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WIGWAM

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Finland


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Wigwam biography
Formed in 1968 - Disbanded in 1978 - Reformed in the 1990s and are still active (as of 2017)

Finland's WIGWAM were truly one of the pioneers of early progressive rock. The history of WIGWAM can be subdivided into two separate eras: the original or "old" WIGWAM of 1969-1974 and the "new" WIGWAM of 1974-1977. The two were dramatically different, in terms of personnel and overall sound. The music of this unique band is dominated by the piano and organ sounds, all of those wrapped up in a sometimes dark music filled with typical Scandinavian influences. There is some great interplay between all the musicians. It gives you the feeling they were doing this to stay warm!

Though not a classic album, "Tombstone Valentine" was the first WIGWAM album that seems to show the band members getting to grips with each ones individual musical desires. In many ways, "Fairyport" was a continuation of "Tombstone Valentine", but I would say it is a bit more experimental and progressive. Nowadays, this album is considered a classic within progressive rock circles and it has a number of features that make it stand out as one of the great progressive albums of the seventies. "Being" (1974) was the last album by the legendary Pembroke/Gustavson/Pohjola/Österberg lineup. This album is a concept album, with most of the music and lyrics written by Jukka GUSTAVSON. This is an essential album for any fan of progressive rock. In early 1975, the new lineup was up and released the album that became an instant classic, "Nuclear Nightclub". When the new titled "Dark Album" was released in late 1977, WIGWAM had ceased to exist.

In the nineties PEMBROKE, RECHARDT and GROUNDSTRÖM suprised many by coming back with a third edition of WIGWAM, but that's a whole new story, to be continued...

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WIGWAM discography


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

3.42 | 73 ratings
Hard N' Horny
1969
3.05 | 72 ratings
Tombstone Valentine
1970
4.14 | 215 ratings
Fairyport
1971
3.85 | 153 ratings
Being
1974
3.35 | 107 ratings
Nuclear Nightclub
1975
3.22 | 68 ratings
Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose
1976
3.31 | 48 ratings
Dark Album
1977
2.80 | 29 ratings
Light Ages
1993
2.12 | 33 ratings
Titans Wheel
2002
2.86 | 27 ratings
Some Several Moons
2005

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

4.04 | 43 ratings
Live Music From the Twilight Zone
1975
3.81 | 17 ratings
Wigwam Plays Wigwam Live
2001
4.03 | 10 ratings
Pop-Liisa 3
2016

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

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

2.14 | 3 ratings
Wigwam
1972
4.11 | 9 ratings
Rumours on the Rebound
1979
2.18 | 3 ratings
Classics - The Rarest
1990
3.52 | 6 ratings
Hard N' Horny/Tombstone Valentine
1990
3.09 | 6 ratings
Highlights
1996
3.79 | 21 ratings
Fresh Garbage - Rarities 1969-1977
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
28 Songs from the Twilight Zone
2014

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

2.70 | 5 ratings
Must Be The Devil / Greasy Kids' Stuff
1969
3.59 | 8 ratings
Luulosairas / Henry's Highway Code
1969
2.00 | 1 ratings
True Confession / Helsinki
1969
2.33 | 5 ratings
Pedagogi / Häätö
1970
3.75 | 4 ratings
Wishful Thinker / Call Me On Your Telephone
1971
4.03 | 9 ratings
Freddie are You Ready / Kite
1975
1.50 | 5 ratings
Tramdriver / Wardance
1975
3.00 | 2 ratings
Borders to Be Crossed / Planetstar
1993
2.00 | 1 ratings
Heaven In A Modern World
2002
2.00 | 1 ratings
Drive On Driver
2002

WIGWAM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nuclear Nightclub by WIGWAM album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.35 | 107 ratings

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Nuclear Nightclub
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kingsnake

4 stars I really like this record.

It's funny, quirky, groovy, melodic and a joy to listen to.

The songs are short and on the poprock side of the prog-spectrum (' la Alan Parsons Project, late seventies Camel, late seventies Caravan, Kraan etc.).

There are not many fusion or difficult progrock sections, but that doesn't mean the songs are bad. The sound is very warm and open; the drums, keyboards, bass and guitar are mixed very well. The vocals are strong and the keyboard-sounds are very well chosen; reminds me of Rain Dances-era Peter Bardens.

