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STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN)

Symphonic Prog • Germany


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Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) picture
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) biography
Much like the Moody Blues (and others), Stern-Combo Meissen (stern means star, and Meissen is their home town) started out as a rock band in the early '60s. The usual lineup and style changes occurred, until they settled into symphonic prog. This didn't happen until 1977, when they released their self-titled debut. SCM became one of the bigger East German bands of the seventies. They relied heavily on keyboards (ala Emerson and Wakeman), and classical influences.

By the release of 1980's "Reise Zum Mittelpunkt Des Menschen." They had dropped the 'Combo' from the band's name. The next two albums saw them following a familiar pattern, and pursuing more pop oriented music. In fact, 1985's "Taufrisch" was completely out of the realm of prog. After this album the band broke up.

In 1995 they reformed with most of the original members, and put the 'Combo' back in. The band still tours, and has released some live recordings. No new studio work has been done as of yet.

H.T. Riekels (bhikkhu)

Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) official website

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STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) discography


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

STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.36 | 27 ratings
Weisses Gold
1978
2.39 | 14 ratings
Der weite Weg
1979
3.79 | 20 ratings
Stern Meissen - Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen
1980
1.81 | 8 ratings
Stern Meissen - Stundenschlag
1982
1.20 | 6 ratings
Stern Meissen - Taufrisch
1985
2.33 | 3 ratings
Stern Meissen - Nächte
1987
2.04 | 4 ratings
40 Jahre
2004
3.23 | 4 ratings
Lebensuhr
2011

STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 16 ratings
Stern-Combo Meissen
1977
3.27 | 7 ratings
Live
1996
3.50 | 4 ratings
Sachsendreier Live
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
Sachsendreier Live. Die Zweite
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
Bilder einer Ausstellung (Pictures at an Exhibition) - The Rock Version Live
2015

STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

5.00 | 2 ratings
Sachsendreier Live
2005
5.00 | 2 ratings
Stern Combo Meissen im Theater am Potsdamer Platz
2014

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

3.00 | 3 ratings
Hits
1996
3.00 | 1 ratings
Leben möcht' ich
1999
2.33 | 3 ratings
Stern Meissen - Taufrisch / Nächte
2000
3.00 | 1 ratings
Hits und Raritäten
2009
4.33 | 3 ratings
Die Original Amiga Alben (1977 - 1987, 7 CD Set)
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sternstunden
2011

STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Söhnchen
1975
3.00 | 2 ratings
Der Alte / Jenny
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Der weite Weg / Du, komm her
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Wir sind die Sonne / Deine Augen
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Senftenberg 2013
2014

STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Lebensuhr by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.23 | 4 ratings

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Lebensuhr
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by Lewian

3 stars This is the first proper studio album (actually a double album) with new songs of the Stern-Combo after 24 years, although the band was touring pretty much all the time in between. The album is of very limited appeal to the prog purist; although some material is more advanced listening than on their pure pop albums "Taufrisch" and "Nächte", it is in the first place a further collection of mostly radio-friendly pop songs, although with some sophistication.

Nevertheless it is an interesting album, and assessed against what it aims to be, it is quite good. The band always had a weak spot for mildly philosophical lyrics on the general path of life, and this is the strongest theme again on "Lebensuhr" ("clock of life"). Except that this time indeed the path of life of some band members is near its end. Founding member Norbert Jaeger left the band shortly before the release of "Lebensuhr" and passed away in 2016. Keyboarder Thomas Kurzhals, for Lebensuhr returned to the band, left this planet in 2014, and long term Stern-Combo singer Reinhard Fissler was diagnosed in 2000 with ALS (the disease from which Stephen Hawking suffers), was in a wheelchair and had difficulties to communicate by the time Lebensuhr was recorded. His Lebensuhr ceased to tick in 2016.

