sabato 18 marzo 2017

PHOENIX - "CEI CE NE-AU DAT NUME" (1972)

This is Soviet Sam's first Romanian entry, after just over four years of existence (better late than never).

Phoenix are probably the most popular rock band of the nation, at least among the older generation. After spending the Sixties playing beat music, they changed their style in 1971, when the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu officially stated that every musician should have praised the nation and the Romanian tradition in one way or another. 

To avoid a ban, the band decided to incorporate the local folklore into its sound, while maintaining the electric side. In fact, the new songs sounded even louder than in the past, but since the band had accepted the request of Ceaușescu, they managed to partially bypass the censorship. 
The first full lenght album, "Cei ce ne-au dat nume", should have been a double Lp, but half of the material was not approved because of its controversial contents, probably considered too heavy and depressed (many songs talked about death). The remaining songs were released by the state label Electrecord in 1972. The first Cd reissues came at the end of the Nineties.

Lead by the talented multi-instrumentalist Nicolae Covaci, Phoenix were one hell of a band at the time. This debut is a gem which mixes hard rock, blues, progressive rock, and Romanian folk. The sound is sharp and aggressive, maybe a little flat, but surprisingly clear. Heavy guitar riffs, distortions, and powerful solos on one side, pristine vocal arrangements and arcane atmospheres on the other. Like it or not, you'll rarely hear something similar.

Nicolae Covaci: lead guitar, acoustic guitar, flute, percussion, vocals
Mircea Baniciu: lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion
Iosif Kappl: bass guitar, violin, percussion, vocals
Costin Petrescu: drums
Valeriu Sepi: percussion


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sabato 31 dicembre 2016

AFRO KOLEKTYW - "PIOSENKI PO POLSKU" (2012)

Afro Kolektyw was a strange hip hop band from Warsaw, who played their own background tracks, rather than using samples and computers. After releasing a few albums, their creative ambitions drove them away from the world of hip hop.

"Piosenki po polsku" is the first album of their indie pop phase. Their musicianship is indeed remarkable, with jazz chords, articulate riffs, and beautiful melodies. The arrangements are littered with jangly guitars, a range of different keyboard instruments (organ, piano, synthesizers, Mellotron), and funk rhythms. 
Both relaxed and danceable, this chilled out album is one of the best emerged from the local scene in the last decade. It reached no. 30 on the Polish chart, being their first and only entry there.


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martedì 20 dicembre 2016

NIEMEN ENIGMATIC - "NIEMEN ENIGMATIC" [aka "NIEMEN", "CZŁOWIEK JAM NIEWDZIĘCZNY", "CZERWONY ALBUM"] (1971)

Known for its numerous titles as it didn't receive an official one at the time, this is the only album released under the Niemen Enigmatic name. It was the band's second album though, as they had also played on Czesław Niemen's "Enigmatic", from which their name was taken.

Niemen composed seven songs out of eleven, whilst the remaning were penned by band members Tomasz Jaśkiewicz (guitar), Jacek Mikuła (organ, piano), and Zbigniew Namysłowski (flute).
Some of the lyrics were written by poet and Polish music legend Wojciech Młynarski.

If you liked "Enigmatic", there's no reason not to try this one, as it represents its perfect sequel. Exciting progressive rock, distorted jazz-rock jams, excellent musicianship, and dramatic soul vocals by one of the best singers ever.

Even though it didn't generate huge hit singles as Niemen's previous works did, "Niemen Enigmatic" was the top Polish album of 1971, with nearly 100.000 copies sold. 


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martedì 13 dicembre 2016

SBB - "PAMIĘĆ" (1976)

SBB have been one of the most important Polish bands of the Seventies. They were founded near Katowice by Józef Skrzek (vocals, bass, keyboards), Apostolis Anthimos (guitars), and Jerzy Piotrowski (drums).

The power trio started its career as Czesław Niemen's backing band. In 1974 they released a live debut album titled "SBB" and based on a couple of jam sessions. Their second work, "Nowy horyzont" (1975), was recorded in studio. It presented the band as a strange hybrid of jazz fusion and symphonic prog. Influenced by both Mahavishnu Orchestra and Emerson Lake & Palmer, the album showed a strong potential but was ruined by a poor production (the bass parts mixing was particularly weak).

Both records sold well, and at the third attempt Skrzek and his friends could rise their ambitions. Not only "Pamięć" is their first album with an impeccable sound quality, but it also contains their most structured compositions up to that moment. The vocal melodies are just beautiful, and blend with exciting keyboard solos. Both complex and atmospheric, SBB's jazzy prog rock had reached its peak.

"Pamięć" was released on 27 September 1976 and managed to sell 65.000 copies by the end of December, consolidating the band's popularity.

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sabato 26 novembre 2016

KATARINA II - "KATARINA II" (1984)

This is Ekatarina Velika's debut album, released when the band was still called Katarina II.
It is a transitional work, that sounds a bit like Šarlo Akrobata (but without their experimental tension), and a bit like Ekatarina Velika's atmospheric efforts (but without their epicness). Still, it contains some great post-punk songs and Milan's voice is simply majestic.

Milan Mladenović - lead vocals, guitar
Dragomir Mihajlović - guitar
Bojan Pečar - bass guitar
Margita Stefanović - keyboards, vocals
Ivan Vdović - drums, percussion

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)