I really like when progrock-bands explore the poprock-side of progrock. Sometimes very great albums emerge, like this one.

I can recommend this album to anyone who loves Alan Parsons Project, late seventies Camel, late seventies Caravan, Kraa, ELO, 10CC etc.

 Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose by WIGWAM album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.22 | 68 ratings

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Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Of the three "deep-pop" era studio albums that the Finnish prog legend Wigwam made in the mid/late seventies (the other ones being the celebrated Nuclear Nightclub, 1975, and the admittedly uneven but better-than-many-think Dark Album, 1977), this one has always been the least interesting for me. Now it's time to re-evaluate it, thanks to the recent 2-LP reissue by Svart Records. The additional vinyl contains the original mixes (by producer Ronnie Leahy and engineer John Eden) of the 5 songs that Wigwam chose to remix for the album, and four rehearsal tracks recorded in January 1976 in Virgin's Manor studio. This bonus material offers the listener an opportunity to spot the little differences between various versions, but I personally don't get very excited by them. Actually I would've rather had the separate single songs 'Wardance' and 'Tramdriver' which have appeared on the CD reissues. The best thing about this vinyl reissue is naturally the new interview-based liner notes. They are printed (in a font that imitates the slightly smudgy ink of an old typewriter) on the supplementary sheet, while the inner side of the pretty good-looking gatefold sleeve includes the lyrics and other album information.

After the success of Nuclear Nightclub, and with the British recording deal, the gate was seemingly open to the possibility of an international breakthrough. However, not only because of the band's own domestically oriented preferences, things started to go downhill. Even the recording sessions in the Manor weren't very comfortable for them. As bassist MÃ¥ns Groundsroem recalls: "It was interesting to work in England in a quality studio, but I feel we should've continued with our standard concept. The situation and Virgin brought us pressure." According to guitarist Rekku Rechardt "something in Manor killed our creativity. The album was done from a strictly professional standpoint, leaving our own relationship with the material lacking". Indeed the result lacks the fresh breath and the happy aura of Nuclear Nightclub, but still it's very far from being bad. First, the songwriting isn't nearly as uninspired as I thought from my old listenings ages ago, and the production surely has its merits too.

Especially for the lyrics of Jim Pembroke, the album has a dark, pessimistic feel, which however doesn't always concern the music. 'Sane Again' is a short but in a way powerful opener, followed by 'International Disaster' in which dystopic words are combined with light-hearted music. 'Timedance is just a tiny jam snippet to fill the space of the first side. The strongest and the proggiest song is definitely the dark-toned 'Colossus', one of Rechardt's compositions. Some of Pembroke's songs are musically rather mediocre, but sincerely of his own style. The title track has a great bass riff, but despite being the longest (6:34), it's not very progressive. This album isn't memorable, but nor does it have terribly weak songs either. In the end it's a fairly good, albeit short set of prog-flavoured anti-commercial pop. If you like the other two albums of this Wigwam era, perhaps you should have a try with this one too. The gorgeous mock-Medieval cover art of Mats Huldén is a reason in itself to favour the vinyl, whether or not you're having a deep interest in the alternative mixes/rehearsals on the bonus LP.

 Tombstone Valentine by WIGWAM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.05 | 72 ratings

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Tombstone Valentine
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

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

3 stars WIGWAM debuted in 1969 with "Hard 'n' Horny" which proved the band was up to speed with the psychedelic 60s and created a fairly interesting take on "Sgt Pepper's" psychedelia with a unique Finnish spin. While the band made some waves, the album ultimately proved to be a little behind in the psychedelia race that was quickly evolving as the 70s approached. It didn't take long before bassist Mats Hulden took off and was replaced by Pekka Pohjola who would help steer WIGWAM into more progressive territories but not quite yet. Likewise guitarist Nikke Nikamo jumped ship and no replacement could be decided upon so Jukka Tolonen of Tasavallan Presidentii stepped in as a guest musician to supply the needed guitar parts on the second album TOMBSTONE VALENTINE.

