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Grobschnitt - Solar Music - Live CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.56 | 199 ratings

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5 stars First appearing on their self-titled debut as 'Sun Trip', the lengthy, multi-part, space-rock epic 'Solar Music Suite' has long been Grobschnitt's signature tune, with the group regularly finishing off their legendary live shows with versions that could last well-in-excess of sixty minutes. Of course, over the years, the song has been chopped and changed, with the rough-hewn psychedelic prog of 'Sun Trip' mutating into the definitive, thirty-three-minute long 'Solar Music Parts 1 & 2' that appears on the 1974 studio release 'Ballermann'. Follow- up albums 'Jumbo' and the internationally-successful 'Rockpommel's Land' would avoid the piece altogether, as both of these albums would find the group developing their lush, keyboard-dominated, trademark symphonic style, yet all the while 'Solar Music' was slowly taking on a life of it's own within the paradigms of the live arena. The group were, by now, using the piece as the encore cherry that topped every single cake-of-a-gig they played, and soon the idea to base an entire album around the composition surfaced. The resultant album, 1978's jaw-droppingly good 'Solar Music Live', finally came about after the group performed an outrageously energetic set in the town of Mulheim during late 1977. Grobschnitt were still featuring a slight deviation on their 'classic' line-up at this time, with Stefan Danielak(guitars, vocals), Eroc(drums), Mist(keyboards), Wildschwein(guitars, vocals) and Popo(bass) all performing with extraordinary energy and gusto in front of an enthusiastic audience of hardcore fans. The 1970s would be the most productive of times for this criminally-ignored(outside of Germany and Central Europe at least) teutonic five- piece, with their strong progressive albums of the era(see above) some of the finest examples of the European side of the genre. 'Solar Music Live' is seen by many as the group's finest - and final - album, before the advent of punk, new wave and the 1980s all conspired to see the group shirk away from their Yes-and-Genesis-inspired style and embrace a much more heavy rock-based, commercially-viable sound that eschewed international aspirations and English vocals in favour of concentrating their efforts on their homeland and pioneering the use of German lyrics and vocals in German rock music. The highlights of a Grobschnitt show during the late-seventies was always the latter stages(hence this album), with the group's backstage team lighting a giant fire as 'Solar Music' began to reach it's apex, thus adding a spectacular visual element to to the event. As they were reaching the end of their peculiar but highly-original progressive phase, the group seem to be galvanised. The music itself is pure, unadulterated progressive rock, with strong symphonic overtones and the kind of authentic, indulgent and hard rocking dynamic that can only really be found in the live arena. Despite the fact that this album is made up of just one long song, it does actually sound like an album proper. Each section of 'Solar Music' has been stretched out and fattened up, with each member given free reign to solo over the thick, funky, rock-steady bass-playing of Popo and the incredible percussive skills of Eroc. The 'Solar Music' version here is based more-or-less on the two-parter that closes the studio album 'Ballermann', though whilst the 'Ballerman' version builds slowly-and- carefully to a powerful creschendo, the live effort lets rip pretty early on with the spectacular 'Otto Pankrock' finishing off several glistening minutes of carefully-played synths and keyboards courtesy of Mist. The final, spine-tingling denouement follows a similar path from the album version - yet more screeching guitar solo's - yet adds some scintillating keyboard effects that takes the music into hither unexpected synth-rock directions. A live album it is, but in 'Solar Music Live' you have one of the defining live albums of the progressive rock era. The musicianship is, simply put, unbelievably assured, and the album as whole never fails to impress, whether it be in the slower, psych-rock sections or the blistering hard-rock blow-outs that takes Grobschnitt's rock dynamic into areas of highly- defined symphonic rock that showcase the group's live prowess. The gig used for this album must have been something pretty special, and those who were there were damn lucky to have witnessed such an event. Grobschnitt may have failed to breakthrough to England and the USA during their mid-to-late-seventies peak - their curious brand of 'Ballermann' and 'Rockpommel's Land' are also great albums; 'Solar Music Live', however, is simply sensational. Highly recommended.
stefro | 5/5 |


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