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Grobschnitt - Rockpommel's Land CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.87 | 285 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I realize a lot of Grobschnitt fans prefer the band's earlier albums, and argue that exposure to YES cost the group a large measure of individuality. It's a valid criticism, but my knee-jerk counter-argument is two-fold.

Firstly, most of that early individuality never really existed. The debut Grobschnitt albums may have been less derivative, but also had far less character, with no distinct style (original or otherwise) to grab hold of. And secondly, while the band's Prog Rock period may have been (check that: was) influenced by established English role models, they were certainly no Yes clone, even with the second-rate Roger Dean gatefold artwork for this LP.

What the two groups had in common was a musical optimism flying in the face of current events (the late '70s erosion of hippie idealism, so forth), expressed here in a somewhat awkward fantasy narrative about a lonely young boy and the giant pipe-smoking bird who becomes his companion. The escapism of the storyline sounds a little contrived today, but the music survives as a quintessential sampling of Symphonic Prog Rock from the absolute apex of its Golden Age.

The band's newfound melodic flair, originally hatched during the sessions for their 1974 album "Jumbo", reached its full maturity on this project. It's true some of Gerd-Otto Kühn's guitar runs were unmistakably Steve Howe inspired. But there's real magic here, from the uplifting chime of the 12-string album intro to the gorgeous orchestral finale closing the side-long title track. And the CD bonus "Tontillon" adds a fitting epilogue to the saga, with a lovely, loose improvisation of a theme from the song "Ernie's Reise".

That track title is, by the way, the one exception to the convenient Anglicizing of the entire album: a common practice among Continental Proggers at the time. In this case I suspect it was rendered in German because a direct translation ("Ernie's Journey") might have suggested an episode of Sesame Street.

Okay, I guess there's a third point to make after all. Grobschnitt needed to pass through this symphonic portal before they could revisit their epic "Solar Music" jam and nail it in vinyl on stage the following year. The earlier, heavier (and to my ears more ponderous) Grobschnitt showed only one face of a two-sided musical coin, and by exploring another, more delicate aspect of their personality the band was finally able to establish its own holistic identity, and better late (almost too late, by 1977) than never.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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