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Wigwam - Fresh Garbage - Rarities 1969-1977 CD (album) cover



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Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I would give the first CD five stars and the second CD three stars, so maybe fours stars is a realistic rating (why can't they be sold separately!). Here are some obscurer tracks that were released as singles (like "Pedagogi") and great live recordings ("Losing Hold" for example). Maybe the greatest track is the title song "Fresh Garbage", which has very peculiar rhythms and raw sounds. From the second disc my favorite is the epic "No New Games / Grass for Blades". There's also an informative booklet included, so this is a recommendable purchase!
Report this review (#22839)
Posted Saturday, April 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Go to this after you sample 'Fairy Port', 'Being' and' Tombstone valentine' (in this order). By then you'll be hooked (and if you are not at least you'll have their best album which is 'Fairy port'). Fresh Garbage only has a problem for's name. This no garbage at all. There is some serious writting and playing on this one ...and as always with this kind of 'digging' project, there are lots of surprises. Dig in yourself and enjoy this...(gulp!) ...stuff.
Report this review (#36823)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars One not very profound notion argues that, often, the most interesting bands are those where the individual members are pulling in different musical directions. Somehow, they just manage to hold it together - for a time, at least. The Beatles spring to mind, obviously. But lesser lights fit the bill also - Buffalo Springfield, the great 5-piece version of Spirit, the first incarnation of Weather Report with Vitous and Gravatt, the original Mahavishnu Orchestra. Wigwam are cut from the same cloth. The classic 4-piece line-up featured a tasteful, jazzy drummer; a proggy Zappa-esque bassist/composer; a soulful, Winwood-influenced organist/vocalist (albeit one with a penchant for complex song structures); and a gifted, if uneven, songwriter/vocalist with pop leanings. This line-up, with help from a mate or two, produced two of the finest examples of 70's Scandanavian prog.: 'Being' and the somewhat patchier 'Fairyport'. ('Being' is the better of the two quite simply because the variety of musical impulses are integrated more effectively than on 'Fairyport', where they tend to lie side by side, generating a kind of schizophrenia - or should that be quadrophenia? - from track to track.)

The later incarnation of the Wigwam - from late '74 onwards - tends to confirm another not very profound notion - that once things have blown apart, members of interesting bands, or re-jigged versions of the same, find it difficult to match up to the legacy created first time around. The constituent parts/later versions of the Beatles, Spirit and the Mahavishnus (McLaughlin excepted) clearly didn't, though we might quibble about Springfield and Weather Report. In Wigwam's case, with the possible exception of 'Nuclear Nightclub' (my entry point into the band, and thus a record for which I have a bit of a soft spot), later output never quite reached the exalted heights of the earlier albums.

Anyway, what do we have here? The first CD is the more interesting. It gets off to an inauspicious start with 3 pieces of rather average, psychedelically tinged rock from '69. Jukka Gustavson nudges the band into a more distinctive mode with the fine 'Pedagogi' (track 4); but it's early bassist Mats Hulden who really gets things moving with his 'Haato' from 1970, an entirely successful multi-sectioned effort. Quality drops for the next 3 tracks - all covers: the Band's 'Chest Fever' and 'King Harvest' and Spirit's 'Fresh Garbage'. The rest of the CD - tracks 9-15, also live - is first rate, featuring the classic line-up. Standouts include a blistering 'Losing Hold' from '71 and a genuinely magnificent reading of Jukka Gustavson's 'Fairyport' from '73. The vocal performance here is much more confident than the rather tentative effort on the studio album. This track - by turns, both deeply touching and irresistibly swinging - is worth the (fairly hefty) asking price alone.

The second CD, mostly featuring the post-'74 version of the band, is less compelling. Jim Pembroke's songwriting dominates and whilst the band is never guilty of producing anything less than tasteful, well- arranged rock, it lacks the quirkiness of Wigwam's best stuff. Guitar solos, hardly featured on the early material, tend to outstay their welcome. Tracks 8 and 9, though, see a partial reunion of the classic formation (minus Pohjola) and matters lift considerably.

As the distance in years becomes steadily greater, the '70's seems less a falling off from the high point of the '60's than a musical golden age in its own right. That is, at least until the combined forces of punk and technology made musicianship unfashionable/unnecessary. What other age produced output as interesting and diverse as that of Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Eno's Roxy Music, Genesis, Steely Dan, Bowie, the superb Italian prog. bands (Banco, PFM, Area and others), the Canterbury set (the Hatfields, the Softs, Caravan, Gilgamesh, et al), Magma, the Mahavishnus, early Weather Report and Return to Forever, Gentle Giant, Tasavallan Presidentti, the whole gamut of 'Krautrock' - and Wigwam?

