Night Sun – Mournin’ (1972)

NightSun_Mournin4 out of 5 Stars!

Back in 1972, this German band released its one and only album.

Because of the thick Hammond organ and Psych guitar, Night Sun reminded me (primarily) of other German acts such as Birth Control or Lucifer’s Friend (its debut album), only heavier. Much heavier, actually. Just listen to the two slamming opening tracks—”Plastic Shotgun” and “Crazy Woman”—and hear what sounds like Birth Control meets Deep Purple in a marriage of fuzz guitar and Hammond, with phased drums and thumping bass in the background along with a vocalist not afraid to belt out the lyrics like his very life depended on it.

One of my favorite tracks, “Got a Bone of My Own,” starts with eerie instrumentation preceding a killer riff, both immediately bringing to mind the debut Black Sabbath album, the album where Ozzy and company clearly displayed Blues inspirations. Is this what Deep Purple may have sounded like had the group had Tony Iommi on guitar delivering his “evil” riffing? One can only guess.

“Slush Pan Man” shows even more of Night Sun’s own Blues-based influences when it comes to the sound, but again, wrapping them up in a catchy, memorable Deep Purple-like riff that would have fit right at home on the In Rock album.

Side B opens with another monster track named “Living With the Dying,” which somehow reminds me of Led Zeppelin, only with more of a Deep Purple feel, due mainly to the organ. And once again, those phased drums pop up in the middle of the song, playing a rather extended solo bit before the guitar and Hammond trade their own heated solos prior to the final verse.

“Come Down” opens with a moody organ background before the singer lays a pretty melody over the top of it, momentarily adding a welcome break from the frantic madness of the previous track. Before long, however, this ballad turns into a mid-paced rocker in the best tradition of early Lucifer’s Friend or Birth Control. This is another of my favorites.

Some additional organ and guitar solos pop up on “Blind,” another blues-based song that conjures up the same style as Deep Purple’s “Lazy.” While “Nightmare” is a fast-paced slammer (similar to Deep Purple’s “Speed King” in pace and style). Here the Hammond organ is given a chance to truly shine and the singer even produces some screams in an attempt to replicate Ian Gillan’s unique vocal delivery.

The album closes with another rocker called “Don’t Start Flying,” which surprisingly brings in a sax, adding yet another dimension to the band’s overall sound. Can you picture a song by Deep Purple with an in-your-face sax wailing throughout? Hard to imagine, I’m sure, but this is probably what it may have sounded like had Deep Purple attempted it.

Anyway, since some of the songs here have a touch of Progressive Rock included, I can’t help wondering what Night Sun might have produced had the band stayed together for at least another few albums. Would the group have gone more Prog-Rock or continued on with the Blues-based Heavy Metal sound, or would Night Sun have continued to perfect an equal blending of the two genres? Who knows. The band had great potential.

 

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D’AccorD – An Overview

DAccordAlbums In My Collection

– D’AccorD
– Helike
– III

An Overview

Upon first listen, one might think this current Norwegian band existed about 40 years ago, since their style is eerily reminiscent of a time in music when the sound of Genesis or Yes using a Mellotron, for example, inspired so many music lovers to jump on the Prog-Rock bandwagon. Along with the mighty Mellotron, the band also incorporates other vintage keyboard sounds (Hammond, electric piano, etc.), flute and sax, and heavy guitar reverb that tips a hat toward Pink Floyd atmospherics. Indeed, D’AccorD’s production brings to mind the olden days of analog recording equipment, and even the cover art on their albums looks retro.

The band is also not afraid of stretching its musical muscles when inspiration strikes, mixing some “normal” shorter tracks with a few extended pieces. Indeed, their second release, Helike, is comprised of only two tracks—”Helike, Part 1″ and “Helike, Part 2,” each surpassing the twenty-minute mark—which, combined, become one mega epic. But whether the songs are short or extended, no one can accuse the band of not being daring and even adventurous, as each track shows their capabilities throughout various styles and atmospheres, some powerful, some mellow, and all of them well-performed, ambitious, and full of musical depth.

