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Grobschnitt

Symphonic Prog


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Grobschnitt Ballermann album cover
3.65 | 102 ratings | 21 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

Record one: (40:00)
1. Sahara (5:33)
2. Nickel-odeon (9:14)
3. Drummer's dream (6:11)
4. Morning song (5:42)
5. Magic train (13:20)

Record two: (33:26)
6. Solar-music part 1 (17:28)
7. Solar-music part 2 (15:58)

Total Time: 73:26

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Stefan Danielak (Wildschwein) / lead vocals, guitar
- Joachim Ehrig (Eroc) / drums, percussion, voice (1), electronic f/x
- Volker Kahrs (Mist) / keyboards
- Gerd-Otto Kühn (Lupo) / lead guitar
- Bernhard Uhlemann (Bär) / bass

Releases information

cd. Brain 843 076 (1989)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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Symphony Live 2012Symphony Live 2012
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Rockpommel's LandRockpommel's Land
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GROBSCHNITT Ballermann ratings distribution


3.65
(102 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
25%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
47%
Good, but non-essential (20%)
20%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

GROBSCHNITT Ballermann reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In 1974 GROBSCHNITT took the 30 mins+ rock opera "Solar Music" into the studio and along with 5 other choice cuts released "Ballermann". Although I too love the now many versions of "Solar Music", the studio version represents yet another excellent interpretation. With very much prototypical GROBSCHNITT sounds, this album delivers dreamy symphonic landscapes marked with great musicianship and their signature delivery (as well as a bit of creative silliness along the way). I know this album is often forgotten and lost in the shadow of "Rockpommel's" and "Solar Music Live", but musically this album is very reminiscent of this output and is yet another bit of genius from one of my personal favourite bands of all time! This is an essential album and should be in everyone's frequent play list.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#19502) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 08, 2004

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
4 stars Grobschnitt's second album leaves people very divided but the band's Oeuvre in general does too. As I wrote my review of their debut, some new reviews came in to counter mine and the reviewer shot at this album also. Unfortunately, those reviews are negative and obviously based on too few listening of the record and lacking the second degree Grobschnitt sense of humour. Beside of almost lacking respect for the artists concerned.

The only thing I can agree with that reviewer is that this second album is not as good as the debut (this may not be the opinion of the majority, though) but still well worth the 4 stars. Yes, Sahara is strange but represent a facet of Germanic culture as this is clearly a wink at Cabaret songs, Marlene Dietrich-way, that Liza Minelli took to fame also. Amon Duul II also devoted an album to this. Drivel!?!?.....that afore-mentined review is drivel.

As for the rest of the tracks they typical prog tracks but I find that they are slightly less inspired than the debut mostly to the second drummer Harlos leaving and changing of KB player. Grobschnitt had almost disbanded after those departures. If Nickel-odeon, Drummer's Dream, Morning Song and Magic Train are not all that great (something is lacking, my Guess is enthusiasm), they are still good tracks but sounding more Genesis than their fusion- laced debut.

And then comes the studio version of the main Grobschnitt theme Solar Music. Many have tendency to overlook this version because of the many live version (and they are partly Right) because it is too subdued due to the studio environment. I personally think that this is a peak in Grobschnitt's career.

Much worth a spin!!

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#19505) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2005

Review by Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With the addition of keysman Volker "Mist" Kahrs, the Grobschnitt sound began to take shape. The "wacky" side of the band is immediately apparent on the hilarious "Sahara", featuring creepy slowed-down vocals from Eroc. From then on, it's a wild ride of keys-and-guitars prog. Definitely a lot more symphonic than their debut, with little of the hippie feel of their first (the folkish "Drummer's Dream" comes close). Yes seems to be the dominant influence (Lupo even offers a whimsical quote from "Yours Is No Disgrace" in the middle of "Nickel-Odeon"), and the disc peaks with the lengthy and adventurous "Magic Train", which does indeed take the listener for a ride.

The second disc of the original double LP is dedicated to a 33-minute version of the live concert favourite piece "Solar Music". A cosmic, jamming-oriented piece, it's sort of their "grand farewell" to their earlier, more "Krautrock"-oriented style, and is something of a minor classic.

It was not, however, to be the definitive version of the piece, as we shall soon learn.

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Send comments to Progbear (BETA) | Report this review (#45534) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, September 05, 2005

Review by Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Grobschnitt's transitionnal album. Ballermann features very good tracks representative of the Krautrock movement, especially the masterpiece epic Solar-Music, as well as weaker symphonic progressive moments.

