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BACKSTREET ROMEOS

Psychedelic/Space Rock • Germany


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Backstreet Romeos biography
Hailing from the Nürnberg region the BACKSTREET ROMEOS could be treated like an insider's tip of the german progressive rock history. They came together in 1996 to build up a six-member-group representing a wide range of musical influences and instruments. Their self-released debut 'Flight To Metaluna' including the 18 minute epic core 'Pandora's Box' was recorded in September the same year.

With a psychedelic/space style as the fundament the BACKSTREET ROMEOS are offering music with much more variants - jazz, symphonic, ambient and raga - confirmed by several key instruments like Moog, organ and piano managed by Michael Altenberger. 'Francis' Meier is to notice as a steady band member with an important role first of all during the live gigs arranging a striking slide show combined with excerpts from speeches of politicians or the pope what even brought the band near to a cabaret performance sometimes.

Guitarist Werner Osterrieder left the band after some time because of differences about the musical direction and was substituted by Andre Langer. The band could produce another album named 'Tapas Ready' one year later but BACKSTREET ROMEOS finally disbanded in 1998. Drummer Michael Hettmer and Langer are now playing jam rock with the band SAM and Osterrieder is actually concentrated on his progressive trance project 'Saraswathi Lounge' celebrating a blend of modern electronic beats with Indo/Raga elements as well as a spacey Pink Floyd tribute.

Rivertree (Uwe Zickel)

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4.00 | 2 ratings
Flight To Metaluna
1997

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BACKSTREET ROMEOS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Flight To Metaluna by BACKSTREET ROMEOS album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Flight To Metaluna
Backstreet Romeos Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by victor77

4 stars Once you see the cover of the record, a forest of giant mushrooms with a great lisergic smell, you can imagine that you are going to listen to one of those weird and crazy space rock records that often come from Germany. BACKSTREET ROMEOS´ keyboardist Michael Altenberger describes the record as a psych-rock-art album, and it could not be more certain. This is not a typical spacey rock full of jams and plenty of atmospheric soundscapes, but rather full of well composed songs, including a suite in four movements, "Pandora´s Box". It is, in fact, a very retro record, highly inspired in the music of the 70´s, including some funky sketches and a high devotion for oriental music.

The record starts with "Schizoid Impressions". After a noisy intro including animal sounds, it developes into a spacey section that reminds me a lot of Pink Floyd (Meedle and Wish You Were Here), with a great moog solo included, ending in a light jazzy mood. Very interesting point of start.

Unfortunately, the second song does not reach that level."Plastic Human" is a catchy funky tune, reminding me of Zappa and Herbie Hancock, but also other retro bands like Mushroom. Funny, but not really interesting.

It all changes after the first chords of "Sunrise in Goa": the moog intro leads to the main section, quite similar to Eloy or Steve Hillage, including a great guitar solo.After this energetic start, the song changes into a sitar developed section, very in the Krautrock vein (Ashra comes to mind easily). This oriental sounds will appear more often from this time, giving a different smell to the record. After this flight, the song returns to the main theme on guitar, for a Camel inspired ending.

The musical level increases with "Bhagavad Gita". After a delightful vocal chorus intro in which the smell of incense returns and you listen to the mantras accelerating step by step. Indo-canterbury? It wouldn´t fit better, as if it was Popol Vuh playing rock or Hatfield and the North discovering India. All this musical passages keep growing along with the vocals for a spacey end, with guitar soloing in front of atmospheric keyboards. By the time you have reached this moment of the record, you realize the great devotion they have for oriental music and culture, but also that the level of virtuosity and musicianship is high above the median on the genre. And the best is still to come.

"Walking with the Wind" is a psychotropic adventure about a fantastic world in which magicians turn fallen leaves into hallucinogen mushrooms, and the parties the inhabitants of the forest do with them, despite the opposition of local authorities. Crazyness and a lot of humour in a song in which music and lyrics are absolutely related. The vocal intro leads into a guitar crescendo very reminding of Steve Hillage, and atmospheric keyboards that fullfill the whole picture. Incredible music and one of the peaks of the record.

As happened before, the level is not maintained on the next song. "Romeos Aquarius" is another pop- funky song with nothing special but the guitar end, in the vein of the most guitar oriented cantebury, with a slight Gong resemblance.

