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Eclectic Prog • Poland

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SBB picture
SBB biography
Founded in 1971 in Siemianowice, Poland - Split up in 1980 - Reunited in 1991, 1993, 1998 and from 2000 on

SBB is one of the most important Polish bands of the seventies. This band, rightfully listed in the eclectic progressive genre, mainly plays a hybrid of symphonic prog, space/atmospheric prog and fusion.

The band originated from the early seventies, with their initial name being SILESIAN BLUES BAND. The band was formed by composer, keyboardist, bass-player and extravert vocalist Józef SKRZEK. Young, but skill-full guitar-player Antymos APOSTOLIS added his great solo's and drummer extraordinaire Jerzy PIOTROWSKi freely experimented with his recognizable fast fills and break-up rhythms.

In the end of '71, after a year full of gigs, the band started a fruitful cooperation with one of Polish most important musicians and song-writers: Czesław NIEMEN. For a year and a half the band NIEMEN toured in Poland, as well as in Europe. During this period SBB & NIEMEN recorded three critically acclaimed progressive records; "Marionetki" (1972), "Strange is This World" (1972) and "Ode to Venus" (1973). Czesław NIEMEN has his own page on the progarchives.

After this period SBB regrouped itself and changed its name in SZUKAJ - BURZ - BUDUJ (Search - Break - Build up). In 1974 their first album 'SBB' was recorded live. Though the album lacked cohesiveness (both piano ballads and very dirty experimental rock improvisation), it was a big hit in Poland and soon it ran out of stock. The record was sold on the black market for twice the price.

In 1975 SBB recorded its first studio album in the radio studios of Polish Radio 3. 'Nowy Horyzont' was a full-blown innovative and progressive recording that would set the course for the rest of their career. The political involvement in the lyrics of their studio-debut makes it a historical achievement, though it's recording doesn't stand the test of time very well. The band had some clear fusion influences (MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA is said to been a big influence), some spacey influences from bands like PINK FLOYD and some symphonic influences. The atmosphere of SBB's albums would however be a bit more abstract then those of their English colleagues. The drums of SBB stand out as very energetic and important for the band's intelligent atmospheres.

Late in 1975 SBB returned to the studio, resulting in their first swan-song ' Pamieç'. Three long songs, with full-blown and mature symphonic arr...
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Buy SBB Music

W Filharmonii: Akt 2 [Bonus Tracks] [Digipack] [Remastered]W Filharmonii: Akt 2 [Bonus Tracks] [Digipack] [Remastered]
$41.16 (used)
Lost Tapes 1Lost Tapes 1
Box set
Metal Mind Poland 2005
$129.99 (used)
$18.69 (used)
Hofors 1975Hofors 1975
GAD Records (Broken Silence) 2017
$21.88 (used)
SBB: Live In Opole 1976. A Late Night Recital [CD]SBB: Live In Opole 1976. A Late Night Recital [CD]
Universal Music
Sbb: Live In Marburg 1980 - The Final Concert [2CD]Sbb: Live In Marburg 1980 - The Final Concert [2CD]
Universal Music
Sbb: Live In Opole 1974 - Rock Przez CaLy Rok [CD]Sbb: Live In Opole 1974 - Rock Przez CaLy Rok [CD]
Universal Music
SBB: Za LiniÄ. Horyzontu [CD]SBB: Za LiniÄ. Horyzontu [CD]
Firma KsiÄTgarska Jacek Olesiejuk
SBB: Welcome [CD]SBB: Welcome [CD]
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SBB discography

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

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

3.85 | 159 ratings
Nowy Horyzont
4.22 | 266 ratings
4.18 | 220 ratings
Ze Słowem Biegnę Do Ciebie
3.28 | 71 ratings
3.53 | 15 ratings
Halina Frąckowiak: Geira
3.24 | 73 ratings
SBB [Aka: Amiga Album]
3.85 | 141 ratings
Follow My Dream
4.24 | 203 ratings
SBB [Aka: Wołanie O Brzęk Szkła and Slovenian Girls]
3.64 | 117 ratings
4.25 | 390 ratings
Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem
2.91 | 49 ratings
3.21 | 48 ratings
New Century
3.59 | 74 ratings
The Rock
3.53 | 64 ratings
Iron Curtain
3.15 | 55 ratings
Blue Trance
3.64 | 88 ratings
3.65 | 51 ratings
Za Linią Horyzontu

