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JANE

Heavy Prog • Germany


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Jane biography
Playing a melodious synthesis of symphonic hard rock that has occcasionally been compared to Pink Floyd, Hanover Krautrockers Jane can trace their origins back to the late sixties psychedelic band Justice Of Peace. Releasing a single Save Me/War, the band featured future Jane members Peter Panka on vocals, Klaus Hess on bass and Werner Nadolny on saxophone. By late 1970 Justice Of Peace had dissolved and regrouped as Jane with Panka on vocals and drums, Hess switching to guitar and Nadolny assuming keyboards. Charly Maucher joined on bass and power vocalist Berndt Pulst completed the band in April 1971 and their first LP "Together" was released in the spring of 1972. Singing in broken English, which helped create passionate effects, a heavy expressive bluesy sound emerged with blistering Les Paul solos and slabs of Hammond organ backdrops that was consolidated by Peter Panka's almost hypnotic oscillating drum beats that would charcterize Jane's music for almost 40 years. "Together" was warmly recieved by the German music press including Sound magazine who had declared Pulst it's vocalist of the year for 1971.

The first of an almost continual succesion of lineup changes occurred later that year with Pulst departing and Maucher bowing out for health reasons. Former Justice Of Peace guitarist Wolfgang Krantz joined on bass and guitar with Panka and Hess sharing the vocals which displayed even more lethargic and stoned out sonic timbres. Applying their proven formula, their 1973 follow up "Here We Are" was somewhat more harmonious with the the addition of synthesizers that provided spacier atmospheres and produced a fan favourite in the form of the sombre rock ballad "Out In The Rain" . Shortly after the album's release Nadolny left to form a new band Lady with the recovered Maucher returning on bass and vocals. Jane's third endeavour, simply entitled Jane III, was a scorching guitar blowout and with Krantz on second guitar. The void left by departing keyboardist Nadolny was adequately compensated for with two dueling guitarists as demonstrated by an impressive in-studio jam entitled " Jane Session" as well as a spaced out extended track "Comin' Again" featuring Maucher's harder edged vocals. Not long after the release of Jane III, Maucher and Krantz departed, eventually forming Harlis on the fledgling Sky Records label. In May 1974 Jane rejuevenated itself by absorbing two members from the recently disbanded hard rock band Dull Knife with Martin Hesse ...
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LP fire, water, earth and air ~ USD $24.65
LP together ~ USD $24.65


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JANE discography


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

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

3.67 | 107 ratings
Together
1972
3.36 | 60 ratings
Here We Are
1973
2.82 | 45 ratings
Jane III
1974
3.07 | 37 ratings
Lady
1975
3.33 | 58 ratings
Fire, Water, Earth and Air
1976
3.37 | 47 ratings
Between Heaven and Hell
1977
2.92 | 31 ratings
Age Of Madness
1978
2.72 | 18 ratings
Sign No. 9
1979
2.97 | 16 ratings
Jane
1980
2.03 | 14 ratings
Germania
1982
1.44 | 13 ratings
Beautiful Lady
1986
1.16 | 6 ratings
Resurrection
1996
2.60 | 12 ratings
Genuine
2002
1.70 | 9 ratings
Shine On
2003
2.59 | 8 ratings
Voices
2007
3.50 | 2 ratings
proceed with memories ...
2008
2.90 | 10 ratings
Traces
2009
3.50 | 20 ratings
Eternity
2011
3.83 | 6 ratings
Kuxan Suum
2011

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

3.99 | 42 ratings
Jane At Home Live
1976
3.50 | 6 ratings
Jane Live '89
1990
3.02 | 6 ratings
Live 2002
2002
3.50 | 2 ratings
Live at Meta's
2007

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

4.00 | 6 ratings
Tribute To Peter Panka
2008

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

3.00 | 1 ratings
Waiting For The Sunshine
1977
3.00 | 1 ratings
Crowns
1977

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

JANE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fire, Water, Earth and Air  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.33 | 58 ratings

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Fire, Water, Earth and Air
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Although probably more at home playing tough bluesy jamming rock, German band Jane on occasional albums incorporated slight prog, psych and spacerock elements into their chugging rock sound that sometimes delivered decent results. Their fifth album `Fire, Water, Earth and Air' from 1976 is one of their more successful works, still hardly essential but a decent heavy churning space-rocker all the same. There's a strong emphasis on spacey keyboards in much the same manner as numerous other German bands from the time such as Eloy, Epidaurus and Novalis, making it a nice background listen for undiscriminating prog/spacerock fans.

