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SBB - Behind the Iron Curtain CD (album) cover



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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Solidarity

The title of this live DVD set is not intended to imply that the members of this talented Polish band have been unaware of developments in their own country in recent years. Rather, it is simply a variation on the title of their current album "Iron Curtain". Recorded in Katowice, Poland in February 2009, this set consists of about 50% songs from the new album, and 50% songs which have already become regulars in the band's live set.

Apart from the tracks taken from "Iron curtain", pretty much all the tracks here also featured on the fine 2007 DVD "Four decades". New pieces such as the opening "Defilada" and "Camelele" sit well alongside more familiar works like "Odlot" and "Zywiec Mountain melody" from the band's earliest days.

The now settled line up of Skrzek, Apolstolis and Nemeth complete the trio who appear on stage, yet once again they succeed in creating a sound which might see other bands needing twice the number of people or more. The overall feel of the gig, which runs for around two hours, will be entirely familiar to fans of the band, with occasional vocal passages interrupting long, often unhurried instrumental passages. While the music could never be described as jazz per se, there is always a significant jazz influence in SBB's compositions. That said, there is as ever an inherent tightness to the performance throughout, which dispels any suggestion of spontaneous improvisation.

Jozef Skrzek offers some lengthy dialogue between tracks, and since both band and audience are in their home country, the conversation is naturally in Polish. It would though have been useful if subtitles in English had been added so that the (hopefully) large international audience for the DVD could have shared his words of wisdom.

The DVD contains a couple of interesting extras, including a promotional video for the new song "Camelele" and a studio documentary. The documentary is really just interviews with the three band members in the studio. Skrzek talks at length about the band's style and motivation, while drummer Gabor Nemeth focuses on how he has settled into the band and how he is able to have a greater influence during recording now. Guitarist Anthimas Apostolis on the other hand is concise in the extreme, his rather downbeat comments reflecting the difficulties of the recording process.

In terms of sound and video quality, the recording of the gig is well up to the standards set of late by Metal Mind. While there is no great excitement to the performance, the band show themselves once again to be musicians of the highest calibre who pride themselves on delivering their music professionally.

Report this review (#224402)
Posted Saturday, July 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A great live performance of this super group. A excelent sound that remember seventies with great musical moments. Great guitar solos, great keiboards moments and sound atmosphere, drums and bass in the context made this live record a masterpiece. The most important music moments of the life of this band are in this show. Some seventies important tracks and some of last albuns are in this record. This live performance indicate that musicians of SBB are in great force and play in same way all long of this years. For those that like a great psichedelic space rock with lots of solos improvisations in a jazz vein and a great moments of virtuosity this this a masterpiece that you must love. I give 5 stars because it's really a masterpiece.
Report this review (#633432)
Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Truly exceptional!

After a string of mildly successful studio albums, the band returns to where they are best at - performing live. This well produced DVD is a nicely balanced combination of some recent tunes and earlier works.

Off to a bombastic start with majestically heavy keyboards followed by a melodic song from "Iron Curtain". This is followed by their signature tune "Odlot" where they truly rip into some spirited improvisations. Skrzek on distorted bass while Apostolis plays a couple of scorching solos on guitar. Jazzy scales that reminds of John Coltrane and a nod to Electric Miles while the whammy bar is just about to disintegrate. Just brilliant!

Rousing ovation by the audience prompts the band to maintain the pace on the following tunes before settling back to a more laid back approach - if only for a short breathing space. Alternating between some heavy, or melodic pieces, a drum solo and some more solid bass work leads even to an excellent blues before the band dons their "old clothes" again and concludes the show with - yet another - instrumental run.

It's hard to fathom how this trio are able to maintain such rich texture of sounds with no overdubs. Exceptional talent and commitment is on display here and best of all, they all seem to have tremendous fun in doing so. Multi-instrumentalist Skrzek keeps getting better while Apostolis constantly re-inventing his approach to the guitar. Seasoned veteran drummer Gabor Nemeth maintains absolute precision for nearly two hours with relative ease. Frankly, it couldn't get much better.

A long time follower of SBB, my preference has always been for their improvised works. Nevertheless, the combination of different pieces here blend well together and makes me a very happy "customer". Highly recommended, nothing short of a masterpiece in Prog.

Report this review (#996349)
Posted Thursday, July 11, 2013 | Review Permalink

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