Fissler wrote the most impressive track on Lebensuhr, "Mal seh'n wohin die Reise geht" (Let's see where the journey goes); actually the only track on which he is present. This track hints at some of Stern Meissen's and some more general musical history, and can surely be interpreted as some kind of swansong. Fissler obviously worked very hard to put the vocals together for this song, very clearly marked by his illness. It seems that at times he could only sing one or two words and the melody was pieced together of lots of attempts. He doesn't sound "good" or healthy but this is a truly unique and unforgettable performance. The composition is quite complex with unusual chord progressions and quite quirky jazzy keyboards, but at the same time surprisingly relaxed and uplifting. For me, this track alone already justifies the acquisition of Lebensuhr.

Apart from this highlight, the quality of the songs is mixed. Some songs ("Der zweite Blick", "Prima Klima", "Ein Tag, ein Jahr und ein Leben") are cringeworthy, some are fairly pleasant but nothing special ("Das kurze Leben des Raimund S.", "Verlieren ist sinnlos", "So geseh'n"), and some are pretty good ("Es geht die Zeit", "Die Zeder von Jerusalem", "Zeugen dieser Zeit", the dynamic instrumental "TNTK", the tasteful ballads Waldesstille and the excellent "Ewigkeit"). Apart from "Mal seh'n...", all can be classified as easy listening, but with high musicality and taste over most of the distance, and very well executed (like on earlier Stern-Combo albums, a nod goes to the bassist, this time Robert Brenner).

I'll be generous and give it 3 stars because I'm overall delighted that this band came up with something like this as recent as 2011. "Mal seh'n..." and "Ewigkeit" are really strong and much of the rest is pleasant enough but honestly most prog fans will want to steer away from this.

 Stern Meissen - Stundenschlag by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Studio Album, 1982
1.81 | 8 ratings

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Stern Meissen - Stundenschlag
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by Lewian

3 stars It is very clear why "Stundenschlag" is not that popular in these quarters, as it marks a turning point of Stern Meissen to more radio friendly and straightforward songs and away from what we'd call the "progressive" style. Apparently, on the other side of the iron curtain, bands were not immune to this virus either, that befell many of our heroes around this time.

That said, I don't think that Stundenschlag deserves to be treated more harshly than the style change of many western bands around the same time or a few years earlier. Actually, as a transition album, Stundenschlag still has traces of the good old values. The instrumentalists are the same as on the marvellous "Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen" and they haven't suddenly lost their quality. Guitarist Uwe Hassbecker is actually a welcome addition, he certainly knows what to do with his instrument, and bassist Peter Rasym is as creative and dynamic here as he was on the "Reise". Fissler does some more vocals here than on the predecessor, which is also good, because he is a quality singer. I have no complaints about the occasionally added percussion either. There are two pretty strong tracks for the prog listener. "Das Paar" is just wonderful, a very nice dreamy atmosphere with classically inspired keyboards, and its length allows for some twists and turns. "Also Was Soll Aus Mir Werden" is a tasteful understated opener with good vocals and a surprising instrumental interlude.

The remaining songs are not prog by any means, but the majority of them is still of solid quality, very well executed and with some good ideas, and you may find some of them quite catchy. The styles are quite eclectic, you find funk, disco, ballad, melodic keyboard-oriented rock. The rhythm section adds some jazzy feel at times, and Thomas Kurzhals doesn't sound in the least like Keith Emerson anymore. Admittely you also find the odd annoying sound, arrangement or lyrics. I'm very keen on the Stern right now and think that this is easily worth three stars although there are days on which my impression of this is more dominated by its flaws than by its qualities, so it shouldn't have more than three either.

 Stern Meissen - Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.79 | 20 ratings

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Stern Meissen - Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by Lewian

4 stars Apparently Stern (Combo) Meissen were on stage in the mid- to end-seventies an absolute legend in the GDR but had to struggle with censorship, so their published regular albums mostly didn't do them much justice, and after the "Reise" they turned their backs on prog and morphed into an at times hardly endurable pop group.

"Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen" is quite an exception to this. It's a very fine album, although it came in 1980 too late - too late for what is considered to be the best time of the band, but also even in their own country the tides of music changed and the audience wanted more direct and less complex music - unfortunately it got far more of the latter than the former.

The music on "Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Menschen" is very keyboard-oriented. There's only keyboards (two keyboarders), bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are only there for a few minutes, but these few minutes demonstrate very well the quality of the vocalist, Reinhard Fissler, and his very characteristic expressive voice. Fissler adds some warmth to the overall rather cool musical landscape on this album. The instrumental performances are very strong. Of course the keyboard work plays the key role. The Stern are obviously fans of ELP, their sound is unsurprisingly somewhat behind the "western time", and one can criticise the GDR-icon Thomas Kurzhals and Wolfgang Kramer for using a bit too much of that influence. Another reference is the West German symphonic band SFF. That said, not only are the keyboards virtuous and technically flawless, they are also somewhat less showy than Emerson's (if somewhat less wild and unpredictable). One way in which the "Reise" has an edge over all ELP work (except perhaps "Pictures at an Exhibition") is that it is very organic; it's a concept album in which all the compositions serve the overall musical message. The composition work is clearly classically influenced. There's some dynamic in terms of speed and intensity on this album, some parts are very calm and melodic, others more powerful, but overall the sound is quite homogeneous. This is in contrast to all other works of the Stern, in which there are always some attempts at different styles, at times welcome but more often than not rather on the annoying side for a prog fan. The "Reise" though is pure prog. Overall, the compositions are a good tasteful mix of complexity and musicality and very well done, if a bit on the cool intellectual side (as easily happens with lots of keyboard and no guitar).

The drummer Michael Behm and the bass player Peter Rasym also deserve to be mentioned. Behm is virtuous and precise, but the secret star of the show is Rasym; the bass on this album is not only flawless but very creative and colourful, and at the same time fits seamlessly into the overall teamwork. Surely a five star performance by this internationally probably totally unknown bassist.

Despite the ELP references, this album stands easily on its own as a highlight of GDR art rock which has its very own atmosphere and characteristic; actually it is the strongest GDR prog album that I know by some distance; unfortunately the Stern themselves never came close before or after (I don't know their 1996 released 1976 live album, which may be a contender).

 Der weite Weg by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.39 | 14 ratings

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Der weite Weg
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by Reuter

1 stars Prog? Surely not. Symphonic? Only if you call a cheap synthesizer an orchestra. Pop music? Only in the best moments. Most of the time it reminds me of what we call "Schlager" in Germany. The lyrics actually hurt, German Democratic Republic's pseudo-poetry forced on writers by their gouvernment and willingly committed by Kurt Demmler on this album (as in many songs published on the GDR-label "Amiga"). The vocals are poor, the arrangements sound like they were written for childrens' lullabies. And still some critics - mostly from the eastern part of Germany - call the music of Stern-Combo Meißen milestones in progressive rock. But maybe they also consider Cilff Richard the godfather of Heavy Metal. I just can't stand it !
 Weisses Gold by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.36 | 27 ratings

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Weisses Gold
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In June 1978 comes the first true studio recording of Stern Meissen and the second of their original releases overall.The band had recruited Lift's drummer Werther Lohse and completed a seven-piece line-up that led them to the ambitious ''Weisses gold'' album on Amiga.''Weisses gold'' refers to porcelain and this concept work deals with the timeline for discovering it in Dresden by German alchemist Johann Friedrich Boettger.The band was helped by the Symphonic Orchestra of ''Hochschule Für Musik Hanns Eisler" in Berlin and its conductor Horst Foerster.