The first record opens with the humourous speech announcing the song Sahara. "Isn't it nice ? Yes it is !". The tune sounds like a mixture of russian melody and middle-oriental feel. Despite strange vocals, the track is quite pretty and epic, in the vein of Camel and early Eloy. "You'll find Ali Baba". The second song is the most achieved piece of the disc. It features top-notch space rock in a jazzy way, worthy of Rush's great instrumental moments. With many changes of ryhtms and musical themes, the tune calms down with the apparition of crying vocals. Beautiful melancholic passage. It ends with a catchy melody which could have well escaped from a Yes song. But then, the disc shows its weak part. Drummer's Dream contains enjoyable instants, but sounds sometimes too light. The next track, Morning Song wants to ressemble to Genesis but is a bit repetitive and irritating. The first disc ends with Magic Train, which alternates good passages and cheesiness. The song is difficult to enter in and hard to follow.

Mostly instrumental, the second record features the 32 minutes space rock epic Solar- Music, which will later be the subject of the best live performance from the band and a great progressive act of the late 70s' ! The introduction is very energic and rocky, a genuine collision between asteroids ! The rest of the song will feature great variations and improvisations on a beautiful delicate spatial theme reminiscent of Pink Floyd's Careful With That Axe, Eugene. Very psychedelic, a journey in the universe between stars explosing ! Powerful and mindblowing ! The ending section is very smooth and melancholic... If you like it, I highly recommend you to listen to Solar-Music Live, where the piece is extended to more than 50 minutes with new variations in it !

Ballermann is an inegal album showing both Grobschnitt's space and symphonic sides. A cross-over between their debut album and Rockpommel's Land. Recommended to fans of Krautrock and Space Rock, especially for the superb Solar-Music suite ! 3,5 stars !

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Send comments to Modrigue (BETA) | Report this review (#110666) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 04, 2007

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars COME ENJOY THE GROBSCHNITT WORLD.

After their excellent debut, GROBSCHNITT came back with a double LP album named BALLERMAN. 5 songs comprise the first LP as the second LP offers us the first version of their trademark masterpiece, a studio rendition of the fantastic SOLAR MUSIC which would become very popular 5 years later with the definitive SOLAR MUSIC-LIVE album.

A few changes of personel have occured since their first album as EROC is the only one drummer now and VOLKER KAHRS nicknamed ''MIST'' has taken over the keyboards. Like the first album, BALLERMAN is a mix of diverse styles of music blended together for a new great unique GROBSCHNITT experience going from drunks in a beer fest athmosphere to the most delicate symphonique sounds not forgetting weird spacey psychedelic jams.

The sound is more subdued than on their furious debut as the ''Santana'' groovy rythms and loose guitar sounds have disappeared for a more polished, more progressive approach. However the typical GROBSCHNITT sense of humor is well present with the opener,the hilarious SAHARA. Not that this song will win any prog awards, but at least it's funny with EROC narrating like a drunk with a VERY strong German accent. Who said Germans are no fun? at least the members of GROBSCHNITT are. But that's not this beer fest song that will give 4 stars to this album, even reducing the chances of doing better.

NICKEL-ODEON brings us back to old Grobschnitt with a good strong guitar helped by lush organ tapestry then a very, very powerful vocal performance from WIDSCHWEIN follows helped again by tasteful guitar playing. WILDSCHWEIN sings his heart out, cries his heart out i should say in a very moving way. He sounds like he is ready to commit suicide or that he has lost everything that was dear to him. Not a song to cheer you up for sure! but a beautiful one showing us that GROBSCHNITT can also deliver emotions and sound serious. The keyboardist is great and helped the music sounding richer than before, but once again LUPO the guitarist is the hero going from frenetic hard rock to melancholic introspection.

DRUMMER'S DREAM sounds more like future GROBSCHNITT -Rockpommel period- a mid-tempo ballad with symphonic arrangements overcoating an average melody.LUPO and MIST again do a good job with their respective instruments. As long as you can go along with the voice of the singer ''WILDSCHWEIN''.

MORNING SONG follows the same pattern than DRUMMERS DREAM, a psychedelic ballad very bucolic with acoustic guitar, clavinet and sweet vocals.The 13 mns long MAGIC TRAIN opens with a beautiful classical piano solo from Mist, a divine pleasure cut by the apperance of Wildshwein vocals and guitar breaks from LUPO and a long athmospherique journey not bad but not that great either. This is a good song but could have used a little more creativity and spontaneity imlo. Some reviewers mentioned GENESIS regarding this song, but as i have never been a great GENESIS fan anyway, i can't say much.

The highlight of the album is of course this studio version of SOLAR MUSIC which lasts 33 mns....still far away from the 80mns from the live album.Sure all the main themes of this fantastic piece of music are present here but it is in no way the definitive version as the live one is something out of this world blending power, creativity, weirdness, successful experimentation, ultimate musicianship: the most trippy album of all time.