"Fire, Water, Earth and Air come together in my soul" slurs Klaus Hess during the 17 minute opening side-long piece, his voice not unlike a drowsy David Gilmour. Thick Hammond organ, hard drums, searing electric guitar soloing and eerie drawn-out synth washes comprise the piece, a repetitive and plodding track that always retains a lazy sunny warmth. The second passage moves up in tempo with melodic leaping bass moving through fiery drumming, then abruptly falling away into a drifting Eloy-like outer-space drone and later some bluesy guitar wailing. The third section floats on chiming electric guitars and gentle ocean ambience that unfolds beautifully into punchy drumming and fiery guitar grooves over extended synth builds. Thankfully the music is better than the tired and uninspired `Keep on rollin', `she gives me some sweet luvin' every day' lyrics.

The second side opens with the 5 minute breather `Earth', a straight-forward rock track highlighted by a wasted and bedraggled lead vocal with double tracked electric guitar soloing on either side of the speakers. The nearly 11 minute closer `Air and the End' races through a range of slow to mid-tempos sprightly changes, light organ and riffing guitars, but the `Superman, cool again' chorus is baffling! Better is the second half, scorching Hammond, darting Moogs and pulsing bass weave around mellow emotional guitar noodling before ending on a nice shuffling come-down. Really the second side is more or less just the same as the first, making the album safe, predictable and a little forgettable, even if always pleasing and undemanding.

Jane are still not the most exciting of prog-related bands, but they are decent and consistent in the style they work in at the same time. The debut remains far and away the strongest of their works that I've heard, but `Fire, Water, Earth and Air' is a short n' sweet 33 minute hard-rocking cosmic trip that German spacerock fans will likely dig very much.

Three stars.

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 Age Of Madness  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.92 | 31 ratings

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Age Of Madness
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Age of Madness, indeed: 1978 was all that and more, to fans of Progressive Rock. After reaching a creative plateau on their ambitious 1977 album "Between Heaven and Hell", the hard-rockers of Jane followed a lot of other prog acts into shallow waters toward the end of the decade. But let's face it: unlike some groups they didn't have to swim very far.

In fact the band sounded very much at ease in the less sophisticated musical tide pools of the late '70s, at least over the initial three tracks here. That burst of classic Hammond organ grunge kicking off the album was a conscious throwback to an earlier, heavier Jane: the musical equivalent of slipping into an old pair of sneakers after a formal night on the town. The song itself was still uncomfortably in debt to PINK FLOYD, but with a welcome economy of style compared to the bloated, faceless wall Roger Waters was erecting at the time.

And then we arrive at the bluntly-titled "Love Song", sounding like a different group altogether: a soft rock ensemble from the beaches of southern California, perhaps. It helps to hear the track as a clever parody of a radio-friendly single, which I'm sure wasn't the intention, but the almost robotic repetition of rhythm and verse might have worked as satire in another context. From that point on, the madness in the album's title can be officially diagnosed as schizophrenia: half creative energy, half commercial tripe.

Okay, so that last comment was a little harsh, and not entirely true. Yes, there's a 50/50 separation in quality over the album's nine tracks, divided almost equally between songs and instrumentals (and here I count the two-part title track as an instrumental, with singing). But even at its lowest common denominator the album is occasionally lit by incandescent flashes of energy, typically sparked by guitarist Klaus Hess, in the dramatic sustained notes of "Bad Game"; or his striking solo turn in "With Her Smile"; or the driving pace of "Get This Power", the latter effort shortchanged only by Peter Panka's lack of traditional New Wave drumming chops.

The overall structure of the album helps it too, with the better (wordless) selections bookending the weaker songs, in effect supporting them in a firm musical embrace. And despite its split personality the complete package strikes a more unified tone than the somewhat contrived prog stylings of their more popular "Heaven and Hell". While not a triumph by any means, it's hardly the stumble I might have expected, and actually compares well to the late-inning rallies of other, bigger prog bands nearing the end of their relevance.

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 Between Heaven and Hell  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.37 | 47 ratings

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Between Heaven and Hell
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It seems a strange thing to admit on a website advertising itself as "Your Ultimate Prog Rock Resource", but I prefer the music of Jane when the band was languishing in Hard Rock hell, instead of striving toward Progressive heaven. Their earliest work was simpler, more straightforward, and aesthetically genuine in a way this album wasn't. The band's previous LP ("Fire, Water, Earth and Air") made a virtue of its added refinement, but this effort leaned too far toward pretension: a noble aim for Prog Rockers if they understand the rules before trying to break them.