Gone are all the psychedelic leftovers of Stern Meissen's previous recordings and the band headed now for a monster symphonic sound full of grandiose interludes, elaborate orchestrations and complex segments.''Weisses gold'' sounds much like a RICK WAKEMAN album, maybe crossed with a discreet Teutonic aura akin to NEUSHWANSTEIN, and appears to be a cohesive, flowing concept with extended instrumental themes, a slightly operatic mood and the typical German vocals displayed in Stern Meissen's works.The tracks are mainly keyboard-driven with full equipment (piano, harsichord, Hammond organ, synthesizers and propably string synth), supported by the ethereal orchestrations of the symphonic orchestra, the result is very good and at moments fascinating Progressive Rock with twin and triple keyboard workouts, creating grandiose climates and bombastic passages.German actor Ernst Kahler is the man behind the narrations, strongly connected with the history presented.As Stern Meissen were always a band with a nice sense of atmosphere and melody, the greatest part of the arrangements are characterized by dreamy textures and cinematic soundscapes, but be sure to handle the extremely virtuosic synth flashes during the process next to some E.L.P.-like fanfares on Hammond organ.

Very good story-telling album with dense, technically efficient and carefully composed keyboard themes.Fans of TRIUMVIRAT, E.L.P., LE ORME, RICK WAKEMAN and the likes will finds this work simply beautiful.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Live by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Live, 1996
3.27 | 7 ratings

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Live
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Formed in 1964 in Meissen by drummer Martin Schreier and singer/keyboardist/percussionist Norbert Jager,STERN COMBO MEISSEN are maybe the eldest German classic Prog band still active today.Through a 10-year period they experimented through many styles of music,before establishing a keyboard-drenched sound in mid-70's with the addition of Thomas Kurzhals and Lothar Kramer on keys.By mid-70's the line-up included also singer Reinhard Fißler and drummer Bernd Fiedler.A performance of the band at Furstenwalder Hof in Furstenwalde was captured live in 1976 but never saw the light until 1996, when it was released on Edition Barbarossa.

The opening ''Finnlandia'' is among the best instrumental pieces recorded by a German band during the 70's, an adaption on the work of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.Grandiose organ-driven Classical/Symphonic Rock in the vein of EKSEPTION or TRIUMVIRAT with plenty of keyboard pyrotechnics and a fair dose of ethereal and smoother textures, played with passion and inspiration.In this album we find an early version of the classic psychedelic track ''Kampf um den Suedpol'', that became the band's landmark for years.The short ''Wenn ich traeume'' combines a more easy-going vocal-led style with spacey synthesizers and light organs.The very long ''Rhapsody in Blue'' is an amalgam of Stern Meissen's early sound, based on George Gershwin's eponymous work.It mixes inspirations from synth-drenched Fusion, powerful organ-driven Classical Rock and romantic Teutonic 70's Progressive Rock with some impressive work on synths, organ and piano, but some parts sound rather dull or dated, while the improvised ones are of marginal interest.Still this one is well-played with plenty of bombastic material.The closing track ''Happiness Is Just Around the Band'' is apparently a rework on Brian Auger's ''Happiness Is Just Around The Bend'', a nice, longer and majestic interpetation by the band with strong funky grooves and lovely organ as played by Auger, definitely a great cover.

A great document of Stern Combo Meissen's early years, prooving the band was on par with the best names from West Germany considering the prog scene of the country.Warmly recommended to all fans of keyboard-driven 70's Prog.

 Stern-Combo Meissen by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Live, 1977
3.72 | 16 ratings

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Stern-Combo Meissen
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In 1977 it was time for the first official release of Stern Combo Meissen.Their classic track ''Der Kampf um den Südpol'', already presented live by the group, started hitting the charts and remains actually a hit until today.Surprisingly the official debut of the band was another live recording, carrying the band's name as a title and released on Amiga in 1977.