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

3.62 | 99 ratings
SBB [Aka: SBB 1]
3.24 | 21 ratings
S.B.B. Live 1993
2.75 | 20 ratings
Live In America '94
4.03 | 20 ratings
Absolutely Live '98
2.75 | 20 ratings
W filharmonii: akt 1
2.76 | 21 ratings
W filharmonii: akt 2
3.00 | 17 ratings
Good Bye ! SBB - Live In Concert
4.66 | 72 ratings
Karlstad Live
3.83 | 26 ratings
Budai Ifjusagi Park (24 &29.11.1977 )
2.80 | 15 ratings
Trio Live Tournee 2001
4.32 | 25 ratings
Freedom - Live - Sopot '78
4.26 | 27 ratings
22.10.1977, Gottingen, Alte Ziegelei
2.57 | 7 ratings
Odlot - Live 2004
3.70 | 10 ratings
Live in Spodek 2006
4.77 | 26 ratings
Complete Tapes 1974
4.78 | 14 ratings
Live In Marburg 1980. The Final Concert
4.00 | 15 ratings
Roskilde 1978
4.73 | 11 ratings
Live In Neckargemund 1978. From A Town Called N.
4.75 | 11 ratings
Live In Köln 1979. In The Shadow Of The Dom
4.20 | 11 ratings
Live In Opole 1974. Rock Przez CaŁy Rok
4.67 | 15 ratings
Live In Frankfurt 1977. Follow My Music
4.55 | 11 ratings
Live in Sopot 1978. Extended Freedom
4.63 | 12 ratings
Live In Czechoslovakia 1980. Three Quarters
4.00 | 7 ratings
Live In Opole 1976. A Late Night Recital
4.64 | 11 ratings
Jazz nad Odrą 1975
4.58 | 12 ratings
Warszawa 1980
4.75 | 8 ratings
SBB box koncertowy
3.70 | 10 ratings
SBB & Michał Urbaniak
4.87 | 12 ratings
Hofors 1975
4.80 | 5 ratings
Karlstad 1975 plus

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

4.32 | 13 ratings
Follow My Dream
4.75 | 12 ratings
Szczesliwi z miasta N.
4.44 | 18 ratings
Live In Theatre 2005
4.81 | 16 ratings
Live In 1979
4.27 | 11 ratings
Four Decades
4.52 | 9 ratings
Behind the Iron Curtain
0.00 | 0 ratings
Welcome 40th Anniversary 1978-2018

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

4.11 | 9 ratings
S.B.B. 2 & 3
3.47 | 6 ratings
4.68 | 34 ratings
Anthology 1974-2004
4.36 | 25 ratings
3.70 | 21 ratings
Wicher W Polu Dmie
4.30 | 22 ratings
Lost Tapes Vol. 1 (Studio & Live Recordings 1974-1978)
4.25 | 16 ratings
Lost Tapes, Vol.2 (Studio & Live Recordings 1971-1979)
4.25 | 9 ratings
4.33 | 3 ratings
Skrzek SBB Preisner
0.00 | 0 ratings

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

2.76 | 8 ratings
The Golden Harp

SBB Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 SBB [Aka: Amiga Album] by SBB album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.24 | 73 ratings

SBB [Aka: Amiga Album]
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by WFV

3 stars This is a funky rock record with fusion moments with an Eastern European slant. I can see why other proggers don't have a feel for this sort of album from the late seventies. With that said, I find it a curiosity and I really like it. It's a step up from background music for me, I can turn it up really loud and it doesn't seem loud enough. I like this better than the previous Jerzyk, and if you are as likely to spin a Parliament record as a Focus record I suggest giving this album a try. Excellent guitars and keyboards, definitely get the version with twenty songs
 Nowy Horyzont by SBB album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.85 | 159 ratings

Nowy Horyzont
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by demolition man

5 stars An extremely important band for the history of Progressive Rock, especially in the 1970s. There are no bad albums and all of them are worth listening to. The band are clearly very talented with their instruments and have a liking and focus on experimental solos with organ, piano, bass, electric guitar and a sublime contribution from percussion. Of all the fantastic bands to come from Poland (and there are many fine examples), SBB are the forerunner of the Eclectic mix of symphonic and experimental jazz fusion.