Nonetheless, this is a good way to start with SOLAR MUSIC if you haven't heard of it yet! This is a spacial journey with all the elements i mentioned that make prog music great.This is beautiful themes after other beautiful themes, all played with passion,enthousiasm living a lot of room for -wellthought and calculated- improvisations. When listening to this suite, i think of the title of thsi movie: SPACE ODDYSSEY. That's exactly what it is, but not in the cosmic way of TANGERINE DREAM and other KLAUS SCHULZE. There is beautiful guitar to be heard here, great drums works and of course very spacey keyboards and a very few weird vocals as SOLAR FIRE is mostly an instrumental prog festive mayhem. There is sheer power in SOLAR MUSIC.

I will stop here celebrating this monument as i still have to review the live album, their definitive album, the GROBSCHNITT masterpiece. I would give 3 stars to the first LP and 5 of course for SOLAR MUSIC, so BALLERMAN will get.....

4 STARS.

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Send comments to febus (BETA) | Report this review (#144011) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
3 stars Grobschnitt started slowly to become a live monster with extreme, theatrical stage shows among their sets of music.In 1973 the band became a regular quintet with the departure of Harlos and Quetting and the arrival of Classical-educated keyboardist Volker Kahrs, while Eroc took over the drum duties.The next year the band released their most ambitious effort by far, the 2-LP ''Ballermann''.Produced by Frank Mille and recorded at Dierks Studios near Cologne, this work was again released on Brain.

The first LP offered an emphatic Progressive Rock, similar to the band's debut with rather stronger symphonic influences, opening with the humurous ''Sahara'', like a mix of FRANK ZAPPA and ELOY, but soon unfolding into long tracks with dusty Kraut grooves, melodious themes, deep symphonic arrangements and heavier psychedelic excursions.Influences come from ELOY, BIRTH CONTROL, YES and GENESIS with some beautiful Hammod organ and extended warm synthesizers blended with powerful guitars and a pounding rhythm section.The taste of the band for more symphonic textures is even more evident through the long YES-influenced ''Magic Train'' with its nice melodic guitars, Classical organ themes, sudden breaks, light Mellotron waves and sharp guitar chops.Generally the music is quite consistent with some great interludes, rhythmic parts and delicate melodies, yet originality is an issue at moments.

The second LP is dedicated to a long piece, worked by the band since The Crew days, finally being over around the time of ''Ballermann'' recordings.Today the 33-min. ''Solar music'' is considered by fans as a Prog/Kraut Rock classic of the 70's German scene.Here Grobscnitt move away from the Symponic Rock style of the opening LP, exploring the more spacey and cosmic sound of Rock music with Eroc's electronic effects coming in notice, while the track has a rather loose structure with synthesizers and psychedelic guitars in evidence, sounding a bit like ELOY jamming with ASH RA TEMPEL.The spacey sound is even more obvious in the overstretched, hypnotic grooves of the track, while the limited vocals appearing are offered through discreet distortions.The first part is a bit boring with extended instrumental work based on electric guitars, electronics and organ, while the second stands on a better level with some nice rhythmic textures and good guitar solos after the middle and a nice ending theme with a superb atmosphere, led by Kahrs' harpsichord and the excellent guitar work of Kühn, somewhat close to ANYONE'S DAUGHTER sound.

I do not consider ''Ballermann'' or even ''Solar music'' as complete classics of the 70's German Prog movement, however the album has plenty of interesting moments and flexible inspirations to qualify as a strongly recommended release.Definitely a must have for fans of Kraut Rock and a pretty good listening for all the rest...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#146893) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is a double one, and it's yummy at that!

Let me start this review with my own limits: I have to explain my perspective you can judge how rellevant it is to you. I'm not familiar with GROBSCNITT. This is the first, and so far the only album that I ever heard from this German prog band. And it's great. There.

A double album consist of a one record of "more ordinary" prog (subgenre-wise)- a mixture between hard rock, krautrock, psychedelia and some symphonic moments. The second record contains one full-LP-length suite divided in two parts because of vinyl sides split. This one sounds like a mixture of space rock and krautrock...and it has nothing to do with "Solar Musick Suite" of the Hillage/Khan/Gong crowd.

In general, this band is many things, but symphonic is one that is less significant than others. But as I've said, I'm not familiar with the band's discography yet, so I guess there are more convincing reason to bear the sympho tag. Also, it seems that "Solar-music" exists in a live version which is apparently the most popular. I won't go there - so let's take a look at this worthy double vinyl, and if you are lucky enough to find it (or its digital counterpart) skip my words and take a listen.

Vocal is raw, harsh. I mean, German raw. At the moments it's so harsh that it seems out of tune. The lyrics are funny - not al the time, but there are many humorous moments including the general attitude of the band (this is more a gut feeling of mine).