Which I don't believe was the case for Jane. The quartet deserves credit for expanding its musical boundaries, but in the end they resemble tourists from the wrong side of the tracks, trying to blend in at an upscale resort without having mastered the local language. Opening the album with an awesome four-minute cosmic drone doesn't automatically qualify it as legitimate Space Rock, no matter how openly the song later plagiarizes PINK FLOYD's "Brain Damage".

It's all part of the episodic, side-long title track, an ambitious but uneven achievement marred by sudden, arbitrary jumps in mood and direction. The rocking and rolling sections, typically Jane's raison d'être, actually sound more leaden than heavy, something no one could ever say about the band's older albums. Compare the song itself to the slowly escalating jam beginning soon afterward: one of those moody, hypnotic workouts rarely heard outside Germany at the time, and arguably the group's finest moment on record. It's too bad the rest of the album didn't follow the same improvisational path.

In between is an odd Latin Gregorian chant, not very happily integrated into the larger musical structure, to a degree suggesting unintended satire. Like the kindred Anglophonic rockers of ELOY, there was always a touch of Spinal Tap to Jane's proggier ambitions (think of the controversial Tap album "Rock 'n' Roll Creation"). The band was always more vital when manhandling a Hammond organ instead of caressing a bank of string synthesizers, although the ecclesiastic keyboards (with harp!) at the end of the mini-suite "Twilight" are very effective. In low-brow contrast, the final track ("Your Circle") is a routine bit of troglodyte machismo tossed like a raw bone to the group's less adventurous fans.

Over a career spanning multiple decades Jane approached the rarified air of Progressive Rock only twice: evidence of musical bandwagon jumping more than innovation. But in those two albums they ran the Prog Rock gamut through "Fire, Water, Earth, and Air" to somewhere "Between Heaven and Hell". Giant steps indeed for such a roughshod group, only a little unsure of its footing on this second leap of musical faith.

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 Fire, Water, Earth and Air  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.33 | 58 ratings

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Fire, Water, Earth and Air
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A purist (and what else is a true Proghead if not an Apollonian purist?) might tell you these guys had no business sitting at the Progressive Rock banquet table. If you listen to their albums leading up to this 1976 epiphany, you won't find a band in the Symphonic Rock or Jazz Fusion or Avant- Garde tradition (and certainly not from the more seditious culture of Krautrock). But at least they tried. And unless we're misleading our children it's the effort that counts, isn't it?

For this album, the band's most ambitious to date (ambition being a relative term for such an earthbound collective), Jane raised its PINK FLOYD banner higher than ever, with the tempos, the melodies, and especially the vocals all but screaming, "Wish We Were There". Jane might have started life as a gang of rock 'n' roll delinquents, but they fell eagerly in step with Progressive music trends in the mid '70s, and better late (almost too late, in 1976) than never.

Clearly the band members had done some homework, and learned their lessons well. The album opens with an actual Classical Rock fanfare, en route to an extended Klaus Hess guitar solo: quintessential Jane, and still exhilarating. And it's a concept album too, recalling Peter Sinfield's employment of the four Platonic elements in his lyric for the KING CRIMSON tune "In the Wake of Poseidon", with each 'movement' cued, somewhat obviously, by the appropriate sound effect.

The album may be secondhand Floyd, but Jane was a more unified band in 1976, when the Floyd was already showing symptoms of creative malaise. Jane's music at the time was also far more melodic, if not quite so elemental as the title suggested...diluted perhaps (like a lot of Prog Rock) by too much air and not enough fire. And the lyrics, when audible, never rose above the standard give-me-some-sweet-lovin' plateau of '70s banality. But this was the more consistent of the band's proggier efforts, less self-consciously ornate than its popular follow-up "Between Heaven and Hell". Over the album's 33-minute flow of more-or-less continuous music, the group walked a precarious tightrope between the artless guitar rock of their earlier recordings and the extended Prog cosmetics of the later LP, without ever missing a step.

Having only just heard it for the first time (on the recommendation of a Fellow Traveler in these Archives), I'm standing up for the maligned 3-star rating with a possibly too conservative trio of sympathetic stars here. The album is hardly a classic, but when measured by the yardstick of nostalgia it's still a classic slice of the 1970s.

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 Lady  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.07 | 37 ratings

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Lady
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Hanover quartet of Jane was beginning to sound more American than German by 1975, yet another reason why Krautrock elitists have always ignored them. The Kosmische Musik geek inside me wants to likewise turn up his nose, but after belatedly taking some time to explore their music in depth his teenage garage-band doppelgänger simply won't allow it.