Here I focus on their first studio album Nowy Horyzont (New Horizon). It's a magnificent album from start to finish and is predominantly an instrumental album, but there is some spoken Polish in the sublime "Ballada O Pieciu Glodnych" (Ballad of the Five Hungry), which is the fourth track.

The opening track (Na Pierwszy Ogien) has some fantastic memorable riffs and a very exciting blend of guitar and organ; all the way kept in rhythm by the quite extraordinary drumming. Fast paced and experimental, it really showcases what is to come from the band throughout their career. Interluded with beautiful piano, it really beholds the listener.

Then "Blysk" immediately continues on the fast track theme and hugely impressive showcase of progressive rock. Comparisons can be made with ELP's early work here.

Third up, the title track where the band provide continuity of experimental music and they can once again demonstrate fully their playing abilities. An incredible understanding between the sounds. Another special mention to the drumming by Jerzy Piotrowski who keeps everything perfect. A beautiful piano finale as well.

The fifth and final track is a long one running to 20 minutes. Very experimental and what is to become very typical of this band in the 1970s. Wolnosc Z Nami. Beautifully crafted and meandering between differing moods.

What a tremendous album. But it isn't over if you happen to have purchased the remaster CD, because there are four excellent bonus tracks. These are equally impressive and, as with all the SBB back catalogue remasters, they are important contributions from what must be a huge amount of recorded music available. Unlike most bands who remaster their projects, SBB bring full length and new music to the listener with these bonus tracks. Nothing out of place, no fillers. The listener is spoilt.

Easily a 5 star album. But it doesn't stop there with SBB. Live albums and studio albums; the vast majority are 3+ stars minimum. Just a great band and a very important one for Poland and for Progressive Rock. Nowy Horyzont is a good studio album to start with and I hope you won't be disappointed.

 Hofors 1975 by SBB album cover Live, 2016
4.87 | 12 ratings

Hofors 1975
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It doesn't get much better than this. SBB left Poland for a tour of Sweden back in May of 1975 and they played some of the most amazing music I've ever heard on that tour. I consider their "Karlstad" live album as my favourite from them and it was recorded on this tour, as was this archival release "Hofors '75". Hofors was a small industrial town in Sweden at the time which may account for the song titles. This might be the most impressive power trio of them all when it comes to live music and yes RUSH is my favourite band.

We get two long suites starting with "Works In Iron I" an almost 21 1/2 minute tour de force. It starts off innocently enough as sounds come and go until the organ starts to come to a boil as the drums pound. So good as some vocal expressions come and go. Guitar after 1 1/2 minutes. Crank it up! The vocals kick in at 2 1/2 minutes as the organ floats in the background and the drums pound. The organ comes to the fore when the vocals step aside. Love the drumming here after 5 1/2 minutes as the organ continues to run at will. The tempo picks up some around 6 1/2 minutes and check out the determined rhythm 8 1/2 minutes in as that becomes the focus. Some nasty organ runs return after 9 minutes as we get a yell from the singer. The intensity is rising at 10 1/2 minutes and the guitar starts to light it up. It then slows down as the organ boils and the drums pound, vocals before 12 minutes. It starts to pick up after 16 minutes as the vocals stop. Check out the guitar around 17 minutes. The organ starts to rip it up 18 minutes in as the guitar continues.

"Works In Iron II" is the 20 minute closer. The organ is on a slow boil as a beat joins in. Some guitar too then vocals a minute in. The vocals are bluesy. The guitar becomes more prominent after 4 minutes. It's so powerful and repetitive after 6 minutes with vocal melodies. A calm after 7 minutes but check out the fast paced drumming. Some organ joins in briefly then intricate guitar followed by more vocal melodies then bam! We're nailed to the wall with some killer organ, drums and guitar all after 10 minutes. Nice. The tempo picks up a minute later and I love when the organ joins in after 12 minutes. So freaking good! A change 15 minutes in to an almost doomy vibe briefly, so dark and intense here. The drumming is mind blowing 16 minutes in along with those filthy organ runs. The guitar is back! It's building in intensity again before it starts to wind down late with keys ending it.

The power on display here gives me goosebumps. They do contrast passages well but man the drumming and organ especially create mass destruction throughout. Not worthy!