If anyone dares to say that old prejudice that Germans doesn't have a sense of humour, well, it's wrong! This record is equally enjoyable and equally entertaining. "Sahara" starts with intro (speech) and it's great. Don't expect anything spectacular here, but I like that attitude! The song is...wow. It reminds me a bit of BONZO DOG BAND's "Ali Baba's Camel"; this one is humorous too, it's also very hard rocking and majestic in a good old German style, vocals, as I said, harsh, the accent thick as much as you can imagine (all lyrics are in English). These guys had a great time and fun playing and recording together, I'm sure! In a way, this record represents the essence of the seventies, perhaps that's why I like it so much. It's simply good, good in the 70's way, good in any possible way, charming, music is dense and convincing, melodies are...incredible. They're not breaking the boundaries (and certainly not ahead of time) but these guys knew how to make a good melody. Or song. Or a double album.

Songs vary from longish to long, and I was never bored, not for a single moment.

Guitars are precise, both dirty and clean when necessary. When these guys caught "floydian" moments, they really got them; they actually managed to sound both "floydian" and ballsy at the same time, which is not something that could be said about PINK FLOYD, only occasionally. (sorry fans!) So, yes, you guessed it, guitar is more on a Latimer/Gilmour side than anything else. But, fusioned with the best moments of URIAH HEEP (this applies to the band in general) and some grittiness typical for krautrock movement. Keyboards are beefy, Hammond sounds as Hammond should sounds, synth interventions are buzzing and minimalistic, piano is gorgeous, other keys are just fine. If you're into this decade you'll like it. The other instruments are also fine, but I must mention two more things:

1) drums. The drummer is a damn good one; not the best in the world, surely, but he plays so free, happily and convincing. I see I'm repeating myself. But it's true. These guys obviously had very similar mindsets, and the thing as a whole worked perfectly, making me smile, 33 years later. 2) sound effects. Another highlight. Because they are drastic, dramatic yet tastefully dosed - they're not all over the place. I'm pretty sure they utilised Space Echo unit; and the other thing is...dunno...it's not a vocoder, but it's certainly some sort of rendering between a vocal formants and musical instrument - electric guitar, I guess, or something similar to high resonance, or amp feedback...so-lar-muZiKH...so-lar-mu-ZiKH...maybe it's a Talkbox. Whatever it is, it sounds astonishing.

The "Solar Music" is a 33 minute piece, again full of surprises and joy. It's less conventional then the first vinyl, but it's sharing some points with the first record (it resembles it, in a way), but without being overbearing, or boring, or hermetical, or whatever. It simply fits into the overall picture of the album (same can be said from the opposite point of view, of course) - enough that you won't get an impression that this is too long album that should be rather split in two. No. This one shows band's diversity rather than tight playing and humour. They managed to do all the things good on an album. They got me.

I want more.

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Send comments to clarke2001 (BETA) | Report this review (#151735) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 19, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Hilarious vocal introduction welcoming the listener to the new "Grobschnitt" album. One has to dare to do that ! But to be honest, "Sahara" is not my favourite song from the band even if it features lots of humour and nonsense.

"Nikel-Odeon" is of course different. It starts as a "Uriah Heep" song with heavy keys and powerful guitar. Special vocals will either please you or irritate you. Not because of the accent but more due to the exaggerated style which is performed. It is not a highlight but the guitar is very effective throughout these nine minutes.

"Ballermann" holds good music but I have to say that the first part of this CD is not as strong as their debut album even if "Magic Train" is a solid number. The virtuosity of the band is well illustrated (especially the drumming and guitar of course). Most of this song sounds truly symphonic (and yes, one can find some "Genesis" sounds as the end is a bit similar to the closing section of "The Musical Box" while some notes of The Knife could have have been noticed earlier on).

Actually, none of the songs are bad but the tranquil "Morning Son" and its theatrical lyrics isn't really attractive. Mostly due to the repetitive and monotonous beat. "Drummer's Dream" is a dual song which is at times mellow but it is rocking alright as well. During those moments, the drumming is again very effective. A pleasant song, but no more.

But all these songs sound just pale of course when compared to "Solar Music". I have to say beforehand that I am completely biased when I listen to this number. It is definitely a great prog musical experience, and the band will use this work extensively under the form of several live renditions throughout the time.

My opinion is that this long song fully falls under the psyche/space-rock genre; additionally, the brilliant tendency of "Grobschnitt" to improvise add a good dose of experimental sounds to it. Early live Floydian grandeur I would say. But reproduced in the studio which is quite an achievement.

The great "ASOS" stroke again. It already inspired several songs from German bands ("Eloy", "Jane", "Nektar") but this is maybe the most extra-terrestrial performance around this fantastic "thing" as Roger Waters used to say while he was introducing "ASOS" on stage.

Any fan of space-rock music will just love "Solar Music". It holds everything you can think of : spacey passages, crescendo and emotional build-ups, disjointed sections, improvisation of course and some genuine craziness which is one of Grobschnitt distinctive characteristics.

