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Out Of Focus - Palermo 1972 CD (album) cover


Out Of Focus

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Embarked on a Germanic culture promotion tour in Italy, OOF played some five or six gig in the peninsula, the last one being Palermo (Sicily) and it got recorded, even though some of it had to be thrown away due to an hilarious "cut the power" incident between the concert hall janitor and the band. The great Garden Of Delights released these tapes in 2008, placated a very average colour picture of the band and as usual took great care in giving all of the possible infos surrounding the gigs, hence the incident recounting mentioned above. Unlike many of the Live albums released by the label, the length of the session makes this release particularly worthy.

If you've been reading me for a while, you'll know I jumped on this album as soon as I heard of its release date, because OOF is one of those groups that have yet to find a flaw in their discography, even if out of their six albums, three are posthumous releases. This live album took place well after the release of their second eponymous album, which is about the time of their peak (arguably some will say the FLMA album is their apex), and I was expecting to hear a lot of that sophomore album. Surprisingly, only two of the six tracks are from any other albums of theirs (and both from the OOF disc), the other four being song projects interrupted by jams and extended solos. As usual with GOD releases, the sound is remarkably good, when not simply superb, and this is all the more enjoyable, because the disc allows us to see a side of the band that was not previously documented on disc before: OOF was as wild, energized and improvising on stage as they were in the studio and here, they played their set in continuity, most of the time linking their tracks together.

If the opening Whispering (taken from OOF) appears to be shortened from 13+ to roughly 9 minutes (not counting the first "crowd and adjustments" minute), but an extended Hennes Hering KB solo (this is close to a Moog experiment that Emerson would've done some two years before) links it with the (surprisingly?) Drechsler-credited Café Stilleto and its 13 minutes KB extravaganza. Again taking no time, the group unleashes into a Moran-credited groove (the I Want To See Your Face No More improv) where he pulls a lengthy flute solo, followed Spori's lengthy drum solo, directly leading in the Where Is Your Home Town improv with Moran pulling an excellent sax solo, joined by Hering's great underlining organ. There is a real track that was probably in the works in what I call the "improv", but obviously, it never saw the light of day.

The only time the group actually stops between tracks is at the start of Fly Bird/TV Program (taken from the eponymous album) that if extended, remains fairly faithful to the studio original, even if with OOF and certainly in the light of this release, such notion can be relative. The closing I'm Kissing Right (where the hell do they get their track titles??? ;o)) is probably the best "improv" of the album and might have been the closest to a future track, Moran not only having real lyrics and actually going wild on the scatting, yelling out his pleasure. I will allow just one comment on the attribution of track credits: on the three historic Kuckuck albums, the song-writing credits were all attributed to the full group, but in the three posthumous release, they are mostly credited to guitarist Dreschsler (a bit strange when knowing his guitar parts are not that determinant to the group's overall sound, but he was at the production desk) and sometimes Moran Neumuller.

So Palermo 72 gives us an excellent look at the live side of Out Of Focus, which seems not that much different from their studio facet, if you'll except an understandable looser and jammier mood on stage. While this live album might not be as strong as the three historic ones and Never Too Late, it certainly matches the usefulness of the Rats Road and is no lesss essential for progheads.

Report this review (#164993)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. This really is a treasure for those who appreciate this brilliant band from Germany. They released three amazing albums in the early seventies and it was some time after their second self titled release that they were sponsered by the "Goethe Institute" to take a tour of Italy. This happened in 1972. The concert in Palmero was the best one according to the band. The crowd really embraced them and didn't want them to leave. You can hear the crowds enthusiasm on this recording. Interestingly enough the caretaker of the venue walked across the stage after the first encore with a step ladder and unscrewed the fuse so that the band had no power. He got down and left. The band continued acoustically until the guitarist walked over and screwed the fuse back in, and away they played once more. Back came the caretaker who wanted to go home obviously and close the venue. This happened five times. The audience thought it was an act as they laughed at the goings on between the band and this caretaker. After the fifth time they just played acoustically for the audience that didn't want to go home. By the way the sax / flute player kept a diary of this tour which was used to give lots of detailed information (like the story I just mentioned) in the liner notes. Of the six tracks only two were recorded on an album (both from the self titled second album) while the rest will be new to fans. I find it interesting that we have a German band singing in English to an Italian audience.

I must say I was moved on two different tracks by the singers passion as he sang about human rights. He pleads on the first song "Please treat us right, please". And on "Fly Bird Fly" the over 20 minute political track where I completey agree with his views he gives a performance worthy of "Woodstock". The music here is absolutely incredible. The extended jams with sax, then guitar, then flute, it's all the kind of music I love. The Krautrock spirit is alive and well here on these Jazzy jams. All but one of the tracks blends into one another. They just played.

I would give 5 stars but the drum and organ solos go on too long for my tastes. I still dig them though. How about the fuzzed out organ on "Cafe Stiletto" where he solos for over 5 minutes. Each member though gets his turn to take the spotlight at some point. Even the singer on the final track screams and carries on. What a show !

Report this review (#282952)
Posted Friday, May 21, 2010 | Review Permalink

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