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THE INTERNATIONAL STORY

Grobschnitt

Symphonic Prog


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erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In the late Seventies I discovered a record store that sold German Progressive Rock (aka 'Krautrock'), within a very short time I had bought many albums from Jane, Novalis, Eloy and ... Grobschnitt, in my opinion the most unique German progrock band. A few years later I could witness a Grobschnitt concert on the German television, what great live band! On this brandnew 2-CD you can experience that dynamic and powerful live sound by Grobschnitt.

CD-1 opens with Die Sinfonie, a long track from their eponymous debut album, here you can enjoy a 1973 live version featuring that distinctive Grobschnitt progrock sound: fiery, rock based guitar, the strong, often English vocals (with that obvious German accent), the excellent, very inventive drumwork and the wonderful vintage keyboard sound. The next track is Nickelodeon (in a 1973 rehearsals version, originally on the 2-LP Ballermann from 1974) featuring top notch rock guitar, what a compelling soli! The final composition on CD-1 is the famous epic Solar Music (also from Ballerman) in a 53 minutes version, it sounds great and remains the highlight in the German progrock history for me, what a captivating and exciting music!

CD-2 contains 10 tracks like Ernie's Reise (10.56) and Rockpommels Land Finale (6.06) from the known concept album Rockpommel's Land, both from 1981 and we can enjoy a fine blend of acoustic guitar and varied keyboards. The song Silent Movie sounds fragile with acoustic guitar and soaring synthesizers. Another strong track is the final one entitled Magic Train (10.15) in a previously unreleased version from 1973: great interplay by guitar and keyboards and that distinctive voice, this is Grobschnitt in full splendor!

THIS IS A MUSICAL DOCUMENT, NOT TO BE MISSED BY ANY SERIOUS FAN OF THE GERMAN PROGROCK!!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#82975)
Posted Thursday, July 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Later Grobschnitt is releasing at least one album each year almost only with songs recorded during the golden days of the band... and 'The International Story' follows the same strategy used by the band to stay alive in our hearts... this new 2 CD live album is GREAT...

The first disc brings more olds performance, a fantastic - perhaps the best ever recorded - live version of 'Die Sinfonie', music from the first Grobschnitt record, 'Nickelodeon', from Ballermann and 'Solar Music Live', great version very similar to the original one.

The second disc is more up to date, more near to the second Grobschnitt fase... It starts with three songs of the fantastic and more symphonic 'Rockpommel's Land', beautiful versions, followed by four newer songs, 'Du Schaffst das Nicht' from "Merry-go-round' album, a very beautiful song which announces the musicality change in the band, 'Simple Dimple', 'Silent Movie' and 'Raintime' from the 'Illegal' album, songs that mixed symphonic prog, new age colors, ballad flavours, delicated moments, a different side of Grobschnitt, specially built for youngers fans. Then the brilliant 'Vater Schmidt in Wuppertal' from Jumbo, more funny and krautrock of these songs, 'Private Solar Excursion', another instrumental and great song.. and the previously never released beautiful live record of Ballerman's Magic Train.

If the first cd is indicated more for the olders fan because the Kraut/Space moments, the second is indicated for all fans, so the album is for everyone who likes the best of the progressive rock.

An album YOU must have.

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Send comments to Grobsch (BETA) | Report this review (#84276)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Among the plethora of posthumous compilation live albums presenting the different facets of this fascinating group are many releases that can be rather uninteresting for non-German speaking progheads, because the group was highly theatrical and held lengthy (and funny) monologues and dialoguing with their audiences. So the choice was of course not only possible but it was scaring away non-German fans. Eroc was plainly aware of this so he produced this double live (compilation) album without any of those dialogues. This is why this release is called International. This jammed-packed double- set is coming in cool digipack (sigh) and with a great little English only booklet with tons of photos and a short history of the group and a fully-detailed track listing.

The first disc is composed of the better material (especially for this proghead) and has tracks from the debut (the great Die Sinfonie), their second (the good Nickelodeon) and a 53-min (that right, 53!!!) version of their Solar Music (which was recorded on the same tour than the album that was released) which happens to be less moving (emotionally speaking) but happens to be much more energetic. This first disc gets an easy 5-star rating even if the execution of those three tracks is not flawless (but almost) but is very enthralling.

The second disc however is a much less interesting affair as it ranges from their (over- rated) Rockpommel's Land (but recorded in 81) to their 80's albums (which everyone agrees are of lesser interest to progheads). Actually , I must say that the track selection is surprisingly good and the rendition f those chosen songs are much more interesting than their studio versions. But we had known since their second Ballerman album that Grobschnitt's full potential was not to be captured in the studio. The first three Rockpommel tracks are actually more interesting than the studio version, but this does not make up for the Yes-derived songwriting. But actually the surprises come from tracks from the Merry-go-round and Illegal albums, which are fairly good (certainly overlooked and maybe under-rated) and are as enjoyable as Rockpommel. The last two tracks are reverting to much older recordings, one being an improv recorded in 75 and 73 rehearsals and are again pleasant surprises.

If you are not familiar with Groschnitt's career, this is exactly the live album that would give you the prefect intro. Not quite as stellar as Solar Music, Live, this IGS album has the immeasurable advantage to present most of Grobschnitt's discography and represent (albeit unevenly) every studio album in their 70's and early 80's era. What a great release, Eroc. Thank you for the pleasure.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#99876)
Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One thing is for sure; these guys like to play music... a lot of it. Sometimes that extended approach works for this fine German group and sometimes not. When the material becomes more jam than composition, things get a bit tiresome and the otherwise perfectly good music ebbs toward commonplace. But the more focused work, at least on this live collection, is outstanding and true to the sounds and spirit of classic Prog Rock, occasionally haunting everyone from Rick Wakeman and Pink Floyd to Genesis and Yes.