TOMBSTONE VALENTINE is very much a transitional album in WIGWAM's career. While the debut was a really decent slice of 60s psychedelic rock with some jazzy touches and the following "Fairyport" and "Being" are complex slices of progressive rock, this one is more of a grab bag of all kinds of disparate tracks that more often than not don't even seem like they are from the same band. In fact the completely out of place mini-electronic weirdness heard on the third track "The Dance Of The Arthropoids" wasn't even recorded by WIGWAM but rather was an experimental electronic piece recorded by Erikki Kurenniemi all the way back in 1968. Kim Fowley, the band's first American producer deemed it fitting to include it for whatever reason.

This album seems more like an archival release of unreleased tracks than an album itself displaying the turbulent times between their psychedelic and progressive rock years. Despite the fact that Pekka Pohjola is on board, this one doesn't display his brilliant bass playing techniques and the tracks vary from rather bland Grateful Dead sounding country rock such as on the title track, "Frederick & Bill" and "Autograph," the last of which includes the use of violin and banjo to "Let The World Ramble On" which sounds like some AOR hit single from the era reminding me of Seals & Croft or some other similarly insipid sappy ballad.

All is not lost for progressive rock however despite too many speed bumps in the way. "In Gratitude" offers up some rockin' chops that hints towards the leap of complexity that would take place on the following "Fairyport" whereas "For America" offerings a nice tasty serving of jazz-rock which would be teased out into more sophistication on the next album. "Captain Supernatural" resides somewhere in between prog, jazz and the more commercial rock that many tracks attempt to tackle. The last track appropriately titled "End" is one of the coolest tracks with a mystifying ambience and psyched out organ drive that sounds like the best of the 60s psychedelic scene taking you on a true trip but would've sounded more at home on the debut or on a Procol Harum album once the vocals start.

TOMBSTONE VALENTINE is quite the mess of an album with an atrocious lack of unifying theme. While the debut "Hard 'n' Horny" did seem like two different EPs stitched together with each album side retaining a different mood, somehow the album worked as a whole even if not perfectly executed. This sophomore release, on the other hand, is just all over the place jumping from proggy rock to experimental electronica and then to country rock and then off to jazz-fusion. While the cream of the crop of the tracks are quite decent, this album resides in between the psychedelic pop of the debut and the hardcore prog of the next album, therefore the pop aspects are dampened by the prog attempts and the prog is weak because of the pop. This was obviously an uncertain time where the band were reinventing themselves and wouldn't be ready for primetime until "Fairyport" but still has several enjoyable tracks despite the awkwardness.

 Freddie are You Ready / Kite by WIGWAM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1975
4.03 | 9 ratings

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Freddie are You Ready / Kite
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Nuclear Nightclub (1975) is among the biggest classic albums in the history of Finnish popular music. It represented a total change in direction. Gone for their solo careers were the progressive / jazz rock -oriented members Jukka Gustavson and Pekka Pohjola. Most likely the band would have just called it a day, if the former Tasavallan Presidentti bassist Måns Groundstöm hadn't arrive to lift up the spirit of the remaining trio. Both Gustavson and Pohjola were important composers for Wigwam, but the songwriting didn't however become the territory of Jim Pembroke alone; guitarist Pekka Rechardt, who had already appeared on the live double album Music from the Twilight Zone, had a huge impact in that sense too.

This single, containing two songs from Nuclear Nightclub, preceeded the album and thus gave a good idea of what was coming. Both Rechardt's 'Freddie Are You Ready' and Pembroke's 'Kite' are excellent songs and great examples of the new, fresh "deep pop" style of Wigwam. On the producer's seat was the very gifted rock musician Pave Maijanen (in his first work as a producer!), and he certainly was the right choice in the whole musical chemistry. The music wasn't half as progressive as the "old" Wigwam, but as pop music it was simply perfect. I can't even choose which song I like more. 'Freddie' has slightly more twists and it feels joyful while 'Kite' has always charmed me deeply by its dreamy soundscape and melodies, not forgetting the electric guitar solo in the middle. Both songs are full of good melodies and the airy sound is exciting and elegant in a way that no Finnish pop music had ever been.

I came to think of this music for a reason: the soon touring "Wigwam Experience" (featuring Jukka Gustavson and Pekka Rechardt) turned out to be the real thing, Wigwam celebrating its 50 years, when Jim Pembroke announced he'll be joining in. These two classic songs are likely to be heard in the concerts this autumn. [If this was a pop site, I would give 5 stars. But since both songs are on the album as well, it's a firm four-star case.]

