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Wigwam - Tombstone Valentine CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.06 | 70 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars WIGWAM debuted in 1969 with "Hard 'n' Horny" which proved the band was up to speed with the psychedelic 60s and created a fairly interesting take on "Sgt Pepper's" psychedelia with a unique Finnish spin. While the band made some waves, the album ultimately proved to be a little behind in the psychedelia race that was quickly evolving as the 70s approached. It didn't take long before bassist Mats Hulden took off and was replaced by Pekka Pohjola who would help steer WIGWAM into more progressive territories but not quite yet. Likewise guitarist Nikke Nikamo jumped ship and no replacement could be decided upon so Jukka Tolonen of Tasavallan Presidentii stepped in as a guest musician to supply the needed guitar parts on the second album TOMBSTONE VALENTINE.

TOMBSTONE VALENTINE is very much a transitional album in WIGWAM's career. While the debut was a really decent slice of 60s psychedelic rock with some jazzy touches and the following "Fairyport" and "Being" are complex slices of progressive rock, this one is more of a grab bag of all kinds of disparate tracks that more often than not don't even seem like they are from the same band. In fact the completely out of place mini-electronic weirdness heard on the third track "The Dance Of The Arthropoids" wasn't even recorded by WIGWAM but rather was an experimental electronic piece recorded by Erikki Kurenniemi all the way back in 1968. Kim Fowley, the band's first American producer deemed it fitting to include it for whatever reason.

This album seems more like an archival release of unreleased tracks than an album itself displaying the turbulent times between their psychedelic and progressive rock years. Despite the fact that Pekka Pohjola is on board, this one doesn't display his brilliant bass playing techniques and the tracks vary from rather bland Grateful Dead sounding country rock such as on the title track, "Frederick & Bill" and "Autograph," the last of which includes the use of violin and banjo to "Let The World Ramble On" which sounds like some AOR hit single from the era reminding me of Seals & Croft or some other similarly insipid sappy ballad.

All is not lost for progressive rock however despite too many speed bumps in the way. "In Gratitude" offers up some rockin' chops that hints towards the leap of complexity that would take place on the following "Fairyport" whereas "For America" offerings a nice tasty serving of jazz-rock which would be teased out into more sophistication on the next album. "Captain Supernatural" resides somewhere in between prog, jazz and the more commercial rock that many tracks attempt to tackle. The last track appropriately titled "End" is one of the coolest tracks with a mystifying ambience and psyched out organ drive that sounds like the best of the 60s psychedelic scene taking you on a true trip but would've sounded more at home on the debut or on a Procol Harum album once the vocals start.

TOMBSTONE VALENTINE is quite the mess of an album with an atrocious lack of unifying theme. While the debut "Hard 'n' Horny" did seem like two different EPs stitched together with each album side retaining a different mood, somehow the album worked as a whole even if not perfectly executed. This sophomore release, on the other hand, is just all over the place jumping from proggy rock to experimental electronica and then to country rock and then off to jazz-fusion. While the cream of the crop of the tracks are quite decent, this album resides in between the psychedelic pop of the debut and the hardcore prog of the next album, therefore the pop aspects are dampened by the prog attempts and the prog is weak because of the pop. This was obviously an uncertain time where the band were reinventing themselves and wouldn't be ready for primetime until "Fairyport" but still has several enjoyable tracks despite the awkwardness.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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