Wednesday, July 17, 2013
CLAES AF GEIJERSTAM – Out of My Hair (Sonet, 1970)
International relevance: ***
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.