 Lost Tapes Vol. 1 (Studio & Live Recordings 1974-1978) by SBB album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2005
4.30 | 22 ratings

Lost Tapes Vol. 1 (Studio & Live Recordings 1974-1978)
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I think maybe SBB could have learned something from CAN who released a recording called "The Lost Tapes" but limited it to three discs. We get nine discs here! I'm going to focus on what I consider to be the best disc of the lot called "Impresje" which is disc one. This would be close to 5 stars on it's own, maybe 4.5 stars but overall 4 stars seems fair for this mammoth box set. I have to say that this power trio might be the best I've ever heard. Jerzy on drums, Apostolis on guitar and Jozef on keys, bass, harmonica and vocals.

"Dla Egona" features some amazing drum work and check out the rhythm section when this gets cooking with harmonica over top. Heavy stuff. "Impresje" sounds incredible with the guitar soling over top of the dark soundscape. This is a mid-paced slow burner. "Pamietnik Rudigera" is more uptempo than the previous track but the guitar solos over the soundscape like on that one. A calm a minute in. Great sound! It kicks back in at 3 1/2 minutes. Nice. "Kala" is a short piece with intricate guitar but not much more. "Dziwne Zwierze" is a rare vocal track that is catchy and kicks ass. Some monster bass and ripping guitar as well. Love it! "Szalony Grzes" has some great atmosphere to it early on. It's picking up before 3 minutes but then before 5 minutes it's heating up big time. The next two songs are both18 minutes long.

"Wyjatek Z Wolnosci" open with sounds that come and go including cymbals and piano then we get a change after 2 1/2 minutes then the drums kick in. Synths join in after 6 minutes. Drums only after 9 minutes but then the synths return. It slows down but turns heavier late to end it. "360 Do Tylu" opens with a guitar solo that lasts 2 1/2 minutes then the drums take over and eventually the guitar returns soloing once again. Drums only after 6 1/2 minutes then it picks up after 8 1/2 minutes. Synths after 11 minutes then the guitar starts to solo late once again. "Motyw Popoludnlowy" opens with chimes and piano as other sounds help out. Synths eventually come to the fore in this laid back number. "Zwiastun Dobrej Nocy" reminds me of the vocal track but without the vocals although it's not as good instrumentally either in my opinion. "Obciety" has heavy guitar and drums in this slow to mid- paced slow burner.

Hard to believe but there's another big box set that has been released by this band. If you can get the "Impresje" disc seperately don't even hesitate.

 Live In Marburg 1980. The Final Concert by SBB album cover Live, 2007
4.78 | 14 ratings

Live In Marburg 1980. The Final Concert
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

5 stars Final concert by the first incarnation of this legendary Polish band.

Stunning, largely instrumental, long tracks I've never heard before took me by complete surprise. Like their excellent "Karlstad" album, the material here is unique and atypical of the band's better known style.

It's sad to see them disband afterwards, due to drummer Jerzy Piotrowski's retirement, but at least they go with a grand finale at the peak of their careers before reforming with new drummers a few years later. But that's another story.

There is nothing to indicate that the band was getting tired at this point, rather the opposite. High intensity, spirited performance throughout this 2CD-set is but a pure delight from beginning to end. To call it jazzy could be somewhat misleading. It's more like groovy dressed with some sexy jazz chords on the Fender Rhodes. Rhythmically it often reminds of Santana minus the Latin approach! Strange, but that's how it feels.

Soaring guitar and Moog solos - not heard since Mahavishnu, or Brand X - add to the overall pleasure. Long time friend and occasional collaborator Slawomir Piwowar (g, k, b) is guesting here and what a great addition he is!

At first listen I ended up leaving the album on repeat for the rest of the day, only to hear it again in the next two days. It's that good. The best Christmas present I got this time and heartfelt thanks for Metal Mind Productions for the release. Highly recommended.

 Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem by SBB album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.25 | 390 ratings

Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by Alucard Draco

5 stars I got to admit that when I first heard this album I was expecting an older more seventies type of sound, but on hearing it I had to think again. Yes when reading about the band and reading about infuences like King Crimson and Van Der graff Generator etc, I was expecting something in that style (obviously I can hear the influence behind some parts), but when Moja Ziemio Wysniona starts it was a more modern sounding style of sound that I heard - possibly the more modern keyboards helped but wow I did not predict that and the song just got me fired up for the rest of the album. The next three songs just put me in a trance like state - and that is why I think this album works so well, it's literally an album especially Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem - which accomplished everything I wanted to hear but without going to Spacey sounds I usually like but to a seemingly new type of space sound - as I said a more dreamier trance like sound than atmospherical distortion I had in mind at first.