Not the average keyboard-driven band,Stern Combo Meissen mix in their debut lots of different styles,remaining a band with a wide sound spectrum as in their early years.''Der Kampf um den Südpol'' sounds sort of psychedelic rock with nice organ and is led by the vocals of Reinhard Fißler,while on ''Der Alte auf der Müllkippe'' the funky rhythm section blends with the spacey moog synths of the keyboard duo.''Mütter gehn fort ohne Laut'' is the first track where the band shows of their symphonic tendencies with mellow classical-influenced synths and organs leading the way.''Eine Nacht af dem Kahlen Berge'' is nothing else than Stern Combo Meissen's adaption on the classic Mussorgsky piece ''Night on the Bald Mountain''.A 13 minute track,where the band capture all of the classic piece's dramatic atmosphere through the fiery organ and the closing section full of moog sounds and deep bass lines.''Licht das Dunkel'' closes the album in a rather soft way with hypnotic bass lines around moog solos and dreamy vocals,while its ending sounds like a familiar complex ELP jam.

Stern Combo Meissen were among the daring bands in DDR (East Germany) to produce some highly sophisticated music.Their debut is a nice delivery of classical-influenced prog rock and deserves a wider recognition...3.5 stars.

 40 Jahre by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.04 | 4 ratings

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40 Jahre
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by NotAProghead
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

2 stars To celebrate their 40-th anniversary, STERN COMBO MEISSEN re-recorded, in studio, their old songs, added 4 new tracks and released them on this double CD.

Nice to see the band re-united and touring, but I expected more from this record.

CD 1 is a collection of pop songs, some are pleasant, but most are quite forgettable. Three new songs, added as bonus tracks, are not better than others.

CD 2 is much more interesting, because it contains band's prog compositions. Most of them sound worse than original versions, I prefer sounds of vintage synthesizers on 70's records. Especially bad is ''Der weite Weg'' - my favourite STERN COMBO MEISSEN song, but in this interpretation it lost its magic.

Best tracks, in my opinion, are ''Eine Nacht auf dem kahlen Berge'' (adaptation of Mussorgsky's ''Night on the Bare Mountain'') - strong and powerful version, and Ravel's ''Bolero''. The latter, even if was played in concerts (I don't know for sure), has never been recorded by the band before.

Fans can find some interesting moments on this release. But if you are new to STERN COMBO MEISSEN, better start with any of their first four albums.

 Stern-Combo Meissen by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Live, 1977
3.72 | 16 ratings

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Stern-Combo Meissen
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by eduur

4 stars I like this album very much. It's really German but how to describe that. Just great playing, live album, germal lyrics, just reminds you to Novalis, but much better I think. Highlight is the absolutely stunning opening track which has a fantastic melodic line AND great German lyrics about discovering the south-pole. If you're second, you don't count. I can't describe what's it really like, it's smooth, well played, progressive, if you have the change to listen to the opening track, DO SO!
 Weisses Gold by STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.36 | 27 ratings

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Weisses Gold
Stern-Combo Meissen (Stern Meissen) Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars As a fan of German symphonic prog in general, I was of course eager to pick this one up based on recommendations from peers. The keyboard orientation, the majesty, the spaciness, all the ingredients are here, and it would seem to require only a rubber stamp on my part to propel this into the 3 star realm, with 4 stars being likely. This was a pretty early Stern-Combo Meissen album, and I don't know what developments occurred afterwards, but I regret to say that I find "Weisses Gold" to be a thoroughly bloated effort that combines the most pompous flaws of Emerson Lake and Palmer and Rick Wakeman with the calculating coldness that sometimes permeates German music.

Apart from the tedious narration and the keyboards firing on all cylinders through most of the album, its weaknesses are most evident on the longest tracks, "Ouverture" and "Zeifel", the first being a complete shlemazzle of semi-interesting hooks thrown together and the second sounding like an interminable theme for a thankfully unscreened television series. The lack of a guitar really seems to haunt the overly synthesized work, with only the relatively short "Der Traum" and the title track providing a recurrent theme of majestic proportion that stands on its own, twice. If I had to stretch, I would say that "Die Erkenntis is a decent song even if it does seem overblown.

So, Weisses Gold is hurt by too much precious and not enough metal, and can only be recommended to German prog completists or people who still think that unbroken keyboard monstrosities are worth seeking out 30 years on.

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