This work is the peak of "Grobschnitt" 's career of course. What a wonderful musical moment! Close to perfection my prog friends. From an average to good album before "Solar Music", this masterpiece just propelled this album to another .galaxy. As soon as I heard this song, I was just blown away. In my case, it was love at first sight. The last six minutes of this gigantic piece of music are so brilliant than there is only one thing to do : sit back, shut up, close your eyes and listen. And listen again, and again...

Four stars for the whole (but five for the great "Solar Music").

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Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Beginning with a heavily accented address to the fans from the depths of the studio, "Ballerman" immediately establishes the wacky sense of humour of Eroc and the band's ability to blend this silliness with intricate progressive rock without sounding nearly as ridiculous as...that sounds.

This was the era of the double album, but most of these suffered from overextension and recycling of the same ideas ad nauseum. Grobschnitt avoided this trap by producing two distinctly different works, unified by their overall philosophy yet almost in different genres. Neither overshadows the other. The first disk is the more conventional if you will, but hardly so. It covers the breadth of symphonic progressive rock of its time, referencing the British masters as well as German contemporaries, while undeniably stamped with the group's own signature. In lesser hands, "Sahara" would have been the throwaway it appeared destined to be, but it is an infectious bouncy rocker with plenty of lively percussion and treated vocals. "Nickel-odeon" sports a bluesy jacket that reminds me somewhat of countrymen JANE and someone else I can't put my finger on, while contemporary NEKTAR might be the reference point for the more mellow "Drummer's Dream", which includes delicate acoustic guitar interludes. "Morning Song" is also ballad like and showcases some crunching organs in the breaks. Again the band draws on myriad influences but it's hard to pinpoint anything overt. Some of the organ is oom pa pa like and creates a circus like atmosphere. The longest track in this first part is "Magic Train" which opens with cascading pianos not unlike RENAISSANCE circa "Prologue", but also containing perhaps a fifth of "Firth" if you will. This gives way to rough cut vocals backed by little but mellotron, drums and bass, before the main guitar riff gets going, and it is hard to dismiss, powered by the rhythm section and punctuated with shifts of pace, with an ending more than a little redolent of "The Musical Box".

The "Solar" music suite gets its airing on disk 2 and it is a potent piece of space rock even performed within a sterile studio. Instrumental except for the opening segments and subsequent occasional vocal histrionics or whispered entreatments "Can you hear solar music", it allows the band to explore what music emanating form the sun might sound like. Compared to the definitive live version to appear several years later, this one is more subdued but has many excellent segments tied together at once both neatly and roughly. All instrumentation gets its moment of sunspot splendour, but the synergy of the artists allows this to sound like a group effort at all times.

I especially want to mention how well this stands up to repeated listenings as it morphs from an eccentric yet intriguing stranger to a trusted friend. Yet another essential 70s effort emanating from Germany.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#190121) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 21, 2008

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Grobschnitt - Ballerman (1974)

In 2009 I got very interested in this band and I really like the début, Solar music live and Rockpommel's Land. Ballerman is one of their highest rated albums and I was happy to have a vinyl version of this hard to get double lp.

Whilst the début had an amazing recording, follow-up Ballermann was recorded less good. Grobschnitt does get closer to a prog sound with symphonic prog structured songs on lp1 and a 33 minute symphonic/space-rock epic on lp2. The Santana influences on the début are completely gone, but the humour of the band is still in tact. This time it isn't as subtle as on the début and does the 'humour' actually turns again them.

The opening track Sahara is one bad joke that lasts for five minutes. It really makes no sense to open you album with a extremely poor sang rock track with stupid lyrics. I skip this track. Nickel-Odeon is the second track and the first track of my interest. This is nicely composed long symphonic track with enough nice melodies and chord progressions to make it good. That is, if you I would have liked the heavy-German-accent-distorted-psycho-recorded-through-a-telephone vocals. I really liked the vocals on the début and I can't understand who ever came up with the idea to record the vocals on this track this bad. Drummer's dream is the first good track of the album with a nice symphonic prog sound and reasonable vocals. The Morning Song is a warm crossover track sounds nice. Magic Train is another symphonic prog-track that's quite interesting, though the influences of other bands on Grobschnitt are to appealing. I would give this first record two and halve stars.

Lp2 has the 33 minute studio version of the Solar Music Suite, which was later to be recorded live on the Solar Music live record and many bootlegs. The studio version is good, but not as good as the later live version. The opening part with vocals is messy (why? why?) and makes no sense. When the instrumental parts begin the music get's really interesting and focussed. All parts are nice minimalistic symphonic/space prog parts with lot's of atmosphere. The ending section is good, though the choice of keyboard sound is bad. I'd give this second record four stars.

