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STRAIGHT TO THE KRANKENHAUS

Secret Oyster

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Secret Oyster Straight to the Krankenhaus album cover
4.14 | 95 ratings | 8 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Lindance (1:14)
2. Straight to the Krankenhaus (2:50)
3. My Second Hand Rose (4:18)
4. High Luminant Silver Patters (5:38)
5. Delveaux (7:57)
6. Stalled Angel (3:57)
7. Rubber Star (4:18)
8. Traffic & Elephants (6:11)
9. Leda & the Dog (5:51)

Total Time 42:14

Bonus tracks on 2007 CD release:
10. Alfred (3:55)
11. Glassprinsen (Glass Prince) (6:25)

Line-up / Musicians

- Claus Bøhling / guitar
- Kenneth Knudsen / keyboards
- Karsten Vogel / saxophone
- Jess Staehr / bass
- Ole Streenberg / drums

With:
- Kasper Winding / percussion (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Kjell Jörstedt

LP CBS ‎- 81434 (1976, Denmark)

CD The Laser's Edge ‎- LE 1049 (2007, US) with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SECRET OYSTER Straight to the Krankenhaus ratings distribution


4.14
(95 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
24%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(59%)
59%
Good, but non-essential (13%)
13%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

SECRET OYSTER Straight to the Krankenhaus reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
4 stars Also known as Overlander, Straight To the Krankenhaus (a hospital) this was actually released in 76 as their last album, but recorded simultaneously with Astarte. This second name for an album Secret Oyster's discography is the third time so, giving an impression that Secrtet Oyster's discography was extremely confusing although they put out only four albums. This album is a direct continuity of Sea Son and holds many superb moments, but one can't help thinking the group has followed the line from an earlier-70's steaming hot jazz-rock band to a later-70's cooler fusion. The main difference here is the appearance of the Moog as opposed to only organ and electric piano on the previous two albums, but there are few Latino effects sprawled here and there. The grotesque painting for this album's artwork was first seen in the window of an art gallery and had the group laughing their heads out for hours, so much that next morning they went out to buy it and asked permission to have it as their artwork.

In some ways, we are still very much in a jazz-rock realm not far away from Soft Machine's Softs and Bundles, Nucleus or Isotope, Mahavishnu Orchestra, but in other ways, the group sounds also more like the later 70's Weather Report, with some ethnic Latino flavours. After the short intro Lindance, the title track is a 100 MPH track leading the listener to the over-emotive Second Hand Rose (Vogel has heard some of VdGG's evocative lead sax lines, obviously) and the High Luminent Silver Pattern has some Jeff Beck lines (Blow By Blow era) and is easily side 1's highlight. The lengthy Delveaux is sublime moment of slower jazz-rock that easily matches it forerunner in terms of excellence.

Stalled Angel takes on the later 70's funk-jazz, while still retaining a superb Bohling guitar solo. Another real highlight is the superbly tense but gentle Rubber Star with its descending line, quickly followed by the delightful Traffic & Elephants with some terrific ambiances over layers of synthesised strings. The closing Leda is yet another beauty that rivals not only with Delveaux but the while Sea Son album as well. The great interplay and dramatic guitar squeals create a splendid atmosphere. Clearly Krankenhaus finishes in a much stronger manner than it started; although the remasters version now has two bonus tracks; the both of which are Hancock-type of jazz funk (the second recorded live under poor conditions) that stick out of the album's scope, but nothing scary, either but not really adding much value to the album proper. Vogel pulls in some classic sax solos but doubles on keys (much the way Karl Jenkins did in Soft Machine), Bohling filling in some great guitars lines. Clearly no weak tracks but Delveaux is the highlight here with honourable mention to Traffic & Elephants and the track that surrounds the later. Funnilmy enough, the cleaned-up Krakenhaus gained more than Sea Son from the remastering; but the choice of bonus tracks has not only given the edge back to SS, but even widened the gap.

Review by Philo
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The Secret Oyster progressed in massive steps from their first album to this one in a three year period. Straight To The Krankenhaus is a tautly constructed exploration of the jazz/rock genre and an album layered with a sweet toned guitar, tons of fluid and wild saxophone playing juxtaposed with the then up and coming synthesizer, string synth, sounds of the day which would draw comparisons with such acts as Nucleus, latter day Karl Jenkins led Soft Machine or even touches of Weather Report albeit with a more sharper guitar driven edge and a more direct formula in musical structure. The band merge their dual emphasis of dark progressive layers with laid back rhythms into an hypnotic groove more confident on Straight To The Krankenhaus than on their previous releases. The sound on the album is as accessible as anything released by many of the fusion acts who were breaking the mainstream barrier at the time during the seventies, it could be even argued that the Secret Oyster could even have had more to offer the genre had they reached a bigger audience, but unfortunately the band broke up after this release. Straight To The Krankenhaus now remains an obscure album as is much of, if not all, the Secret Oyster's work.
Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Before discovering Prog Archives I didn't think there was anyone else alive with a copy of this obscure 1976 LP. So it was a pleasant surprise to find at least two other vinyl pack rats here, not only familiar with the album but actually knowing something about the band as well. Which is more than I can brag of.

