In The Land of Free, we still keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"


Monday, July 22, 2013

Life - Spring (1971 germany, rough 'n' hard rock)



"The story of Life and their only album 'spring' began sometime early 1971 after Christian Burchard from Embryo visited composer, musician, producer, sound engineer and artist Julius Schittenhelm in his Munich studio. In his forthcoming autobiography Julius Schittenhelm writes about the beginning of Life, the difficulties of the LP production and the abrupt end of the band.

'Once again Christian Burchard came to my studio romancing about an American Trio called 'The Wedge' that wanted to make a record in Germany. When I met them they were only a duo - the bass player had gone back to America. The band leader, originally the drummer and lead singer, was called Linus, he spoke German with a strange Frankfurt accent was now a rhythm guitar player. He was of average build like myself, had a scarred face, large nose and a tough look. The second man was called Jason and was half Red Indian. He played lead guitar, sang backing and sometimes lead vocals. They soon found a drummer, Marcel Mohr, and a bassist, Gernot Pilz who both came from the Munich area. Gernot was also a press photographer. 

An opera singing couple from the Munich suburb of Schwabing had set up a studio and practice rooms in their cellar in Martiusstrasse which they rented out at affordable prices. This is where the band practiced. The music was Rock 'n' Roll with slight Country influences, not exactly my sort of music but fashionable and on the up.

Most of the songs were written by Linus, three were from Jason and one from Gernot. Linus was a perfectionist and thus the band needed a few months for the precision he found was required for a record production.

At the beginning of July the Rock 'n' Roll musicians were in perfect harmony with each other so we could start recording. This took place in two of the Martiusstrasse practice rooms. I used 2 Revox machines switched on simultaneously to record four channels at once.

An electrician I met by chance built me a circuit board with which I could synchronise the Revoxes using a remote control. Until then I had been operating the two machines using two fingers and for the third one I needed help with some 'one-two-threes' and was happy when it worked. The third machine was for the mix.
It took a whole hot summer month until all the tracks were in the can. 

After all the tapes were carefully numbered and catalogued we started mixing and at the end of July the master tape was finally finished. Linus, who had a way with words, started dealing with CBS. To look good we rented a big Mercedes. Bandleader Linus and myself as Producer, Sound Engineer and Chauffeur drove to Hamburg.

Once we got to CBS we didn't have to wait long and played the demo tape straight away. The manager responsible for Rock 'n' Roll seemed to like it and also Linus. Anyway a contract was signed, luckily without me. There was a substantial advance and from this I was paid for my work. The band was named 'Life' and the LP 'spring' was released. An extensive promo tour followed. I have no idea how many or even if any records were sold. Mohr had done his work and left.

Through the summer we had further recording sessions for the second LP. On New Year's Eve 1971/72 the CBS manager drove under a lorry and was killed. His successor didn't like the music or the band and stopped the project. In February 1972 the band broke up during an Italian tour. There must have been some pretty hefty arguments going on as they arrived back separately. Linus packed up his stuff and apparently disappeared to Sweden. The first I heard from him since then was in June 2002 when we were planning this CD. He is still a musician and he told me that Jason was living in the States'.

During the research into this album Julius Schittenhelm discovered tapes, believed lost, that he produced with the other recordings in the Munich cellar. From these recordings we have chosen 3 as bonus tracks for this CD and the others will appear on future releases."
by Manfred Steinheuer


Tracks
1. Tantalizing Sensation - 3:49
2. Laverne's (Jason) - 1:49
3. Dream Machine - 6:17
4. Mean Woman (Jason) - 3:19
5. Hawaiian Jack - 6:18
6. Honeydrippin' Boogie Woogie (Linus, Gernot) - 3:09
7. Then I Am, Pt. 1 - 2:56
8. Then I Am, Pt. 2 - 1:31
9. My Discovery (Jason) - 4:11
10.Talkin' Bouta Woman - 6:06
11.The Last Song (Gernot) - 3:08
12.Headhunter Blues (Life) - 7:24
13.I Don't Want To Be Your Fool Anymore - 4:07
14.Where Are You Headed? - 5:07
All songs by Linus except where noted

Life
*Jason - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Linus - Drums, Vocals
*Gernot Pilz - Bass
*Marcel Mohr - Drums

Free Text

7 comments:

adamus67 said...

The story of this singular album began in Munich in spring (!) 1971 when composer, artist, songwriter and producer Julius Schittenhelm (worked also for Embryo, Guru Guru, Amon Düül 1, Annexus Quam and Floh de Cologne) got a visit by Christian Burchard slobbering over a band of American Germans called „The Wedge“ that intended to do a record in Germany.

When Schittenhelm met them unfortunately the original trio just consisted of the drummer/lead singer „Linus“ and lead guitarist „Jason“ since the bass player had disappeared back to USA already. Linus exchanged drums with rhythm guitar and soon after two local guys had been found for drumming (Marcel Mohr) and for bass (Gernot Plitz) and the band LIFE was born.

Under quite amateurish conditions they recorded the songs for their debut. The band gave a couple of concerts after and recorded a few more songs for a planned second album which finally found some place on this CD re-release presented here (tracks 12-14). In 1972 they disbanded during a tour through Italy and the musicians vanished in the haze.

Now let’s speak about the material presented here. Just to make things clear, it ain’t anything that can be considered what we usually know as Krautrock (might be redundant for connaisseurs of this particular sub-genre to mention that not everything „made in Germany“ during early 70‘s can be classified as such). Instead what we have here can be easily described as quite standard proto-prog that is a not so bad mix of westcoast/psychedelic blues-tinged rock’n‘roll with some nice trippy flute added-up. Just imagine a combination of Edgar Broughton, early Tull with Paint it black/Sympathy for the devil-era Stones. Though this release might be a bit disappointing for the advanced prog listener and in particular for the specialised Kraut-fan it‘s nonetheless a quite enjoyable one for a couple of spins. There isn’t any free-form experimentation to be found on here but some songs have quite appealing extended jammin‘ parts with track lengths crossing the 6-minute mark. At least for me the most attractive features were the really great flute play and the occasional mouth-organ as well some sax in the jazzy „Last song“. Best songs are „Dream Machine“, „Then I Am“ and „Hawaiian Jack“, most redundant ones the three added bonus tracks. Production quality is very good considering the non-professional recording conditions. Schittenhelm, who’s in his eighties meanwhile by the way and still doing some experimental avant-garde music did really a great job here.

Hajul Ellah said...

Thank you very much. The most important music blog around.

kobilica said...

Never heard it before and it's great.Thank you for such fine albums...

Sergey said...

thank you very much!

guinea pig said...

Thanks.

DanP said...

Quite the story! I'm gonna give this a listen. Thanks!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks Marios, asked some time back for this album and finally it's here... :)

/Cathy