Well. Really a mixed bag this one. For those who embrace the digital age I would suggest to delete some of the uninteresting songs and listen to Drummer's dream, Morning song, Magic train, Solar-music part 1 and Solar-music part 2. Others might have to accept this album as begin a mixed bag. For me it's a combination of a fans album on lp1 and an excellent addition on lp2 (though the live versions would be even better!). This totals to three stars.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#265367) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A glimpse into the future (at least on one song).

BALLERMANN is a unique prog experience right from the first seconds. The strange introduction is something I've never heard before on a prog album, and it's a clear sign that Grobschnitt are a group that doesn't take themselves too seriously. The theme they play around with on ''Sahara'' is rather light-hearted in nature and only gets better when sped up at the end.

The comic relief doesn't last long, and the fabric kind of tears a bit over the course of the next three songs. ''Nichel-Odeon'' (no Rugrats here), ''Drummer's Dream'' and ''Morning Song'' all might have nice symphonic prog-rock themes, but all tend to sag in terms of quality. ''Magic Train'' picks it back up again with a symphonic aura though. While the beginning sounds too borrowed from the ''Firth of Fifth'' piano solo, the rest of the song is a spellbinding arrangement. And let me say that this ''Magic Train'' almost sounds like if the Flower Kings existed in the 70's. I wouldn't be surprised if FK was influenced by this album. However, Grobschnitt's production isn't as strong, the band is not as well known, and only a few themes are used that are extended (traits that I find appealing).

The last bullet could be applied to the big ''Solar Music'' suite at the end. Much of the album revolves around a one-note drone pump, but the way Grobschnitt develop the song is amazing. The piece goes through several crescendos and decrescendos to keep the listener clinging to their chair by their pants (if they're sitting in a chair, of course). ''Solar Music'' takes the listener on a journey of sorts from the Tullesque beginning to the 8-bit Nintendo ending.

There are lots of good bits of symphonic rock, hard rock, psychedelia and a slight dose of jamming. I wouldn't call it symphonic Krautrock, but I will say that it's a very enjoyable album from on of the deeper sanctums of prog rock. The compositions are simply too tasteful to pass up.

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Posted Sunday, April 04, 2010

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After their ambitious-yet-patchy self-titled 1972 debut - an album that mixed elements of psychedelia and prog with a raw, rocky sound - Germany's Grobschnitt re-grouped, slimmed down from an eight-piece to a five-strong unit and returned with 'Ballermann', an album apparently named after one of the group's roadies. A mammoth double-disc release, 'Ballermann' would be the first Grobschnitt album to feature the group's trademark comedy routines and the first album in which they fully realised the lush, keyboard-rich symphonic sound that would mark the rest of their 1970's output and win them a well-deserved place amidst the pantheon of symphonic prog greats and a large-and-loyal following throughout Germany. Released in 1974, 'Ballermann' would also be notable for being the first Grobschnitt album to feature their much-repeated multi-part epic 'Solar Music', a song the band would play around with for many years to come, capping off each and every one of their live shows with the piece and eventually releasing an entire live album entitled 'Solar Music Live' in 1978, one of the strongest and most popular items in their criminally small prog-orientated discography. On 'Ballermann' 'Solar Music Live' lasts a whopping thirty-minutes-plus, taking up the entire second side on the original vinyl release and therefore dominating the album. However, it is by no means the only reason to purchase 'Ballermann', as songs such as the beautifully-wrought piano-led 'Nickelodeon' and the metallic rock of 'Sahara' illustrate, showing just what a highly- creative and diverse band Grobschnitt were. Indeed, listen carefully amongst the juddering guitars of 'Solar Music Live' and you can hear Grobschnitt pre-figuring Pink Floyd, who seemed to have used the sound conjured up by bassist Wolfgang Jager(a.k.a. 'Popo') to fill out much of their 1979 album 'The Wall'. Whether this is deliberate or by accident is an interesting point. But the fact remains that 'Solar Music Live' was released in 1974 and 'The Wall' on 1979. You do the math! STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#292319) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars Ballerman finds Grobschnitt moving from the heavy prog rock of the debut to a more streamlined sound heavily influenced by Yes's Yes Album. At the same time they started exploring the goofy side of the band and sometimes the attempts to be funny can obliterate the music. As you know, I'm not a fan of humor.

The opening track is a typical example where the intent to be funny gets in the way of things. Luckily its placed right at the start of this extensive CD, so track 2 is a better place to start and from then on it's a smooth and wonderful ride. The songwriting is excellent, indebted to Yes but brought in German fashion, with elements from space-rock and bits of 'eavy Heep.

The vocals have changed quite a bit since the debut, they are still strong and willful but not as compelling as they used to be, a bit strained sometimes or even Zappa-esque as on Drummer's Dream. Generally they get a lot of focus and may detract from the great music for some listeners. It's nothing you won't get used to though and once you are attuned to Wildschwein's dramatic delivery this is an entirely pleasing listen. Focal point of the album is Solar Music which would later appear in an extended and improved live format.