The band's fourth studio album saw yet another line-up shuffle, this time arguably to their benefit. New vocalist (and keyboard player) Gottfried Janko possessed a more distinctive singing voice than drummer Peter Panka, something a prosaic outfit like Jane desperately needed (imagine CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, after years of expensive therapy). Janko's keyboard playing didn't have the same raw vitality as his predecessor (and eventual replacement) Werner Nadolny, but it was a moot point: the bedrock of Jane remained guitarist Klaus Hess, still in good form despite the weaker material here.

The music itself was nowhere near the creative acme of Progressive Rock, despite the occasional synthesizer squirt. And the songwriting is rarely strong enough to be entirely convincing four decades later. As usual the band was at its best when flexing its instrumental muscles and sticking to the riffs, as heard in the "Midnight Mover" jam, not coincidentally also the longest cut off the album. And the intro to the title track is an air-guitarist's fantasy come true: one of those quintessential '70s anthems able to drive an acne-damaged high school dropout to headphone ecstasy.

It would be easy for a musical snob like me to simply accept bands like Jane as a guilty pleasure, and move on. But isn't that akin to damning them with faint praise? And why feel any guilt at all? Jane never quite met the ideals of Progressive Rock (transcendence, virtuosity, so forth), but as a boilerplate hard-rocking ensemble with higher-than-average aspirations they were close to peerless in their mid-'70s heyday. And Progheads know better than anyone how to live with a guilty pleasure: by ditching the pointless guilt and unearthing the buried pleasure.

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 Here We Are  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.36 | 60 ratings

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Here We Are
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Jane's 1972 debut would sit comfortably on the same shelf with the earliest efforts of other stalwart German acts like GROBSCHNITT, ELOY and SATIN WHALE, all (mostly) unpretentious rock-and-rollers with a heavy emphasis on organ and guitar. Their sophomore album, released a year later, was a little more adventurous, but for a group like Jane that wasn't necessarily an improvement. To these ears their less challenging but harder rocking early work sounds better in retrospect than some of the band's later stabs at musical sophistication. But this album at least found a decent point of balance between their limited abilities and loftier ambitions.

Missing here is the dogged intensity of the first LP, and the singular vocals (to say the least) of Bernd Pulst, whose voice sounded exactly like you'd expect from someone named Bernd Pulst. The merely adequate interim singing of drummer Peter Panka leaves no impression whatsoever, good or bad, and as if to compensate for the resulting loss of identity the band made attempts to refine the music itself, adding a Mellotron here and a chorus of female backup singers there, even including an occasional touch of acoustic nuance, in songs like "Dandelion".

The writing too was more melodic in a primitive sort of way, with the faux-strings in "Like a Queen" and "Out in the Rain" bringing a little symphonic depth to Jane's typically beefy sound. But in keeping with what should have been the band's official motto (Keep It Simple, Stupid) the music shone brightest when dragged through a muck of instrumental blues-rock behind Werner Nadolny's grinding Hammond organ and the assertive lead guitar of Klaus Hess. The adrenalin really kicks in during the album-ending title track, closing the set with a suitable bang (although the song itself ends on a curious whimper).

As popular as they were in the 1970s, Jane was always an easy band for discriminating Progheads (and especially Krautrockers) to dismiss, as I did for many years. But after several decades the same music, in all its turgid sub-Floydian heaviness, can be just as easy to appreciate, not least for its nostalgic pull toward a lost age of rock guitar heroics. Sure it's uncomplicated stuff. But I'll take the authentic sow's ear of their first two albums over the imitation silk purse of the band's proggier efforts any day.

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 Together  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.67 | 107 ratings

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Together
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The music of Jane didn't exactly escape my attention in the 1970s, when they were one of the biggest acts in Germany and I was an ardent teen Proghead with a taste for European imports. But the Krautrock puritan in me wasn't moved at the time by their derivative Anglophilic sound...why listen to a continental PINK FLOYD / PROCOL HARUM copycat band, with so many better and more challenging groups to choose from?

But at the suggestion of a kindred Progarchivist I decided to relax my skepticism after all these years...reluctantly, I should admit, but impressed after repeated plays by the single-minded drive of their 1972 debut album, an achievement the band would never again quite match.

Of course the German Rock scene wouldn't have been the same without "A Saucerful of Secrets" to guide it. But while the more cosmic proggers east of the Rhine River were busy trying to decipher the secrets, bands like Jane were content with just the saucer, rarely aspiring to the same interstellar musical overdrive. The two-note bass guitar intro to "Daytime", the opening track of the band's first album, recalls (and not by accident) the identical ostinato driving "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", but it's only a token cosmetic loan, and quickly discarded.

