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Jazz Rock/Fusion • Germany

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Brainstorm biography
BRAINSTORM is an early 70's fusion quintet from Baden-Baden whose influences range from ZAPPA to SOFT MACHINE, CARAVAN and SUPERSISTER. Made up of unusual and highly complex harmonies, their music is dynamic and features lots of sax, flute and (distorted) organ. Although most of their albums are instrumental, their eccentric sense of humour surfaces at times in the form of quirky vocalizations à la MOTHERS OF INVENTION and GONG (they once called themselves FASHION PRICKS but got into a bit of trouble when they tried to sign a record deal, so they switched to FASHION PINK and then eventually became BRAINSTORM). The core of the band is made up of a trio of schoolmates with conservatory training: Roland Schaeffer on sax, vibraphone, guitar, bass and vocals; Eddy von Overheidt on organ, piano and vocals; and Joe Koinzer on drums and percussion.

Their discography comprises two studio and two lives albums plus a compilation disk. "Smile a While" (1973), their first studio release, shows some SOFT MACHINE leanings whereas "Second Smile" (1973), a bit more diversified, is somewhat reminiscent of Dutch band SUPERSISTER. The sound on both live albums, "Brainstorm Live Bremen" ('73) and "Last Smile" ('74), is exceptionally good - the latter was specifically recorded for a West German radio show. Finally, "From Fashion Pink to Brainstorm" (2001) is a compilation of their early material, from their FASHION PINK days.

The two studio albums are a treat if you're into highly adventurous jazz-rock fusion or instrumental ZAPPA. If like live 'noodly jazz', you will surely enjoy the live cd's.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Journey To The Light - BrainstormJourney To The Light - Brainstorm
Tabu Records 2017
$37.29 (used)
Funky Entertainment - BrainstormFunky Entertainment - Brainstorm
Tabu 2017
$14.36 (used)
On The Spur Of The MomentOn The Spur Of The Moment
AFM Records 2011
$7.09 (used)
Midnight GhostMidnight Ghost
Afm Records 2018
$14.05 (used)
Tabu Demon 2013
$53.68 (used)
Scary Creatures [ Ltd. Edition Digipak ]Scary Creatures [ Ltd. Edition Digipak ]
Limited Edition
AFM Records 2016
$7.94 (used)
Metal Blade 2007
$13.68 (used)
Metus MortisMetus Mortis
Metal Blade 2008
$7.46 (used)
Memorial Roots (Re-Rooted)Memorial Roots (Re-Rooted)
AFM Records 2016
$14.01 (used)
Firesoul (2CD digipak edition)Firesoul (2CD digipak edition)
AFM Records 2014
$8.64 (used)
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BRAINSTORM discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

BRAINSTORM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 48 ratings
Smile A While
3.89 | 32 ratings
Second Smile
3.13 | 12 ratings
From Fashion Pink To Brainstorm

BRAINSTORM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 16 ratings
Last Smile
3.51 | 13 ratings
Bremen 1973

BRAINSTORM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BRAINSTORM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BRAINSTORM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Smile A While  by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.58 | 48 ratings

Smile A While
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars It was all the way back in the late 60s that the seeds of BRAINSTORM were planted in when four school buddies in Baden Baden, Germany discovered rock 'n' roll in the late 60s and soon they would form a band called Fashion Pink (after their psychedelic heroes Pink Floyd) where they would nurture all their musical fantasies. First they started out merely as a blues rock band but after future Guru Guru member Roland Schaffer decided to yield his guitar hero worship to indulge in the sax and clarinet, the band focused on a much more aggressive jazzy style of rock with bands like Soft Machine, The Mothers of Invention and Caravan as the main influences. The band also latched on to aspects of the burgeoning Krautrock scene in their native Germany and as a result managed to craft some extremely demanding and exquisitely designed jazz-fusion chops tinged with vestiges of 60s psychedelia lurking around unexpected corners between sizzling sax solos and flirtatious flute melodies.