 Live Music From the Twilight Zone  by WIGWAM album cover Live, 1975
4.04 | 43 ratings

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Live Music From the Twilight Zone
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. I hate not giving this 4 stars being a big WIGWAM fan but I was disappointed with the direction they went for this live release. My two favourite WIGWAM albums are "Fairyport" and "Being" with that trio of Pembroke, Gustavson and Pohjola sharing the writing and composing, and this is the last evidence of that as Gustavson and Pohjola would leave only months after this performance. I just don't know why they did 3 covers and a few bluesy numbers here, and also there are no songs from the two previous albums and those are my favourites! We get one song from "Nuclear Nightclub" which was released the same year as this live record but without Gustavson and Pohjola. Oh, I do like that album cover.

"The Moon Struck One" is a cover of THE BAND song and they extend it to over 17 minutes with about a 10 minute instrumental interlude. Actually I like this one though I wasn't familiar with the original it's just good to hear Pembroke's voice. The organ, bass and guitar all get the spotlight here. "Let It Be" is THE BEATLES cover a song I don't like to begin with and they extend it to almost 8 minutes with an extended instrumental break in there and lots of organ. Not into this at all.

"Groundswell" is a top three for me. I enjoy the acoustic guitar, bass and drums but when that distorted organ kicks in I'm smiling. Good song. "Pig Storm" is from "Nuclear Nightclub" and it's catchy and energetic which would go over well live. It's fairly straight forward and bluesy too though.

"Nipistys" was a treat as it's from one of Pohjola's solo albums and this is a top three for me. Organ to start but I love when it picks up with guitar before 1 1/2 minutes. We get a brief calm with organ after 3 1/2 minutes then it picks up again with guitar followed by organ. "Imagine" is the Lennon song. Sure it's a great song but I can't get into it.

"Help Me/ Checkin' Up On My Baby" is a bluesy number including the vocal style. They seem to jam here. It's okay. "Grass For Blades" is a Pembroke song and a great way to end it. My final top three. Floating organ to start as quiet vocals join in. The vocals turn passionate and theatrical around 2 minutes. It's pretty much bass and a beat after 8 minutes as the organ floats in. I like when the tempo picks up as they "rock out" for a while. A calm after 10 1/2 minutes with some nice guitar. The vocals are back after 14 minutes.

If your into this band I'd suggest checking this album out. I'll stick with "Fairyport" and "Being" myself but there's lots to like here.

 Wigwam Plays Wigwam Live  by WIGWAM album cover Live, 2001
3.81 | 17 ratings

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Wigwam Plays Wigwam Live
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mortte

4 stars This is my first Wigwam-review. There has been already so many in progarchives specially from those albums I love, so I haven´t seen any reason to make any of them. Svart records released a three vinyl version of this and I noticed there is no review here, so I decided to make a one. This live album came quite straight after Wigwam´s second comeback. Line-up was almost same as in the nineties, drummer Jari Kettunen had just joined before disbanding in the nineties. Esa Kotilainen, who played keyboards in legendary "Nuclear Nightclub", joined in band. The main reason to start again was the gig in the Ruisrock festival, but when everybody enjoyed playing again and also there was interest of prog music in Finland that time, they decided to continue.

Almost a year after their comeback they recorded two gigs from Tavastia Club, Helsinki and released best parts as two CD. This album represents quite typical Wigwam gig after their comeback in nineties with almost whole Nuclear Nightclub played. First song "Friend From the Fields" is the only piece from the albums before Nuclear. They made a longer studio version in their "Light Ages"-album, but this is the shorter version from "Being". "Absalom" is another piece from "Light Ages", this live version is as great as that highlight of the album. In "Kite" Kotilainen´s moog sounds just great! "Tramdriver" is one of my favourites from Wigwam´s 1975-78 period. It´s little bit longer here and has great solo from Rekku. "Save My Money & Name" comes straight after and is played very same way as the studio version. There are an ambient intro in the beginning of "Colossus", that´s also my big Wigwam favourites. This is the first song where Kettunen´s simplier drumstyle little bit irritates. Pembroke had told he tried to make a song where he needed all the piano keys and result was "Simple Human Kindness". Kettunen succeeds in this very complex piece well. But again he´s little bit clumsy in the next "Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose" in it´s solo part.