All I can tell you is that SECRET OYSTER (love the absurd name) was a quintet of scruffy looking Danes, at least judged by the group portrait on the back cover, which makes them look like gutter alcoholics or Copenhagen hustlers on a bad wardrobe day, take your pick. And I know this also: the album was too good to get rid of, even at the height of my once too frequent and totally misguided cycles of vinyl attrition.

The music is quintessential post-MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA instrumental fusion, emphasizing the melodies as much as the groove. The sound is firmly rooted in the soil of classic mid-'70s Jazz Rock, but it's clearly more rock than jazz, with the electric guitars and mini-Moog solos (in that familiar pitch-bending style made popular by the likes of Jan Hammer) almost dominating the excellent horn work (the sax player is the primary composer here), and with a subtle glaze of cool string synthesizers laying an almost Space Rock sheen over the top.

And these guys could play, too. There's an exhilarating energy in the introductory "Lindance" and throughout the rollicking title track, with its odd but not inappropriate flourishes of Brazilian percussion (is that a cuíca I hear?). And the escalating, nerve-wracking tension of "Traffic & Elephants" (wouldn't you like to know where that title came from?) is a caffeine freak's dream come true.

But they were also able to craft moments of ethereal nuance as well: lend an ear to the haunting, hook-filled moodscapes of "Rubber Star" or "Leda & the Dog", ideal soundtracks for lonely, late-night contemplation. I only wish the band had enjoyed wider exposure, but you have to remember the ground was thick with virtuoso Jazz Rockers in those days, and SECRET OYSTER was simply lost in the crowd. In the end the group probably couldn't help but live up to its all-too fitting name, remaining for the most part a well-kept secret beyond the frontiers of their native Denmark.

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 stars. SECRET OYSTER are a Jazz / Fusion band that in my opinion take a back seat to no one. Their first two albums and this one are brilliant. I was talking to Todd a couple of weeks ago and he said he was listening to this album and how great it was. So I made a mental note to review it and for once that note didn't get lost. The title of this album was an inside joke for the band. They used to tour Germany all cramped up in this van. Anyway, when they would be approaching a city there would always be a sign pointing out "Krankenhaus" (Hospital), the band would then shout out in unison "Straight to the krankenhaus !" then all start laughing. The album cover shows the band's sense of humour as well. The music though is serious [&*!#].

"Lindance" opens with drums and some powerful outbursts as it settles in with organ. "Straight To The Krankenhaus" has such an amazing, amazing intro ! It's so moving with the pulsating keys and synths. It settles in with sax and bass then the guitar lights it up. "My Second Hand Rose" opens with some lazy sax melodies then the bass and drums join in. Beautiful guitar before 2 1/2 minutes takes the lead from the sax. The sax returns a minute later. A gorgeous and moving track. "High Luminant Silver Patters" opens with keys and drums as synths roll in then sax. Electric piano before 1 1/2 minutes then guitar a minute later. Incredible ! "Delveaux" features synths and bass with lots of atmosphere. Sax after 2 minutes. It settles after 4 1/2 minutes as the guitar plays tastefully.The sax is back then the keyboards lead.

"Stalled Angel" has this funky intro where the drumming and bass sound great. It changes as it settles, then the funk returns as contrasts continue. The guitar sounds so good later on. "Rubber Star" is eventually led by sax then we get this CAMEL ("Moonmadness") flavour that comes and goes. Great sound. These closing two tracks are mind blowing. "Traffic & Elephants" opens with the sounds of bass, drums, keys, sax etc. that are building. Just a great sound. This is intense and oh so good. "Leda & The Dog" sounds like MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA with all that atmosphere and your just waiting for them to break out. Guitar after 1 1/2 minutes as the atmosphere continues. A change after 2 1/2 minutes as the atmosphere leaves and the drums and guitar lead. Fantastic ! And so moving.

A must for Jazz / Fusion fans.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Straight To The Krankenhaus is the 4th full-length studio album by Danish jazz/ fusion act Secret Oyster. The album was composed and recorded simultaniously with Vidunderlige Kælling (1975), but was not released until 1977. The band had enjoyed great succes with their first couple of albums and they had even been in contact with Colombia Records who had told the band that they might try and market the band in the US. Unfortunately Colombia Records changed their mind as they felt Secret Oyster sounded too much like Weather Report. The band ended up disillusioned and split-up in December 1977 after a short but but bright career. The original version of the album contained 9 tracks while the 2007 Laser´s Edge CD re-issue features 2 bonus tracks.

