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Baby Grandmothers

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
3 stars It took 40 years until the musical legacy of the BABY GRANDMOTHERS was finally collected on a compact disc by the swedish Subliminal label. The band recorded two studio songs during a Finland tour in 1968 which were released as a single by a finnish label with small amount of copies. This vinyl is a much sought-after item for collectors today. This compilation is opened by them and Somebody Keeps Calling My Name and Being Is More Than Life are really ahead of time.

You will find a rare but unspectacular vocal contribution by Kenny Håkansson first and then the band is letting the music flow in the vein of Cream's live jams from the Wheels Of Fire album. But this is all spiked with spaced out portions where you can't believe that this is from 1968. It must have been very courageous in this period to present two jamming tunes coupled with some weirdness as the band's debut. Hence you may not find significant differences to the live recordings which are completing this release.

They are (with one exception) recorded at the legendary 'Filips' club in Stockholm, a breeding ground for new experimental bands. The following two long tracks are probably from the same gig because of some stylistical similiarities. Bergakungen is mostly provided with a repetitive hypnotic bass and a straight drum work where Kenny Håkansson is able to shine with his guitar skills and uncounted variations of the main theme - references to the Jimi Hendrix style included. The live version of Being Is More Than Life is extended as one can expect and sees a more virtuoso bass playing. St. George's Dragon starts with a weird guitar appearance and tribal drums later gliding into a furious finale.

60 minutes lasting psych jams ahead of time. But to enjoy this you really must be a die-hard fan. I pull off my hat though to their experimental approach. However - listening to BABY GRANDMOTHERS's music for one hour continously is a little bit too much and straining for me. Additionally the sound quality is not top-notch which is not unusual for live recordings from the 60s of course. All in all a good album recommended to collectors of early psychedelic music with a gusto for extended jams.

Report this review (#194259)
Posted Thursday, December 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This solitary artifact borne from spores of group Mecki Mark Men really blew my mind, Subliminal Sounds' gatefold double vinyl surging raw impressionistic psychedelic rock from the late 1960's days of Sweden. The band has a very strong trio playing style, similar to the sound of acid rock legends Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, from which the later one mentioned they warmed up on their Swedish tour. Aiming for mutual reactive playing, Kenny, Bengt and Pelle left the hit song try-outs far behind, and focused successfully to long, loose and trippy archaic improvisations. All players are very convincing, bringing much content to the sound, and both the raw crushing and tender melancholy of group's playing sucks a willing listener for a voyage to surreal world of impulsive sounds. Except for few wailings in the first track, the music is totally instrumental.

When compared for example to Träd, Gräs och Stenar, the approach is less Dadaist and not so minimalistic, and end results of jammings are in my opinion more concrete than the inventions of fine group referred. This band reaches also over 16 and nearly 20 minutes long aggressive bluesy stoner improvisations at the middle part of the album, and this kind of psychedelic imagination cannot get much better. The live treatments captured to the record culminates everything which is important and beautiful for me in the original psychedelic acid rock, breaking the gates of tamed produced rock music and causality yearning questions of logic mind; It is beautiful, strong, impulsive, contact, sincere, innovative, healing, human, and true. The improvisations are not pointless and boring, but constructive and full of powerful musical ideas and feelings. The sounds are quite raw, but I like the analogue tape recordings, and the sound of the trio is well balanced, guitar being slightly more forward than the bass, which can be heard well as it does not understandably play same notes as the lead guitar on an arena of instrumental trio jammings.

Recommended highly for all fans of raw psychedelic, reactive improvisational imaginative rock music, and also for those interested of original 1960's Swedish "Progg" scene. For me this discovery and listening it was a "religious experience", and resides among my all time favorite records.

Report this review (#201815)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Very attractive low-fi sound chandeliers they could show on their eponymous (and simultaneously their one and only) compilation album.

Their approach and movement are also very surprising - that can remind me not only 60s psychedelic scene such as CREAM, but also The Grateful Dead, the representative of "psychedelic stage" around 1970. Their masterpiece "Live Dead" - this material was just contemporary with BABY GRANDMOTHERS' sole single - with Gerry Garcia's drone guitar (I call him "Guitar Trailer" :-P) and Pigpen, Mickey and Bill's wet and lyrical drums and percussion, should twitter to me with the same message I always feel. Of course dunno if each band could much influence on the other one, but I'm sure the mainstream of psychedelic rock music (whether progressive or not) around 1970 should be such as their styles. That is, on the stickily persistent bass-line and percussion rhythm, they might play drone and eccentrically amplified sounds with the audience and...some medication?