The second vinyl starts with 12 minutes version of "Do Or Die" where both Kotilainen and Rekku play great solos. In "Nuclear Nightclub" Kotilainen plays accordion really great way. "Bless Your Lucky Stars" is really intensive with dramatic solo from Rekku. "Bertha Come Back" is one of my big favourites from Pembroke´s solo albums. Unfortunately this version is quite horrible with slower tempo and really "stadium rock" drumbeat. "No New Games" is also originally Pembroke´s solo piece, but Wigwam made it version in the "Light Ages". This is again really good, intensive version. "Freddie Are You Ready" is played like it should, Kotilainen`s moog sounding just great! "Eddie And the Boys" is longer with more vocals and two solos. "The Vegetable Rumble" is only piece from "Dark Album" and has always been my least favourite from that album. But I like much more that rocking studio version as this slower, again "stadium rock" version. I believe "Grass For Blades" has played in every Wigwam gig since 1973, but it sounds just fine here too.

You can hear in this album, how they really love to play together after some years hiatus. This album is also really good recorded, sounds are modern but still great! So if 60/70 seventies Wigwam has sounded you too oldfashioned, this album is for you, because those great songs are here in 2000`s sounds! I gave this originally three stars. Although I still think "Twilight Zone" greater live album, I have to give this also four stars. I think Kettunen is the worst Wigwam drummer, but not even his drumming can´t make this great music bad.

 Hard N' Horny by WIGWAM album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.42 | 73 ratings

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Hard N' Horny
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

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

4 stars The Finnish band WIGWAM was formed in 1968 by drummer Ronnie Österberg after his split from the band Blues Section. Immediately he recruited another member Jim Pembroke (a Brit) from the same band and formed a new musical entity that took their name from the famous Native American domed dwelling. The two would be the only constant members for the band's entire first formation from 1968 to 1980. WIGWAM has become famous in jazz-fusion circles for their albums with the adroit bassist Pekka Pohjola on board for his short stint of three albums ("Tombstone Valentine", "Fairyport", "Being") but don't expect any of that on their debut release HARD N' HORNY which sounds more like an album title that would grace an 80s glam metal band. This is a unique beast in the band's discography which displays an album's worth of well-crafted psychedelic and art rock tracks sung in both English and their native Finnish. The album was released in 1969 both with a bland yellowed piece of paper sleeve with the band name and album title sloppily scribbled with an giant exclamation point as well as with the much more appropriate and beautiful crimson based cover with a beautiful maiden depicted in an undefiled pose.

HARD N' HORNY is a testament to just how brilliant the band was before Pekka Pohjola joined the group and quite the surprise for the listener as one track after another is top notch late 60s psychedelic pop rock that delivers strong hooks, heavy doses of groovy freakiness and stellar musical and vocal performances. In fact, at this point WIGWAM was certainly Finland's answer to The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper" days excellently heard on the second side of the album that incorporates a stream of tracks that connect musically and lyrically beginning with "Henry's? Mountain Range Or Thereabouts." The album is a bit strange and not exactly uniform in theme although quite consistent in quality. It begins with the Finnish lyric tracks in a clearly psychedelic and jam band mode with a lazy and chilled bass and drum groove with some swinging 60s organ runs and becomes trapper on the next couple of tracks reminding me a bit of Procol Harum only with a different vocal delivery which in my favorite Finno-Ugric language makes it sound even trippier as the Finnish language has a strange rhythmic flow i'm not accustomed to.