This impressive set spans 1972 thru 1981 and brings together selected performances, alternate mixes, and a couple vocal-less variations of recorded work from this group's repertoire of symphonic space rock. First up is a Hamburg performance of 'Die Sinfonie', an 18-minute number off their first record spotlighting the percussion of drummer Eroc and lead of guitarist Lupo, and though lackluster in spots it is the kind of warm, filling German rock that works its way into you and lingers for awhile. Even better is the organ attack and neo-classical fire of 'Nickelodeon', all instrumental, all great. The rest of disc one is taken up by the gigantic 'Solar Music Berlin', a 53-minute monster of heavy-duty, heartfelt drama and cabaret spectacle. The piece succeeds more often than it fails, and the very nice 'Ernie's Reise' opens the second CD with lots of theater rock, melodious guitar/keyboard parts and strong classical elements. Great symphonic/heavy symph on 'Severity Town' showing a perfect blend of keys, metal-minded harmonies, and precise Allman Bros-style fluidity. 'Du Schaffst das Nicht' and 'Simple Dimple' continue, two acoustic guitar numbers follow that, and more epic space opera and trippy theatrics in 'Vater Schmidt in Wuppertal', the jazzy 'Private Solar Excursion', and an instrumental take of 'Magic Train'.

All in all, a smashing retrospective of one of the best outfits in the German scene and though this set sometimes contains too much music, a great deal of it is worth the burden.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#141289)
Posted Monday, October 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Despite having been an avid prog head I don't recall hearing of these guys in the US during the 70's. My loss. The compositions are just as good as many of their English and American contemporaries. The main difference is they don't seem to take themselves as seriously as some of their peers did. The result is a bunch of solid, complex songs without pretension. They obviously had a lot of fun playing live. The guitar is out front most of the time but there is some excellent keyboard as well. At various times throughout the set there are similarities to Santana, Focus, Genesis and Rush. While not every song is an utter masterpiece there are no bad ones either. It's an enjoyable listen from beginning to end. Don't be concerned about the quality of the recording. It's very good.

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Send comments to epignosis11 (BETA) | Report this review (#182108)
Posted Tuesday, September 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A comprehensive overview of the legendary German band

Grobschnitt's story began in 1966 when a band called The Crew was formed with the three core members who would anchor them for many years. A few years later the band name would change and many successful albums and tours would follow. Grobschnitt were an almost entirely German phenom, rarely playing elsewhere, but they were very successful in their home country. Their mix of musical styles would evolve and encompass psych, symphonic prog, and hard rock. They built a significant cult following similar to the Dead or the Mothers, by incorporating humor, costumes, and long, explosive stage performances.

This double disc set features mostly live selections from the early 1970s to the 1980s along with some alternate takes. Disc one is the real party, with enough glorious 70s prog to make your mouth water. After "Die Sinfonie" and "Nickelodeon" we get a 53-minute live version of "Solar Music" which is something to hear. Many delightful moments remind me of bands like Nektar, Novalis, and Eloy. It blends heavier symphonic with often spacey excursions and is almost entirely instrumental. Like the bands mentioned above Grobschnitt occasionally lose me with their lack of immediacy and not always gripping jams. But there are great moments primarily for the guitar fans, some really expressive and juicy lead work. The drumming and bass are really enthusiastic and driving at times, energetic. The second disc is far less convincing. The highlight is about 25 minutes from the popular "Rockpommel's Land" album, but not even this touches the material on the first disc. Ultimately there are fine moments here but I'm never quite grabbed like I want to be, maybe I just need to keep trying. It should also be noted that this collection intentionally plays down some of the theatrical vocal/humor dialogues in an effort to provide more focus on the instrumental side of the group for newer international listeners, thus the title.

I've never heard a Grobschnitt studio album but my intuition tells me that this live overview may not be a bad place for noobs to begin. You get a musical overview that touches all of their important albums, an hour long version of their signature track, and a fairly well done band history in the CD booklet. The sound quality is very respectable. Simply by taste the band maxes out at 3 stars for me but I can understand those who are more enthusiastic.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#418376)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I think the band have released close to a dozen compilation albums with many being released the last few years.This particular one is highly thought of by fans as it spans their careers from 1972 to 1981 and is mostly live. I must admit the first disc is simply a killer 79 minutes of music. Only three tracks but it includes two classics in the 53 minute "Solar Music" suite along with an 18 minute track from their debut.These two are worth the price of admission. Unfortunately for me it's downhill from there. In fact because I own the debut which is a masterpiece in my opinion, and the classic "Solar Music Live" I already have the essentials making this double recording somewhat redundant. Over half of the second disc is taken from the eighties and to be honest while I like these songs they pale when compared to the first disc.

The first disc contains a psychedelic and jamming style of music that I love,while the second contains a lot of shorter vocal tracks and all of these(on disc two) would be considered "songs" as it were like on "Rockpommel's Land" that i'm not a big fan of. If your a major fan of this band then I would get this without hesitation, but i'm very content with the debut and "Solar Music Live" both of which I value highly. Both of these discs contain over 79 minutes of music each so yes it's packed full and we get a nice package with lots of pictures and info as well. For fans and more. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#453224)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2011 | Review Permalink

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