Ballerman is a strong and original album that is almost as good as the debut, but I prefer that one for its sweeping power. Symphonic fans might this one. Anyway, it's a recommended listen from one of Germany's greatest acts.

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Posted Saturday, November 06, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Grobschnitt's second album is sabotaged - regularly - by shoddy vocals, often delivered in a ham-fisted "comedy" style which is devoid of all comedy. Even worse, the band lead off the album with its most garish and irritating novelty track, the asinine Sahara, and the "comedy" doesn't really let up that much for half the album. The epic Solar Music may be of interest to some, and is probably the best part of the album, though it is affected by the occasionally dodgy vocals and fans of the band generally hold the live version on Solar Music Live to be greatly superior to this one anyway. Had Grobschnitt just stopped with the silly voices and took the record seriously this might be a decent space rock number, but as it is it's deeply, deeply flawed.

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Posted Monday, September 05, 2011

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars A taste of things to come...

Grobschnitt have been of interest to me since hearing segments of the astonishing "Solar Music Live" opus. "Ballerman" certainly was a sought after album due to the large scale project of a double studio album and one album dedicated to the entire Solar Music epic, so I approached this with great enthusiasm. So I put on the record.

"Here I am again with my music, isn't it nice, yes it is, well I want you to listen to my very new song which I have brought along from my trip from Arica, do you like it?"

Side 1 begins with 'Sahara' and an absurd intro narration welcomes the listener to the record and hopes we like it and explains the tune is from Africa. Then it begins, "Lalalalaalaaaaaaaaa etc etc". It is as weird as Zappa, Gong, or Residents. Perhaps weirder. The music is so incredible though it just draws you in to its uncanny atmosphere which has an Arabian flavour. The vocals of Eroc have more rolling 'R's' than a Rammstein anthology. There's no album on the planet like this. The song even speeds up at the end as though someone is moving the record faster by hand, those were the days of vinyl. Awful vocals are overshadowed by technical tight playing, and it works as an absurdist humourous song to kick things off.

Next up on 'Nickel-odeon' we have hammering organ Hammond and a jazzy rhythm. The guitars keep a solid melody and the time sigs are all over the place as the vocals come in and once again the strange effects on the vocals are disconcerting. In a waltz type tempo the verses continue till it breaks into a grinding Hammond and repetitive hypno rhythm on guitar.

'Drummer's Dream' is a drummer's dream. It features the manic percussion of Joachim Ehrig (Eroc). It is a jumpy little tune with some very strong musicianship brimming with creativity. Other members of this zany bunch of geniuses include Stefan Danielak (Wildschwein) on lead vocals, guitar, Volker Kahrs (Mist) on keyboards, Gerd-Otto Kühn (Lupo) on lead guitar, and Bernhard Uhlemann (Bär) on bass. The sound they generate together is incredible, totally original in feel and ultimately satisfying, with huge time changes, dramatic shifts in mood, and a whimsical sense of humour.

Side 2 begins with a pastoral feel with 'Morning song' that I thought was being satirical as it is so different with genuine beauty and lovely vocals. I expected it to explode and laugh manically, which is what Grobschnitt do on "Solar Music Live". However this song keeps a consistent feel, like waking up on an early morning preparing to greet the day.

'Magic Day' is a 13 minute epic and the vocals are marginally better, in high falsetto and the acoustics are superb joined by grinding Hammonds. This one is rather repetitive and could have done with some time changes or some solos in the opening section. Eventually the sig changes and it gets into weird territory with silly "hello"'s then it stops dead and a piano tinkles quietly. A bleating vocal comes in over a thumping drum and washes of synth. It builds to a release of heavy guitar riffs and outstanding marching drumst. A new time change detours temporarily until another verse; "The power of the music is strong, escaping from all this loneliness, get out of this ugly mess." After this more staccato rhythms and the melodic twin guitars intensify towards the outbreak of hammering keys, bass and guitar, all the while drums pounding. A quieter passage of music follows, with a relentless thumping bass. A new song begins within the song, and it is a brighter uptempo feel, the vocals are still similar on this new cadence. Lyrics are rather pretentious but fit well; "It's my magic garden". It builds to a finale higher up the scale until it gets very quiet. Didn't expect that, but this is sounding like early Genesis or Yes. Bass pumps and a pipe organ grinds. There are vocal intonations keeping a rhythm and then the loud wail ushers in the intro melody on guitars to finish it. Okay I am ready for the next album; that was just a taster.