But the musical level will be quickly reached and surpassed again with "Pandora´s Box", the masterpiece of the record, an 18 minutes suite in four movements in which all the musicians will give their best. It starts with piano and keyboards, very reminding of early Genesis or even Rick Wakeman. The main theme leads to a keyboard solo reminding Grobschnitt, but a bit more accelerated. It turns into a spacey keyboard section, in the vein of Steve Roach or Djam Karet in "Suspension and Displacement" (or even Thomas Bodin when he plays soundscapes), that later on twists into a spacey jazz section that reminds me a lot of Hawkwind´s "Space Ritual", before returning to the main theme. "Holes", the final section of the suite, returns to the more symphonic sounds, with an epic final close to Genesis or Van der Graaf Generator.

So then, I consider "Flight to Metaluna" a very interesting record, despite the music being so linked to the 70´s. The great balance between psych, symphonic and oriental music makes this record very enjoyable, very far from long jams and soundscapes that often bring you boredom.

I would rate it as a 4 star record. It is not a 5 star record because the music is not really a novelty and there are some downs on the record (mainly "Plastic Human" and "Romeos Aquarius") and the production is not really good (remember it is a self produced record), but it is more than 3 stars because of the high level of virtusosity and composition displayed, that makes worth a listen. You only have to follow the flight instructions: turn the lights low, play it loud and share with your next.

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 Flight To Metaluna by BACKSTREET ROMEOS album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Flight To Metaluna
Backstreet Romeos Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Even though I'm very interested in digging out new psych/space stuff especially from Germany I wasn't aware of BACKSTREET ROMEOS since a member from Spain(!) recommended the band some time ago - thanks Victor! In the meantime I've got into contact with the former band guitarist Werner Osterrieder and could reach for a rare copy of this self-released album. Please let me express that first - it was worth while by all means.

The band didn't exist for a long time. They got together in 1996 representing different musical influences and were able to work out a debut album which units their affinities to a very interesting diversified effort. A second album also exists from one year later recorded by a different line-up but no informations are available though. After that BACKSTREET ROMEOS disbanded and the members went on to make music with their preferred orientation. Significant for example are some raga/world music elements which Werner Osterrieder actually is advancing with his project 'Saraswathi Lounge'.

Their live performances must have been something special when they presented a slide show accentuating the musical aspect combined with excerpts from speeches of politicians or the pope what brought the band near to a cabaret show sometimes. Missing this when exploring the album content you should at least follow the instructions given somewhere on the inlet. 'Turn lights low, play it loud, share with your next'. And this applies to the instrumental Schizoid Impressions- a very promising jam containing a special combination of symphonic and psychedelic elements. Some highlights: dogs barking - floydy keyboard patterns - staccato repetitive bass and drums - swirling synths and spaced out guitars. Wow - this is excellent songwriting and composing!.

Plastic Human follows as a groovy rocking thing - more accessible with a slight jazzy touch caused by a piano solo for example and a canterbury bass appearance. And then we are getting deep into the asian continent for twenty minutes with some intensive world music/raga impressions. Looming first with Sunrise In Goa opening as an ordinary high-speed rock song approximately with talkbox and a jazzy keyboard solo but later showing also some world music ambience with sitar. Now after that the band is singing 'Hare Krishna' and with Bhagavad Gita we have already arrived in India - but only partially because a funky bass and spacey keyboard/guitar contributions are also pointing to other musical styles - all in all a very interesting successful song blending different genres.

Walking With The Wind definetely picks us up for the journey into space rock. Not directly and provided with some detours - you first have to withstand a mainstream guitar/vocal appearance but then spacey synths are coming up coupled with a repetitive bass and diversified guitar impressions.Romeos Aquarius should be considered as a funky interlude and then the epic core Pandora´s Box follows. What an impressing spacey swirling bubbling middle section - definetely the album highlight for me! The talkbox appears once again, a Pink Floyd reminiscence isn't far away. And this is all wrapped into a symphonic border.

An elaborated piece of work by all means and a professional workout for a self-released album. All musicians are acting on a high standard. Not only recommended to psych/space fans.

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