In summary: not perhaps a set for the uninitiated, who would be better advised to start, like I did, with the more user-friendly 'Nuclear Nightclub' and work backwards. For me, though, this is 20 quid well and truly spent.

Report this review (#191798)
Posted Thursday, December 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fresh Garbage is a very comprehensive look to the original run of maybe the greatest prog band ever to come from Finland. But it's just not your typical compilation as it contains mainly rarities and live versions of well known songs which are not available anywhere else.

Our journey through the past starts from the first ever single of Wigwam, Must Be the Devil (with it's b-side Greasy Kids' Stuff). Very enjoyable pop music from the pen of Pembroke. After that follows Luulosairas, truly a classic in Finnish rock music. A bit more rare Pedagogi (a different version retitled in English as Pedagogue can be heard on Being) with the b-side Häätö. Especially the latter one is excellent with its weird spoken word parts and bizarre lyrics. After those the first disc continues with live Wigwam, taken from several concerts. Some of the songs are covers, some of them Pembroke's solo songs and some Wigwam songs. All are very good. My favourites must be the energetic version of Losing Hold, great cover of Imagine and then Marvelry Skimmer.

Disc two continues the journey to the deep pop era of the band. It's mainly live stuff, with certain exceptions (like Tram Driver/Wardance single). There's a lot of jamming going on in these clips, and a lot of it is excellent. It seems that they did a lot of Pembroke solo stuff live those days, but it's only good as the versions are so much better than on the original albums. For example Do the Pigworm benefits from the live environment, making the song much more organic than the studio version. The same applies for Just My Situation/Sweet Marie, A Better Hold, No New Games. The highlight of disc two is without a doubt the stupendously great and long jam version of Grass for Blades (combined with No New Games).

All in all, Fresh Garbage is a fantastic compilation of rarities and live stuff, but some of it a bit uneven. Solid grade of 4 stars.

P.S. The liner notes on the cd are very comprehensive and detailed.

Report this review (#282539)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This week I've been diving deep into the early WIGWAM (because of my book project on Finnish prog). I'm not transforming here any sections from my script, but I thought to give a little more detailed collaborator review on this 2-CD rarity compilation. It was compiled in 2000 by two Wigwam specialists; the other of them released six years later a comprehensive, 500-page book on Wigwam (in Finnish naturally). Here the liner notes are in English.

DISC ONE (1969-1973). Pembroke-penned 'Must Be the Devil' / 'Greasy Kid's Stuff' was the debut single preceding the arrival of Jukka Gustavson. The style is still close to BLUES SECTION [the legendary proto-prog band that gave birth to both Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti], and the B-sider is irritatingly merry psych-pop rally about blowing bubbles. 'Luulosairas' was the A-side of the second single, an early classic of Finnish-language rock, written by and dominated by the organ and vocals of Jukka Gustavson. His admiration for Steve Winwood (of Spencer Davis Group and Traffic fame) has never been as strongly present as on this song.

'Pedagogi' (1970) is a more developed Gustavson tune that later found its way in a completely different form into the marvelous Being album (1974). The B-sider 'Häätö' composed by bassist Mats Huldén is the proggiest individual song by Wigwam up to that point, combining Kalevala-like poetry reading of the Love Records leader Otto Donner and two different song parts sung - in two languages - by Gustavson and Pembroke respectively. These songs were the last ones in Finnish that Wigwam ever recorded.

Then follows some previously unreleased and sonically rather gritty live material, mostly covers (from e.g. The Band) but also from Wigwam's own output. 'Nipistys' originated from PEKKA POHJOLA's solo debut.

DISC TWO (1974-1977) covers the "deep pop" period led by Jim Pembroke, with the new guitarist Rekku Rechardt also composing. Clearly less interesting than the first disc, the big majority is live cuts; more boring compositions but at least a better sound quality. I agree with Eetu that the highlight is the 18-minute 'No New Games/Grass for Blades'. The only studio tracks are 'Tramdriver' and 'Wardance' from a single released in 1975. They are not on the level of the hit album Nuclear Nightclub that had preceded the single.

This is strongly recommended for the most dedicated fans, but for the others I advice to concentrate on the studio albums (with or without the so called deep pop era).

Report this review (#1469599)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2015 | Review Permalink

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