While still Fashion Pink, the band gained popularity as a stellar live act but one fateful day the band was involved in a serious accident which left them injured and dismayed so of course they decided to change their name to Fashion Prick! With German labels sniffing out new talent the new name was deemed unacceptable when it was at last their turn for a record deal and the new name BRAINSTORM was quickly adopted before the release of their first album "SMILE A WHILE." This album has it all really. "SMILE A WHILE" is one of those rare releases that manages to successfully stew many ingredients into the cauldron and have the end result a musical delicacy that retains its tastiness decades after its release. While heavily inspired by the free jazz greats of the era such as John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, the wild complex polyrhythms bring the top dogs of the jazz fusion era to mind and BRAINSTORM has been rightfully called the German equivalent of France's Moving Gelatine Plates. Add the passion of rock with Hendrix inspired blues rock and the Krautrock influences that incorporate ÜBER bizarre harmonics and you are in for some serious royal treatment with this one.

The sheer diversity of style is the album's strongest attribute with different styles of jazz intermingled with rock, blues and even tango! The Kraut elements are never far behind as slinking 60s organ runs collide with Soft Machine frenzied distorted sax runs and Hatfield and the North styled vocal jazz styles before the supergroup ever came to be (courtesy of Soft Machine no doubt.) The tracks also vary in length from the feisty barely over 2 minute "Snakeskin Tango" to the 15 and a half minute epic Krautjazz title track that goes through no less than six movements. "SMILE A WHILE" is a true gem for the audacious audiophile who loves a good musical workout. With adventurous tight groovy rhythms chock full with 5/8 and 7/8 timings and beyond, the jazzy prog fusion workouts are replete with unpredictable variations in dynamics, tempo and style. It simply amazes me that this brilliant gem from 1972 hasn't been more highly regarded. Yeah, it's the ghastly album cover is to blame i'm sure. Not only do the members don grandma's underwear with a rather bland blank background but the album is filled with other photo ops with the group posing in their ridiculous regalia. For sure i give the album cover artwork a dismal 1/2 star on the dismal scale of doom but the MUSIC is what counts and BRAINSTORM whipped up a veritable musical smorgasbord of rock and jazz fusion like no other. I'm amazed at how much i love this one and can't recommend it enough. Just close your eyes when you reach for it and pull it out of the packaging!

 Bremen 1973 by BRAINSTORM album cover Live, 2002
3.51 | 13 ratings

Bremen 1973
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars About 2 weeks after BRAINSTORM released their second album "Second Smile" they played this open-air concert at Bremen's College of Technology. Radio Bremen recorded it for their Jazz Live series. It was a rainy day on that 23rd of June 1973, but neither the band or the audience let that affect their enthusiasm. Six of the nine tracks are from that second album but they start off with two from their debut and they end the proceedings with one last song from that particular record. Love the cover art by the way.

Anything i've heard that was recorded by Radio Bremen sounds fantastic, and this is not the exception. So yes the first two tracks are from the debut "Smile A While" and sound different from what will follow. These two songs called "Zwick Zwick" and "Das Schwein Trugt" sound like SOFT MACHINE somewhat with the sax and flute taking turns leading the way in these almost improv-like sounding jams. They can seem a little samey but I like them, just not as much as the tracks that follow. "Your The One" is a Joe Cocker cover and they use vocals here. No they aren't the best but they are passable.They do the song justice with better instrumental workouts including a bass solo before 4 minutes. "My Way" kicks in just before a minute then settles back with vocals that aren't so good but I love when it kicks back in after 2 minutes to a Canterbury style with some excellent vocal melodies. Some rare prominant guitar from ex-JUD'S GALLERY's Enno Dernov who mostly plays bass here.

"There Was A Time" is almost 14 1/2 minutes long. This sounds pretty cool a minute in then it turns a little experimental with avant sounding sax and sound. It's not until after 3 minutes that they settle in and the audience claps at the avant playing they have just heard. Yes this sounds excellent when they settle into this Jazzy groove with the sax playing over top. Vocals before 5 minutes. Prominant organ will follow after 6 minutes. Cool tune. "Affenzahn" opens with one of the band members talking to the audience in German then it kicks into gear. I like the guitar early on then the flute leads the way. The organ takes over followed by flute once again with the guitar helping out. "Himwind" is the longest song at over 21 minutes. Great sound 5 minutes in when the flute settles to the background. Sax and flute then start to lead the way with that jazzy drumming also standing out. It settles down then gets a little avant after 10 minutes. Yes SOFT MACHINE comes to mind with the sax dominating the sound. A drum solo follows. "Marilyn Monroe" is a vocal track of almost 10 minutes before this recording ends with the short "Snakeskin Tango" from the debut.