The music on the album is high energy jazz rock/ fusion. Weather Report is an obvious influence so in that respect Colombia Records were right, but Secret Oyster are not a clone band. Their brand of jazz rock/ fusion is very catchy and while there are plenty of soloing by especially sax and guitar on this album, the songs never drag or drown in excessive soloing. The band are exceptionally well playing but that´s not their only asset as the songs on the album are also high quality compositions. To top that off you have an excellent and warm production. The kind of warm production you only hear on seventies albums.

Straight To The Krankenhaus is slightly more interesting and a bit more in the band´s usual style than its predecessor, and while I certainly enjoyed Vidunderlige Kælling very much, Straight To The Krankenhaus is just a notch better. 4 stars are well deserved.

Review by HolyMoly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin
5 stars It's not jazz, it's instrumental melodic prog with lead sax

^ Just wanted to get that out of the way first. "Jazz Rock" and "Fusion" as terms conjure images in my mind that are almost entirely inconsistent with the meat of this album, so let this heading serve as an ad-hoc quasi genre for the purposes of this review.

After listening to this for the 298th (give or take a few dozen) time the other day, I figured the time was right to write a formal review that tries to convey my feelings for this, one of my all- time favorite albums. Long before it became available on CD, I had a muddy sounding cassette copy of this album that I got from a friend of a friend, and I was absolutely addicted to this tape. To my ears, it was a tastefully played collection of concise, tightly melodic instrumental pieces that still allowed some breathing space for the excellent soloists. I'm always impressed with bands that really have a way with melody, because as an amateur musician myself, I have an awful hard time coming up with an original melody. Something that carries you on an emotional arc, has a beginning and an end, and doesn't quite sound like anything you've heard before. Secret Oyster had specialized in high-energy instrumental jazzy rock (oops, there's that word again) for several years before this, their 4th and final album, and the maturity of their craft by this point had reached a peak.

Beginning as it does with a thundering synthesized number, the brief "Lindance", you may at this point be having your doubts. As it happens, it's merely a "dramatic overture" to the pieces ahead. Next of which is the briskly paced (also brief) title track, which feels a little like a continuation of the first track, but introduces a catchy, almost playful new theme on the electric piano, as well as little 8-bar bursts of invention by electric guitarist Claus Bøling.

After this one-two punch of light entertainment, the album really kicks into gear with "My Second Hand Rose", the first spot that alto sax player, bandleader, and primary composer Karsten Vogel really gets to shine. Vogel's approach to his instrument is like that of a singer to his voice. Throughout the song and most of the album, he is basically singing lead with his sax, and it so happens that he is an incredible vocalist - bending notes ever so subtly, vibrato in just the right amount, pouring years of technical mastery into a simple melody line, giving it extra layers of meaning and nuance. And then later in the track, Bøling gets another solo, 24 bars of utter perfection. And despite all this musicality going on, the piece still sounds as fun and spontaneous as a Saturday Night Live band after-hours jam. Brilliant.

And the album only gets better from there. "High Luminant Silver Patterns" (penned by keyboardist Kenneth Knudsen) lays down a furious space groove as Bøling once again sets the world on fire. "Delveaux" is an extended meditation piece, sans percussion, highlighting some nice Moog work in the first half, and Vogel's plaintive sax melody in the second half. "Stalled Angel" (also by Knudsen) introduces some funk into the mix. "Rubber Star" (Knudsen again) is... deserving of its own paragraph, but this is already getting long. Another meditative piece, with gentle guitar arpeggios holding down the rhythm, as bass, electric piano, and sax take turns gently pushing the melody through its sad yet hopeful emotional arc, providing counterpoint for each other along the way. One of my favorite songs.

Closing things out are yet two more highlights: Vogel's exciting "Traffic and Elephants", a quick groove framing a slowly ascending bass line, providing Vogel with lots of space to tell us a story on the sax. The music gets louder and more frantic as it goes, culminating in an ecstatic finale. The final track, Bøling's "Leda and the Dog", almost feels anticlimactic in this context, but closer listening reveals this to be one of the more emotionally involving pieces on the album. Understated but incredibly vital, with a strange yet effective song structure.