Side 3

This is what we came for. The colossal space suite that turned Grobschnitt into prog legends. 'Solar Music' is the magnum opus that the band lived off in live performaces and it remains their quintessential triumph. "I, 2, 3, 4" and we are away on this 33 minute space odyssey. It begins with a great melodic guitar and pulsating rhythm. The tune is so memorable that it always grabs me immediately and I am hooked. The lead guitar just takes off into the stratosphere. Then the psychedelic vocals come in acapella and they sound spiteful and dangerous. The sig slows and speeds up at random it seems. The loud blasts of guitar and frenetic drumming are astounding. The spacey effects enter soon and are like Hawkwind, very powerful sonics. The echoing flange guitars and galactic synth swirls are wonderful. Alien sounds are heard and a robotic voice fades in. The robotic mantra of "do you.. hear.. solar.. music?" is fantastic fun and even moreso live. It is chanted with hypnotic rhythm like early Kraftwerk over ethereal synthscapes. This is true space rock and it encompasses many moods, even comes with birds twittering and a space ship traveling through the solar system. A dog barks a few times, and I think I hear other animals. A pounding buildup of strong drums and bass become deafening. It is released into glorious Hammond and a blistering lead break. It feels like an improvised break jamming with the rhythms. The sound of swooshing fires up and then breaks to allow the organ and guitars to begin a hypnotic rhythm. At 12 minutes in there is an entrancing rhythm on guitar sounding very similar to a certain band's rhythmic guitar on 'Run Like Hell'. I always feel that at 14:50 the guitars and melody are exactly like the intro to Pink Floyd's 'Empty Spaces' and the 'Another Brick in the Wall Part 1' guitar rhythm is everpresent. Did Waters listen to this album? It is blatant plagiarism! The tempo changes to a different faster feel, and some brilliant percussion accents are added. The guitars become more jaded and aggressive, the drums boom out into a fade. Unbelievable music!

Side 4

The mammoth 'Solar Music' continues. The lead guitar is jamming over a similar motorik beat to the other side. The reverb lead is fantastic and very atmospheric with arpeggios and string bends. It really sounds like early 'Space Ritual' Hawkwind. Spacey chimes blend into the jamming session, with eerie star gazing soundscapes. Solar galactic screaming effects are overpowering. The manic laughter is rather disconcerting and unnecessary but I love how he yells "do you heeeeeeeeaaaar solar music? do you heeeeeeeeaaaar solar music?" The synths become penetrating with a synergy of laser effects, and intergalactic resonances with sunburst power. It really is spaced up to the stratosphere. I love the extended wah-wah solo by Lupo. The band are virtuoso and operate within a vacuum of spacey textures jamming off one groove and then they know how to release the tension so appropriately, breaking from hypnotic rhythms of bass and drums to provide uplifting soaring instrumental solos. The peaceful synth and guitar melody at the end is an excellent way to end after all the chaos and spaciness previously. Though the keyboard sounds like a midi file or an 8bit soundtrack to a Nintendo cartridge game. It would be done better live as they proved, but this is still mesmirising music and absolutely as good as it gets for Grobschnitt in the studio. Everytime I hear this it takes me to another place, and I am completely spellbound by the amazing sounds of Grobschnitt.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#622872) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 30, 2012

Latest members reviews

2 stars Grobschnitt followed up their debut album with Ballermann, this album. The music is something between symph prog, eclectic & krautrock. The vocals distorted. The instrumentation heavy on Hammond organ and bass. Drums and guitars are also included. The sound is not that good and I also question ... (read more)

Report this review (#600487) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permanlink

1 stars In looking for any reviews on any prog rock recording I look for any indication of any boring instrumental noodling/jamming whose musicians neither have the professionalism of the Allman Brothers, Phish or other quality bands to do this and still make is interesting music , nor have the improv ... (read more)

Report this review (#532059) | Posted by SMSM | Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ok. This was the first Grobschnitt album for me. When I first heard Sahara I was amazed. So much sense of humor in this track. The German accent is great, even if you don't like this language, when litening to it you must smile. Other traks are in the Grobschnitt style on a very high level. They ... (read more)

Report this review (#104289) | Posted by Deepslumber | Saturday, December 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An interesting mix of hard rock, symphonic prog and space-rock, with lots of humour added, as usual with Grobschnitt. The awesome space-rock track "Solar Music" on side 2 is the highlight of the album, though the live version in "Solar Music - Live" is even better. Not the best Grobschnitt alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#101998) | Posted by Darkael | Thursday, December 07, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album took a big step further into prog. They incorporated some elements of YES (vocal harmonies) and GENESIS (symphonic texture, keyboard work) in their style but they don't sound derivative at all. Their soundwritting definitely improved on this album. They also started to be funnier. They ... (read more)

Report this review (#19504) | Posted by terramystic | Wednesday, April 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars What a pathetic pile of drivel. When prog is great, it is really great. When it is bad, it can be simply awful. This miserable mess is not helped by the vocals either, with a horrid German accent. the track "Sahara" has got to be the most pathetic thing I've ever heard. Other stuff on the albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#19503) | Posted by | Wednesday, April 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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