Gotta love the Garden Of Delights label for digging up these previously unreleased live albums. If your as big a BRAINSTORM fan as I am you need to get this one, a valuable live document from the band at the height of their playing days.

 Smile A While  by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.58 | 48 ratings

Smile A While
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by presdoug

5 stars Brainstorm were one of the very first German jazz-rock bands i ever knew about-living in Canada, where the band is virtually unknown, having Smile A While was like connecting with a needle in a haystack. But, boy, do i feel lucky I stumbled across this brilliant gem.

Though with one of the worst album covers in existence, it's what is inside this album that counts. Smile A While is wild and woolly European fusion at it's best, what i like to label "bonkers, but brilliant". Their approach to jazz-rock on this record is mostly unbridled and frenetic, though at times they can slow things down and even get a bit moody, though never loosing your interest for a moment. The early seventies atmosphere created by Brainstorm on this debut of theirs is spot on, and very special-it is like a true time journey connecting with it.

The vocals are average, but what makes up for that is the group's instrumental prowess, highlighted by frenetic runs with electric organ, sax, a bit of guitar, along with some tasty flute soloing, and great serpentine bass lines. The quirky and complex drumming of Jo Koinzer leads the way, being one of the single most under-rated fusion drummers on the planet.

Whether tracks are long or short, it's an exciting trip, though they hit their creative peak on the long title track, where they have more room to jam and branch out, instrumentally.

All in all, this album has stood the test of time for me, and i never tire of it-5 stars.

 Smile A While  by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.58 | 48 ratings

Smile A While
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b-side

4 stars Really a god job! I was searching for some recordings simillar to music that Soft Machine did in their "classic" years and that was IT. Simillar and still - very innovative.

"Smile A While" (actually I did smiled after taking a quick glance on nic kitsch cover) starts with a nice blast of "Das Schwein Tr'gt" (which is also a funny title) with beautiful reeds unisono and fuzzy organ sound. Tha mellow Canterbury tune is breaked by jazzy "Zwick, zwick" with fantastic nervous pulse and fine rough solos. The "Bosco Biati WeiB Alles" suit is a great example of European fusion with bit of Wyatt's influence - on the contrast with "Snakeskin Tango" with amusing scream. Album ends with 15-minutes suite - however in this point I feel a bit bored, looking for more interesting themes or bass lines that doesn't happen.

The CD reissuie comes with fine booklet, with biographical essay and some photos, and bonus tracks, including live and some from previous episode (when group existed as Fashion Pink).

 Second Smile by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.89 | 32 ratings

Second Smile
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars BRAINSTORM's second and final studio album is even better than the debut in my opinion. Actually Roland the sax player also states that "Second Smile" is a definite improvement on the debut. You can obviously tell from my rating that I love this record. It was re- issued by the Garden Of Delights label. On the debut album the band had no bass player as Roland (sax) and Rainer (flute) took turns playing it instead. On this second album they brought in the bass player from JUD'S GALLERY named Enno Dernov who also plays guitar on one track. All the music and lyrics are original except for the lyrics on the song "There Was A Time" which were written originally by SANTANA vocalist Leon Thomas for Pharoah Sanders. Hey we even get some mellotron on one track this time.

"Himwind" opens with atmosphere that gradually intensifies. It settles back and vocal melodies come in around 2 minutes then it kicks in. Great sound here. I like the flute and mellotron. Guitar to the fore after 4 1/2 minutes then it settles back with vocal melodies to end it. Amazing opener right there. "Herbst" is led by acoustic guitar and flute. Beautiful stuff. It picks up 2 1/2 minutes in. "My Way" is led by reserved vocals and atmosphere early on. Vocal melodies before 2 minutes as it picks up. So good. The guitar is abrasive 3 1/2 minutes in. Vocals are back around 6 minutes as it calms down. More abrasive guitar then it picks up. Killer stuff.