Hailing this wonderful psychedelia, let me emphasize all of their songs be terrific, especially the third track Bergakungen as a reminder of Dead's trailing and rumbling guitar initiative in St. Stephan. First listening to this did let me assume that this song should be recorded as a live or studio-live one (and that's absolutely right!), and they might not play so lively without any audience otherwise I imagine? This song should be one of the most informative ones of all I consider. Also indeed fantastic are the first and second tracks Somebody Keeps Calling My Name and Being Is More Than Life in their only single, but sadly their sounds off the stage were collected smaller I feel - they should be an 'outside' outfit and should be a textbook of psychedelic progressive rock scene like The Grateful Dead.

Thanks Grandma.

Report this review (#254543)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars Baby Grandmothers is a band that formed way back in 1967. In the very short time they were together (1967-1968), they recorded one single and an album which is now considered an underground psychedelic classic. Since they never toured outside of Sweden except for opening for Jimi Hendrix in 1968, they never really gained worldwide popularity until 2007 when Subliminal Records got their hands on copies of their studio and live material and then released it as this album. So, the music you hear on this album is from those years, much of it had appeared on the classic album they released and also on the single. The band line-up from that original group was Kenny Hakansson (guitar), Bella Ferlin (bass) and Pelle Ekman (drums).

The album starts out with the two songs that made up the single. 'Somebody Keeps Calling My Name'. The single cut only lasted 7 minutes, but this album version is over 9 minutes. This is one of their rare songs that included vocals, and when you hear the vocals, you understand why. It's the psychedelic jams that this band was locally famous for and for what gave them the sudden delayed popularity some 40 years later. The recording is not the best, but it is what you would expect from the time that it was recorded (1968) for a live and probably soundboard recording. As is the case with much of their recorded material, the music starts with a slow jam and then about halfway through, it speeds up, becoming noisy and chaotic at the end. Even though the line up is pretty basic, the music packs a wallop, a noisy psychedelic, space jam of the style that Sweden made famous. 'Being is More than Life' is the flip side of the single. This one is more pensive and slow and over its 6 minutes, it becomes heavy with feedback and loudness with a solid bass line.

The next three tracks are the 'meat' of this album. They come from a performance at their regular concert venue, Klubb Filips in Stockholm in late October of 1967. This is where you get to really experience their heavy jamming power, starting with 'Bergakungen' (over 16 minutes), followed by a repeat of 'Being is More than Life', this time extending it out beyond 19 minutes. This was not a strange thing for this band as they were known to jam on for hours. These mind melting psych trips are excellent examples of the movement that was going on back then, and demonstrate where this sound that is so popular today came from. These people were the innovators, the pioneers of the psychedelic jams. The third track from this venue is a 7 minute jam called 'St. George's Dragon', a not-so-interesting and minimal sounding jam.

In order to prove that these were not just one off jams, there are two short tracks that provide snippets from another show in Finland in 1968.

After touring with Hendrix, the band dissolved into 'Mecki Mark Men' who would become the first Swedish rock band to tour the U.S. Hakansson would later be influential in creating the Swedish folk-psych sound. After the emergence of this album in 2007, Baby Grandmothers would put out a surprise album in 2018 called 'Merkurius', their one and only studio album. I highly recommend that album over this one mostly because of the better sound and production. However, the band would have forever gone unnoticed outside of their own home country, where they became one of the most influential groups to give us the psychedelic sound of Sweden that is so popular today. It's a shame that all we have now is this not so great sounding album to document their music from back in the day, but at least we have this recording and the band was willing to come together to do a more recent album. It's not perfect, but it is a better idea of how their music sounds in studio. This album, however, is a bit hard to listen to because of the sound quality, and the long jams can be a bit tiring. The album is valuable more as a historical context than anything else, but for enjoyment value, only hardcore psych fans or collectors will be interested.

Report this review (#2315605)
Posted Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | Review Permalink

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