I believe SBB put their heart and musical souls into this album and possibly ahead of their time - that sounds Ironic with Progressive music, but I just expected something different and instead got a faster more of an upbeatish sound but with its fair share of slower sounds but keeping a complexity of which I am looking forward to exploring whithin more of their albums and to check if there are layers of which I am missing. I remember listening to other Eclectic Prog and the versatility of instruments make this type of Prog and especially this album just another reason to express my ongoing journey into music which SBB and bands like them keep creating, and this mind blowing album is an extraordinarily example of this genre.

I salute another masterpiece from the Prog archives - Thanks again for getting these albums noticed.

 Karlstad Live by SBB album cover Live, 2001
4.66 | 72 ratings

Karlstad Live
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

5 stars Shivers

Before I venture into the northern pastures of Scandinavia for my upcoming reviews, I'd like to make a short trip to Poland to highlight an album, I personally rank among the very best live albums ever made. I may even prefer it over King Crimson's The Great Deceiver, and part of the reason for this is the 'imminence' of this concert - the overpowering urge to play music you sense from the musicians involved.

Back when SBB started out as Czeslav Niemen's "backing band", and indeed all throughout their heyday, Poland was under a Communistic rule. Everything was under wraps and music should preferably consider itself with anything but the thriving reckless prog rock sneaking in from the decadent west. SBB, or Silesian Blues Band, were as a consequence basically outlaws during the first leg of their existence. In spite of this, they continued to play what they wanted - developing a distinct style of their own based around the close bond between the jazz and blues rock world. What came out at the other end though had both of these music styles completely bend out of shape, sounding like a fiery take on The Mahavishnu Orchestra teaming up with Gong, Secret Oyster and a couple of the more melodically inclined RPI acts of the day.

Coming from a country as iron-clouded as Poland, and then travelling across Europe to play gigs, must've felt like freedom. - I am talking about the very essence of the word here. The amount of artistic relief these guys suddenly felt is beyond immeasurable. The group said so themselves; they were overwhelmed with the freedom they experienced coming into Sweden in 1975. Anyway, you don't need to read any of this for you to understand - all you need to do is listen to this awe inspiring release.

There's an emotional power running through this recording equivalent to a couple of Hiroshima bombs - and then some! Main man Józef Skrzek actually instigates the gig by stating, in his slightly tainted English, that the show will be a special one "it will never repeat" as he so aptly puts it. Taking care of bass guitar, piano, moog, Hammond, synthesizers and vocals - he is a real poster child of music eclecticism. With only 3 band members, one could be lead into thinking that a live album like this could suffer from underdeveloped musical ideas and whatnot, but that is so far from being the case - it literally defies belief.

In many ways this Karlstad release features SBB in both a highly familiar dressing, and then quite the opposite. There's an exuberance here shrouding everything they do in a superman like zeitgeist. Add to that, guitarist Antymos Apostolis, who normally tends to reside in shadow, is right up front and fully in charge on this baby. It's a welcoming pleasure to hear him going all out. It really is. Whether the band is going through the more fusion based blues pieces, or they're just throwing out these incredibly fiery jams - he's always there. On SBB's studio albums you almost never get to hear that, and may I just add, what a damn shame, because this dude can cook! Boy does he ever cook on this album!

Last but not least, we find one of my drumming idols: Jerzy Piotrowski. Hell, he may just be my all- time favourite drummer. With his imaginative poly-rhythms and orgiastic tom usage, this guy is perhaps one of the rare percussionists out there who understands the subtle beauty of mixing insane complexity with improvisational power. He genuinely sounds like a mix between Billy Cobham and Area drummer extraordinaire Giulio Capiozzo - that is without ever losing his endearing melodic feel. I can listen to this man's drumming for days on end - he's got a natural understanding of the beat that you just can't learn. It feels like it emanates from the very pores of his skin. I bet his mom went to some proto-stomp classes, back when he was bobbing around inside her belly oven.