The band has developed a sound that reminds me of a Prog-Rock act such as Birth Control, Jethro Tull, or Genesis melding together with a Hard Rock troop such as Deep Purple, Bloodrock, or Uriah Heep. In many ways, D’AccorD is similar to other “retro-sounding-bands” like Siena Root, Presto Ballet, Black Bonzo, or Hypnos 69, successfully incorporating the classic sounds and production techniques of bands from the 60s & 70s, adding a touch of Stoner Rock, a bit of Psychedelic Rock, some Jazz-Rock, a whole lot of Heavy Prog, and whisking music lovers back to the time when Prog-Rock began.

Hell, when listening to any of the band’s releases, you can almost smell the weed burning in the background…

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Witchwood – Litanies From the Woods (2015)

Witchwood_Litanies4 out of 5 Stars!

A fun and impressive debut from this Italian band, firmly steeped in the style of 1970’s acts such as Deep Purple, Birth Control, Uriah Heep and Omega (mainly due to the Hammond and synth sounds), some Led Zeppelin (during quieter moments, thanks to the inclusion of mandolin), along with a healthy dose of Jethro Tull-esque Heavy Prog-Rock (thanks to the addition of flute). The band also tosses in some Psychedelic Rock elements on a few tracks, thus adding an extra dimension to their overall sound. Even the vocalist (singing in English and accent-free) seems like he would be perfectly at home fronting a blues-based band from the 70s.

Therefore, for fans of recent Retro-sounding acts such as Presto Ballet, Siena Root, D’Accord, Black Bonzo, etc., you’ll probably find much to enjoy here.

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Birth Control – An Overview

BirthControl

Albums In My Collection

– Backdoor Possibilities
– Birth Control
– Count On Dracula
– Deal Done At Night
– Getting There
– Hoodoo Man
– Increase
– Operation
– Plastic People
– Rebirth
– Titanic
– Two Worlds

An Overview

Anytime a band has released material for as many years as Birth Control (formed in Germany back in 1968) one would expect a great deal of inconsistency in its sound/style, especially when countless personnel changes within the band occur and music trends change globally. Therefore, for fans of Prog-Rock unfamiliar with this band, be prepared when delving into its vast catalogue that the quality and material vary greatly from decade to decade.

For me, most of the band’s early releases, its “classic/glory period”—especially the albums Operation (1971), Hoodoo Man (1972), Plastic People (1975), Backdoor Possibilities (1976), and Increase (1977)—were great slices of Heavy Prog-Rock. In those days, the band had a profound Deep Purple/Bloodrock/Lucifer’s Friend type of sound, with some funky rhythms and touches of jazz and even classical music thrown in, giving Birth Control a style all its own. And with his powerful voice, singer Bernd Noske (also the drummer) gave the band an instantly recognizable sound. Also, on my favorite Birth Control release (Backdoor Possibilities), the band went one step forward in its experimentation by incorporating some Gentle Giant influences into several tracks. Outstanding material overall.

After this classic period, however, the band (facing drastic changes in the music industry) attempted to keep itself relevant by changing its sound to more of a straight-forward AOR type of band and actually toying with—gulp—disco rhythms. Yes, you read that correctly, disco rhythms! Gag. Although, mind you, the four studio albums released from 1978-1982 weren’t completely horrible, just rather lackluster and, with that disco flirtation in the late 70s, a bit too much for me to bear. I quickly lost interest in the band during this period.

But then, the band disappeared for more than a decade, only to reemerge in 1995 with a heavy album once again. And with singer/drummer Bernd Noske still at the helm. Up through its final album in 2003, Birth Control sounded rejuvenated with an updated organ-dominated, Deep Purple-influenced, Heavy-Prog sound. And the band’s last four releases were better than average. Still, nothing quite beats the “classic/glory period” as described above, which I wholeheartedly encourage fans of Heavy-Prog to investigate.

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