The fourth track " Neron Muistolle; Hyvää Yötä" is the peak of the trippiness on the album as it contains a spoken dialogue of some sort between Marjoritta Gustavson and Jukka Gustavson in Finnish while strange piano rolls create a highly surreal background along with accompanying guitar squeals and slides. As strange as this track is, it does display the strong piano playing skills of Jukka Gustavson as the backbone of the song structures on board. The next few tracks are well-crafted psychedelic pop rock tunes that offer strong melodies, pseudo-classical keyboard parts and mid tempo 60s feeling songwriting with slight touches of progressive behavior meaning a few time sig changes here and there and some slight syncopation and jazzy type of structures. Beginning with "Henry's? Mountain Range Or Thereabouts" it begins to feel like a totally different album which takes on a Beatelesque "Sgt Pepper's" flair although more rooted in a psychedelic Pink Floydian type of space rock. The lyrics are surprisingly very good and one could hardly detect that these guys were Finnish although that may have something to do with Jim Pembroke being an English speaker from the UK. The remainder of the album goes through a few short movements that allow the band to exercise their psychedelic and pop hook chops with slight jazz and prog influences.

I was quite taken back by this debut as it is completely different from what came after and more often than not debut releases by 70s prog bands that debuted in the 60s are steeped in amateurism and banality but WIGWAM hits the ground running having developed a highly satisfying musical interactive experience that shows off their brilliant Finnish take on the British psychedelic and pop rock of the latter half of the 60s. The mix of the Finnish and British influences from the band members blends quite well together and it's no surprise that with the magical ingredient of Pekka Pohjola jumping on board that the band would go on to become one of Finland's greatest prog exports. I find this an excellent listen from beginning to end which more than holds up on repeated listens although it does feel like it is two different EPs strewn together as each half of the album is distinct from the other. Despite the album being slightly disjointed in theme and structure along with a rather misfitting title, i find HARD N' HORNY to be a brilliantly constructed album that with a little help from a musical director in a more connected country could have propelled these guys into the international pop rock scene. That was not to be but on this one we have one of those glimpses of what could have been.

 Luulosairas / Henry's Highway Code by WIGWAM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1969
3.59 | 8 ratings

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Luulosairas / Henry's Highway Code
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars WIGWAM had released one Jim Pembroke penned, psych-pop single before the keyboardist, vocalist and composer Jukka Gustavson joined the band. This single came out around the same time as the album Hard N'Horny, which is divided into the sides entirely composed by Gustavson and Pembroke respectively.

The latter wrote a side-long suite 'Henry's...' which was probably to some degree influenced by the second side of The Beatles' Abbey Road, released just few months earlier. 'Henry's...' is a wonderful, musically eclectic proto-prog suite that maintains its focus and coherence pretty well. 'Henry's Highway Code', the third movement of the suite, is a very good choice for a single, one of the many fine examples of Jim Pembroke's gift for melodies.

Jukka Gustavson's 'Luulosairas' (= Hypochondriac) is a non-album song, and an important classic of early Finnish-language rock music. One of his idols was Traffic's Steve Winwood, and I think in this song the influence can be easily heard. There's also a powerful electric guitar solo from Vladimir "Nikke" Nikamo, whose contribution on the album was fairly thin. Gustavson's lyrics and vocals are rather preachy here, and actually that feature makes the song more fitting into a single than into an album. Strong four stars for this vintage classic.

PS. Last spring I was on a gig of Wigwam Revisited featuring Jukka Gustavson. 'Luulosairas' was requested from the audience but the maestro declined.

 Light Ages by WIGWAM album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.80 | 29 ratings

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Light Ages
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After making three studio albums in 1975-77 (the first one, Nuclear Nightclub, being highly succesful) WIGWAM had to call it a day in sad feelings. The next decade wasn't happy for the old Finnish prog legends in general. There was a group called Filthy Rich featuring Jim Pembroke and other seasoned prog musicians, but they collapsed before managing to record an album.

The first step towards the comeback of Wigwam was taken in a gig of Filthy Rich in the late 80's: guitarist Rekku Rechardt was invited to climb on the stage during 'Grass for Blades' in the encore. In 1991 Provinssirock, one of the biggest Finnish rock festivals, succeeded in getting the legendary band on the stage. The reception was encouraging and they continued touring. But it all was only about the old nostalgia; everyone understood that something new had to be done, too. The first member to leave was keyboardist Heikki "Pedro" Hietanen who was replaced by Mikko Rintanen. He in particular thought that it's the old classic stuff that the audience wants. while Pembroke and Rechardt preferred to move on.