The entire Karlstad gig seems to float together as one unassuming fluid piece of music. The different tracks all weave together in a seemingly uncomplicated fashion. The opener, for instance, called Pretty Face - with all of it's speeding fusion vibes, ferocious beat and loud guitar screams, still manages to die down to a mere whisper with a soulful yearning organ, before slowly setting sails on the serene waters of Born To Die. With a frail and goosebumps inducing feel to it, the tune develops vocals - and you suddenly get to hear just how beautiful of a singer Skrzek really is. This bridging between the first two tracks makes the small hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. If I were a girl I'd probably find a comfortable place to sit down and cry happy tears for a week.

I find countless of these moments on Karlstad. Small odes to the rare glimpses in life that send shivers down your spine and makes your soul orgasm. I'd recommend this facet of sonic life to everybody with ears, yet we all seem to find these life invigorating jolts in different parts of the musical world. If you're into classic prog though, then this might just turn out to be the mistress of your life.

 Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem by SBB album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.25 | 390 ratings

Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars SBB is one of the many wonderful bands that has been revealed to me through ProgArchives. I've picked up this, Pamiec and Slovenian Girls--this one on vinyl (!) I can never decide which of their albums I like the best. Probably Pamiec, but Memento has some incredible performances and shows the band playing very well as a collective.

1. "Moja Ziemio Wysniona" (8:29) is filled with extraordinary themes and riffs, all strung together like a . The subtle things on this song that catch my ear: rhythm guitar in the seventh and eighth minutes, the subtleties of the drums before that, the synth sound in the third minute, the Allman Brothers-like dueling guitars at the end. Cool song, if a bit dated. (9/10)

2. "Trojkat Radosci" (7:40) begins with 80 seconds of solo electric guitar--treated guitar a la PAT METHENY on New Chatauqua. The second section uses this treated guitar as support for a wonderful display of Spanish-influenced classical guitar playing--culminating in a gorgeous harmonized melody line 'chorus' at the three minute mark. A return to the before, at 4:29, a synth wash enters to set the stage for some electric guitar soloing. The TANGERINE DREAM-like synth work behind the bluesy ROY BUCHANAN-like guitar fire is awesome. Cool song. (or is it a suite with three parts?) (9/10)

3. "Strategia Pulsu" (3:23) has a sound and almost disco-influenced that is shows its age but could have come off a JAN AKKERMAN, LENNY WHITE or AL DiMEOLA album from the same period. Clavinet and harmonica are interesting touches. (8/10)

Side 2, song 1(4) "Memento z banalnym triptykiem" (20:28) begins with a mild pace with a bluesy FOCUS-like feel to it. At 2:10 all music drops away and a vocalist begins singing (in a foreign language I presume to be Polish). At first he is only accompanied by acoustic guitars and background synths. A strong vocal performance in the vein of the best of the Italians. The shift at the four minute mark is breathtaking in its emotional impact. Very delicate cymbol play is used to keep time while slide guitar, acoustic guitar and one single repeated keyboard chord sucks you in and keeps you locked there while the nylon-stringed guitar goes EARL KLUGH sh*t-crazy! Absolutely amazing! Very gradually the pace starts to pick up, prepping us for the end of this section, followed by a jovial almost bluegrass folk-section, with some more awesome guitar work--several, in different channels and levels. Hand clapping, choral "Na-nah, na-nahs," beer-hall piano and harmonica proceed to add to this very friendly, engaging section. At the 10 minute mark we are ushered out of the party barn and enticed into yet another theme house. It's like being at a Renaissance Faire: Each booth, stage or vendor offering his or her own slice of their world. By 11:45 a synthesizer is taking center stage before giving way to an organ's introduction to a moderately paced rock section with a little electric guitar solo. At 14:10 the music again drops away to make way for the vocalist to again tell his story. The use of vocal harmonies beginning at 15:10 is effective if a bit foreign for the unusual (to my ears) diatonic chordal structure of the harmonies. At 16:13 a delicate part starts to support the vocalist(s) sounding a lot like HARMONIUM's "Depuis l'automne" before an electric guitar blasts into center stage carrying the band with it into a classic blues-rock solo scene. Great, emotional playing--that reminds me of someone/some song of classic stature-- and then POOF! it's gone and the same finale of the classical music piece that opened the album (a Strauss waltz?) finishes the album. Awesome. Prog doesn't get much better than this, folks. (10/10)

I've got to give this one a full five stars, folks, cuz, as I said, Prog just doesn't get much better than this. this band worked hard to put these delicate, complex demanding songs together-- and their efforts paid off in that they have definitely put together one for the ages--something quite memorable and certainly not banal!