"Aftenzahn" has a good instrumental intro, in fact the whole song sounds incredible. Flute leads after 2 1/2 minutes as keys pulsate. Guitar and bass standout before 4 minutes. "There Was A Time" has liquid keys and drums to start. Sax and bass join in, and I should mention that the sounds are sparse at first. It picks up around 2 minutes with sax. Great sound.Vocals after 3 minutes. Love the distorted organ 5 minutes in. Sax leads after 6 1/2 minutes to end it. Man every song sounds so good. "Marilyn Munroe" is a laid back vocal track at first.It picks up around 2 1/2 minutes but not for long as spoken words take over. This is so cool. It's picking up before 5 1/2 minutes before settling back with vocals.

It seems that the album cover from the debut has turned a lot of people against this band which is a shame because these guys are brilliant musicians and they play a style that I just can't get enough of.

 Smile A While  by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.58 | 48 ratings

Smile A While
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I consider BRAINSTORM and EIDER STELLAIRE as my two biggest discoveries of 2011. I must admit that I wasn't expecting much when I purchased BRAINSTORM's two studio albums mainly because of the low ratings on this site, which by the way leave me somewhat baffled. They were a German Jazz / Fusion band who began as FASHION PINK before changing their name to BRAINSTORM. It was a fairly new concept back then this idea of businessmen brainstorming ideas and they liked the meaning of that name in relation to their music. These guys were all virtuosos, playing the most complex passages with ease. It was when they were called FASHION PINK that the guys discovered the music of SOFT MACHINE, Frank Zappa, CARAVAN and the like and so they started to make more complex music. The keyboardist especially liked the sound of Mike Ratledge and Dave Stewart's distorted keyboards and promptly did the same with his.They also used echo effects and decided that what little vocals they did use would be in English. Now the album cover is controversial no doubt about it. It's one thing to dress-up like women ala Frank Zappa and MAX WEBSTER album covers both of which are hilarious, but to dress-up in women's undergarments ? I should mention that Roland the sax player would go on to play with both GURU GURU and EMBRYO.

"Das Schwein Trugt" hits the ground running and you gotta love the distortion. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes as the sax solos tastefully. It kicks back in at 3 1/2 minutes as we get some nasty organ that comes and goes. "Zwick Zwick" opens with the drums, flute and sax standing out. It's just a pleasure listening to each one of these guys play. The distorted organ after 3 minutes brings SOFT MACHINE to mind. "Watch Time Flow By" is a vocal track and he really sounds like his singing has been influenced by Robert Wyatt and Richard Sinclair. A beat with flute helps out. "Bosco Biati Weiss Alles" is Jazzy with prominant bass, sax, drums and more. A drum show 3 1/2 minutes in then some distorted organ 5 minutes in followed by a calm with vocal melodies. Nice. It kicks back in again as contrasts continue. We get an intense finish.

"Snakeship Tango" has some crazy sax then vocal expressions as a catchy soundscape takes over. "Smile A While" has these deep bass sounds with atmosphere to start. It picks up 1 1/2 minutes in and builds with the sax leading then flute. This is great ! Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in are brief then the flute leads again. More fuzz after 6 minutes. Nice. A calm before 8 1/2 minutes then the sax starts to lead. It settles with flute after 10 minutes and we get reserved vocals before 12 1/2 minutes in this laid back section. It kicks in again as he sings "Smile a while" and we get more fuzz late. Killer stuff. "You Are What's Gonna Make It Last" is catchy with vocals and some guitar too. I like it ! "Don't Forget" is the very short closing instrumental. I have to mention the first bonus track called "Thesen & Antithesen" because it sounds amazing and it goes on for 14 minutes.

A very solid 4 stars and one that SOFT MACHINE and MOVING GELATINE PLATES fans might want to check out. Enjoy the cover boys !

 From Fashion Pink To Brainstorm by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.13 | 12 ratings

From Fashion Pink To Brainstorm
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Fashion Pink were actually the ancestor band to Brainstorm,which recordings saw no light until 2000.They were formed in Baden-Baden in 1968 by multi-instrumentalist Roland Schaeffer along with Eddy von Overheidt on keyboards,Jürgen Argast on bass,Helmut Rusch on guitars and Joachim Koinzer on drums,all coming from local pop groups.Aaarst and Rusch would soon leave the band,replaced by Harold Wagner and Rainer Bodensohn in 1969.The members' parents had strong connections with the SWF radio and the young musicians recorded at three different dates some tracks for SWF from April 1970 to July 1971.These recordings would lead them to signing a contract,but the band (with a slightly different line-up) had already changed their name to Brainstorm.Fortunately this material was collected and released in 2000 by Long Hair Music.