There are several renditions of old tracks (from Wigwam or Jim Pembroke's solo material) on this album. In a way, Light Ages was more like a document of things that had to be preserved than a brand new studio album, the drummer Jan Noponen has said (the original Wigwam drummer Ronnie Österberg had committed suicide in 1980). According to Noponen, some excellent new compositions were left out, as the album was made with safety. Another criticized thing was the rather 80's-sounding production of T. T. Oksala. For the contents, Light Ages is quite uncoherent and uneven, and not very progressive.

'Borders to Be Crossed' and 'Pleasure Street' are throwaway American-style rock polished with saxophones, and Rechardt's old composition is given a rock'n'roll treatment on 'Skyscraper' . Of the recycled songs, 'No New Games' originating from Pembroke's second album and 'Friend from the Fields' (a.k.a. 'Marverly Skimmer' from Being) are more worthy that the other two.

Some new tracks dated from the Filthy Rich times, such as 'Talking Brought Me Here' to which Mats Huldén wrote lyrics based on a zulu folktale. The best new songs are written by Rechardt: 'Absalom' and 'The Next Breakfast'' both resemble the mid-seventies stuff to a suitable degree. Atmospheric 'Crystal Ball' features a nice, hazy synth riff, and 'Planetstar' has a strong, relaxed feeling.

Considering the complete Wigwam discography, this album is clearly among the least essential ones, but I feel more sympathy for it than for the last two studio albums. 2½ stars rounded up.

(I wrote this with my book script in front of me, which explains the large amount of background information.)

 Pop-Liisa 3 by WIGWAM album cover Live, 2016
4.03 | 10 ratings

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Pop-Liisa 3
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars During the years 1972 - 1977, the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE had a radio series in which Finnish groups performed a live set in the Liisankatu studio (Helsinki), in front of the audience. In 2016 Svart Records releases these gigs that haven't ever been broadcasted since the original airing. And what a hidden treasure there was in the YLE vaults! The groups in the "Pop Liisa" series include e.g. Tasavallan Presidentti, Jukka Tolonen Band, Kalevala, Nimbus, Finnforest, and even a couple of short-lived line-ups (of acclaimed musicians) that never released an album. Also the groups in the parallel "Jazz Liisa" series are mostly representing the legacy of the legendary Love Records. These releases have a high historical value, and also their sonic quality is much better than what average gig recordings of the time would have.

In Novembr 1973 it was WIGWAM's turn. The classic quartet of Jukka Gustavson (organ, vocals), Jim Pembroke (vocals, electric piano), Pekka Pohjola (bass) and Ronnie Österberg (drums) had just recorded their challenging masterpiece Being that was to be released three months later. The next summer both Gustavson and Pohjola would leave the group. Gustavson claims in the liner notes that despite the tormenting experience -- for example the bass drum broke down during the show and Ronnie was in a bad mood -- this was one of the best performances in that line-up. I believe that.

The opening track 'Imagine' (the John Lennon cover that Wigwam often permormed in their gigs) wasn't part of the original radio show: they had spare time before the appointed hour. The official opening number 'Nipistys' was from Pekka Pohjola's solo debut Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva (1972). Nearly 9 minutes of instrumental and very original fusion/jazz-rock with the virtuotic organ playing in the centre. After the line-up introduction by the show host Erkki Lehtola comes the charming little finale from Being, 'Marverly Skimmer' (aka 'Friend from the Fields') by Jim Pembroke. These first two performances aren't radically different from the album versions, except that the latter is a minute longer (3:40).

The album version of 'Fairyport' (Fairyport, 1971) has wonderful details with reeds, so Gustavson had to make a quartet arrangement for this superb prog classic. IMHO this version naturally pales in comparison, but as a live performance it is excellent nevertheless. The closing number 'Grass for Blades' originated from Jim Pembroke's debut solo album Wicked Ivory (1972); the gorgeous anti-war song became a Wigwam live classic for a good reason. Here it is 9 and ½ minutes of powerful, dark emotions, extended from the rather modest original with the instrumental section. All in all, this live set is more or less the best one there is to be listened to from this quartet.

PS. Each full-length CD release of "Pop / Jazz Liisa" features two separate sets. This Wigwam set is paired with a five-track set of TAIVAANVUOHI, which was a jazz-rock quintet led by guitarist-composer Sami Hurmerinta. It's one of those groups that never released albums.

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

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