 Behind the Iron Curtain by SBB album cover DVD/Video, 2009
4.52 | 9 ratings

Behind the Iron Curtain
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by BORA

5 stars Truly exceptional!

After a string of mildly successful studio albums, the band returns to where they are best at - performing live. This well produced DVD is a nicely balanced combination of some recent tunes and earlier works.

Off to a bombastic start with majestically heavy keyboards followed by a melodic song from "Iron Curtain". This is followed by their signature tune "Odlot" where they truly rip into some spirited improvisations. Skrzek on distorted bass while Apostolis plays a couple of scorching solos on guitar. Jazzy scales that reminds of John Coltrane and a nod to Electric Miles while the whammy bar is just about to disintegrate. Just brilliant!

Rousing ovation by the audience prompts the band to maintain the pace on the following tunes before settling back to a more laid back approach - if only for a short breathing space. Alternating between some heavy, or melodic pieces, a drum solo and some more solid bass work leads even to an excellent blues before the band dons their "old clothes" again and concludes the show with - yet another - instrumental run.

It's hard to fathom how this trio are able to maintain such rich texture of sounds with no overdubs. Exceptional talent and commitment is on display here and best of all, they all seem to have tremendous fun in doing so. Multi-instrumentalist Skrzek keeps getting better while Apostolis constantly re-inventing his approach to the guitar. Seasoned veteran drummer Gabor Nemeth maintains absolute precision for nearly two hours with relative ease. Frankly, it couldn't get much better.

A long time follower of SBB, my preference has always been for their improvised works. Nevertheless, the combination of different pieces here blend well together and makes me a very happy "customer". Highly recommended, nothing short of a masterpiece in Prog.

 Iron Curtain by SBB album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.53 | 64 ratings

Iron Curtain
SBB Eclectic Prog

Review by BORA

4 stars It should have been a concept album in full!

The first few songs evoke memories, emotions that relate frighteningly well to the album title. Later however, that content drops away, leaving the listener with tunes - some of which are very good - but emotionally don't convey the subject anymore.

I don't speak Polish, but Skrzek's voice is just superb here and needs no translation. Fact is that if one hasn't experienced the bleakness, the despair and hopelessness, the quiet resignation people were subjected to living behind the Iron Curtain, one may have an idea, but not an understanding .The depth of suppression, humiliation and collective depression administered by the invaders and their local servants.

No, it wasn't quite as bad as in fanatic North Korea today, but a knee in your jaw, a rifle butt in your solar plexus, or in your back - for no good reason - was never far away. I was born into that and raised under such circumstances until I bolted, risking life and limb. In parts, this album tears up old wounds, memories that I've left behind a long time ago. Back then, quality music was hard to come by. SBB were a shining beacon in Eastern Europe in delivering a sense of relief.

A sound of a cattle wagon starts the album. A wagon that may have taken my grandfather - whom I never had the chance to know - to the Siberian Gulags, never to return. The tune, the voice conveys a feeling like coming up for air after near suffocation. Almost in disbelief that such move was ever possible. Musically, I feel that it would have suited a closing track, a nice outro instead.

On the second track, marching boots raise the hair on my back - yet again - giving way to bombastic church organs and heartfelt whining guitars, almost a requiem for the innocent victims. It touches me deeply almost beyond words. ..

The next piece comes across as a sense of relief. Can we really sleep now without a threat of further disturbance? Is this for real? Can we rely on it? Simple and nice.

Track four represents a weird, almost bizarre and yet very enjoyable groove, not far from electric Miles (Davis). At this point "Iron Curtain becomes an album without the heavy emotional content maintained. Still great music.

Then, we explore Pat Metheny territory with a pleasing grunt, the man himself has rarely afforded us. Most of the remaining tracks are more lively. As it often happens, the two bonus tracks are probably the best on this album, too.

I am sorry to say that freedom appears to have made the band somewhat complacent when their current works are compared with under the oppression. Nevertheless, it's still a great band, one that still delivers some pleasing tunes, but the flame and determination have faded somewhat. Perhaps it's time for a more contemplative healing process?

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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