whatever happened to the international versions?

All in all, ”I denna samling” is a better album than the production suggests. For fans of obscure hard rock, this is a mandatory listen, but for others, it's far from essential.

TAKIS OCH AFRODITE VOUIS – Dirlada (mini album, MNW, 1972)

International relevance: ***
Swedish and Greek vocals

This isn't progg in a traditional sense, but folk music by Greek born duo Takis and Afrodite Vouis. But it is an example of how a lot of music, not necessarily progg, was embraced by the progg movement in Sweden in the 70's, being released by MNW in their shortlived series of mini albums (or EP's if you like although they played at 33 1/3 rpm) which also included an extremely rare English language release by Hoola Bandoola Band. With parts of the movement infused by left wing politics, attraction to folk music from different parts of the world where social struggle was the order of the day quickly grew. The Latin American situation in the 70's spawned an interest in for most notably Chilean music. Also important to note is that since World War II up to the mid 70's, immigrants came from Yugoslavia, Turkey, Greece, Austria and Italy to live and work in Sweden. It's no wonder then that many musicians from perhaps particularly Greece and Turkey played in various Swedish venues establishing (or continuing) a career, such as Ziya Aytekin and the exceptional Maffy Falay from Turkey, and, from Greece, Takis and Afrodite.

Takis was born in Rhodes, while Afrodite came from Thessaloniki. Takis lived in Sweden already in the 60's, but met his future wife in Greece where she sang Italian opera. Takis main interest was Greek music, and soon Afrodite changed her repertoire to traditional music and songs written by Takis and rooted in the native traditions close to his heart. In 1971, they both moved to Sweden where they recorded the ”Dirlada” EP the following year, with four songs in Greek and two in Swedish. Backing the couple on the record is a band called the Rhodians, assumably consisting of Swedish musicians although I have never been able to confirm who they were.

”Dirlada” is a loveable little album, with Takis' rich baryton and Afrodite's slightly husky voice interweaving in a bunch of well executed songs with piano, hand drums and, of course, bouzouki. The title track is a teasingly catchy number. But the best song is ”To Taxidi”, a moody, brooding song with Takis providing a haunting musical backdrop with rolling guitar playing.

Greek music might not be everybody's cup of tea, but this is indeed a nice example of its qualities. Takis Vouis has since made several albums, both as a solo performer and as a collaborator. I'm not sure if he's still a Swedish resident, but I know he's been playing concerts in Rhodes. Afrodite Vouis' whereabouts since the release of ”Dirlada” are completely unknown to me.

NORDVISION – Nordvision (Artist, 1975)

International relevance: ***

Out of the depths of obscurity come Nordvision, a virtually unknown four-piece with members from Sweden and Denmark. They recorded their debut – the only album they released – in Malmö in early 1975. A highly competent effort, it offers eleven instrumental tracks, all of them arrangements of traditional folk songs from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

The music has been compared to Björn J:son Lindh's early albums, and it's a pretty accurate description although ”Nordvision” has no flute. Bass player Mads Vinding actually played on J:son Lindh's ”Boogie Woogie”the year before. Guitarist Christer Karlberg and drummer/percussionist Peter Winberg was also in Storm with Swedish poet Jacques Werup. The band's other guitar player Mikael Neumann is the son of well known guitarist Ulrik Neumann. He was also an actor, has worked for Swedish television and written several stage revues for Swedish comedienne Eva Rydberg.

”Nordvision” isn't a particularly good album. The musicians are skilled, but their flirtations with jazz and fusion is a bit on the dull side. At times it sounds like music used in a television documentary on the Northern wild life. Funky opener ”Å inte ska jag sörja” is decent and by far the best track on the album; it might appeal to fans of Made In Sweden or Janne Schaffer's early albums.

Released on the tiny (private?) Artist label, it's a rare album but nothing anyone should pay a lot for, unless you're an unreasonable fusion completist.



HUNTINGTON BAND – Huntington Band (Nacksving, 1977)

International relevance: **
Swedish lyrics

Dennis Huntington had made a bit of a name for himself years before he founded Huntington Band. He used to be in the little heard Lag & Ordning who released an album in 1979, ”51, Moderately Beat”, four years after it was recorded. His best known work ought to be with Love Explosion, whose ”Bästa låtar” is an unhinged proto-punk classic.

Huntington Band's only album is held in lower esteem than his previous bands. Perhaps because it's a less frantic effort, more along the lines of Motvind, Nationalteatern, Mobben and Ensamma Hjärtan's more straightforward songs. It's fair to say that it is a Gothenburg album typical of its time; the Gothenburg bands were less experimental and relied more on blues based rock with a harder edge than their Stockholm contemporaries in particular. Gothenburg has always been a workers' town, a left wing stronghold, and it's not too far fetched too say that the down to earth approach to life also affected many of the 70's bands.

It's a pity that Huntington Band's eponymous album is overlooked. Huntington himself was a good songwriter as proven by this album as much as anything else he did. ”Vad är det som händer” is a hard rocking number, while ”Barn av vår tid” (not to confuse with the Nationalteatern song of the same name) adds a semi-funky groove. ”Utan moral” veers towards Santana territory, with an eager drive and a contagious beat. Ten minute track ”Tre hjältar” rounds off the album in an angst ridden way, as grey as the concrete houses of a Gothenburg suburb. Famous saxophone player Christer Boustedt adds a crying alto sax to the song which further adds to its sense of underlying desperation. Tracks like ”Vårt samhälle” and ”Håll mig hårt” are probably responsible for giving the album a reputation of being a blues rock album, but although being a no-nonsense, straight ahead album, it's more varied than your standard palefaced blues rock album.

Being such a neglected effort, ”Huntington Band” is still pretty cheap in terms of value, but it doesn't show up very often. Being released on Gothenburg's premiere progg label Nacksving, it's likely easiest to find locally in and around Gothenburg. It's well worth to pick up if you run across it, but you should bear in mind that the focus to a fair extent lies on the lyrics, why foreign listeners miss out on some important aspects of the songs.

Huntington Band did at least one session for the Swedish Radio but they're unfortunately not included in the massive live recordings compilation box set ”Progglådan”.

Dennis Huntington also wrote songs for fellow Gothenburgers Röda Ropet, and he later became the drummer for Togges Gossar, an obscure outfit that, apart from playing at weddings and parties, released a mere three singles in the 80's. Huntington sadly died in 2011. His son Ivar Huntington plays in a band called Fred På Jorden who performed some of his dad's songs at a memorial concert in 2012. 

1. Vad är det som händer
2. Inga sorger mer 
3. Det kan vara en vän 
4. Barn av vår tid

1. Utan moral
2. Vårt samhälle 
3. Håll mig hårt 
4. Tre hjältar