The album shows the interesting transformation of Fashion Pink from a Psych/Blues Rock band to a Progressive/Jazz rock beast.The short opening tracks see them playing decent Psychedelic Rock with lots of organ and flute by Bodenshon and decent vocals,not far from bands like early CARAVAN and JETHRO TULL.Moving on Fashion Pink develop a more complicated sound with strong Jazz leanings and a tension for improvisation,like the highly experimental ''Number six'',yet they never denied their psychedelic roots,the driving organ and melodic flutes are still alive and well and the guitar remain a trademark of the band.Towards the middle of 1971 they had fully transmitted into a complex Jazz Rock act with Schaeffer grabing the saxes for good and FRANK ZAPPA being a notable inspiration,while now the best comparison would propably be OUT OF FOCUS.Powerful organ grooves,sax attacks,lovely flutes and jazzy guitars compose a good sound-picture of the totally instrumental 10-min. ''Brainstorming''.The following and closer of the album 14- min. ''Thesen-Antithesen'',again an all instrumental number, is even more demanding with great guitar/organ/flute interplays,complex guitar and flute work always in a jazzy mood,psychedelic and nervous organ playing and improvisational saxes.The later sound is actually a very good introduction to the real Brainstorm band,recording a year later.

'' Brainstorm'' is a very good archival release of the pre-Brainstorm days and the listener can see it as a living document of a company of young guys trying to search for a personal and inventive music approach.Recommended,especially for the two long and most progressive tracks,but the rest of the album will also appeal to fans of Heavy/Blues/Psychedelic Rock.

 Smile A While  by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.58 | 48 ratings

Smile A While
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Blooarrghh!

I'm sorry, that was me being sick all over my Mac after looking at the front cover. What on earth were they thinking on??!! Easily the worst record sleeve in the history of music. I mean, for crying out loud, what they're wearing is what I found in my mums washing basket when I was 10 years old. Gross... simply foul.

Luckily for Brainstorm, the music is far,far better, otherwise I'd be running after them with a Panzerfaust. In a funny way it reminds me of 'The Two Ronnies' (which, for Europeans - was a hilarious British TV comedy duo from the mid 70''s). Jazzy Krautrock is the order of the day, but it's played brilliantly. Such a shame. One of the finest Kraut Albums I've heard - yet annihilated by the sleeve.

Every time I look at this album I feel like throwing it in the bin - then when I listen to it - it turns out to be great.

What was a definite 4 star has been downgraded to 3 simply because of the abysmal cover. I mean - can you imagine showing this to your friends?

 Smile A While  by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.58 | 48 ratings

Smile A While
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars OK, cover of this album is absolutely terrible, we all can agree on this simple fact. But we don't listen prog because of image, right ? And about music, I can say that it's standard prog jazz (or Canterbury if you want), nothing special. With few nasty surprises, Zappa-like (supposed to be like) features and shouts of craziness., but done in a way that I can't admire so much. I wanted, but for that, this music would have to be more deep and interesting, so far, it's just randomly (so even it's not predictable, it's still plain) changing styles.

3(-), no, this is not the way how it should be done.

 Smile A While  by BRAINSTORM album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.58 | 48 ratings

Smile A While
Brainstorm Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BaldFriede
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Brainstorm were a German band that played fusion with a sense of humour. This can clearly be heard on this album. They certainly did not take themselves too seriously. While I would not say these guys defined the genre in any new way, one has to keep in mind that it was still a pretty young genre back then. I personally like their second album better than their first; my favourites are Bosco Biati Weiss Alles and the Snakeskin Tango, which has some outrageous vocals at the beginning. The cover is simply hilarious; I don't know about the CD version, but the vinyl version had a lot more photos of them in their costumes on the backside, in which they sometimes assume ridiculous poses. 3.5 stars for this album; since I have the feeling this album has been done some injustice I will round it up to 4.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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