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Tasavallan Presidentti - Tasavallan Presidentti CD (album) cover

TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI

Tasavallan Presidentti

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.66 | 36 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars TP is Finland's second-most important group of the 70's after Wigwam (both had English mother-tongued singers), but it was born out of the ashes of a previous band called Blues Section, when US singing-pianist Robson (whose voice can be reminiscent of Stevie Winwood) and bassist Goundstroem teamed up with brilliant guitarist Jukka Tolonen and the Aaltonen brothers (drums and winds). The debut album is strange and unfocused affair, where the blues crosses progressive rock, but there is also plenty of other musical references, from jazz to classical tidbits. Released in 69 on the inevitable (for Finland) Love Record label, the album sports a misleading Greek-mythical musician artwork on its sleeve, one that doesn't relater well to the music inside it.

The opening Robson-penned Back For More is a fairly good example of the mix of the album with a blues-derived voice and vocals over a prog riff, the whole thing not being that far from early Traffic, not only due to Robson's voice, but also Aaltonen's sax and flutes. The following Obsolete Machine and Who's Free are also like a bluesier and harder Traffic, but they lack the refinement of their inspiration. But the album takes a sudden dip with a crooner version (read involuntary pastiche) of Procol's Whiter Shade Of Pale with the near-atrocious Teddy Bear. The book-ending and amateurish-clumsy classical tidbits Crazy Things surround the prog-bluesy Drinking, where Aaltonen's flute and Tolonen's guitar solos take the spotlight.

Over the flipside, the hard-driving bluesy Driving Through track features some solid musical interplay, but it's not like we're in groundbreaking mood or anything. This could find space on a John Mayall's Bluesbreaker album, and this without the slightest disrespect. The album suffers another dramatic turn of ambiance with the cheesy narration over dissonant musical improvs during Ancient Mariner (check out David Bedford's version instead, but it came out much later), than another shift with the superb but heard-elsewhere (let you guess where, it won't be hard) Wutu-Banale, even if Steely Dan will sound a lot like this later. Woman Of The World is a hard-driving blues-rocker, where Robson sounds more like Gary Brooker than Winwood, but another untimely(and ill-advised) mood changes occurs with the rock-n-rolly Roll Over Yourself definitely ruins the album's cohesiveness. The closing Thinking Back is a fairly-dramatic (if a tad cheesy) piano-piece, oddly written by guitarist Tolonen, but played by him over bird noises.

Two non-album bonus tracks are included, most likely from a single released around the time (no details given), which are more or less in line with the album's overall mood and sound, especially the nice Solitary (again déjà-entendu), while the jazzy Traffic-like Deep thinker gives an enjoyable final touch to the CD reissue. A rather enjoyable but clumsy debut affort, it's a little unfortunate that most of the tracks on the album have a déjà-entendu or heard-elsewhere, but they are all attributed to the TP members. Certainly if they had not been Finnish and little heard-of, there might have been a few lawsuits thrown in. To be honest, it is limit-scandalous they got away with it. But this shouldn't take away the charm of this uneven and unfocused debut album that should spin once in a while in your deck.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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