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Eclectic Prog • Germany

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Joy Unlimited biography
A great combo from Mannheim, Germany, also known as JOY AND THE HITKIDS. They were mixing jazz-rock, krautrock, funk, soul, pop and psychedelic rock, with Hans W. Herkenne (drums, percussion), Albin Metz (trumpet, bass), Roland Heck (organ, piano, vibes, marimba, percussion, vocals), Dieter Kindl (bass, guitar, percussion), Gerd Köthe (saxophone, flute), Klaus Nagel (guitar, woodwind, percussion, flute) and Hans Lingenfelder (guitar).

Led by extraordinary vocal skills of female singer Joy Fleming, the band released their debut 'Overground'in 1970 (released under the name 'Turbulence' in UK and 'Joy Unlimited' in the US). Their second album, 'Schmetterlinge' (which means 'Butterflies' in German) along with the debut is the most representative band's material, and certainly worth checking.

Ken Taylor replaced Joy after 'Schmetterlinge'(she started a solo career), which was later replaced by Joschi Dinier.

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

3.67 | 9 ratings
3.95 | 24 ratings
3.00 | 18 ratings
3.79 | 19 ratings

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JOY UNLIMITED Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Reflections by JOY UNLIMITED album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.00 | 18 ratings

Joy Unlimited Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars Wow, here's an album that could have been titled 'Spinal Tap: the Lost Years". These guys don't seem to be able to decide what kind of band they want to be when they grow up, so rather than take the time to decide they simply threw in a little bit of everything onto one record and hoped for the best. The result is mixed, pretty good when they clicked but bordering on rock caricatures when they didn't.

On the upside there's something for just about everyone here, including a bracing Krautrock number with heavy organ ("Ocean of Ruins"); a sort of pseudo-medieval folk-rock piece appropriately titled "King Richard's Court Jester"; the requisite rock-opera / pompously-introspective ballad ("Chrystal Palace"); and an all-out freeform jazz jam assault featuring some pretty wicked saxophone and even a little flute ("Motion Is Movement / Hate Nine and Ten"). And of course no 1973 progressive rock album would be complete without a 'back to the roots' folksy and heavily acoustic tune (also pretty pompous) which the band delivers here with "The Search for Father Time". I kept having eighties flashbacks to a 12 inch Stonehenge and life-sized alien space-egg bubbles the whole time this thing was playing. Too bad I got rid of those stereo volume stick-on labels that went to eleven!

By the time this album, the band's third came out their best gimmick (vocalist Joy Fleming) was gone, replaced by some unknown American named Ken Taylor. The band must have known something about their fans' preferences though as Taylor doesn't do much actual singing here, with several songs being completely instrumental and other having long stretches of solos and guitar/organ forays. When he does pipe up the lyrics don't seem to make much sense (on "Silently Sung" for example, which was sung but obviously not silently). The lyrics seem to have been written mostly in that mid-seventies style with pretentiously-poetic and vaguely allegorical words meant to appeal to red-eyed, lighter- waving teens with lithe blonde chicks on their shoulders at open-air summer concerts. Which I'm sure is a scene that played out many times for these guys.

The best may have been saved for last with the closing "Question" which features quite appealing organ passages, extensive flute and acoustic guitar, and once again burningly searching lyrics quite appropriate to the day (namely, the question "Why?" earnestly repeated over and over in varying tempos and volumes).

I've heard the band's first and last albums, both of which are borderline progressive folk offerings. This one isn't, although the flute, acoustic guitar and varied hand percussion instruments including marimba and vibes might lead one to conclude otherwise. In reality these guys were journeyman musicians, good enough artists to make a living at what they did but lacking the sort of vision and talent to ever break into the A league. If you're interested in the band I'd recommend their first and last albums, in that order. This one is okay, but pretty much of interest only to fans. Two stars.


 Schmetterlinge by JOY UNLIMITED album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.95 | 24 ratings

Joy Unlimited Eclectic Prog

Review by clarke2001
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Great little record!

For the start, I must say it's a bit incoherent. However, although it's distancing this record from a masterpiece status, it's also giving it quite a dose of charm.

First off, vocals. I was convinced that powerful female vocal was coming from the throat of African origin; it turned out singer is a small white girl. But what a power! Powerful, ranging from clean to raspy, sometimes pleasantly overdubbed. Lots of soul and rhythm 'n' blues influences.

But what is this? What are we talking about?

It's difficult to explain. It's definitely a German record, krautrock elements, although not omnipresent, are very evident. Also, the Germany-style catchy melodies, simple but perfectly working within a context - it's hard to explain. Like GROBSCHNITT at their best, but this band has nothing to do with them.

There's also a lot of blues and soul, as mentioned. In fact there are a couple of straightforward, non-prog tunes, and I'm glad the band wasn't petrified in one genre. There's also a cool blues number with German lyrics and good vibraphone. I don't understand anything of German language, except 'Kleine, komm hier'. Speaking of, lyrics are often sexually tinged (which is awesome with such a voice), or naive in it's hippie ideology.

Other aspects worth mentioning are psychedelic rock, saxophone, some heavy rock, powerful Hammond and very good, tight, funky grooves. Now try to fuse everything; it's bizarre as it gets.

This is pointless. I don't have the words to describe it. If you imagine Eclectic Prog as some wacky version of prog, to sinister for jazz rock, to angular for Symphonic, and now try to imagine all that mixed with SOUL MUSIC...and..I mentioned it's a good record, didn't I?

Thanks to clarke2001 for the artist addition.

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