The next few minutes set the pace for an album-long grind of heavy guitar blues and Hammond organ soul, played at a relentless tempo and featuring one of the most distinctive lead vocalists of any era, the awesome Bernd Pulst. His performance can still be an acquired taste, sounding not unlike Janis Joplin on a really, really bad day, forced to sing around a mouthful of marbles. But to me his voice remains one of the album's strongest attributes, perfectly matched to the grungy organ and macho guitar solos. Nobody here was a virtuoso, but the primitive rhythms, simple melodies, and uncomplicated jamming can still be effective when played at the intended volume: eleven on a Spinal Tap scale. And when the band kicks into high gear in the latter half of 'Hangman" it's almost impossible not to plug in your air guitar and swagger alongside them on the stage of your imagination.

It's easy in retrospect to hear what made Jane a superstar band in a country eager for English and American cultural residue. Their first album is worthless as Progressive Rock, but that was never its aim. This is music for the sawdust covered concrete floors of bygone rock arenas...no laser light distractions or dry-ice effects, just loud music from large amplifiers, performed with unwashed vigor and enthusiasm.

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 Live 2002 by JANE album cover Live, 2002
3.02 | 6 ratings

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Live 2002
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

2 stars Seeing as how Klaus Hess is not involved, and that Jane have acquired the 'Peter Panka' prefix I can only assume that there is either two versions of the band on the road, or that Klaus and Peter have had a dispute as to who owns the name. Certainly when they were building the reputation of the band in the Seventies as one of the most important German rock bands they were the leaders with many hired hands, but now Peter is there with three others and Klaus not in sight. In fact they have just been touring with Birth Control who is another mainstay from that genre.

Recorded in Germany, there is no doubting the love that the crowd have for what the band are doing. But as a live album it contains one of my pet dislikes, namely the way that it fades in and out. I know that it is rarely totally live but I like to imagine that it is. As for the music itself, I have to say that for the most part it is pretty ordinary and there is little here to get excited about. That it is well played and produced is never in doubt, and the crowd just lapped it up, but I doubt that they would have got the same reaction in the UK.

This tour was to promote 'Genuine' which was also released on SPV earlier in the year but having heard this that is not an album that I am going to rush out to discover. If you are a fan then this will be indispensable but that is certainly not the case if you are not.

Originally appeared in Feedback #71, Dec 02

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 Jane III  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.82 | 45 ratings

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Jane III
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by João Paulo

3 stars I love seventies sound of progressive music but this album don't have nothing special and new to Germany music of this time. To me, it's a comercial album with some psichedelic parts very comun in lot of bands. I believe that we can listen very good musicians but not inspired do make this work. Lirycs are in English, universal language for seal outside the original countrys. We can listen some calm parts with some calm guitar's and other's in Hard Rock vein but the global album don't have harmony. Boring when we compare with other Germany band's of this time. I don't listen the other Jane albuns but Jane III just have some nice parts to listen. 3 stars for the good parts

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 Jane At Home Live by JANE album cover Live, 1976
3.99 | 42 ratings

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Jane At Home Live
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Alongside the same years expansive concept album 'Fire, Water, Earth & Air' and considered by fans as the high watermark of Jane's lengthy career, 1976's double-sided concert album 'Live At Home' finds the Teutonic icons triumphantly blasting out a ballsy set filled with the group's trademark psych-tinged prog medleys, spaced-out angular rockers and Pink Floyd-ish soundscapes. To all extents and purposes a greatest hits set rounding up the best of their first five studio efforts, 'Live At Home' basically puts a sense of closure over Jane's prolific - and best - period, their early days. Any post 1976 albums should be treated with caution by those just starting to explore Jane's discography, though the opposite is also true; anything released before this definitive live album is well worth checking out. Featuring a near-classic line-up of Klaus Hess(guitar, vocals), Martin Hesse(bass, vocals), Peter Panka(drums, vocals) and former Eloy member Manfred Wieczorke(keyboards), 'Live At Home' shows just how Powerful Jane could be in the live arena, something that shouldn't come as a real surprise considering that through the latter half of the 1970s they were one of the top live draws in Germany, selling millions of records in the process. As well as rattling through most of 'Fire, Water, Earth & Air', there is also an iconic - and lengthy - version of the groups mystical opus 'Windows', some scintillating guitar work adorning the blues-tinged 'Lady' and a truly mesmerising delivery of the twelve-minute rock odyssey 'Hangman'. Maybe at times Jane's influences become a bit too obvious, though despite their obvious debt to, amongst(many) others, the likes of Pink Floyd(whom many an over-zealous fan has compared them to) the group's bluesy brand of spacey rock 'n' roll seems almost perfectly suited to the live setting. A fluid, slickly- delivered album, 'Live At Home' is the sound of a group hit peak form.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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