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Wigwam - Hard N' Horny CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.42 | 70 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The Finnish band WIGWAM was formed in 1968 by drummer Ronnie Österberg after his split from the band Blues Section. Immediately he recruited another member Jim Pembroke (a Brit) from the same band and formed a new musical entity that took their name from the famous Native American domed dwelling. The two would be the only constant members for the band's entire first formation from 1968 to 1980. WIGWAM has become famous in jazz-fusion circles for their albums with the adroit bassist Pekka Pohjola on board for his short stint of three albums ("Tombstone Valentine", "Fairyport", "Being") but don't expect any of that on their debut release HARD N' HORNY which sounds more like an album title that would grace an 80s glam metal band. This is a unique beast in the band's discography which displays an album's worth of well-crafted psychedelic and art rock tracks sung in both English and their native Finnish. The album was released in 1969 both with a bland yellowed piece of paper sleeve with the band name and album title sloppily scribbled with an giant exclamation point as well as with the much more appropriate and beautiful crimson based cover with a beautiful maiden depicted in an undefiled pose.

HARD N' HORNY is a testament to just how brilliant the band was before Pekka Pohjola joined the group and quite the surprise for the listener as one track after another is top notch late 60s psychedelic pop rock that delivers strong hooks, heavy doses of groovy freakiness and stellar musical and vocal performances. In fact, at this point WIGWAM was certainly Finland's answer to The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper" days excellently heard on the second side of the album that incorporates a stream of tracks that connect musically and lyrically beginning with "Henry's? Mountain Range Or Thereabouts." The album is a bit strange and not exactly uniform in theme although quite consistent in quality. It begins with the Finnish lyric tracks in a clearly psychedelic and jam band mode with a lazy and chilled bass and drum groove with some swinging 60s organ runs and becomes trapper on the next couple of tracks reminding me a bit of Procol Harum only with a different vocal delivery which in my favorite Finno-Ugric language makes it sound even trippier as the Finnish language has a strange rhythmic flow i'm not accustomed to.

The fourth track " Neron Muistolle; Hyvää Yötä" is the peak of the trippiness on the album as it contains a spoken dialogue of some sort between Marjoritta Gustavson and Jukka Gustavson in Finnish while strange piano rolls create a highly surreal background along with accompanying guitar squeals and slides. As strange as this track is, it does display the strong piano playing skills of Jukka Gustavson as the backbone of the song structures on board. The next few tracks are well-crafted psychedelic pop rock tunes that offer strong melodies, pseudo-classical keyboard parts and mid tempo 60s feeling songwriting with slight touches of progressive behavior meaning a few time sig changes here and there and some slight syncopation and jazzy type of structures. Beginning with "Henry's? Mountain Range Or Thereabouts" it begins to feel like a totally different album which takes on a Beatelesque "Sgt Pepper's" flair although more rooted in a psychedelic Pink Floydian type of space rock. The lyrics are surprisingly very good and one could hardly detect that these guys were Finnish although that may have something to do with Jim Pembroke being an English speaker from the UK. The remainder of the album goes through a few short movements that allow the band to exercise their psychedelic and pop hook chops with slight jazz and prog influences.

I was quite taken back by this debut as it is completely different from what came after and more often than not debut releases by 70s prog bands that debuted in the 60s are steeped in amateurism and banality but WIGWAM hits the ground running having developed a highly satisfying musical interactive experience that shows off their brilliant Finnish take on the British psychedelic and pop rock of the latter half of the 60s. The mix of the Finnish and British influences from the band members blends quite well together and it's no surprise that with the magical ingredient of Pekka Pohjola jumping on board that the band would go on to become one of Finland's greatest prog exports. I find this an excellent listen from beginning to end which more than holds up on repeated listens although it does feel like it is two different EPs strewn together as each half of the album is distinct from the other. Despite the album being slightly disjointed in theme and structure along with a rather misfitting title, i find HARD N' HORNY to be a brilliantly constructed album that with a little help from a musical director in a more connected country could have propelled these guys into the international pop rock scene. That was not to be but on this one we have one of those glimpses of what could have been.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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