Nine songs, and barely a moment wasted. These songs all have a clear forward direction (not always a given with fusion), fantastic nontrivial melodies, great solos, all played by players who have mastered their instruments so well they have no need to show off. About as good as it gets.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars SECRET OYSTER had been riding high since the release of its second album "Sea Son" which not only made them Denmark's #1 progressive jazz-rock band of all time but also caught the attention beyond the motherland's borders. The band spent a great deal of time touring, so much so that it became more and more difficult to find the time to spend in the recording studio. During the promotion of "Sea Son," the band was approached by the ballet dancer and choreographer Flemming Findt to perform the soundtrack music for the ballet "Vidunderlige Kælling" which accompanied the live performances where the main actress Vivi Flemming performed nude and at times painted gold. The experimental ballet was a huge hit and not only extended SECRET OYSTER's popularity but offered them a cushy financial return which allowed the band to take their music to the next level.

While the band was touring Germany the members found it amusing that they would consistently see signs for KRANKENHAUS which is the German word for hospital and to relieve the boredom and tension of constantly touring together in a small bus, the band members and crew would amuse themselves by yelling in unison STRAIGHT TO THE KRANKENHAUS, a phrase that everyone found so incredibly hilarious that it became the official title of the fourth and last album that SECRET OYSTER released during their five year existence. Likewise when the band was on tour in Stockholm, Sweden the members were equally amused by a painting of a political looking fat cat dude being interviewed on TV while sitting in a Chesterfield chair. This painting was not for sale but the band scored the rights to craft a reproduction which would become the cover art which they deemed a perfect visual to accompany the comical album title.

Given that time off the road was minimal, SECRET OYSTER recorded its two final albums simultaneously. Both the "Vidunderlige Kælling" and STRAIGHT TO THE KRANKENHAUS overlapped and became quite confusing as to where the band's particular style was supposed to be given that it wasn't revealed which tracks were for which project. The results of this confusion guaranteed that both albums had similar stylistic developments however while "Vidunderlige" focused more on a lighter jazz driven tracks that emphasized the saxophone and keyboard parts, KRANKENHAUS reprised aspects of the band's previous works with heavier guitar and bass drive and a return to the rock aspects that made "Sea Son" stand out. The mix of what came before and what the ballet material led to crafted another unique album that sounds like no other.

While the Mahavishnu Orchestra compositional approach had always been a heavy influence on SECRET OYSTER, on STRAIGHT TO THE KRANKENHAUS it's even more pronounced. While the jamming passages of the first two albums are still present, the nine tracks on this final release focus on tighter compositions that offer more variations not only in tones, timbres, tempos and ratios between jazz and rock but also offered more complex musical motifs that allowed the various instruments to take a turn in soloing around. The album ranges from the feisty opening "Lindance" which immediately showcases a Jan Hammer styled keyboard workout accompanied by a drone but also finds the rest of the band upping their game with more complex drumming gymnastics and tighter transitions from various passages. The title track steers away from the Mahavishnus with a return to the funk-fueled jamming of the past.

The tracks continue to diversify with "My Second Hand Rose" chilling out with a lower energetic delivery and more reminiscent of something not he "Vidunderlige" soundtrack. "Delveaux" takes the same approach but "Stalled Angel" seems to incorporate all of the band's past into a single track with funky, jazz, rock and various musical motifs in rotation including a wild scorching hot keyboard solo. The rotisserie of jazz, rock and symphonic prog workouts continues right up to the most Mahavishnu sounding track of all, the closing "Leda & The Dog" which seems heavily inspired by "Birds Of Fire." The Laser's Edge re-releases also feature two excellent bonus tracks that fit in quite well with the original track listing.

Despite SECRET OYSTER having lost none of its popularity this would be the last stop for this spectacular Danish jazz prog rock band. Originally having been promised by Columbia Records to promote the band in the USA as the next best thing since The Weather Report, the record company backed out and left the band hanging. The uncertainty and changing tastes in the music industry left the band members exhausted from constant years of touring and recording as well as being disillusioned by the sudden collapse of promises and possibilities. The band slowly began to splinter with members leaving and moral diminishing until it was finally decided that the end of the era was over and time to move on. SECRET OYSTER performed its last live show in December 1977 and in its wake left four beautifully crafted albums that have more than stood the text of time. Many consider STRAIGHT TO THE KRANKENHAUS to be the band's finest moment and in terms of technicality and professionalism, it certainly is the peak of the band's four album run. On a personal note i still prefer the wild and unpredictable debut "Furtive Pearl" over the rest but this final chapter of the SECRET OYSTER experience is certainly a very close second.

4.5 rounded down

Latest members reviews

3 stars Perseverence doesn't always pay. Admittedly, Jazz-Rock is one of my fave genres and as such, I had to check this band out - of course. Alas, my expectations were somewhat ill-placed here. This final studio album is definitely better than previous efforts, but it still falls short of being ... (read more)

Report this review (#1019389) | Posted by BORA | Thursday, August 15, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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