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Embryo - Bad Heads and Bad Cats CD (album) cover

BAD HEADS AND BAD CATS

Embryo

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Rivertree
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Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions
3 stars This one turns into a very jazzy direction, however some experimental creepy approach is still there. In the 70's I saw Embryo live several times - each time it was surprising, amazing, turned into a differnt direction musically. Even some studio albums can catch this terrific live atmosphere. 'Bad Heads And Bad Cats' counts among them in my opinion. 'Nina Kupenda' and 'Klondyke Netti' are the highlights. A funky bass - keyboards sometimes similar to Wheater Report - the great Charlie Mariano on sax and flute.

The digital Disconforme re-release adds one extended bonus track Human Contact which absolutely enriches this album. A very surprising song - it looks like this jam was recorded during the same sessions, but rejected for the album release finally because of the restricted vinyl length, I assume. Yes - I'm quite sure because the end of the song is corresponding to Tag X fitting much better here by the way. The EMBRYO's are acting which much joy of playing here - stimulating each other, far away from aimless noodling - open-minded jazz rock stuff. The Garden Of Delights label has issued a new version in 2012 which showcases another bonus track, recorded live at 'Umsonst & Draußen' festival 1975 in Germany.

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Send comments to Rivertree (BETA) | Report this review (#49775)
Posted Sunday, October 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
3 stars Well I was never sure what happened with their prevous album Surfin', but something awfully wrong apparently and Embryo's output was never as brilliant as it was before that album. Having been told to stay away from that album many times by everyone I know, I've never heard Surfin' (the title sounded very suspicious too, so I was never intrigued either), but by looking at rating sites, something went awry and Embryo was never really as brilliant after. Even this album (a good return to their usual JR/F) failed to match WKO or Steig Aus and only Reise would match in quality, but let's face it by that time (79) Embryo was a white ethnic group more than the sizzling fusion band of their early 70's. So for Bad Heads, Embryo was sextet with Mariano and Hoffman as frontmen and through a weird artwork, their return to JR/F was partly successful. Actually this line-up is much reminiscent of the one that plated on WKO, three years earlier, if you'll except Hoffman and "guest vocalist" Archer.

Staring with the track Layed Back (sic), the group starts quite well its return with ex Missus Beastly Dieter Miekautsch's piano resonating brilliantly. The following 12-mins Nina Kupends is a long improve jazz jam where there are lengths (something that was never the case before) especially when the track nearly stops, but overall the group performance is quite impressive between the piano and Burchard's brilliant vibes, even though Maria Archer's vocals are not exactly my cup of tea, but she's no worse than Purim is in RTF. Closing on the sax-lead vitriolic title track, Embryo seemed to be heading for a masterpiece, but it takes time to get used to: indeed Archer sounds like a Bjork and the music could also easily come out of the Icelandic Siren as well, if it wasn't for Burchardt's brilliant marimba solo.

Unfortunately Embryo opens the flipside with Road Song, the same type of track, but this time, not only is the charm gone, but funky bass twist gives it an unbalanced attack, not helped any by its 6-minutes length. The equally lengthy After the Rain starts out on cosmic noises, but quickly grows into a mindless late 70's fusion, choosing cool virtuosity, rather than torrid interplay (here they sound like late RTF or mid-period WR), but at least Archer's voice is given a rest. Klondyke Netti seems born out of a Miles Davis jam, in which Eno would've crept out of the woodwork with a few phasors and make the whole thing a bit creepy. The album closes on a free jazz improve Tag X that fails to reach the 2-mins mark. The Cd Disconforme re-issue comes with a 17-mins improve JR/F that seems to copy closely the Klondyke track without the cosmic phasors. The track melts right into the album and brings an added value, even though there is an improve that could've been edited..

Not quite as successful as their previous masterpieces, Embryo came back to their normal level after a catastrophic Surfin', and if Bad Heads sounds a bit different, at least it was Embryo's will to try something else, having the guts to try it and talent to almost pull it off , bar a few details.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#173660)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
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Prog Metal Team
2 stars After the unpopular but IMO very interesting experimentation with "new wave" sounds on "Surfin", Embryo left innovation to another part of the world and they returned to their known world-fusion sound. But it didn't sparkle with the creative fire of their better days and they also traded in their quirky vocal style for more conformist and accessible soul and jazz singing. Quite a loss I'd say.

The opener starts with rather cliché piano jazz, Latin influences and vocals come in later on. It all reminds me of Santana's heyday, which is not an inspiring thing to do on 1976. The song isn't bad, just bland, missing the unique qualities I expect from Embryo. "Nina Kupenda" is much better and even features the last remnant of those loved kraut vocals in the opening part. A long jam follows in the middle section, where Embryo tries out more classic jazz material. It's not as bad as the calypso-drenched album that followed but it's not too remarkable either. Still, it gets really on fire near the end and it's one of the highlights here.

The title track is a smooth jazz song, not bad but too predictable, and disappointing from a band like Embryo. The album struggles forward with two forgettable easy-listening funk-fusion tracks: "Road Song" and "After The Rain". The mysterious "Klondyke Netti" on the other hand is what we want from Embryo: experimental, smoldering with tension, spacious and infectious. The 17 minute bonus track features lengthy solos from Bunka and Hofmann on guitar and sax respectively. It's a good bonus, better then most songs of the original album.

After doing things differently on "Surfin", the band folded back on its known recipes here. Unfortunately the quality isn't entirely back to the normal standard. The lengthier pieces are deserving but the tendency towards formulaic fusion and more accessibility aren't entirely a success. With the next album the decline would continue and the band would hit rock bottom. 2.5 stars.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#429148)
Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 | Review Permalink

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