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Tasavallan Presidentti - Tasavallan Presidentti CD (album) cover


Tasavallan Presidentti


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.74 | 61 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Soon after WIGWAM had released their debut single in the spring of 1969, the other Finnish prog giant TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI was founded -- by the young, highly gifted guitarist Jukka Tolonen together with his cousin and bandmate, drummer Vesa Aaltonen. Just like Wigwam, also TP was born from the ashes of the groundbreaking band Blues Section; it was most likely the former BS bassist Mns Groundstroem's idea to invite the British vocalist Frank Robson, who had replaced Jim Pembroke in the last stages of that band in 1968. Before Robson's return from England, Groundstroem suggested the addition of saxophonist-flautist Juhani Aaltonen. The foursome was't satisfied with the original band name Balloon, so they phoned a certain guy who was good at inventing names. The chap was reading a newspaper at the moment, and his first suggestion was Uutiset ja S (News and Weather), but "The President of the State" indeed sounds more serious. Urho Kekkonen himself gave his acceptance to the name. The group's first gig took place in the midsummer of '69, and the LP, produced by the Love Records leader Otto Donner, came out in December.

Despite some stylistic uncoherence, the album is a strong evidence of the band's excellent musical competence. As a brief intro there's an elegant flute melody backed by acoustic guitar, before the meaty jazz-rock starts. The second track 'Obsolete Machine' is my favourite of the album, with its fascinating rhythm pattern, Clapton-like electric guitar, fresh-sounding flute and the bluesy vocals of Robson, comparable to Gary Brooker and Steve Winwood. The blues oriented songs were mostly written by Robson and Groundstroem. The latter shows some will to experiment in his instrumental outburst 'Crazy Thing No. 1' and in the atonality of 'Ancient Mariner'. Groundsroem wrote also the beautiful rock ballad 'I Love You Teddy Bear' and the gorgeous final instrumental 'Wutu-Banale'.

Tolonen was to become a notable composer a bit later; here he offers a romantic, birdsong-flavoured 'Thinking Back' in which he plays his first-learned instrument, piano. The album's reception was warm and it received favourable reviews abroad too. Personally, I like it more than their second eponymous album, but I prefer the third, more complex prog album Lambertland with the new vocalist Eero Raittinen. Blues elements don't generally interest me very much, but this innovative album has more than that. An important early classic in Finnish rock music.

Matti | 4/5 |


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